Showing posts from 2014

Looking back on 2014

It’s time once again for me to look back on the year as it comes to an end. One thing I can say about 2014: There’s never been a dull moment. It started out frantic with revving up to release my first novel while finishing my second and starting my third. And in March, the day I feared might never happen came to fruition. My first launch party was a huge success. I’d dreamed of someday signing the famous bathroom wall at Mystery Lovers Bookshop. It finally happened. Then I spent a few months learning to be a published author, attending book signings and conferences. Soon I was gearing up for the launch of my SECOND book! At the same time, I was finishing the third one. The highs were tempered with lows, namely my mom’s health issues. My goal for 2014 was finding balance. I think the Universe wanted to make sure I kept things in perspective. The second launch party was incredible, too. And as if that weren’t enough, I hit the USA T

Some Holiday Reading Material

Wishing you all a very merry holiday season. In case you’re looking for something to read, my Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime put out an anthology a year ago, and to celebrate, we’re offering a real 12 Days of Christmas Deal for Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales . My contribution, “Sweet Deadly Lies,” is set in the same county as my Zoe Chambers mysteries, although in a different town. In fact Monongahela County Police Detective Wayne Baronick puts in an appearance. Mona Peterson had once told me the chunk of fake turquoise hanging on a heavy silver chain around her neck always brought her luck. Seeing that same silver chain cutting purple grooves into the gray skin of her throat, I had my doubts. My Marsdale PD partner, Cale Harper, finished stringing crime scene tape around the back side of the Marsdale High School football field bleachers where Mona’s body had been discovered. He shoved his hands into his coat pockets and ambled over to me. “I’ve seen it all

Finding My Rut

I like to think I’m flexible—the emotional kind, not just the physical kind of flexibility that comes from almost two decades of yoga practice—but I’ve come to the conclusion that I resist change as much as anyone I know. Give me a rut, a routine and I’m happy. When my rut caves in on me, I lose my center. Heck, let’s face it—I lose my mind! After several months of no routine, no rut, no sense of structure in my life, I’m finally getting back to a schedule. Mom’s settled in nicely to her new home. I don’t necessarily have less responsibilities, but I do have different ones. The important part is I’m managing to fit my new responsibilities in around my writing. And I’m writing every day ! The next book is more than scribbled sticky notes tacked to my office walls! It’s taking shape. In the meantime, the print version of Bridges Burned is now available for pre-order ! 

A Mom Update

So many friends have been asking about my Mom, I realized I needed to post an update. It’s been a rough couple of months for both of us, beginning with the realization that she wouldn’t be able to live independently at home any longer. However, the plan for her to move in with us didn’t set well with her. She repeated she didn’t want to be a burden in spite of my insistence that she wouldn’t be. As of this past Tuesday, Mom has moved to Sunrise SeniorCare , a beautiful assisted living facility. This place is incredible. Heck, I want to live there! Either she’s lying to me or she really does like her new digs. Time will tell. My home will always be open…although I have to admit, where she’s at now is WAY nicer than Casa de Dashofy! For Thanksgiving, Hubby and I picked her up and took her to the family gathering where she oversaw the carving of the turkey. No blood was shed, no fingers lost. With Mom settled into her new apartment, a huge weight has been lifted from my

California Dreamin'

In less than a week, I’ll be winging my way to Long Beach , CA for Bouchercon: Murder at the Beach . Having seen our local forecast, I think I’m getting out of town just in the nick of time. That “polar vortex” thing is being tossed around again. Whoever coined that term should be shot. Too apocalyptic. In the meantime, I’m trying to get my household in order. You see, not only am I attending Bouchercon, I’m then heading to New Mexico for a much needed vacation and some girlfriend time with my BFF Leta. The problem is I’m leaving Hubby at home to take care of the cats and life in general. I think he’s having panic attacks. Hubby: “Am I going to have to do laundry ???” Maybe I should stop at the store and buy a few packages of new underwear and socks for him. The cats aren’t thrilled with the idea of being left with The Dad either. Kensi: “Puh-LEEZE take me wiff you, Ma!” Sorry, baby girl. 

Bridges Burned Cover Reveal!

Ta DA! This is my favorite one so far!

Life Changes

I’ve been totally off kilter the last few months. My mom…feisty, independent, tough-as-nails...has taken a major hit healthwise. Only a few months ago, she was outside, leaving her cane behind, scrubbing down her house and trimming her shrubs. Now, with no solid explanation, she’s wheelchair bound, unable to walk without a lot of assistance. As I last wrote, she’d been in the hospital for almost two weeks. She was doing pretty well at home afterwards…until she fell. Nothing was broken, but she sort of came apart at the seams on a lot of levels. She’s been in a nursing facility ever since, getting PT and OT. But she still can’t get back to walking on her own. She’s also not so bad off that they can keep her much longer. This according to the insurance company, which of course, runs the show. Don’t get me started. Anyhow, once my upcoming book tour concludes, Mom will be moving in with us. Three adults and two cats in a very small house. It’ll be interesting. I may be de

WPA and Lost Legacy

It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks. As I was pounding toward the deadline for my third Zoe Chambers mystery, my mom, who has been having some health issues, had to be admitted to the hospital. Familiar (to me) terms like atrial tachycardia and atrial fibrillation floated around along with a new one: orthostatic hypotension. Basically this means her heartbeat was fast and irregular…and her blood pressure plummeted when she stood up. In the midst of runs to the hospital and conferences with doctors, I completed and turned in the manuscript—ON TIME. But then there was this little matter of the Writer’s Police Academy , something I’d been looking forward to for a year and had paid for months ago. I seriously contemplated staying home. But my darling hubby earned a boatload of brownie points by cancelling his own “guys’ weekend” and staying home to make sure Mom had a ride home when they discharged her and to keep an eye on her once she was home. My brother stepped up big

Deadlines, Countdowns, and a BIG Reveal

I have a string of countdowns to keep track of. Seven days until my deadline to turn in book #3 of the Zoe Chambers mystery series to my editor. Eight days until three of my local Sisters in Crime and I hit the road for North Carolina and the Writer’s Police Academy . Yes, next week is going to be very busy. Twenty-two days until the official release of Lost Legacy . Twenty days until my launch party at Mystery Lovers Bookshop . You’re all invited. Bring a friend. I always fear no one will show up at these things. With so much on my horizon, I decided there's one thing I no longer wish put off. My reveal of the title for book #3. Are you ready? Drum roll please! Bridges Burned . A big shout out and thank you to my critique buddy Jeff Boarts for coming up with it. While I haven’t see a copy of Lost Legacy (other than the advanced copies), I believe there will be a sample chapter of Bridges Burned at the end of Lost Legacy . Yes, I’m a tease! 

Photos from Coffee with the Author--ME!

I had a great time yesterday at The Gathering Place for Coffee with the Author. Great crowd. Great questions. And I discovered one of the hazards of doing a well-publicized event on your home turf. An old friend from high school, John Cherok, came and brought our senior yearbook. I don't know about you, but I really want the whole world to see my senior photo. NOT. He also brought photo copies of my "first published work," a really bad four-line poem that was printed (without my consent) in our senior literary journal. The story about our adviser secretly taking that silly little ditty from my notebook is one for another day. Suffice it to say,  my byline was included even though I'd prefer not taking credit for the poem in question. Again, not something I ever wanted anyone to see. Embarrassment (mine) aside, we had some great laughs about "the old days" at school and on the ambulance service. Speaking of which... By way of payback, check out the

Countdown to launch

Twenty-eight days until the official release of Lost Legacy. I've posted another Goodreads giveaway. Enter for a chance to win one of five signed ARCs. I'm gearing up for some travel and adventures along with planning my second launch party. And in the meantime, I have my nose to the proverbial grindstone trying to whip book #3 into shape. Deadline for turning the manuscript into my agent is September 2. Where has the year gone? Tomorrow, I'm the featured "guest" at Coffee with the Author at The Gathering Place, a cute little coffee house attached to the Paris Presbyterian Church (Burgettstown PA) at noon. I'll be talking about Circle of Influence and Lost Legacy , writing, and anything else that anyone wants to talk about. And I'll have copies there to sell and sign. If you're in the southwestern Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, or West Virginia panhandle regions, I'd love to have you stop in!

Remembering James Garner

As we mourn the passing of one of my favorite actors, James Garner, I find myself remembering the time I ALMOST met the man. He and Joanne Woodward were filming a movie for Hallmark— Breathing Lessons —in our area. And by “in our area” I mean if front of my house. We spent an entire afternoon sitting on our front porch watching them “drive” up and down our road. Actually they were in a mock car being towed and filmed by a camera car. At one point, the producers stopped at my mom and dad’s house and asked my dad if they could use their home as one of the locations. My dad said NO. WHY? I have no idea. In hindsight, I think the early stages of dementia may have been at play, and he simply didn’t understand what they wanted. He LOVED James Garner! If I’d been there, things would have been different, I guarantee it. As is, much of the landscape through which the car is driving is from our stretch of road. In one scene, if you look fast, you can see one corner of my

The Dark Pit of Despair

I’m on the verge of typing “The End” on book #3. Of course, it isn’t really the end. I still have a number of drafts to go. But somehow finishing the FIRST draft is the sweetest. In the meantime, however, there’s nothing sweet about the final pages. I’ve thrown Zoe into a deep pit of despair. She’s on the brink of losing everything she holds dear. And I do mean everything . The problem is I also hold some of these things quite dear, and I don’t know yet how it’s all going to turn out. Not entirely happily-ever-after, for sure. There will be loss. But how much? Even I don’t know until I write it. One of the first lessons I learned when I started writing seriously was “torture your characters.” Emotionally. Physically. This time I’m doing both. And I’ve put her smack in the middle of one of my darkest nightmares. She’s there right now, as I write this post. She’ll be stuck there, frozen in time, until I get back to her tomorrow. I admit, I might have been able to

Obstacles Ahead

On Monday, I wrote like a crazy, possessed woman. It was glorious! I love being in the zone, sort of knowing what I need to write, but not exactly. It was one of those days when my characters take over and I’m along for the ride, waiting to see what happens next. Tuesday, I woke up and realized I had a serious flaw in what I'd written. I’d missed an obvious and easy way out of my character’s predicament. Not good when you’re trying to build suspense. Clearly I needed a few more obstacles in her path.   So I spent the next few days un-doing and RE-doing what I'd joyously pounded out on Monday. It’s a wonder my delete key isn’t worn out yet. Cut this, add that. Reword something else. I chopped large chunks. My page count went in reverse. I added some new stuff back in. For three days I worked like crazy, but my page count ended up right where it was on Monday. Today, I'm happy to report I'm back on track and barreling forward once again. I had hoped to be

The Villain's Side of the Story

Some days, writing murder mysteries takes you to a different reality. As I’m pounding through the final pages of my current manuscript (Zoe Chambers book #3…which still needs a title, but that’s a blog for another day), I need to crawl into the dark and disturbed mind of my villain. He’s made some huge mistakes and knows it. The police are getting closer, and he’s feeling the pressure. This makes him desperate and very very dangerous. While the scenes I need to construct regarding how he reacts to his current situation will never end up on the page, they’re the scenes that drive the story. What my villain does determines what Pete and Zoe find and therefore what does end up in the book. I may be telling their story through their eyes, but it’s the villain who controls the circumstances. It’s kind of like playing both sides of a chess game. Move. Counter move. So today, I’m in Devious Mode. Look out.

The Shipping Department

This morning I'm working in the "shipping department" of my one-woman business, packaging the five Lost Legacy ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) for the winners of my Goodreads Giveaway. Congratulations to Kristen Slater, Missy Nelson, Beverley Albright, Sussan Navabi, and Judie Dooley! Your signed copies are on their way!

Summertime and the living is easy

After a whirlwind couple of months, life is finally slowing down to a tolerable level. And it's June. I love early June.  Provided it isn’t storming. Some of the worst storms we’ve ever had in this area hit on May 31 or June 1. This year, we’ve been lucky. A bit of rain during the week, but gorgeous weekends. I guess this is our reward for suffering through last winter. Everything is so green it makes your eyes hurt.  My  rhododendron was splendid this year after not blooming at all last year.  I've already started dining from our garden. Lettuce, radishes, and green onion salads. YUM!  And topping things off, my advanced copies of LOST LEGACY arrived! Kensi approves! Or maybe Kensi just wants me to unpack the books so she can have the box to play in! So enjoy the sunshine. Take a nap. Read a book. Happy June!

Lost Legacy Cover Reveal!

Henery Press has rolled out the cover for my next Zoe Chambers mystery, Lost Legacy ! Release date is September 16th!

Ghosts and Memories

Today was the warmest day we’ve had in six months, and I’m horribly out of shape, so I took an afternoon walk around the old farm. I grew up here, but most of what I remember is gone. I’ve recreated it in my mind and on the pages of my books. Zoe lives in the house of my youth although the actual structure was razed after decades of being vacant. Check out the post I wrote about it a couple of years ago. So my walk involved a lot of ghosts.   Memories of my childhood, standing on ground that was once the farmhouse or a tractor shed, wandering through fields and valleys where my childhood best friend and I used to play, making up big adventures, cowboys and indians, acting out our favorite books. I walk over this ground every spring until it gets too grown over with brambles and the ticks come out. But with all the snow and cold we’ve had, the new growth is late this year. As a result, I was able to find the red-dog gravel base of what used to be the old tractor shed