Halloween is Coming! And It’s Double Double Toil and Trouble!

It’s odd what can give birth to a series. The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries happened after years of research for my stand-alone circus noir mystery, Death of a Clown. I didn’t want all of the knowledge I’d gleaned of the nineteen-forties to go to waste! In addition, I had been challenged to write a mystery with a protagonist who wasn’t an ideal beauty, i.e. young, svelte, and beautiful. So I came up with Persephone (Percy) Cole, who I believe fills the criteria. Thirty-five years old – considered middle-aged in the forties – Percy is a five-foot eleven, full-figured gal, with a wicked sense of humor, and a take no prisoners’ attitude. Her one soft spot is her eight-year old son, Oliver, a child that gives her life meaning. Fortunately, when I created a character physically larger than most men of seventy plus years ago, I was offering up a woman who was quite comfortable with being a female Sam Spade. As one of the country’s first female private investigators, Percy fits into a man’s world at a time when few women did. The first of the series, The Dagger Before Me, takes place over Halloween in a Broadway theater during a production of Macbeth. I chose a Broadway theater because I worked backstage in most of them for many years. I am very familiar with what is often considered an exotic job in an exotic world. Celebrating Halloween, The Dagger Before Me is on sale from October 3 through 10 for only 99¢. Iced Diamonds takes place in the Diamond District of Manhattan, although sadly, I don’t know diamonds nearly as well as I know Broadway. However, I found the idea of a dead elf in the storefront window of a jeweler’s during the Christmas season mad fun to write about. The Chocolate Kiss-Off revolves around chocolate and murder. What could be better? Valentine’s Day is upon…

Read more

Am I Emotionally Involved In Some Scenes I Write? Nooooo, Never!

Pretty much everyone knows the phrase ‘4th wall’ refers to that make-believe wall which separates those onstage from the audience in a theater. Theoretical, the ‘4th wall’ has been removed so the audience can vicariously experience whatever is happening onstage from a safe and neutral distance. But pish-tosh. Vicarious is not a part of my working vocabulary. Neutral is merely a gear on my car. When a character suffers, I suffer. If everyone onstage is sad and melancholy, that’s my lot in life, too, at least until the final curtain call. I am that audience member who weeps so loudly my sobs disturb everyone else. Sorry. I remember when I was writing the third book of the Alvarez Family Mystery Series, Death Runs in the Family. There  was a scene involving Lee Alvarez, protagonist, and the catnapping of her cat, Tugger, and his playmate, Baba. The two stolen felines were in the back of a station wagon on their way from Palo Alto, CA, to Las Vegas, NV. It would be around an eight hour drive, bad enough for two cats trapped in their carrier in the real world, but this was make believe, right? Well, not really. I had to stop in the middle of the scene, leaving it unfinished for the next three days. I don’t remember why, but at the time it was necessary. On the third night I awoke from a deep sleep completely distraught. Lying beside me, my husband sleepily asked what was wrong. “Darling,” I said, “I left those two cats in the back of the station wagon without food and water for three days! I have to go rescue them!” “You mean the cats in your book? The one’s you’re writing about? The fictional ones?” “Yes, but I can’t stand it. I have to free them. I have to finish the…

Read more

Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries

For the past two weeks, nine authors and I have been either posting or commenting on posts regarding our newly released set of 10 books, Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries.  Boosting over 3,000 pages of fine reading at $2.99, I had to buy a copy for myself. I just couldn’t pass it up. During the past 14-days, I’ve had the opportunity to got to know authors I hadn’t met before and become reacquainted with the ones I do. I’m pretty proud of being a part of this series. Putting me aside, it includes  women whose talent and credentials are impressive. And they all are pretty danged nice. If you are into the world of mysteries, whether it be humorous, light-weight, serious or deep, there is something here for everyone. Give it a gander: Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of 10 full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by 10 critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in this set is the first book in an established multi-book series–a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston–Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder… Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths–and handsome detective Michael…

Read more

American Association of University Women

The AAUW has been empowering women since 1881. Women who have accomplished something, anything, reach out to help other women, especially the younger ones. It’s a tradition among these fine, learned women and a noble one, at that. As a writer, I am proud to say that I have been moderating some author events, mainly the ones chaired by Barbara Evans for the past four years taking place at Michaels At Shoreline Restaurant. On behalf of the the Palo Alto AAUW Luncheon, this event will benefit tech trek program for middle school girls. This year the lineup of authors is astounding. They are amazingly gifted writers, recipients of a multitude of awards, and I look forward to spending an hour or so with them. Please join us on Saturday, April 9, at 11 am. for an informative and fabulous luncheon event! M. P. Cooley, author of Ice Shear    NoViolet Bulawayo, author of  We Need New Names       Elizabeth Rosner, author of Electric City       Azadeh Tabazadeh, author of The Sky Detective   Save

Read more

Killarney Sheffield, The Author, And Barbie, The Horse

This is the third installment of the story of a woman, Killarney Sheffield, who gives her all to her writing such as her latest book, The Emperor’s Concubine. She also gives her all to her family and her horses. One horse in particular, Barbie, learned that gentleness does exist through the care and guidance of Killarney’s love. The author shows there’s often much more to a writer than words. Rescuing Barbie The Barbie in my story is not a doll, but a palomino American Quarter Horse from Idaho USA. I was approached by her owner to take her after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was given just a few months left to live. When I heard Barbie’s story I sat in my truck and cried tears of sorrow for this little horse, partly because of what she had been through, and partly because I had been an abused child myself and could understand how she must have felt. My parents were abusive and at a tender age I was taken away from them so they couldn’t hurt me anymore. I was lucky though, I had great foster parents to teach me not all people were bad and to look after me as I grew up. What Barbie needed was a foster mother who understood her pain and would help her learn not all people were bad too. Poor Barbie’s story was so sad. When she was two years old she was taken from her mother to start her training to be a show horse. It was all very new and sudden. She was being difficult to catch since she is a very nervous horse. The man chased her into a barn and because she had never been in a barn before she was scared and refused to let him…

Read more

Killarney Sheffield, In Her Own Words

Today I’m continuing with the talented and fascinating Killarney Sheffield. The picture to the right is one of her happy and healthy horses. To the left, her latest novel, The Emperor’s Concubine, a post-apocalyptic romance.  Below is her life story, told in her own words. Just Who Is Killarney Sheffield Anyway? This month my publisher has asked us authors to introduce ourselves. So the question being asked and answered here is, just who is Killarney Sheffield anyway? Well folks, that is a many layered question! Who I am, vs who I think I am, and who others perceive me to be, are very different things sometimes. I am a former foster kid who always had a deep love for just three things in life, my beloved Granny Key who died when I was sixteen, horses and writing. After years of sexual, physical and mental abuse I was put into foster care at age thirteen. For me it was a terrifying experience, but there were two things I could count on, horses and writing. The horses were and still are my best friends. I didn’t have friends in school. I was bullied, teased, picked on and beat up regularly. School was torture! Not only was it not a safe place for me, but being an undiagnosed dyslexic at that time made math and spelling seem like hiking up Mount Everest. My school days were spent hiding out in the library, or music room and then running off to the safety of the barn when the bell rang at three o’clock. The horses were always there for me. It didn’t matter if I was sitting on a bale of hay telling them about my day, caring for them, or crying with my arms wrapped around their necks, they always listened and to…

Read more

My Guest Blogger is J.Q. Rose, Author of Deadly Undertaking

J.Q. Rose and I are exchanging blogs today. She and I are fast virtual friends, as we’ve never met in person. However, through the years I have come to know and respect my pen-pal colleague, not just as a mystery writer, but as a fine human being. Please join me in welcoming J.Q. Rose, who has a wonderful tale of the heart to tell. She continues on a blog tour promoting her new book, Deadly Undertaking. Thank you, Heather, for hosting me today. Deadly Undertaking is dedicated to a special woman in my life, my friend and mentor, Bernie Frens. Sadly she passed away two years ago after struggling with Alzheimer’s disease for over ten years. Discovering she had this debilitating disease was heartbreaking news for her, her family, and for us. But, Bernie was a strong woman and   leaned on God for strength and courage to face the future. Bernie, about twenty years older than me, came to me at the right time when I needed her knowledge, patience, and skill set. She came to ask me for a job. My husband and I had just purchased a floral shop and greenhouses in a small town in Michigan. When we moved from Central Illinois, we didn’t know a person in that town, but we were fired up to become members of the community and make our fledgling business a success. We had absolutely no training as business owners and no experience in the flower business. The only knowledge I had about flowers I learned when I helped in my family’s funeral business. One of my jobs was to help my mom set up the display of funeral arrangements for a visitation and funeral service. The background for my character, Lauren Staab, in Deadly Undertaking comes from my growing up in the…

Read more

Guardian Angels et al

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Hamlet Act 1, scene 5 When I was twenty, I had life all figured out. When I hit forty, not so much. Now at this number of spent decades I realize I don’t know squat. I used to be a doubting Thomas about anything I couldn’t see up close and personal. But let’s face it. I can’t see bacteria, not without a microscope, and there are one or two of those suckers which just might take humanity out one of these days. Ebola. A game changer. And Pluto. First it didn’t exist. Then it did. Then it was a planet. Then it wasn’t. Now it’s a dwarf planet. Whatever. All because we found it with a mammoth telescope. But it’s been doing its thing all this time, regardless of what we call it or when we saw it. But back to me and what I can’t see, like my guardian angel. I didn’t know I had one until after my mother passed about a year and a half ago. Mom and I were close. Her death, even though expected, took a lot from me. We were more than mother and daughter. We were good friends. Recently, I was speaking to her as I am wont to do upon occasion. It had been an odd, down day for me, so I asked my mother out loud if I had guardian angel. I knew Mom was a believer. She wore one of several small pins depicting guardian angels on her lapel or collar every day. I heard my mother’s voice as sure as if she was in the next room. “Of course, you do. It’s your Aunt Ann.” I was shocked for a lot of reasons (let’s put aside hearing your dead…

Read more

1% Polynesian Princess

I just had my DNA tested. 99 bucks and you find out who you are, although I thought I already knew. For a girl who is the off-spring of a 100% Italian/American on my mom’s side (both her parents came from Bari, Italy) and the other (my father), with a mother named Margaret MacLaughlin (can you get any more Irish sounding). My grandfather was English/French Canadian (De Haven), so I didn’t think this news would be too shocking. And yet…. here are the results. Africa North 2% Europe West 49% Italy/Greece 24% Iberian Peninsula 8% Trace Regions 8% Pacific Islander < 1% Trace Regions < 1% And the Irish would be where? But on the upside, I find having even a scant 1% Polynesian is exhilarating. I mean, how exotic is that!! And while I haven’t learned yet that I am a dyed-in-the-wool Polynesian Princess, until hard evidence says otherwise, that’s what I’m going with. My call. This is sooooo me. Now I know why I love Hawaii!  Pass the tiara and the poi. Here’s some info on my new people: Most of Polynesia’s islands lie within a triangular area in the Pacific Ocean. The Polynesian Triangle’s “points” are Hawaii, Easter Island (Rapu Nui) and New Zealand. It’s a world defined by the ocean. With about 120,000 square miles of land spread across some 10 million square miles of water, Polynesia’s islands were among the last places on Earth to be settled by humans. Despite great distances separating the outer islands, the Polynesian people are linked by linguistic, cultural and genetic ties.  

Read more

Time To Chuck The Bengay

  Hubby and I just returned from a ten-day cruise. Cruising seems to be what more ‘mature’ people do these days. I suspect it has something to do with not having to pack and unpack every time you hit a new place. That can be such a drag. Add into the mix someone comes in to straighten out your room three times a day, and makes and serves your meals. Now you’ve really got something. Everything is done for you with a big smile, whether they mean it or not. Being home the first day was a shock. What is this, I have to open my own refrigerator door and find something to cook for dinner? What do you mean I have to make my own bed? While I loved being home and cuddling with my cats, this was a big let-down. I pondered all of this as I brushed my teeth, concentrating hard on my lust for the sybaritic lifestyle. After about twenty-seconds I noticed the toothpaste tasted funny. I picked up the tube and read the label: Bengay. I panicked then rinsed and spit, expecting my entire mouth to tingle and burn from the ointment. It didn’t. I read further on the label. Expiration date: 2011.  What had once been a soothing muscle ointment became a gelatinous nothing in only four years over it’s due date.I looked at my face. Only several decades over my due date. Time to take another cruise.

Read more