I May Be Here, But I have No Idea What Time It Is

International travel vs. the internal clock. It revolves around datelines, time zones, stuff like that. At the moment, we are cruising the Baltic Sea heading for Helsinki. It’s nine hours difference than back home. But it may as well be ninety. I know this because I look at the clock every other second and still don’t know what time it is.  I know this because every time I want to call back home to check on the cats or Norman wants to call his mother, we have no idea what time is there, here, anywhere. The day after tomorrow, we head for Russia where there is a ten hour difference. Good luck to us. International travel may be educational and broadening, but it is also stupifying. I sleep all the time. Or want to. I can’t get with it. Norman can get with it a little better than me, but today he locked the safe in our room with another set of numbers than he meant to punch in. We had to call the purser to come and unlock the ruddy thing. The purser, younger than us by a few decades, said that when he goes home to Europe (we’re not in Europe?), it gets harder every year to adjust to the time zones. He showed me the long list of other travelers locked out of their safes aboard ship. It’s an epidemic. In the old days, travel was much slower. Sometimes it could take months to get to a place. That was hard in some ways, but not on the internal clock. When Charles Lindbergh flew around the world, he was a young man. But I’ll bet his internal clock didn’t know what time it was. I’ll bet you anything he got locked out of his safe just like…

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Changing Horses Midstream

Picture it: There are two horses standing in a stream. We’re not sure why; reasoning cloudy. Sitting astride one horse is a woman who doesn’t want to be there. Possibly, she has been whispering into the horse’s ear something like ‘let’s get a move on, sport,’ but to no avail. Said horse seems to like having his tootsies in the cool water. She looks over at the other horse just lollygagging around, and decides that’s the saddle to be in. Several minutes later she is either swept downstream or trampled to death by two horses having had enough of her silliness. Which brings to mind another wise old saw: They died with their boots on. So there I was, soggy boots and all, writing a romance and wanting to jump into the saddle of suspense. My reasoning wasn’t cloudy. I suck at writing pure romance. I didn’t know it then, but I sure know it now. Frankly, If I hadn’t been so stubborn, I’d have changed genres within the first three months instead of waiting so long. I was turning out the most boring drivel I’d ever written in my life and I have been known to drivel with the best. There was no longer any joy in writing. My bliss had done a bunk. Of course, this particular book had a deadline that could not be overlooked. Christmas Trifle was holiday-bound. But at the rate I was going, not in my lifetime. Desperate, I threw in a murder even though I was already half-way through the book. And glory be! Suddenly scenes had a little zing, characters a bounce to their step. They used snappier dialog. A readable plot was developing. So I went with it. Not that it was easy going. It was a nightmare, actually. Stuff like,…

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Christmas Trifle Has Arrived…well…Almost

They say timing is everything in publishing a book. So I was advised to hold back on publishing the debut novel of my new series, Christmas Trifle, Book One of the Snow Lake Suspense Novels. That meant it couldn’t see the light of day until September 1, in time for the holidays. The waiting was hard. Not for anybody else, but for me, the author. Once I’ve finished a book and had it read by beta readers then gone through by a content editor and then a line editor, it’s tough to have it just laying around. And lay around it did for nearly a year. But now it’s available for preorder. Readers will finally meet the characters Charly and Cliff Harding, my two wonderful but foolish protagonists, Aunt Pearl the Truthsayer, clever and determined Detective Ragini Chabra and, lastly, Felix and Oscar, two darling pets who manage –  when a whole town couldn’t – to get their owners talking to one another. But will Charly and Cliff get back together? Or will they both be arrested for murder and spend the rest of their lives in jail instead of in each other’s arms? For the answer to these and other burning questions, tune in tomorrow…ah…please buy the book! That was shameless, I know. But I’ve waited for nearly a year!!

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History of Slavery in California

I am doing research for my latest book, Casting Call for a Corpse, Book 7 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, and came across a very interesting article in Wikipedia about slavery in California which led to yet another article, Uncovering California’s overlooked slave past, updated 2/16/2004 6:21:25 PM ET by Deborah Kong for NBC during Black History month.  As the article doesn’t always respond to the link, it is below in its entirety. In the picture above, Mary Ann Carlton-Wyatt shows pages from her family Bible, dating to the late 1800s, to Joe Moore at the campus library of California State University in Sacramento. Before I go any further, let me say I love living in California. I love the lifestyle and the people. However, I was born and raised in the south and, YES, Florida is part of the south. I’ve lived in Manhattan for a time and traveled somewhat. This has given me an appreciation of all the states. I am including Wyoming, which I cannot personally say exists because I’ve never been there nor met anyone from Wyoming. Yoo-hoo! Are you there? Raise your hand. I would love to meet you! Anyway, back to California. While the Golden State is wonderful, there are a few things about it I don’t like: 1 – A lot of people drive like they are the only person on the road. That can be dangerous and annoying. 2 – there is a snobbery with some that Californians were and are above such horrors as prejudice (Internment of the Japanese during WWII is often glossed over, for instance). So imagine my surprise when I came across these articles on the existence of slavery in California, which not only included the indigenous population, but Chinese, African, and African-Americans. Does it bring California down…

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Nobody Can Get Into Anything These Days

Forget the old saw: Old People Can’t Get Into Their Food. Now nobody can get into anything. It all started with the Tylenol poisonings back in 1982 and has escalated from there. So crazy people, beware. There is no more ease in ‘tampering’ with stuff. If you want to hide yourself in the corner of a drugstore and do something dastardly to some medicine basking on a nearby shelf, you are going to need a hacksaw and a drill, because nowadays everything is protected, from aspirin to flash drives. I bought some face cream the other day and after ten minutes of struggle even with a pair of scissors, had to ask for brawnier help. It took my husband and me another ten minutes to get into a package of which any instructions were made unreadable by our efforts. We tore, cut, ripped and bit our way to success, but if the manufacturer wanted us to know something in particular about the product, it was lost. Plus all this safety in packaging costs extra $$$. And that extra $$$ is passed along to the consumer. And it gets worse. Long gone are the days when you can take an unopened box or bag of anything with you to the beach, hoping you can just rip it open when needed. You need to make a plan of access. You need tools, brawn, time, and energy. Sure it’s safety. And sure, it resonates of today’s security issues. But boy oh boy, I sure would like to open a bottle of Tylenol without being equipped with tools often used for cracking a safe. Just sayin’.

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Why I Love Going to Writers Conferences…

…even though they are expensive and exhausting. It isn’t just what I learn attending panels on a variety of subjects, either. For me, it’s the camaraderie, getting together again with people I only see at these events. It’s the sharing, laughing, commiserating. it’s worth its weight in gold. The truth? I love mystery writers and I love being a part of their world. Not just because we have a common interest, but because mystery writers are so danged generous of spirit. They are willing to share tips and lessons that took them months, if not years to learn. Basically, why should you go through what they went through? No beauty pageant mentality here. The attitude is we are all in this crazy business together, so let’s help one another out. And we do. I just returned from Left Coast Crime (LCC) in Vancouver, Ca. What a beautiful city. What a beautiful event. What beautiful, like-minded people. I may be prejudice, but I happen to think LCC is the premier example of a writers and fans conference that promotes the learning/friendship/mentoring approach to these conferences. And even though they are expensive and exhausting, I can’t wait for next year’s 2020 LCC event in San Diego.  I mean, do we look like we’re having a good time or what? Left to right:  Danna Dennis Wilberg, Ana Manwaring, Heather Haven, Cindy Sample, Janice Peacock and Baird Nuckolls  

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Marriage Can Be Murder

Marriage Can Be Murder, Book 2 of the Love Can Be Murder Mystery Novellas, debuts on March 17th. While it has nothing to do with St. Patty’s Day, nonetheless I want to cry “faith and begorrah!” These novellas are lighter and shorter than the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries and showcase the Nick and Nora Charles of Silicon Valley, newly married Lee Alvarez and Gurn Hanson. I had a lot of fun putting these two lovebirds in a story wrapped around Delores De La Vega, an aging celluloid diva who has been married eight times. Whoops! Did I write that? I didn’t mean aging. Scratch that. I meant ageless, of course, ageless. Plastic surgeons take note. In my mind, I tossed around personas the likes of  Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, and Zsa Zsa Gabor to come up with a woman who is as famous for her looks and multi-marriages as she is for her acting ability and animal activism. And like so many of us, she brings to the table her strengths and weaknesses. In Marriage Can Be Murder we find out about her and the ex-husbands who seem to still adore her.  Or do they? Because just who is trying to kill Delores De La Vega? Debuting March 17th for only $1.99.

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STARTING THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT, ANA MANWARING VISITS

Welcome, everyone! And Happy New Year. Today my guest is Ana Manwaring, a talented author talking about her debut book, Set Up: Secrets and Lies in Zihuatanejo. Set Up is the first of The JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures and after reading the first book, I am glad to know there will be many more in the series.  I’ve asked Ana a few questions about herself and her answers are entertaining, informative, and charming! 1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Before I could read, I knew I would write stories. Dad read to me every night. It was the best time of day. I had vivid, exciting dreams and liked to re-tell them later, filling -in what I couldn’t remember with fiction. When I was eleven I had my palm read and the reader said I’d be a best-seller when I was fifty. I’ll go with that! Seventy, the new fifty, right? 2. How did you pick the genre you write in? I think suspense /thriller picked me. I’d always read mysteries and cold war thrillers, but when I considered writing, my ideas tended more toward commercial literature: family sagas, historical and poetry. Then the narco-thug pointed his rifle at me as I trundled south down the Pan American Highway through Michoacán in my VW pop-top camper. The story started writing itself as soon as I could take a breath and stop shaking. 3. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? I wrote the first draft of Set Up (under a different title and in the 3rd person) during NaNoWriMo, which I “won.” I started with a first chapter written and no plan whatsoever. The process of high intensity writing and letting the characters lead the way was heady and exhilarating. I truly experienced “writer’s…

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