Every time someone purchases my book….
…I do a happy dance.
And every time someone writes a positive review…
I sing a happy song.
It’s been a very good day. Thank you!
A hiss awakened me from a deep sleep a couple of nights ago, and my first thought was, SNAKE! Apparently our cat, Gracie, had the same thought. Together, we crept through the bedroom and adjacent bathroom, tentatively looking under furniture and around corners. After finding nothing even vaguely snake-like, we returned to bed.
Later that morning as I applied my makeup I heard the hiss again. Gracie, who never leaves my side, went into full attack mode. She was going to locate this hissing thing and kill it with her bare claws. But after a lengthy search, we again came up empty handed. This was one stealthy hisser.
Then about midday, while engaged in the fine art of sorting laundry I heard the hiss and this time, it emanated from near by—from the small area where our toilet is located. The water closet, if you will. And, it was accompanied by the smell of lavender.
It was then that I recalled having recently purchased an automatic room deodorizer. That, friends, was the cause of our mysterious hissing sounds. I’m so relieved, but Gracie isn’t convinced that we’re out of the woods just yet.
I’m glad she’s hyper-vigilant. There might come a day when an actual snake finds its way into Doright Manor, and Gracie will be ready.
One of my favorite programs on NPR is “How I Built This,” hosted by Guy Raz. Each week Guy interviews entrepreneurs and digs into their sources of inspiration, their trials and tribulations, their ups and downs, giving a unique behind the scenes look at what it takes to create a successful business from scratch.
Yesterday I listened to an interview with the guys who started the Life is Good line of products, beginning with t-shirts and expanding to other products over the past 25 years. This was Guy’s second interview with brothers Bert and John Jacobs, and it made me cry happy tears.
The focus of this particular interview was resilience. How had the brothers’ enterprise not only survived but thrived during trying times? After 9-11, their business surged. Similarly during the housing crisis in 2008 and now in the middle of a pandemic, business for Life is Good is, well, good.
The brothers ascribe their business success to what they call “rational optimism,” and to their team of artists and idea generators who have internalized the concept, and in doing so have passed it on to consumers.
Here’s the link to the broadcast: https://youtu.be/GfWMuv3jf1E I highly recommend it if you’re in need of a boost. I know it was exactly what I needed yesterday.
Oh, there’s a book, How I Built This, by Guy Raz. I just put it on my wishlist.
Finding the right name for a character can be almost as daunting as finding the right name for a new baby. Maybe more difficult. With both my children I had names picked out almost from the moment I learned I was expecting, and never had a change of heart the entire nine months of pregnancy. But I only had to come up with one first name and a middle name. The surname was a piece of cake. When writing a novel, one must come up with first and last names for multiple characters. That can be a challenge.
For Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort there were at least a dozen folks who needed names. My main character’s name, Paula Jean Arnett, came to me before I even began writing the book, but the others weren’t so easy, and most I changed multiple times before typing The End.
I’d given one male character what I thought was an innocuous name and then about halfway through writing the book I realized there was someone from my high school days with that name and I really didn’t like him at all. Thanks to “Find and Replace” my character soon had a much less offensive moniker.
The only problem with Find and Replace is that one must be certain that the name being replaced isn’t part of a larger word. I changed a character’s name from Carrie to Stacy in the romance I’m working on and then realized that any place I’d had something carried it was now being stacyd, as in Barton stacyd a six pack of beer to the car.
And why, one might ask, did I need to change a perfectly good name like Carrie? Because in Mayhem I’d named a major character Cassie and when working on the romance I kept calling Carrie “Cassie.“ Thanks to one of my beta readers (Ann) for catching that.
If you write fiction how do you come up with characters’ names? I tried using name generators, but the results never sounded right. There are so many possibilities out there, so why is it so difficult?
Not to brag or anything (please note that this phrase is always followed by a definite brag), but I used to be really good at trivia. Some might even say I was formidable. Thanks to my obsession with reading, I often could correctly answer questions that stunned my competitors. I got a little cocky about my skills.
But it seems that all good things must come to an end—I’ve been humbled by a game on Facebook called Quiz Planet. Oh, I still get plenty of questions correct, but I’ve lost my mojo. I don’t crush. I don’t dominate. And that’s driving me nuts. Is it my age? Is my writing distracting me? Have I finally lost all of my marbles?
I’m pretty new to the game, though, and I sense that many of the questions are repeated fairly often. So, maybe there’s a chance for me to become great again. I’m not betting money on myself. Not yet, anyway.
Today, I feel like Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk when he discovers his name in the phone book:
Why is that? Because my friend, Michele, who I met through the Meetup app, asked if I’d be interested in having Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort discussed at the group’s monthly book club meeting via Zoom in April.
Of course I said yes.
As my character, Zeke Fitzgerald, would say, “Well, don’t that beat all?”
Those of you who’ve followed me for at least the last four years know that I’m going to celebrate today as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn into office.
This country has a long road to recovery. The chaos Trump promoted, and the damage he has wrought will not be easily undone, but at least now we have a fighting chance to bring the U.S. back from the brink of destruction.
There’s a small bottle of champagne chilling in my fridge, and an American flag waiting to be waved. It’s time to make America a good place to live—for all Americans.
I have to brag on a friend of mine. Lori Roberts Herbst and I became friends on a Facebook group a while back, and when I announced that I was about to self-publish Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, Lori shared that she was on the verge of self-publishing her own book, a cozy mystery titled, Suitable for Framing.
As soon as the book was available on Amazon I downloaded it onto my kindle and then hurriedly finished the book I was reading at the time so I could give all my attention to Lori’s book.
Folks, this is a terrific book. Lori has brought to life a cast of characters one won’t soon forget. Her protagonist, Callie Cassidy, is smart and believable. She’s the kind of person I’d like as a best friend. I laughed out loud at her sardonic wit throughout the whole tale, often quoting lines to Studly Doright who laughed, as well.
The supporting cast is outstanding, as well, from Callie’s parents and best friend to her possible love interest(s), a quirky stranger, and her pets. Even the mean girl is terrific. And the plot will keep you guessing whodunnit until the very end. Honestly I thought I had the mystery solved. I was wrong. The twists are fun and inventive.
Suitable for Framing is getting great reviews on Amazon, and if you’re in the mood for a fun book that’ll keep you turning pages, this is one you’ll enjoy. Read on:
Now that prize-winning photojournalist Callie Cassidy has returned to the mountainside village of her youth, she believes she’s put crime scenes and corpses in her rear view mirror. So why does she end up—once again—focusing her lens on murder?
Callie Cassidy is no stranger to dead bodies. Two decades as a photojournalist on a big-city newspaper landed her face to face with so many of them that her colleagues dubbed her Queen of the Dead. Now, Callie believes her days of hanging out with cadavers are behind her. With her lovable golden retriever Woody in tow, she has returned in disgrace to Rock Creek Village, Colorado, where she licks her wounds in a cabin on her parents’ Rocky Mountain ski resort property. But when her mother persuades her to abandon her fetal position beneath the quilts and take a photography gig at the Snowflake Swirl winter ball, Callie’s foray back into the real world lands her smack in the middle of town drama.
Before the first partygoer arrives, Callie stumbles across a deadly scene. A former classmate, one of the “mean girls” from high school, lies lifeless on her office floor. Another woman from Callie’s past crouches above the body, holding a bloody letter opener. The conclusion is obvious—at least to rookie detective Raul Sanchez. But Callie believes there’s more to the picture. With the help of an adopted stray cat named Carl, whose investigative skills may rival her own, Callie sets out to find the real murderer. Because unless she, her pets, and a quirky group of villagers can solve the mystery, Callie’s photos won’t be the only thing being framed.
At Doright Manor we go to bed early. Studly Doright, my husband of 44.5 years, hasn’t retired yet and he rises early each day to get a jump on things before the rest of the work force shows up,
Last night, though, we stayed up to watch the Tampa Bay/New Orleans playoff game, and didn’t get to bed until ten eastern time. Basically that’s midnight in our world, and now I have a football hangover; although, perhaps it’s a true hangover given all the wine I drank while watching not only the late game, but also the earlier game between Kansas City and Cleveland.
Two great games featuring four of the best quarterbacks in the league were impossible for us to turn off. I have the luxury of sleeping in and staying home and working on a sequel to Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, while poor Studly had to get up early to reattach himself to the old grindstone.
It’s a good thing he’s married to me—I can nap for both of us this afternoon. He has no idea what I sacrifice for him. I’d better nap for twice as long just to be on the safe side.
I’m not going to lie, I’m a big fan of sex. In point of fact, I owe my whole life to a sexual encounter, as do we all. So why is it so difficult to write about?
My first novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Express, didn’t have even a drop of sex in it. Some vague innuendo, yes, but no heart pounding, tantalizing love making. My second work in progress, The Cowboy and the Executive, though, is a different matter.
And while Cowboy isn’t inundated with sex scenes, it does have its moments. Last night, after rereading and tweaking one such scene for the 90th time in an effort to make it feel as hot and natural as I want it to be, I threw my hands in the air and told Studly that if my characters were riding bikes in a race instead of having a proper go at one another in the bedroom, I could easily describe their emotions and physical reactions—the act of pushing down on the pedals, the freedom of feeling the wind in their hair, the way the seat chafed their bottoms as they pushed through physical exhaustion to complete the race, the exultation at finishing first, or the despair of taking a spill.
After listening to my rant, Studly winked and said, “Maybe you just need to do more hands-on research.”
Personally I think he’s just angling for a special mention in the acknowledgements.