Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hello again!

Rocco and I are back from Europe and both of us seem to be having a hard time getting back into the groove. All he wants to do is sleep, and all I want to do is read somebody else's stories instead of work on my own.

He saw a lot of dogs just like himself, especially in Germany - guess that's why he's so tired, all that running and jumping around. Lucky he always got back to the ship on time or he'd still be there.

Well, enough of that.

November is fast approaching and I'm trying to decide whether I should dive in and work on writing a novel in a month again this year since I'm still finishing up my Happy Ever After manuscript. I still have more than a week to knuckle down and get that done.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo, the National Write a Novel in a Month program, asks writers to pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November, thus coming out on December 1st with at least the bones of a complete novel. That calls for a little over 1600 words a day, which is certainly doable with diligence. I did it a couple of years ago and found it to be daunting at first and then satisfying as the words piled up.

Unfortunately, the novel I finished (a middle-grade time travel story) hasn't yet sold. But I'm working on that. It's out to a number of publishers, fingers crossed as always. Such a business.

So...to work. While I reread (and tweak) my story so far to get back into it after a three-week layoff, I'm waiting for an attorney to answer a couple of questions about what could happen to my heroine legally for something she's done that she should't have. I want to get her off without jail time, but maybe that's not possible. Cross my fingers on that, too.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

I started a post earlier but somehow it got eaten up!

I'm cruising the Rhine and Mosel Rivers in Germany, a fantastic trip so far (good weather, though it's a grey day today and I"d hoped for a sunny picture of the castle we toured this morning. Ah, well, I'm not in charge of that.

Wouldn't you think I'd be bursting with ideas for a romantic historical novel with all this beauty, castles, and stories of the history of this area? Not so far. Just enjoying it all and letting it sink in, hoping it will come to the surface when I need it later.

I intended to put up some pictures here but somehow can't seem to pull them out of my Snapfish account, so, sorry!  More later if I figure that out. Vunderbar!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Off For an Adventure!

Good Afternoon!

And it really is a lovely day for this time of year. Fall is in the air and I'm taking a break to recharge myself and figure out where I'm at in this crazy writing business.

It's going to be great. I'm leaving for a 14-day river cruise in Europe, starting in Basel, Switzerland and going up the Rhine and Mosel rivers, ending in Brussels, Belgium. I'm hoping the fall colors will be spectacular (they aren't changing much yet here in Wisconsin).

Rocco's not excited about being left at home. How do I know? Take a look:

I'm not sure whether that's a "How could you leave me behind?" or a "Take me along, pleeeeeeze!" look on his face, but he's hard to resist, either way. Guess I'll stuff him in my backpack. It will be nice to share all the different tours we'll take along the way. Don't you love that tie?

I'm thrilled that Soul Mate Publishing has picked up THE PERFECT SUSPECT. We'll be going into the editing process soon. From what others have said who have worked with them before, it's going to be a pleasant experience to be one of the "Soul Mate Family" members.

I'd hit a snag in the Happy Ever After novel I'm working on (that won't be the final title, but I can't come up with a better one yet)  but I think I've figured out which way it has to go. Now I just have to convince my characters. Even though I'm telling myself I'm taking a break, sitting on deck and watching Germany go by may be just the perfect place to work it through. I'm not taking a laptop, so I'll find out if going back to paper and pen will help or hinder me!

Last week I sold a short mystery story ("The Volvo") to Mystery Weekly Magazine. It's so nice to see a new venue open up for short story writers and to have the members of The Short Mystery Fiction Writers (check them) be so supportive. We''re coming out with an anthology soon, called "Flash and Bang" - watch for it!

So, I'm off to pack. If I knew all the European ways to say "see ya later," I'd use them. But I don't, so....see ya later!

(Rocco is packing his toys.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Hello again—

So hard to believe that fall is here. So soon!

I was looking for a particular photo from some years back, which caused me to flip through about ten old albums. Ever done that? Got so engrossed in looking for one thing that you ended up turning umpteen pages and falling into hours of remembering?

Oh, yeah, I took that on our trip to Ireland...look at that thatched roof, so quaint....

...and where was that waterfall? Iceland, maybe?

(Can't remember, why oh why didn't I label those pics?)

(Me, turning pages, thinking) ...Gosh, whose baby is that? Newborns all look alike, at least in my family...here's a studio picture of my oldest son, obviously going to the Prom...pretty girl with himl, what was her name? Probably wouldn't be caught dead in a dress like that now....

You know what I mean. You've probably done this yourself. But the one thing that came through to me, and what leaves me feeling nostalgic and, yes, a bit sad, is that so many of the people in the pictures are gone. Not just out of touch, they're gone from this world. And they weren't all old when they left, like great-great gramps Joe was, or Auntie Dottie's mother-in-law. Some of them were young and vital people. People I knew and liked.

People I should have seen more often, should have written more letters to (today I'd think email, I suppose, not real letters), people I should have phoned on a more regular basis.

Where am I going with this? Maybe this is what's called a 'cautionary tale,' a wake-up not only to myself but to any reader who knows in his or her heart that somewhere there's someone you've lost contact with, and shouldn't have.

Pick up the phone, if you have their number....

....Send them a card if you have their address.....

....Or an email if you can Google them, or have nothing more to try than a @gmail or @hotmail after their name.

You can make their day. And just maybe, they'll make yours in return.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Good Sunday afternoon!

I'm just back from three days at the 2015 Writer's Police Academy, and as always, it was a jam-packed, hands-on conference led by active law enforcement personnel who really know what they're talking about and are willing to share it with writers to help us 'write it right' in our stories. Invaluable information was presented on many aspects of police work from how to handle guns to donning SWAT equipment and experiencing what it's like to enter a dangerous situation. Firefighting is part of it, too, as well as the chance to ride along on patrol and oh, so much more. The instructors are experts, personable and put up with dozens of questions...and, bless their hearts, they handle it all with great good humor.

This year was especially exciting because it took place at the Police Academy in Appleton, Wisconsin, just 30 or so miles south of my house in Green Bay.  No long plane ride to get there and back, as was the case when it was set in North Carolina. No worrying about whether I had something in my possession that didn't fit the TSA requirements...just a leisurely drive on down Highway 41 to the Paper Valley Hotel and there I was, ready to jump-start each day at 7:30 a.m. to meet with about 300 other writers who were as eager to learn as I was. I had a great time.

But here's what waited for me when I got home:

I'd left my muse Rocco behind, and he wasn't happy that I hadn't written anything for three days. Pretty clearly, he's worried and wants me to get with the novel I'm working on.

Or maybe he wants his own laptop.

But either way, I get the message, Buddy. Thanks for keeping me on track.

One of the neat hands-on scenarios this year was an experience inside a real 747 airplane, dealing with an unruly passenger. (There was no plane available at the earlier site in North Carolina. The Appleton facility is new, bigger and better.) The experience was played out using the approach and language officers would employ to convince that belligerent passenger to leave the plane without endangering himself, the police, or the other passengers. The language used to convince him was enlightening: no demands like "You must leave the plane!" The interchange was totally persuasive and non-threatening, and allowed the passenger save face by making it his decision to leave.

All in all, as in the past, the Writers Police Academy was money and time well spent. For me, anyway.  Now I just have to mollify Rocco.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I have a new muse! Meet Rocco:

I love dogs, and they know it. But I didn't have one of my own. Too much trouble, you know? Got to walk them, keep them healthy, spend time with them...worry about what to do with them when you're on a trip, or try to find someone who'll take your place until you get back...

Well, having a dog just didn't fit into my life.

Until I saw Rocco. It was love at first sight and happily ever after all rolled into one.  I knew we were meant to be together and that he was meant to be my muse, that pesky one that nags, nags, nags you to get busy at what you're supposed to be doing - in my case, writing.

Look at that face. Could you resist cuddling him? He's cute, he's funny, and he's always right where I want him. Or nowhere, when I don't. The absolute best kind of dog anybody could have.

And the greatest thing about him is: he's my virtual dog.

Yep (or should I say, "Yip?"), what you see is what you get. Rocco's my dog, all right, and he's no trouble at all.

I like him so much I put him in the story I'm writing now. My hero, Grant Moss, never knew he wanted a dog. Until he saw Rocco in the animal shelter and couldn't help himself. I was right there with him and I understood. So I took my Rocco home with me, too, and now we're the best buddies ever. He's right under my desk. In fact, he's sitting on my foot, snoring.

Rocco tells me I need to write at least 2000 words a day. That's what a muse does, nags, nags, nags. I'm just getting to know him and I'm learning that he's well read, and that he's got opinions about what works or doesn't in a story. I'm finding myself thinking, "What would Rocco do?" when I'm stuck.

So...I'm stuck with Rocco. And he's stuck with me. I hope he loves it as much as I do.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Okay, I understand I'm supposed to be savvy about social media as a promotion tool for getting the word out about my books and short stories.

I know I'm supposed to have a newsletter mailing list of interested readers who want to know about a new book, or something of interest going on in my writing life.

But I can't figure out how I can make that happen on my own. I'm trying, but there seems to be a brick wall between the 'how-to-do-it' and my brain.

I'll keep trying.

My latest book, THE HOUSE ON THE DUNES, came out last fall, and I'd love for more readers to find it. Here's a synopsis of the story:


At her mother's death, Olivia Hobart (45) inherits two things she never knew existed: a house on the Lake Michigan Dunes as well as missing emerald jewelry.  Sending her pompous husband Bert (who wants to sell Dunes House) and adult retarded daughter Pamela back to their home in Oregon, Olivia moves into Dunes House to search for the emeralds and to unravel the mystery of her mother's life. 

The story turns to mother Catherine's childhood, from the early death of her sister in 1917, through a false marriage, her husband's desertion in Kansas and the death of her infant twins. She moves back to Wisconsin to teach, and falls in love with married Oliver Houle, whose son is one of her students. Pregnant with Oliver's child, Catherine quickly seduces and marries older Levi Sommers, who never questions and claims Houle's child as his own. Levi's all-encompassing love allows Catherine the freedom to continue seeing Oliver throughout their long relationship. 

Returning to the present, Olivia is threatened at Dunes House. Tim, the aging caretaker, falls down a sabotaged staircase, is later trapped under a truck he is servicing. An unknown inhabitant living in the boathouse raises the question: who is behind the criminal attacks? What do they want?

Olivia meets the grandson of Dunes House's original owner, who believes he should have inherited the property. They become romantically involved - Olivia's first and only exciting affair - but is he only attempting to regain what he sees as his rightful estate?

Daughter Pamela is attacked in Portland, comes to stay with Olivia at Dunes House and drowns in one of Lake Michigan's sudden storms. Olivia is devastated, but her husband Bert sees this as a chance to heal their shaky marriage; he felt Olivia's devotion to Pamela kept them from becoming close and insists she come back to Portland to rebuild their life. She tries, but their marriage weakens further and she returns to Dunes House.

A young relative of the Houles learns of the missing emeralds through renewal of an insurance policy, demands the jewels and threatens Olivia's life.  His plans are thwarted by Tim, the old caretaker, who knows the real circumstances of Olivia's birth but has not revealed them.  She learns an old friend of her mothers, Oliver Houle, is alive in a nursing home and visits him, hoping to shed some light on her mother's mysterious life.  Finally, going through an old desk which had been set aside for repair, Olivia finds a letter that leads her to the truths of her mother's life.

Available on Amazon.com and other e-book outlets.