Friday, May 30, 2014

A Few Shout Outs

As I’m finishing up a novel by Jenny Milchman it occurs to me that over the past few years I’ve met some incredible writers. I’m so thankful to have come into their orbit and to be inspired and awed by them. So, I thought I’d share them with you. Sound good?

Let’s begin with Jenny. She’s currently traveling the earth with her husband and two young children to promote her newest book, RUIN FALLS (my current read). She’s doing something with a tour like that that will make  her a legend. Really. She graciously allowed that I could do a guest blog back in March and you can see it here

Betsy Bitner writes for the Times Union. She’s articulate, funny, and has the ability to write to the core of our humanness, a rare gift. Her stories appear at Untreed Reads in THE KILLER WORE CRANBERRY anthology series. Her entertaining blog, Lost in the Adirondacks, can be found here

Robert Knightly writes excellent police procedurals. I loved BODIES IN WINTER. He’s got the inside scoop on crime seeing as how he’s a former NYC cop and all. The stories he could tell! Catch him and some other interesting writers on his blog Crime Writers Chronicle here

Karen Lange is a home schooling mom who wrote about it in HOMESCHOOL CO-OPS  101. I participated in a blog tour for her book, my first one ever! I was pleased to be able to help her get it off the ground. A boon to her fellow writers as wsell and her blog can be found here

Rhonda Schrock is a writer who’s just a hair’s breadth from syndication. Feel it in my bones. Not only does she share her faith and her family on her blog, she’s another writer who tickles your funny bone. To the point of needing a box of tissues beside you as  you read. She has a regular column in The Goshen News and her blog is here

Barb Goffman is a short story writer and a dynamo at that. It was my privilege to see her accept the Macavity Award at Bouchercon last fall for her stunning short story, THE LORD IS MY SHAMUS. She’s one of my Facebook buds. Barb’s website can be found here

Poke around in these writers blogs. There’s good stuff in all of them. I’m so honored to know these talented people. They delight, inform and humble me. And have I said how much I appreciate every one of you who reads my blog? No? Well here ya go . . .

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the top of my head and the tips of my toes. You are wonderful!

Image: Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cursed With Imagination

You know how I’m always noticing things, right? Lately there have been a few “sightings” that have had my over-active imagination soaring. For instance . . .

We were on our way to an awards ceremony at the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady. Our grandson, Sam, had invented The Kernel Destroyer, a device that separates un-popped popcorn kernels from the fluff we eat. Very cool. Anyway,  I was riding in the back seat, and as we zipped down an off ramp I caught a brief glimpse of a dinosaur. That’s right. Didn’t know there were any of those still around didja? Now, there are some who would tell you that it was just a misshapen tree trunk, but if you’d seen this thing you would agree with me. It was a Velociraptor and I think I saw a claw move when I whipped back quick to get a second look.

And then a few days later, as I drove down State Farm Road from the grocery store, I spotted a Wookie. Remember those from Star Wars? Big, growly beasts with a set of bangs every school girl in America lusts after. Okay, this Wookie was mowing the lawn and looked suspiciously like a woman wearing a strange gardening hat. But I have to tell you I looked three times and almost hit a squirrel  crossing the road (dumb thing doubled back on me). That was no woman with a push mower. No siree. That was a Wookie.

So then, I thought, what if the Velociraptor and the Wookie know each other and are here to scope out the planet for the evil Prime Minister of Blackmoor?  And perhaps they’re seeking a way to communicate with devices yet un-developed by humans. Like a Kernel Destroyer. Good grief. What hath Sam wrought?

I know he’s the innocent in all of this and would never consent to any million dollar patent that these creatures might offer. Right Sam? I mean, how could they even do that?

Unless . . . one of them adopted a clever disguise whereby they appeared to be the head guy at the U.S. Patent office all friendly and welcoming like. Dang, I never thought of that until now.

I’d better call Sam and warn him. After all he did get an award certificate and a shiny trophy for his invention so he’s a hot commodity right now. Poor kid.

Not only that, he’s been saddled with a grandmother whose imagination is downright scary. Poor kid.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ah, Old Movies

Every time I think there’s nothing left to interest me on Netflix, I’m proved wrong. My most recent find took me on a trip down memory lane. The movie I found was Romancing the Stone. Remember that one? Stars included Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, and Danny Davito. They were all young and vibrant then. One of those 80’s movies you wished you had the one sheet for. Um – the one sheet is the advertising poster theaters put up to promote this week’s feature.

Part of the fun for me is the clothes. Believe it or not Kathleen didn’t look that out of date in her neutrals and wedge sandals. Her hair was wavy and halfway down her back. Well, so was Michael’s, but it only accentuated his chiseled jaw. Sigh. Together they romped through Columbia, South America, following a much hunted for map, trying to find the “stone”, a massive emerald. They, in turn, were being hunted by Danny Davito and a host of other bad guys. I think I loved every minute of it. Davito delivers a one liner like nobody else. Hilarious.

This morning I watched a movie reviewer talking with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. The reviewer mentioned E.T.  Boy, that brings back memories. A great movie for kids and I took mine. Poor little E.T. was so timid he hid in the closet, shivering. It seemed like forever before he befriended Barrymore and her brother. But then the magic happened and we’re left with a song, Heartlight, by Neil Diamond and an image. A boy, a bike, and a little alien all set out against a full moon. Flying high. And didn’t we all shed a tear when E.T. had to leave? All he wanted was what we all want. "E.T. go home". Hearts were broken all over America, though. We would have had E.T. stay.

Good memories of good movies is a good thing to think about on a drizzly Friday morning. How about your faves?  Care to share a few?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sierra, Sisters, and Frozen

A sad truth has been working its way into my head. Our last baby is growing up. She’s three and beyond delightful and I get to spend most Tuesdays with her. Sierra. One of Grandma’s angels. The youngest of our six.

Yesterday, Tuesday, she sat happily in the back seat while I tooled around town doing a few errands.

“Gramma, do you want to sing Fwozen?”

Now, I have to tell you, I’ve watched Frozen and approve. I know Sierra is particularly fond of it. Her first  real passion in life (except for maybe peanut butter toast). But the movie has captivated her imagination like nothing I’ve seen so far.

“How about Let it Go?” I ask.


“I can’t remember how it goes. Will you sing it for me?”

No problem there. In her adorable three-year-old fractured English she begins.

“The snow gwos bight on da mountain tonight . . .” And Sierra is off. Until she gets to a part where she knows she’s flubbed it. And then I hear . . . “Otay, otay. I gotta start over.”

She finishes as we round the corner for home and says, “That’s my favwit.”

“You know my favorite?” I ask. And she does.

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman.” Sierra giggles as she says it. She’s thinking of Olaf, the snowman Elsa builds for her sister, Anna, before she draws away from her.

But I have to disappoint Sierra. Because I can’t sing that song without tears welling in my eyes and I tell her so. Silence from the back seat. She can’t possibly know all the emotion that song brings to mind.

Frozen is about sacrifice. It’s about love. It’s about sisters. I can’t listen to it without thinking how much I miss my own sisters. It brings to mind growing up with sisters who have given me a lifetime of memories. I can’t bear to think of the moment in the movie when Anna knocks on Elsa’s door begging her to come out, finally whispering, “Do you want to build a snowman?”  She’s knocking on the heart of every woman who’s ever loved a sister and wanting her near. And so, having had a beloved sister just leave me and hearing that song – happening together – well, old sentimental Grandma simply can’t sing about a snowman without melting like one.   

But I can’t tell all that to a three-year-old, can I? All I can do is change the subject.  All I can do is hang on to the precious moments she gives me every Tuesday just like her sister and cousins have done as I’ve taken care of them in their turn. They will all
grow away from me and have full lives out of my sight and I know that’s the natural way of things.

I won’t cling to Sierra as she goes, but I won’t be singing about snowmen anytime soon, either. Would you?

Photo: Shari, me, and Sierra at her baptism party. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bit of a Poem

I wrote this poem many years ago and never really did anything with it. I suppose, at the time, I was thinking of my five sisters and wanted to get some sentimental, greeting card kind of thing, down in writing. Frequently, as you writers out there know, something we write will linger for a while in a state of suspension. Waiting. I had hoped this offering would hit the hearts of millions of women in a Hallmark card that took off and sold like crazy stores worldwide. Silly me.

During this past weekend I was with another group of “sisters” who showed me a rare thing. Unqualified love and acceptance. The things we talked about, laughed about, hugged about, and moaned about hurtled over all barriers of age or circumstance, and I am so humbled that they call me friend.

To all the women who attended the women’s retreat at Camp of the Woods this past weekend I dedicate this bit of a poem. I include those who could only be with us in spirit – you know who you are. I include those I’ve known for many years and new friends of just a few days. Bless you all.

Sisters, you always took my side
even when I was probably wrong because
something binds us that goes beyond what
may or may not be the truth. I’ve counted on
your unqualified support in so many areas of my life,
for so many years of my life.

I look at old pictures and smile; then sadness takes over,
because we haven’t become everything we always
said we wanted to be and do. Yet here we are still,
giggling, sighing and raging over all the
troubles and triumphs of our lives.

What would I ever do without you?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Friday, May 16, 2014

For Writers - Essays

One of my favorite parts of magazines is the section that gives me an essay. I will even, on occasion, clip the really good ones for my folder and toss the magazine. A particularly charming one was in a recent AARP Bulletin. The writer recalls his childhood habit of eavesdropping on the adults in his life and learning much about how the real world works. Funny, I used to do the same thing. I learned many a great life lesson with my ear to the door, and that essay brought it all back to me. Clever, that writer.

So what is an essay anyway? And where does a writer sell them? An essay is a short piece of writing that’s not fiction. A good essay, like any bit of writing, has a focus. In the case of the eavesdropper, the nugget of his essay was learning that people frequently dropped dead at the least expected moment, i.e. while taking out the garbage. If you’ve ever listened to Andy Rooney, you’ve heard an essay verbalized. He’ll take the most common occurrence or social situation and give it back to you with his own special twist.

I write essays to get thoughts out of my head and I’ve sold those thoughts, too. A recent one, about a pie I made when I was nine, was published in a Southern regional magazine and subsequently re-sold to an anthology several months later.

You may not consider yourself an essayist, but you’ve probably got one or two short pieces in your inventory that would qualify. The market for essays is quite large and it may take some determined hunting to get a match, but check out these markets and see if one fits.

The ice on the surface of the essay market pond is wide, thick and deep. Scratch it. You may find you like the skating there. So, what are you waiting for? Venture an essay and possibly gain. Air your views, dredge up some memories, laugh at one of your life’s ludicrous situations or, as in the case of the eavesdropper, tell your spouse you can’t take out the garbage. After all, you read that essay, too, and it’s possible you could drop dead while doing it – then where would they be?     

Image: Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Little Sister Time

When a sister comes to visit, all the way from California, she brings a lot of baggage with her. And mine had a large gold “G” on hers so it was easy to pull off the airport conveyor belt. Inside were many nifty compartments. Let me tell you about my faves.

Mom – one of them especially for her. It’s been three years since she died, on Mother’s Day weekend, and this was a sad compartment to open. We re-hashed it together because we were together when it happened. Shari and I were boarding a plane in Boston when another sister, Wendy, called to tell us Mom had died. We couldn’t look at each other. Surreal doesn’t come close to describing the moment. We’d been on our way to Mom to help care for her. Didn’t make it.

Everybody else – It was great to hear about all that goes on out west while I zip along doing my thing here in the east. We have a huge family and pretty much every member got a chance to be a momentary star in our after dark, sit-on-the bed, discussions.  Quite edifying and those of you with sisters will relate. Right?  

Religion and Politics – Yeah, the world is a much better place because of the recent Valatie Summit. The White House interrupted a few times, but we steadfastly held the Vatican off while we drew up our plans for world peace and renewed our support for capitalism (a full bodied Merlot helped in our mediations). We only broke briefly for showers and grooming, specifically the hair, which we both still have a lot of. Yeah,gotta look good for these summits. It’s in the handbook.

My family – Kids and grandkids alike love Aunt Shari who greets them with laughter, hugs, and an exuberant curiosity about their lives. Sierra, at three, wasn’t quite sure what to make of all this, but it was the photo of her great burst of laughter while looking through the music book with Shari, that might go viral next Tuesday and garner a million views. I took the pic – just sayin’. No, I don’t hire out.

There were other, lesser, bits of baggage, but you don’t want to be reading until sunset now do  you? And now she’s off to Texas visiting our remaining brother, Tim. I’m sure he’ll probe the contents of her “G” bag, too. He’s a talker. It might even be necessary to get a small auxillary bag for her trip back to Cali. Gotta put those memories somewhere.

Bye, Shari. ‘Til next time – love you.  

Friday, May 9, 2014


Drumroll . . . . . 

And the Winners are . . . .

Thank you everyone who left a comment and congratulations to Marion Tickner, Gef Fox, and Karen Lange! I'll be contacting you with information on how to download your free copy.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.


Friday, May 2, 2014


Wow, it’s May already! People have come out of hiding and so much is going on. Including – a springtime giveaway right here on my blog. The audio version of THE RED SHOELACE KILLER – A MINNIE MARKWOOD MYSTERY was released several weeks ago and I have three of them to give away. It was narrated by Lee Ann Howlett and written by me. I know, you’re over the moon with joy, right? I’m grinning.

If you’ve already read the book this would make a great gift or if you’ve read it and forgotten most of it, a refresher might be nice on the next long drive you must endure.

So – the rules? Nah. No rules. Just leave a comment about anything, or simply  say “Hi” right here on the blog and I’ll put the names in a bag like I did for my summer contest back in August. I’ll let Sister Agnes – no, wait – my sister, Shari, draw the names next Friday, May 9th . Deal?

Have fun! Hope you win.

Image: Free Digital Photos