Musings on Spring

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been swamped with day-to-day work stuff and writing the third book in the Antique Hunters series, Killer Finds. I’m very excited about Anne and CC’s continuing adventures and am already two-thirds into book four. If you haven’t seen the video trailer that my husband created, please check it out on Facebook.

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Writing these books has been such a joy for me. I relish in developing the characters and making their world and situation come alive. It is the same with my yard. When my husband and I moved into our house, we ripped out about 15 evergreens and several barberry. We replaced them with a Chanticleer pear tree, several Korean dwarf lilacs and one now huge oak leaf hydrangea. I bought that hydrangea for $5 at an end-of-season sale. It was scrawny and appeared near death. I tended to it and now it stands over three to four feet tall and spans as wide.

And, then there is a our weeping showers cherry tree. The first year we planted it, it bloomed a gorgeous pink. Then last year it was drooping, branches were dying, and it barely bloomed. I rushed to the nursery and learned that it was being invaded by bores. We applied solution but it still looked sickly. My husband wanted to rip it out. We decided to give it a year and this spring it came back in glorious color.

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I’m glad we waited. On Sunday when it was around 80 here, I saw my first hummingbird of the season flitting around its branches and I saw a beautiful orange and black butterfly. Sights like this make surviving winter and waiting of spring worth it.

What’s your favorite part about spring? What do you look forward to?

 

Who’s Ready for More?

More Spoon Sisters, that is. I am. I have to admit that I am enjoying the continuing adventures of Anne and CC, my two heroines of the Antique Hunters Mystery series. And, I apologize that I have been missing lately. I have been battling a nasty sinus infection, working my full-time job and drafting Killer Finds, the third book in the Antique Hunters Mystery series.

While the characters write themselves, the situations don’t. My husband and I have spent the past month bouncing ideas off each other, plotting scene by scene. We try to make the scenarios as real as possible but in fiction real doesn’t always work. And, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. That can be especially true with Anne and CC.

As part of my research, I have visited a few local estate sales, an antique store, resale shop and watched several items on eBay. So far, to show for it, I only have a couple failed bids. Oh, wait, I did pick up a gorgeous green slag glass 1920s chandelier that is now hanging over my writing desk. Have to run, additional research may be in order. eBay is calling me.

There is a moment in our newly published science fiction novel The Lexicon where the BART train stops under the SAn Francisco bay. My heart skips a beat each time. Today as I am writing this i am on BART under the bay. 

  I have made this trip numerous times since my parents moved to a small retirement community outside of rio vista. My heart still skips a beat each time. I find myself inhaling deeper until we emerge back into the daylight. 

This trip for me is fraught with peril and that sense of being out of control. Reliance on schedules, timetables and placing myself in the hands and mercy of others. I am not good at that. It is now I realize I am a control freak. I like being in charge of my schedule. Perhaps that is why I enjoy writing fiction. I can control not only my characters actions vmbut also their environment. 

I won’t give away what happens in the lexicon. You will have to read it yourself. But we did manipulate the system to meet the story needs. 

New Year, New Resolutions

Welcome to 2016! I am excited about the start of a new year and Pixel is, too.

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Pixel crashing on New Year’s Eve

I spent a quiet New Year’s Eve reviewing my resolutions from 2015 and thinking about my resolutions for 2016.

I did not achieve all my resolutions for 2015 though I did manage to keep several of them. I finished my reading challenge of 52 books on goodreads.  This exposed me to a variety of books from ones on gemstones to the history of the Romanovs to literary fiction and of course, several cozy mysteries. I have set a new goal on goodreads for 54 books in 2016.

I filled my second goal of the reading challenge of finishing every book I started in 2015. In the past, I have picked up books, made it halfway through and put them down for something more interesting. This turned into an difficult challenge for me as I had to push myself through the last 200 pages of Donna Tartt’s the Goldfinch and several others. Let’s say this is probably not a resolution I will keep.

I did not lose the ten pounds I had committed to losing but I did manage to maintain my 30+ pound weight loss. I consider this an achievement as I faced many temptations from work treats to a food-filled vacation to holiday madness. I am starting over today and recommitted myself to my low-carb diet.

However, it has been an amazing year. I am grateful for the three books I have published Murder by the Spoonful, Pickin’ Murder and the Postman is Late. I am grateful for the readers and reviewers I have met along the way. I have felt welcomed in the cozy mystery community and look forward to meeting more of you.

So, on to the newest resolution that I have made with my writing partner husband, Brian. We have committed ourselves to writing a first draft of a cozy each month so hopefully that means 12 books over the next year. We are now halfway into the third book of the Antique Hunters Mystery Series, further chronicling the adventures of Anne and CC.

I spent the day with Anne yesterday browsing one of our favorite antique stores. Some of our excursion will probably end up in the book. I am excited for the New Year. How about you? What are you looking forward to in 2016?

 

Mission Accomplished

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I haven’t written in a while due to an increasingly busy schedule but I feel I owe an explanation. For those of you who didn’t read the previous post, I spent the month of November writing a 50,000 word novel as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I accomplished the task on the very last day, November 30. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment at setting a goal and sticking with it.

I am also very proud of this accomplishment as I managed it in between my birthday, Thanksgiving and my full-time job. It did mean giving up some of my usual endeavors, weekend shopping trips.

This new cozy mystery details the adventures of a new heroine, Alexandra, a tough, young gem hunter. Alexandra travels the world searching for rare stones. On her travels, she encounters mystery and adventure. More to come. I am still editing the first draft. All I can reveal now is that her story involves a rare alexandrite and imperial Russia.

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A few research tools. . .

This story features one of my favorite subjects, gemstones. Since I was little, I have always loved rocks and gems. I love the feel of them in my hand. I enjoy gemstone jewelry particularly colored stones. My engagement ring is a pigeon blood ruby designed by a jeweler friend of mine. I can spend hours starting at my ring, admiring the sparkle in the light. It never gets old.

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My beautiful pigeon blood ruby engagement ring

I am excited about heading into the holiday season with an almost-finished new mystery. And, I have begun working on book three in the Antique Hunters Mystery series. Anne and CC are proving that they are perfectly capable of directing their own story. I just type.

 

 

Cutting Through Red Tape

I’ve realized what is really wrong with the government in this country. No, it is not the constant politicing (though I have to admit I am tired of it and have stopped watching or reading any of campaigning). The bureaucracy of our government, both federal and state, is the real problem.

I experienced this first hand last Friday afternoon. My husband and I were returning to our quiet dead-end street after a trip to the grocery store. We noticed something in the street just a few doors down from our house. Pulling up near it, we saw that it was a young fawn. She was curled up, injured, her front legs immobile. She struggled to get up. We could not bear to watch and called 9-1-1.

A short while later our local police officer arrived. He informed us there was nothing he could do as the deer is protected by federal law. He said they had received numerous calls over the past three days as the deer had wound up in a neighbor’s yard. My husband stayed out to talk to the police officer.

I went into the house and called the DuPage County Forest Preserve, our neighborhood is bordered by their woods on three sides. They also said that there was nothing they could do as the deer was not currently in their woods. I called an area nature preserve which rehabilitates hurt wildlife. They said there was nothing they could as they were in a different county. I called the DuPage Sheriff’s Office, and they said it was our local municipality’s jurisdiction and there was nothing they could do.

While I made all these calls, my husband and the local police office watched as the poor fawn continuously struggled to get up on two broken front limbs. There was no hope for her.

Finally I called the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They told me they had received several calls and were dispatching an officer to assess the situation. In the meantime, the police officer took matters into his own hands. The deer was quickly removed.

This took over an hour of our day and numerous unnecessary phone calls. And, the real issue is no one was willing to take responsibility, not the local police, not the sheriff’s office and not the forest preserve. It is a continuing statement of our government today and how it continuously blames other departments and fails to take action. The real victims are the taxpayers.

Traveling for Work

I’m in San Diego this week. Most people hear that and think, “how fun.” But it’s not for me. I’m here for work. While interacting with the editors of the journal that I work for can be fun, the meeting itself translates into long hours, sleepless nights and early mornings. Since I arrived Friday, it has been nonstop activity. 

The only fun part has been hanging out with my colleagues and my hotel. I am staying at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego. In its lobby hangs one of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitars.  

 
Wish I could buy it for my husband to add to his collection. Also in the lobby is the picture of my hero, Johnny Cash. It shows him behind a stone fortress, looking contemplative, perhaps before San Quentin or Folsom. There’s no caption but I’d like to hang it in my office.

  And then there’s the lyrics to George Harrison’s song. 
Other than the hotel, the best part of the trip has been the constant supply of Garrett’s popcorn, a Chicago staple. Chicago is the location for next year’s conference so they have been promoting it with supplies of the salty, sweet mix.  

 
Then there’s the picture my husband sent of my kitten, Terra, with my dog, Bandit. Many of you may remember how I’ve said before that my dog doesn’t like cats. You wouldn’t know if from this picture.

I can’t wait to get home to them.

  And I will send a free copy of the new Antique Hunters mystery, Pickin’ Murder, to the first person to correctly  identify the band who is painted in the lobby of my hotel.

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