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.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Cover for Murder Haunts Myrtle Beach


As I previously announced, my latest book, Murder Haunts Myrtle Beach, has been released on Amazon and CreateSpace. As I was looking at my No. 8 in the Rachel Christie Murder detective series on Amazon, I wasn't satisfied with the cover, so I engaged Laura Gordon of Book Cover Machine to do the cover for the eBook and paperback. I think she did an excellent job and was professional in every way, replying to my questions and comments right away. Also, her prices are reasonable. She has some wonderful ready-made covers available on her website.

Let me know what you think.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Release of "Murder Haunts Myrtle Beach" on Amazon

The latest murder mystery, "Myrtle Haunts Myrtle Beach," in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery series is now going through final edit and will be for sale next week on Amazon. For some reason, this book took twice as long to write as the others and was much more difficult. Possibly, it was because I put even more of myself into the book than usual and parts were quite emotional for me to write.
     
Over the last seven books, I have found that seeing the story in a different format helps find typos and spelling errors, as well as some plot problems. I suppose that seeing it over and over in the same format, I tend to skip over things. So, I sent a copy to my Kindle and reviewed it there. As the another step in editing, I have just printed the book in paperback form on CreateSpace. Both of these methods help spot errors which I wouldn't have found if I had only reviewed it on the PC, even using spelling and style checkers. I also cooperate with another author and we review each other's books. That puts another set of eyes on the book and helps to find areas where the wording does not flow well or where the facts were obvious to me but not to someone not so familiar with the plot. The last thing is the final edit by an outside source.
     
Following is a brief synopsis of "Murder Haunts Myrtle Beach."

Private Investigator Rachel Christie is thrown into a case where her emotions rage out of control. She has solved difficult crimes in the past, but this time it's different. This time it's her lifelong best friend who is stabbed and is sent to the ICU. Her reasoning ability is clouded and her moral compass is smashed. Her emotions, more than ever, control her actions. The clues lead her from Myrtle Beach, a thousand miles away, to a seedy gentlemen's club in Houston and to her buried and forgotten past. A past that's not what she remembers. A past full of drugs, human trafficking and murder. Can she control her emotions enough to uncover the assailant of her friend or will she, too, become another victim?

I want to thank my readers for their loyalty and for their patience.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Markdown

For five days beginning November 7, I am running a promotion of the Rachel Christie Mysteries, which will be $2.99. That's a 50 percent markdown on the original cost of the collection. In essence, the reader gets 3 mysteries for $0.99 each. This promotion only lasts for 5 days on Amazon.

Rachel Christie is a strong female private investigator operating in a small community along the base of the Appalachians. This series is full of mystery and action, and is meticulously plotted with many twists and turns. Rachel Christie is determined to solve murders at the expense of her own life. Thwarted by the bad guys and good guys alike, she keeps going until the murder or murderers are brought to justice.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

They're Back!

It's that time of year when the mountain temperatures fall below freezing, our leaves change to vivid bright colors and we are inundated with creepy crawly ladybugs. They fly around and land on anything -- first the white house, then the dark brown door and then eventually on me. I used to think these little bugs were cute and helped nature protect the plants by getting rid of aphids and other little infestations. However, when I find one crawling on my shirt because I stepped out onto the deck for a breath of fresh October air, the time for cuteness is over.

I rarely see ladybugs in the spring and summer months when our plants could use them. Oh, no, they wait until October to swarm upon us like a plague of locusts and invade our house through any small crack they might find. We have sealed almost ever crack in our aging house and made sure that the new additions have been sealed tightly with caulk. One of our neighbors is not as fortunate in keeping the ladybugs away. His house is older
than ours and has not been sealed. Ladybugs cover all the furniture. Oh, yuck!

How did ladybugs get their name? I had to look that up because they sure don't act like ladies to me.
According to Animal Planet, since the farmers in the Middle Ages thought it was a miracle the way ladybugs ate only bad insects like aphids, these farmers were grateful to the little insects for saving their crops. In return, they called them ladybugs after Jesus' mother Mary, who was also called Our Lady. That may have been well and good when the ladybugs helped farmers, but these days they haven't help us at all. Our vegetables and fruit trees survive without their help while the
ladies are in the woods gorging themselves.

I was writing my next novel today, but now all I can do is itch all over after finding a ladybug crawling on my neck. Looking out the window in the late afternoon, I can still see them swarming about the house. Come on, November. Do your job and rid us of this infestation.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Where Do Characters in Books Come From?

Where Do Characters in Books Come From?

I have been asked by several readers about where I get my inspiration for the characters in my Rachel Christie Mystery Series. One went so far as to say, "I know someone like that. I'm sure you don't know that person. You live nowhere near me."

I have to say that the characters in my books have exaggerated characteristics of people I have known. For example, the sheriff from Newtonville in my second book, "Murder in Emerald Hills," is based on a dear relative who cannot speak five words without two of them being a curse word. I love her dearly, but to me it's like fingers on a chalkboard every time I hear her talk. She is the gentlest of people and fair in every other way. I don't know where she picked up her vocabulary, but she would have been a good sheriff, so I made her into one.

I think that the heroine in my book, Rachel Christie, is obviously some version of me. Whether she is really me or the me I'd like to be or a combination of the two, I'm not sure. She portrays strength, doesn't take any crap and, yet, contains a soft spot for the underprivileged and those in need of saving or those who cannot protect themselves. Maybe, she's the person we'd all like to be: rough and tough when necessary, but tender and caring when needed. Most of us, however, don't have the gumption to be that person.

We all know people like the ones in my books and admire different characteristics in each of them. As one of my friends once said, "You cannot get all of your friends together in one place. All of them have aspects of ourselves that we admire in them and wish we were more like them. But they all have aspects of ourselves we don't like as well. Each one would clash with everyone of our other friends." I'm glad to say that I admire and accept each and every one of my friends for who and what they are. They are, indeed, an inspiration.

For those of you who have seen yourselves or your friends in my characters, send me an email and let me know what you liked and why and what you didn't and why. Also, if you have a good friend who is different from any of my characters, describe them to me in an email and maybe I'll be able to put them into a future book. That's something I like about eBooks. They can be interactive with input from the readers. And I do appreciate each and every one of you, my readers, and thankful for all the comments I have received from you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writing, Squirrels and Chestnuts

I have been writing my next book, No. 8 in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery Series. It has been difficult since the heroine Rachel Christie faces a crisis in her life and it's hard to write bad things about my characters. Good things are easy to write.  My characters are like my children. You never want anything bad to happen to your children, even though, sometimes, it makes them stronger. So today I collected chestnuts. I cannot believe that it is that time of year again.

The nuts are falling and the squirrels are trying desperately to keep us from collecting them. Lots of husks were on the ground, but the nuts were gone. To keep the squirrels from scavenging all of the nuts, we shook the tree limbs until the nuts that were ready to fall fell to the ground. The reason I know it was squirrels is there was nothing left behind but the husks. If it were deer, they would have left their hoof prints in the soft soil (we've had an abundance of rain) and the outer coatings of the nuts would have been left behind. Also, I saw two squirrels scurrying to the field and disappearing near the trees. A good sign.

I never really thought about how chestnuts were made or how they were collected prior to planting our trees. However, I have a much greater respect for the people who collect them. If you will notice the spines around the nut covering in the picture, you will see they are long and pointed and very sharp. I had on heavy duty leather gloves, but I still have pricks in my fingers from recovering the nuts from their pods. I enjoy chestnuts with dressing around Thanksgiving, but the pain in collecting them make me appreciate the nut much more.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What Do You Do With A Stolen Truck?

What do you do if you clean out your mother's checking account and steal her truck in a city? You drive to the country in broad daylight and find what you think is a deserted road, but is in actuality our driveway. You find a place where you think no one can see you, but our neighbors are watching from their living room. You take a moped out of the back of the truck and drive the truck over the hill into the woods, leaving the keys in the truck. You then walk the moped down 400 feet of driveway and then drive out of the lane, thinking no one has seen you. What an idiot!


The story all began when I was sitting at the computer (I'd like to say I was writing on my next book, but I wasn't.) and I heard a noise like a truck on the main road a quarter of a mile away or maybe even a tractor in the next field. I wasn't sure. I put it out of my mind. But not for long. About five minutes later another noise. Another truck. I looked out and saw our widow neighbor and her son. They came to the door and told us that a man had driven a truck over our hill halfway up our driveway. Our driveway is steep and it has a bend behind a knoll where someone driving cannot see the house, the perfect place to ditch the truck, so it would seem.


They continued to tell us that a man drove the truck behind the knoll, removed a moped and then pushed the truck over the hill and drove off on the moped. They added that the man was wearing a white tee shirt and jeans. Maybe that's the best clothing for a criminal to wear. Like driving a white pickup truck. Nobody notices a man in a white pickup truck, particularly when he's wearing a white tee shirt and jeans. But our friends were watching from their living room window where they could see perfectly that section of our driveway.

My first reaction was, "Is someone in the truck and hurt?" Our neighbors hadn't looked on their 800-foot drive up the driveway to our house, so we all decided to check it out. Before we reached the site, the neighbor's son had already looked inside and said, thankfully, that no one was in the pickup.

After we returned to the house, we called the sheriff's department and a deputy arrived within twenty minutes. That's good timing considering our small town is fifteen minutes away and the sheriff is fifteen minutes from there, and of course, this was not an emergency.

It appears the man was on probation and stole the truck three days ago. The sheriff's office had already identified the man and the truck's owner before the deputy arrived.

Right now, I think of this as hassle. But, maybe I can make some lemonade with it. It may provide some information for another book in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery series.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Labor Day Sale!


Murder Among Friends, the 7th book in the Rachel Christie Murder Mysteries, has been discounted to $0.99 for the Labor Day Weekend. Normally, the price is $3.95, nearly a seventy-five percent discount. Rachel Christie is a private detective in a small town. She has many flaws and seems to clash with every police officer, but good detective work and a need to succeed to avoid returning to a former life make her good at solving her cases.

The synopsis is as follows:

A secret, known only to a group of seven, rocks a nursing home with murder. It's a secret the members tell no one. Except somehow, someone does know. But who? That someone is ruthless enough to kill frail, suffering, defenseless people, preying on their vulnerabilities to get the secret.

When the Sheriff of Stone City asks private detective Rachel Christie to find his mother-in-law, who has been missing for three weeks, Rachel fears the worse. Her partner Cody has a friend connected to the murders and wants the agency to help his friend. Rachel only hopes that she can unravel the crime and save the others before all end up dead. But, as time goes by, that seems unlikely.

Pick up your copy while it is heftily discounted.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Write, Write, Write!

Today was a productive day for my writing. I pushed aside an angry reviewer (who I don't think really read the book) and concentrated on the reviews I received from those who purchased my books, read the books and gave raving reviews. What's wrong with us that we concentrate on those few who take our books for free (or don't even read them) and then give negative reviews while overlooking many glowing reviews? We do injustice to our loyal fans, those who purchase our books, and care enough to give real feedback. Those are the ones that we want to please. Those are the ones we write for.

I read that we could receive 999 positive reviews, but it only takes one negative review that puts us in the dumps and puts a hamper on our writing. This has been the case with me for several weeks. Well, I say, enough of that. Not everyone is going to like our writing, the style or what we have to say. But we do have some loyal followers who like what we have to say and are willing to pay to read those books. I say we give our thanks to those reviews and readers who say that we have a product they want to read. And as one of my reviewers says, "Write, write, write." I am thankful for her and many others who are loyal fans.


Monday, August 12, 2013

In Cherokee with the Cherokees


This week we took a trip to Cherokee, NC. I haven't been there since I was a teenager, but the place hasn't changed much -- except for the giant strange-looking building containing Harrah's Casino. It was a great trip, not just because of reliving old memories, but because of visiting old friends we hadn't seen in eight years. I have no excuse for not going to Cherokee because it's only a four-hour drive from home, but our friends now live in London and were back on vacation. It was a treat to see them.


I was amazed at the Indian crafts from the double weave baskets to pottery to carvings at oodles of stores all up and down the main street. Since our visit was during the week, not many people were at the Museum or milling about in the shops. However, the play "Unto These Hills" telling the story of the Cherokee people had almost a thousand people in attendance on a Tuesday evening. We went back stage and saw how the scenery was transported on a small train car and where the actors waited in the wings. I was surprised that more accidents did not occur since most of the area around the stage was natural rocks covered with sand.


We had dinner at the restaurant only a dozen or so feet from the vast array of hundreds and hundreds of gaming machines. Our friends' daughter was fifteen years old and was fascinated with the way they treated her at the casino. Since no one under the age of twenty-one could be on the casino floor, we had to wind tortuously through the building to get to the casino entrance near the restaurant. The guardians said that our friend's daughter had to stay on the tile near the wall and not get on the carpet to walk the thirty feet to the restaurant. She felt like she was being treated like her dogs, being told to 'stay off the carpet'. I don't think she minded it much since she said she was going to tell people 'back home' that she was thrown out of a casino. Apparently the younger set thinks that is more interesting than being in a casino or gambling. She was a good sport about it.

At the restaurant, they seated our group in an unused section in complete privacy. At first we thought nobody else was there, but as we left, we saw the main section which was nearly full. It's always nice to have that feeling of having the restaurant to ourselves. The food and service were excellent; however, our friend had heart surgery a year before and was on a low fat diet. He ate his salmon and green beans while eyeing my husband's steak and potatoes au gratin.

Overall, we had an enjoyable trip with lasting memories with many people and things that can be used in my novels.


Sabena Stone -- Author of The Rachel Christie Murder Mysteries

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bargain on Rachel Christie Mystery Series - Three-Box Set



I have just published a three-book set of the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery novels. The second, third and fourth novels are bundled together in one book, but are still available individually. The set, Rachel Christie Murder Mysteries, is priced at $5.98 for the eBook and $15.19 for the paperback from Amazon. This is a price reduction of one third for the eBooks and about half off for the paperbacks. All the books are standalone novels, but some of the same people show up in each, including Rachel's lanky, easy-going assistant Cody, her by-the-book friend Ron and boisterous Sheriff Farrell. The plots are all different, but the murderers are all cleverly plotted and Rachel is pushed to her intellectual and emotional limits. The reader has all the clues Rachel has and no rabbits are ever pulled out of a hat at the last minute.

Note that the first book in the series, Murder by the Clock, about a murder during a small town Autumn Festival is available as an eBook for $0.99 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.

The second book, Murder in Emerald Hills, takes place in the Emerald mining area of Western North Carolina. While working on a land fraud case, Rachel uncovers a murder of which the body has been buried for six months.

In the third book, Murder by Lion, the murder takes place at the North Carolina Zoo in front of a crowd. The police think it's suicide, but Rachel believes it's not.

The fourth book, Murder of the Innocent tells the story of how Rachel Christie solves the murder of a young girl whose parents are separated, but trying to get back together. It's a case she doesn't want, but her partner Cody accepts it readily.

The last three mysteries are Murder One Too Many, Murder Along the Blue Ridge and Murder Among Friends. These thee are available from Amazon for $3.99.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rainy Days Are for the Birds







We have had so much rain in the past two months that now our rainfall for six and a half months equals the normal yearly total. In fact, this year we have had so much rain that any day when the sun shines for four hours is a good day to mow, even though the mower tires get covered with grass. Yesterday morning our neighbor had her lawn mowed and within the hour it rained over an inch, two more in the evening. Living in hot climates previously, I guess I got too used to seeing the sun for most of the year.





The rain did not deter the hummingbirds from getting out in the rain. As you can see, they fluffed their feathers and braved the wet conditions. This was not true of all the creatures. The turtle hightailed it to the bushes where he could protect himself, so truly rainy days are for the birds.



Friday, July 12, 2013

The Bear is Back

The Bear is Back

A couple of years ago, we were concerned when we sighted a black bear foraging for food. We called the authorities and they had little or no response. It was like I was reporting a sparrow on the porch.  A month ago, a black bear was sighted in a large town sixty miles from here and it made the news every night for a week.

Just this past week, our local bear was sighted again. First, our neighbor stopped us as we were driving by her house and said she had seen the sight of a lifetime when she looked out the kitchen window. A black bear was standing on its hind legs, holding her bird feeder in his front paws and shaking the seeds into his mouth.

Today we were building a wall inside the house and looked out into our backyard and there he was, just meandering back and forth between the woods and our fenced-in area for our fruit trees and garden. He couldn't make up his mind. At first, it looked like he was going to tear the fence down and then he looked through the fence and decided it was too much work for too little. The apples and the pears weren't ripe. I don't think he was that hungry.

The picture is blurry because, after all, who wants to get between a bear and his dinner.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reminder of Childhood Memories


Reminder of Childhood Memories

Pilot Mountain is a landmark that is recognized by most North Carolinians living in the Piedmont region whether it's on canvas or whether we are traveling along US Route 52. It towers to about 1400 feet in a rather flat terrain and was a beacon to native Americans and early settlers for hundreds of years. I guess living here we take it for granted when traveling from smaller communities to the larger cities of Winston-Salem or Greensboro. I took this picture this past week on our weekly trek to the "larger city" to buy the essentials such as port and cheese. It is now a state park and is a place for climbers and visitors, some of which have lost their lives falling from the paths.

I remember as a small child traveling to Florida and my father would always point the mountain out to me. The Saura Indians called it Jomeokee or "Pilot" or "Great Guide." I guess we take our GPSes for granted and don't realize that the earlier people used such landmarks as an indication of where they were or where they were going.

Geologically it's a quartzite formation that was formed billions of years ago and was dedicated in the 1970s as a National Natural Landmark. No matter what the formation was and is, it is a constant reminder of long ago memories of wonderful summer vacations.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blueberries

Blueberries

It's blueberry season again. Yesterday we picked 3 quarts of blueberries from 2 bushes and another several quarts today. The first bush has smaller berries, are flavorful and prolific. The second bush produces a smaller quantity of blueberries, but they are 3 times larger than the others and much sweeter and juicier. It doesn't matter what. I eat blueberries almost every day and it is good that these are free.

I did say free. Well, I had to pay for the bushes 8 years ago and then we had to put fences around them to keep the birds and squirrels away. Come to think of it, I guess they aren't free. But they are so much better than store-bought blueberries.

Instead of eating an apple today, I ate a half cup of blueberries. I froze some that I will use when the cost of blueberries will skyrocket. I don't know about the rest of the country, but in North Carolina a package of blueberries less than a pint will run about $3.99, sometimes $4.99, in the fall and winter. I have many more quarts to gather and will enjoy them until they no longer bear fruit.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wildlife

Wildlife

Yesterday was a great day for wildlife. Right after it rains, we get more rabbits, squirrels, turkeys and deer than at any other time. Yesterday was no exception.

We have about 12 acres of land around our property that has to be mowed and thujas are planted in the distant front yard. As I was mowing, I saw a tiny creature appear and thought it was a rat, but it turned out to be a tiny bunny. It was so cute and kept running back and forth, not knowing which way to turn. Finally, I finished mowing that section of the yard and I saw the bunny hop between the thujas.

Usually in the winter and spring we see dozens of turkey, but in the summer only a few turkeys appear. Sometimes only one will appear and it looks so lonesome. When those birds fly, they are majestic. I have seen them fly over trees that are fifty feet tall.

I took no pictures of the squirrels because I get so irritated with them. They ruin my blueberries and fruit trees. Putting fences around and on top of the blueberry bushes are time consuming and expensive. Somehow those pesky creatures make their way to the bushes, but hopefully not this year with the new fence.

The deer have been scarce this year because everyone in the neighborhood has grown corn. Hopefully, that means they will not be around to eat the tops out of the day lilies or munch on tender young tree leaves. I like watching the wildlife, but I can do without the destruction they bring.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Renovation Can Be Detrimental to Your Health

Renovation Can Be Detrimental to Your Health

We have been renovating our house for the past ten years. Yes, that's right, ten years. It never seems to end. And only four or five years left. Almost finished.

Since starting the renovation, I have almost knocked myself out several times by hitting my head on cabinets or fireplace openings. I have fallen off ladders, resulting in various cuts, bruises and sprains. Some required several trips to the doctors.

All of these accidents have probably just been normal occurrences or maybe I'm just a klutz. More likely the latter. It makes me wonder about the action-packed novels that I have read and written where people are knocked unconscious with guns and other things. Today was the worst knock I've had to the top of the head. I continued to work, but felt like my legs would give way and that I might collapse at any minute. I'm a bleeder so it took about fifteen minutes to stop the bleeding and now I feel like a Conehead with the large bump on the top of my head.

At least, now I know what the feeling must be like before losing consciousness. All I can say is my parents were right when they said I had a hard head.

After all the suffering, the fireplace turned out great!



Friday, May 17, 2013

Remember Paris


Remembering Paris

This past week I have been reminded of the wonderful times I had when living overseas, especially of the times I had visited France. I was fortunate to work and live overseas and to travel to Paris dozens of times. No other foreign city has held such a fascination, except pre-Chinese controlled Hong Kong.

One of the items I received in my email box this week was one from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) on their Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference in Paris. As an extra, they are offering a tour of the Museum d'Orsay and a city tour. When in Paris, why take a tour? Probably because of the shortage of time. It is so each to see the city on your own. Also, if it were up to me, I would rather see the Louvre or take a dinner cruise on the Seine. That reminds me of the time we stayed at a hotel on the outskirts of Paris and took the train to the city. The proprietress made the arrangements for the cruise and ended up giving us the "key to the castle" because we would return after she had gone to bed.

The ASME conference is staying at the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche, a place I have never stayed. When touring Paris or any other world city, I try to avoid the American chains. I have stayed at the Meridien near the Arc de Triomphe, the Plaza Athenee and the Crillon. I had a bad experience with a cheaper hotel on the Left Bank and refuse to go there again. One time, when taking a barge trip on the canals in France, we stayed at the Meurice, close to the Louvre. The room was the same price as the Marriott, but they upgraded us and we ended up in a suite which normally costs ten times as much. Talk about sticker shock. It was good we weren't paying that much.

I can't think of Paris without the food popping into my mind or my mouth watering. At one time, when we ate at the Guy Savoy, I was given a sampling of all the desserts. After my fourth sample, the waiter looked at my companion and asked if he was interested in dessert.

Also, the French people are friendly and courteous. I lost my umbrella on the Champs Elysseus and a Frenchmen ran up to us and asked if I had dropped it. He gave me the umbrella and turned around and retraced his steps. Another time, when I was on a barge trip, the owner of a mill had her husband go to the house and bring me a scarf because she thought I was cold.

Aah! What wonderful memories and many more. If the dates were different for that conference, I would give serious consideration to going to it.




Saturday, May 11, 2013

Inflation or Not


Inflation or Not

I made a big decision this month. It may not seem much to others who have no idea what a land line is, but I have cancelled my phone. I already have two cell phones, ones which I pay as I go, so I decided the land line was a waste of money. It provided a bit of comfort since I live in the country and the phone was accessible in several rooms. However, last year, every three months the bill would rise. That's right, every three months.

The government tells us we have no inflation. What are they looking at? Definitely not utilities and health care. I wouldn't call a rise in telephone costs every three months nor a rise of 10 percent in electricity over the last year nor the rise in health care premiums of 20 percent since Obamacare was enacted as little inflation. I haven't even touched upon the escalation in food costs. Am I alone in thinking this way?

Solar panels were installed to help with the electricity costs, but the electricity costs are still as high as they were before. And the solar panels are working properly. The average person can make no progress when utility, health care and food costs continue to rise with little rise in their paychecks.

Well, to help with these so-called "non-inflationary" costs, I have cancelled the landline to my house. I am keeping track of the few shows I watch on television in the next few months and will decrease my service with the satellite provider. This service cannot be discontinued since I am remote enough that the signals from the local stations are nonexistent. At least, I'm doing something.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Book on Amazon Kindle




New Book on Amazon Kindle

Today, "Murder Among Friends," the seventh in the Rachel Christie Murder mystery series was published on Amazon. Although it is number seven in the series, it is a standalone private detective story. Rachel takes on more and more dangerous cases since moving to Stone City at the base of the Appalachians.

In this new novel, a secret, known only to a group of seven, rocks a nursing home with murder. It's a secret the members tell no one, except someone does know. That someone is ruthless enough to kill frail, suffering, defenseless people, preying on their vulnerabilities to get the secret.

When the Sheriff of Stone City asks private detective Rachel Christie to find his mother-in-law, who has been missing for three weeks, Rachel fears the worse. Her partner Cody has a friend connected to the murders and wants the agency to help his friend. Rachel only hopes that she can unravel the crime and save the others before all end up dead.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Rare Find, Indeed!


A Rare Find, Indeed!

It is not often that I review a book on my blog. I'd say I never have, but I read a book this past week which I had to blog about. If any of you have read my Rachel Christie private detective mystery novels, you know that the main character loves old movies. My novels are modern day, but I love to read unusual and imaginative books. This book, "Hell's First Whisper," the first of the Percy Nickels private detective series set in the 1940s, is one such unusual and imaginative read.

After reading several books set in the 1930s and 1940s, I was expecting the same old, same old. The tired clich├ęs. The same detective talk. However, the author Knuckles Rothchild did not do this and you could still tell it was set in the 1940s. It's the story of a police officer turned detective. I know, it sounds like the same routine, but that's where it ends. Percy Nickels has been led on a wild goose chase while someone deposits a naked dead body in his apartment. He falls for a lady evangelist, whose sermon is on the radio when he finds the dead girl. The wit and easy flow of the story line had me mesmerized from the moment I opened the book.

I am not plugging a friend of mine because I have never met or communicated with this person. However, if you enjoy the 1940s private detective, you will doubly enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review of Bucherondin Goat Cheese







Review of Bucherondin Goat Cheese

This past week I made a trip to the local Whole Foods about an hour from my small town. I like to treat myself every once in a while and, of the cheeses I like, goat cheese is my favorite. However, I couldn't afford much of Bucherondin. I bought about an inch and a half from the small log, but I am so glad I did. It is so good.

Bucherondin is a French pasteurized goat milk that is shaped into a log (buche means log) and has a white bark-like crinkled coating on the outside. The outer most part of the inside has a creamy texture and is quite mild and the center of the log has a rougher texture that gives this cheese the distinctive goat cheese tanginess. Bucherondin does not have as strong a taste as most goat cheeses, but it is stronger than a goat gouda. It has no sharp aroma and is not very salty. A pleasant goat cheese, even for those who prefer cow's milk cheeses.

This goat cheese went well with a 20-year old mellow port, but at $18.99 per pound, I can't afford much, not even for a splurge. Therefore, I will eat it sparingly and savor every bite.

Friday, April 12, 2013

First Editorial Review of New Book

First Editorial Review of New Book

Today, I received the first editorial comments for the seventh book in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery series. Now comes the hard part of re-writing to give the work a more polished presentation. However, this is only the initial phase and it will be the first re-write. I will have more editorial comments and re-writes after this, I'm sure. Writing the book is a hard feat in itself, with the days and nights (yes, sleepless nights) thinking about the plot and letting all the nuances solidify into a believable story with several subplots that work well together. However, I feel that having to do the re-writes is even more difficult.

In writing the book, I only had to worry about getting the ideas on the page. With re-writing, I have to make sure each sentence has all the words it needs and only the words it needs. Each paragraph has to have all the sentences it needs and only the sentences it needs. Pages and chapters are the same. Anything not necessary to the plot or description is weeded out. Descriptions are difficult for me because I want to include enough to give the reader the feeling of being there, but not enough to get boring. Too many books spend too much time describing what we already know. As they say, ''A rose is a rose is a rose." No need to go into great detail or describe the scent. Everyone knows those things.

I have always hated re-work, even as a project engineer. To do the job first, with no revisions, is only a dream I can wish. With writing, I want my characters to be distinct and to be worth reading about. Above all, they have to say and do things that are consistent with the personna that has been created for them. Having a series with the same characters means going back and re-reading the previous novels to be sure that the present novel and characters follow along the lines that the readers expect. It is also important to  give the characters growth. They should all change because of their experiences. My characters see a lot of action and they should change accordingly.



Friday, April 5, 2013

The Next Book


The Next Book

The first draft of the seventh book in the Rachel Christie Murder Mystery series has been completed, finally. It was difficult for me to write because it dealt with a group of characters I felt emotionally attached to, from the suave and sophisticated playboy to the normally cold and hard sheriff. They all showed their soft insides and I had to feel sorry for them all. Normally, rational Rachel lost her cool more than once and faced more dangers than she had before.

Now, the book is with the editor, but thankfully it is being reviewed as I write this blog. Also, the book cover is in the initial stages of being designed. Hopefully, the novel will be released sometime next month. Of course, that depends on how many rewrites I will have to do.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review of Bonnes Mares Grand Cru




Review of Bonnes Mares Grand Cru

Today was a day for family get togethers and, for me, a chance to drink one of the many fine fines that come from France. The 2002 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru by the vintner Laurent Roumier was gone in no time.

From the minute the bouquet of the wine filled my senses, I knew this purchase was a wise investment. The scent was full of aroma of dark fruit with a very dark color in appearance. It was a heavy meaty burgundy wine with a full body and heavenly taste. It was fantastic. And that was before I even tried it with dinner. It complemented the peppercorn beef tenderloin with its heavy peppery taste.

When I first bought this wine, it was the suggestion of a woman in France whose husband was native to the Nuit St. Georges area and knew much about the wine of the region. Lately, I have seen the 2009 and 2010 year of this wine hailed as a superb vintage. After drinking this wine, I may invest in the good wine years by this vintner. I am, also, glad that I have three more bottles of this wine to savor in the coming years.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Too Much To Do, Too Little Time

Too Much To Do, Too Little Time

I didn't realize that it had been so long since I wrote on my blog. One of the reasons is that I have been busy with school. Do all teachers pour the homework on or did I just end up with a very hard class? It seems that every time I finish one assignment another one is added. The end of the school term cannot get here fast enough. I have learned quite a bit about investigative work, police enforcement and the court system, but my writing and everything else has suffered. This month has also be a month for visits with family members.

At the present, I am reading a how-to book on building your own wine cellar, which will be published by Taylor Michaels in the next month or so. When I finish this, I will place pen to paper again for my next novel, which is two-thirds finished. I have a number of edits to make to what I have written so far, so maybe I'm only half finished with the novel.

Interest has picked up in my Rachel Christie series and I have been trying to market the series. To tell the truth, I never was good at marketing. It takes a certain finesse which a past engineer like myself does not possess. Marketing is an art whereas engineering is a science. I have been reading articles by other authors on the art of selling and have tracked a number of people who are constantly giving away their books on Amazon. It appears that giving your books away does not help that much unless you have a series. Putting one book up for free does generate interest for the other books in the series. I don't think I would ever give away more than one in the series and the purpose of that is for awareness of my books.

Other ideas for other books are floating around in my head, so I may put a temporary halt on the Rachel Christie series after the eighth book and pursue those. I haven't made up my mind yet. Any of the readers who enjoy my books can contact me if they wish to comment on the series or leave a review on Amazon.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Distractions and Knowledge


Distractions and Knowledge

The seventh book in my Rachel Christie murder mystery series is moving along slowly. I am two-thirds through writing the book and then, of course, editing follows. This year I am enrolled in a criminal justice class. Although I am learning valuable information and meeting a lot of law enforcement, my writing is moving along at a snail's pace because of it. Some information I have learned will be used in my latest book.

I have found the discussions in our class informative and enlightening. The viewing public of forensic shows, such as CSI and NCIS, have been informed of DNA evidence that can be used to solve crimes. However, in these shows, DNA evidence is secured in a manner of hours to days. In real life, it may take months or a year to get such DNA evidence. The homicide clearance rates in larger cities have declined sharply because of gang-related crimes and the unwillingness of witnesses to testify. That's one thing the shows have right and that's that the witnesses are scared of being killed themselves by the very murderers they are testifying against.

Small towns are cliquish and, if the FBI who are strangers, came and started asking questions, the locals would remain quiet. A better chance of finding the criminals would lie with the local authorities, who know all the suspects and have a better rapport with the local town people. It's not surprising that the homicide clearance rate is higher in small communities than in large urban cities.

Rachel Christie lives in a small town, but she also has to go to the larger cities at times to help her solve her cases. Hopefully, I can integrate the knowledge I learn into my novels and make situations within them appear more believable.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One Easy Way to Cut Health Care Costs


One Easy Way to Cut Health Care Costs

In an advertisement on television yesterday, Blue Cross said they wanted us to help them save money. Find ways to cut costs. Luckily, over the weekend the local newspaper ran an article about Blue Cross Blue Shield's CEO's pay increase. It turned out that the CEO's salary was increased by 19 percent in the past two years while the company's profit increase was only one percent compared to three percent the previous year. Sounds like a clue on how to save money.

It seems strange (sarcasm) to me that his salary went up just as much as my premium rate increase. Mr. Obama implied that he had health care costs under control. Nineteen percent increase doesn't sound like it's under control to me. Maybe he didn't have Blue Cross. Blue Cross is the state's largest health company insurer and for many years, the only choice for many buying their own insurance. An increase of this much may be only $38 if a person only paid $200 a month where they were employed because the company subsidized the payments. However, if someone purchased his own insurance and was not a member of a group, that 19 percent increase equaled about $100 per month. Not a small amount.

I can't understand the mentality of the company giving a compensation package of over $1.6 million to this CEO and another six higher ups receiving more than $1.08 million when the profit margin was at 1 percent compared to 3.2 percent the previous year. I'm all for free enterprise, but this has gotten to be ridiculous. Why do we pay for a CEO who did not perform as well as his merit increase? No wonder health care costs are rising if we have to pay higher compensations to CEOs and their associates for not performing. Oh, yeah, the old saying that his compensation was comparable to others in his field is a bunch of bull. All the other CEO's used his salary increase to justify theirs. It's circular logic and it's foolish. If the CEO quit, many competent people would be standing in line, willing to take even lower pay, for the same job.

The advertisement on television yesterday said that Blue Cross wanted us to help them save money. The answer is obvious. They could save millions of dollars by cutting the pay of the higher ups, but, of course, the CEO does not want to hear this and he would have to agree to it. A novel I recently read called it SUWE, the Spiral of Unpardonable Waste and Extravagance. It seems appropriate, suwe is how they call pigs, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Free eBook - Murder One Too Many

Free eBook - Murder One Too Many

"Murder One Too Many," a standalone novel and the 5th in the Rachel Christie murder mystery series, will be available for free on Friday, 3/1/13, and Saturday, 3/2/13.


The CEO of a hospital dies and her body is found in a shallow grave. Her husband kills himself from an apparent suicide. Or was it? Rachel Christie was in a room fifty feet away and heard no shot. Yet she heard a woman scream. Rachel's investigation gets her too close to the answers and a dismissed employee attempts to kill her.

What secret does the hospital hold? Is someone killing hospital executives and relatives out of revenge? Rachel must unlock the answers before anyone else dies.




Friday, February 22, 2013

Skyfall - Diappointed

Skyfall - Disappointed

It took me several months to decide to watch the latest in the James Bond movies, "Skyfall." All I can say is I'm glad I didn't spend $30 to see it when it was at the theater.

At times, I almost fell asleep. It seemed to drag on. However, it did have some action, but not like the old James Bond movies with Sean Connery or even Roger Moore. I can understand why it grossed so much. At the time, not much of a selection for movies existed.

The new James Bond, Daniel Craig, does not have the good looks, suave sophistication or soft voice of Sean Connery. Too many rough edges with the new Daniel Craig. I used to think that Roger Lazenby was the Bond I disliked the most, but with Daniel Craig, I feel that Lazenby has moved up the list to number four after Pierce Brosnan. With several pictures behind Craig, he already looks a little weathered and aged as old as Roger Moore's tenure as 007.

Will I every watch another James Bond movie? Maybe. I just wish they would find a clone of Sean Connery or at least a better actor to play Bond.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Heck with the Diet


The Heck with the Diet

Today was a busy day. I helped a friend of mine, Taylor Michaels, move his wine to a new wine cellar. By the end of the day I was so tired that it didn't take much to convince me to share dinner and a good wine.

For several weeks, I have been on the Nutrisystem diet in order to lose ten pounds. Today was an exception. I don't even want to think about tomorrow. Today is still fresh in my mind as I sip my 20-year Sandeman port.

The wine I had with my salmon dinner was a 2010 Clos Vougeot from the Chateau de la Tour. It was a great wine and was rated a 91-94 on JJ Buckley Wines. By the wine, JJ Buckley has a good selection of wines. However, the 2010 was a little young to be drinking. It was a little on the tannic side. It will be better, I'm sure, several years from now. However, any wine was great to me after not drinking any for the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reality or Fiction?


Reality or Fiction?

My writing has slowed a little this month in favor of my Investigative Principles course. However, I am learning procedures the police use in their investigations that will help in the writing of my Rachel Christie series.

The fine points of collecting evidence and the procedures to get that evidence is a lot stricter than one is led to believe when watching television or reading novels themselves. A lot of it is just downright boring and time consuming. I guess that figures since most jobs have their boring elements.

In conjunction with my course, I read a true crime account of a falsely accused man who spent eleven years in jail until DNA evidence freed him. It was an emotional account and gave the viewpoints of both the wrongly convicted man and the victim. Eyewitness is not always reliable. Our memories do not work like cameras. We cannot recall all the subtle details a month or, as in this book I read, three years from the crime.

Although I wish to get back to writing, I feel that the application of the principles learned in this class will make my books more believable to the reader. Since I haven't taken a course in a while, maybe after a few weeks things will settle down and my writing will once again take center stage. I'm glad I finished "Murder Along the Blue Ridge" before the semester began.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Missed Snow


Missed Snow

For several days, our local weather forecasters had predicting snow. How many times have we wished we never listened to those forecasters? Most of the time they tell us it will be sunny and it turns out to rain cats and dogs. Sometimes the weather people tell us it will only rain a few inches. Not like the 7 inches we received in the last few days.

Up until last night, our area was forecast to get 4 inches of snow. Lo and behold, we got 0. That's right. Zero. That didn't bother me. I have dealt with snow since the time I learned to drive. My mother never liked to drive in the snow and we lived over a mountain. If we were on the road and it started to snow, she pulled the car over and had me to drive. However, after driving in snow all these years, I am now glad when the snow passes me by.

Last night, the counties to the east of us had 3-4 inches of snow. The counties to the west got the same amount. However, our area was in a finger that extends from the south to the north and we had no snow at all. They called off school. It wasn't a wait and see. It was let's do it now. They relied too much on the weather forecasters.

I have to say, though, the snow is beautiful, as long as it stays on the mountains like in the picture above. It makes for a wonderful day of reading or writing the seventh novel in the Rachel Christie mystery series.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Free Book Giveaway on Goodreads

Free Book Giveaway on Goodreads

I am giving away five (5) paperback copies of my latest Rachel Christie murder mystery, "Murder Along the Blue Ridge." Although this is number six in the series, it is a stand-alone mystery. If you wish to win a copy, please enter at Goodreads. The giveaway ends on February 12, 2013.

Follow the link below to enter and good luck.


Goodreads Book Giveaway


Murder Along the Blue Ridge by Sabena Stone

Murder Along the Blue Ridge

by Sabena Stone


Giveaway ends February 12, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Friday, January 11, 2013

Writer's Block or Distraction?


Writer's Block or Distraction?

When I started the sixth novel in the Rachel Christie mystery series, "Murder Along the Blue Ridge," I had a good idea already formulated in my mind and an outline started. The writing was easy and progressed rapidly. However, with the seventh novel, it took longer to actually sit down and begin writing. I knew what I wanted the book to be about, but transitioning from the sixth to the seventh novel was difficult.

Some people might call it writer's block, but I don't think that's what it was. With the holidays and all the festivities around that time made it impossible to concentrate on my writing. This week, I finally put the outline on the computer and my mind has been working overtime with different scenarios concerning the events in the book. I have come up with lots of possibilities and have finally chosen several subplots.

The seventh book will find a conflict of what Deputy Ron Hartwell wants and what private investigator Rachel Christie wants. Whether there will be enough conflict to separate the two remains to be seen and will unfold as the novel progresses. Whatever happens, I hope the readers will not be disappointed.

The last novel, "Murder Along the Blue Ridge," is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and as a physical book on Create Space.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First Day of Class


First Day of Class

Today was the first day of my "Investigative Principles" class at the local community college. The only other class I took at a community college was called "Wines of the World." Now that was a good class -- sampling different wines and commenting about them. My latest course, I hope, will be useful in writing my Rachel Christie mystery series in that it will help keep the facts about police procedural more accurate.

The instructor for this class is the retired chief investigator of the small city in which I live. It's a small town of just over 10,000 people, but that's all right. Rachel Christie lives in a town of about 10,000 people. Also, the instructor's husband is a retired police chief from this city. I hope to pick their brains for some good information on cases and police procedures as applied to small towns.

We had to introduce ourselves today.  Most of the people watch CSI and other such shows and believe that they are true to life. I go into this class with no preconceived ideas on what police work actually is. I have an idea that it is probably a little boring at times like most professions. I think, however, that the class will be interesting and informative.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sixth Novel in Series Published on Barnes and Noble


Sixth Novel in Series Published on Barnes and Noble

Yesterday, the sixth novel in the Rachel Christie Mystery Series, "Murder Along the Blue Ridge," was published on Barnes and Noble and on Create Space and has already sold several copies. Making all the icon covers for the different media and making the cover for Create Space are always a challenge. Deciding on what to put on a cover is the hardest and takes a lot of hours of planning and producing.

"Murder Along the Blue Ridge" is an emotion-packed murder mystery that has roots in something that happened fifteen years ago. Rachel Christie, the private investigator, must deal with Deputy Skyler, for whom she has no respect. She doesn't want the case, but finally the deputy's daughter asks Rachel and Rachel cannot say no.

I try to make all of my mysteries stand-alone novels. A minimum of background information from previous novels is only included if the present mystery warrants it. That way the reader is not sitting and wondering why something is happening the way it is.

The novel is also available on Amazon and will be available from Create Space as a physical book in a couple of weeks.

I want to thank my fans for their continued readership and wish them a prosperous, healthy and happy new year.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Safety or What?




Safety or What?

How many times have you seen a sign that said "Safety First?" Do they really mean it or is it just a bunch of words? I ran across this sign in the picture at a local factory. The fact that this sign, which says nothing of itself, covers over a sign important to safety shows a questionable attitude that some businesses have toward safety. It appears that safety is only the employee's concern.

Whenever I worked as an engineer, we had many safety classes and were informed of the dangers in the plants and other work environments. Sometimes that safety lesson was in the form of films which showed gruesome injuries to people. Since then industry has learned that showing such films does not do that much good. People are de-sensitized by all the horror in films.

Some companies claim that there is no such thing as an accident and that all accidents can be prevented. A friend of mine once told me that if there were an accident in his unit, then he would feel it in his paycheck. Those people obviously had a greater concern for safety than those in the picture above.