Saturday, December 31, 2016

Who Murdered The Snowman?



Something I've always wanted to do







I walk into my daughter's house and tell her I want to kill my granddaughters' snowman. She readily agrees and my son-in-law walks out with a butcher knife-no questions asked. And my other daughter takes pictures for me. Do I have a cool family or what?



A side note - as I was constructing the 'scene', a neighbor appeared in the adjacent yard. He sure got an eyeful!





Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take care of that witness...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Big Foot Lives

I gotta stop walking down the street


For comparison purposes, my footprint is the circular blob in the top center of the picture
(and I wear a size 7)





So apparently Big Foot is real!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Walking down the street the other day, and what do I see?





'Six Geese A-Laying'





They must be geographically challenged!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's cold here in Chicago. Instead of visions of sugarplums, I'm envisioning the trip we took in (hot) July!


Grand Canyon










Monument Valley







Bryce Canyon





Such gorgeous scenery. I don't know why I waited so long to visit.



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

To continue the holiday mood, here's a repost for all you Dr. Who/Tom Baker fans!


TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE DOOMSDAY

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?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Just to get in the mood for the holidays, here's a repost of my Who Murdered...? series poem:


HAZEL CARTBELL’S NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
The killer was creeping, as quiet as a mouse.
With a gun in his hand and his eyes on the prize,
Who he was after, I could only surmise.

The killer moved quickly, he searched for his goal,
The house was as dark as Victor Kendall’s black soul.
I inched my way slowly, to keep him in sight,
But he stayed in the shadows, as dark as the night.

I grew cold and tired, my brain started to roam,
And I thought of the townsfolk, all warm in their home.
I pictured Mama Bella in her restaurant,
Waiting on her customers to see what they want.

And then in a twinkling, my thoughts started to drift,
To my brother, Sebastian, who always seemed miffed.
Two years my junior, he still acted like a child,
I try not to judge him, without getting riled.

Or the chief’s son, Robbie, a student in college,
He’s studying hard to expand his knowledge.
He’s got a crush on our pretty dispatcher,
Robbie won’t give up hope, thinking he’ll catch her.

Sister Marie Catherine, the old-school nun,
So strict and somber, does she ever have fun?
As I visualized Sister, praying in church,
There came a loud noise and my heart gave a lurch.

There out on the street, a car rolled to a stop,
And Donovan emerged, our new rookie cop.
With a huff and a puff, he raced up beside me.
Did the recruit think I would need him to guide me?

The heavens released a fresh dusting of snow,
The rookie grew restless, but we had to keep low.
I kept my eyes peeled and let my grip loosen,
A wonderful sight, here comes Chief Rasmussen.

My heart filled with joy as I watched him draw near,
Would the chief never notice me, was my worst fear.
He strode to the door and called in a firm voice,
Come out with your hands up, you don’t have a choice.

I watched him with pride, this man was my hero,
Just like Poirot and that Wolfe they call Nero.
As the bad guy obeyed and marched onto the porch,
I knew as long as I lived, I would carry this torch!

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's getting time to think about 2017. I'm hosting my Reporter's Challenge again. Here's a sneak peak:




REPORTER CHALLENGE:

Who? What? Where? When? How?
Why? – because it’s fun to read!

Cub reporter: 5 books (1 from each category)
Columnist:   10 books (2 from each category)
News Anchor: 15 books (3 from each category)
Editor: 20 books (4 from each category)
Newspaper Mogul: 25 books (5 from each category)

BONUS CATEGORY: Pulitzer Prize Winner (Newspaper Mogul plus Bonus Category) = 30 books

WHO
Protagonist is a forensic specialist (forensic accountant, forensic artist, forensic pathologist, forensic dentist, etc)
Protagonist is in the medical profession (doctor, nurse, EMT, hospital staff, etc.)
Protagonist is a dead person (ghost, skeleton, vampire, zombie…anybody who is dead)
Protagonist is a gardener
Protagonist is an innkeeper

WHAT
A short story from an anthology
Poison in the title
Weather in the title
A Flash Fiction piece (no bigger than 1,000 words)
Time in the title (minute, week, clock, year, hour, etc)

WHERE
Set in a big city
NOT set on land (cruise ship, boat, airplane, spaceship, etc)
Set in a state beginning with the letter ‘N’
Set on foreign soil (not America or England)
Historical novel (pre 1900)

WHEN
One book set during a competition (Olympics, ballroom dancing, cooking contest, etc.)
One that centers around a holiday
One set during summer
One where the protagonist has to beat the clock (time is crucial to solving mystery)
One set during a courtroom trial

HOW
(Method of Murder)
Poison is murder weapon
Knife/stabbing is murder weapon
Gun/shooting is murder weapon
Blunt object is murder weapon
Rope/strangulation is murder weapon

BONUS CATEGORY
WHO - Protagonist is impaired (deaf, blind, crippled, ADHD, etc.)
WHAT – Title starts with the same letter as your last name
WHERE - “Locked Room” mystery (not necessarily a room, as long as the scene is contained)
WHEN – Death occurs during a natural disaster (hurricane, avalanche, tsunami, etc)
HOW - At least 3 different people killed by 3 different means, all in one story


Rules:  For this challenge – Each book can only be used for 1 category (Ex: Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap would fit into 2 categories – strangled,  locked room mystery. But you can only place this story in 1 of the categories)
The bonus round is just an added challenge to kick it up a notch!
The challenge runs from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
You don’t have to choose your books in advance.  If you do, you can change your list at any time during the year.
Books can be in any format – paper, ebooks, audio…
 Crossovers with other challenges are fine.

Most of all—have fun!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

In honor of the Writers' Police Academy this weekend, I thought I'd re-post the first piece I wrote for the Golden Donut Award contest a few years ago. (And just a little bragging - I was a top ten finalist). 

The picture that year was of a neglected, dilapidated building.

Here's my 200 word story, with a beginning, middle, end and that pesky proverbial twist!


BURIED SECRETS


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?


Monday, August 1, 2016



Who? What? Where? When? How?
Why? – because it’s fun to read!

Cub reporter: 5 books (1 from each category)
Columnist: 10 books (2 from each category)
News Anchor: 15 books (3 from each category)
Editor: 20 books (4 from each category)
Newspaper Mogul: 25 books

BONUS CATEGORY: Pulitzer Prize Winner (Newspaper Mogul plus Bonus Category): 30 books

WHO

Protagonist is a forensic specialist (forensic accountant, forensic artist, forensic pathologist, forensic dentist, etc)
Protagonist is a crime-solving duo (any 2 person team: hubby/wife, siblings, professionals, etc)
Protagonist is a dead person (ghost, skeleton, vampire, zombie…anybody who is dead)
Protagonist works with animals (vet, dog walker, zookeeper, etc)
Protagonist is a legal professional (judge, lawyer, paralegal etc)

WHAT

Number in the title
Poison in the title
Weather in the title
Color in title
Title starts with the same letter as your last name

WHERE

Set in a little town
NOT set on land (cruise ship, boat, airplane, spaceship, etc)
Set in Nevada
Set on foreign soil (not America or England)
Historical novel (pre 1930)

WHEN

One book set during a party (family reunion, birthday, Christmas, etc)
One that centers around a holiday
One Dark & Stormy night – bad weather plays big role in story
One where the protagonist has to beat the clock (time is crucial to solving mystery)
One set during a courtroom trial

HOW

(Method of Murder)
Poison is murder weapon
Knife/stabbing is murder weapon
Gun/shooting is murder weapon
Blunt object is murder weapon
Rope/strangulation is murder weapon

BONUS CATEGORY

WHO - Protagonist is a child (under the age of 18)
WHAT - 3 word title (title is only 3 words and they all start with the same letter)
WHERE - “Locked Room” mystery (not necessarily a room, as long as the scene is contained)
WHEN – Death occurs during a natural disaster (hurricane, avalanche, tsunami, etc)
HOW - At least 3 different people killed by 3 different means, all in one story


Rules: For this challenge – Each book can only be used for 1 category (Ex: Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap would fit into 3 categories – strangled, cut off from the world due to bad weather, locked room mystery. But you can only place this story in 1 of the categories)

For the bonus round, you must first complete the Newspaper Mogul category and then complete the bonus category. (Just for fun, the bonus round is a bit tougher) However, if you read a book that you realize fits into the bonus category, you can save it to use to fill in the bonus round after you complete Newspaper Mogul status!

There will be one prize ($25 Amazon gift card) given for a Pulitzer Prize Winner (chosen from the group who completes this level).

The challenge runs from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

You don’t have to choose your books in advance. If you do, you can change your list at any time during the year.

Books can be in any format – paper, ebooks, audio…

Crossovers with other challenges are fine.

Most of all—have fun!


You can read any book you choose for the categories, but here’s a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. For the Where category—set in Nevada—read A Frenzied Bid For Murder (written by yours truly—blatant self-promo) and write a review on GoodReads. This is my first full-length novel and it will be published in June 2016. The deadline for your chance at the gift card is December 1, 2016. One winner will be picked at random from the posted reviews on December 10, 2016.
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Friday, July 29, 2016

2017 CALIFORNIA CRIME WRITERS CONFERENCE NOW OPEN FOR REGISTRATION

A preeminent event for established and aspiring crime writers, the 2017 California Crime Writers Conference will take place June 10-11, 2017 in Culver City, California.

Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and SoCal Mystery Writers of America are pleased to announce that registration is now open. 

A renowned event geared toward both emerging and established mystery and crime fiction writers, the conference includes workshops, presentations and sessions with top agents, editors, award-winning authors, publishing industry insiders and crime investigation professionals.

Registration is limited to 200 to maintain a congenial atmosphere among faculty and registrants. For full details and to reserve your spot, click here.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ANNOUNCING THE RELEASE OF:





Meet Venice Sinclair in her first mystery novel...

Henderson, Nevada resident, Venice Sinclair enjoys bargain hunting at storage locker auctions with her best friend, Tanya. Unloading the units and sifting through their contents make her feel like she’s on a treasure hunt.

Being the highest bidder, Venice Sinclair discovers personal journals in a strange locker. Curiosity prevails and she soon finds herself drawn into the dramatic tales revealed in the diaries. Getting more than she bargained for, Venice uncovers disturbing hints about a dangerous crime.  Murder...

Venice’s strong sense of justice leads her to delve deeper into the former owner’s silent cries for justice. Searching for hidden meaning in the coded entries, she receives help from Tanya’s daughterprecocious, eleven-year-old Grace.

Each tantalizing clue presents more questions than answers. What happened to the journal writer? Who is the dead girl discussed in the diary? Can they identity the nefarious boyfriend? And where is the body?

Released through Oak Tree Press


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

OXCARTS

COSTA RICA OXCART FACTORY




Beautiful workmanship and the
greatest souvenir shop ever!!




















And now for the real thing:










Saturday, June 4, 2016

COSTA RICA



BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS IN COSTA RICA











Bats
(at hotel)









Sloth:











 White Face Monkeys:













And the Jesus Christ Lizard
(they walk on water):






Monday, May 9, 2016

My novel is being released soon...



I'm very excited to announce I signed a contract with Oak Tree Press to publish my novel - A Frenzied Bid For Murder.






Widowed eight years ago, Venice Sinclair is now an empty nester. Her only child - Catalina - is attending school in England.

Venice attends storage auctions with her best friend, Tanya. When they discover journals in a storage unit, Venice takes them home to read. Murder is hinted at, maybe committed by the unknown journalist's own boyfriend.

Venice is determined to untangle the clues and find a body in order for justice to prevail.