If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are our September WWK interviews:

September 5: Marilyn Levinson/Allison Brooke, Read and Gone

September 12: Libby Klein, Midnight Snacks Are Murder

September 19: Annette Dashofy, Cry Wolf

September 26: Judy Penz Sheluk

Our September Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 9/1--Peter Hayes, 9/8--Wendy Tyson, 9/29--Catherine Bruns. Margaret S. Hamilton blogs on 9/15, and Kait Carson blogs on 9/22.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming."

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

An Interview with Annette Dashofy by E. B. Davis

An Interview with Annette Dashofy by E. B. Davis

From behind the barn, Duchess the Digger had moved to the door
and started pawing at it with a demanding thud thud thud.
“Quit!” Zoe yelled in her deep I-mean-business voice.
Wayne snapped to attention. “Yes, ma’am.”
She shot a look at him. “Don’t mess with me, Detective.
I can kick a thousand-pound horse’s ass.”
Annette Dashofy, Cry Wolf, Kindle Loc. 1637

Rural Pennsylvania’s Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams is down an officer and has been dealing with extra shifts as well as a pair of bickering neighbors, one of whom owns a machete and isn’t afraid to use it. Golden Oaks Assisted Living is outside Pete’s jurisdiction, but a murder in the facility his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father calls home makes the case personal.

Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers has been itching for an opportunity to take the lead in a death investigation. She gets her chance when her boss is hospitalized and not only assigns her to the Golden Oaks homicide but puts her in charge of the county coroner’s office. As if she doesn’t have enough to handle, a long-lost, over-protective, older half-brother walks into her life threatening to drive a wedge between her and the man she loves.

A second dead body leads them to realize the case may have dark ties to a distant past…and if Zoe doesn’t untangle the web of lies, Pete will be the one to pay the ultimate price.

One of the hallmarks of Annette Dashofy’s Zoe Chambers mystery series is the unexpected depth of emotion it evokes in the reader. As an EMT, Zoe experiences many extreme situations, but it isn’t on the job where Zoe has to deal with emotional zingers. She’s a professional and keeps her temperament on the job. It’s her personal life that has required her to build layers of thick skin. As a reader who “knew” Zoe and experienced the ups and downs in her life, this book surprised me—Zoe surprised me.

For those of you who have read the series, Cry Wolf continues the suspense and extends the emotional smacks Zoe must endure. But for those of you who are new to the series, please start with Circle Of Influence, the first book. You’re in for a wild ride, and I’m envious. I’d like nothing better than to read the series afresh and savor those books back-to-back.

Near the inception of this blog, about eight years ago, I asked Annette to blog for WWK. She resisted, saying her fiction writing came first. That was four years before her first book came out. I think she made the right decision then, but I’m happy she finally decided to blog with us. Welcome home, Annette.                                                                                                                                  E. B. Davis 
Thanks, E.B.! I’m happy to be here!

In the beginning of the first chapter, you brought up an issue that has no resolve in the legal world. No one can be arrested for attempted murder of an animal. Even with PETA and the known predictors of animal cruelty, most offenses are still treated as misdemeanors. Would the animal’s owner at least have legal recourse in the civil courts?

First, let me clarify that NO ANIMALS, even fictional ones, were harmed in this book! To answer the question, I’m not a lawyer, although I did read up on the charges Pete mentions later in the story, but I doubt any of the charges would stick. I do believe a good lawyer could make a case to get the farmer’s vet bills reimbursed. I’d love to have seen the Professor being hauled before a judge. It might be the only way to knock some sense into his head.

That situation defined differences in Zoe and Pete’s approach to problems. Was it a “right or wrong” situation? A difference due to a female vs. male approach? Or was it in the legalities?

All of the above? Zoe, as always, reacts from her heart and is far more farm-savvy than Pete, who grew up in the city. Plus, as a cop, he has to look at the situation from a law enforcement perspective. He doesn’t have the liberty to play judge and jury at a crime scene.

Before Zoe’s mother gave Zoe the family farm, which requires tons of money to rebuild, Zoe wasn’t enamored of her part-time job as a deputy coroner, but now she needs the money. The coroner, Franklin Marshall, is being opposed in the upcoming election. His opponent is a forensic pathologist. What’s the difference between the coroner system and the Medical Examiner system?

The coroner system is much older than the ME system, and many counties here in Pennsylvania (including my own) still use it. Laws vary state to state, but here, the coroner is an elected position. They don’t have to have a medical background, although there are educational requirements once they’re in office. And pathologists are called in to do the actual autopsies. A Medical Examiner is generally a medical doctor and often a forensic pathologist and is hired, not elected. It’s my experience that an ME will swear their system is the best while a coroner will insist theirs is. I think the biggest issue of one versus the other is resources. Most rural counties don’t have the need or finances to pay for a full-time forensic pathologist.

I was surprised that the coroner’s position was an elected one. How do people evaluate the merits of coroners to elect?

The same as any elected position, I suppose. Our own county coroner (a funeral home director by trade) has held office for a very long time. The coroner has to answer to his constituents. If he’s deemed to be doing a poor job, we can vote him out when his term is up.

Why does Zoe have Franklin’s ring tone set to The Who’s “Who Are You” song? What’s the significance?

It’s a bit of an “Easter Egg.” The joke is that Zoe originally wanted to become a coroner because she was a fan of the TV show CSI, and quickly learned the reality was nothing like the Hollywood version. “Who Are You” is the theme song for CSI so that’s what she has set for the coroner’s ringtone.

When Franklin is hospitalized with dangerous health issues related to diabetes, he asks Zoe to take over his office, but he’s extremely critical of Zoe’s performance. Is he territorial and particular about his job or do health issues poison his evaluative gauge and temperament?

Franklin is fastidious about the way his office is run. He’s always secretly believed that Zoe would be a good person to take over as coroner if she applied herself, which is why he tends to be hard on her.

When Franklin tells Zoe she must have missed something, she takes it to heart. Words linger and resound with people. Why do we always hear the negative more than the positive?

I wish I knew! Zoe’s a good paramedic but this deputy coroner thing, especially being forced to be in charge, has her insecurities showing. I’m the same way. Self-doubt is nasty!

John Kinney, Pete’s Field Training Officer (FTO), resides at Golden Oaks, the same facility where Pete’s dad, Harry, lives. When he is murdered, there’s a long line of suspects because of his personality, his relationships, and that, as a cop, he arrested his share of lawbreakers. As a reader, I hoped many of the suspects were innocent. Why?

I’m a big believer in making all my characters 3-dimensional. The good guys have a little bad in them, and the bad guys have some good in them. I try to understand motivations and explore how bad things can happen to good people and drive them to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do. Within the series, I’ve had sympathetic killers as well as some downright vicious ones. Also, one of the themes I wanted to delve into with this particular story is the idea of consequences of our actions and how one past action or reaction can follow us for decades and impact those around us. So, I’m not at all unhappy to hear you felt sympathy for some of the suspects!

Zoe’s dad died when she was eight. What did he die of?

He died in a car crash. If you want to know more than that, you’ll have to read Lost Legacy, the second in the series.

When Jason Cox contacts Zoe saying she’s his half-sister, she’s skeptical. But after meeting him, she a believer. What changed her mind?

As you mentioned, she lost her dad when she was eight, and she’s never been close to her mother. She’s always had a big empty space in her heart. Meeting Jason was like finding a missing part of herself. Zoe’s had to take care of herself since she was a teen. Suddenly, she has an older brother who wants to protect her and help her out. It’s heady stuff!

Seth Metzger, the officer who saved Zoe’s life in Uneasy Prey, is having trouble coming back to the job since he shot and killed a killer. I’m sure you researched this phenomenon. What are the issues police face after killing?

We’re getting back to the self-doubt issue again. Police officers are human and handle stressful situations differently. Training helps. But there’s a reason they’re required to see a therapist after a shooting. In Seth’s case, he has the added doubt of wondering whether the person he shot was really a danger to others. No one will ever really know, because the person in question is dead. And these things happen so quickly, as a cop, the decision to use deadly force has to be made in a split second. Poor Seth is left to wonder if he’ll be able to react if faced with something like that again. (Let’s face it, he’s a character in my books, so odds are good that he will!)

Wayne Baronick is in charge of Kinney’s murder investigation since it happened in his jurisdiction. Wayne and Pete often spar in cases. Wayne asks Pete to look at his sister’s resume because he’s down personnel with Seth’s continued absence. Pete hires Baronick’s sister, Abby. Will this change Pete and Wayne’s relationship?

No. Their relationship has evolved through the series from antagonistic to respectful, although they still take pleasure in annoying the heck out of each other. Abby won’t change that.

In tracking Kinney’s killer, Zoe and Wayne review the video of Golden Oaks cameras, which are positioned in various public locations at the facility. Zoe doesn’t realize how much she uses her arms and hands when talking. Have you ever viewed video of yourself? Any surprises?

Video. Still pictures. Audio. Yeah. I don’t sound like I think I should, and I make a lot of “weird” facial expressions when I talk. At least that’s how it seems to me.

Why do city and country cops have differences in how they investigate?

The easy answer is money. Big city departments have bigger budgets, better toys (equipment), more man power. Smaller departments often have to improvise or call in help from other jurisdictions. Plus, the crimes are different in rural areas. No less deadly. But different.

Your present case rests upon a previous case. How do you create a past case of such devastation to all involved?

As I mentioned earlier, the theme I wanted to explore here was consequences of past actions and how they can haunt those affected for decades. And also how our actions can alter lives in ways we never know. It’s thought-provoking stuff.

Do cops have the legal and technological ability to ping anyone’s phone to find out its location?

Yes and no. This was one of those situations where I took a bit of creative license for the sake of keeping the story moving. YES, the technology is available, usually through the cell phone service providers. Legally, a warrant would be a good idea. Realistically, they could get close but probably not to the specific location as I had them able to do. I figured my readers didn’t want to sit and wait for the warrant and the footwork involved, so I fudged a little. Sorry.

Why does Zoe keep information from Pete, especially personal information?

Pete would like to know the answer to this one too! I think Zoe always intends on telling Pete stuff eventually, but she’s been on her own for so long, she’s used to taking care of herself and wants to deal with her problems and conflicts on her own. Plus, she knows he’s a cop and doesn’t really want to have the man she loves arrest her when she pulls some stupid (and possibly illegal) stunt.

What’s next for Zoe and Pete?

I’m wrapping up the 8th in the series, tentatively titled FAIR GAME, which is due to my editor in October. It’s a bit of a nod to my old 4H friends and takes place at the county fair. Let me just say murder at the school bus demolition derby and leave it at that for now!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Celebrating Readers and Writers

by Paula Gail Benson

KN Court Procedures Panel
The end of August and beginning of September turned out to be a banner time for indulging in my favorite activities -- travel and spending time with authors. Last year, at Killer Nashville, the wonderful Carol Wright proposed that a group of us, including Debra H. Goldstein, Bill Hopkins, and Carol’s husband, Bruce Murphy, present a panel about courtroom procedure at the next KN.

KN Thriller Panel
We all signed on and I planned to go a little early to spend some extra time in the area and have another chance to hear Jeffrey Deaver’s marvelous presentation about writing.

As usual, KN was a terrific experience. I always advise people, if you want to leave a conference with a boost to your writing, then go to Killer Nashville. The event is very open -- facilitating communication among the participants. The encouragement and support comes in welcome waves. The sharing of information about the publishing industry is invaluable as are the discussions about craft and the forensic presentations. I had the privilege of serving on three panels: (1) the court procedure one I mentioned, (2) a consideration of legal and political thrillers, and (3) a conversation among short story writers. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made and renewed some terrific friendships.

KN Short Stories Panel

Also, and I’ve admitted this to KN’s founder Clay Stafford and his lovely wife, Jacqueline, I did something I usually don’t do at a writing conference: I played hooky. On Saturday, I wasn’t scheduled for any panels, so I took the opportunity to explore nearby Franklin, Tennessee, and visit its farmers’ market. It was an amazing experience. Musicians entertained those who purchased their breakfast from food trucks. I met a lady who sold chess pies based on a family recipe. I also had some incredible seafood, fresh from the Gulf.

Franklin, TN, Famers' Market

In the evening, I had dinner at a wonderful French restaurant with Debra H. Goldstein, who I convinced to play hooky with me. Then, we went to Garth Brooks’ late show at the Grand Ole Opry. Watching the audience was as interesting as the performances. Garth was truly magnificent, returning to play a half hour encore.

Garth Brooks
I was preparing to leave Killer Nashville, thinking this has been a great trip, when I noticed that Madeline Miller was appearing at the Decatur Book Festival, a premiere event held each year on Labor Day weekend near Atlanta, Georgia. While the Dragon Con folks storm Georgia’s capitol city, the bibliophiles take over the smaller bedroom community. Between the heat and the crowds, you have to be resilient.

Madeleine Miller
But, if you’ve read Miller’s Song of Achilles and Circe (I blogged about them earlier this year), then you know why I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see my new writing hero.

I arrived early, and can you believe, Miller came into the venue right behind me. I stood gawking like a true fangirl as I heard the event coordinators talking with her about her leaving soon after the presentation to catch a flight. When they asked if she would like to sign books in advance, I spoke up, asking if I could follow, holding up my copies, then babbling, “You’re the reason I’ve come. I love your work!” The most gracious Ms. Miller offered to sign mine on the spot, so I was able to get a seat up front while she signed for others.

Later, I returned to the same venue to hear Karin Slaughter, who drew a crowd of about 400. I had not heard her speak before, but she was captivating and seeing her in Decatur made up for the fact that I wouldn’t be attending Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was one of the honorees.

Karin Slaughter
Another great advantage to attending the Decatur Book Festival and Killer Nashville was seeing my friends from the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Their booth this year was featured with a listed schedule in the festival program. I also loved having time to catch up with Dorothy McFalls/Dorothy St. James (we always seem to meet outside our resident state) and new friend Roger Johns. Both of them have some great new books recently released. Also, while with Dorothy, I had the opportunity to see Nicole Seitz and hear about her new anthology of memories about Pat Conroy.

Then, on the way home, I got to spend time with two of my favorite retired booksellers, Fran and Don Bush. There’s no better way to enjoy time with readers and authors!

What conferences and festivals have you attended and which ones do you recommend?


Monday, September 17, 2018

Those To-dos by Debra H. Goldstein

Those To-dos by Debra H. Goldstein
My to-do list is getting shorter. Or maybe, that’s longer. I know, since I finished my forty days of reading for fun, my life changed. I’m not sure if it is for the better.

For forty days, I read a book a day (okay, occasionally the book I picked necessitated two days to finish). After the first week, I found myself enjoying myself. The critical reading eye I’ve developed since becoming a writer receded and I read with joy and abandonment. It was fun, mindless, and invigorating.

Alas, like John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in The Barefoot Boy, “[a]ll too soon these feet must hide/ in the prison cells of pride.” Deadlines, promises, and responsibilities crashed forcing me back to reality – a world of to-do lists.

At first, it seemed like for every two things I crossed off, a new one popped onto my list. I could have freaked out, but I didn’t. Besides enjoying my reading, I learned a major lesson while I was recharging. Unless something was urgent, I let it slide. And, you know what? The world kept turning on its axis.

That means, with a little thought and some delegation, I can shrug, and nothing happens. I don’t
have to force round pegs into square holes. I don’t have to write a short story for every prompt I see nor solve every problem in the volunteer world alone. My job is to prioritize. Then, things naturally fall into place.

That’s a big thing to accept as a writer and a Type A personality, but since I’ve consistently prioritized my to-dos, my writing has improved and important things are getting done in a methodical way. The main reason for the improvement is that I don’t feel pressured.

Everything of substance will eventually get done. It better, because in the space of two weeks my TBR pile has grown beyond what it was before I began my reading binge. I’m going to need another month off to read. It isn’t at the top of my list right now, but that’s okay. I’m eager to attack my to-do list. Writing this blog makes the twelfth item I’ve marked off my list in the past three days. I see daylight and I’m feeling good about it.

How do you recharge? How do you handle it when all the deadlines and responsibilities of life seem to crowd in on each other? What gives – a task or you?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bouchercon, St. Petersburg

Two weeks ago, I blogged about my memories of previous Bouchercons. Since then, I’ve returned home from Bouchercon 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I spent almost a week playing dual roles of professional author and reader fangirl.

Let’s face it, writers are readers too. I still stand in awe and feel like I should salute when Lee Child enters the room.

The convention was also an opportunity to spend some time with dear friends I only see once or twice a year. My first night there included a fun dinner out with Dru Ann Love, Paula Matter and her husband Dave (AKA The Saint), and my travel buddy, Liz Milliron, at a quaint and quirky seafood restaurant. 

Dru Ann Love, Annette, and Liz Milliron
The food was fabulous, but the company was even better.

And the hotel? If you ever get a chance to stay at the Vinoy, grab it. The place is ultra luxurious. I thought I’d hit it big with hotel room karma again, but from what I’ve heard, all the rooms were huge.
The Vinoy

The room I shared with Liz 

After a leisurely morning on Wednesday, I participated in a marketing workshop put on by Sisters in Crime and Dana Kaye. I took pages of notes and still need to digest all the fabulous information presented.

Bouchercon officially opened Thursday morning and my panel (Doctor Doctor! The Medical Panel) kicked things off. I had to control my inner fangirl in order to act like a  professional with Lisa Black seated at the same table. Thankfully, I don’t think I embarrassed myself.

One good thing about getting my panel over first thing—I got to relax and enjoy the rest of the convention.
With one of my wonderful fans, Marla Bradeen
Hamming it up with my good pal, Martha Reed

Liz Milliron and Paula Matter nervously waiting their turn at
the New Author Breakfast

With Jack the Ripper AKA Daniel Dark AKA Daniel Hooberry

With the beautiful and amazing Lesa Holstine
Always fun to run into fellow Pennsylvania girl,
good friend, and awesome author Lisa Scottoline
With Reavis Wortham and Liz

I did have one last item of business to tackle Saturday morning when Liz and I teamed up for Author Speed Dating, a fun little bit of madness in which authors pair up and have two minutes each to talk about their books to a table of readers. Then when the horn blows, the authors move to the next table and repeat the process. I confess I went to the wrong table at one point. My apologies to the other pair of authors whose pitch I messed up in the process.

Author Speed Dating with Liz Milliron

With that done—and with only a little bit of laryngitis from all the talking—I was free to slide back into reader fangirl mode.

The highlight of my weekend happened outside, on the Vinoy’s veranda where I spent almost an hour chatting with one of my absolute favorite authors, Julia Spencer-Fleming. (Yes, there is another Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alystyne novel in the works!)
Fangirl moment with Julia Spencer-Fleming

And tourist mode.

The marina across the road from the Vinoy

Keeping company with a heron

The view from the veranda

My deepest thanks to Erin Mitchell for organizing this year’s Bouchercon AND my most joyful congratulations to all the award winners.

Next year: Dallas!

I know we had a few other Writers Who Kill in attendance. Debra? Nancy? Tina? Shari? Care to share your favorite moment?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Janet Evanovich's One for the Money

By Margaret S. Hamilton

My on-line crime writers’ book club recently read and discussed Janet Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money. (1994) I read the book in tandem with Evanovich’s subsequent publication, How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. (2006)

After publishing twelve category romance novels, and with her two children in college, Evanovich was anxious to explore what she terms the “adventure/mystery” genre: a female protagonist who works not in law enforcement, but in a related profession. “In the end, I simply wanted a heroine that I could relate to—a New Jersey-type heroine. I wanted someone who had the same familial guilt that I did.” (How I Write, pp 9-10). Evanovich takes what she likes best about writing romances—action and a hero-heroine formula--and adds a first-person point of view and her signature humor. With a plot that includes a battered woman and two murders connected to a drug-ring, Evanovich’s first book is darker than subsequent books in the series. New to her job as a bounty hunter, sassy, street-wise Stephanie Plum is deeply afraid of her stalker. I suspect Evanovich lightened up subsequent books to appeal to readers who would enjoy a less grim and more humorous character-based mystery series.

With Stephanie Plum as the protagonist, the hallmark of Evanovich’s books is her secondary cast of characters. In each book, Evanovich varies which cast members have a prominent role.

Ranger and Joe Morelli are Stephanie’s two steady guys, vice cop Morelli a childhood friend and Ranger a bounty hunter at Stephanie’s agency. Evanovich explains her definition of a “bad boy hero straight out of a Regency romance”:

“Bad boy heroes bring excitement and sexual tension to a story. Bad boy heroes can’t be completely irredeemable—they need to have something likeable about them. Actually, a bad boy hero isn’t bad at all…just different. He’s really a very strong guy whose code of conduct is based on what he instinctively knows to be right and wrong, and not necessarily what society dictates. Joe Morelli and Ranger are bad boy heroes. We can count on them to do the right thing—we’re just not sure if their methods will be entirely legal.” (How I Write, pp.20-21)

 Despite her mother’s admonition to stay away from the Morelli boys, Stephanie and Joe Morelli have a history. “As a kid, Morelli’d been out of control. I’d reached the conclusion that as an adult Morelli had control in spades. The Italian temper was clear in his eyes, but the amount of violence displayed was tightly calculated. He was wearing a black rain-drenched T-shirt and jeans. When he twisted toward the towel rack I could see the gun stuck into his jeans at the small of his back.” (One for the Money, p.118)

Ex-Special Forces Ranger Manoso runs a lucrative private security service in addition to working as a bounty hunter. He’s fond of Stephanie, periodically comes to her rescue, and keeps her supplied with cars of an untraceable origin. “His straight black hair was slicked back in a ponytail. His biceps looked like they’d been carved out of granite and buffed up with Armor All. He was around 5’10” with a muscular neck and a don’t- mess-with-me body. I placed him in his late twenties.” (One for the Money, p.33)

Grandma Mazur is a combination Evanovich’s aunt and grandmother, an energetic senior full of curiosity and a regular attendee at local funeral homes visitations. “I gotta get me a pair of those,” she said, eyeballing my shorts. “I’ve still got pretty good legs, you know.” She raised her skirt and looked down at her knees…Grandma Mazur had knees like doorknobs. She’d been a beauty in her time, but the years had turned her slack-skinned and spindle-boned. Still, if she wanted to wear biker shorts, I thought she should go for it. The way I saw it, that was one of the many advantages to living in New Jersey—even old ladies were allowed to look outlandish.” (One for the Money, p. 8-9)

Lula is Stephanie’s sidekick, a hooker who leaves the street after the first book to become a file clerk at the bail bond agency and Stephanie’s frequent driver and fellow bounty hunter.

“Two hookers stood at the corner, looking like they were waiting for a bus, except buses didn’t run down Stark Street. The women were standing there, obviously bored and disgusted, I suppose because nobody was buying at this time of day. They wore cheap plastic flip-flops, stretchy tanks tops, and tight-fitting knit shorts. Their hair had been chopped short and cleverly straightened to boar-bristle quality. I wasn’t sure exactly how prostitutes determined price, but if men bought hookers by the pound, these two would be doing okay. (One for the Money, pp. 139-40).

Evanovich places her characters in a straightforward linear narrative. As the series progresses, Stephanie grows more experienced as a bounty hunter, but it’s clear she’ll never settle down in the Burg, marry, and raise a family. I admire Evanovich’s pacing and how she seamlessly includes humor.

“No one had been paying attention to Grandma Mazur. She was still playing with the gun, aiming and sighting, getting used to the heft of it. I realized there was a box of ammo….A scary thought skittered into my mind. ‘Grandma, you didn’t load the gun, did you?’

‘Well of course I loaded the gun,’ she said. ‘And I left the one hole empty like I saw on television. That way you can’t shoot nothing by mistake.’ She cocked the gun to demonstrate the safety of her action. There was a loud bang, a flash erupted from the gun barrel, and the chicken carcass jumped on its plate….

‘Dang,’ Grandma said, ‘guess I left the wrong hole empty. She leaned forward to examine her handiwork. ‘Not bad for my first time with a gun. I shot that sucker right in the gumpy.’” (One for the Money, pp.70-1)

 Readers and writers, have you read any of Evanovich’s twenty-eight Stephanie Plum books? And if so, are you a Ranger or a Morelli fan?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lucky Stuff For Luck Stiffs by Warren Bull

Lucky Stuff For Luck Stiffs by Warren Bull

Photo by Todd Cravens on Upsplash
Note: No rabbits were hobbled and no clovers were plucked in the writing of this article.
Even if you were not born under a lucky star or chosen as one of fortune’s favorite few, research has shown there are seven ways to enhance your luck.
1 Relax:
In one experiment, participants were asked to perform a menial task, i.e., to count how many photographs were in a newspaper. Unlucky people took about two minutes on average to complete the assignment. Lucky people were done in a few seconds.
Why? Because of the message, “STOP COUNTING-THERE ARE 43 PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS NEWSPAPER,” which took up half of page two. Unlucky people skipped right past it while the lucky ones spotted it right away. Unlucky people also missed a second large message in the middle of the paper, “STOP COUNTING, TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU HAVE SEEN THIS AND WIN $100.” Again, the unlucky people were too busy looking for photos.
“Lucky people are skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities,” said the researcher, Dr. Richard Wiseman. “They do this in various ways, including networking, adopting a relaxed attitude to life and by being open to new experiences.”

2: Have the guts to trust your guts
In surveys conducted by Dr. Wiseman, 80 to 90% considered lucky reported they trusted their intuition in personal relationships and making career choices. Unlucky people reported doing so about 20% less.
3: Dream BIG
Like the song Happy Talk in the musical South Pacific: You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna’ to have a dream come true? Visualize your goal in as much specific detail as possible. Start working toward it. Take steps toward it no matter how tiny they are. If moving forward a yard is too hard, an inch is a cinch. 
4. Fake it until you make it
Even when success feels unlikely, behave as if it is definitely going to happen. Acting like a winner projects the image and emotion of winning. Behaving is becoming;  you can convince yourself as you convince the rest of the world.
5. Gain from losing
When an attempt does not completely succeed, and many, if not most, attempts do not. Recognize and make use of the feedback.  Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." There are always lessons to be learned from trying.
6. Back up and try another way

Follow the knowledge you gained from your last attempt. Keep what works and try altering what did not work. With your eyes on the prize, that is what we call progress. The only failure is the failure to try again. That failure disappears with the next try.

7. Expect success
Lucky people succeed in part because they expect to. They understand that they are active in determining their luck. My father often told me, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Lucky people stay alert to opportunity, take risks based on their gut feelings, visualize what they want to achieve, act like winners however they feel at the moment, see temporary failures as opportunities to learn and improve, and adapt their efforts based on what they have learned.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Several weeks ago our class of 1956 had our 62nd class reunion, and it was one of the best I ever attended. Because of the age of our class members, we decided to have another one next year instead of waiting two years or more because already 18 of our seventy class members have died and some others are in nursing homes.
As we did two years ago we again met in Jeannine Beagle Morris’s home where she and her husband had it two years ago. They fixed some food and others of us also brought something to eat. Jeannine had put out four albums with class pictures on a card table for us to browse through that had graduation pictures as well as pictures from prior reunions.

Jeannine is standing next to her husband.

There were a little less than twenty people there. I lost count because some were classmates and some were spouses. When you very rarely see these people it’s hard to recognize them. Some I knew right away and others who may not have come to a class reunion for some time I wasn’t sure if it was a class member or someone’s spouse.

Because it was the Friday before Labor Day, Jeanne had decorated the tables a little for this holiday with red, white and blue center pieces as well as American flags. She had set up a large round table in the kitchen and a long table in was the dining room or a section of the living room which was el shaped. There were ten people sitting at that table where I sat. 

We had lively conversations getting reacquainted. After we were filled with food we took our plates out to the kitchen where Jeannine’s husband Karl rinsed them off and put them in the dish washer while the rest of us went out to sit in the longer section of the living room. She put some chairs up there in a row and three men sat on a couch there and some people sat in chairs and others lined up behind us while Jeannine took pictures and others sort of sat in other places.

Then Jeannine had a contest where she asked questions about our class such as “What was our class color?” Only one person guessed correctly that it was pink and white, and it wasn’t me. “Class flower?” Someone guessed carnation which was right, but I didn’t remember that. She asked other questions, too, like who was the principal? Who was the school superintendent? Which teachers taught what? Etc. Everyone who got a correct answer got a small bag of candies.

 The highlight of our reunion in my opinion and I think the others there, too, was when Jeannine passed out a page of Patriotic Songs for us to sing while she played them on the piano. She is a very talented pianist. Everyone sang the songs we were all familiar with like AMERICA – My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of Liberty of thee I sing. Etc.  Next was AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL       , O beautiful for spacious skies, etc. BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC, Mine eyes have seen the glory – etc.  GOD BLESS AMERICA, God bless America, Land that I love, etc. LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH, Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. (This was the favorite and we sang it more than once). The last one was THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, This land is your land, This land is my land, etc. Every song we sang had all the verses to it printed there, too. My only regret is that I didn't contact Jeannine to get the pictures she took, too.

The man on the left is Ralph Hoover,

This was the highlight of our evening. If only someone had recorded all of us singing. Ralph Hoover, a very large man, who sat on the couch close by had the most gorgeous singing voice. I’m sure there were a few who didn’t put their all into it, but they were few. After we finished with those songs someone suggested Christmas songs and that Jeannine play her organ, too. So she played a few Christmas songs before we called it a night. It was before we left that we all decided to have another class reunion next year instead of putting it off for two years and having it at Jeannine’s house again. So many of our members didn’t come because either they lived out-of-state or they never had any interest in coming. And some of them we have no idea where they live so Jeannine couldn’t contact them. Still there were some who came from out-of-state this year, too. 

Do you go to your class reunions?
If you don’t, why not?
If you do, do you enjoy them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An Interview with Libby Klein by E. B. Davis

“Your next strike for…buying drugs?”
“It’s called possession. Don’t you watch TV or anything?”
“Nobody gets arrested for possession on Cake Boss.”
“What’s Cake Boss?”
“It’s like Breaking Bad, but with frosting.”
Libby Klein, Midnight Snacks Are Murder, Kindle Loc. 2115

Cape May is being turned upside down as someone is breaking into neighbor’s houses, stealing their knickknacks and eating their goodies.

Between trying to get her gluten-free baking business off the ground and helping her aunt remodel her old Victorian into the Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey, Poppy is ready to call, “Mayday!” And now Aunt Ginny—who’s a handful wide-awake—is sleepwalking on her new sleeping pill prescription and helping herself to neighbors’ snacks and knickknacks.

Even more alarming, a local humanitarian who worked with troubled teens is found murdered, and the police suspect the “Snack Bandit.” Other than a bad case of midnight munchies and some mild knickknack kleptomania, Aunt Ginny is harmless. Someone’s trying to frame her. Poppy will need to work tirelessly to uncover the killer and put the case to rest—before Aunt Ginny has to trade in her B & B for a bunk bed behind bars . . .

There were so many quotes I highlighted in Libby Klein’s LOL Midnight Snacks Are Murder, the second in her Poppy McAllister mystery series, it was had to choose. Here’s the runner up: “I’d been stranded in Cape May with my eighty-ish great aunt ever since I was lured up here to attend my twenty-fifth high school reunion a few weeks ago and was voted most likely to kill a cheerleader.”

Libby’s books are fun reads. Her characters are delightful even when they are annoying. Even the cat, Figaro, is three-dimensional. But then when I went to Libby’s website and hit on the link to Figaro’s World, I found that Libby gets cats.

The first in her series, Class Reunions Are Murder, I haven’t read yet, but after reading the second, this is one series that I will go back and read the first—which for me is saying a lot!

Please welcome Libby Klein to WWK.                        E. B. Davis

Poppy is converting Aunt Ginny’s house into the Butterfly B & B in Cape May, NJ to support Aunt Ginny, her great aunt, who raised her. Did Poppy work when she lived in Waterford, VA? What did she do?
Poppy supported her late husband while he finished law school by working as a checker at the A&P. It was never her dream to one day wear a smock to work, but you do what you gotta do to pay the bills. Having only a high school diploma herself, Poppy bounced around between a few minimum wage jobs for years until she went to work as a receptionist in her husband’s law firm in Waterford

Why isn’t Aunt Ginny in better financial shape?
Aunt Ginny’s Grand Victorian has been owned by the McAllister family for generations, but the taxes on a property like this in Cape May are well above the ability for someone living on a small pension and social security to pay. And with old houses, things tend to need repair often. She used to share the cost with her sister, but Emmy died a few years earlier and thus far, Aunt Ginny’s plan to win the lottery has not paid off.

Why are they naming the B & B, Butterfly?
In Class Reunions, Poppy breaks out of the bondage of shame and self-pity that she’d been living in. She’d been hiding from the world instead of living her life because of depression over her past, her weight, and fear of not being acceptable by society norms. Aunt Ginny encourages her to love herself and embrace life right now. It’s not too late to change and be who she was meant to be - like a butterfly. It’s the second pivotal moment in the story where Poppy has to choose to rise up and fight for herself.

When Aunt Ginny goes on her sleepwalking raids, does she help herself to snacks because of the Paleo Diet she’s adopted to support Poppy, whose doctor recommended it for weight loss?
Well. We can only assume. Sleepwalking can be a manifestation of your subconscious desires. When Aunt Ginny signed on to support Poppy in bettering her health and fighting depression, she had no idea that the cost would be so high as to remove peanut butter. Of course, Aunt Ginny might subconsciously just want a hunk of pie.

Amber, a local cop, does her job, but she has history with Poppy. I’m surprised a former cheerleader became a cop, which may be my own prejudice. What was the history between Amber and Poppy?
Life is all about the choices we make and their ensuing consequences. Amber was one of the bullies who tormented Poppy through high school. She was second in command of the bully squad, if you will. The friction between Poppy and Amber goes deeper than juvenile name calling. The rest of the bad blood between them is a bit of a spoiler revealed in Class Reunions. Poppy does learn a lesson that we all have moments where we are not our best and hurt others, and not all situations are black and white. More is revealed about their relationship as the series progresses.

Aunt Ginny’s dubbed the “Snack Bandit,” but unfortunately someone, a murderer, copycats her M.O., putting Aunt Ginny in the frame for murder. Since the elderly are the least likely to kill, why are the police so sure Aunt Ginny is the culprit?
If you ask Aunt Ginny, the police can be lazy and try to convict the easiest target. Aunt Ginny will also tell you that bit about the elderly being the least likely to kill is hogwash. You haven’t been to Bingo when the jackpot has been tampered with. If you ask Poppy, certain blonde officers have it in for her and her family. But if you ask the police, the crime scene for the murder matches the M.O. for the crime scenes for the break-ins and there are no coincidences.

Was Poppy’s best friend, Sawyer, responsible for getting Poppy to Cape May?
In Class Reunions, Sawyer used the age-old contract of the pinky swear to convince Poppy that she had to return home as her bully backup for the reunion. Sawyer was also expecting a rather unpleasant run-in with her newly divorced ex-husband and his bad choice of the month. Poppy could never say no to a friend in need, so she returns home to Beach Hell – just for the weekend.

Poppy hasn’t been back to Cape May since she graduated from high school due to her embarrassment about jilting Tim, who was her fiancé and sweetheart from high school. I’m surprised. Even with being embarrassed, she loves Aunt Ginny and her BF, Sawyer. Was that all there was to it?
Poppy’s avoidance of Cape May goes much deeper than her breakup with Tim. Cape May holds all the bad memories and feelings from childhood and adolescence. Her one big goal in life was to get out and move far away. Away from abandonment, away from isolation, away from not fitting in. Now that she’s back, she has to face her fears and try to make peace with her past.

Like many of us, Poppy blames herself for the original jilting of Tim, who she is now seeing again, but she’s also interested in Italian barista, Giampaolo, aka=Gia. So, in addition to feeling like she’s two-timing Tim again, she’s also feeling unfaithful to her late husband. Is she missing the obvious or doesn’t want to admit to herself the truth?
At the beginning of Class Reunions, Poppy’s husband of nearly twenty-five years had died about six months earlier. Poppy’s been grieving her way through the snack food aisles of the local grocery store. Now that she finds herself in Cape May, she comes face to face with Tim, her first love, and has to relive one of the biggest regrets of her life. Her emotions are all over the map. Add the attraction to Giampaolo to the mix and it’s no wonder Poppy’s a hot mess. Aunt Ginny would tell Poppy, “There’s no ring on your finger; go out and have a good time.” But Poppy’s past impetuous choices have left her terrified of making another mistake.

I like “Itty-Bitty” Smitty or “I-can-fix-that” Smitty. He’s seems incompetent, even if persistent. Why does Poppy continue working with him?
Partly because he was all she could get at the last minute and within her budget, but mostly because Poppy is loyal to a fault. Once you’re her friend, she’ll stand by you no matter what. She can be patient with your mistakes because she knows she’s made so many of her own.

Why does Gia’s mother dislike Poppy so much? She and her daughter are passive-aggressive, which I hate!
Hmm. That’s a good question. Gia doesn’t seem too concerned about either of their opinions. He’s interested in Poppy and no one will deter him from pursuing her.

Why is Karla, Gia’s sister, so cryptic?   
Snob. What is that all about?!
Georgiana is a dislikable character who seems bent on gaining power and control over the household. Even though she comes clean in the end, it doesn’t end her horrible behavior. Is it something she can’t control?
She doesn’t know any better. Georgina has had a life of privilege, and financial power often comes with social power and the misconception that one should have power over everything else. And it usually does. Money solves a lot of problems. Georgina has wielded that power over Poppy for most of her life because she married her son and became part of her domain. In Midnight Snacks, it’s up to Poppy to stand up for herself and take that power back.

My daughter has Celiac Disease and my son is now trying out the Paleo Diet for three months to discover if it helps inflammation. He and his wife are visiting next weekend. I’ve done pretty well doing GF cooking and baking, but I’m at a loss with Paleo. I read the recipes at the back of your book, such as Paleo Espresso Brownies, and I have a few questions.

Aren’t eggs considered dairy?
No, but a lot of people ask this question. Dairy is milk and things made from milk. (cheese, cream, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, kefir) It comes from cows. (And sheep and goats.) Eggs are sold in the “dairy aisle” of the grocery store, but they are in the meat food group. In a sense, eggs are baby chickens the way veal is baby cow. (If I think about that too hard I won’t be able to eat either one.) Dairy is hard to digest and very inflammatory. That’s why its not popular on anti-inflammatory diets like FODMAP and Paleo.
*Note – eggs are not allowed if you’re allergic to them. I’m not. I have enough trouble with grains, sugars and milk stuff.
If there isn’t any sugar, how can coconut sugar or honey be allowed?
There is a difference between sweet and sugar.

You can have natural sweeteners in moderation – fruit, honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, natural sugars from coconut, dates, monk fruit. They’re natural, less refined, have some vitamins. But even though a brownie is made from honey instead of white sugar, it should still be considered a treat and eaten in moderation – not three times a day – no matter how irritated you are. (Sorry. Talking to myself for a minute.)

You want to avoid the highly processed sweeteners of bleached white cane sugar, corn sugar, corn syrup, glucose syrup, invert sugar - because they’re super sugars, highly processed. Highly inflammatory (and light your brain up like cocaine.)

Paleo Diet = Nothing fake. Ingredients exist in nature.

Isn’t yogurt dairy? (Paleo Granola Parfaits)
The Paleo granola parfaits are made from coconut yogurt, nuts, coconut and fruit.

Yogurt made from dairy [milk] is not allowed on the Paleo diet. Food scientists have found a way to make “dairy” products out of non-dairy ingredients. That’s why you have almond milk, cashew milk, macadamia milk, coconut milk. These things have zero milk in them. No dairy at all. No cows (or sheep or goats) were involved. But no one wants to buy a bottle of “Nut Juice.” In the same way, they’ve found a way to make “yogurt” out of these alternative “milks”. And there are some really good soft “cheeses” on the market made from nuts.

*Note – you can also get all these things, ie – “milk”, “yogurt”, “cheese”, “ice cream” made from soy as well. Soy is NOT Paleo.
Your book covers are fabulous. Who creates them?
Thank you. Kensington has wonderfully talented designers who’ve made three beautiful covers for me.

What’s next for Poppy and the gang?
Restaurant Weeks Are Murder is released in March, 2019. Poppy will get to live out a lifelong dream of working in a professional kitchen next to Tim in the first annual Cape May Restaurant Week Chopped-style Competition. Unfortunately, Gigi - Tim’s perky blonde mentee/girlfriend wannabe is also on Tim’s team. Some dreams should never come true.

                    Libby Klein’s secretary—will get back to you when he feels like it.