Friday, November 26, 2021



       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.




Hope you had a great day yesterday with those you love, celebrating all the things you are thankful for. I am grateful for many things, family and friends in particular. But this year I am also thankful to have a new member of our family.

This is Nicki-Jones in February of this year (2021) when she arrived from a "kill lot" (next step dog food in Mexico) in Louisiana to a quarantine pasture. She was lame and had a large wicked scar on the front of her left back leg and a patterned scarring on the back of the other leg that makes me think she got tangle in barbed wire at some point. The circular sticker on her withers was her lot #. She had a brand under her mane from the track, so I was able to confirm that she was a 16 year-old Standardbred. She was sweet, but had no idea what a treat was or even that eating out of a human hand was a possibility, which speaks to her former life as a work horse—pulling a sulky (a one-person cart) on a pacer race track and then with the Amish, where I assume she pulled a cart or wagon. I don't know how long she had been at the kill lot, but they don't keep them long because feeding her is an expense.


We took her in with another mare to give our gelding a companion and her a safe place to grow older and get loved on. Never thought I would be riding her! But she put on weight and gloss and healed up and definitely knows what a treat is now! Her coat even changed from brown to black this summer.


This is the first time I’ve been on her. Wasn’t sure what she would do, as I don’t know if she’s ever had anyone on her back, only pulled things. She caught on quickly, though, and I was really happy on this beautiful day to be in the saddle! It's been a long time for the old lady on the top. Not sure Nicki-Jones felt the same way, but hoping we have some adventures ahead of us on the trails and lots of years to get to know each other and to be thankful for.

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


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Blessings on this day of thankfulness by Juliana Aragon Fatula

 Dear Reader,

Today, I give thanks to all of my loved ones for putting up with me and my cantankerous irreverent unholy magic. ha. 

My great great grandmother, Abrana Quintana a Ute woman married a white man.

Rev. Albert Jacobs a white man married a Ute Woman and became my ancestor.

Juliana Quintana Jacobs Gomez Mondragon Aragon Fatula a Crazy Chicana in Catholic City 2021

I'm thankful for the DNA that my ancestors gave me and the knowledge that we are all one people. The color of our skin does not make us different. Birds come in all colors but they are still all birds. Que no? 

I never knew my European ancestors or my Indigenous ancestors but in my research I discovered that many indigenous women married white men and had children that were mixed blood. 

I married a white man and we did not have any children but our relationship has been of a mixed race marriage and we have made it work for 30 years. I'm thankful for him and his Slovak ancestors that made his DNA. 

I'm thankful for my father's DNA that gave me my Navajo and Pueblo ancestors. And my mother's DNA that gave me Ute and Navajo ancestors. 

I am a mixed blood Mexican Indian. A Chicana from Southern Colorado. I'm thankful for all of my ancestors, European and Indigenous that made me into the human being that loves all people of all colors, races, religions and ethnicities. 

This holiday remember where you come from and be thankful that you live in a country that believes in Democracy. At least if we can keep it. 

Thank you readers for taking time out of your busy holiday to read my blog and listen to my stories. I'm thankful for you. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

No One Ever Promised Life Would Be Fair

By Lois Winston

I graduated college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, if you believe my kids) with a degree in graphic design and illustration and went to work as an art director at a small ad agency. Big title. Tiny paycheck. I was the one and only artist on staff, so I really didn’t direct anyone.


One day I was complaining about the unfairness of something to our office manager, and she said, “Lois, no one ever promised life would be fair.”


That conversation took place so long ago that I don’t even remember the names of all my coworkers, but her words have stuck with me. Over the years I’ve had some hard times while others around me have had great success. I have a relative who I’ve often said could step in caca and have it turn into gold. Some people have that kind of luck. Me? Well, let’s just say I’ve never won more than $7 on a lottery ticket. Get the picture?


I’m constantly reminded of that coworker’s words when I look down the long and winding road of my life as a published author. No one ever promised life would be fair. The outside world (those millions and millions of people who know nothing about publishing) thinks every published author is pulling in the kind of big bucks that James Patterson, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling make. Friends and relatives expect you to give them free books because after all, you’re a published author and can afford it. (I can hear the laughter coming from all the published authors reading this blog post.)


The hard truth is that most published authors can’t afford to quit their day jobs. And that includes many authors I know who have hit the NY Times bestseller list. Factoring in the hours most of us devote to crafting each novel, then promoting it, we’d make more money per hour asking, “Do you want fries with that?” 


So why do we do it?


We write because we can’t not write. (Pardon the double-negative.) Yes, it’s hard work, often filled with disappointment: You can’t sell what you consider your break-out book. Your last royalty check was less than three figures. Your publisher drops you. Your foray into indie publishing has resulted in sales that might sustain your Starbucks habit—if you’re lucky. 


And still, we continue to write. Because you we can’t not write.


No one ever said life would be fair--or easy, but the struggle makes us stronger. And better. We keep writing. Keep honing our craft. Maybe someday luck will be on our side, and we’ll reap the rewards of all that hard work. One thing is for certain, though, if we give up, we’ll never succeed.

As a gift to my readers, for a limited time the 2-ebook set of Christmas-themed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, featuring Drop Dead Ornaments and Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide, is available for only .99 cents. Click here for Buy Links.


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Grateful for Audiobooks!

By Lynn McPherson

My first audiobook is finally out in the world! I'm so excited to share with readers that they can now listen to the first Izzy Walsh Mystery, The Girls' Weekend Murder. As an author, it is an absolute delight to hear your words read aloud by a professional narrator--even more exciting than I'd imagined.

The timing couldn't be better either with Thanksgiving two days away. I have so much to be grateful for, my audiobook is only adding to the lengthy list.

I hope everyone is able to spend time with loved ones, enjoy a wonderful meal, and have a relaxing holiday weekend.

Here is a little about my first audiobook, described as a mixture of  Murder, She Wrote and I Love Lucy...

An oceanfront estate in the beautiful New England town of Twin Oaks is the ideal setting for Isabelle Walsh and her close-knit group of friends to celebrate their annual girls’ weekend in 1953.

While off to a promising start, the weekend quickly goes awry as murder interrupts the fun and the hostess is accused of the shocking crime. Izzy quickly realizes it is up to her to save her innocent friend and bring the murderer to light.

Keen intuition and quick wit are Izzy’s only tools. She must use them to find the dark truth before the killer brings her investigation to a dead stop…

Happy Thanksgiving Readers!!!

Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has three books out: The Girls' Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder, and The Girls Dressed For Murder.  

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Red Penguin Collection

by Paula Gail Benson

Red Penguin Books, a small publishing company based in New York and headed by Stephanie Larkin, began an imprint to showcase new and established writers of shorter works. Its Red Penguin Collection currently has twenty-eight volumes of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, monologues, and short plays. The editor is J.K. Larkin, Stephanie's son, who has published his own autobiography, not kidding.

The collection first drew my attention when I noticed that John Floyd had been published in one of its romance volumes, A Heart Full of Love, and two of its mystery anthologies, Behind Closed Doors, and the recently released, Pets on the Prowl.

I decided to check out submissions opportunities and was fortunate enough to have my own work included in An Empty Stage: A Collection of Monologues and Once Upon a Time, fairy tales written for adults.

I received an even bigger thrill when my "A Fairy Godmother's Christmas" was selected for a second publication in Stand Out: The Best of the Red Penguin Collection, Volume 2, which also contains two of John Floyd's stories.

If you write short fiction, poetry, essays, or plays, you definitely should check out the submission opportunities at this link. While many of the anthologies are non-paying, an upcoming humor short story contest offers monetary prizes for first, second, and third place.

Additionally, Red Penguin has encouraged its authors to participate in marketing efforts, join in group meetings, and learn from virtual programs. It offers an excellent chance for authors to see their work in print, have a publisher that supports them, and become part of a writing community.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Red Letter Days for Writers -- and a Cover Reveal for Murder in the Mountains

by Shari Randall

There are many special moments in the life of a book that are worth celebrating. Of course, publication day, the "book birthday," is the day to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. But there are other days that feel equally special to writers:

The day you type "The End" and finish your draft. Every writer knows that it's really the beginning - second and third drafts, edits, editor's letter, and copy edits are coming. It's a hard won milestone. I don't know any writers who celebrate this moment with champagne -- we're too exhausted.

Unboxing day: the day you receive the box of author copies and hold a book in your hands for the first time. Bliss!

And my favorite - seeing a book cover for the first time. For me, this is the moment a book feels real for the first time. I was thrilled when I saw the cover for my next project, a group cozy mystery story collection titled Murder in the Mountains. It's part of the Destination Murders series. The first in series was Murder on the Beach and further adventures in exciting locations are planned.

This collection will include stories by Gretchen Archer, Leslie Budewitz, Karen Cantwell, Barb Goffman, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Tina Kashian, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Cathy Wiley, and I. There's a special ebook preorder price of only 99 cents for a limited time. The book will be published February 1, 2022 and I hope you'll plan to take a trip to the mountains with us! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

From Stage to Page with Barbara Kyle

I’m often asked if my previous career as an actor helped my writing.


Yes, it certainly did.


Acting gave me a deep appreciation of strong story structure, because it’s hard to act in a script that has weaknesses like unfocused conflict or unmotivated turning points or a feeble climax. That stayed with me in writing my eleven novels.

Photo: With crew members (me in 19th-century bonnet) on the set of the TV series "The Campbells"

And, of course, it helped me in crafting a novel’s dialogue. I often advise emerging writers to develop an “actor’s ear” by listening carefully to how people talk. For a writer, eavesdropping is good!


Parallel Arts


There are also parallels between rehearsing a play and writing a novel. An acting company often gets just four weeks’ rehearsal. That’s not much time to get a play up "on the boards,” so each week has definite goals. 

Photo: Me (standing) and Dawn Wells ("Marianne" of "Gilligan's Island" TV series ) in the play "Vanities."


The first week is spent just on "blocking," working out which characters move where and when. The next couple of weeks are dedicated to detailed scene development, working on individual scenes and delving for motivation and pacing. Not until the final week does the cast do run-throughs of the whole play, followed by technical rehearsals (sound cues and light cues) and finally the full, dress rehearsal.


If, instead, the company plunged from day one into running through the whole play over and over with full cast and tech effects, the result would be weeks of chaos, and the final product a mess. The rehearsal process has to be done in manageable segments.


So it is with writing a novel. No writer would be so foolish as to expect “perfection” in a first draft. It takes several, and each draft has a function: from the creation of the raw plot, to drafts that deepen characters’ relationships, enrich pivotal scenes, and hone dialogue, to the final draft for polishing.


Coming Full Circle


Speaking of the acting/writing connection, here’s a bit of sweet serendipity. Not long ago I got a note from a writer who told me he was at work on his first novel and subscribed to my News for Writers emails.


He said that after enjoying my writing advice emails for many months, it suddenly struck him that he knew me from years ago: that the author Barbara Kyle was the actor Barbara Kyle he’d worked with when I appeared in several episodes of the TV series The Littlest Hobo


Imagine my delight when I read the signature: the note was from Christopher Dew who'd created and produced that very successful TV series.


I’ve so enjoyed reconnecting with Christopher. His debut novel, Ulysses-Comin' Home, has just been published. Here is its beautiful cover.



 Barbara Kyle is the author of the bestselling Thornleigh Saga series of historical novels and of acclaimed thrillers. Her latest novel of suspense is The Man from Spirit Creek. Over half a million copies of her books have been sold. Barbara has taught hundreds of writers in her online masterclasses and many have become award-winning authors. Visit Barbara at  



Tuesday, November 16, 2021


’Tis the Season for Food, Food, Food

by Saralyn Richard

Holidays and food have a symbiotic relationship. You can’t have one without the other. The same can be said for mysteries and food, at least in the two Detective Parrott mysteries, Murder in the One Percent and A Palette for Love and Murder.


The former begins with a December birthday weekend retreat at a country mansion in the lush Brandywine Valley. The guests indulge in a gourmet dinner consisting of nine courses and wine pairings. The menu for this elegant party is stunning. It’s one of the elements readers remember most about the book, and several book clubs have replicated the menu to add authenticity to their book discussions.

A Palette for Love and Murder is set on and around Thanksgiving. Local favorites are included on the menu, and throughout the book. All of the characters, whether they are part of the wealthiest one percent or the people who serve them, consume interesting and delicious meals. To give you a hint, do mushroom-barley soup or pumpple cake from the Flying Monkey Bakery tickle your fancy?


If you’re watching your diet, don’t worry. Reading mysteries burns calories. Sitting on the edge of your seat and reading those heart-thumping scenes will take care of whatever snacking you might do while reading. And turning pages into the night helps, too.


The Detective Parrott mysteries are temporarily unavailable on Amazon, but can be purchased online at on the bookstore page.

Saralyn Richard is the author of the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, as well as A Murder of Principal and the upcoming release, Bad Blood Sisters. A member of the Author Talk Network, Saralyn enjoys meeting with readers through book clubs, organization meetings, and other speaking engagements. Join her next Tuesday at 5 pm Central for the Facebook Live event, Cooking with Blackbirds. And if cooking is your thing, grab the pdf booklet, Epicurean Feasts, featuring the dishes from the gourmet dinner party in Murder in the One Percent. All you need to do is sign up for Saralyn’s monthly newsletter to receive this and other special offers. Subscribe at


Monday, November 15, 2021

Elizabeth "Betty" Wason: Journalist and Cook Book Author

by Paula Gail Benson

While doing some research on the history of cooking, I came across, created in 1999 by reference librarian and food lover Lynne Oliver and meticulously maintained by Lynne until her death in 2015. The site now is updated by the Virginia Tech Library system, which has a special collection on cooking history, including many volumes contributed by Lynne.

Food Timeline Library

The timeline indicated that the first recorded menu was from ancient Sumeria. The source for that information was a few paragraphs from Betty Wason's Cooks, Gluttons & Gourmets: A History of Cookery (1962). The site indicated that Wason's book had an extensive bibliography, but this point was not footnoted.

I'm not in the habit of investigating unfootnoted documents, but Wason's paragraphs were so intriguing, I purchased the book. I found it absolutely delightful. She began each chapter with a description of the culture or time (including one chapter about cannibals), then followed that with a list of possible recipes.

Indiana University Archives
Upon further research, I found out that Betty Wason had authored 24 books, most on cooking. Her The Everything Cookbook (1970) received rave reviews as a comprehensive guide. I ordered it and found it to be on a par with Betty Crocker or Julia Child. In addition, Wason had authored accounts based on her life like Ellen: A Mother's Story of Her Runaway Daughter (1976) and Macular Degeneration: Living Positively with Vision Loss (1998). Perhaps most astonishing was her first hand story of the Axis invasion of Greece, Miracle in Hellas.

Who was Betty Wason?

I returned to the Internet and learned that Elizabeth "Betty" Wason (1912-2001) was born in Delphi, Indiana, the daughter of a judge, and the graduate of Purdue University. Her first ambition was to be a dress designer, but after participating in a broadcast about cooking, she realized that journalism might be a way to see the world. She went to New York City and visited news organizations, telling them she was going to Europe and offering to be their correspondent. Transradio Press Service gave her a chance, then later she worked for CBS News, chronicling the events of World War II.

While CBS respected her reporting, its executives preferred a male voice on air. Phil Brown, a secretary at the American Embassy in Greece, read her copy with the introduction, "This is Phil Brown in Athens, speaking for Betty Wason."

After World War II, Betty returned to the United States, acclaimed for her work, but still unable to serve on air at CBS. She found other broadcast opportunities and pursued her passions of traveling and cooking.

Her books are well written, as if she is taking readers along on the journey. And, the recipes sound delicious. You may want to try some for the holidays. Maybe just not those from the cannibal chapter!

Friday, November 12, 2021

An Exercise in Motivation

An Exercise in Motivation by Debra H. Goldstein

People who exercise have always fascinated me. One of my friends thinks she’s in heaven if she gets two long walks in during a day; another one can’t survive without at least four yoga classes a week; one installed a dance bar and mirror in her home because ballet moves make her happy; and, then there’s the one who doesn’t feel satisfied unless he does an equipment circuit followed by at least a mile of laps in the pool. Although I like these people, I don’t understand them.

Exercise does not send little happy messages to my brain. It doesn’t make my aches and pains of aging go away. Rather, it usually increases them - like the time I raised my arm over my head and tore my rotator cuff. Despite various promises to myself that I will exercise, I usually can find an excuse to avoid it.

The pandemic proved to be a great excuse. After all, we were told to stay out of crowded places where people touched everything. That took care of the gym. We were told to wear masks. A bathing cap is one thing, but the thought of breathing through a soggy mask in the pool was too gross to even try. Rain and cold weather precluded outdoor walking (at least for me – you should have seen my diehard neighbor in her Northern long winter coat, earmuffs, and gloves breaking a sweat). But, I knew I had to make an effort.

So, after much TV watching of people sitting on a couch and peddling what looked like an elliptical that lost its top, I ordered one. It is cute and neither it nor the pad to keep it from sliding on the floor take up much room in my office. To motivate myself, I said I could watch a show with talking heads (and the time in the corner of the screen) only if I was peddling. It worked until the night I was too tired to do anything except watch from the comfort of my oversized large chair.

Eventually (several days later), I forced myself to go back to my routine. Things seemed to be going reasonably well with my modified exercise program (it wasn’t daily because, as I told myself, my body needed to only be stressed alternate days), until disaster struck. I went to move my Cubii Jr and somehow I picked up the slip pad, the telephone rang, I dropped the pad, and when I came back, I discovered the pad had dropped draping the machine like a shroud. I haven’t had the heart to move it.

There are times that my motivation to write is like my desire to exercise – shrouded. All the carrots I dangle in front of myself – I have a good idea, it’s nice to see a piece accepted, this is why you left your day job, so you really should put some effort into it, are meaningless. The adage of just putting my bottom in my chair and writing only works as far as where I place my derriere.

I tell myself that not writing, like not exercising, is bad for me. My mind counters that by noting I’m still alive, so not exercising hasn’t compromised me too much. But then, I realize it has. I weigh more and lack the stamina for going up hills or walking long distances that I had a few years ago. I understand that if I don’t start moving, there won’t be as many options for me to move in the future. It’s the same with my writing. If I don’t do it, the momentum I’ve started building will die and the ideas will shrivel in my brain. Not a pleasant thought.

It’s time to start writing and then to uncover my Cubii Jr. What about you? What writing or reading goal is it time for you to uncover (and how do you feel about exercise?)?

Three Things with Lynn McPherson

Three Things with Lynn McPherson – by Debra H. Goldstein

I had so much fun playing the Three Things Game when Shari Randall interviewed me last month, that I decided to pass it forward by playing the game with Stiletto Gang member Lynn McPherson. Lots of good answers and some I didn’t expect!

Three favorite foods:  Pizza, tacos, cupcakes

Three places I've lived: Toronto, London, Vancouver

Three jobs I've had: Golf range owner, waitress, ESL teacher in Seoul

Three things I can't do without: my family, my dog, books

Three books I love (or three authors): Rita Mae Brown, Liane Moriarty, Vivien Chien

Three favorite places: Thailand, New England, Paris

Three favorite hobbies: Reading, walking, watching movies

Three things I'm looking forward to: Halloween, the first snowfall, Christmas

How about you, readers? What are three things about you that you'd like to share?

Oh, and one of my (Debra’s) favorite things: The Girls Dressed for Murder - An Izzy Walsh mystery written by none other than Lynn McPherson.



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Interview with Kathryn Lane

 by Bethany Maines

Today I'm interviewing fellow Stiletto Gang member Kathryn Lane. Kathryn enjoyed a two-decade career in international finance with Johnson & Johnson before taking an early retirement from corporate life to follow her passion to write fiction. So today we're finding out more about her writing and what inspires her.  From growing up in Mexico to traveling the globe, and splitting time between Texas and New Mexico Kathryn's journey into writing has been unique.  

Q: What do you write?

I’m enamored with the mystery genre. During my corporate career, I traveled all over the world. Before a long flight to Japan, I purchased a Harlan Coben paperback at the JFK airport in New York. The twists and turns in the story slapped me around like a go-kart on uneven terrain. I was instantly smitten. Now that I’m a novelist, I write mystery and suspense.

Q: What got you excited and started you on your writing journey?

During my two decades in the corporate world, I always thought someday I’d return to painting, the object of my natural abilities. Growing up in Mexico, a country with an abundance of talented singers, I always felt left out since I could not even carry a tune.

Yet I could draw. And I could paint. By age ten, I sketched portraits and painted landscapes. Naturally, I thought I’d grow up to be an artist. Life, or perhaps destiny, had other plans. I had to earn a living, so I became a CPA and specialized in international finance. Hence my corporate travels.

Before leaving the corporate world, I analyzed what I really wanted to do. After all the countries I’d visited, it quickly became obvious I should write rather than paint. It’s exciting to pen stories set in other lands.

Q: Are you a Plotter or Pantser?

Since I’d written strategic plans, I thought I’d complete an outline for each story my brain conjured up. After all, wasn’t it like analyzing the steps in a product launch?

It didn’t work that way – my right brain took over. As much as I’ve tried to plot, my stories grow organically every day while I pound away at the keyboard. Even after deliberate attempts to speed up my writing, I struggle to plot anything. It’s normal for me not to know from one paragraph to the next what I’ll compose. Stories unfold magically in my mind like a movie reel.

Q: Who encouraged you to write?

I’m so fortunate, friends, family, and my husband are all incredibly supportive. I could not do it without the help of my husband who manages the back office details and takes on household tasks, except for cooking, to give me time to write.

Q: What secret skill do you have that our readers might not know about?

I can kill snakes. I’ve lived in places with deadly snakes, like the Inland Taipan of the Northern Territory of Australia, considered the most dangerous in the world. (One 100mg dose of Inland Taipan venom is enough to kill 100 adult humans). I’ve encountered corals and rattlesnakes of the Chihuahua desert and mountainous terrain, and now the copperheads and cottonmouths of Texas. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t like killing snakes, but when it comes to either them or me, it’s an easy choice.

At our summer cabin in northern New Mexico, we don’t have snakes. Only bear and mountain lions and I leave them alone!

Q: And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't ask... what are your favorite shoes?

Knee-high leather boots with stiletto heels!

Connect with Kathryn!


Snatch up one of the globe-trotting Nikki Garcia Mysteries:


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae MysteriesSan Juan Islands MysteriesShark 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, November 9, 2021

Gay Yellen: Rubber Duckies

 Ever been to a duck race? It's fun and inspiring.

Last weekend, thousands of rubber duckies were dumped off a downtown bridge into Buffalo Bayou, the main waterway that flows eastward through the Port of Houston to the Gulf of Mexico.

...and they're off!
What's more fun on a sunny day than a family-friendly outing that's also a fundraiser for a good cause? This year, all proceeds for the event went to the Play it Forward Fund at This marvelous group touches the lives of thousands of kids during the school year and in summer by providing music education for those who might otherwise have none, given our tight public school budgets these days.

Everyone near and far was invited to "adopt" a duck for $5, or simply come to the race and enjoy the music performed by AFA students, whose outstanding musicianship at such young ages is truly remarkable.

From the moment the ducks hit the water, the suspense built as the crowd tracked their progress downstream to the finish line. Adopters whose ducks finished ahead of the flock won great prizes that were donated by generous sponsors. The luckiest duck won $2,500 cash from a local bank. 

The Master of Ceremonies was Len Cannon, a very popular news anchor here. I had the pleasure of assisting him as he called the race, charmed the crowd, and interviewed delightful young AFA musicians.

Those who've read The Body Next Door, Book 2 in my Samantha Newman Mystery Series, may recognize AFA's Play it Forward Fund. It was the inspiration for Let the Children Play, the fictional foundation created by Carter Chapman, Samantha's mysterious love interest. It's one of several scenes in my books where fiction meets real life.

This particular real-life group inspires me beyond my writing. It's a reminder that there are infinite ways we each can help enrich the lives of children. Houston's Bayou City Duck Race is just one of them. Here's hoping you've found a worthy cause or two in your own hometown to support.

Best of wishes to each and every one of you for
a Very Ducky Thanksgiving!


Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries, including
The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the soon to be released Body in the News.