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

November Interview Schedule: 11/7 Lane Stone, 11/14 Maggie Toussaint, 11/21, Joana Garcia

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 11/3 Barbara Ross
WWK Satuday Bloggers: 11/10 Margaret S. Hamilton, 11/17 Kait Carson

Starting on Thanksgiving Day, 11/22, WWK presents original holiday offerings until New Year's Day. 11/22 Warren Bull, 11/29 Annette Dashofy, 12/6 KM Rockwood, 12/13 E. B. Davis, 12/20 Paula Gail Benson, & 12/27 Linda Rodriguez. We will resume our regular blogging schedule on 1/2/19. Please join us!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Grace Topping signed a three-book contract with Henery Press for her Laura Bishop Home Staging series. Congratulations, Grace!

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.

Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.

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.

Shari Randall's third Lobster Shack Mystery, Drawn and Buttered, will be available February 26, 2019.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Characterization: Judging vs. Perceiving

I often refer to Myers-Briggs personality types when I want to understand how real people or fictional characters act and react in certain situations. An individual’s profile is determined based on four poles: (Introvert/Extrovert, Sensing/Intuiting, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perceiving). Each of the four pairs provides insights, but one of the most interesting is Judging versus Perceiving.

The way I find it easiest to understand the dichotomy of this pair is to answer this question:

Do you feel more comfortable after you’ve made a decision (J) or before the decision is made (P)?

Judging people (not to be confused with judgmental people, which this is not) are usually task oriented, put off play until work is done, make lists, are comfortable when decisions are made, and hate having the pressure of looming deadlines so will carefully schedule their work. Sometimes they focus on the goal so heavily they miss (or ignore) new information which could impact them.

Perceivers like to keep their options open. They often don’t make plans and will decide when they must (and sometimes they will miss out because they didn’t decide). They tend to work in bursts of energy, often becoming more energized as a deadline nears.

My better half, Jan, is a big-time J. I am normally a strong P with the distinction that when a decision needs to be made, I make it and move on. Until that point, my theory is why not collect as much data as you can? (Pure P thinking.) Jan, of course, is going crazy while I check out “just one more thing.”

One reason we read novels is to learn how characters act under stress. Stress can be physical (someone’s trying to kidnap me!) and those confrontations can rev our endorphins in sympathy with the character. But if the only stress is action-oriented, most readers soon become bored (unless we channel our inner teenage boy). Mental stress comes in all shapes and sizes and can hold our interest throughout a novel.

Jan and I are currently looking at a major decision, and I can attest to the building tension when a J and a P must jointly make a decision (assuming neither one is the type who rolls over and capitulates with “whatever you want, dear).

It’s also interesting to see what happens when the author forces a P character to make a decision before they can gather what the P thinks is enough data. After they have been forced to make it, how long will they rehash their decision before they accept it? What form does their regret take? What happens in their dreams?

Or consider the mental punishment of not allowing a J who has decided what should be done to enact it. Or what happens when against advice (probably from a P) that they should consider other information before deciding, they go ahead, only to discover they have made a huge error?

As an author, I find satisfaction in torturing my characters and seeing if they grow stronger or crumble under the stress. As a reader, I want to know what’s going to happen.

In real life, it’s not quite as enjoyable, but it’s easier for me to cope when I can reflect on everyone’s style and how that drives the way they see the world.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Adieu, for 2018 by Kait Carson

It’s hard to believe this is my last blog of 2018. Where did the year go? Why didn’t it go faster? Oh, that’s another blog, one I won’t be writing. Never mind.

One of the joys of welcoming a New Year is planners, plotters, and calendars. I’m not sure what that says about me as I’ve only recently given up my pantser plotting ways. The moment new calendars arrive, I’m in a track stance. Over time I’ve discovered that Current calendars arrive first – followed by Colorful Images. Now those two companies have joined forces so I can get my wall calendar fix ordered, annotated, and hung (behind the remains of the prior year) by September 15th.

Waiting for writing planners is more difficult. There’s always something new to consider. I’ve saved prior year blog posts from other plotter rabid writers in my One Note files and it’s Nirvana if they’ve posted updates during the year. I drag my feet while my finger is wearing itself to the nub clicking multiple sites and I’m considering buying a second screen for all those open tabs featuring calendars and planners. Just when I’ve made up my mind, a new one emerges and dang—I’m back at square one!

Not this year. This year I stood strong. I decided to shop for planners early too. That way, if they didn’t work out, I still had time to find others. Seemed like a win/win scenario—for the retailer at least. There is one constant in my agenda planner life. I am addicted to the Quo Vadis Minister planners. The paper is heavy and stands up to a flowing ink pen. There’s plenty of room for events, word counts, plans, everything I need. It perfectly combines my writing and personal life. I love it. So, why look further? I’m a creative. What if I’m missing something?

Last year I read about a new system, Plot Your Work. A few author friends were using it and it sounded fabulous. Of course, by the time I found it, the ship had sailed and we were well into January. Clip and snip and into the One Note planning file it went. I ordered the undated deluxe project planner, received it two weeks ago and dug right in. This is not an agenda so much as a writing system. It does something no other system has ever done. It marries the writing process and the marketing process reminding the author to make plans for the marketing and social media events at various stages.

Finally, it became impossible to resist the siren call of The Bullet Journal. So many writers have raved about how effective Bullet Journals are at organization. And, to be honest, I found one in my favorite color, a turquoise/teal. It’s a work in process for me as a planner. What I do love it for is as a speed journal and as a place to keep track of and catalogue ideas. The concept of the index is brilliant as are the shorthand icons. The author of the Bullet Journal encourages users to experiment and find their own ways to use the book. It’s not meant to be one size fits all and there are YouTube videos of all sorts of suggestions and recommendations.

Early shopping allowed me to start my New Year trials on November 1st. I’m pleased to say that so far, both Plot Your Work and The Bullet Journal are successes, and are helping me stay on track.

What’s your favorite calendar, plotter, and planner?

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season. See you in 2019.

Enjoy the short stories my fellow bloggers have written. They are wonderful.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi: A Review by Warren Bull

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi: A Review by Warren Bull

Image by Michael Rosner Hyman on Upslash
I was attracted to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War by the concept i.e., that soldiers are recruited only from people who are past retirement age. And joining up meant leaving everything you knew behind you forever. In fact, joining meant that you were officially dead.  The author’s deft handling of such diverse issues as the “hurry up and wait” nature of the military, combat, and questions about what it means to be human kept me entertained and interested through a trilogy includingThe Ghost Brigades and The Lost Colony.
Then I discovered there was a fourth book Zoe’s Tale. And again the author’s concept caught my attention. In this book, the entire story unfolds as before but from another point of view. In the afterward of the book, the author wrote that he had no intention of doing anything else with the “happily ever after” ending, but reader feedback made him re-think his decision. 
Readers advised him that he left one interesting group of characters seemed to simply disappear. Readers wanted to know more about them.  Also, at one point without explanation one item needed for the good guys to survive shows up when a  character who left the story suddenly pops up again: TA DAH! with exactly what is required.
It was like a dues ex machina. In Greek and Roman theater actors playing gods were lowered to the stage by a crane. As gods, they had the power to resolve problems and untangle messes. It gave the writer a quick and easy way to justify a highly unlikely series of events because the gods willed it.
Scalzi explained that he knew the backstory about the just in the nick of time arrival and it made perfect sense in his mind. But he hesitated to add the 30,000-word explanation, which would be a major distraction for readers.  As a writer, I sometimes grumble that of course charter A behaves and he/she does. After all, in the past B, C, D, and E happened. Okay, it ‘s not in the story but… Oh, maybe I do have to explain that.
The author also wrote that retelling the entire sequence of events without boring readers who already knew the story was very difficult. In fact, I do not recommend this book as highly as the other three because so much is repeated. However, I appreciate how well the author accomplished the task. I enjoyed seeing things from Zoe’s point of view and seeing thing invisible from the POV of the first three books.   
I recommend the trilogy highly. Then if you want even more or if you enjoy reading from the viewpoint of another writer give serious consideration to this one too. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabriell Zevin

Being somewhat laid up from my automobile accident, I had time to read lots of books. The one I enjoyed the most was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry which was chosen by my Third Thursday Book Club. It was about a bookseller who lived on a small island and was totally in love with books. At first he seems a little contrary and not so friendly.  Amanda, a young woman who works for a publisher comes with the list of books newly published and he is rude to her and refuses to buy any of her books to sell in his store.

Eventually he turns into a different person when a young mother leaves her baby girl in the bookstore while he stepped out. The note from the mother said her name is Maya and she wants her little girl to grow up around books. Later the mother is found drowned by suicide.

A.J. has never had children or been married. He isn't sure what to do with her, but falls in love with this happy little girl and ends up adopting her. They end up very close and she calls him Daddy.  And as the years go on Amanda, the book seller comes back, and they fall in love, too.  Just having Maya has changed A.J,. Fikry into a much nicer and caring person.

There were twenty-five comments of praise in the beginning pages of this book.I can't put all of them on this blog, but here are some of them:

"Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engagind and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of all that it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both." The Washington Post

"The story of A.J. Fikery's life includes the joys and heartbreaks that happen in most of our lives and the books that make our lives richer,. Anyone who loves books, bookstores and the world that reading opens up will love this book." The Wichita Eagle

"Wonderful , thoughtful and touching . . . There is a love story, yes, but it's handled with a sensitivity and genuine clarity that is both surprising and refreshing . . . A powerful novel" The Toronto Globe and Mail

"This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love ---love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory." Eowyn Iveym, author of The Snow Child.

I passed the book on to my sisters to read. I haven't heard from them yet what they thought.

Have you read this book?
Do you think you'd like to read it?
What is a book you enjoyed?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

An Interview with Maggie Toussaint by E. B. Davis

Men. Seemed like the men in my life had definite ideas of how I should
conduct myself. I had news for them. My perspective mattered when
deciding what was best for me and my family, not theirs.
Maggie Toussaint, No Quarter, Kindle Loc. 970

No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint
Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns?

Maggie Toussaint is one of the most prolific authors I know, but I’ve been waiting for No Quarter for five years. I’m not disappointed. This fourth installment in the Cleopatra Jones mystery series is a solid follow up—an accelerator. However—it is a novella. Although satisfying, it’s merely an appetizer. I hope a full-length novel will come out soon. (Sorry to be a nag, Maggie!)

In No Quarter, Cleo, an accountant braving the tax season, must solve the mystery of how she woke up in a hospital without memories of one day. Maggie does a great job of bringing the reader up-to-date on the characters. I love Madonna, Cleo’s St. Bernard, who helps her save the day.

If you haven’t read this series, start with the first, In For A Penny.

Welcome back to WWK, Maggie.                                        E. B. Davis

You are a Southern writer. Where are your roots?
My people are from the Georgia coast and my paternal heritage is from Scottish Highlanders. I grew up on land that belonged to my family for at least six generations. We grew up regulated by the tides, wind, and sunshine—and not much else! I never thought of myself as being rooted here because it went so much deeper than that. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. However, marriage took me to the mid-Atlantic region (where the Cleo books are set), and I spent the next nearly 28 years pining for home. Lucky for me, life is often a circle, and I happily returned home 14 years ago.

Charlie Jones, Cleo’s ex, has wanted to get back together. He jumps in and gives amnesia-stricken Cleo the wrong impression of their relationship. Why does she buy his malarkey?
Cleo loved her married life with Charlie and their two teenaged daughters, until Charlie fell for a smooth operator at the bank where he worked. His betrayal floored Cleo and left her emotionally wounded. It took a couple of years for her to get into the dating scene, and when she did, it was a big splash! But the new boyfriend has commitment issues and isn’t in the same we-gotta-get-married mindset as Cleo. Thus, when amnesia strikes Cleo, she remembers her earlier years first, those wonderfully secure days with Charlie. She needs a rock immediately and accepts Charlie’s offer of marriage to check that off her list. Her best friend has a hissy fit, but Cleo stands by her decision, for a while anyway.

Cleo lives in Maryland, but she is found in Loudoun County, VA. A long-time client of Cleo’s lives there. When the police check the address, the client is missing, and it seems, her two-million dollars have vanished too. Do they suspect Cleo of taking the money and making the client disappear?
In general, things get interesting when someone from out of state is found unconscious with no identification. I used that second layer of confusion to ramp up the conflict for Cleo in No Quarter. The police investigating the missing woman and her missing money don’t have any idea of who Cleo is or that she’s a good person. She’s fighting for her memory and her freedom, but the more she remembers, the closer the killer gets.

How easy is it to get rohypnol? How long does it take to clear the body? What is the crime for drugging someone—is it considered assault?
Rohypnol, also known as the date-rape drug, can be detected in blood for up to 12 hours after dosing, and in urine for up to 72 hours. This drug has never been licensed in the US, but it is legal in Mexico. Teenagers and young males between the ages of 13-30 are the biggest users of the drug. It can be obtained from the person in your neighborhood who sells illegal drugs. Use or possession of rohypnol (and other date-rape drugs) is a serious offense (felony) that can carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. The legal charge for drugging someone and then having sex with them without their permission is often “rape by use of drugs.” The laws, charges, and penalties vary by jurisdiction.

If you asked me the manufacturer’s name of school buses from my youth, I’d have no clue. How did you come up with that one?
The bus manufacturer’s name, Bluebird, was a random fact that surfaced in my brain while plotting. I blame crossword puzzle clues for the duality. Crossword puzzles often have as clues words that mean more than one thing. So having a brand of bus relate to another more common usage of the word was a confluence of serendipity and a happy muse. As a kid in a small rural community, it was a big deal to ride the bus. All grades of school started at the same time, and for my school, all grades were in the same multi-wing building. Because I was small for my age and because the boys were often out of control in the back of the bus, the bus driver made sure I sat up front where she could keep an eye on me. Pretty much, I had a front row seat of the manufacturer’s name every day.

Even though Cleo notices Detective Martinez wears no wedding ring, Cleo ignores her interest in him in favor of the case. Because Cleo is an accountant, she offers to track down the missing money, but he rebuffs her offer. And yet, he later asks for her help. Is he territorial or protective or passive-aggressive?
Detective Martinez surprised me and my critique partner. After only a few scenes, my critique partner said, “he’s really interesting. Cleo should dump her boyfriend and date him.” What a surprise! I’d just planned for him to pass through the pages of the story and plunge back into the story ether. Nope, his character will have legs for the next entry in the series. Martinez is trying to make a good impression on Cleo, and he believes he can solve the case. However, because he became worthy of her, he also came to his senses and asked for Cleo’s help, when he and all of his men came up emptyhanded during the property search. He’s definitely an alpha male, and he’s been biding his time until the case is cleared before he thinks about asking Cleo out. Good thing he asked her too, or the case would’ve remained open on his books.

It’s said the quiet neighbors next door are the ones who could be “silent millionaires.” Do the Taylors fit that description?
The Taylors told their accountant (Cleo) where their money came from-they made a bundle when a developer planted condos all over their dairy farm. The Taylors lived a modest lifestyle in a regular middle-class home in a middle class neighborhood. Other than their sweet luxury car, no one could tell they had more money than their neighbors.

You use the word “snick.” It’s a great word. How did the lack of a snick help Cleo?
Isn’t it a fun word? To me it’s the sound metal parts make when they fit together. In this particular usage, the lack of a snick meant that the door hadn’t closed far enough for the latch to seat in the strike plate. That meant the door could be pushed opened easily without turning the doorknob.

Why is Detective Martinez so concerned about the Feds taking over the case?
Martinez has jurisdiction in his Virginia county. If the Feds learn his case is related to happenings in multiple states, they will take the case. Martinez wants credit for solving this case and clearing Cleo’s name. He believes doing so will sweep Cleo off her feet and into his arms.

No Quarter—the title—it harkens to a different era and pirates. Why No Quarter?
The Cleopatra Jones series has an accountant sleuth and coin names in book titles. Though this story isn’t a full-length book, I continued the naming convention. I had several different titles with the word quarter in it, but I kept coming back to No Quarter. (The phrase “no quarter” means that no prisoners are taken. All on the enemy’s side are killed.) In this novella, the killer didn’t yield quarter to Cleo’s client. The client died. Cleo has some survivor’s guilt because she didn’t wake up dead, but she’s rattled because the killer stole her memory. This killer is a modern-day pirate.

What’s next for Cleo? When?
I know you’re dying for another Cleo story! I do plan to continue this series, but there’s only so much of me to go around. Right now, I’ve got two more books in the Dreamwalker Mysteries to release. (Look for Dreamed It next June!) I’ve also begun writing another straight cozy mystery. If the series premise gets legs, there will be pressure to write more in that line. However, I’m not done with Cleo yet. Rest assured, Cleo and her St. Bernard Madonna have a special place in my heart, and they will be back, in one format or another. Thanks for loving her as much as I do!

Also, thanks for having me here. It’s always a pleasure to visit Writers Who Kill.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

We Lived in a Haunted House

Not our ghost! We adults never saw him or her.
This photo is the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
taken by Hubert C. Provand in 1936

When we were first married, my husband and I lived in South Chicago, but as my daughters got ready to start school, we realized that this was not the place we wanted to raise our family. He grew up in Philadelphia and me under the flight patterns of Kennedy Airport in New York. We were looking for something different.

We moved to Albion, a small town in south central Michigan. Houses were surprisingly affordable, and after renting for a year, we bought a comfortable three story, four-bedroom house.

We loved our first house. At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We started to do some minor renovations—stripping white paint from a magnificent oak staircase, refinishing a built-in china cabinet.

A few things seemed strange. We are not careful people, and we have a tendency to misplace things. The tendency continues to this day. We are currently looking for a waterproof fishing hat, which my husband wore to walk the dog because he couldn’t find his waterproof baseball cap. We are also missing an emergency flashlight, my husband’s pajamas and a toothbrush, among other items. (Don’t ask me how someone can lose pajamas or a toothbrush. But we have.)

But in this house, more things disappeared than usual. And then reappeared, in places we could have sworn we’d already looked. Often within minutes of expressing frustration at not finding them. “How am I going to get to the doctor appointment if I can’t find the car keys?” They’d show up on the kitchen table. “I really wanted to wear those earrings tonight. What do you suppose I could have done with them?” Suddenly on the side of the bathroom sink.

My younger daughter Laura began talking about the “angels” who visited her nightly after she’d been put to bed. She said they talked to her and sang her lullabies. When they were young, several of my siblings had imaginary friends. I put the “angel” phenomenon down to that, and made a redoubled effort to make sure she had plenty of opportunities to interact with other kids.

She also talked about slipping on that magnificent staircase, and that someone would catch her or scoop her up and carry her downstairs.

We discounted that as a vivid imagination until a babysitter told us that Laura was running toward the stairs one night and her feet flew out from under her. Instead of her falling down the stairs, however, the back of her shirt jerked back as if someone grabbed it and she was lifted up until she got her feet back under her.

The house had a dark basement with a low ceiling. It seemed to me to be an altogether dismal place, but both girls liked to play down there, especially in one corner. We didn’t quite understand it, but we put in some overhead lights and a blackboard, and let them set up their “school” for their dolls and stuffed animals. They said it worked well since the toys would answer questions out loud down there.

When asked why they liked that corner so well, they said it was comfortable and friendly, and that their dolls and animals liked it there. How did they know? “Because they told us.”

My husband began to have vivid nightmares about murdering someone. He’d awake with a start, and see figures shadows moving around the room. Was it from car headlights shining through the curtains? He has never before or since had such nightmares.

I worked in a steel fabrication plant within walking distance, often second or third shift. If I walked home from work late at night or early morning, the drapes covering one window would open as if someone were peering out. At first I put it down to the dog, but often when I got inside the house, he would be sound asleep in another room.

Both he and the cat would sometimes sit and stare at the space by the staircase. Sometimes the dog would go through his brief repertoire of tricks (sit, down, roll over, play dead, speak) seemingly without anyone telling him to do so.

We only lived in the house for a few years. At that time, the area was very depressed economically. Businesses, including the steel fabrication plant where I worked, shut down. Enrollment in the schools plummeted. We decided we needed a more prosperous area in which to raise our family. We were reluctant to leave our lovely, friendly house, but we sold it.

A few years later, someone with whom we’d kept in touch showed us a book, “Haunted Houses in Michigan.”

The book didn’t give addresses, but one of the descriptions sounded like our former home, except that where we found the house to be amusing and comfortable and a bit frustrating, the people who had contacted the paranormal investigators found the occurrences to be scary. We called the person who wrote the book, and sure enough, it was our old house. And the most haunted places in the house were the staircase and one corner of the basement.
Have you ever had unexplained otherworldly experiences?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Teresa Inge Talks Mutt Mysteries

An Interview with Shari Randall

Please welcome Teresa Inge to Writers Who Kill!

Teresa, along with Jayne Ormerod, Heather Weidner, and Rosie Shoemaker has put together a fun pet-themed anthology, To Fetch a Thief. These four "tails" of theft and murder are just the beginning of the future Mutt Mysteries series.

What a great idea for an anthology! How did the book come about? The four of us met over a glass of wine in Williamsburg Winery to discuss our next project. We came up with the idea to write a “dogvella” which quickly turned into dog mysteries. From there came the Mutt Mysteries series. 

How did the four of you meet? We met through Sisters in Crime. Heather and Rosie are members of the Central Virginia chapter in Richmond and Jayne and I are members of the Mysteries by the Sea chapter in Chesapeake, Va.

Please give us a teaser for your story. Catt Ramsey, owner of the Woof-Pack dog walkers is recruited to recover a stolen necklace. But when she and her pups Cagney and Lacey go looking, they find much more than they bargained for...

I'm assuming that you all are pet lovers. Please tell us about your pets. We all have pets and support animals. Jayne’s dogs are rescues Tiller and Scout. Heather’s dogs are Jack Russell Terriers Disney and Riley. My dogs are Luke and Lena, mixed shepherd breeds and also named after my husband’s grandparents. And Rosie has a family dog named Current. 

How long have you been writing? I started writing poetry when I was young then wrote professional business articles and combined my love of reading mysteries with writing mysteries.  

Teresa Inge grew up in North Carolina reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hot rods. She assists two busy executives and is president of the Sisters in Crime Mysteries by the Sea Chapter. Teresa is the author of “Shopping for Murder,” and “Guide to Murder” in Virginia is for Mysteries, “Fishing for Murder” in the FishNets anthology, and has coordinated other anthologies.

Thank you for visiting Writers Who Kill, Teresa! If you have a question for Teresa, feel free to comment. Readers can find a copy of To Fetch a Thief here.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

What’s in YOUR Junk Drawer?

I’m currently in that sweet, quiet time between books. The manuscript has been turned in. I’m still waiting on the edits. Work on the next book looks mostly like me leaning back and gazing out the window. The story is simmering and getting closer to bubbling over onto the page. But for now, I’m taking care of long overdue household tasks, tidying up my office…and cleaning out my junk drawers.

We all have them. Don’t we? (Please tell me I’m not alone.) Some of us, and I’m raising my hand here, have more than one. Those drawers that catch everything that has nowhere else to live. What is this thingamabob? I don’t know but I might need it someday. Stick it in the junk drawer.

We have the “official” junk drawer in the kitchen. I did a major cleanup of it during my last between-books phase. I knew it was necessary when the thing wouldn’t close. So far, while it’s slowly gathering more gizmos that we can’t quite toss…yet…it’s still in fairly good order. What’s in it? Let’s see…

Assorted tools so we don’t have to run out to the workshop for simple repairs. Rolls of different sorts of tape. Matches and lighters (we don’t smoke, but you never know when you might need to light a candle). A spare catnip mouse? Even Kensi Kitty has odds and ends she wants kept in there.

My office junk drawer is a bit more cluttered, but I can still close it. I keep three old money pouches from my Avon Lady days in there. They hold everything except money. Okay, there’s probably a few ones in case I need change, but mostly they hold receipts that need to be recorded and properly filed.

Under the money pouches is a wealth of office supply stuff. 

Magnifying glass, scissors, a couple of staple removers, packets of batteries for my wireless mouse and keyboard. Pencils, pens, paperclips, and a multi-head screwdriver. You know. So I don’t have to venture ALL THE WAY to the kitchen junk drawer for those tools. (It’s probably a whole 18 feet to the kitchen).

My husband’s junk drawer is off-limits. Our marriage survives on boundaries.

What about you? What’s in YOUR junk drawer? And do you have only one or multiples?  

Saturday, November 10, 2018

An Irish Blessing: a photo essay

By Margaret S. Hamilton
May the road rise to meet you,
Jaunting Cart, Killarney National Park
St. Stephen's Green Dublin
may the wind be ever at your back.
Dun Aenghus Fortress, Inismor, Aran Islands
Cliffs of Moher
Giant's Causeway
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
Kylemore Abbey, Connemara
Blarney Castle
Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
and the rains fall soft upon your fields.
Muckross Lake, Killarney
And until we meet again,
Rock of Cashel
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Kylemore Abbey garden
Muckross House garden
Belfast Botanical Garden

Friday, November 9, 2018

Old Man's War: A Review by Warren Bull

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi: A Review by Warren Bull

image by dushyant-kumar on Upsplash
I was intrigued by the title and the opening lines. “I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.”
I read quite a bit less science fiction than I did when I was a teenager but I admire good writing and I am happy to say Old Man’s War stood up to the title and the opening. The premise is that the skills acquired over a lifetime and willingness to sacrifice self for others made older adults preferable as soldiers to younger people for the particular conflict the earth was in.
Face with the prospect of further natural physical deterioration, or taking a chance on the unknown, John Perry and his wife, Kathy had planned to join the army like many aging people did in hopes that the army had ways of extending life and rehabilitating older physiques.  Kathy died unexpectedly, which left the protagonist with few emotional ties. He joined the army as they had planned to do together. 
In the scenario of author’s novel, a person who joins the army becomes officially dead on the planet earth and can never return there. However, there are colonies of humans on different planets. If recruits can survive their term of service they can opt to join a colony. But it’s a pretty big “if.” The universe is full of species and habitable worlds are relatively few. Soldiers defend the human colonies and fight to acquire new worlds already occupied by sentient beings.
Scalizi portrays the “hurry up and wait” mentality of military forces along with the guilt and trauma of battle. His rejuvenation procedure is as feasible as it is unexpected.  I like the balance of surprise and realism. 
Because writers work hard to keep surprises, tension and atmosphere (literally this book) going I will just say that truly enjoyed the book and I am eager to find others by the author.  I recommend it highly.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Surviving an Automobile Accident

Surviving an Automobile Accident

Having an automobile accident that has totaled my car was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced except for the deaths of loved ones. I was lucky in not being killed when I saw my car after getting out of the hospital. My sternum was cracked and two ribs in the back from the seat belt as well as the airbag hitting me. It hurts to cough or sneeze and hurt awfully when nurses tried to pull me up, but I’m feeling better now. My daughter Sue has been coming over every evening and helping me or taking me to places I need to go like taking Maggie to the vets for a checkup. She takes me to the grocery store, and she hired a cleaning lady to come in and clean for me. That I wasn’t particularly happy about, but it worked out okay. Susan took me to Mass on Sunday and picked me up after and then took me for a haircut. My daughter Mary in California ordered mobile meals for me. She calls me every day to check on me, too. I had to cancel my delivering of Mobile Meals without a car to do it. Hopefully, soon my son will take me to used car lots so I can find another car. He’s looking for cars for me now.

Another thing that upset me is that my son Joe thought my ponies were too much for me to take care of and Sue agreed. I had been taking them over to his large pasture which had more grass than the small pasture they had. I said okay and they both planned to find other homes for them. But then I laid awake the other night thinking about it and decided I did not want to part with my two ponies and that as soon as I heal which will be soon, I would have no trouble caring for them. I’ve had them for a lot of years. So last week I had my grandson Jacob, when he got home from his college class, come over to bring my ponies home. I walked over to Joe’s pasture with him and my two ponies were far off in the front pasture, but when I called out to them they galloped full speed to see me. I held each of their halters while Jacob attached a lead to each and then he took them back to my barn and put them in the lean to attached to the pasture where I’d already put hay in their tub and horse feed in their rubber dishes.

The other good thing I learned was the thirteen year old son of my cleaning lady has always wished he could work on a farm down the road from where she lives and I asked if he would be willing to finish cleaning the one stall I hadn’t got around to finishing and she said he would so he came Tuesday to finish it and swept the barn, too. Actually his mom worked out there with him, too. And he brushed the ponies too, although that wasn’t really necessary.

My sister Elaine drove 50 miles to take me to my eye doctor appointment and later to the appointment of the doctor who took care of me in the hospital. He said I was doing quite well and soon I would be healed.

Each day I’m feeling better. I’m able to go out to do morning barn chores and go next door to feed my son’s peacock and my peahen. I just want to get another car so I can go places without depending on someone else.

Have you ever been in a car accident?

Were you hurt?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

An Interview With Lane Stone

by Grace Topping

Browse library stacks or bookstore shelves, and you’ll find dozens of mysteries featuring an animal on the cover. People who love animals especially enjoy reading mysteries with them—whether the animal is the main character’s pet or the point-of-view character that assists in solving the crime. Publishers know if they add a cat to a cover, the book will sell—whether there is a cat in the story or not. At a conference, a mystery fan asked me if I had any cats in my book. When I said no, she turned and walked away. You can be sure the next day I added a cat to my manuscript. 

Lane Stone not only loves dogs and reading about them, but she writes mysteries that include the care, training, and pampering of dogs—along with an occasional dead body. Her Pet Palace mystery series is set in Lewes (lower, slower) Delaware, the perfect spot for a mystery that Kings River Life said is Fun and Full of Laughter

Support Your Local Pug

In the second Pet Palace Mystery, Sue and Lewes police chief John Turner head for the high seas to rescue a petrified pug stranded at a lighthouse in the Delaware Bay. Were they lured away for a freshly murdered body to get dumped in her driveway? Aided by Lady Anthea Fitzwalter, her practically royal business partner from across the pond, Sue sniffs out clues about the yappy pug with a complicated history in hopes of IDing the culprit. As the investigation leads them back to the bay, the ladies soon find themselves immersed in a case trickier than a canine agility course.


Welcome, Lane, to Writers Who Kill.  

The second book in your Pet Palace mystery series, Support Your Local Pug, was recently released. What inspired you to write a mystery and one about a pet palace?

Lane Stone
I love the genre. I’m a baby boomer and we all believe that we can change things. In mysteries, evil or chaos can be overcome by society (like in a police procedural) or by one well-meaning individual like an amateur sleuth. And, I love dogs, but specifically, I like writing about my characters’ relationships with their dogs. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve only scratched the surface of the complexity of those bonds.  

The training and care of dogs is key in your Pet Palace Mysteries. What is it that draws readers to mysteries that feature animals?

So many of us have, or have had, pets and know how much joy they bring to our lives.  That alone makes animals well suited for cozies. Add in how much you learn about someone when they interact with a dependent, trusting animal, and what was merely feel-good, becomes powerful stuff. You can show cruelty or character, responsibility or negligence, and the state of your suspect’s emotional health.

Do you have experience in pet care? Do you own pets?

The dedication page in Support Your Local Pug reads, “This book is dedicated to all those who have grieved over the loss of a pet, with comforting thoughts and lots of love from our family to yours.” We lost Abby (@themenopausedog) almost a year ago, and we’re just now starting the process of getting a new dog.

In your first book in the series, Stay Calm and Collie On, all-American Elvis fan Sue Patrick teams up with the very British and proper lover-of-the-arts Lady Anthea to form their Pet Palace business. What made this unlikely duo become partners and how do they make their differences work?

They meet through a program that matches up women business owners to become partners.  Lady Anthea needs money for her estate but is limited in what she can do because of her position in British society. Her grandmother was lady-in-waiting to the queen and her brother is a duke.  She uses her knowledge of opera, art, and literature in their investigations. Surfer Sue was looking for a business theme, and the two women form a “pet-ronage.” She doesn’t care what anyone thinks. It does Lady Anthea good to be around someone so authentic, free, and kind. Sue uses her knowledge of all-things-Elvis when she needs to come up with a clue.  

How is their Pet Palace different from other pet care facilities?

It’s loosely based on Olde Towne Pet Resort in Alexandria, Virginia, but just a little more over the top. They also treat dogs like royalty!

Stay Calm and Collie On was featured in Modern Dog magazine. Do you hear from dog owners about how you’ve portrayed dog ownership, training, and care in your books? I’m always afraid I’ll miss a feeding of the cat in my book and hear from cat owners about it.

I know. Abby and I were always joined at the hip, but I realized that in Stay Calm and Collie On a day would go by without the fictional Abby being mentioned. At least cats have litter boxes so you can leave them alone for longer stretches at a time. Not so with dogs. I edited the manuscript and had her coming to Buckingham’s and staying in Sue’s office. I also arranged for other characters to take her out when an investigation heats up and Sue can’t get home.   

You’ve set your books in Lewes, Delaware, an actual place. What has been the response to your books by local residents?

Our weekend place is in Lewes. Considering I’ve made it the murder capital of the area, they are very understanding. And since this is a cozy series, it’s also Celibacy City. ; )

Are any of the places and businesses mentioned in your books real? 

Many are real. If I portray a place negatively, it’s made up, like the veterinary clinic in book one, Stay Calm and Collie On. Buckingham’s is located in the Villages of Five Points area of Lewes, but in real life it’s a CVS. All the streets, restaurants, parks, beaches, and nearby towns are real. Come and visit and you’ll see. 

Please tell us about your Tiara Investigations mystery series. Will we be seeing any more books in that series?

That was my first series, and so it has a special place in my heart. It always will. The Tiara Investigations detectives are former Georgia beauty queens, now in their late-40’s. They start a detective agency but don’t tell their husbands, so they have to meet their clients at the local Cracker Barrel. Current Affairs was first, followed by Domestic Affairs. Foreign Affairs became a novelette in an anthology, Cozy Cat Shorts. It’s free on my website. To get to the link, just click on http://www.lanestonebooks.com/the-books/tiara-investigations-mysteries/.

I understand that you are pursuing a post-graduate certificate in Antiquities Theft and Art Crime. What got you interested in this subject? Any plans to create a mystery series featuring a character with this specialty? Sounds like it would be intriguing. 

I won’t lie, I was nervous taking on something like that at my age. Update: I graduated. Woot! This is me patting myself on the back. What got me interested? Well, one day when I was writing at Panera Bread, a couple of guys wearing black leather jackets asked me to drive a getaway car for them to the National Portrait Gallery. Sounded like a reasonable request, and well, I am a very safe driver, but I thought I better learn a little more about art crime before I committed.  (Okay, I’m lying. I was at Starbucks.) 

And I am considering a new series using what I learned in the program.  

You are an active member of a number of professional organizations, including the Chesapeake Area Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Georgia Writers. Has belonging to these groups helped you in your writing career? 

My first book took years to write. Years. Then I got serious. What does a professional do? She joins a professional organization. That’s what SinC is. Of course, I’ve learned a lot from the veterans in the organization and from experts, but it was this shift in attitude that made all the difference. Seeing myself as a professional writer is what got me to use my time better, and I was eventually published.

What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had as a published author?

Honestly, I get so excited every time I see a new book cover. Between my two series and a book I co-authored, Maltipoos are Murder, I’ve had five book covers, and I go crazy every time.  

Throughout the year, you attend a number of professional conferences and events, including meetings of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Do you have a favorite among them?

That’s a great question. In addition to professional conferences, I’m involved in a lot of volunteer activities. I think it’s so important for everyone, but especially for writers, to curate her experiences. To write interesting books, you need to be a certain percentage geek. 

I am a Janeite, but I’m also on the board of the Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundationand co-president of the Alexandria branch of AAUW.  And I’m on Georgia State University’s Political Science Board. 

They are all my favorites.

What is your favorite book promotion activity?

I love talking with readers in person. In August Libby KleinMaureen Klovers, and I had a mini-book tour on the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey shore. In two of the events we interviewed each other, which was a lot of fun. Last year Donna AndrewsSherry Harris, and I did the same at a local library event.  

The geek in me likes to write and talk about writerly topics, like dual protagonists vs co-protagonists. 

What’s next for Sue Patrick, Lady Anthea, and the Pet Palace? Any other series in the works?  

The next book launches in May 2019. The title is Changing of the Guard Dog. Lady Anthea’s brother, the duke, comes to Lewes, and Sue’s relationship with Chief Turner heats up. I’m spending the rest of the year on a nonfiction project about American nuns in WWII Poland.  

Thank you, Lane.

To learn more about Lane Stone, her books, and her numerous activities, visit her at www.lanestonebooks.com.