About Me

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I received teaching and engineering degrees and have traveled extensively, living ten years outside the US. I moved from the big city of Houston to a small sleepy community in North Carolina, which has been a tremendous change and a great inspiration for my novels, full of the local color. My time has been filled with writing and helping to physically construct three additions to our former farmhouse. I have a great view of the mountains ten miles away across the broad valley and the sunsets are breathtaking. I am an avid reader of all kinds of mystery and contemporary fiction.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Murder Along the Blue Ridge Published on Amazon

Murder Along the Blue Ridge Published on Amazon

I have published my sixth book in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery series on Amazon. Murder Along the Blue Ridge finds Rachel Christie torn between her dislike for Deputy Skyler and believing he is innocent of killing people. Her dislike prompts her to say no to his asking her for help in clearing him. Several pleas from Skyler and her friend Ron cannot sway her. However, the plea from Skyler's eleven-year-old daughter does the trick.

Rachel has grown from her novice days into a relentless hardboiled private investigator who will stop at nothing and reveal the truth at all costs. In this book, she finds out things about her lover Ron that happened years before they met. It doesn't sway her in her search for the truth.

An excerpt from Murder Along the Blue Ridge follows:

We switched off our lights and hustled down the stairs as quickly as we could. I felt for my PPK, making sure it was ready, then we ran to the last place we had seen the men. Smart. Probably not. I was operating on pure adrenalin. The outside door opened again. I rushed out and was grabbed by a strong arm and slammed up against the outside wall. My reflexes didn't wait for me to think what had happened. I immediately grabbed the hand with both hands and bent the thumb back until it snapped. I stomped the man's foot as hard as I could, bringing down all my weight. He screamed and released his grip. I whirled around and planted my knee in his crotch. Another scream. I retracted my leg and then kicked his shin with all the force I could muster. He fell screaming to the ground when another man jumped me. I kicked him in the stomach and he fell backward. Lights flooded the area. Headlights from several cars.

"Who are you?" came a gruff voice.

I didn't say a word and thought about going for my gun, but decided against it. I had no idea who this was. I hoped Cody would keep quiet as he came out of the door. The first man I had laid out on the ground grabbed my ankle and pulled. I fell to the ground and he shoved me face down into the cold concrete. Next, I felt his heavy weight on my buttocks as he twisted my arm behind my back. I shouldn't have hesitated. I should have gone for my gun.

My head throbbed where I had hit the building hard. I tasted the iron from my own blood as it hit the corner of my mouth. Smelling the dirt from the ground, I tried to wiggle free, but a set of boots appeared near me. One boot lifted and I felt another pain in the small of my back. I was squashed into the concrete as if I were nothing more than a bug. A strong hand twisted my other arm behind my back. Cuffs snapped around my wrists. It was the police. I had suspected that when the headlights came on, but they had not identified themselves as such.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Which Blueberries to Buy

Which Blueberries to Buy

To me, blueberries are the perfect berry. They are full of antioxidants and are, usually, juicy and flavorful. However, in the winter, few options are available as to which countries to buy from. In the spring, summer and fall, blueberries can be obtained from the United States and Canada. Call me prejudiced, but from the fruits and vegetables reported in the news, those from Mexico are not the ones from which I wish to choose. Too many times have vegetables from Mexico been tainted with salmonella.

In the winter, when I buy blueberries, the only options I have are those from Argentina or Chile. The tops of these are from Chile. The ones I have bought from Argentina are full of bug bites and are not flavorful. Maybe, because I have been to Chile and know that the people are wonderful, I have no qualms about buying my blueberries from Chile. The berries are flavorful and lack the bug bites as those from Argentina or even Canada in the summer months.

This week I bought some blueberries from Chile, which had a sticker which said Easter Island. First, I must say that the sticker itself brought back pleasant memories of Easter Island. This is a wonderful place and, if my readers have never been there, it is a place that should not be missed, not only from the sites, but from the people themselves. But I digress. The blueberries I bought are large, juicy and flavorful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing the Sixth in the Series

Writing the Sixth in the Series

Today I worked on the final chapter in my latest novel in the Rachel Christie murder mystery series. The murder occurs along the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a premeditated murder that has links to her friend Deputy Ron Hartwell and incriminates Deputy Shawn Skyler with whom she has a conflicted relationship. Skyler is charged with the murder of his drug informant and asks Rachel to take the case. No way does she want to work for, or have anything to do with, Skyler.

As the plot unfolded in my mind, several people emerged as the actual killer. Rachel abhors Skyler, but she wonders if he is responsible for the murders. A soft spot in Rachel's heart is Skyler's daughter Crystal. Can she convince Rachel to take the case of freeing her father?

Rachel knows that Skyler has many enemies and sifting through all the possible suspects is a daunting task. Making all the connections seems almost impossible.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review of Lean Cuisine's Orange Chicken

Review of Lean Cuisine’s Orange Chicken

Have you ever felt like your mouth was on fire? I’m sure a lot of you have. Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I ate Lean Cuisine’s Orange Chicken. When I first picked this TV dinner up at the supermarket, I thought it was a sweet and sour concoction. However, after reading the package, it said sweet and spicy Asian style. Believe me, when it said spicy, it meant spicy.

Normally, I prefer Lean Cuisine dinners over any other brand, but this dinner was so hot that my taste buds burned for, literally, an hour. I like some spice, but this dinner was definitely for those of you who like really spicy foods. I tasted nothing. All I felt was burn.

This dinner had 29 percent of the daily sodium, but, as my husband always says, "Your dinner is 1/3 of your daily intake of food." This never bothers me because I have no problem with my sodium intake. Also, the dinner has 360 calories, 80 from fat of which 6% is unsaturated fat. This is only for those of us who care.

I had a colleague, from Louisiana, once whose grandmother had burnt out her taste buds from eating spicy, even spicier and even spicier foods. When she was older, she could not taste anything. I do not want to end up like that. I want to be able to taste my food and to savor it. If you agree with that, then do not buy this dinner. This doesn’t mean that I will not buy other Lean Cuisine entrees. It only means that I will purchase no more that say spicy.

I am sure that my Rachel Christie murder mystery series are as spicy as this dinner.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review of 2002 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Thorey

Review of 2002 Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Thorey

What can I say about a Nuits-St.-Georges? Next to a Gevry Chambertin, this is my favorite region of burgundy. I had lunch in Nuit-St.-Georges once, which was arranged by a Frenchman named Laurent. This lunch was unbelievable and the wine sensational. A trip to the winery of Charles Thomas was the highlight of the afternoon.

This wine, 2002 Nuits-St.-Georges Clos de Thorey 1er Cru is from that vintner and is a smooth, full bodied wine, chockfull of fruity flavors. I am sorry that I did not purchase more of this wine. I purchased a case of Charles Thomas’ Les Malconsorts 1er Cru and it, like the Nuit St. Georges, tempts the taste buds for more. It is an earthy wine full of dark fruits and the smell is heavenly. It goes well with almost any food. The real wine lover will tell you that burgundy wine such as this does not go well with poultry or fish. I disagree. I had it with chicken tonight and it was sensational.

I will check on the 2009 and 2010 vintage by Charles Thomas, but I fear that it will be out of my price range. I am just glad that I had a chance to sample this wine from an excellent year for burgundies.

I only hope that my books in the Rachel Christie murder mystery series tempts the brain cells as much as this wine tempts the senses.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Sale: Price Reduction

Christmas Sale: Price Reduction

The first book in my Rachel Christie murder mystery series, "Murder by the Clock," will be on sale for the holiday season for the low price of $0.99 at Amazon.com.

"Murder by the Clock" is a mystery in the Sam Spade tradition. Rachel Christie is an engineer turned investigator and is trying to begin a new life by saving an innocent man from a grisly murder charge. Rachel survives threats from the Sheriff, anonymous threats on her life and an attempt to kill her before facing the murderer's gun.

Rachel Christie is a woman in a man's world, a private detective with a gun strapped to her leg and more than enough baggage to fill the trunk of her old Mercedes 280SL.

She moved from Houston to the small town of Stone City to escape her troubled past and rid herself of the nickname 'Jinxy.'

After six months of struggling and running out of money, she finally gets a case. A case that no one wants solved, but a case that she must solve or return to her former life.

A stand-alone mystery, this is number 1 in the series.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Today I registered for a Criminal Justice class called “Investigative Principles” at my local community college. The reason I wanted to take this class was so that my Rachel Christie mystery novels would have more of an air of authenticity about them. I want the reader to know that the methods used in my novels are believable. Any of us can throw together a private investigator or police procedural novel with no knowledge of what it takes to do the job. After all, we have all watched plenty of police shows and CSI shows on television. However, I wanted my books to be more real to life.

I believe the course is already doing me some good because I have already uncovered a major crime: the costs of tuition and books. I had heard that these costs were escalating, but never believed they were going up so fast or so far. For the price of this class, I could have paid for a full-time semester in an engineering curriculum several years ago and that was at an accredited four-year university. This was a community college. I opted for the used textbook for $88 since a new one would have cost around $150. It gives me a better understanding of the sacrifices that many Americans pay to send their children to college today.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving and a Good Bottle of Montrachet

Thanksgiving and a Good Bottle of Montrachet

It's Thanksgiving. Time for saying thanks for all the good things we have and being thankful for all the bad things we don't. I can't say I've been lucky in my life, either with good luck or with bad. Maybe that is being lucky. In my mind, no bad luck is better than a lot of good luck.

So, for Thanksgiving, we had a turkey which I cooked and which was great. Juicy and tasty. A wonderful combination. I used a box made of aluminum foil to surround the turkey on the roasting pan. It keeps the steam in and makes the turkey moist. Also, I have a deep pan with handles. That makes it easier to get the turkey in and out of the oven.

Add green beans, seasoned with basil, sweet potatoes, stuffing made with homegrown chestnuts, cranberry sauce and crusty rolls and you have an almost perfect dinner. What's missing? A great wine.

A wine like a Montrachet Grand Cru, 2002 by Henri Boillot. I'm not sure I was in Henri's vineyard when I was last in France, but I was, not only in a Boillot vineyard, but I tasted wine directly from the barrel. Good stuff. This wine had an aroma of pears and apples, and unlike red wines, this white wine actually had a taste like its aroma: pears and apples. It was a little tart, but not tannic. A dinner wine needs a little tartness to cut through the dinner flavors. This one worked well with turkey and all the fixin's.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hooray for Old Movies

Hooray for Old Movies

I am a fanatic when it comes to watching old movies. I would rather see Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart on the screen than any of the modern day movie idols. Yesterday I watched a 1930s film with William Powell. My grandparents remembered getting billfolds with his picture in one of the flaps. Something spell binding and breathtaking about the stars of yesteryear.

One of my all time favorites is “It All Came True.” This is a movie with Humphrey Bogart, Zasu Pitts and Ann Sheridan. Even in her silent movies I admired Zasu Pitts -- spunky and clumsy, like my heroine Rachel Christie. Speaking of which, I am writing No. 6 in the Rachel Christie Mystery Series. Hopefully, it will be out in January 2013. I might even mention the movie in the book.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Uploading Fifth Novel to CreateSpace

Uploading Fifth Novel to CreateSpace

I just went through the process of uploading my fifth novel in the Rachel Christie murder mysteries, “Murder One Too Many,” to CreateSpace. It has sometimes been a real challenge, but this time went pretty smoothly with only one mistake.

After converting the 8-1/2 x 11 manuscript to 5 x 8, the layout was set to mirror margins and the margins were set to a half inch for top, bottom and outside. The inside was set to three quarters with a gutter of 0.15. It would probably be the same to make the inside margin a half inch with a gutter of 0.4, but this works.

I had to justify both the margins and add a new Table of Contents. The process of adding page numbers in the footer, making sure that the first few pages before the actual novel began had no page numbers, came next. That was mainly a matter of inserting a section break and deleting the page numbers before the section break. For some reason, that is usually a trial and error affair. This time it only took three trials and it came out right. Someone on the internet had complained about page numbers on the last few pages after the novel was over. So, I put in another section break and deleted those page numbers also.

Then, I added a bunch of blank pages. The two at the beginning make sure the first page of the book is a blank one. That could be for signing the book. That is what I use it for, but it is more professional to have the blank page. Next, I inserted a preliminary title page with just the title, another blank page for the back of that one and then came the main title page. More blank pages made sure the copyright page, dedication page and table of contents started on a facing, right hand, page and not the back side of a page. Tres gauche.

To make it look professional, I added blank pages at the ends of some chapters so that all the chapters start on a facing page. I think that looks more professional, even though all the big name writers and publisher don’t do it. Many do. I also inserted enough blank lines on the first page of each chapter to bring the chapter name two inches down from the top. Some recommend that the chapter name be centered halfway down the page, but I think two inches looks better.

Then, I went to www.createspace.com, logged in and filled in the required information for the new book, such as the title, "Murder One Too Many," author, key words and others. On my first book, "Murder by the Clock," I made a mistake which I couldn’t figure out how to fix. I started over and at a later date, I had the opportunity of deleting the first one and I did. I always use the guided tour for filling in the book information. Using the expert method skips some things and I usually make a mistake when I do that.

After all that, I got to the part on CreateSpace where the book is uploaded. I just upload the .doc file from Word. That is easy and only takes a few minutes. Time for a short break. Next, the cover is uploaded. That was made in PhotoShop a few days before. It is best to start with a template downloaded from CreateSpace. I used to use another program, but Windows 7 didn’t like that one. I had to get something else. So, I went with the cheap version, PhotoShop Elements. The cover of the book was trial and error, also. But that was easy. I knew what the pieces of the cover should be, based on the plot of the book. By the way, the Walthur PPQ on the cover is a real gun I photographed. The pills and the Power of Attorney, also. It was just a matter of moving the pieces around until they looked right. I began to upload the cover as a PDF file and took another break. This one for five to ten minutes. The cover should be at 300 dots per inch and in medium to high quality. That results in a file of several megabytes and that takes several minutes to upload.

Once the book cover was uploaded to CreateSpace, the book was submitted for review. Sometimes this has taken three or four days, particularly around weekends of holidays, but this time it only took a few hours. I got an email saying it had been approved and I checked the book again. For the previous review, the cover was not part of the ‘Digital Preview’ but this time it was. I could now clearly see that the author name on the cover was not centered by half an inch. How did that happen? I went back to PhotoShop and changed it and uploaded the new PDF cover and resubmitted it again.

I got another email a few hours later saying that it was approved. I checked the digital preview and it looked good. I signed off on it and ordered five copies for less than thirty dollars. Somewhat complicated, but, then, writing a book is complicated. If you can do that yourself, you can publish it yourself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fifth in Rachel Christie Mystery Series Published

Fifth in Rachel Christie Mystery Series Published

Today, the fifth Rachel Christie murder mystery novel, “Murder One Too Many,” was published on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an eBook. Amazon is live with the book and Barnes and Noble will take a few days. Within the next week or two, paperbacks will be available from Amazon and CreateSpace.

This book took many long hours to write. It was, not only a novel to me, but it was personal. The book delves into the murder/suicide of a man suffering from a rare affliction, Huntington’s disease. He is accused of killing his wife and, then, killing himself. I had close personal friends who died from this dreaded disease, so it was hard to write.

In the book, Private Investigator Rachel Christie knows it wasn't suicide. She was in a room no more than fifty feet away and heard no shot. The gun had no silencer. Yet, she heard a young woman scream.

As she delves into the murder/suicide, she unearths the vile and contemptible side of humanity. Greed abounds and she questions her own humanity as those around her are tortured and murdered. She commits acts that are outside the limits she has set for herself. She cannot believe that someone would kill four people for three million dollars, but soon discovers that people would maim and kill for less.

An excerpt from the book "Murder One Too Many" follows:

“The solitude and loneliness of the road and privacy of the house was much like what I had in Stone City. I had open sky and sun, whereas the Bains had had darkness and shadows. It allotted them complete solitude, totally opposite to the fast-paced life that Sharon Bain pursued at the hospital. This was their fortress of solitude, their shield against the outside world, much like the home I rented. I could empathize with these people.

I thought about Huntington's disease and of Sharon Bain. I couldn't imagine the choice of having or not having children. I had no choice. But, it must have eaten away at them since his disease forced their hand and decided for them. They didn't want to pass on such a condition and force their children to go through the same worries they must have had. He had no control over what had happened to him, the same as I had no choice what life had thrown at me. Possibly, my empathy was getting the best of me. I began to feel I was working for the Bains rather than Kate. Maybe I was. It would be the Bain's money that paid my fee. A real life example of people coming back from the grave to extract justice.”

The four other books in the series are: “Murder by the Clock,” “Murder in Emerald Hills,” “Murder by Lion” and “Murder of the Innocent.” Each are stand-alone mysteries.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review of Rond du Cher Cheese

Review of Rond du Cher Cheese

While perusing the goat cheese at Whole Foods this week, I ran across Rond du Cher, a goat cheese made especially for Whole Foods. I’m surprised that I had not seen this cheese before since I am constantly looking for different kinds of goat cheeses, my favorite kind of cheese.

This is a hard round goat cheese whose rind is coated with ash. It is hard and smooth, not crumbly, with an ashen coated rind. When I first opened the 4-1/4 ounce package, the smell reminded me of the goat cheese I had smelled on the barge trips along the canals of France. It brought back very fond memories. Rond du Cher had a pungent smell with a nutty sour taste, but still not as strong as the non-pasteurized goat cheeses I had in France. And, even the rind was edible. My husband said that it smelled like buttermilk. I don’t know what confidence to place in that appraisal, since my husband abhors goat cheese and buttermilk.

I had this cheese with a crusty French baguette -- perfect. However, the 20-year Sandeman port was a little too mild for the sharp taste of the cheese. A vintage or any other ruby port might have been a better choice.

I’m glad I ran across this cheese, but, at $10 for 4-1/4 ounces, it’s a little too expensive for my budget. Maybe I had to also pay for the little wooden crate in which it was packaged.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Editing of New Book

Editing of New Book

I just received my latest book in the Rachel Christie series back from my editor today. Now, I will re-read the book to see if I agree with his comments and see if I will either change my book or argue. He usually has good comments and his changes and recommendations are accepted. But, each author has the responsibility to keep their book their own. My name is on the book and it has to be written my way. If the book is bad, I have no right to blame the editor.

The one good thing about my editor is he helps with keeping my characters in character, always checking for inconsistencies.  Rachel Christie is a strong woman, but not too strong. She never curses and she doesn’t take advantage of anyone. She has honor and respectability, mostly. She is also a woman with many different feelings. Since she doesn’t curse, I have to find other ways of showing how upset she is. So that has to be taken into account. Other regular characters in the series have their own characteristics and they must be consistent, too. Each time I write a book in this series it is like getting together with a group of old friends. Comfortable, but challenging to keep each one individual.

If one character, who is normally a calm person, all of a sudden becomes excited or extreme in his thinking, that has to be explained. From experience, readers will pick up on inconsistencies right away and know that something is wrong. I know I do not like inconsistencies in the books I read.

In my last book, “Murder of the Innocent,” my editor intentionally put in several words to make sure that I was reading every single word he had written and not just skipping through. He wanted to make sure I was doing a good job of final editing. He should be paying me. Of course, I picked up on it. I’m not sure if that pleased him or not.

With any luck, my latest book will be available to the public in early November. In the meantime, my other four books are available at Amazon.com or at Barnes and Noble. Those books are: “Murder by the Clock,” “Murder in Emerald Hills,” Murder by Lion” and “Murder of the Innocent.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trip Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mabry Mill, VA

Trip Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Today I took a break after finishing the fifth novel of the Rachel Christie murder mystery series by driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The local news weather forecaster told us that this was the week to look at the leaf changing around 3000 ft. Alas, he had it wrong this year as in the last few years. Either that or we didn't have as good a year this year as last.

Most of the leaves were either gone from the trees or were a dull brown. A few trees were in their glory with the yellows and oranges, but they were few and far between. The Blue Ridge Parkway, however, had quite a few cars, ranging from the local North Carolina and Virginia tourists to those from New Jersey and other places.

We did enjoy a good, although overpriced, lunch at the Chateau Morrissette, a local Virginia winery. The service was so-so. If they used the people who brought water and bread before dinner to refill drinks, that would be an improvement.

We look forward to next year when we will take our trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway about a week before we did this year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!

Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!

This has been a grueling week of gathering nuts. I feel like a squirrel storing his nuts for the winter. The only difference is I think I worked harder for my nuts than the squirrel did.

When we planted our nut trees, we were told that some nuts you plant for yourself, some you plant for your children and others you plant for your grandchildren. I think we have those that should be planted for ourselves and some for the third generation. I’m not sure we have any in between.

About eight years ago, we planted four chestnut trees because my husband likes them. For the past several years, we have had chestnuts, chestnuts and more chestnuts. If you’ve ever tried getting chestnuts out of their hulls, you will sympathize with the hurt fingers I now have. Even though I used thick leather gloves, a few of the prickly spines penetrated the gloves to my fingers. Even the turkeys know better to eat only the ones that have dislodged themselves from the hulls. The deer also feast on the nuts. That should tell you how many chestnuts we have. My only use for them is to add to dressing at Thanksgiving. These chestnuts were definitely planted for us and our wildlife.

At the same time that we planted the chestnut trees, we also planted some Carpathian walnuts (the pictures looked like English walnuts), black walnuts, hickory nut and pecan trees. The hickory nut trees did not survive, so we planted some more a few years later. They are still only three feet tall. Since they grow to be over 30 feet tall, we will not see the fruits of our labor. The pecans died out a couple of years after we planted them and then recovered the following year. I don’t hold my breath for either of the walnut species or the pecans.

Black walnuts drying on driveway
However, a couple of black walnut trees are on the edge of our property. Up until last year, I had never seen a nut on the trees. It might have had something to do with the vines in North Carolina that are abundant and choke the life from trees. After some pruning and killing of the shrubs, last year we found one, yes, one, black walnut. This year, we collected over four dozen.

Two bad things about black walnuts are the hulls will turn one’s hands a dark yellow and the other is the nuts are so hard to crack that a normal nutcracker cannot do the trick. Unless your hands are really strong. Then I think you might break the nutcracker. I end up using a rock and a hammer to crack the hard shell. One other thing about black walnuts is that they have a strong taste. I usually like to eat them like they are; but, if I were going to bake with them, it would have to be something that the nuts would not overpower the additional taste.

That last nuts collected this week were hazelnuts. A couple of trees were planted eight years ago and have yet to produce any nuts. However, we planted a tree a couple of years ago and it produced a few last year and more this year. I was surprised that it did so well here in North Carolina, but I figure since my local nursery sold the tree, then it must be for this climate.

After recalling the aches and pains associated with collecting these nuts, I am looking forward to enjoying them.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thoughts of Sunsets

Thoughts of Sunsets

Yesterday and today have both been that type of a day when I feel like closing all the windows and thinking happy thoughts. Cloudy, rainy days, to me, are depressing. And, especially, rainy days in October. The yellows, oranges and reds are beautiful. However, the tree just outside my window has those dull yellow leaves that are quickly turning a dead brown color. I don’t like depressing thoughts. My mind is sluggish and I don’t feel like writing, so what do I do? I close my window and turn my computer to the file of sunset pictures I took last month. They are beautiful. I’m now rejuvenated and ready to start the day anew.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review of Vincent Cheese

Vincent cheese is imported from Holland and I purchased it at my local supermarket in a town of about ten thousand.

The package says it is a “unique, fully ripened, full flavor” cheese. This is absolutely true although it is not as full of flavor as the cow’s milk cheeses that have been aged for many months. It is strong in flavor and is a grainy, crumbly cow’s cheese with a little bit of a sour taste, much like a goat cheese.

I don’t normally like cow’s milk cheeses, but this one is my favorites. It is both good with fruit such as pears or peaches, but I mainly have it with baguettes and port. If you are serving it with other cheeses, I would recommend that it be served toward the end of the cow’s milk cheeses that have not been aged or at the beginning of the goat cheeses or after any goat goudas.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's in a Brand Name?

What’s in a Brand Name?

We all have certain brands of items that we like and would never buy another brand. I used to feel that way until several of the brand name items I liked disappeared, either went bankrupt or are no longer made. Since then I have experimented with the store brand items.

Breyers went out of business within the past year and it took me forever to find a yogurt that I liked. Breyers had more fruit and less sweetness than Yoplait and Dannon. I tried Food Lion My Essentials brand on a lark one day and found that it was closer to the Breyers taste, but with a little less fruit. The flavors I particularly like are the ones in the photo. However, I do not think that I will ever find a yogurt that I like as much as I liked Breyers. Boohoo!

I used to drink Coca-Cola and that was the only brand of cola that I would drink and it had to be diet and caffeine free. Since I liked the brand name yogurt I bought at Food Lion, I decided to try their soda drink. I found that this soda, at least to me, tastes like Diet RC. I don’t know if RC is a brand that is sold in most of the country, but I do know that it is sold in the east, especially the south. I’ve never liked Pepsi products because they are citrus based. Coke and RC are vanilla based, but RC has a stronger taste than Coke. Wal-Mart sells Coke products regularly at $1.28 in my area and the Food Lion brand is sold for $0.83. Even when Coke goes on sale, it does not go much below $1. As far as I am concerned Food Lion colas are cheaper and taste better.

Ocean Spray Light Cranberry Juice was always my brand of juice I drank each morning. However, Ocean Spray has taken to adding grape juice and everything else into their cranberry juice, which makes the juice taste like anything but cranberry juice. If I wanted to drink grape juice, I’d buy grape juice. I have tried Food Lion’s My Essentials brand and Lowe’s brand. However, both of these are watery. To make up for that, I add some Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice with Lime. I just hope Ocean Spray would go back to its original recipe.

I guess that brand names are good, but some store brands are just as good or better. Breyers is gone for good and Ocean Spray changed. However, I like the Food Lion’s My Essentials Diet Cola. Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Search for Jogging Shoes

The Search for Jogging Shoes

For many years, I found it difficult to buy shoes. Forget about the cheap stores. They rarely sell AAAA or AA widths in shoes. But I did find some stores that sold my width. I guess that, over the years, people’s feet have grown wider and wider or the shoe manufacturers have found that selling to the majority is the way to go. Or maybe living in a small town, the choices are limited.

Today, I searched the web for running shoes. The web, I’ve found, is not a good place to buy shoes unless you know exactly what shoe and how they feel. I usually end up sending the shoes I buy online back because they did not fit right.

The old shoes I had were old and were coming apart. I should have thrown them out a year ago, but the replacement shoes were always too big or hurt in unusual places after a while. The old shoes also were hurting my heel because all the cushioning in the shoes was gone. I finally gave up and bought some new shoes today. They are Asics Gel-1179 and I’ve never had any by this manufacturer. They, too, are a little big, but it was the best I could find at my local sport store. They do have good cushioning, which is good, because I jog or walk briskly every day.

I used to wear Adidas about ten or so years ago because they were narrower than most sport shoes. However, the ones I tried on today had very little cushioning, perhaps made for walking. I don’t think I could have used them even for walking, but they were narrower.

All the shoes I saw were made in China. Surprise! Just like everything else. Maybe the Chinese have one width and they use that for most all the shoes, the perfect template.

When I was in college, a friend of mine had a hard time buying shoes because of her size. It wasn’t that she had a narrow width, but it was because she wore a size 4 or 4-1/2. Luckily, she had a friend who owned a shoe store. Most of the display models were that size and she bought her shoes at a discount.

If I ever find that one lucky narrow width jogging shoes, I will buy several pairs because I know I will never find one again. I’m sure a bigger city like Houston would have just what I need, but, for now I will live with my new shoes and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Drunken Goat Cheese Review

The Drunken Goat Cheese Review

As the label says, The Drunken Goat is a semi-soft goat cheese bathed in red wine and is a product of Spain. I couldn’t tell that much about the wine, but it is a semi-soft goat cheese that has a mild bitter flavor that goes well with sweet nutty port or fruit. The best port to have with this cheese is the milder 20-year-old ports. Anything else might overwhelm the taste of the cheese.

The Drunken Goad has a very smooth texture like goat goudas, only this cheese is not as strong as goudas. It does not have the crumbly texture or strong taste of regular goat cheeses, either. To me, this cheese doesn’t really taste like a goat cheese nor does it taste like a cow’s milk cheese. It is somewhere in between the two.

If this cheese is being served with a combination of other cheeses, it would best be served near the beginning of the cheeses because of its smooth light taste.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review of 1999 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Malconsorts

Review of 1999 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Malconsorts

After opening this bottle of 1999 Vosne-Romanee by Charles Thomas, I smelled the aroma of blackberries. Every time I open a bottle of French burgundy, the aroma captivates the senses. I love the smell of the berries and earth. I had this wine with chicken and roasted potatoes. I know most people would think that red wine does not go with chicken. The right pinot noir, in my opinion, can be paired with the the right food as long as one knows the wine and the food.

I've read reviews where 1999 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Malconsorts by Charles Thomas should be drunk after 2014. However, this wine was fantastic with dinner tonight. Also, I read that people had opened this wine several times and it was corked, a funny taste. I don't know what happened to this person's wine, but we keep our wine in a constant 60 degrees Fahrenheit and nothing has happened with this wine. The cork has always been in good shape and the wine has always tasted good. We have a half dozen other bottles and will drink them within the next few years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What About a New Desk?

What About a New Desk?

Yesterday, my new desk was delivered. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve needed a new desk. The old one was a flat pack I bought from JC Penney back in--I don’t even remember when. After researching desks, I finally decided on this one.

My old desk was cluttered with papers, several keyboards and, at one time, two monitors. This old desk was the concern of my heroine Rachel Christie in my Rachel Christie murder mysteries because I feel like I’m overwhelmed with clutter. Therefore, Rachel Christie is not a neat person and her office and home is cluttered. She just gives up and throws things anywhere. That’s how I felt with my old computer/desk setup.

My new desk is a Riverside Cantata L shaped. The small addition to our house was large enough to accommodate width of this desk. As far as I am concerned, it is perfect. I have a place to store my printers and computers and space to keep the cords bundled and out of the way. Whether I’ll be any more organized is yet to be seen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review of Cockburn's 20-Year-Old Port

Review of Cockburn’s 20-Year-Old Port

Cockburn’s 20-Year-Old port is a port of special distinction. It is sweet alcoholic and nutty flavored port. It goes especially well with cheese and nuts and sweet desserts and crusty bread. It is a light amber in color and is difficult to obtain. In a small city of 150,000, I could not find it anywhere. I had to special order it and then only in 500 ml bottles and only finding a few sellers.

It is the favorite of my female sleuth Rachel Christie, who likes to drink port and look out upon lights and twinkling stars at night.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Book Published - Murder of the Innocent

New Book Published - Murder of the Innocent

My new book “Murder of the Innocent” has now been published on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an eBook for $2.99 and as a paperback on Create Space for $9.99. It is the fourth in the series, but is a standalone mystery as well as are all the others in the series.

In the book, a seven-year-old girl, drowned in salt water, is found hundreds of miles from the ocean. A Hispanic male, father of three, is drowned in salt water and his body is discovered in a landfill.

Private detective Rachel Christie must discover the connection. She finds evidence incriminating her partner Cody and pulls out all stops to find the killer before her partner is indicted as a sexual predator, and worse, a murderer. Rachel is shot at, thrown in jail, stabbed and trampled by a horse. Ron says she’ll get herself killed. Sunbeam says Rachel’s harmless to everyone but herself.

Illegal gambling thrives nearby. A registered sex offender is jailed for sending nasty emails to the dead girl. The political race for sheriff adds two more suspects. Would someone kill two people to win an election?

Too many questions. Too many clues. Too many lies. Too many suspects. Too little time.

The beginning is as is as follows:

The clouds were dark on top of dark, threatening. Not gray, but black ominous giants of wrath, poised to spew torrents of rain and a million volts of death-dealing lightning all around us. The wind's fury blew as if I were in a wind tunnel. With two steps trudged along the rushing water's mucky edge, another step was lost to the wind. The river was a murky muddy brown. No way a body could be spotted in water this dark. It would be difficult to see a body on land.

Cody, my partner, called at five and awakened me with an urgency in his voice that I couldn't ignore. Cody was normally the definition of calm. Always cool and collected. Not this morning. He called me from my living room. Maybe he thought that was the best way to wake me up. Better than his bursting in. Maybe he was afraid I might have someone with me. I must be getting a reputation in this small town. He had used the spare house key I had given him to get through the front door. I would have to rethink the option of his keeping the key.

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Much to Pay for an eBook

How Much to Pay for an eBook

A popular question across blogs and forums is the cost of eBooks and I’ve even had this discussion with a few of my friends. I have several authors who are my favorite writers and I have read almost all of their books. However, a few have released, or will release books in the near future, that will be beyond what I consider a fair price to pay for an eBook.

One of my favorite authors is now charging $4.99 to $6.99 for his older works. I consider that a good value for my money. However, when his new book debuts over $10, I doubt I will buy it. Also, another author has been charging $7.99 to $9.99 for his books. I will pay those prices because, again, I feel this is a fair price for this author. When his new book debuts for nearly $15, I will not buy it.

I have discussed this with several of my friends and find that they, too, will not buy the higher priced books. It is not that we cannot afford these prices. We can. We feel the publisher is gouging the market for these well-known authors’ books.

Good authors are out there, waiting to be discovered, only if we take the time to read the reviews carefully and read the first ten percent of the book. As seasoned readers, we can tell which reviews are genuine and which ones are not. If we follow the reviewers on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, we know which reviewers are genuine and have reviewed a number of different books. We know if our interests match theirs or not. We also have Goodreads where many readers have shared their opinions on different books.

We do not have to be taken in by outrageous price gouging. I say we stand up against these high prices and find those new gems in millions of books that are available to us.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sandeman 20-Year Port

Sandeman 20-Year Port

What’s for desert? Pie? Cake? How about port, cheese and some crusty bread? Maybe also a few grapes or cherries? Or a few cashews? Or even almonds? Or chocolate? Or -- all the above. Tres tasty. That’s what I did today after dinner, port, cheese and crusty bread.

Ports come in several flavors, so to speak. The basic port is ruby or red. This is usually sweet with a fruity flavor. Not bad. Six Grapes is a good, reasonably priced, example, less than ten dollars a bottle. A bit pricier, but no better, in my opinion, is vintage port. The port vintner is the one who says whether or not it is vintage. Like trusting the used car dealer to tell you it’s a good car. Yeah, right. You’re too smart for that.

Next is the 10-year aged tawny ports at around twenty-five dollars a bottle. Some are excellent with quite nutty flavors. Then, we have the 20-year aged tawny ports. At around fifty dollars a bottle, these are a little milder a little more balanced, a little less nutty, a little more civilized.

Like most 20-year ports, Sandeman is light amber in color. It has a light nutty mild flavor with less alcoholic taste than most 20-year ports and is more balanced. It goes well with mild goat cheese and stronger Vincent cheeses. It also goes well with caramel and chocolate desserts and nuts.

This is one of my favorite ports. I highly recommended it.

By the way, good port is spelled on the label, Porto. Don’t buy any port that is spelled port unless you have received a great recommendation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Which Refrigerator to Buy?

Old Whirlpool Refrigerator

Which Refrigerator to Buy?

On Sunday my refrigerator died. I think I complained once too often about hating it. Ever since I purchased it, I never liked it. We had just bought our house and we had to buy something fast. Never again.

The Whirlpool refrigerator always made strange noises and I will never buy another Whirlpool product. After 8-1/2 years, it should not have died. With my luck, it figures. I’ve always read that, if an appliance dies after five years, the economics are better to replace it.  I had a GE refrigerator that lasted for over 15 years, but I sold it when I left Saudi Arabia. I wish I hadn’t. That refrigerator made many moves between States and overseas.

I spent many hours researching refrigerators this weekend. I read hundreds of reviews from various sources. Just about as many people loved Samsungs as hated them, with very little in between. GE had some hates and loves and some middle of the road opinions. I mainly looked for reliability versus features. Features don’t mean much if the refrigerator dies early. After all the reading, I decided on a GE Profile side by side refrigerator.

After arming myself with the model and the prices from Home Depot, Sears and Lowe’s, I went to the lowest bidder, which, in our area, is Lowe’s. Home Depot is forty-five minutes away and I was so frustrated with their website that I decided against them. I even emailed them and told them they needed to improve their website or lose more business.  Sears was about an hour away and had a delivery charge. So, I opted for the closest and nearest--Lowe’s. At first Lowe’s wanted to charge $200 extra, but I had already found the price on their site and told them. They agreed and I paid for the refrigerator.

The bad thing is the refrigerator will not be delivered for another two weeks. I decided I would either eat dehydrated foods or peanut butter sandwiches rather than buy something I did not want off the showroom floor. I had made my decision and would put up with the inconvenience for the next two weeks rather than purchasing something I did not want.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

SOLE F63 Treadmill

SOLE F63 Treadmill

Lately, I’ve decided that I need to firm up. Possibly in writing my murder mysteries where my main character is, not only fit, but an expert in martial arts, I feel a need to get in better shape. My main form of exercise is jogging and mostly on my SOLE F63 Treadmill.

Two years ago when I purchased my treadmill, it ran for all of 6 inches and stopped. I opened the hood and the pulley driving the belt was offset from the motor pulley by 2 inches. I considered fixing it myself, but, since I had purchased the in-home repair warranty, I decided it would be better to call Dick’s Sporting. They sent out someone who picked up the old machine and brought a new one.

The new machine has worked flawlessly for 2 years. It has connection for an Ipod and has programmable routine, along with pre-set routines, adjustable incline and speeds. It also has built-in fans and heart monitor.

The main reason I bought this particular treadmill was because of the arm extensions, which provide more safety for me. Recently, I have been using it while reading my Kindle.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fresh Peaches

Fresh Peaches

Today I decided to see if our little tree had some peaches ready for picking. When we first planted this tree, it was supposed to have several fruits in one. However, through several winters, only the peach section remained. Today, I picked ten peaches from the tree and ate one. It was sweet and delicious.

We have more peach trees on the property, but, since most are planted close to the forest, the squirrels and other varmints tend to eat them before we get a chance to see them. They are gone long before they are ripe.

One year we cut down an old peach tree that was planted near a younger one. After we did, the young tree died. Somehow it must have been part of the old tree.

The tree from which I picked the peaches today is in the front yard. By front yard, I don’t mean a few feet away from the house. Our front yard is actually about six acres. This tree is located about fifty feet away from the house. When looking from the living room window, you see this small tree with black netting. It doesn’t look that good, but it’s the only way to keep all the crows and other minor birds away form the fruit. After losing most of my blueberries this year to the squirrels and birds, I wasn’t about to lose the peaches as well.

I’m looking forward to eating more of these delicious peaches and perhaps making a peach cobbler.

Friday, August 10, 2012



When I was a child, I’d never seen a hummingbird. In my teens, I saw one, but that didn’t count. It was on the city sidewalk and it was dead. However, for the last several years we have had several feeders full of nectar and have had hundreds of hummingbirds, I think. Maybe they are just the same twenty or so that return year after year. After all, we do have lilies, crepe myrtles and other assorted flowers that last from March through October.

One year we had one that stayed around until close to November. That was odd because all the other birds left the last of September. We would call him Old Grumpy. He would sit on the perch of the feeder and fluff his feathers. If any other birds flew by, he would shoo them away and then sit back on his perch. That’s not unusual for hummingbirds to be territorial or possessive, but this bird sat there all day long. He only left to catch bugs.

The first time I saw a hummingbird try to catch a bug, I thought the bird was crazy. The way he would swoop high in the air, swoop down and then go around in circles. After they would finally catch the bug, they would dive immediately for the feeder.

I was amazed to see how many people were afraid of these little birds. A friend said he knew a motorcyclist who was injured by a bird who flew directly into his face. Ouch! Those beaks are sharp. Every time we come around the corner of a house, we make sure that no hummingbirds are headed our direction.

One time a hummingbird came into the garage and flew around for a long time trying to get out of there. We tried to shoo him out, but he didn’t know which way was out. Later he was so tired, so we took him outside. He was too tired to fly. We made up some nectar and forced his beak into the water. His little tongue lapped it up. After a few minutes he flew away.

Whenever the feeders run out of liquid, a hummingbird will fly in front of the large living room window and fly back and forth for a few minutes. Every year, around mid-April a hummingbird will do the same thing. That is the way we know it is time to hang the feeders or refill them. They have trained us well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wine Review of Gevry Chambertin

Wine Review of Domaine des Beaumont Gevry Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes 2001

Domaine des Beaumont’s Gevry Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes was a very good medium-bodied pinot noir wine. After eleven years, it still retained some tannin, but it did not diminish the taste.

I have learned not to trust generalities on vintages when it comes to wine. The vintner is important. The year 2001 was not lauded as a good year for wine. Most reviewers rated 2001 as an average year for burgundy wines. I would rate this wine as above average and it goes well with salmon. Also, I had this wine with a vegetable lasagna and it was still just as good.

I have one more bottle but will probably drink it within the next year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Do Men Write Books About Women Sleuths?

Why Do Men Write Books About Women Sleuths?

I not only write books about a female sleuth, but I also read them. I buy new eBooks and I  trade eBooks with my friends. Frequently, I find myself asking, "What idiot wrote this?" The usual reason is that the book was written by a man. I find this amazing, strange and odd. How could a man believe that he could write as a woman? We're different, other than biologically, in the way we do things, in the way we approach problems, in the way we think, in too many ways to list. Ladies, you know what I mean. Guys, if you don't, you'd better learn.

I read a review on Goodreads that said that women characters were two-dimensional in a male author’s work and are stock characters. Could this be because men do not know how to portray the complexities that dwell within the female physche? I ask this question because I have read some good books by males who seem to portray women as this one-dimensional dimensional human being. Do men actually see women as one-dimensional? I can’t believe this is true, but the books I have read tend to support this.

As I see it, the answer could be two different things. First, the man could be 'a woman in a man's body,' if you know what I mean. But, even so, in a man's body, there are many differences. Strength. The perception of people around. Not the same. Not at all. Second, is the arrogance of the uninformed. If the man is a teen, then uninformed is the right word. If the man is thirty or more, he's old enough to know better. Women don't look at things the way men do just as men don't see things as women do. Before age thirty, this becomes obvious for all but the thickest heads.

Some men who write about women sleuths partner with women. A wise move. I have no problem with these partnerships. In fact, I have a writer friend who edits my books and frequently recommends changes based on his knowledge of the male psyche. As a married woman who has spent half a lifetime in a "man's" job, I believe I know men as well as any woman. But, I don't believe I could write for a man and have it be convincing. At least not to men.

The greatest advice I've seen about writing is to 'write about what you know.' I hope that more male authors will shed their arrogance and a bit of their false testosterone and admit some ignorance about the females of the species.  Come on guys. Give it up. It's way past time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Murder by Lion on CreateSpace

Murder by Lion on CreateSpace

I approved "Murder by Lion" on CreateSpace on Sunday. Then I ordered ten copies. Today, around noon, the books showed up by UPS.

I can't believe the service that CreateSpace provides. In only two days, including a Sunday, they printed my book, shipped it and it was delivered. These guys are really on the ball.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Want to Read a New Murder Mystery?

Want to Read a New Murder Mystery?

After months of hard work, my third mystery novel is finished. This book is third episode in The Rachel Christie Mystery Series. The first two are "Murder by the Clock" and "Murder in Emerald Hills." All of these books take place in small northwestern North Carolina towns. All three books are available in eBook kindle format on Amazon or paperback at CreateSpace.

In this novel, "Murder by Lion," Rachel Christie becomes entangled in the gruesome murder of an heiress and philanthropist when she takes a pro bono case from her homeless friend Joe. She gets beaten and drugged by crazed addicts in solving a murder caused by a coverup that has been simmering for the past ten years.

It is a case that plunges her into physical and emotional bankruptcy and it nearly destroys her agency. Her associate Cody is forced to choose between his family and the agency and Rachel must commit to her close friend Ron or to her life as a private investigator.

* * *

The crowd hushed. The air was thick. Not from smoke, but from tension. Then, fingers pointed. People whispered. The old bum staggered across the restaurant floor. He fell to the floor, knocking over a potted plant, but rose again before anyone could move. Two waiters ran toward him, but not before he made it to the far corner of the room. As the crowd watched, homeless Joe and I caught a glimpse of each other at the same time.

I could see things weren't right. Joe was staggering. Joe would never let me see him drunk, so something bad must have happened. Why was he here? Obviously to see me. I jumped up so fast that my chair went crashing to the floor behind me.

My wine glass fell over onto the white, neatly pressed linen tablecloth. As I rushed toward him, he collapsed and fell at my feet, dropping the cell phone from his hand. Before he passed out, he said, in a barely audible voice, "Find her killer, Miss Christie. You can do it, if anybody can."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Is Whole Foods the Same as Wholesome Foods?

Is Whole Foods the Same as Wholesome Foods?

Yesterday, we made a pilgrimage to Winston-Salem for supplies not available in our small town. The trip was also to return an installation kit we bought from Sears for the new clothes dryer. We usually use the trip as an excuse to go to a different restaurant than those available in our small town.

At Sears, the salesman punched more keys on his keyboard than we could count, all the while saying "Your order was cancelled." He seemed to be implying that, as the order was cancelled, he couldn't refund our money for buying it. I countered with "If you'll refund the money for the cancelled washer and dryer, I'll be glad to keep the installation kit." Finally, he noticed that it was a three-piece kit with a cord and not a two-piece kit without the cord. I had mentioned that the cord had three prongs instead of the code-mandated four several times. Anyway, he finally got it all figured out and gave us the money. Then, we went to the Olive Garden and had a nice lunch. The waiter was a little verbose, but quite efficient. The food wasn't verbose, but was good anyway.

When we were finished with the main shopping area, we headed for the Whole Foods store several miles away. Some years ago, they had by far the best selection of cheese around, but it had been going downhill for the last two years. We first noticed it when a six-month aged Brie from France had been replaced by a fresh Brie from fifty miles away.

This time I was looking for some SnoFrisk goat cheese which I like and which I previously reviewed. At first, I thought I'd gotten lucky. Half a dozen of the easily recognized, triangular packages were on the refrigerated shelf. I grabbed the first and checked the 'use by' date printed on the package. Six days ago. How terrible! But there were five others. No problem. One after one, I checked the dates and they were all to be consumed six days ago.

From there, I went to the cheese counter somewhat depressed. The lady behind the counter immediately greeted me and asked if I needed any help. I pointed out that the SnoFrisk was out of date. "Oh no. It can't be. I just took those out of a new box." I assured her that the cheese was indeed past, not the 'sell by' date, but the 'use by' date.

I had frequently gotten the advice that if cheese were bad, or fungused over, that all one needed to do was scrape off the fungus. I had heard that many times and believed it until my husband ate some Irish Cheddar which had been scraped off and then got sick for a day.

Then the lady behind the counter said, "I'll remove it from the shelves." But, she didn't. She just stood there and asked if I’d like some goat cheese from California. That cheese was within three days of expiration. I proceeded to look at other cheeses and found another half a dozen within two or three days of their 'use by' date. I don't eat enough cheese to eat six ounces in two or three days. So, I passed those by. After I had left the cheese counter, I looked back and she was still standing there.

I always thought Whole Foods was short for Wholesome Foods. Now, I don't think so.

It's a terrible shame when you have the money and are ready to spend it, but the product either isn't there or the people selling it don't care enough to do their jobs. I see it more and more. A great number of people are out of work but those working don't care enough about their jobs to do them properly.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Editing Third Novel

Editing Third Novel

My third novel is now being edited. My editor has told that it is edgier than the first two, “Murder by the Clock” and “Murder in Emerald Hills.”

I try to make my novels reflect what the heroine Rachel Christie is thinking as she is solving the mysteries. The relationship between Rachel and her friend Ron is a romantic sideline in the novels. Also, the role of her associate Cody is evolving in the third book. He's becoming a real detective, a not so naive man. I believe that I enjoyed writing this book more than I did the first two.

However, I can understand how most authors want to shortcut the editing process because it is difficult and
time consuming. Each time I have a comment from my editor, I have to go back and look at the book. It's a difficult process of reading, re-reading, editing and re-editing. This is an important process and cannot be overlooked or bypassed.

All three of the books in this series can be obtained in ebook format and paperback format. I expect this book to be published by the end of July.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Washer and Dryer

New Washer and Dryer

I must say I had my doubts when I first thought about getting rid of my old washer and dryer. The engineer in me kept saying the old was sound and reliable. My old washer and dryer were Maytag. When I say Maytag, I mean Maytag. It was built when Maytag was the prima donna of laundry machines.

Old Coppertone Maytag
Yes, take a good look. The laundry machines were Coppertone. How long have these been extinct, you might ask. Long enough that they might be coming back any day soon. Nah! Let’s see. It was probably the early 1970s when the last was made. No, I did not buy them then. I bought them used from a Scottish colleague in Saudi Arabia, who bought them used from an American. If the American bought them used, I don’t know.

Since I have had them, my husband bought a timer for the dryer and belts for both washer and dryer. They have moved from Saudi Arabia to Virginia to Texas to Alabama to Texas again to Saudi Arabia to Texas again and then to their present home. They have always been reliable.

New Stainless Samsung
Yesterday, the new Samsung washer and dryer were delivered. I spent half an hour looking at the manual to see what all the options were. Some of the bells and whistles on these machines have probably been around for a long time. However, never having used one, I stood there and watched as the clothes went back and forth. We tried to figure out what was going on, whether it was using the torque of the machine motor to determine the size of the load and just what all the little icons meant. We were pleased with the small amount of water required to clean the clothes and the quality job the steam cycle did in getting out all the wrinkles.

When it came to picking out the new washer and dryer, I researched a lot of brands. This time, Maytag was not an option. I bought a Whirlpool range and refrigerator several years ago--in a hurry to move into a house--and regretted that decision every day. When I went to use the clean feature on the oven, it didn't work. The door is so small that it is hard to see anything inside. The refrigerator is noisy.

I also bought a Maytag dishwasher a couple of years ago, thinking that, if Maytag made good washing machines, they would make good dishwashers. No. I was wrong. It was supposed to be a quiet dishwasher. That didn't last long. In summary, Maytag is now just another appliance line from Whirlpool. I will never buy another Whirlpool product.

As I said, concerning the washer and dryer, the engineer in me kept saying why get rid of something that has worked all this time, but I want to save energy. The other part of me said I just want a new washer and dryer after all these years. One thing we did was buy the minimum service contract. It appears that, if something is going to break down, it will do so within a short time after purchase. Also, I kept my old washer and dryer. It’s hard to say goodbye to old friends. One day I may give it to Goodwill.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

This is for all my fans who might be suffering from the this affliction.

Is it a toothache? Feels like it at first. Is it lightning like pain up the side of your face? Definitely. Does it stop you in your tracks and you can’t move? Very much, yes. Do you feel like you’ll never be normal again, without pain? Yes.

Trigeminal Neuralgia or TN, for me, was an awakening to pain, pain in which nothing helped and very few people knew what to do. We are told to take control of our health care but, if you don’t know what you have and the doctors flail around with different types of medicines, how can you take control?

TN was a sudden electric-like jolt up the side of the face that was debilitating. I would stop dead in my tracks and could not move because, if I did, the pain would last longer or get worse, if that were possible. It felt like someone had hit me with a two by four in the face. Not good. Horrible, actually.. These electrical shocks lasted anywhere between five seconds to several minutes.

By the time it was apparent that something was wrong and the time that I corrected this defect, one year had passed. The pain started as a sharp pain that ran from my next to the last tooth and traveled to my head. I thought I had a really bad toothache. However, I had been lucky in my life and had never had a cavity, so I had no idea what a toothache was like. I went to the dentist and had X-rays. Nothing. But the pain continued.

I would walk outside in the fall or winter and, whenever a breeze blew against my face, it would set off the pain. It was hard to brush my teeth without the pain occurring. With most pain, you can massage the place and make it better. With this pain, massaging was out of the question unless you wanted to hit the roof with more intense pain.

Several months later, I was stooping while I was helping to build a garage and I felt so much pain shoot from that tooth to my head around the temple. I couldn’t move. I can only surmise that my blood pressure rose and intensified the pain. I went to a dentist again, who ground on my teeth. Did it work? N-o-o-o!!!

I was new to the area, but I found a woman doctor who would see me and she quickly diagnosed the problem and sent me to a neurologist. The neurologist gave me several kinds of medication. Each one worked for a short while, but then the pain was back. I don’t know what’s wrong with men doctors but, for some reason, they don’t want to listen to female patients. Finally, my husband went with me and we both asked if something else existed. Only then was the option of surgery presented.

The two options open to me were Gamma Knife radiosurgery and Microvascular Decompression Surgery. With the Gamma Knife, I would not be assured of the pain not coming back in five or so years. Also, if it did come back when I was older, I may not be able to go through the more invasive surgery. I opted for the Microsvascular Decompression Surgery. Was I scared? Betcha.

The surgery consisted of cutting a half dollar sized hole in my skull behind my left ear and putting a Teflon pad between the nerve and the blood vessel which pounded on it. Then the hole was covered over with a titanium plate. I spent several days in the hospital and it took about a month to recover. My face was numb for about a year and once in a while it will feel a little numb. I can live with that. The pain, I couldn’t. It has been four years since I had the operation and I am glad I had it done. I hope it doesn’t come back.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Draft of Next Book

Draft of Next Book

Today I finished the first draft of my next book in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery Series. Once I had written the outline, the writing was easy. I had several characters in my book who could be the guilty party and I hope my fans have fun trying to figure out who actually committed the murder.

However, the first draft is only the initial phase. Many more passes and edits will be required before the book will be ready for publication. Just running it through the spell checker will not do it. I have to double check that everything flows and that the evidence is consistent. The same was true with my first book "Murder by the Clock" and my second book "Murder in Emerald Hills."

I would like to thank my fans for their encouraging words and reviews of my two previous books.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2005 Nuit-Saint-Georges Wine Review

2005 Nuit-Saint-Georges Wine Review

This past week I opened a bottle of 2005 Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos Saint-Marc Premier Cru and I was glad I did. I've heard so many wine reviewers talk about chewing the wine, but never knew what they meant until now. When I tasted this pinot noir wine, it was like my whole mouth came alive for the first time with a wine. It had the perfect balance of the essential elements, well balanced could not begin to describe it. It was perfect. I have tried a lot of French burgundies, but this one was exceptional. It was a dark red wine with the aroma of dark berries. It made a perfect complement to my salmon dinner. If I ever get enough money, I would definitely buy more.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Statues of Easter Island or How to Move a Head

Statues of Easter Island or How to Move a Head

Today I read an article on Yahoo about how the tall statues on Easter Island were transported to their resting places. One theory says that the tall maoi statues, over 30 feet tall, were transported by ropes and by walking the statues to their resting places. Another was that the statues were laid in a cart and moved that way.

When I was on Rapa Nui or Easter Island, all I know is that I was amazed at the size of all the statues. They came in all sizes and looked differently. The tallest was lying down which sort of give one the impression that it was just dropped into place and no one could lift it. The statues were everywhere, lying on the hillsides and on the plains. It was something I remembered reading about as a child and finally was able to see in real life. It was amazing. Or, as Cliff Robertson said in the movie "The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid," "it's a wonderment."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nightmares - Reality vs. Fantasy

Nightmares - Reality vs. Fantasy

Many times dreams transcend fantasy and reality and become almost living nightmares. When nightmares become scary is when reality merges with the fantasies from the past and the present. The woman sleuth in my Rachel Christie mystery series has such a problem. Her nightmares are a result of her experiences in the past and in the present. In my first book Murder by the Clock she has nightmares concerning the death of her fiance and in my second book Murder in Emerald Hills her nightmares from her past work experiences collide with her present investigation.

Why people have nightmares have been attributed to many things. Some say that bad movies or bad experiences. One of my favorite reasons was, given to me as a young child, eating cheese before bedtime. Another reason can be medication. Too much or too little thyroid medication can trigger nightmares that seem real.

Last night I had such a dream as in Murder in Emerald Hills and I will relate that in the next book I write. It becomes scary when, after having that nightmare, you awaken and are not quite awake and feel that it is actually happening. People who write some novels and movies must have some weird horrible dreams. I can relate to that. Putting it on paper for me has to be as soon as possible, otherwise, I will forget it. And that, believe me, is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Super Heroes

Super Heroes

Last week we went to see "The Avengers" and I can't keep thinking about it. I had to wait until the crowds had disappeared. Along with my husband, the only other people in the theater were a woman and her son. It was great.

I think that all the characters were cast perfectly. I'm not a big Robert Downey Jr. fan, but I do think that he played his role well. Probably like that in real life. My favorites have always been Thor and Captain America. Call me a softie for the patriot in Captain America and the long hair and hammer of Thor.

I think we need more heroes and heroines in real life, those who come from the working class. I am partial for engineers since I am a mechanical engineer. My heroine in my books, "Murder by the Clock" and "Murder in Emerald Hills," Rachel Christie, is a mechanical engineer turned private investigator sympathetic to the downtrodden and overcomes many obstacles.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Yesterday was a day chocked full of writing on my next mystery book. I added almost 5,000 words to the third of my Rachel Christie Mysteries. After writing, I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset of the Blue Ridge Mountains from my living room windows. Aah! The wonder of nature.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Power of Mindless Activity

The Power of Mindless Activity

Since publishing my book “Murder in Emerald Hills,” last week on Create Space and Amazon, I have been relaxing and enjoying reading and doing some yard work. Both of these activities are good in preparation for my new book.

Yes, I already have the major plot outlined, but I have a few minor subplots on which I need to work. Giving my mind time to relax by doing mindless activities helps me to hone those plots.

Since my first book Rachel Christie book “Murder by theClock,” I came up with several plots for my next four books. As I mentioned, I just completed book two and published it on Amazon and Create Space. I started writing one of the other books but realized that particular book needed to be around number five in my series. Since then I started putting the plot together for book three and have, actually written the first three chapters. However, before I continue this book, I need to finalize my subplots. That is where I started this post. Actually, I have come up with some small subplots. I guess my mindless activity is paying off.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Murder in Emerald Hills

Murder in Emerald Hills
A Rachel Christie Mystery 2

After many months of hard work and months of editing by myself and others, I have finally published my second mystery novel “Murder in Emerald Hills.” This is the second in the Rachel Christie Mystery Series with the first book in the series being "Murder by the Clock."

The heroine, Rachel Christie, is a mechanical engineer turned private detective. Her years as an OSHA accident investigator have prepared her for her new life investigating murders. She also brings a lot of baggage to her new job in the form of bad memories of failed relationships. She moved to a quiet town in North Carolina to get away from her nickname “Jinxy.” But it isn’t working.

This novel opens with the heroine, Rachel Christie, in a dark hole. A real hole - a well. Thirty feet deep. Her assistant Cody is nowhere to be found. Her cell phone doesn't work. Her radio doesn't work. Her screaming doesn't work. She can't climb out because the well is too big and a pipe fell on her shoulder. Who did it? Who sent her a bomb? Who filled her desk with black widow spiders? It began as a case of land fraud in Emerald Hills. The chief suspect couldn't possibly do it, says Rachel's friend Ron. Sheriff Hayley has carnal knowledge of Ron but likes Rachel so much she deputizes her. There are too many pieces and they don't fit together. Who will Rachel believe as the bodies begin to stack up? Somebody's a murderer, a clever murderer.