Monday, May 22, 2017

What's up with me



Though not for lack of trying...

Doesn't look like that much damage, does it? It was bad enough for the insurance company to write-off the car. Of course, much of the damage is out of sight. 

Although I only felt shaken up, I knew I'd probably suffered a hyper-extension injury, aka whiplash. What I didn't realize, until my doctor told me, was that, although I didn't hit my head, my brain hit the inside of my skull giving me a concussion. Like the car, I had hidden damage. Fortunately I couldn't be written off.

I'm sure I must have bruised my brain before this. I've been in more than one serious car accident... accidents where it's obvious the car isn't going to be repaired. 
  • In the front seat when my father's station wagon was rear-ended by a street car. Thank heavens he let me sit up front.
  • Rear-ended by a pickup truck that wasn't as good at stopping as my father was when presented with an overturned eighteen wheeler on the 401. 
  • T-boned by driver unable to stop her car on the ice. 
  • Rear-ended on the Elora Road when an SUV didn't notice that there was a line of vehicle stopped while a car waited to make a left-hand turn. (My car looked like an accordion after that.)
Come to think of it, maybe this time was worse because of the previous injuries.
Filler until the real cover is created.


For a week I couldn't work at my laptop. Then I could work, but not for long periods of time. I probably shouldn't have, but I could work on my tablet. I still needed breaks but not for as long. I could keep up with my email and. it turned out, I could edit. Not write, though. That took too much concentration.

Way back while I was sending UNDER A TEXAS STAR and DEADLY LEGACY to publishers, I wrote GHOST WRITER, thus proving I am a true genre slut, unable to keep from wandering from one genre to another.

When Imajin Books and I found each other, GHOST WRITER, a second draft novel by this point, went on the back burner. It pretty much went right off the stove since I thought writing Western Historical Romance and Mystery/Romantic Suspense was enough genre hopping for one writer. The accident changed that.

It wasn't just that it was something I could work on, it was something I really wanted to work on. So when Cheryl at Imajin Books asked for something completely different, I knew what it would have to be. As of now, I have a contract and am looking for advance reviews. When I have more news, you'll see it here.


If I don't get hit in the head.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Everyone Loves A Man in Uniform

(All verified purchases and I don't know any of the readers.)

Unusual twist to a spy story
Unwed mother of twins gets involved with spies. Her antics keep this fast paced story going. There is some romance to spice up the pages. Thoroughly enjoyable read--looking forward to more books from this author.

Good book!
Loved getting to know the characters as they developed. Pru was a hoot & took all the events as well as the multiple suitors in stride. I'm hoping there will be more books, in this series.

Well Written Romantic Mystery
This is a well-written mystery/romance about REAL people, which means that the action is not immediate. Complex relationships exist and the characters behave as people in such relationships behave. The Heroine is an author, which normally I don't like because it leads to "inside jokes" and references, leading the book away from story telling. But here, the Heroine's work is part of the reason the plot works so very well. The Hero is a man that I would LOVE to have in my life. This is a Canadian based, police procedural, adventure Romance. I totally enjoyed it.

The book is gentle, with the people behaving like your next door neighbors would. The mystery of who committed the murder is resolved without resort to tricks or literary devices. Writing is neither glamorized nor denigrated.

While the attitude towards marriage seems VERY strange to me, it is presented in a believable manner and may simply be a part of the slower "rush" to involvement in the real world. Or it could be a more "Canadian" approach to involvement. This book totally overcame my reservations about books written by authors from other Countries and cultures. In the past, the differences have been too great to ignore. (It is easy to tell a non-American is writing through the language and slang, even if the author blurb doesn't disclose is.)

I HIGHLY recommend reading this book.

If the person who wrote the last review quoted reads this blog, the attitude toward marriage isn't particularly Canadian. It stems from my mother (though she did marry my father). It's a longish story. If anyone wants to read it, let me know in the comments.


And in other news... The Year of the Chicken so far:

Every year I do an I Ching forecast for me and whoever else happens to be around and is interested. This year I'm at risk for accidents but, in other things, perseverance brings success. ("Perseverance brings success" comes up so often we refer to it as PBS.)

Well the accident warning has proved itself. I've had two falls on the ice and skidded on ice into another car. I'm hoping I'm done with ice and accidents for the year.

On the upside, each of those accidents could have been much worse. Mitigating luck was on my side.

So, why did the chicken cross the road? It better not until spring.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Happy Chinese New Year

It's almost the end of the first day of Chinese New Year. We've celebrated the day with Chinese food. Any sweeping and laundry that hasn't got done can wait for a couple of days. I don't want to sweep or wash away any good luck that I may have.

My mother always worried about leaving by the same door that she entered when visiting someone's home. She always knocked on wood so as to not tempt fate. All her superstitions, which she would be the first to laugh at, came from her British upbringing. My superstitions and traditions are more of a fusion of cultures... not that I'm a slave to them, of course. For instance:

Chinese New Year's Day Taboos
To be avoided on the first day of the Chinese New Year:

1. Medicine: Taking medicine on the first day of the lunar year means one will get ill for a whole year.
I blew that one when I took Tylenol for an earache. Probably being sick on the first day of the lunar year isn't very auspicious but I can't do anything about that so I'll forget it.
2. New Year's breakfast: Porridge should not be eaten because it is considered that only poor people have porridge for breakfast and people don't want to start the year “poor” as this is a bad omen.
Oops! My diabetes nurse tells me that my habitual oatmeal, fruit and yogourt is a healthy start to my day. Perhaps the addition of cherries will give the porridge more class.
3. Laundry: People do not wash clothes on the first and second day because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of Shuishen (水神, the Water God).
That's easy. I don't do laundry anyway. That's my oldest son's job and he's at his dad's.
4. Washing hair: Hair must not be washed on the first day of the lunar year. In the Chinese language, hair (发) has the same pronunciation and character as 'fa' in facai (发财), which means ’to become wealthy’. Therefore, it is seen as not a good thing to “wash one’s fortune away” at the beginning of the New Year.
I read this just in time! I'll put off my shower to tomorrow morning.
5. Sharp objects: The use of knives and scissors is to be avoided as any accident is thought to lead to inauspicious things and the depletion of wealth.
See, porridge was the best choice. My other choice was a bagel which I would have had to cut.
6. Going out: A woman may not leave her house otherwise she will be plagued with bad luck for the entire coming year. A married daughter is not allowed to visit the house of her parents as this is believed to bring bad luck to the parents, causing economic hardship for the family.
Hmm. That sounds a bit sexist to me. Why women and not men?
7. The broom: If you sweep on this day then your wealth will be swept away too.
Easily done.
8. Crying children: The cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family so parents do their best to keep children as happy as possible.
Neither of my nearly grown up children cried so we're all good here.
9. Theft: Having your pocket picked is believed to portend your whole wealth in the coming year being stolen.
That's bad luck at any time.
10. Debt: Money should not be lent on New Year’s Day and all debts have to be paid by New Year’s Eve. If someone owes you money, do not go to their home to demand it. Anyone who does so will be unlucky all year.
Beats the heck out of breaking knee caps.
11. An empty rice jar: A depleted receptacle may cause grave anxiety as the cessation of cooking during the New Year period is considered to be an ill omen.
Check. I try to never have an empty rice jar. (Or in my case canister.)
12. Damaged clothes: Wearing threadbare garments can cause more bad luck for the year.
If my friend, a woman, had not left her house to visit for lunch, I might have broken this taboo.
13. Killing things: Blood is considered an ill omen, which will cause misfortunes such as a knife wound or a bloody disaster.
Good to know.
14. Monochrome fashion: White or black clothes are barred as these two colours are traditionally associated with mourning.
I wore green. Red might have been more festive, but then I would have had to do laundry.
15. Welcoming the New Year: According to tradition, people must stay up late on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year and then let off firecrackers and fireworks to scare off inauspicious spirits and Nian, the New Year monster.
We used to do this. The kids and I would stay up and bang pans to scare off bad spirits. I miss those days but our neighbours are too close now.
16. Giving of certain gifts: Clocks, scissors, and pears all have a bad meaning in Chinese culture.
Some day I will have to find out why oranges are lucky and pears are not. Scissors being a bad luck gift I'm familiar with. My mother would never give scissors or knives without the exchange of money (small change will do). To give either as a gift risks cutting the relationship.

Peace and prosperity in the coming year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Eating Christmas

Traditional Turkey - Alison style
It Ain't Christmas Without the Turkey...

...Not in our house. Not for as long as I remember.

We are a very traditional family, at least where holidays are concerned. My mother's family emigrated from England in the 50's, though bringing Anglo traditions to Anglo-Canada was a bit like taking coals to Newcastle back then. The biggest change in the traditional meal was switching from goose to turkey.

Christmas was spent with my mother's sister's family in Beaconsfield, Quebec. We'd make the seven to ten hour drive from Toronto every year in a car laden with presents, potables and comestibles for the holiday. We left a house which never got decorated beyond a few coloured lights in the window and arrived to place where the halls were decked along with every other room in the house. Decorations notwithstanding, my aunt always said it wasn't Christmas until we arrived.

Besides the turkey, stuffed with dressing my mother always made, there were always peas and corn, roast and mashed potatoes and gravy which I got to make under the supervision of my aunt, I was also the tea maker. My sister and younger cousins had the job of setting the table. I don't remember my older cousin being in the kitchen much. I think this was because they were always busy with the last minute wrapping of tree presents.

Dessert was my aunt's specialty. She made fruit pies and mince tarts, shortbread and iced sugar cookies, two kinds of Christmas cake with marzipan and royal icing and, of course, the figgy pudding. The cakes didn't come out until tea time, however. That's when we gathered in our Christmas finery and exchanged tree presents. Up until then, from opening stocking to Christmas dinner, a significant number of us stayed in pyjamas.

On Boxing Day we always had cold turkey, hot fries, salad and bubble and squeak, the traditional English answer to "what do we do with all this left over veg?" For dinner we always had tortiere, a traditional French Canadian meat pie made by my aunt's traditional French Canadian cleaning lady, Rose.

A lot of the traditions I grew up with had to be adapted when I began to host our holiday meal. For one thing, I wasn't feeding as many as my aunt did. I'm not the baker my aunt was and neither is the one baker in the family. He's very good, don't get me wrong, but has a different repertoire which does not include mince tarts or fruit cake.

We still open stockings first thing, but first thing is around noon when I've picked up my kids from their dad. We still have tree presents, but earlier, often with dessert and coffee. We can't go too late because my nieces have other family to visit.

This year I'm going to try to revive one old family tradition, tortiere on Boxing Day. Since I'm making the pie, it may be a short-lived tradition.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Let's Get Cozy

"The weather outside is frightful..."

Does anyone besides me feel like hibernating in the winter?

I don't feel that way all winter, just on the frigid grey days. I don't even mind that the weather is frigid and grey... as long as I don't have to go out in it. Give me a hot cup of tea, a comfy blanket, a good book and a working furnace and "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

Naturally, if you're reading this, I hope you also read my books. My books don't quite fit the cozy genre but I enjoy reading the odd cozy (especially the odd cozies). In fact, I feel a sudden need to read Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod. (It's still available in print and ebook but shown here in it's well-worn glory with the original cover.)

The set up alone is worth the price of the book. Professor Peter Shandy's idea of holiday decorating is hanging a wreath on the door. That isn't good enough for the powers that be at his college. The annual winter festival is a big fund raiser and he's letting down the side. So he gives in with a vengeance then goes off on a cruise. The result is deadly.

Charlotte MacLeod has the distinction of being one of the few mystery authors that I introduced to my mother. Two of my regrets are that my mother died before I was published and before I could introduced her to a whole gang of mystery authors from Crime Writers of Canada, including a few cozy writers I know she'd enjoy.

My mother would have got a big kick out of the Threadville Mysteries by my fellow Deadly Dame Janet Bolin. If you have an interest in needle craft, as my mother did, this is a great series. I'm looking forward to Janet's next series that revolves around a donut shop.

The Deadly Dames have something for everyone from the dark and psychological suspense of Catherine Astolfo to the comic capers of Melodie Campbell, Joan O'Callaghan's awards winning shorts to my award finalist whodunits.

Enough. The kettle is calling. Time for tea and a cozy... or coffee and writing.

So, what is your favourite Christmas themed book?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Coffee and a Good Read

Scene by a campfire...

"I see a sock in that pot."


"You doin' laundry or makin' coffee?"


"Good. Can't drink laundry water."

"Did last week."

"But it smelled like Cookie's soup."

"That it did."

"There are many things that a cowboy can do without. Coffee is not one of them."
("Cowboy Coffee", American Cowboy.)

I may be allergic to horses and other livestock. I might not be able to throw a rope or hit the broadside of a barn, I have a cowboy's need for coffee. I'm practically famous for being a serious coffee drinker. Imagine my chagrin finding out there was a method of brewing I hadn't heard about - Sock Coffee.

"Also known as “hobo” or “open-pot” coffee, this calls for putting the grounds into a (clean) sock and chucking it into the coffee pot... If you’d rather not use one of your socks, use a muslin bag or a commercially made coffee sock. Let steep until desired strength is achieved."
("Cowboy Coffee", American Cowboy.)

It struck me as funny and maybe a bit desperate, but it makes sense. It's the mama of the drip coffee filter and close cousin to the teabag. I just hope they used clean socks.

Here's the recipe:
Step 1 - Put cold water in the cup and medium to coarse ground coffee in the sock. Use 2 scoops of coffee to every 12 ounces of water. You can do this in individual mugs. Just buy a commercial coffee sock (see above) or maybe a baby's sock will do the trick. 
Step 2 - This part is so controversial, I couldn't find any real cowboys to demonstrate.
You either put the sock in the cold water and bring the water to a boil. then you take the pot off the stove and let it sit a while. OR...
You boil the water. Let it come off the boil, then pour the water over the coffee in a sock which is in a second pot (or mug). You let it steep for five minutes or until it's as strong as you like it. (I Need Coffee.) 
Everyone agrees on Step 3 - Pour the coffee and enjoy with a friend.
 (Originally published 2015 Cowboy Kisses.)

Also available with Kindle Unlimited

Also available at other retailers

Sunday, December 11, 2016

History, Mystery and Romantic Suspense

Gift giving was easy in my family. Give a book.

I have never asked for a Western or Historical Romance for a gift. I've never had to. If there was a Western I wanted to read, I'd give it to my father for Christmas. My mother was the go-to person for historical romance. I'd never gift them to her, however. She would have bought the books she wanted as soon as they came out. I had an in-house library of paperback fiction with two "librarians" who would direct me to the kinds of books I would enjoy.

Under A Texas Star would never have been written but for my parents... and not just because I wouldn't have been born. The story was influenced by the books of Georgette Heyer (her historical romance) and Louis L'Amour (his westerns). (I never really got into Heyer's mysteries or L'Amour's contemporary adventures.)

Hazardous Unions was a collaboration. Kat Flannery and I created the sisters and their back story together, then took them off on their own adventures. In the writing process, it was also a collaboration between the novels I grew up loving and the history grew to love.

UNDER A TEXAS STAR "It's a love story and an adventure that anyone can enjoy."

HAZARDOUS UNIONS: "Love never fails even in war time."
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