Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pretty self-explanatory.  I have an e-reader that I don't use very much.  This challenge is perfect as it will "force" me to start reading e-books.  I do have a lot of books downloaded on my Nook, but I haven't read any yet.  Most of them are short stories - which will be great for this challenge, since the books can be any length!

I am shooting for "CD" level - 10 ebooks.


VINTAGE MYSTERY Reading Challenge 2012

I'm picking the Murderous Miscellany category

I'll be reading 1 mystery book from each theme!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This challenge is to read a book who's title starts with each letter of the alphabet.

I'm tweaking it for myself - mine will all be mysteries.

(That's how I roll!)


I'm participating in this challenge which lists different 'items' that must be in the book's title.

I'm tweaking this for myself - all books I read will be mysteries!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This challenge is to read books set in each state.

Tweaking this for myself - all my choices will be mysteries!

MEN IN UNIFORM Reading Challenge 2012

C'mon - who doesn't love a man in uniform?

I'm shooting for "Chief"
(16+ books)

It can be a policeman, firefighter, paramedic, doctor, veterinarian,  Army, Navy, Marine Corp., etc. – As long as the book's leading man wears some sort of uniform, it counts.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I'm shooting for "Shamus Who Has Seen It All" level:

The Whodunit: The classic crime puzzle. The story generally revolves around determine who committed the crime, and potentially apprehending them. Some Whodunits, called "fair play mysteries", will include all of the clues available in the text so that a careful reader can solve the crime on his or her own.

Locked Room Mystery: Like the Whodunit, there is a puzzle (crime) to solve. However in this instance, the crime has taken place under impossible circumstances, such as in a locked room or on an island with no way to exit or enter.

Cozy: The nice person's mystery. Often the crime, particularly if it's violent, occurs off scene. Sex and language are on the cleaner side. Humor is a common feature of the cozy.

Hard-Boiled/Noir: Often cynical, bleak or realistic, hard-boiled and noir stories often focus more on the characters involved instead of the crime. Violence and sex are not downplayed.

The Inverted Detective Story: In this style of story, the person perpetrating the crime is known up front. The point of the story is to see how (or if) the detective goes about solving the crime and how the perpetrator reacts to the investigation.

The Historical Whodunnit: Simply put, this is a mystery set in a historical setting. Often the mystery has some historical significance and features detection methods that are appropriate for that era.

The Police Procedural: Instead of featuring a independent detective, the police are investigating the crime in these stories. They often focus on the actual methods that police officers use to solve crimes.

The Professional Thriller: This kind of mystery involves a professional who is not involved directly in law enforcement, such a lawyer or doctor, who nonetheless finds themselves investigating a crime.

The Spy Novel: Related to the other professional mysteries, spy novels focus on intelligence operatives as they work to prevent or avenge some criminal plot. Spy novels can feature either in fantastic or realistic settings.

Caper Stories: While other crime and mystery stories look at the aftermath of crimes, caper stories feature criminals as the lead characters. The story usually details the planning and commission of a crime.

The Psychological Suspense: In these stories, the detective story takes on a psychological component.

Spoofs and Parodies: Spoofs and parodies make light of crime fiction, often with the goal of commenting on the conventions of the genre. Many feature famous characters, e.g. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Philip Marlowe, or pastiches of those characters.

The Merely Mystery Reading Challenge will last the entire year (January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012), giving participants a chance to read at their own pace. In addition, to make things easy, participants can complete one of two levels. One is for those of you who want a more relaxed challenge while the other is for those more serious about exploring the various sub-genres:

Down on Her/His Luck Gumshoe - Read two or more books falling into any of the above sub-genres. Each book can be from the same sub-genre or can be varied among the different sub-genres. You pick the combination and the number of books.

Shamus Who Has Seen It All - Read at least one book from each of the sub-genres for a total of 12 books. If you are feeling ambitious, read more than one book from each sub-genre.

I'm participating in the Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge 2012.

I'm shooting for "Super Sleuth" level
(read 13 or more cozies in 2012)

Friday, December 23, 2011


(The Fourth Doctor - my personal favorite)


Twas the night before Doomsday, but all through outer space,

Not an enemy was visible, nothing seemed out of place.

The weapons were stored in the Tardis with care,

In hopes the White Guardian soon would be there.

My companions were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of jelly babies danced in their heads.

And Romana in her trench coat and I in my vest,

Knew that the Sontarans would soon make us stressed.

When out in the cosmos, there arose such a clatter,

I grabbed the sonic screwdriver to investigate the matter.

Away to the Earth, I materialized in a flash,

Levered open the door and prepared to be brash.

The moon was a crescent, hung low in the sky,

As our Intel claimed Sutekh soon would be by.

When what to my bulging, brown eyes should appear,

But a terrified Tegan, atremble with fear.

Next a convoy of trucks, clearly from UNIT,

Led by my friend, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart.

Then the Daleks and Cybermen formed into groups,

So I whistled and shouted and yelled for my troops.

Now Nyssa! Now Leela! Now Sarah Jane Smith!

Come Adric! Come Harry! (Tegan was miffed.)

To the battleground forming, we must hatch a plan,

We need Benton and Yates and every last man.

As the Robot and Krynoid joined in with the Zygons,

The Time Lords chimed in “let bygones be bygones”

So into the mix we put up a good fight,

With temporal traps, gold dust and just plain old might.

As I gathered my forces with a big toothy smile,

K9 passed us by, to help out for a while.

And then into the fray, the Master appeared,

That consummate bad guy, the one that’s most feared.

The Master is here, my companions all cried!

Now head for the control room to stay safe inside.

We must think of a way and finally defeat him,

Or the galaxy faces a future most grim.

The Master harrumphed, as wily as a fox,

And gathered his minions around the police box.

His eyes – how they twinkled, his open mouth droll,

And the beard of his chin was as jet black as coal.

I reached in my pocket for something to do,

Pulled out a yoyo and racked my brain for a clue.

My scarf was in knots, my stomach it roiled,

We will find a way, the Master must be foiled.

Think quickly, Doctor! all my cohorts exclaim.

There must be a way to remove him from the game.

Just how to eliminate him is subjective,

To divide and conquer is our main objective.

Now the Master calls out, he wishes a truce,

It’s good news to hear, since K9’s out of juice.

I open the door and allow him inside,

Then set the controls to embark on a ride.

From deep within, the death knell reverberates,

The meaning is clear, a Time Lord regenerates.

Right at this moment, there’s no time to stand by,

But for whom the bell tolls, the Master or I?


Sunday, December 18, 2011




Friday, December 16, 2011


I have always wanted to find a site that listed mystery conventions & conferences.  

Can't find one, so I decided to compile a list myself.

It is by no means a complete list -

If you find any other conventions or conferences, please let me know & I will be happy to include it. 

Click on the "Conventions" button to see the list.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Nothing says "Happy Holidays"

better than a cheery

downtown Chicago decoration!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Ella Westin wants to marry
but her wedding day gets a bit hairy.
With murder afoot and motives unclear,
Ella investigates with only one fear,
the number one suspect is the man she calls dear.

She must prove the innocence of her groom
before the wedding march turns a sad tune.
She makes it to the church, the killer still masked,
her hair’s been fixed but her boss is aghast.
They’ll arrest Joe if she doesn’t act fast.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest with this slightest look
but for the full story, you’ll have to buy the eBook.
Just go to Smashwords or
(and while you’re there, look for my mom).

Don’t be on the fence
it’s a mystery short for 99 cents
or if you’re British, a mere 86 pence.

And when you’re finished reading,
when you’re done with the ride,
plunk down another 99 cents
on Honeymoon Homicide.

I think you’ll be pleased, you got your money’s worth
and a laugh or two, you’re mired in mirth
so keep your eyes out for books by Oberth!

I'm delighted to be included in the blog tour of this very talented author, Jennifer Oberth.  Jennifer has published Married to Murder & Honeymoon Homicide this year.  She has many more books in the works; continuing the Ella Westin series with Toxic Train; a new series: Georgia meets Virginia, The Georgia H mystery series, featuring a chef and the crazy woman sleuth she cooks for; and the Masked Rider series, featuring Ella Westin's descendents.  Watch for her new releases!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011








Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Giveaway Hop

I am participating in this Holiday Giveaway Hop

The prize will be a copy of my e-book "Who Murdered the Ghost?"   There will be 2 lucky winners who will each receive a copy of the e-book.

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment with a way for me to contact you for notification if you are the winner.

(If I don't have a way to contact you, you wiill be disqualified and another name will be drawn.)

If you become a follower of my Blog - you receive 2 extra entries.

The contest runs December 2 through December 6, 2011.

Winners to be announced on Dead Herring Blog on December 7, 2011.
Good luck to you all!!

Click below for the next stop on the Giveaway Hop


Check below for a complete list of participants

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Check out the ongoing blog tour for Jennifer Oberth's mystery: "MARRIED TO MURDER".
It's a humourous, cozy mystery set in the early 1800's and introducing Ella Westin.
Click below to go to Jennifer's website where you will find a list of where she's posting each day
 (November 27 through December 11)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving is a day to reflect  

I give thanks for my 2 darling daughters, Jennifer & Dana; and my new son, Brian!

I give thanks for my wonderful fiance, Dan

I give thanks for my great parents

I give thanks for my siblings & their families:  Sue, Bill, David, Danny,Jonielle & Madilyn; Steve, Kathy, Robert, Stephanie, Michael & Stacy; and Arleen

I give thanks for my Aunt Marilyn & Giorgio; Aunt Kaye, John, Liz & Nina, Buddy & Carol

I might have a small family - but they are the best!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plaster Casts

The Writers' Police Academy was a full service venue.  We learned all about plaster casts, fingerprinting, alternate light sources, police dogs, fires, gravesites/crime scenes, police snipers, jails...

The list goes on and on.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world and I can't wait til next year!!!!!

Thanks again to Lee Lofland and his band of merry volunteers.

Thanks to all the official personnel who gave their time and explained their techniques.

Thanks for all the hands on experience.

Thanks to the police volunteers who drove us around.  (Hi, Bunny!)

And a special thanks to my daughter, Jennifer, who treated me to this academy as an early Christmas gift!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


My favorite activity at the Writers Police Academy was definitely FATS.  This is a computer simulated scenario used for training police officers.

Modified Glocks are used with the simulator.  The trainers showed us how to 'lock and load' and we were ready to go.  The computer plays different scenarios one at a time. 

My daughter, Jennifer, and I were partners.  One situation showed us off duty at a restaurant.  The chef strode out and threatened one of his diners - a judge who had apparently sent him to jail.  The chef pulled his hands out from under his apron and shot the judge where he sat.  It all happened so quickly, that there was no time to do anything but shoot.  When the chef is killed, the trainers play back the scene in order to show where your shots landed.  Jennifer hit the chef with a kill shot so quickly that you could still see the vapors from the muzzle of the chef's own gun.

Another scene found us in a scrap yard dealing with a guy on meth.  He was smashing a car with a tire iron.  I ordered him to throw down the weapon but he scampered onto the roof of the car and continued swinging.  I yelled various commands:  GET DOWN OFF THE CAR!  DROP THE WEAPON!  GET DOWN ON THE GROUND! 

In between orders, I muttered to my daughter:  I don't want to shoot this poor guy...  Do we have to shoot him?  I hope he lays down...

Suddenly, he leapt off the car and raced towards us.  Three shots and he was a goner.  Again, the replay showed Jennifer's kill shot.

One of the trainers said he was impressed that I recognized the tire iron as a weapon.  A lot of people don't seem to realize that it is a deadly object.  (If someone's coming after me with a tire iron - I'm gonna take him down!)  His comment surprised me.  How could anyone NOT think it was a weapon?

All in all, we had five different scenarios.  Two suspects actually listened to me and got down on the ground.  The other three were killed by my darling daughter.  Though my shots also hit the targets, I only wounded them.  She was dead on.

If I ever come across a bad situation in real life, I went Jennifer on my side!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


At the Writers Police Academy you never knew what was going to happen next.  A class with Joy and her handler was a welcome surprise addition to our day. 

Joy is a gorgeous, well-trained police dog.  She loves to search for drugs and criminals.  As an extra treat, we got to observe Joy in action.  According to her handler, Joy loves her job.

Unlike us mere mortals, Joy's day is flipped around.  So when she is at work it's PLAY TIME.  And when she's home, it's downtime.  This keeps her excited to get up and go to work. 

What a novel idea (no pun intended).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Arson Demonstration

At the Writers' Police Academy, we were treated to a real live fire!  The entire structure burned down in about 17 minutes.  It was funny to watch a bona fide fire marshall START a fire.  Not something you see every day!

As the fire grew stronger and stronger, the spectators shuffled backwards to get away from the intense heat.  We didn't even realize that we were doing that until it was nearly over and we all started moving closer to check out the damage.

For a closer look at the fire, check out Jennifer Oberth's You Tube time-lapsed video:

Anatomy of a Fire

Monday, October 31, 2011


I thought this would be a perfect Halloween post.

Yes, I'm still blogging about the Writers Police academy -  it was such a fantastic weekend!

Above my daughter and I volunteered to dig a grave.  Let me tell you - it's a heckuva lot harder than it looks.  The first clank of my shovel hit rock.  And it didn't get too much better after that.  This was a very difficult task.  I, for one, ran out of steam pretty quickly.

Our instructor informed us that this is the reason it is called a "shallow grave".  Killers manage to dig about 18 inches and then just dump the body and cover it up with dirt.  It is extremely difficult to dig a real grave and they figure it's good enough. 

This is also why so many gravesites are discovered.  If killers really dug down a good 5 to 6 feet, their victims would probably never be discovered!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Graveyard Shift - Lee Lofland

Lee Lofland is a retired police officer.  Now an author himself - he writes mysteries and investigation how-to books. 

His Graveyard Shift blog is one of my favorites.  He always posts interesting and useful information that I, as a mystery writer, find extremely valuable.

My daughter (and fellow author), Jennifer, and I had a lot of fun writing a guest post on Lee Lofland's blog "The Graveyard Shift"

Be sure to check it out!!

Monday, October 24, 2011


As you probably know by now, I live, breathe & devour mysteries.

However, for something completely different, I checked out Maria Zannini's books.

They are paranormal romances.

Her 2nd book is for sale today.

If paranormal romances are your cup of tea - check it out!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I was a Top Ten Finalist in the Golden Donut Contest (Writers Police Academy contest).  We had to compose a mystery based on the picture below in exactly 200 words (title included).  Here is my entry:


I blame Grandpa for my current predicament.
He filled my head with bedtime stories after my parents died. Made up stories, he said. But I saw the looks Grandma gave him.

Grandpa tucked me into bed, covers pulled up to my chin. I listened to tales of trickery and thievery. The hero was a clever fellow, pulling off daring heists. For years the stories thrilled me.

I grew up and moved out of the old two story, isolated family home. Grandpa died. I pieced together the clues scattered throughout his tales. I checked out newspaper archives over donuts and coffee. The stories were true. I set out to find his stash of stolen goods hidden somewhere under that neglected house of my childhood.

The overgrown grounds almost engulfed the abandoned building. I sweated and dug in that dank basement. All I uncovered for my trouble was bones.

So many bones.

Suddenly, in between the decrepit house's creaks and groans, I heard the sounds of stomping down those rickety steps, dragging something heavy and cumbersome.
I stood paralyzed. Nowhere to hide and no way out but up those very stairs.

I wondered - who will dig up my bones?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Alternate Light Source.


My first class - Alternate Light Source.  Think CSI, blacklight & goggles.  The speaker was Professor David Pauly.  The first thing they did was to turn out the lights.  Then a strong flashlight was laid on the floor.  It was amazing to see all the footprints that showed up (it was raining hard outside and our shoes were wet as we walked into the classroom.).

After a discussion on various techniques, we got to don amber colored goggles and use a blacklight.  Our target was four towels.  Bright spots of blue and/or green specks were highly visible.  You didn’t know what they were, but you knew they were possible “evidence”.

It was suggested that we might try this in our hotel room. 

I don’t think so!

Sometimes knowledge is highly overrated!

Monday, October 10, 2011

We're here!

September 22, 2011.  Road trip to North Carolina for the Writers’ Police Academy.  After a car malfunction in West Virginia, my daughter and I barely made it to our destination in time for our first activity.  We were two of the lucky winners for a tour of the jail to kick start the conference.  And by the way – many thanks to Lee Lofland and the wonderful volunteers who ran the event.  (Check out Lee Lofland’s blog – The Graveyard Shift for an overview of the Academy and other cool stuff!).

The jail tour was awesome.  The administrator took us all around the jail while explaining the entire process to us.  There’s a lot to be said for first hand experience.  As a mystery writer, you want to grasp the real feel of things. 

We were physically standing in the “rec” area where the inmates spend their time when not confined in their cells.  An octagon of cells along the far walls surrounded us.  As we stood listening to the guide, you could see the male prisoners standing in their cell windows (think rooms with doors with a long, narrow window pane – not bars).  Many of them stood there the entire time watching us.  Major creep factor!

All in all it was an informative start to the conference. 

Check back for more highlights next week!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Announcing the release of my very 1st mystery.  It is a humorous cozy set in Andover, New Hampshire.  A deal at .99 cents - check it out at Smashwords.
Publication date - August 26, 2011.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cirque du Soleil - Extreme

Caught the show at Navy Pier.  These acrobats are incredible and put on a very good performance.  This is the first cirque du soleil I've seen that was not pitch black.  Their stage is underneath a tent top and it was a daylight show.  We had 3rd row seats which was cool - but also a little scary.  (I didn't sign up to catch someone if they fell!)

I've seen various cirque du soleils and I think one of the best was the water cirque at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (quite a few years back). 

I also was entertained by 'Ovo' which I saw last year in Atlanta. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


MURDER FOR TWO at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre at Navy Pier was a hoot!  It is a very clever murder mystery.  The play features 2 actors.  One actor plays the detective in charge and the second actor plays ALL the other characters! (including the dead body)

I wasn't sure what to expect and I don't want to give too much away.  It is a musical comedy - their funny interaction and piano playing abilities put a new spin on murder.  Joe Kinosian effortlessly switched from one character to another.  This was one of the best live performances I have ever seen.  Alan Schmuckler was excellent as the detective and Joe Kinosian was brilliant as the cast of suspects.  It is a must see.  Three thumbs up!!