Frank Scully is Here! Drumroll, Please!

I’m thrilled to say Frank Scully has graced us with his cyber presence. This is one fine writer. And he’s also a cat lover! Frank has had a very interesting life, and I hope all of you will enjoy his interview as much as I did. Welcome, Frank! Heather, it is a pleasure to stop by and guest on your blog. Always nice to visit a fellow Muser, and I have enjoyed your Alvarez Murder Mystery series. We are also apparently both cat lovers as well as mystery writers. Cats are a mystery in themselves that no one will ever solve. Anyway, thanks for letting me stop by to mention my latest book, EMPTY TIME. I had fun writing this one. In most of my books the hero is, well, a hero type. A soldier or a cop, even if a part time deputy, or something similar. In EMPTY TIME, my protagonist, Jim Lang, starts out as a fat-bottomed corporate bureaucrat who is set up to be the patsy for international stock fraud, murder and other crimes. Now, although I have a day job as a corporate bureaucrat, it shouldn’t be assumed that I have a generous backside or am anything like the hero. However, I do know the inner workings of the corporate world and business negotiations all too well. Fortunately, I haven’t been set up to take the blame for murder and had to run from cops on several continents or been the target for killers. But who knows what might happen after my bosses read this book. Today’s corporate titans are much like the feudal lords and barons of medieval times. They claw and scheme their way up a ladder of prestige, privilege, wealth and power. However, unlike feudal times there is no code of conduct or…

Read more

Well, Thanksgiving Has Come And Gone But…

…why does Life keep interfering with my writing? Who’s going to eat all this leftover turkey crammed inside my fridge? And why am I the one stuck with thinking about it? And why does my home look like the inside of a frat house? And again I say, when can I get back to my writing? I now understand why many historical writers were hysterical curmudgeons, not to mention recluses. It’s the only way you can get your work done.A short time ago, I finished giving my mother-in-law’s dog a bath. There were a myriad of steps that led to it, but there you are. She and her son, my husband, just went swimming. The house is quiet. Finally. Praise the Lord and pass the pen.LIVING VS. WRITING. WRITING VS. LIVING. And never the twain shall meet. Well, hardly ever.

Read more

No, I didn’t Save the Spider

I’m not sure what’s up with me lately, but I and the animal kingdom are not quite getting along. First, the day before I left for the MuseItUp Retreat, my cat, Ellie used my neck as a perceived ladder in her bid for freedom. She repeatedly tells me this wasn’t her fault, though.Being half-Siamese and half-Egyptian Mau (black one on the left), Ellie can only take so much at the vet’s before she makes a break for it. She says her high-strung-edness has something to do with being related to Queen Cleopatera. That would be the half-Egyptian part, I’m thinking. Ellie says you can’t have a relative who got bit on the asp without inheriting a very sensitive nature, no matter how long ago it was. Anyway, I go back to the doctor on Monday to check the remnants of the Cat Scratch Fever. I still have a little lumpy scar on my…ahem…double chin from that episode. I mean, enough already. I’m only one person.Then and excuse me all to pieces for being annoyed over this, several days ago I got bit by a spider. This renegade spider hid inside the sleeve of my big shirt, inside my closet, inside my bedroom and then had the unmitigated gall to attack me, totally unprovoked. By the time this vile hooligan found a piece of unprotected skin — I wore this big shirt over a blouse — I was at a 1-day retreat at a friend’s house, walking down the street on a break, and minding my own business. Then YOWSER! I mean the inside of my lower arm felt the mighty jaws of this monster. I ripped off the shirt and there it was still clinging to inside the sleeve! At first I thought it was a bumble bee but I…

Read more

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

I may not have seen all the photos from the MuseItUp Meet and Greet in Montreal, but I’ve seen enough. Let me say this about that: my hair tells the story. It drooped, it dripped, it sagged and it flagged. I’m sure this is because I was not at my best and NOT being a type A personality, it showed. I can rally, but only so much. Two days before my departure to Montreal, I came down with a bad cold. The following day I took my beloved sweetie-pie, Ellie, cat extraordinairre, to the vet for her checkup and shots. Once at the vet’s and having had enough, Ellie decided to make a break for freedom and used my neck in her panic to escape needles, prodding, and Q-tips. I bled profusely, the vet scurried, and Ellie ultimately leaped into her carrier to safety. The next morning the puncture wounds on my neck were swollen to goiter size, I was running a fever, and feeling miserable. Catch Scratch Fever, here I come! I thought for sure I would have to bail on the trip but didn’t want to do that. So sniffling with the cold and feverish from the infectious scratches, I went to the doctor for mega-size antibiotics and the okay to go. The doc gave it reluctantly. Ordinarily, I would have gone back to bed, feeling enormously sorry for myself, and sent an email of regret. But I had been looking forward to this trip for nearly 8-months. I hadn’t seen my beloved cousin for nearly 5-years and wanted to meet the publisher, staff and authors who’d turned my life around. I was going to go to Montreal if I had to be carried on board the plane. It almost came to that.The bottom line is after it’s…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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!

Read more

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…

Read more

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!

Read more