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, 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?