Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Daisy’s Bag of Tricks

Writing a cozy mystery series set in the 1920s in Pasadena, California, requires a good deal of research. Since I love both research and my old home town (Pasadena, of course), I don’t find the historical research burdensome.

What I do find burdensome is Daisy’s job as a spiritualist-medium. As someone who has absolutely no talent for spiritualistic things, I need to scramble a good deal in order to figure out what the heck the lines on a palm mean or a tarot layout says. Forget the crystal ball altogether. I’m pretty good with the Ouija board because I’ve had lots of practice, thanks to my daughter, Robin, who bought an old Ouija board at a yard sale one day maybe twenty-five years ago.

When Robin brought the board to my house, she was frustrated because when she and her boyfriend had used it at her apartment, the stupid board kept spelling out MOMMOMMOMMOM and nothing else. When she and I fiddled with it, we discovered (this is a true story, even if it is rather odd) Rolly! I gave Rolly to Daisy, who seems to make much better use of him than I ever did. His background story is correct, however. According to the Ouija board that long-ago day, Rolly and I had been married in Scotland in 1055 or thereabouts and had five sons together. Sounds like heck to me, but he claimed we were soul mates and he’d followed me through all my various lives. Ooooookay. If you say so, Rolly. Anyway, about fifteen years or so ago, I had my very own “channeling board” made by a woman recommended by a writer friend of mine (Stobie Piel). I think it’s lovely. Neither Stobie nor I can remember the woman’s name, so I fear I can’t pass along the information if you’d like to have one of your own made by her. She does great work.
At any rate, the Ouija board presents no problems. The tarot and the palms, however, are a whole ’nother kettle of fish. In order to attempt to do them justice, I got myself a Rider Waite tarot deck and some reference materials: two books on the tarot and one book on palmistry. I still can’t figure out the tarot without a great deal of reading, no matter which pattern I have Daisy deal out, generally for the fictitious Mrs. Pinkerton, her best client and one of the dimmer and wealthier of Pasadena’s denizens during the period. Fortunately, I have a dear friend, Elizabeth Delisi ( ) who does read tarot cards. Mind you, Liz and I have never met in person, but she got me a job teaching for Writer’s Digest once, and she helps me understand (vaguely) tarot cards. Very useful source of information, is Liz, bless her.

As to palmistry, here’s a picture of my old, wrinkled right palm. Pay no attention to the Band-Aid on my finger. I wrap a Band-Aid around that joint every day because it’s so painfully arthritic. When I first got my palmistry book, I attempted to read my own palm. That didn’t work out too well. For some reason, my Mount of Apollo, which is supposed to be connected to a person’s artistic nature, seemed to have vanished. That came as a little bit (but not much) of a surprise to me. Mind you, I have no artistic capabilities if we’re talking about drawing, painting, sculpting or anything else along those lines, but I do like to think I have at least a little bit of a leaning toward the literary. Or, if not precisely literary, at least … well, writing. You know? Anyhow, somebody told me the various mounts tend to blend together in some folks. Whatever. I have no reason to doubt whoever it was who told me that.


The palm-reading book has come in handy a time or two, but Liz and my tarot-card books are even more helpful, even if it takes forever for me to figure out what the heck the cards mean, especially when they’re laid out in any specific pattern.

While Daisy herself has a crystal ball and actually sees unusual things in it from time to time, I don’t. So I had to find a crystal ball like that Daisy might have used on Google. Daisy doesn’t take it with her all the time, because the stupid thing’s heavy. However, Daisy is no shirker, and if someone wants a crystal-ball reading, she’ll gladly tell them anything she believes they want to hear.

As for the rest of Daisy’s tricks, Spike, her late husband’s beloved dachshund, is patterned directly after my very first dachshund, whose name was Hansel Schnitzel Fritzel von Poncho Pooh Puddle Monsieur la Puppy Stink Duncan. Really. I took him to dog-obedience school at the Pasanita Dog Obedience Club at Brookside Park in Pasadena, California, during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, worked with him every single day, and took him for walks that went on for miles and miles. What’s more, he really could add, subtract, multiply and divide, at least as well as I could (which wasn’t very). All it takes is time and patience. Mind you, I have neither any longer, but when I was a kid I had a lot of both that summer, and I spent all of each commodity on Hansel. All the dachshunds I’ve had since Hansel have trained me. Darn it.
Also, unlike Daisy, I love to cook. So Daisy’s Aunt Vi is kind of me, only she prepares much fancier meals than I ever have. I’ve never even attempted to fix beef Wellington, for instance. I have, however, prepared floating island. Both my mother and my father were excellent cooks. Good thing I don’t like to eat as much as I like to cook, or I’d weigh approximately as much as Mrs. Bissel’s house. By the way, that house used to belong to my very own aunt, Maren Fulton. Ah, life. I tell you, there’s a whole lot of me in my Daisy books!

I’ll be in touch with the winners of November’s contest. Bam-Bam will proceed to pick wieners this very evening.

If you’re interested in visiting my sort of, kind of out-of-date web site, please do so at: . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, just go to my Facebook page:

Thank you!


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Good Grief. Is it Really November Already?

October was a great month. Well, except for the fact that I’m kind of sick again. But I got to go to California and see both of my daughters and one of my grandsons and a whole bunch of my friends. I’m a Californian to my toes, but I can’t afford to live there anymore. Sniffle.

Anyway, we had a good time. Robin (younger daughter), Riki (younger grandson) and I went to Anni (older daughter) and Razmik’s (Anni’s husband) place in Kernville, which is a charming town, right smack next to the Kern River. Anni and Raz sell good sandwiches from their food truck and love living where they live. Anni is also a brilliant artist (so is Robin) and knits pretty much everything there is to knit. Heck, she even managed to get her hands on some alpaca wool once and washed it, carded it, spun it into yarn and made me some slippers with the result! She also quilts and does needlework. Robin works with polymer clay and just about everything else and makes lovely things with it. Here's the food truch, Anni in her knitted skirt, and a whole bunch of polymer-clay gift tags Robin made for someone who paid her to make them:

Riki (and Anni, for that matter) is a marvelous classical guitarist. I asked him to play and sing Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” for me, and by gum, he did! Here he is, playing and singing next to the Kern River, with the water rushing past and birdies chirping in the trees (fortunately, the ravens didn’t begin cawking until after he’d finished). Riki is also an origami master. He’s been origami-ing since he was about five years old. By the way, Riki wasn't wearing this Nissei outfit when he played in Kernville, but I couldn't find a still of him playing his guitar:

Amazing young man, Riki. So’s my older grandson, Dai, but he lives in North Carolina with his wife Emily and their two kids, so I never get to see them. Sniffle. However, Dai and Em and the kiddles just moved into their new-old house in time to be smacked by Hurricane Matthew. This isn’t a very clear shot, but you can see my great-granddaughter, Kasumi, having fun in the back yard with all that extra water.

I also was privileged to see a whole bunch (well a few) of my old dancing buddies. We got together at a place called the Flintridge Proper and had a lovely lunch. It was fun seeing them again. Had a good time and a good meal. Karen Boggs took this picture, so she's not in it, but she was there:

While in Pasadena, I also took pictures of Mrs. Bissel’s house (which used to belong to my aunt). I basically grew up in this house, and it haunts my dreams. It’s difficult to get a good picture of it, because you pretty much need to be in a cherry picker to shoot it head-on (so to speak). I had to stand in the yard (hope the owners didn’t mind) at the foot of the slope and shoot upwards. I also took a picture of Daisy’s house, which is actually a house I used to own. Oddly enough, the photo refuses to open on my computer here at home. I think it’s all for the best, because the place looks like heck. If my second ex-husband, Old Weird Robert, still lives there, he’s definitely not taking good care of the yard. Harrumph.

Got to have lunch with Lauri, my oldest friend (she’s about two weeks older than I am, actually) and Riki at a place called Yes Sushi in Pasadena, and that was mega fun! We ate all the sushi in Pasadena (again) and babbled for hours. I can’t get [decent] Japanese food in Roswell, so I always try to eat as much of it as I can when I visit my old home town.

It was also great seeing another of my very good friends, Barbara, while visiting. Barbara has cancer, which I think is totally unfair of the universe, but the universe didn’t consult me before attacking Barbara. We had a good time anyway, and I hope we’ll be able to see each other many more times.

And one more wondiferous, fantabularious thing happened in October. I CLEANED MY OFFICE. Anni and Raz visited earlier in the year and fixed up my house with new floors, new paint, new shelving and stuff like that. I had all sorts of things piled in my office, but I’ve been fairly well crippled for the last two or three years and never tackled the piles. Well, my back still hurts, but my hip replacement worked beautifully, and I CLEANED MY OFFICE! No photos yet, because I’m having pictures I aim to hang in it framed, but if I can manage to keep it organized for a month, I’ll post pics in December. Whew!

In case I never mentioned him, Bam-Bam is my special winner-picking wiener dog. Bam-Bam had a rough beginning at a puppy mill in Big Spring, Texas. He never experienced any human contact except the negative kind before a nice lady named Delynda Reed picked up him and his companion, Bella, in Texas and drove them both to Tatum, New Mexico, where I met her and got Bella and Bam-Bam. Tragically, Bella died last autumn, murdered by two of my other dogs, Jazzy and Cookie. I feared Bam-Bam might go into an emotional decline, but he was fine. I, on the other hand, needed heavy therapy. Every time I think about Bella, I wanna weep. Oddly enough, someone finally landed a very good picture of Bam-Bam. This is the best photograph anyone’s ever taken of Bam-Bam, because he’s so excruciatingly shy. This is extraordinary because the person who took this picture is a man, and Bam-Bam is terrified of men. I’ve had him for five years, and he’s still scared to death of men. But Barry (the Horrid Man) Lasky, husband of Ann Wilmer-Lasky, my neighbor and partner in wiener-dog rescue, took this picture of him while I was in California! Amazing:
By the way, Ann and I rescued a couple of semi-wieners from a couple of shelters in Roswell during the month of October, too. They’re cutie-pies, even if they aren’t purebreds. Here’s a picture of them with Ann. Ann’s the one with red hair.

I’ll be in touch with everyone who won an audio copy of ANCIENT SPIRITS (Daisy Gumm Majesty’s sixth adventure) and will offer a couple of my other books (don’t know which ones yet) at the end of November. If you’d like to enter my contest, just send me an email with your name and home address to . Thanks!

If you’re interested in visiting my sorta-kinda out-of-date web site, please do so at: . And if you’d like to be Facebook buds, just go to my Facebook page:

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Yay for October

The reason I’m yaying for October is ‘cause I get to visit California and see my friends and kids and one of my grandsons. In order to see the other grandson and his wife and children, I’ll have to go to North Carolina, which is considerably farther from Roswell, New Mexico, than California is. I aim to take a good picture of the house in which Daisy and her family live while I’m in Pasadena.

September was a pretty good month for yours truly, if you discount the fact that the physical therapist tried to kill me. With needles. Took me nearly a month to recover from his “dry needling” of my left glute, dang it, and he set my for-the-back-pain exercises back a long, dreary way. However, I can now walk the wieners and do exercises again (whoopee, but you gotta do what you gotta do).

I’ll get in touch with the folks who won copies of books in September in individual e-mails. If you’d like to enter October’s contest, I’ll be giving away audio copies of ANCIENT SPIRITS, in which Daisy Gumm Majesty and Harold Kincaid travel to Egypt and Turkey because everyone (except Daisy) thinks the trip will help heal her grief over losing her husband, Billy. Naturally, things go wrong, but Sam Rotondo rushes to Turkey and tries to save the day. He doesn’t quite succeed, but the day is saved anyway. Here’s the audio cover for ANCIENT SPIRITS, which is remarkably akin to the e-book and paperback cover for the same book. There’s even a link if you’re burning to hear it and don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won a copy. Denice Stradling, who’s narrated all of my Daisy books so far, does a terrific job, as usual, on this one:


 Another good thing happened in September. My wonderful publisher, ePublishing Works, has begun selling hardback copies of some of their books. Included in this hardback experiment is my latest Daisy book, BRUISED SPIRITS. I’m particularly fond of BRUISED SPIRITS, because it’s based on a real, live woman’s story (her story is extremely grim, by the way). The book deals with spousal abuse and kidnapped-for-the-sex-trade children. I have absolutely no idea how I can write funny books about stuff like that. Guess it’s a gift, if an odd one. If you have a special need for hardback copies of my books, you might be interested in this one:
Naturally, since hardbacks are expensive, feel free to purchase the e-book or the paperback. I’m not greedy. Much.

Oh! And if you’ve ever wondered what the White side-treadle sewing machine on which Daisy makes all of her clothes looks like, here it is. This is my machine, and I actually used to sew clothes on it for my daughters and me:
In the meantime, I’ve been madly editing Frontier Fiction books for Five Star and been having a whale of a time doing it. I love editing. It’s ever so much easier than writing, although I wish I had more time to write. But one has to earn a living for oneself and one’s hounds, don’t you know. I’ve been able to edit for some wonderful western authors and consider myself privileged because of it.
One of these days, however, I must finish the next Daisy book, SPIRITS UNITED (in which I murder a librarian, but only because Lynne Welch, former RWA Librarian of the Year and overall librarian extraordinaire, asked me to). I will finish it. Promise.
If you’re interested in visiting my woefully out-of-date web site, please do so at: . And if you’d like to be Facebook buds, just go to my Facebook page:
Thank you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

(The Story of Daisy Gumm Majesty, etc.)

2002 was the year I was stricken with the greatest idea of what I laughingly call my writing career: Daisy Gumm Majesty. Daisy was born in my own home city of Pasadena, California, and still lived there with her family. The first book was set in 1920. What’s more, Daisy earned her living as a phony spiritualist, because she could make more money doing that than she could doing any of the other work designated for women at the time, and she had to support her war-injured husband Billy. I wanted the books to be historical cozy mysteries. Amy Garvey, my editor at Kensington, told Linda Kruger, my agent, that she and the late, great Kate Duffy, one of the big muckety-mucks at Kensington, loved the idea for the books but that they thought the books didn’t have enough mystery in them. Therefore, they asked me to remove the dead bodies, add a subsidiary romance (because the heroine was already married) and they’d market them as romances. I did, they did, and the books tanked. The books were STRONG SPIRITS (I got a complimentary letter from a copy editor for that book) and FINE SPIRITS.

Kate Duffy actually called to apologize for the poor marketing of my dearly beloved “Spirits” books. I appreciated her phone call but was crushed that I wouldn’t be able to write more Daisy novels. I’d already begun thinking about a series featuring survivors of the Titanic disaster, which I told Kate about during that telephone call. She was enthusiastic, so I worked up proposals for a series of three books. Since the “Spirits” books bombed, the Powers That Be at Kensington asked me to take a new name. It was thus that Anne Robins (my two daughters’ names) was born.

I was in a dreadful funk over the demise of Daisy and had a hard time writing the first Titanic book. Amy Garvey had gone the way of all good editors (she left Kensington and began writing her own books), and I was turned over to Hillary Sares. Hillary was wonderful, and she helped me very much with A PERFECT STRANGER, the first book in the series. After A PERFECT STRANGER the other books come more easily:

A PERFECT ROMANCE (which is my favorite of the series, being in the nature of a romp. Also, the heroine of the piece was rich, a state that was beginning to appeal to me more and more), and


I suggested A PERFECT AFFAIR and A PERFECT DIVORCE, but Hillary didn’t think those would go over well.

About that time a writing buddy, Mimi Riser, asked if I’d be willing to pen a book or two for a new publisher, New Age Dimensions, which had been established by a friend of hers. Feeling abused and mistreated, I penned another historical cozy mystery (a MYSTERY, darn it!) set in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1923. You can see that I’d somehow managed to get myself stuck in the 1920s. It’s a fascinating era, but I’m not quite sure why I like to stick around in it so much. At any rate, PECOS VALLEY DIAMOND was published by NAD in 2005, and I also wrote its sequel, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL. These books starred Annabelle Blue, who worked at her family’s mercantile store in Roswell, and featured Phil Gunderson, Annabelle’s erstwhile boyfriend, whom Annabelle dragged along with her into various adventures. Unfortunately for all of us who were connected with NAD, it was financially crushed by Hurricane Wilma in the great hurricane epidemic of 2005. So there I was, stuck with PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL and no place to put it.

Since I was still mourning the loss of Daisy Gumm Majesty and was really sick of writing sex scenes, I started writing LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, yet another historical cozy mystery, this one set in Los Angeles, CA, in 1926. Mercy Allcutt, the heroine of the book, was kind of a consolation prize for me after the death of Daisy. Again, Kensington didn’t think the mystery a big-enough element in the book. They were probably right, but I was lost again.

And then true tragedy struck when Linda Kruger decided to retire from agenting in order to care for her then two-year-old son Tyler. What, I ask you, kind of priority is that???? I was horribly crushed and didn’t know what to do.

Fortunately, by that time I’d begun editing for Five Star, a publisher that primarily targets libraries. Since I figured what the heck (a recurring theme in my life), I asked if I could submit a book to then. I was told I could, but that just because I edited for them didn’t mean I had any special pull and that my books had to be vetted just like anyone else’s. That was okay with me. By that time, I’d decided I didn’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of the reading public and that it didn’t matter that I have a niftier turn of phrase than, say, Dan Brown. Mind you, I respect and admire Dan Brown, and even sort of liked the Da Vinci Code. The point is that he’s rich and I’m not, so that tells you how much writing skills mean in the overall scheme of things.

Luckily for me, the other Five Star editors, those who read my manuscripts, seemed to have liked them, because Five Star has published:


And then—glory hallelujah!—Five Star bought the third book in my Daisy Gumm Majesty series, HIGH SPIRITS. Not only that, but they also took on the fourth through the seventh books in the series, HUNGRY SPIRITS, GENTEEL SPIRITS, ANCIENT SPIRITS and SPIRITS REVIVED.

Then, on a whim, I sent Five Star PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL, the sole survivor of my New Age Dimensions days, and Five Star decided to publish it! Therefore, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL was published some time in 2011. Since the book is set in Roswell, New Mexico, which pretty much looked in 1923 exactly as it looked in 1883, the twenties didn’t do a whole lot of roaring there, but Roswell’s citizens did their best. After PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL came PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW. I don’t know if I’ll write any further PECOS VALLEY books. I’m getting old and tired, and writing really doesn’t pay for itself. The only good thing so far about my writing life is that I can now supplement my social security income via my editing work for Five Star, which pays ever so much better than writing ever did.

A caveat to that last statement: A couple of year ago, Jeanne Glidewell, whose books I used to edit for Five Star, told me about ePublishing Works, run by the amazing team, Nina and Brian Paules. They’ve taken over my Daisy books, and have since published DARK SPIRITS, SPIRITS ONSTAGE, UNSETTLED SPIRITS, BRUISED SPIRITS, and will publish SPIRITS UNITED if I ever finish writing it. They’ve also repackaged some of my old historical romances and my historical paranormal romances. And, what's even better, they're actually making MONEY for me! Wow. That's never happened before.

By the way, I never wanted to write paranormal books. I was asked to do so by Berkley, and one (if one is me) doesn’t argue with one’s publisher.

Also, bless their hearts, ePW is taking over my Mercy Allcutt books, although there’s some kerfuffle about the rights to the last Mercy book, THANKSGIVING ANGELS. By the way, FALLEN ANGELS, Mercy’s third book, won the New Mexico/Arizona Book of the Year Award for mystery/suspense. I belong to the George C. Scott school of contest-dom and don’t generally hold with writing contests. That’s because I honestly don’t think you can successfully judge all books in the same manner as you can, say, oranges or lemon-meringue pie or Girl Scout cookies or whatever. I prefer Samoas. Other folks love Thin Mints, you know? Every writer has his or her own voice. Some folks like a particular author’s voice and stories, and some people don’t, and there’s no accounting for taste. However, I entered the contest because it tickled my funny bone. I mean, New Mexico? I think New Mexico has the lowest literacy rate in the country. Whatever.

And that, as you’re probably pleased to know, is it for this month’s blog. Whew! That was long.

If you’d like to enter my September contest, during which I’ll let you pick whatever book you want if I have it (that I’ve written, of course), send me an email at Also, please visit my web page at and my Facebook Page at



Thursday, July 7, 2016

May and June

Okay, so things didn’t go quite as planned during the merry month of May. I had been scheduled for hip-replacement surgery on May 3, but I got a sudden, acute medical problem, and the surgery was postponed until May 24. Therefore, most of June has been spent in recovering from my hip operation and trying to figure out what’s wrong with my intestines. I know. How disgusting. But it’s a problem, and I don’t know what to do about it.

Anyhow, the hip-replacement surgery and rehab are going well. I can tell the hip is much better because now my back pain is killing me again. However, I do believe there’s something that might be done about that, so I’m not in flat despair yet. Maybe later.

BRUISED SPIRITS, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s tenth (it’s actually the eleventh, but who’s counting?) adventure will be published August 8. Here’s the cover art and the Kindle link. I don’t think it’s up on Barnes & Noble or the other places yet:


If you entered a contest of mine for either May or June, please feel free to choose any old book you want of mine, and I’ll send you a copy, providing I have one. You can see most of them on my web page (which probably needs to be updated. I’ve not been good for much lately):

Also, Smashwords, on which most of my back-list historical romances and a few cozy mysteries are published in any e-format you want, is having a half-price sale during July, so you can snap up a copy of any old book you want (of mine, I mean) here:

I’ll give away copies of BRUISED SPIRITS at the end of July (or as soon as I get copies). I can send the e-book as soon as August 8 rolls around.

If you’d like to enter my July contest, please send me your name and home address as follows:

Thank you! Please visit my Facebook page if you like, too:

Okay. I’ll go away now. This is the first time I’ve tried to send a newsletter over Mail Chimp, so I hope this works!

Thank you!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Merry Month of . . . April?
Except for excruciating pain, April wasn’t a bad month taken all in all. I think that’s because I’m so happy to know I’ll get rid of this awful hip pain on May third. Then I’ll be in the hospital and rehab for a couple of weeks, and then my younger daughter, Robin, will wait on me hand and foot. No, no, no. I didn’t mean that. But I won’t be able to bend over until the doctor releases me to do so, and my poor short-legged wiener dogs will have to have someone else place their food dishes on the floor. Except, of course, for Scrappy (he dines on the red chair in the living room) and Bam-Bam (who takes his meals in bed. My bed). Sigh. My dogs aren’t the least bit spoiled.
In April I finished writing BRUISED SPIRITS, and started writing SPIRITS UNITED. Don’t get too excited. The union in this book isn’t Daisy’s and Sam’s, but they’re getting closer and closer to the altar. The old Pasadena Public Library will play a big role in SPIRITS UNITED, because I just murdered a woman in the biography stacks. Mind you, I don’t yet know who she is or who did her in, but I’ll have lots of thinking time to work out the details as my hip heals.
Here’s the cover art for BRUISED SPIRITS. Love these covers!
Other than that, and my as-yet unfulfilled searched for a good sandalwood candle, that pretty much takes care of April.
Therefore, I’ll write no more. Will be in touch in at the end of May, when I hope to heck I’ll be able to tell you my left hip is pain-free. That will be such a blessing. Then we (the doctors and I) will have to deal with my back pain, but one thing at a time, you know?
I’ll communicate individually with everyone who won a copy of the audiobook, GENTEEL SPIRITS. At the end of May, I don’t know what I’ll give away, but I’ll think of something. If you want to enter this indefinite contest, please send me your name and home address. My email address is Thanks!
Please visit my web page at, and if you’d like to be Facebook friends, here’s my Facebook page info:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

February and March

Oooookay. So February and March were a couple of odd months. For one thing I found out the reason my left hip has been giving me so much trouble lately. For a long time now, when I sit at the computer earning my living every day, when I stand up, I have to hang on to a piece of furniture until the pain in my left hip stops shrieking long enough for me to move again. The dogs don’t understand.

I didn’t understand either, until I finally managed to finagle my way in to seeing a pain doctor in Alamogordo. There’s a pain clinic in Roswell, but my former doctor’s nurse seemed incapable of getting the clinic the proper records for me. Grrr. I now have a new doctor. And soon (glory be!) I’ll have a new hip. I know it’ll hurt. But from several reports, hips are much easier and more successful than knees, which is a good thing for me since the only parts of my body that don’t hurt are my knees. I have no idea when the surgery will take place. Anyhow, the hip will hurt considerably less after I get it replaced and the surgery heals. I hope.

Then I went to see the eye doctor, hoping at least to get a new pair of glasses to cheer me up. But nooooo. I have to have the cataract in my right eye removed before I get any new glasses. Phooey. At least the cataract surgery is relatively simple. I know this because, after I had surgery to repair a detached retina in my left eye in 2011, I got a cataract in that eye as it was healing. So I had cataract surgery then, too.

I tell you, my body is falling apart at the speed of light. Doesn’t seem fair to me, but then, what is?

Anyway, toward the end of February I attended Left Coast Crime in Phoenix. I can’t honestly say I had a great time because I didn’t know anyone, and because I was in pretty awful pain. However, I did get to meet several of “my” authors (authors whose books I’ve edited), including Jeff Markowits (who write about the funniest mysteries I’ve ever read); Fankie Bow (who writes funny mysteries set in Hawaii, and who is a lovely woman); and Mike Befeler, who not only writes good mysteries, but who also writes Frontier Fiction. I also participated in a panel called “A Funny Thing Happened…” I’ve gotta tell you that, when I joined the panel, moderated by Simon Wood, and which included Jess Lourey, Catriona McPherson, and Johnny Shaw, I thought... Well, never mind what I thought, because it’s a trifle profane, but I was horrified. Here was I, this little old crippled lady hanging out with a bunch of KIDS! I’m not joking. However, it seemed to go okay. People laughed, and I guess that’s the important part. I also got to have lunch with my son-in-law’s sister, Kathryn, and their mother, Margie, which was mega-fun. And I got to see some old pals, so it was all right, taken all in all.
Left to right: Catriona McPherson, Johnny Shaw (who is extremely tall), Simon Wood, Me, Jess Lourey.

Jeff Markowitz and Me (I'm on the left, in case you couldn't tell)

Left to right: Me, Kathryn McIntire, Margie Paull
After the conference, I drove to California, where I spent my first night at my buddy Byron’s house in Yucaipa (or Yucaypa, if you’re my GPS’s Suri) or Yucapaw, if you’re Byron. What a perfectly lovely ranch he has! He also has a gigantic paint horse named Scout, and three dogs, one of which is a pit bull named Harley, who thinks he’s a lap dog.
After that I moseyed on up to Pasadena and West Hills, where I saw bunches of friends and ate lots and lots of stuff I can’t get here in Roswell. My grandson, Riki, my friend, Lauren, and I pretty much ate all the sushi in Pasadena. It was gooooood. Also met with some old dancing buddies at Mort’s Deli in Tarzana. That was good, too, and it was wonderful seeing folks I haven’t seen for ages.

Left to right: Art Aratin, Colin Cowans, Stephanie Cowans, Nicki Aratin
Then I came home and got sick. Sigh.

But things are muddling right along now. I’m still in dreadful pain, but I see a light at the end of that particular tunnel; and one of these days, I’ll be able to get a nice new pair of glasses, too.

I’ll get in touch with everyone who won a copy of the audiobook, SECRET HEARTS, individually. At the end of April, I don’t know what I’ll give away, but I’ll think of something. If you want to enter this indefinite contest, please send me your name and home address. My email address is Thanks!

 Please visit my web page at, and if you’d like to be Facebook friends, here’s my Facebook page info:



Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Joys of January

Oh, my, January was such a confuzzled month. My daughter Anni and her husband Razmik were here for Christmas and then to fix up my house, which needs it badly.
They started out with a bang. Unfortunately for me, both of my children are neat freaks. Since I was born without an organizational gene in my own personal DNA, I don’t know where this characteristic came from. I don’t think their father was particularly well organized. Nuts, maybe, but not well organized. However it came to pass, both Anni and Robin are tidy. Anni even made me clean up a bunch of stuff. Overall, this was a Very Good Thing, because I found some things I’d even forgotten I had, including two wiener-dog pictures by Tom Stoner, late husband of Monica Stoner, my very first critique partner, who now lives, writes, breeds and shows Salukis in Edgewood, New Mexico. We met in Southern California, and then everybody moved to New Mexico. Go figure. Anyway, I’m pleased to have found Tom’s wiener dogs pictures, and aim to have them framed as soon as I can afford to do so.

But that’s not all. Razmik put in new floors, painted the whole inside of the house, and I bought a new sofa and chair for the living room. He also re-hung pictures, so that they’re all now evenly spaced and stuff like that. I’ve never had evenly spaced pictures before. This is nice. Love the new floors. And I’ve taken precautions so the dogs can’t ruin my new furniture. I don’t mind a little dog hair, but a couple of my hounds actually pee on furniture. Not anymore. Heh, heh, heh.

There are still dead stuffies all over the place, but I don't mind those. 

And then it snowed. It didn’t just snow. It snowzillaed. Mind you, we generally get a little bit of snow here in Roswell, but this snow pretty much brought the city to its knees. The newspaper lady couldn’t get through the snow to deliver the newspaper (no big loss there) and even the mail couldn’t get through. Roswell’s mail is sorted in Lubbock, Texas, and all the roads were blocked into and out of Roswell, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There was no food on grocery shelves, and lots of streets remained impassible for a couple of weeks. We’re more or less back to normal now, but Razmik’s work on the house sort of had to grind to a stop. He’d intended to paint the outside, too, and put new outdoor carpeting on the front porch because the old stuff was coming apart and posed quite a falling risk. He took up the old stuff, but it was too wet to put the new stuff on. Oh, well. Maybe they’ll be able to come back again someday and finish making my house worth living in. He did find a huge problem regarding a leak between the bathroom and kitchen walls, which will have to be addressed at a later time, too, but not much later because the whole stupid house is apt to collapse if it’s not taken care of soon. Which, of course, requires money. Details, details.
Anyway, enough of that. I’ll get in touch with the winners of the audio edition of THANKSGIVING ANGELS. And at the end of February… I’ll be gone. Hmm. Just recalled that I’ll be in Phoenix at the Left Coast Crime conference, and then in Southern California to visit friends and family. I’ll mainly be staying at Robin and Gilbert’s home in the San Fernando Valley, because they need someone to dog-sit while they take a vacation. Hmm. Anni and Razmik seem to have usurped my few savings (although it was worth it) and now Robin and Gilbert are usurping my vacation time. But what the heck! I love visiting my friends and family in Southern California, and I can drive from West Hills to Pasadena, can’t I? The answer to that question is a resounding YES.

So no contest this month. I’ll figure out another one for March.

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