Saturday, October 15, 2016


As I’ve been preparing for the release of my newest cozy mystery, ‘Tis the Witching Time, I’ve asked my Facebook readers if they believe in ghosts. I’ve received some fascinating responses. I also promised to answer this question myself:  
I do believe in ghosts. As one commenter, who is a believer, said, “The proof is in the pudding.”

My tale begins almost three years ago…
I have no idea why I decided to start reading an Anne Rice book just before my husband had three business trips over the course of three weeks. When I’m home alone this big old house does a lot of settling and creaking, and things tend to go bump in the night. Reading a scary book at night when you’re alone in the house is not a good idea. One night, after two hours of reading in bed, I was sure that there was some kind of entity in my house and it was going to do something during the night. Maybe just your basic minor destruction—I was fairly confident that it didn’t want to hurt me.

The next morning I discovered the first of what would become a series of strange occurrences that would take place over the next several weeks. It turns out that SOME entity knocked my high school graduation picture off the shelf where it had happily sat for many years, shattering the glass in the frame all over the floor. The following week I was alone in the house and felt something tug on the hood of my sweatshirt. Sometime later my husband came home from one of those business trips. Shortly after getting home he walked into his office downstairs. A minute later he called upstairs to me, “What happened to my desk? Why is everything shoved to one side?” There were a few other odd happenings as well, but these are good examples of what was going on in my house.

Our ‘ghost’ became a running joke. And, by the way, a ghost is much preferable to some rodent in my house, and we never found any evidence that there was one. But we did come to the conclusion that if we did have a ghost it was acting up because we were doing some work on the house to prepare it for sale. We thought it didn’t like the idea of us leaving. We never did put it on the market…the Portland market became too crazy.

Fast forward several months.
In November, we had family members (names will not be used to protect the innocent) staying with us for ten days while they waited for their dead furnace to be replaced. One member of the family slept downstairs on the couch in the family room, along with their family dog. I HAD NEVER TOLD THEM ANYTHING ABOUT OUR POSSIBLE GHOST. 

On Thanksgiving morning, a week after they had moved back home, we were all doing the local Turkey Trot Walk. While we were going up a steep hill, the family member who had slept downstairs said to me, “Is your house haunted?” Or maybe she said, “Did you know your house is haunted?” I really can’t remember now. I laughed and told her that we had been having some strange things happen, and were starting to wonder. But in a HaHa sort of way. 

She went on to say, “Well, one night while I was downstairs, I saw a ghost. And felt it.”

About this time, I started to think if the steep hill didn’t kill me, this news just might.

Subsequent questioning revealed that one night she saw a foggy cloud that had formed not far from where she was sitting. There was no form to it, so she couldn’t say whether it was male or female. She said again that she could feel something—something not normal, something ghostly. She showed me exactly where it had been. It was less than two feet from where my picture had flung itself to the floor. Remember, she knew nothing about that prior to this discussion.

Once the minor remodeling was finished, the ghost became quiet again. From what I've read this is common behavior for ghosts. ;-)

In ‘Tis the Witching Time I describe a possible ghost exactly as my family member described what she saw. 

This blog post includes parts of two previous posts I wrote when these things were occurring. Just now I saw how I ended the last post I wrote two years ago, and it made me smile.

Now, I just need to channel this into a good ghost story book…

I had forgotten I’d written that. But, YAY, I did write my ghost story book!!

‘Tis the Witching Time will be available as an ebook from Amazon, on Tuesday, October 18th. Here’s a little bit about this fun new STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery:
It’s the Samhain Harvest Festival in Stratford Upon Avondale! A time for all things magical and mysterious. And maybe a little…murderous.
When a self-proclaimed psychic comes to town for Samhain, her tarot card readings become the talk of the village. But when the readings start coming true is it just luck, or something a bit more supernatural? And how could she have correctly predicted the murder that shocks the town during the festivities? Unless she had something to do with it…    
Tea room owner and amateur sleuth, Maggie O’Flynn, finds herself questioning her lack of belief in the supernatural when the uncle of a friend is murdered, and the visiting psychic and her niece become mixed-up in the investigation. Clairvoyance, ghosts, things that go bump in the night—how much of it is real?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Stepping Out of the Pages...

A few weeks ago, while greeting people at my mother-in-law’s memorial service, I experienced a moment when I felt as if I’d just stepped into a Stephen King novel. Or a Twilight Zone episode. Whichever it was, I was absolutely unprepared for it.

A character from my STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mysteries stepped up to me and offered her condolences!

I know my face certainly must have shown my shock, but the woman handled the situation just as my character would have done. She graciously pretended my jaw hadn’t dropped, my eyes weren’t bugging right out of their sockets, and I wasn’t stammering words that didn’t make any sense.

Ruth Williams. I’d just met one of my favorite characters from Stratford. When I created this cozy mystery series I knew I wanted the series to continue through several books, so I made sure I created characters with which I’d enjoy spending lots of time. Villains aside, each character is someone I could be friends with. Yes, their personalities run the usual human gamut, from charming to sassy, to eccentric or quirky. But I like them. Some more than others, but I feel affection for each and every one.

However, some are in a class by themselves. Ruth Williams is one of those. As I describe her in book three—in progress—Ruth is an elegant yet warm and friendly African American woman, with kind eyes that let a person know she’s always there to listen. In her mid-sixties, Ruth quickly became a surrogate mother to my protagonist, Maggie O’Flynn, when Maggie moved into the village.

And here I was in the vestibule of the church, making a fool of myself in front of my dear Ruth Williams. Or Mrs. Johnson, as it happened. Though I immediately recognized Mrs. Johnson as my Ruth, this was a Ruth twenty years into the future, as the sweet woman standing before me was in her late eighties.

But she wore a flowered dress right from Ruth’s closet, a hat that Ruth had just worn in Maggie’s tea room in COME, BITTER POISON, and pumps with heels I wouldn’t dare try to wear, but Mrs. Johnson moved so gracefully in those high heels, just as Ruth would have done. Most importantly, her smile was warm and welcoming and she kindly ignored all of my apparent stroke symptoms.

Time for a confession. I had a hard time paying attention during the service. All I could think about was that somewhere in the pews behind me sat the living embodiment of a person I had made up! Ruth Williams, as much as I love her, is not real. But there in that church this lovely woman sat, remembering my mother-in-law.

While chatting with family and friends during the reception I tried to remember if I’d ever met Mrs. Johnson, and had somehow brought that image to mind when I was writing Ruth. I asked one of my husband’s cousins about her and learned that she had been their grandmother’s next-door neighbor. Wheels started turning in my head—had I met her years earlier while visiting with my husband’s adorable grandmother? Grandma Mary died twenty-five years ago. So if I had met Mrs. Johnson, and I was starting to think I had, she would have been about Ruth William’s age at the time.

I steeled myself and set out for the table where Mrs. Johnson sat with our cousins. I gushed, and giggled, and finally came clean with her. I told her all about how I was a mystery writer and that she was the living embodiment of one of my favorite characters. I feared her reaction so much I nearly bumped over someone’s lemonade that sat near me. Her smile lit up the room! She couldn’t have been more pleased. I went on to tell her that I might have met her at Grandma Mary’s house and just maybe my subconscious put her in my books. I told her about all of Ruth’s lovely qualities and she was tickled pink.

My dear mother-in-law, Dorothy, never got to read any of my books, and I know she would have enjoyed the cozies. But I can’t help but wonder if Mrs. Johnson was a little gift from Dorothy. A seal of approval for my writing.

Because she couldn’t have picked a better character to bring to life for me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016



I’ve got a thing going on…with William Shakespeare.

Yes, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with the Bard recently. I’ve always had a special affinity for Will, but over the past six months it has become a more intimate relationship.

As in, I’ve been borrowing his words, his lines, even the superstitions surrounding at least one of his plays.

And, like people all over the world, I’m celebrating William Shakespeare this month. This Saturday it will be 400 years since he died—April 23, 1616.

My love for Shakespeare’s work led me to set my new cozy mystery series in a fictional American small town renowned for its Shakespeare Festival. I’m borrowing the Bard’s words for my titles, and am having a wonderful time weaving Shakespeare’s words and quite a bit of Bard trivia throughout the books.

But when I set out to write this series I had missed the fact that this month, the month the first two books in the Stratford Upon Avondale Mysteries were released, was also the month the world would be celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. So, I can’t help but celebrate along with the world. I mean, I’m taking my titles straight from him, I’m quoting his sonnets and plays in my books, I owe him a little celebration!

However, if I’m celebrating the great writer’s life because I’ve been quoting him left and right, then you, dear reader, should too. You quote him daily. Have you been feeling a little generous lately? Gone on a rant about something? Taken the kids out to watch for shooting stars? Are you fashionable, or maybe instead, frugal? Ever given into the green-eyed monster? Tempted to elbow your way to the front of the line at Starbucks? Have any misgivings about a decision you made? Written a love letter? There are hundreds of words and phrases Shakespeare added to our language. We don’t go a day without borrowing some of his words.

As a mystery writer, I’m also borrowing from some of the curses associated with Will. In the second book in my series, COME, BITTER POISON, the famous Macbeth curse plays a role. In researching it and its ‘remedies’, I knew my sleuth, Maggie O’Flynn, would have to have a little run-in with this curse and its ramifications. Ever since Macbeth’s opening night on August 7, 1606 when the young actor playing Lady Macbeth died backstage before the show, the play has been haunted by superstitions and rumors of curses. To this day, no one is to say the word Macbeth in a theater except during the performance or rehearsal, otherwise tragedy is supposed to befall someone associated with the speaker. The play may only be referred to as ‘the Scottish play,’ or ‘the Bard’s play.’ If someone does say Macbeth there are remedies that must be performed to ward off evil, as Maggie unfortunately discovers. The fact that the play contains scenes with witches performing curses and spells most likely led to the superstitions that plague the play to this day. Double, double toil and trouble…

There have certainly been no curses on William Shakespeare’s legacy. What is remarkable is that 400 years after Shakespeare’s death we are still enamored with the glorious words and turns of phrase he wrote. His plays are still produced the world over. Students still study his work. We still speak the words he coined. And a little-known mystery writer is using the words he wrote to title her books, and to flavor those books.

So as we celebrate William Shakespeare this month, let us raise a toast. “Heaven give you many, many merry days!” (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”
As You Like It


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It's a Mystery!

YES, I’ve been AWOL for a while!! But there’s been a good reason…

I’ve recently been spending a significant amount of time in a charming little faux-English village, drinking tea, discussing Shakespeare, getting to know the inhabitants, and dreaming up ways those people can kill one another.

After a lifetime of reading mysteries I decided it was time to try my hand at writing one. I had a few requirements, though, going into this adventure. It had to be a series so I could enjoy building my world and developing characters my readers and I would care about over time. But more importantly, the books needed to be cozy mysteries. (Cozy mystery: a mystery subgenre in which the violence takes place ‘off stage’ or is downplayed, and there is little or no sexual content. They often take place in charming, small communities.)

Now, when it comes to reading mysteries, I read all the subgenres: traditional, cozy, police procedural, psychological thriller, etc. While I don’t mind reading the more gory stuff, I know I wouldn’t enjoy writing it. Cozies fit the bill perfectly.

Once I conceived of the general premise for the series I spent a delightful afternoon building my world. If I was going to be spending a lot of time there it had to be a place I’d enjoy. As an Anglophile, the setting of my series is as English as it can be without actually being set in England. STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE is nestled into a bucolic corner of a Western state of the U.S. It’s claim to fame is its renowned Shakespeare Festival and the über-faux English look of the charming village. It is in this delightful setting that Maggie O’Flynn, ex-novice nun turned steamy romance writer tries out her burgeoning amateur sleuth skills. And she has to do so while running her shop, the Merry Wives Tea Room.

This project has been so much fun so far, that I liken it to playing with paper dolls when I try to explain it to non-writer friends. Books one and two come out in ebook form on Tuesday, April 12th. Book three is waiting, rather impatiently, to be written. It’s been shouting at me a lot, as I’ve been busy on the final touches on one and two.

Here’s a bit more about the first two books in the STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE MYSTERY series. 


Murder. Betrayal. Duplicity.

When ex-novice nun, turned steamy romance writer, Maggie O’Flynn moves to the charming village of Stratford Upon Avondale to open a tea room she expects plenty of murders, betrayal, and duplicity. On the stages of the town’s renowned Shakespeare Festival. But when a theater critic is found murdered on the town’s riverbank and the prime suspect turns out to be the sexy bookshop owner Maggie has had her eye on, she takes matters into her own hands. Will she be able to dig through the layers of betrayal and duplicity to find the true murderer before that handsome bookseller, Nate Larimer, finds himself behind bars? With the help of her loud, brash, spitfire of a friend, Gina Mattucci, Maggie plans to do just that.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, ALAS, SHE DROWNED is the first book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.   Available April 12th from Amazon:

Sexy film star. Long-held secrets. Murder by poison.

When international stage and film star Miles Elliot comes to Stratford Upon Avondale to play MacBeth, Maggie O’Flynn is thrilled. He’s been her actor crush for years. But when Miles ends up at the center of a murder investigation Maggie finds herself slipping back into the role of amateur sleuth. Before long many of her friends become suspects in not just one murder, but two. Maggie must discover who’s poisoning people associated with the Shakespeare Festival before one of her friends gets slapped with a murder charge. And she must do so while dodging paparazzi that are stalking her due to a supposed love affair she’s having with Miles Elliot.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, COME, BITTER POISON is the second book in THE STRATFORD UPON AVONDALE mystery series. Though part of a series, COME, BITTER POISON can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.
Available April 12th from Amazon: