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, 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.