Sunday, September 24, 2017

FALL CELEBRATIONS: A CONTEST, AND GIVEAWAYS OF FREE BOOKS!

I’m writing this from DC, and across the street, leaves are beginning to turn. Gosh, do I ever love this time of year. The colors outside are jewel-toned. The days are less humid, and the nights are a cool temperature.

WIN A GOURMET AUTUMN CANDY BAR

Americans call this season “Fall” which is short for the “fall of leaves,” but Brits call it “Autumn.” Pumpkin-flavored everything is on the shelves, but only for a short while, as we enjoy the bounty of our harvest. A couple of weeks ago, in the Seattle airport, I sampled fabulous chocolate bars made by the Seattle Chocolate Company. My favorite was the Choc-o-Lantern, which had a subtle cinnamon and spice flavor. Yum! In fact, I’m going to send one of these to a lucky commenter, so don’t forget to leave a comment below. (I’ll pick someone on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at ten p.m. EST, and announce the winners in the comments under this blog post on Wednesday, Sept. 27.)


SHARING PLANT 'STARTS' 

Yesterday, I made vegetable soup in the slow cooker. Getting out the slow cooker is always a sign of cool weather. Another sign is the changing of floral displays. Mums are in season, and I really miss the mums I grew back at our house in St. Louis. If you pinch mums back all summer, they spread out into huge pillows of riotous color, pink, yellow, orange, magenta, and gold. I remember how my mother and her friends used to share plant stems, roots, and seeds with each other. Everybody's garden was a gift from a friend or a neighbor. Does anybody still do that today?

HEALTH BENEFITS OF THIS SEASON

Fall is terrific for cuddling up with a loved one. The journal Perception reported that men find women more attractive during the cooler months. Personally, I think it’s the pumpkin I dab behind my ears. LOL Babies born during the fall months are more likely to live to be 100, according to the Journal of Aging. That means that my husband will live to be a centenarian.

THE JOY OF FARMERS' MARKETS

Did you know that apples in the grocery store can be as old as 12 months? HGTV Magazine says so. If you get the chance to buy apples from a farmer’s market, you’re in for a treat. The flavor is entirely different with all sorts of subtle hints. My husband and I love to go to the Vienna, Virginia, farmer’s market on Saturdays. Each visit I buy a bouquet of flowers: zinnia, cockscomb, marigolds, and asters. They last for at least a week, looking perky in their Mason jar. The apples I get there are fabulous.



HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE FALL?

How do you celebrate Fall? Remember, I’ll choose one lucky person on Monday, Sept. 25, and send that person a Seattle Chocolate Company candy bar!

GRAB THESE KIKI BOOKS AT A DISCOUNT

I’m feeling particularly thankful this fall. I just re-released Make, Take, Murder: Book #5 , the 6th book in my Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, and Amazon responded by creating a series page. That means it’s now easier than ever for people to read my books in order. Hurrah! I’m reaping the harvest for my efforts. This Wednesday and Thursday only, Ready, Snap, Shoot: Book #6 will be available for only 99 cents. So, mark your calendars and check Amazon.com on Wed. and Thurs. (27 and 28 of September).






GET MAKE, TAKE, MURDER FOR LESS THAN A BUCK

Make, Take, Murder  is 99 cents today (Sunday) because I'm running behind putting in the price change and it usually takes 24 hours for Amazon to make an adjustment. So if you don't have it, grab your copy now!

LOAD YOUR E-READER WITH THESE GREAT FREE READS

I'm one of 33 authors who are giving away books in a special Mystery Giveaway Promotion that started yesterday and runs through September 30. All you have to do is go to the link and load up on the books you want to read. How cool is that?


COMMENTS?

Will you take advantage of this offer to find a new favorite author? Are you celebrating the season? Have you ever traded "starts" of plants with friends? Have you read Make, Take, Murder? Are leaves changing where you live? Let's get this party started!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Hot Yarn

I certainly didn’t expect 90 plus degree temperatures in Chicago. Not that I have been paying much attention to the weather. My whole plan about coming here was to write a chunk of the next Yarn Retreat book which for right now I’m calling YARN IT!

There is something about being alone that seems to loosen up my muse. I spent the first couple of days working out the basic story. Even though I don’t have to do a synopsis, I have found I actually prefer to have sort of a road map to start with.

Then I needed to come up with the first line. It may sound crazy, but once I have that first line, I find I can really take off. I think it gets me into the voice of the book.

The retreat that Casey is putting on this time is different from the others she’s done. This time it is a group of women she knew in college who recently found each other on Facebook. I was trying to think of what could have brought them together since Casey is not the sorority type and the women are all different.

First, I thought of having them meet in a freshman English class, but it didn’t feel right. And then the perfect answer appeared. They met in a gym class. Gym classes are a real melting pot of people and required at the first university I went to.

As I was thinking about the gym classes I had to take, the perfect situation popped into my mind. The Chicago campus of the University of Illinois for years was on Navy Pier, which is just what it sounds like. A pier sticking out in Lake Michigan where boats unloaded their stuff and sailors hung around. There are more stories there for another time. My first semester of college was the last semester the campus was on the Pier. The school changed to the quarter system and moved to a brand new campus on the edge of downtown Chicago. The women’s gym wasn’t finished, so we were bused to a YMCA on skid row. This is all really beside the point and just part of my memory. I don’t remember what they called the gym class, but at one point we were divided in teams, given rhythm balls (medium sized red air filled balls) and told we had to come up with a routine that had music, dance, and balls being thrown around. I won’t describe what we came up with but think music from West Side Story and a girl’s gang battle with balls flying through the air. As soon as I’d finished thinking about it, I knew that was where Casey met her friends and I came up with a name for them – The Baller-inas.

It always surprises me when something I know first hand ends up in one of my books.

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.