Thursday, September 21, 2017

Starting a New Series

I'm starting a new cozy mystery series and it's an exciting and nerve wracking time for the writing side of my life. It's has been a few years since I've started a book with characters that are new to me. I've done two short stories with new to me heroines, but my book length projects for the last few years have been with Faith Hunter. I've dabbled here and there with a story line for my ghost detective Callous. Callous is a ghost who helps the recently murderer solve their own cases, so far there is only one in the series, Dying for Redemption, and I've worked a bit on the plot for book 2 but have been focusing on the Scrap This series for the last few years.

Faith and I are taking a bit of a break for each other. I never thought this would happen but as I'm in a different stage in my life, empty nester and my husband and I are going to be celebrating our 27th anniversary in November, I've found it hard to connect to Faith. I'm not sure why I am at this time when I hadn't before now. I've tried but I can't get a story started with her. 

And that's when Merry popped into my head. The heroine in my new series is older than my previous heroines, mid-forties and her youngest child has moved out (right before the start of the book). Her life is similar, but not quite mine. It's nice getting to know a heroine my age. I'm learning about her her quirks, her strengths, her flaws, what are her weakness. And what are the hot button issues that will flare up her temper if someone pushes it. Not to mention, the bits and pieces of her history that has made her who she is now and got her to place in life where I'm starting to document her adventures in sleuthing.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SMART in My Backyard

Small world, isn't it?

When I first met the members of SMART, then called the Small Animal Rescue Team of Los Angeles Animal Services, I was researching my Pet Rescue Mysteries.  They were wonderful people from the first, allowing me to observe some of their training exercises including zip lining from the tops of mountains.  Later, their name was changed to Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team, and they took on rescuing animals who weren't necessarily as small.

Fast forward.  I saw them next after they were featured in an independent film--the SMART Documentary-- and I of course had to attend one of its premieres in the Los Angeles area.  I loved the film and also got to see some of the wonderful people I'd met previously there, too.  That was last year.

Now, fast forward again to this past Monday.  My dogs had told me they wanted to go outside, and I'm now able to hobble down our backyard steps, though they generally go ahead of me.  While I was on my way down, Cari, our puppy, preceded me, though Mystie remained behind me.  And when Cari got to the patio below, she started barking.  Mystie's usually the barker, so I hurried to see what Cari was barking at.

It turned out to be a large hawk who was standing just beyond the patio in an area covered with compost.  He didn't fly away when Cari barked.  He just stood there. 

I called Cari, and she came back upstairs with me, where Mystie, fortunately, was still waiting.  I called to my husband Fred to come see--and help. 

And the hawk just stood there. 

We made some more noise--and took some pictures.  Fred grabbed a piece of cardboard and threw it off to the side of the hawk, thinking that might make him fly away.  It didn't.

We figured he must be injured or ill.  He seemed in need of some kind of rescue. 

And so I called one of my SMART contacts, Nett--and was delighted to speak with her, although I wished it were for a better reason.  But she asked me a few questions and said she would send someone over soon, but to call back if the bird flew away.

He didn't.  And an Animal Services officer who happened to be a SMART member--Jumper--soon arrived in an Animal Services truck.

Fred let Jumper into the backyard, where the officer wrapped the hawk in a large towel, then unwrapped him slightly to look at him.  Then he wrapped him again to move him into a cage he had brought with him.  The bird remained fairly calm, and Jumper mentioned his surprise that the hawk wasn't more aggressive.  He told me he would be taking the hawk to a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Camarillo, not far away.  And then he left with the bird.

Did I get much writing done that day?  Certainly not as much as I'd intended to.  But I was worried about that hawk.  To some extent I still am, though at least he was rescued and taken to someplace where he hopefully will get well and be allowed to fly free again. 

But one thing I was really happy about was that I knew just who to call--SMART!

BTW, I had another interesting animal-related experience this week.  I may blog about it next week.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Amazing Goose

No doubt about it, fall is here.  The trees are changing and those not changing are dropping leaves.

Friday and Saturday I went to Duluth for the annual Episcopal Church in Minnesota Convention.  This is my second one and I’m less intimidated by the confusing combination of political and Episcopalian terminology.  For example, any motions, amendments, nominations, comments, arguments, suggestions, etc., from the floor are addressed entirely to the bishop and must begin, “Right Reverend Sir!”  It was very orderly and decorous, typical Episcopalian behavior.   There was a Eucharist Saturday morning with a good sermon in which Ms. Kim reminded the congregation that while the country was in an uproar and civil unrest rampant, it would do all sides good to remember that even the ones you hate and castigate are children of God and much beloved by Him.

I have begun a program of physical exercise designed to strengthen my leg muscles in anticipation of knee replacement surgery October 3.  This is in addition to the water exercises I’ve been doing for years.  I am surprised at how good it feels to push and lift and shove three mornings a week.

It will also help me prepare the big Michaelmas feast September 29.  For the first time in years we have the use of the party room in our building and so can invite a crowd.  “Who eats goose on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels will not want for money for a year.”  It doesn’t make you rich, it just stops the string of fiscal emergencies that haunt so many of us.  We’ve been doing it for thirty-odd years and we haven’t had a bankruptcy yet.  We sing, “Amazing goose, how sweet the flesh . . .” and say a serious, militant prayer to St. Michael, and eat a big, potluck meal.  I stuff my geese with whole cloves of garlic, chopped apple, green grapes, onion, and fresh parsley and roast them in a hot oven.  The medieval recipe calls for galingale, and for the first time in a very long while, someone has found a source for it, so there will be an added gingery tang to the stuffing.

Michaelmas is a “quarter day,” one of four that divided the English year – still does, in some respects.  They are Lady Day (March 25), Midsummer Day (June 24), Michaelmas (September 29), and Christmas Day (December 25).   Wikipedia has an interesting essay on quarter and cross-quarter days.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Good Time for a Good Cause and FREE Mysteries!

Last night my husband and I attended a fundraiser for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown, DC.

You might think you've never heard of this school, but you certainly are familiar with its graduates. Every show on Broadway has an alum from the school in its cast. The list of graduates is a who's who of talent, including Dave Chapelle, Lamman Rucker, and Denyce Graves. You can read more about this fabulous place here:

While the average high school graduate rate here in DC is 65%, the Ellington School boasts an astonishing 95% graduate rate. Get this--students are admitted on the basis of their artistic talent only, with their academic skills being "blind." As one teacher told us, "Kids tell me that they can focus on their schoolwork because they know they'll be here from 8-5 and won't be in the midst of all the craziness of their homes and neighborhoods." She went on to explain, "They love being a part of the arts, and they know they have to stay in school to participate, so they do."

The performance by the students was outstanding. I was particularly impressed by their quality of movement. Most people without a dance background have a very clunky way of moving, but those who have been trained express themselves differently, allowing energy to flow from the core of their bodies out through their fingertips. This results in a fluid, compelling motion.

Of course, there was other entertainment, too--and I thought you'd enjoy hearing some of that. Especially the finger-snapping chorus of one of my favorites.


 I've never added video to a blog post before, so I'm counting on all of you to tell me if you enjoy it!



You could win 32 mysteries featuring women sleuths.
Here's where you enter: 

Hurry the 32 sleuth contest ends Sept. 19, Tuesday.

Fall is in the air, and you'll want to curl up with a good book or two or.. even 33?

From Sept. 23 -- 30
Thirty-three authors of mystery and suspense will giving away their books. 
So copy down this link:

And mark your calendars for next Saturday (Sept. 23) when you can download a bonanza of wonderful books.