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.

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.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Value of a Free Book

Value of a Free Book

Over the last several months, I have downloaded a number of free eBooks onto my Kindle Fire. I read all but one of them and found that one in five were worth reading. The other four out of five were a waste of time. I've decided to stop reading the free books. Why were these books a waste of time? A big reason is the lack of editing. Too many distracting errors interrupted the flow of reading the book. If people aren't willing to spend the time to edit their book, I'm not willing to spend the time to read it. Free or not.

After reading a lot of posts on forums, I believe that the reading public has come to the same conclusion. In addition, I've seen a number of posts saying that $0.99 is the same as free. Also, a number of posts say that authors should not sell themselves short. How many times have you gone to Wal-Mart and been given a free hammer? People say, if you give away one book in a series, people will buy the rest. But Wal-Mart is good at selling things and they do not give away a hammer to get you to buy other tools.

I have decided not to give away my books or sell them cheap and I've decided not to waste my time reading free or $0.99 books.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review of Snofrisk Goat Cheese

Review of Snofrisk Cheese

Let me say first that I am a big fan of goat cheese. And Snofrisk is one of my favorites.

Snofrisk is a creamy goat cheese from Norway. Actually it is 80 percent goat’s milk and 20 percent cow’s cream. Needless to say, that 20 percent cow’s cream makes this a creamy cheese. When it comes to the taste, however, it is definitely a goat cheese. I don’t know how many times I have bought a mixture of goat’s and cow’s milk cheeses and the taste of the goat cheese has been watered down. Mild cheeses, that is. A goat Gouda to me is not a true goat cheese. The texture and taste is more like a cow’s cheese. There is no mistaking Snofrisk for such. The taste is strong and the texture, while creamy, is that of a goat cheese.

I usually eat Snofrisk spread on a hard French baguette or a good crisp cracker, followed by an equally good port, usually a 10-year Offley or a 20-year Cockburn port. While my port is not the cheapest, this goat cheese is inexpensive.

Snofrisk is readily available at my local Whole Life Food store.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Can You See in a Face?

What’s Can You See in a Face?

I always looked at people as people and didn’t really study their faces. Not like artists who are looking for that one particular face that stands out among the rest. That is, until recently. I went to a birthday party for a lady who was 80 years old. The attendees ranged from a few months to the guest of honor’s age of 80. Although many were related, some were not. I couldn’t help but look at each person’s face with a new light.

Looking into the face of an eighty-year-old woman, each wrinkle signifies something different. I kept imagining one wrinkle for every cry over the troubles of her own or her children or the losses in her life of husband and family. Yet, also, with that face came the smiles of happiness. Happiness of seeing a son she hadn’t seen for a year. Happiness of seeing a great-great-grandchild who had just been born. Happiness of all the people who were there to wish her the best. One thing I noticed was the eyes were happy, not sad.

I couldn’t help but think about my life during the different stages of life as I looked at the corresponding face of the person with whom I was talking. Of course, I can’t remember anything less than about five years of age. Then I remembered happy times and fights with boys, related and unrelated. I was opinionated even then. In the face of the young married couples, I saw their hopes for the future with their mates and the love for their children. Talking to the young professionals, I saw the glint in their eyes and the smile on their faces as they talked about their dreams.

Many people have speculated about Mona Lisa’s smile. I envy the artist who can, not only, paint a portrait, but also portray the soul of his subject.
Faces are the gateway to souls. I hope that when, or if, I reach 80, I will be as happy as the lady I saw.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Decline in eBook Sales

Decline in eBook Sales

I’ve been reading quite a bit on the Amazon KDP Community that May is a terrible sales month for eBooks. Many have blamed the glut of free eBooks offered by independent authors in the KDP Select Program. While this contributes to the decline in sales, I also believe that, as others say, it is the economy.

Some people will inevitably take anything free. I have to say that I have downloaded some free eBooks by indie authors. This is only after I have read the excerpt from the “Look Inside” feature. Most of these eBooks have been very good. I have to say that I do not understand why these good authors are giving away their free eBooks. Is it a lack of confidence in their work or is because they feel that this is the only way they can get the public to read their books?

A few of the eBooks I have read, after reading the excerpt, have disappointed me. Sometimes the first few chapters are very good and will grab my attention, but once I get into the book, the book fails to follow through on its promise. From my experiences, I would say that some readers are refusing to go through some bad books to find the books that are worthwhile to read.

Some readers will eventually go back to reading the well-known authors and give up on the indies unless they have found one they like. Then they will return and read other books written by that author. However, some indies have only written one or two books. By the time another book is released the readers will have gone on to other authors or to other books recommended by their friends. I have to say that I have reverted to buying older books by well-known authors and will read other books by those authors because I know they have other books out there.

As I said in the beginning, part of the decline in the sales of eBooks is because of the stagnant economy. I went to dinner tonight at my favorite restaurant in town. Since I live in a small town of ten thousand, I do not have many restaurants from which to choose. However, the manager and the waiters know us at the local Ruby Tuesdays. The service is excellent. However, our favorite waiter moved to the capital city because of cutback in hours. It seems like the people are eating out less now than they were a couple of years ago. People are getting more for less. They are paying less when eating out, which also translates to paying less when reading. For some, free books are better than $0.99 books, $1.99, etc.

If the economy does not recover, or authors finally realize that giving away their eBooks is ridiculous, then the decline of eBook sales will continue. Unless all authors stand up and say I am not giving away the toils of my labor, then sales will continue to decline.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review of Warre's 1997 Vintage Porto

Review of Warre's 1997 Vintage Porto

This vintage port has been sitting in my cellar for the last five years. When I finally decided to drink it today, I had to sieve it. The cork fell to pieces. And a lot of sediment was in the bottom. However, when I took my first sip, it was wonderful.

I normally like tawny ports, with 20-year Cockburn port being my favorite. However, this port was excellent. It had a fruity flavor and was sweet, but not too sweet. It went well with the cheeses I decided for after dinner. I had a selection of goat and cow cheeses. It went as well with the goat as it did with the milder cow cheeses. The port was at its peak. It was good that it was the last bottle in the cellar. This port would have gone just as well with after dinner chocolates.

All in all, this is an excellent vintage port.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Editing New Novel -- Second Time Through

Editing New Novel -- Second Time Through

I just finished writing my next novel today. I am far from finished. I don't know about other authors, but different phases of writing a book brings out different feelings. For me, that definitely is the case. This was the same with my first female sleuth novel, "Murder by the Clock."

I first start by coming up with my idea. When I write my book, I find that I deviate from what my plot was intended to be. The guilty party sometimes changes. I want to give the reader a chance to figure out who did it by the clues I give. I have always hated reading and then, at the end of the book, the author throws out who did it and nothing in the book has given me a clue that it was that person. He just pops up out of nowhere and confesses, "I did it." That's frustrating.

Sometimes my characters want to take control of my book. That's good to a certain point. However, my characters have to be consistent. If a character is unsympathetic toward his fellow man, it is unbelievable when he admits that he loves children or dogs.

My second time through my book requires a thorough understanding of my characters. Consistency is the key.

I find that, as the book progresses, I am more concerned with getting the plot and my ideas written than I am with style or anything else. The second time I concentrate on expanding on the thoughts I have written and in filling in description of the places and events.

I have many more read-throughs before my book will be ready for final editing for typos, consistency in names, spelling, etc. For now, I am satisfied with just reading through my book and making sure that the plot and characters are consistent.

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