Cousin to Cousin

Just returned from Montreal and it was a Cuz Love Fest! First of all, I met my own cousin there, fellow Muse Author, Grace DeLuca. It’s so great when you admire and love a relative, a rarity, as everybody knows. But Grace happens to be one of my favorite people, even though she tends to order hamburgers and french fries when we’re out, knowing I am weak and will follow suit. Gracie and I haven’t seen each other in person for five years, what with her living in Florida and me in California. Sure, we talk on the phone and email each other regularly but give me a real hug over a virtual one every time! We played catchup, revealed secrets to one another we would tell no one else, and talked about us, us, us. It was heaven.Then I got a chance to visit America’s cousin, Canada, and meet Canadians on their own turf. Friendly, friendly, friendly. And it seems to come from the heart. I can’t wait to go back. I was so busy with the Muse events and visiting with Grace, I never got into the city of Montreal at all! That’s okay, it merely means I need to return. Montreal Jazz Festival in July, here I come!! Lastly, I got to meet those two Muse dynamos, Lea and Litsa, in the flesh. These amazing women are loaded with smarts, integrity and honor. Plus, they are two energizer bunnies dedicated to the Muse authors like no body’s business. I found them to be in the author’s corner and know us pretty well, sort of like the way a first-rate teacher knows her students. But Lea smacks with a wet noodle instead of a yardstick.At the Friday night get-together dinner, we had a chance to learn something about…

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What I Know About Canada…

…you could probably put on the head of a pin and still have room left over for a recipe for Yankee pot roast. I don’t say this with any pride. I say this with the jarring realization I may be ignorant about our neighbors.In two days I leave for the first ever MuseItup Publishing Meet and Greet taking place in Montreal. It also coincides with a mammoth book fair where…gasp….2000 Canadians have been known to show up. So if I don’t want to come across like an idiot, I’d better get cracking on gathering some facts about Canada. Let’s see what I know:First, it’s to the north. Scoff not. I’ll bet you if you asked a roomful of 7th graders, some of them wouldn’t know that. I like to take my points where I can get them.Second, they have mounted policemen who always get their man. I know several female friends like that, but we’ll let that go for the moment. Moving on, these mounted policemen sing songs astride their trusty steeds in a gorgeous baritone voice and look like Nelson Eddy. Soooo not a bad look. Songs like “Give Me Some Men Who Are Stouthearted Men” and “When I’m Calling You” and others are thrown in here and there while rounding up the bad guys. I think it’s a diversionary tactic.If you don’t believe me, hie thee to Netflix and rent “Rose Marie,” one of those oldie goldie movies, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. A bonus is you get a gorgeous Jeanette McDonald singing in E above birdcall and if I remember rightly, she does it while sitting in a canoe. Imagine the balance needed to do that and still hit those high notes. I was mightily impressed with Canadian womanhood.Third and speaking of singing, their national…

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Happy Halloween!!

Here is a little short story I wrote for MuseitUp Pub’s blogsite: SpookedbyHeather Haven Cliff adjusted the eye-patch and scrutinized the perfect but expensive pirate’s reflection in the full length mirror. From black leather boots to golden earring, he looked real enough to sail the seven seas. And just as lusty. Women liked that.“You’re one handsome son of a bitch, Cliffy Boy, if I do say so myself.” He let out a raucous laugh. “Especially now that you’re a widower.”The doorbell rang. He grumbled about early trick-or-treaters as he went to the door. He wanted to leave momentarily for the Halloween party, hoping to score big with that hot Jocelyn, from the life insurance company. It was so nice when employees from the very company paying off for your wife’s demise also put out. Two short months of her being dead and he’d never seen so much action. All those babes just waiting to comfort him.“Ahoy there, matie!’ He flung open the door, posed then looked up and down the hallway. There was no one. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small creature scurry across the threshold and into his apartment. “Damn it to hell,” he bellowed and turned around to see his dead wife’s black cat run through the living room and out onto the terrace, the terrace from where he’d helped his wife to her untimely but necessary death. After all, she’d been cramping his style.That day he would have tossed the beast over the railing, too, if he could have caught it. But right after the ‘accident,’ it ran out into the hallway meowing at the front door of their nosy neighbor, who’d scooped it up and took it inside. Ever since then, anytime he would step into the hallway to go to…

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Ellie, My Black Cat, Is Depressed

Elphaba Queen of da Nile, better known as Ellie, is devastated. She’d applied for a job as a witch’s assistant but didn’t get the job. Now true, she isn’t authentically a black cat, being in reality a Black Ash i.e. black hair at the tip, pale grey at the root, but still. Being rejected hurts. When the witch – who shall be nameless – sent back Ellie’s application, she wrote Ellie didn’t have the right attitude. As her mommy, I should have read what Ellie wrote on the application before she sent it out. This is my fault.I’m sure what killed the deal was the answer to the question, ‘how do you feel about being my familiar?’ Ellie replied she didn’t want to get familiar with the witch, as she would be merely working for her and not her friend or family. In addition Ellie added, she didn’t want to get dirty, so there would be no riding brooms or climbing down chimneys. She would be willing to continue lounging on a cushion – color of the witch’s choice as long as it was silk – for eight-hours a day, with two fifteen minute breaks and ninety-minutes for lunch.The witch — and I believe that’s spelled with a capital “B” — said Ellie sounded a little too California for her. It’s all my little sweetie can do not to raid the catnip collection and drown her sorrows. I am off to buy her a few new toys and a new chapeau for Halloween. Hope you like last year’s hat! But, darlings, soooo passe!

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Nothing Like a Writers Retreat to Get You Back On Track

Being able to do nothing but write – and being forced to write — is heaven on earth. Even if you don’t have kids under foot, the day-to-day stuff gets in the way, especially if there is a spouse or loved one in the vicinity. I also have two demanding cats, who think they are neurotic French Poodles i.e. love me, want me, hold me, feed me. Wait, that’s my husband, too! Then the phone rings, the handyman drops by, the dishes need to be done and what’s that dust bunny doing over in the corner like that? There are days when I will make ANY excuse not to write, including cleaning out the laundry room or answering every email I’ve gotten for the past several months.But when you’ve paid good money to be somewhere to write, driven hours to get there, joined other writing buddies to create something, making excuses is not going to cut it.All I had to do was make my bed. End of story. Three meals a day were provided – fabulous food, I might add – and I could write, write, write. So I wrote, wrote, wrote. It was great. I also got several ideas for my new mystery series, which is a bonus. That’s what happens when you get to think about nothing but you and your work.I remember reading once Mark Twain had a secreted place on his summer estate, a small, one-room building, where he would go off by himself. I think Ernest Hemingway used his home in Key West in much the same way when he was there. You ever been to Key West in the summer? Believe me, there’s nothing to do but sit and pant. You may as well jot down some words while you’re at it.Everybody needs a…

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My This and That Has Been Awesome Lately!

Some fabulous things have been happening for me lately! The 2nd book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, A Wedding to Die For, is one of the three finalist in EPIC’s mystery book of the year. This is so exciting. then I was asked to do a reading at Litquake last week with such mystery heavy weights as Cara Black and Jacqueline Winspear! I mean, really! They are so incredible. The wonderful Meg Waite Clayton was there, as well, do a reading from her book, The Four Ms. Bradwells. Meg is a fine, fine writer, as was everyone else at the Murder, Mayhem, and Moxie readings. Tomorrow I’m off to a writing retreat in Healdsberg. Hubby Norman will be taking care of the cats and holding down the homestead. What a guy! Then November 3rd, I’m off to the MuseItUp Conference in Montreal where I will finally meet my publisher, Lea Shizaz, and our marketing expert, Litsa, and many other fellow Muse authors in person. Life is good, friends, life is good!

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Book Milestone Party Huge Success!

Yesterday at Baird Nuckolls home, I was surrounded by talented, giving friends and writers, who shared their good will and best wishes with me. Baird throws a party as she does everything else in her life, like a master, being a true Renaissance Woman. It was a perfect soirée. The weather was glorious, the wine and cheese first-rate. Some people brought gifts and flowers, totally unexpected, but I accepted their offerings with gratitude and humility, because the greatest gift they gave was of themselves. The Bay Area is a big place and some friends traveled as far as from Oakland, Sausalito, and Half Moon Bay to be with me on this day. Friends like this are a blessing, whether near or far. I will never, never forget Sunday, August 21st. It was a milestone for me in so many ways. Thank you all so very much.

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Night Owl’s Treasure Hunt http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nor/Pages/FullMoonDetails.aspx

It seems like it’s almost time to do a treasure hunt! Night Owl’s Treasure Hunt is soon to commence and if that’s your thing, September 1st is the first day to start hunting. The contest ends October 31st and you have to find the symbol (to the right) in at least 25 places, 40 for the grand prize. Go to the website for more details, altho I can’t get the url to paste into the body of the blog, only the title! Don’t that beat all?

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Grace’s New Blog

My cousin, Grace DeLuca, is a great person and a fine writer. Her first book, a YA called Betwixt and Between, was published in May by MuseItUp Publishing. Grace now has her own blogsite By Grace at http://gracedelbygrace.blogspot.com/. Pop on over and see it and leave a comment. Thanks and have a great day!

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Book By Book

The first book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, Murder is a Family Business, is finally in print. As my book was published by a small, independent epublisher called MuseItUp, there were and are no provision made for marketing print copies of books. Actually, the fact it has come out in print at all is a minor miracle to me. That said, I ordered 75 copies of my book at discounted prices, intent on distributing them myself. Naturally, because I am married, I roped my husband into helping me. So husband, Norman, and I threw the books into the trunk of the car and started the job of trying to get independent bookstores in the Bay Area to carry the book. We are helped by the fact the book cover is so darling you could eat it with a spoon. Thank you, cover artist, Delilah K. Stephans. It’s a great size, too, somewhere in-between a pocket book and a hard cover. The book shows really well. That said, I still can’t bring myself to go into stores and ask them to carry it. I simply can’t. I blither, I blush, I stammer, I look everywhere but at the person in charge. I have discovered I am horrible at promoting myself. So Norman to my rescue. He’s also darling and is willing to wear a suit in the summer heat to give him a professional touch. Wearing his new Panama straw hat, he marches right into that store, and tries to talk them into carrying my book while I trail behind. Norman introduces me, says I have laryngitis, which I did but don’t anymore, but it is really so much better if I still pretend to. Norman is terrific. I, as I’ve said, become a mere shell of my former…

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