Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Snippets: May 26, 2019

Well, we made it to the second edition of Sunday Snippets. It's been a busy couple of weeks but I think the majority of our medical appointments are finally over with. I've actually gotten in a little writing - okay, so it's all been blog writing, but that's a start. I'm having to take a deeper look into my characters for the new "Ask a Character" posts. So, if you've read any of my books, feel free to leave a comment with a question for your favorite (or least favorite) character and I'll do my best to answer it in a future post.

Remember the reason for today, Memorial Day. Honoring those who gave their life for our freedoms.

We did try to see the International Space Station as it passed over our area on the night of the 18th. We had light clouds and a gorgeous full moon. We think we saw the ISS as it scooted by overhead!

As an author, I tend to have a lot of Facebook friends who are also authors. Some I have been privileged to meet, others not. But I've been involved with them online for several years and followed them both personally and professionally.

One such author is Holli Spaulding. Recently she decided to fulfill her dream of owning a coffee shop and used book store. Present Tense Coffee and Books is located in Green Cove Springs, FL. She offers both new and used books as well as delicious coffee and fresh pastries.

Many of her fellow authors donated books to help her get started and I was no exception.

In other sundry snippets, I started my own flash fiction word prompt series this week. Friday Foto Flash Fiction - I hope anyone who likes to write will give it a try. Each picture prompt is open for submissions for a week. Here is the prompt for this week and here is my story but I hope you will also read/comment on the other submissions I've listed below.
1.Keith's Ramblings4.Di @ pensitivity1017.You're next!
2.Shelley at Quaint Revival5.DC Stultz  
3.Donna McNicol, author6.Tessa

Watch for interviews various characters in both my book series - Klondike Mysteries & C'Mon Inn Mysteries. Let me know if you have a favorite you'd like to have interviewed or any questions you would like asked.

Final note - our transplanted rose bushes are growing. Guess it's true, you can't kill them!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Back of my hand...

I was reading blogs this morning and ran across a rather random challenge - share a photo of the back of your hand. Why not? So I grabbed a picture of my hand on my mouse for my laptop.

It's definitely an old lady hand. Age spots, wrinkles, and prominent veins. I've always had large knuckles and prominent veins but they seem to become more so every day. But it's my hand and it works quite well, thank you.

How about it? You game? Snap a pic and share away!! What do you have to lose...

#fotoflash May 24 2019: The Alley

My contribution to Friday Foto Flash Fiction...

Lettie dug the hand drawn map out of her purse, turned it left and right, trying to make sense out of the instructions. Looking ahead, all she saw was an alleyway that seemed to get narrower. She had tried to ask directions at the cafe earlier but the language barrier was too steep. Dead phone battery meant no Google translate.

Stuffing it away, she sighed and trudged onward, hoping to see something familiar. After all, how difficult could it be to find the family home? She'd seen pictures and listened to stories about the neighborhood for years.

A beeping sound startled her and she turned around to face someone on a little scooter.

"I'm sorry," she apologized as she moved to the side.

"Grazie," a deep masculine voice responded but didn't move.

Taking a chance, she asked, "Mi puoi aiutare?", hoping she was saying it correctly. No response so she added, "Do you speak English?"


She pulled the map out again and showed it to him. "I want to find this place." She pointed to a spot on the map. "Do you know where it is?"

"Sì." Then in heavily accented English, "Get on back. I take you."

Glancing around and seeing no one else who could help, she shrugged and climbed on board.

"Hold on," he commanded as they motored down the alley.

She didn't need to be told twice, the cobblestones made for quite a bouncy ride.

Twenty minutes later, they were still winding down alleyways. The sun was setting and she was getting worried. Tapping him on the shoulder, she shouted, "Are we almost there?"

"Soon, cara signora! Soon."

"Okay." She felt drowsy and closed her eyes. The screech of brakes startled her awake. The sun was gone and a smidgen of moon lit the sky. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes she asked, "We there?"

"Sorry, signora. I got us lost. This friend house. We stay. Tomorrow we go your house."

With no good alternative, she agreed and entered the tiny stone house. She gasped. The inside was charming. A roaring fire warmed the rustic but cozy room. A wizened lady came forward and took her arm. As she offered her name, she realized she had never introduced herself to her driver. She turned but he was nowhere in sight. "Where-"

The woman put her hands beside her cheek and simulated sleeping. She pulled her into a tiny room and nodded at the single bed and pointed to her. "Letto. Vai a dormire." She left and closed the door.

The sun peeking through the curtains woke her. She stretched and tried to remember where she was and why she was there. A knock on the door accompanied by a deep voiced good morning, brought her back to reality. She tossed on her clothes and opened the door.

"Lady of the house, she said your house gone."

"That can't be! She's mistaken."

"No mistake. Boom! No more house."

"I guess I have to go home."

"No, stay. Guest. Welcome here. New home!"

She smiled. "My new home. Italia!"

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Friday Foto Flash Fiction: May 24 2019
Welcome to Friday Foto Flash Fiction! Each Friday I will post a new picture to be used as inspiration for your flash fiction written in 500 words or less. Be sure to include the photo, the source credit, and a link to this post with your story. Once it's live, add your link to the list below. Be sure to visit the other entries (and check back often for new stories) and leave them a comment in appreciation. Entries will close on Thursday at midnight Eastern Time. Thank you and enjoy!

Photo Credit

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Ten Word Photo Prompt: Mood

Image: Jose Guadalupe Posada

[click to join in the fun]
Can't believe it, he ate the last piece of pie!

Books for Mystery Writers

Since I started writing in 2012, I have amassed quite a collection of books to help me both improve my craft and keep my stories accurate. We all use Google, of course, but not all the information available online is accurate (imagine that!). These books have been written by experts from all fields including law enforcement and law as well as, of course, writers.

I have some in paperback, but due to either cost or availability many of them are digital books. For convenience and accessibility, I keep them loaded on my laptop and my iPad. This past year I have seen more and more good reference books and thought I would list the ones I have purchased. So in no particular order...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Coming this week! Stay tuned for #fotoflash

Calling all writers - experienced, new, wannabe.
All you need is a blog!
Check out the details HERE
and come back Friday for the featured foto!
I'm so excited, aren't you!?!
P.S. Be sure to subscribe via email to this blog so you don't miss anything! See the link in the right hand sidebar.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ask a Character: Jamison "Jazz" Maddox [Klondike Mysteries]

Who is he?
Jamison Maddox is one of the main characters in the Klondike Mystery series. He is a Pennsylvania State Trooper Fire Marshall. His territory encompasses McKean County as well as several surrounding counties including Warren County where he was born and raised.

Born in 1974, he presents an imposing figure at six feet six inches tall and weighing in at 220 pounds. He has sandy blond hair in a short cropped cut, hazel-green eyes, and no facial hair. His parents are retired and still living in Warren, PA.

Nice to meet you, Trooper Maddox. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.
~  No problem, ask away.

Can you tell us what it was like growing up in Warren, Pennsylvania?
~  Well, since it's the only place I spent any time while growing I'm not sure what to say. Typical small town, like many in the area it was originally settled by the Seneca Indians. Oil and timber were the main industries for many years. My dad was a teacher at the high school and my mom worked as a substitute elementary school teacher. Pretty much the standard.

I understand you have a younger brother? Is that your only sibling?
~  Yes, Derrick. He's five years younger than me and works for the Pittsburg Police Department, hoping to make Detective one day.

Were you close growing up?
~  Unfortunately not. The age difference made it difficult, especially for me. Now that we're both adults and working in the same career we've become much closer.

Tell us about your job. I understand that it encompasses both fire and police duties?
~  Yes it can. I specialize in the area of fire investigation but am also called into cases in areas where there is no assigned police force.

Like Klondike and Lewis Run? They're both small towns in your coverage area, right?
~  Exactly. They're too small to have their own police force so we get called in to help.

So what do you like to do in your off time?
~  In warmer weather it's fishing, swimming and boating first, hiking second. In winter I love snowmobiling and cross country skiing. 

No hunting?
~  Not for me, just not my thing.

Do you get a lot of snow?
~  Most years, yes. We get lake effect snow from Lake Erie. I've seen winters where the ground was covered until the end of March.

Have you ever considered moving out of Pennsylvania, maybe to someplace warmer? Say like Arizona or Florida?
~  Not going to happen. I love my four seasons and I love the small towns. You can't beat the people that live up here, at least to my way of thinking. I'd have no problem raising kids here.

Speaking of that, we understand you have a new love interest?
~  Guess you'll have to read the book for the answer to that one. [wink]

Buy now at Amazon

Do you have any other questions you'd like to ask this character? What about some of the other characters in the Klondike Mystery series? I am thinking about interviewing Cherie Marshall next, do you have any questions for her?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Photo Fiction: The storm

Photo Credit: Terri Smeigh
for Sunday Photo Fiction in 200 words or less

"Pull over there, the brick restaurant!"

He parked and they rushed inside, the door slamming behind them.

Seeing no one they shouted, "Anyone here?"

"In the kitchen!" was the reply.

Hurrying behind the counter and into the kitchen, they saw almost a dozen people huddled in the center of the room.

"Are we safe here?"

"Safer than out there," replied someone wearing a shirt with the restaurant logo.

"What about the freezer?"

The worker shook his head. "There's no safety open once inside. Management refused to pay for the  upgrade."

The wind howled louder, sounding like the proverbial freight train. Debris broke through the front windows.

It passed as quickly as it had arrived. Everyone was safe and now hungry.

Life goes on...

CLICK to read the other Sunday Photo Fiction stories

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Fiction: Angst...

"NO - I - WILL - NOT - DO - THAT - AGAIN!" Ellie pounded her best friend, a three foot tall teddy bear named Archie.

"Calm down," her real life BFF, Cassandra, said as she walked in. "Your mom said you were pissed."

Ellie looked up, eyes wide. "Mom said that?"

"Maybe it was more like upset but I could tell you were PO'd from her expression. What's up? Alan again?" She plopped on the bed beside Ellie.

"Not this time." She buried her head in Archie's neck and sobbed.

Putting her arm around Ellie, Cassandra softly asked, "What is it? What happened?"

Wiping her face on Archie's fur, she inhaled and held her breath for a moment before whispering, "I will not do it again."

"What? C'mon, give! What are you talking about? You know you can tell me anything. I'm your best friend, aren't I?"

Ellie nodded with a sigh. "You are but I'm too embarrassed." She nestled her head against Archie's.

Cassandra reached over and shook her friend. "Tell me or I won't stop! Nothing you could do would embarrass me. So TELL ME!" She continued shaking Ellie until both collapsed on the bed laughing.

"Okay, I'll tell. But you have to promise not to ever - I mean EVER - tell anyone else."

"Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye." For good measure she held out her little finger. "Pinky swear!"

She leaned in close and whispered, "I kissed David."

"On the lips?"


"What did he do?"

"He wiped it off and ran away. I'm never going to do that again."

"Kiss David?"

"Kiss ANYONE!"

Twelve years later, Cassandra was the maid of honor at Ellie's wedding. As Ellie handed over her bouquet Cassandra whispered, "Bet you're going to kiss David on the lips today!"

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Snippets: May 12, 2019

Welcome to the first edition of Sunday Snippets, a compilation of sundry thoughts I wanted to share with you.

Needless to say, my first thought today is sending out a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY wish. I do realize not everyone is a mother, not everyone had a good mother, not everyone celebrates. But I like to share the wishes regardless. It's up to you to accept or ignore. Oh and I sent out a bunch of Mother's Day cards via the Jacquie Lawson website. I joined it this year, makes special occasions so much easier.

My celebration was breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning where I indulged in blueberry pancakes. Yummy! (I should have taken a photo, my bad. Instead, here is picture from their website.) I don't use the blueberry syrup, that's too sweet. I use their regular syrup. Another tip from me, double butter. I love my pancakes slathered in butter and I just dip each bite into a little pool of syrup.

Courtesy of Cracker Barrel
I've been in a writing funk, partly because I haven't been feeling 100%. You know those days, nothing seriously wrong, just not all there. I attribute some of it to stress and I'm working on ridding myself of that. I have a new app on my iPhone and iPad Mini - Happy Color. It's so relaxing, but caution! It's totally addictive! They even have a Facebook page and community group.

I'd say, but hey - it's a new week. Yeah, a week with two medical appointments on Monday, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday. And TWO of them are VERY early appointments. I'm so NOT a morning person. Sigh....and guess what? Next Monday are two more and I expect one will be early. Argh!

Okay, enough complaining...but hey, I said this would be a little bit of nothing!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Where to go from here?

It seems like I hit this point every year...where to go and what to do after the A to Z Challenge is complete. Last year I had a call for more flash fiction. While I do enjoy writing flash, it does take a significant amount of time away from working on my novels. And I KNOW many of you are eagerly waiting for book four, Paradise Dream, in my C'Mon Inn Mystery series.

So a decision has to be made and I have given it quite a bit of thought. I had the most blog followers when I posted regularly. Needless to say, other than the month of April, I wasn't doing that. So here is what I am proposing - I hope you will agree this will work the best for both me as a writer and you as a reader.
  1. I will write a flash fiction story twice a month on the 2nd & 4th Friday of each month. I will always be open to reader submissions of word prompts and/or photo prompts.
  2. I will post with background information and teasers about the characters in my various books/series twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month. I would love to hear the questions you would like to ask them.
  3. On the 2nd & 4th Sunday of each month, I will write a personal update and answer any personal questions my readers might have. This update could include question prompts from other blogs.
  4. I will always post with book updates, contests, and sale information when it's available.
Here are sample calendars for May and June month (hoping I got everything right). Of course, this is all open to change at any time and without any notice. LOL! Oh, and May's Fridays are a bit off due to starting this late and having five Fridays.

Any thoughts? Feel free to comment or send me a note. Love to hear word suggestions for flash fiction, even photo prompts (only photos you have the copyright to or can link to a site like,,, as well as anything you'd like to know about a favorite character in any of my books (Klondike Mysteries or C'Mon Inn Mysteries).

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A to Z Reflections

First of all, a HUGE thank you to all those who took time to stop by to read and comment. It was much appreciated. I personally know how difficult it was to write and keep up with all the blog posts.

This is my fifth year and fourth time writing flash fiction. Last year I not only wrote flash but did a personal theme of the A to Z of Goldendoodles, so guess that makes six times writing for A-Z. Each time I've used a different method to chose words for my flash fiction stories but the key was always the photos I found to help my creativity. The visual image always helps me with finding a story line I like.

This time around was no different, well,  except the words seemed more mundane. I had also given myself the restriction of 300 words and sometimes that was tough. But personal life also made it tough this year. Too much real life and too little time. I had a wonderful mini-vacation at Disney in Florida from April 1-5, then was slammed with family medical issues with six different family members. Everyone is healing, not to worry, but it impacted my productivity big time.

What else was different? I had way less visitors this time around, and thus a LOT less comments. I followed and commented on over thirty blogs and maybe a dozen came back and commented on mine regularly. Another half dozen might have made one comment in exchange for my visit and comment. Previous years have seen dozens of commenters, in fact, it was rare that a return visit wasn't given. This year, it seemed to be more the norm, even for blogs where I commented on multiple posts.

All in all, it has been an underwhelming experience compared to previous years and I suspect this will be my final year.

But again, thank you to ALL those who took time out of their busy schedules to visit. I hope you fared well in your endeavor this year.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z - Zebra #AtoZChallenge

My A to Z Challenge: Micro fiction, using 300 words or less, inspired by selected words along with a photo for inspiration. The words were chosen in reverse order from this lesson plan page.
(For example, for the letter A it was the 26th word on the list, for Z it was the 1st word on the list)

"Isn't she striking?" Charlotte pointed out the ancient statue of a warrior women standing beside a zebra to her BFF, Analise, who shrugged. It hadn't been Analise's idea of a good way to spend an afternoon but it had been Charlotte's turn to choose an activity.

Museums made Analise queasy. The strange items, the unusual smells combined to make her dizzy. "I need to go sit for a minute. Can I meet you in the next exhibit room?"

Charlotte couldn't tear her eyes off the figurine but responded, "Sure, go ahead." I wonder what life was like for her? Maybe she was a princess, or a queen. I mean, she had her own zebra. How cool is that?

Someone behind her cleared their throat and she turned to face a wizened old man, skin as dark as the night, with a smile as charming as any she'd ever seen. She smiled in return.

"You like Queen Amina?" he asked.

She turned back to the display case and sighed. "Oh yes. I want to learn more about her. She is magnificent."

"You are interested in African history?"

She nodded. "I recently did my DNA and discovered I have roots there. I need to learn more about my ancestry."

"The good or the bad?"

She thought for a moment. "I guess I'd have to say both. After all, you can't live life with just one of those."

"Agreed." He muttered a few words she didn't understand, swirled twice and then stamped his right foot. "It is done. Walk through that door."

She looked in the direction he pointed and when she looked back, he was gone. With a shrug she walked over, grasped the doorknob and inhaled. Closing her eyes she opened it and stepped through.

She looked down at her strange garments, then up to a new past.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Y - Yak #AtoZChallenge

My A to Z Challenge: Micro fiction, using 300 words or less, inspired by selected words along with a photo for inspiration. The words were chosen in reverse order from this lesson plan page.
(For example, for the letter A it was the 26th word on the list, for Z it was the 1st word on the list)

"Do you know what he said next? No? Well, let me tell you..."

Blah, blah, blah. This man is can yak more than any woman I know. I really need to finish my shopping. Why won't he give me my cane back?

"Can you believe it? I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to tell him..."

My legs hurt. I shouldn't have come this way. Blah, blah, blah. How can one person yak for so long?

"Then she smacked him and he fell backwards in the chair. Can you believe it? Her, such a sweet, tiny thing. Knocked him flat over." He threw his head back and laughed.

"I really-"

"Yup, then when he got up she told him he was drunk and should go home. Oh, did you hear about..."

I can't get a word in edgewise. I need to rip my cane out of his hand and leave. I shifted my shopping bag to my other arm and reached for my cane.

"Oh, wait, there's more..."

Can't I just smack him? Yak, yak, yak. And they say old women are the gossips.

"But don't tell anyone. I was sworn to secrecy. Oh, did you know old Widow Johnson is trying to hook me. Yup, she thinks I'm a catch. Brought me over a blueberry pie the other day."

"I really need-"

"She's a bit old for me though. But she's a good cook. Then again, there's always..."

"John! I need to-"

"She's a peach though. Grand-girls are sweet. But you can't take them fishing. Not that I can do much of that anymore. My hip pains me..."

"JOHN! I have to leave NOW!" I tugged my cane away from him.

"Huh? You say something? Forgot my hearing aids today."

Saturday, April 27, 2019

X - Xylophone #AtoZChallenge

My A to Z Challenge: Micro fiction, using 300 words or less, inspired by selected words along with a photo for inspiration. The words were chosen in reverse order from this lesson plan page.
(For example, for the letter A it was the 26th word on the list, for Z it was the 1st word on the list)

They were known as the Rodrigo brothers. They were born in Portugal on September ninth, one year apart from each other. They were itinerant musicians, playing their vintage xylophone at carnivals and other traveling shows.

Tiago and Paulo were now in their eighties and still touring. Wherever they went, rumors flowed about what happened when they played. Some said they were hypnotized and only woke when the duo stopped playing. Others said they had never felt better, even after the music ended.

But not all the rumors were good ones. You see Tiago and Paulo had a few disabilities from birth. Tiago, the oldest, was blind in his left eye. Paulo, the youngest, was blind in his right eye. They never wore sunglasses to hide these issues and they never hesitated staring at their audience.

Needless to say, their stares could be a bit creepy. The more superstitious among the crowd accused them of casting the evil eye and bewitching some of those watching.

Today was no different, except for the fact it was their first time back in Portugal since they were youngsters and their final performance anywhere. They stepped up to the xylophone, tapped a few notes, and broke into a lively folk tune. Soon everyone was clapping and stamping their feet.

Their final song was subdued, somewhat eerie, and as they played they stared into the crowd. Each brother seemed to seek out one specific person. A young person.

The tune lingered in the air and vibrated with the notes. A strong wind arose, blinding everyone with dust and debris. Once settled, the stage was empty.

Stranger yet, three young people in the audience were seen strolling off arm in arm. One blind in the left eye, one blind in the right eye, and one totally blind.