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.

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.