Archive for February, 2010


And Our February winner is…

Posted under odds and ends No Comments

newspaper3clipartIt’s time to announce the winner of my monthly blog appreciation award. I put the name of everyone who has posted a comment on my blog during that particular month into a hat…the more you stop by (and comment) during the month, the more chances you have to win. Then, once the names are all in the hat, I swish my hand around and pull out a winner.

So, our winner for February is Chris C. Yay! Chris, please drop me a quick email at: to claim your prize. You can choose from an autographed copy of either SEW DEADLY (mystery) or KAYLA’S DADDY (romance). Let me know your choice, as well as a snail mail address, and I’ll get that out to you right away! And if you want me to personalize it to anyone in particular, let me know that, too!  Congratulations!



What Can YOU Do?

Posted under Bits & Pieces Fridays 9 Comments

Everyone has one…  breakfastclub1 

In The Breakfast Club, Molly Ringwald could slip a tube of lipstick in her bra and paint her lips.  Her nemesis in the film, Ally Sheedy, could play Heart & Soul on the piano with her toes. And, Emilio Estevez? Well, he could tape everyone’s buns together…

Ace Frehley from KISS could sit on bent legs and drop his head back to the ground (I, too, could do this in my younger days)…bigmac

And me? I can recite the famous Big Mac Slogan (in its entirety, mind you) BACKWARDS.  Just don’t ask me to recite our country’s presidents, okay?

So c’mon, come clean. What’s your weird thing?



Hey, Who’s Telling This Story?

Posted under Writing Thursdays 16 Comments

A few weeks ago, I was asked this writing question–one that struck me as the kind that would be fun to discuss here on the blog. So, to the mailbox we go!  mail

Q: How extensively do you outline and if you do, how far do you allow your story to veer off course?

A: I outlined a mystery once and broke it… again and again. That experience alone taught me that I work better with nothing more than a few basic bullet points (who did it and why, who the various suspects are, etc.). That’s it. The rest sort of writes itself.

To help keep myself on track, I often bullet point out a few chapters. Meaning something like this:  in chapter two–so and so need to cross paths, in chapter three–main characters stumble across red herring, and on and  on, usually working about three chapters out at all times.

And here’s why. When I was writing one of my earlier books, Forecast of Evil (the one I outlined), I had a particular person planned as the bad guy. About fifty pages into the book, I realized he was wrong. He was simply too easy. So I had to go back and rework things. Then, about fifty pages into the book the second time around, I was happily typing away my day when a teenager showed up in my head. He had dark hair, blue eyes, and he was standing in the snow with a letter in his hand. I had no idea who he was…he wasn’t part of the cast of characters I’d planned. So I kept typing. And he kept standing there. Eventually I looked up and realized he was there for a reason. Sure enough, he became part of a side story–one of my favorite parts of that book, as a matter of fact.

And that’s how it’s gone with my writing ever since. I can have the best intentions, but once I start writing, the story takes over. Literally. And I’ve learned that the story is always, always better when I listen to the way it wants to be told rather than the way I want to tell it.

This happened again with a story nugget I had about a year ago–one I was sure would make a great mystery. Only the story wanted to be a romance. I resisted it for a long time, finally giving up only after months of realizing I wasn’t going to win. And you know what? I sold it right out of the chute. As a romance.

Go figure.

Sometimes the story takes over at the keyboard. Sometimes it takes over in the shower of all places which is why, on the advice of a fellow writer, I’ve taken to calling my “voice” by the name of Moen. As in Moen shower fixtures.

Thoughts? Questions? Fire away!



Juggling Skills A Must

Posted under That's Life Wednesdays 4 Comments

There are times, at least for me, when I wonder if I should have taken a course in juggling. Not because I have aspirations to join a circus or to stick a jar at my feet and entertain the masses in Central Park. Because I don’t. Not when I’m awake, anyway.

jugglingBut some experience in the fine art of keeping several balls in the air at one time might make life easier.

I thought this when my girls were little and they came down with a stomach bug at the same time. I thought this when I would spend my days playing with them while knowing laundry needed to be done and dinner needed to be made. I thought this when I homeschooled them a few years back and all of the stated tasks still needed to happen in addition to teaching them the things they  needed to learn.

And I still think that now. Only now, in addition to the kids’ various schedules and regular life tasks, I’m trying to get (and keep) my writing career off the ground. If that entailed just the “writing” part, it would be tough enough. Toss in the promotional stuff, the edits, the need to constantly be proposing new things, and…well…you see my interest in juggling, no?

This week alone, I’m finishing up a book that’s due on Monday, doing final pass edits on a book that’s coming out in July, starting on another book that’s due entirely too soon, and trying to get myself out there even more (Facebook fan page, booking signings and events, writing daily blogs, etc).

Fortunately, I love it. Even when I’m running the side of my finger up and down over pursed lips like a maniac. 🙂 

But, seriously, learning a few juggling skills might have been a smart idea…

So how about you? What’s a skill you wish you would have learned and why?



Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Posted under Reading Tuesdays 12 Comments

I’d like to welcome a diehard mystery reader to our blog today. Her efforts toward the genre are more than a little noteable. Please welcome, Nikki Bonanni. Nikki is an Exercise Physiologist and a part time faculty member at Ithaca College in upstate New York. In her spare time she writes mysteries and plays ice hockey!    nikkiblogphoto


I have never been one to be interested in joining a book club. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m an avid reader, I just don’t want anyone else to tell me what to read. I’m also a bit stubborn and typically like to stay within the mystery genre, with occasional thrillers and suspense novels. So the thought of a book club was never really on my mind.

That is until I found myself recommending new authors I’d met at mystery conferences. I enjoyed trying out new series and telling others about them. One of them, in turn, suggested I start a book club.

Hmmm… If I did one, I could make it a mystery book club. And if it was my book club, I’d get to pick the books, right?

And so The Killer Coffee Club was born. I stopped in at my local Barnes & Noble to let them know we’d be meeting in their cafe once a month. The Community  Relations Manager, who is now a friend as well as a book club member, offered to attend the first meeting. I chose, Still Life, by Louise Penny as our first book.

I spread the word about the book club through my friends and personal training clients, who in turn told others. I also thought it would be fun to have a website and searched for a free, easy to set-up option.

When I attended Bouchercon in October, I approached some authors and mentioned I’d like to add their books to our calendar. Some agreed to actually visit, and those that couldn’t were open to trying Skype (what a terrific option for long distance–we place the laptop on a shelf and the author joins our circle).

I’m also a bit of a gadget person, and so I decided to try short video clips from the authors for my website so that readers could get a small taste of their books. These were easy to do with an ipod, and for a small annual fee I could add videos to my website.

The list of interested authors grew, and I wanted to do everything I could to make their trip worth it. The easiest of course was to ask B & N if we could do a public signing prior to our meeting. The bookstore also started ordering signs for the window and the aisle announcing our meetings! The signs, alone, have gotten us new members.

We have about twenty people on the email list and average 8-10 per meeting so far, but many who can’t attend still read the book selection and let me know their thoughts. I even added a blog page to the website because members were enjoying the books so much they wanted another outlet to chat!

Just recently we’ve established a connection with another bookstore that offers authors an additional venue for getting the word out about their books. When I browsed their website, I found that they also have a mystery book club! So now, when an author comes to visit, we have the potential for four different locations in addition to checking out any theme related groups.

The entire experience of setting up The Killer Coffee Club has been wonderful. The meetings are fun and we even had a Murder Mystery Dinner one evening. What a hoot!!

In addition to the camaraderie of getting together with others who share the same interest, there are many other benefits that have come with this project. It keeps me in better touch with my own writing, it’s introduced me to new friends, and it’s allowed me to share great new books and authors with others.



A Moment in Time

Posted under Dreamer Mondays 9 Comments

Here’s some great Dreamer Monday stuff from blog reader, Joe:   dream

If you could share one moment from your life with everyone here–actually loan it to us, and let us live in your skin (we’ll give it back, promise)–what would it be, and why?



A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

Posted under Bits & Pieces Fridays 3 Comments

Question # 1:

 What do you get when you cross a magnet with an autographed nameplate and throw in a bookmark?    questionmark

Give up?

A: Something in your mailbox that isn’t a bill.

Question # 2:

Want one?

A: If so, then drop me an email at and be sure to give me your snail  mail addy. Oh…and if you’d like your autographed nameplate to have something other than my signature (like if you’re giving it as a gift to someone), let me know to whom it is going and any other pertinent information. The nameplate is essentially a large sticker (with a cool graphic) that can be afixed to the inside front cover of my sewing mysteries. 

Have a great weekend!



The Other Me

Posted under Writing Thursdays 6 Comments

I have a favor to ask you today.  begging

I was asked by the wonderful folks at to do a guest blog on their site (neat huh?). So, I did…and I had great fun writing this post!

It talks a little bit about the unexpected road my writing took this past year and how I’m now walking two paths at one time. Oh, and you’ll see a picture of me…with a different name. But don’t worry, the blog will explain why (and besides, it’s still me).

If you’d like to post a comment there…that would be great ( I imagine they’d like to see lots of traffic). If you’d prefer to come back here and comment, that’s great, too!

So, without any further chit-chat, go here:



Your Library: A Tale Not Told in Books

Posted under That's Life Wednesdays 17 Comments

librarysmall2Looking back, I suppose it was the shelves and spines and bindings that did it. It’s clear to me now, but as a child, I harbored the world’s  most wrongheaded notion about libraries.

I thought they were built for books. 

It took a librarian to teach me otherwise.

The autumn of my eighth grade year, my  mom offered a deal: I could exchange my hour-plus bus ride home for a two-hour layover at Greenville Public Library, and a lift, when she left work.

I took the deal.

I was no stranger to the library. My parents dropped me there from time to time, I’d searched the shelves, and I knew the building well enough.

The head librarian was another matter.

I’d seen Mrs. Huffman in passing. In my junior high mind, she was the schoolmarm of old–stern, implacable, unyielding. Winifred Huffman: Warden of Books.

During my second week of library layovers, Mrs. Huffman stopped by my table. In a span of minutes, she’d figured out who I was, where I was from, why I’d landed at her library. In equal time, she’d shown herself to be observant, quick-witted, and radiant in the way that only someone of age can be.

Each day thereafter, she’d stop to drop a bit of gossip, ask a question, share a story.

I spoke in whispers. Mrs. Huffman’s voice carried to the edges of the building. She was in charge, after all. She could speak in any voice she chose.

She chose to speak loudly, and more important, she chose to speak to me.

Over the course of the school year, between the hours of three and five, I watched and listened, and sometimes–not in a whisper–I spoke. I completed very little homework. And I learned volumes.

Mrs. Huffman taught me that libraries weren’t built for books. They were built for people.

They weren’t storage bins for pages. They were focal points for thought.

She taught me that some of the very best stories don’t come from books. They come from the people who watch over them.

She demonstrated that a library isn’t just for solitude. It can be a place for community, for sharing passions and interests and ideas with people you would otherwise never meet.

If you haven’t been to your library lately, go. Sit. Wander the stacks. Notice the doors and columns, the windows, the nooks and breaks and seams, the engraving and the artifacts. There are stories here, too, for those who care to see them.

Touch the walls. Soak in the sounds.

Drink the atmosphere.

Notice people.


While you’re there, you may meet someone who steps into your study time with questions and stories and kindness.

You may meet a librarian who knows that libraries aren’t about books.

You  may meet someone like Winifred.richardson2

Joe Richardson has written for newspapers, magazines, trade journals and broadcast media. When not at his desk, he can be found photographing his family and other forms of wildlife. He lives in rural Illinois.


What’s On Your Nightstand?

Posted under Reading Tuesdays 16 Comments

After several weeks of highlighting a different book each Tuesday, I figured I would take a brief pause this one time to ask what you’re reading? 

bookcc2Tell us the title, what drew you to pick it up in the first place, and what you think so far… After all, I know I’m always looking for more books to add to my own TBR pile!