Does This Look Like Thanksgiving?

A welcoming door

A welcoming door

Thanksgiving is all about family around the fire, turkey with all the trimmings, blessings, falling leaves, and nippy weather, right? Not always. We visited our Florida daughter and grandchildren.

Florida Sunset

Florida Sunset

We visited the beach where our granddaughter took a fabulous sunset picture of her mother for her class. We ate lots. Daughter and I worked on formatting the final version of my new book. (More about that later.) And we dropped grandson off at college after his break and came home. Okay, he drove, but it was our car.

Yep, we came home, shortly to see a little more than nippy weather.

Early December Snow in Pennsylvania

Early December Snow in Pennsylvania

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you celebrate in the traditional manner?

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Too much to do!

It’s a common problem, at least for me. I make plans, schedule things – sure I’ll have no problem handling it all. Then what happens? I realize I have way more than I want to do.

Exercise. It’s very good for one, and absolutely essential for a writer who spends so much time in front of her computer. Therefore, two mornings a week I exercise with a class. Great fun, actually. Of course, even though it’s only a 45-minute class, it takes me the rest of the morning to actually feel like working. Yep, morning gone.

Two mornings gone out of a week? No problem. I can handle that two-week class on optimizing Goodreads for authors. Also, I can learn how to post to my mystery critique group all over again since we started using Google groups instead of Yahoo groups. (And, that course? Also on a new venue – more to learn.)

Oh, yeah, there’s a few other things. I’m counting down the time until my new YA is published. Working with the artist on the cover design now. And, hopefully those edits I’m doing on the sequel to Yesterday’s Body will be final edits.

Then there’s the article and the blog post I agreed to do. A month or two ago I spaced them out, too busy in August and September. Yep, due this month. Working on it, really I am.

Is there more? Uh-huh. Oldest grandson getting married. Then the following week youngest daughter and family having their annual, all-day fall party.

I’m sure there’s a book among those I’ve read that would absolutely fit this post. But, will I take an afternoon lulling through the shelves, picking the perfect read to recommend? Nope, sorry, not today. I’m over-scheduled as it is. I’ll have more time next week – make that next month.

Sailing Blogs to Visit

This week I didn’t post my usual article. Instead, I visited Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers with a blog about a sailing trip my husband and I made in 1989. It was the first big trip we made on our sailboat. I called it Sailing the Dismal Swamp Canal to Hurricane Hugo.

ICW Trip - 1989

ICW Trip – 1989

To see this post, go to this blog site. Of course, with a title that includes a hurricane name, you might guess what we ran into.

We took many trips between that one and our last big trip some years later. By then we were too old to handle lines and dodge swinging booms. We had a power cruiser instead of a sail boat. For that last trip, we were a group of only two boats. I blogged about that last year for Dames of Dialogue. You can see it at their blog.

Death of a Hot Chick, the mystery mentioned in both blogs was inspired by my sailing trips. So too was my amateur sleuth, Cyd Denlinger. I blogged about how I chose her before I had a single book published. That is on Working Stuffs.

These blog posts, especially the last one I mention above, will give you an idea of how a writer’s mind works when she is crafting someone to solve her mysteries. Enjoy!

Seasonal Thoughts

Seasonal? Not as in salt and pepper or onion flakes. Oh, no. As in, it must be fall because kids went back to school, despite the fact that fall does not officially arrive until later in September. So, since it IS fall, Halloween must be close behind. How do I know? My local grocery store has a full display of Halloween Tastykakes. Yum!

Definitely time for spooky thoughts. Ghosts, magic, and spooky paranormal mystery books. Yes!

One series of choice for the season is L. L. Bartlett’s Jeff Resnick series. Bartlett (under two other names) writes two of my favorite cozy mystery series, but this is more of a psychological thriller. Jeff has dreams, or visions, of murder. How spooky is that? The first in the series is Murder on the Mind. The newest one, Dark Waters, comes out on October 1, 2013.

Another favorite series is Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cats mystery series. Are those cats real, ghosts, or what? One that I read is Curiosity Thrilled The Cat. The newest one, Final Catcall, also comes out October 1, 2013.

Soon I hope to announce my newest mystery, a spooky young adult titled Cherish. There are ghosts, time travel, and Halloween involved in this one.

I keep trying to get comments active on this post. Maybe this time? Don’t know yet. However, comments will be open on my Goodreads blog tomorrow.

School is Open – Remember When

Remember when school started the Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day? Remember when you took the kids shopping for shoes the week before–so they wouldn’t outgrow their new footwear before school started? Remember when the kids scanned the school lunch menu and decided they preferred a bag lunch from home? And most of all – remember when there were no backpacks that weighed down your child’s young shoulders?

Okay, I’m old. Even my kids are old because they can remember it all as well. Now, their kids, that’s a different story. They have ipads and smart phones and computers, as well as books. They might take a class presented on the computer at home. They all return to school in August, some even early August. (Of course, they do get more or longer vacations during the year. That may be all to the good, actually.) I’ve even read about schools that decide the bag lunch isn’t adequate and throw it out. Ah, me. A group of us old ladies got together a couple of weeks ago and agreed that we wouldn’t want to be raising out children now.

But, of course, every old generation looks askance at the young upstarts. Everything is new, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. Look at the amazing things our children and grandchildren are learning–and doing. Even we old fogies are catching up with the times. And, for sure, if our youngsters kept to the twentieth century ways, they’d be completely lost in a year or two.

How lost would they be if they started the way I did? Maybe you learned to read from a Dick and Jane book too. I did, and, believe it or not, so did my oldest daughter. I was amazed when she brought her book home to show us. There it was. “See Dick run. See Jane run.” All year long she studied from that book, just as I did. And, at the end of the book and the end of the year came the story I loved. “Dark Pony.”

So, in honor of the past, the book I want to mention today is We Play (Read With Dick and Jane) It is even available! (There are others listed, but they are unavailable.)

I would ask you to add a comment, but that isn’t working. Don’t know why. Haven’t figured out how to fix it yet. Hopefully, next week my comments will be back. However, you can comment on my other pages – don’t know why that is either! You may also visit my website here. Love to see you.

Remembering Mom

Yesterday I read about a woman who just turned 100. It was a lovely article in my newspaper with a headline of, “This healthy 100-year-old runs on coffee.” She sounds like a humdinger. She likes to sing at home and with the group Sweet Adelines. She helps her niece with crossword puzzles. She likes to keep busy. “I don’t sit and rock half the day, oh no,” she said.

The lady reminds me of my mom, who lived until May 31st of this year. She was 103. She, too, liked to keep busy. At eighteen, Mom was a city girl who married a railroad man who turned into a farmer. She followed her man from Washington to Missouri and back to Washington. Dad wanted home-made bread, so she baked bread. She cooked dinner for haying crews. And pies. Oh, the pies she baked. In later years a trip to the doctor or dentist was an occasion to bake as she always took a pie along.

I remember Mom as the farm wife. One time some animal was killing our free-range chickens. Mom sat in the field with a rifle, waiting. A feral dog arrived and she dropped him with a chicken in its mouth that ran away. But Mom had an independent streak. One year she decided that, just because Dad was a very active Grange member, she didn’t have to be. However, she missed it and returned. She actually later ended up as Master (that’s club president). But that independent streak went one step farther. When Dad retired, she did too. No more home-baked bread!

Mom loved to read. I remember when she had a copy of Forever Amber hidden in her room. (It was the scandalous novel of the time.) And she wrote. She was my inspiration. But while I write mysteries, she wrote poetry. I remember a long saga she could recite and sometimes amended. More often she wrote poems as gifts to friends on special occasions. She played the piano. Once she accompanied the soloist at a wedding. She often played piano at Grange meetings and whenever anyone wanted to sing at home.

Mom's 100th Birthday

Mom’s 100th Birthday

There was a party for Mom’s 100th birthday where she lived. Since I lived across the continent from her, I wasn’t there that day, but my sister-in-law was. Mom received cards and ate cake (hers was sugar-free). Mom believed in walking for health. At the farm she measured with a tape measure, then walked that route until her goal was reached. At her assisted living home she walked the length of the hall twice a day. I remember Mom drinking coffee like the woman in the article, but her daily regimen included walking and drinking milk. It served her well.

Good bye Mom. We loved you.

I like to include book recommendations in each post. Two from my library are Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates and there was an old woman by Hallie Ephron. Neither one is a cozy mystery. The article referenced above can be seen here.


Wow! Chefs to World Leaders Eat Here?

Can you believe that chefs to world leaders dined in a barn, sitting on benches at long wooden tables decorated with flowers in canning jars? They ate, and even raved over simple dishes like salad with red beet eggs, chicken croquettes, pot roast, mashed potatoes with brown butter, succotash, and fresh raspberries. They will take ideas back to their own countries to serve in palaces in England, Thailand, Sweden, and Monaco. The back-to-nature foods prepared in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, and served by Amish women and children may appear on tables in the White House, and in the homes of world leaders from Germany, Gabon, China, France, and many other nations.

It was a meeting of the Club des Chefs des Chefs, an exclusive group of chefs to world leaders. Each year they meet in a different host country. This year they came to America and first dined in Washington, Maryland, and New York before visiting the barn in East Lampeter, Pennsylvania.

My words can’t tell you all there is to this story. I’ve attached a link of a video and a slide show of the meal in progress, plus the newspaper write-up. (It’s here.)

Does this story that includes the chef to our president make you think of mystery books? It does me—but then practically everything makes me think of a good mystery read. In fact, this article makes me think of two series, and I just happen to have a few of those books in my library.

You have to know that one series is the White House Chef Mysteries by Julie Hyzy. When Buffalo West Wing  was published in 2011, Olivia Paras is billed was the first female head White House chef. Of course the plot involved a supply of the presidential children’s favorite—spicy Buffalo wings. And Olivia gets in Dutch because she won’t let the kids touch the wings.

Speaking of Dutch, the Amish people mentioned in the article reminds me of more mysteries. They are the books included in the Pennsylvania Dutch series by Tamar Myers. One of her titles is The Crepes of Wrath. Magdalena Yoder discovers that a bad batch of crepes can lead to murder. There are several crepes recipes included, not one of them is fatal. Magdalena is not Amish, but of another plain sect. (“Plain” is the term some use, and to the “English” as the Amish call others, “plain” can refer to Amish, Mennonite, and others.)

I page through recipes in mystery books and get ideas (I’m often an innovative cook). Both series include recipes. My own mysteries include people who love food, love to talk about it, love to prepare and eat it, but I haven’t added recipes in the pages of my books. I’ve tried another approach. I place recipes and pictures on my website along with an excerpt from the scene that presented the dish. (Those recipes are here.)

Do you like mysteries that include recipes? I’d love to see your comments about food in mysteries, or your favorite series. (I love to find series new to me!)

News From The Past

Does your newspaper publish weekly reminders of our past? Mine does. One week they tell us what happened 25 and 75 years ago. The next week they give us the latest from 50 and 100 years ago. (They’ve been in … Continue reading