I’m still not quite sure how this happened.  One moment I volunteered to dog-sit for the pathetic puppy that my son and daughter-in-law had  rescued from the path of a bush hog and nursed back to health.  The next I was on the telephone with my husband, who was out of town at a conference.  “Remember that beagle puppy the kids are trying to find  a home for?  Well, they found one.” 

Then, mimicking the words of generations of small children before me, I added:  “Of course since this was my decision, I’ll do all the work.”  And I meant it. . . exactly the way all those little kids had.

Today Nemo, the rascally beagle puppy, is an adult lap dog.  While the puppy Nemo never met a creature he didn’t like, the adult Nemo is much more reserved.  Show him a deer and he looks the other way.  He terrorizes sticks and rocks exclusively, leading us to view more x-rays of a beagle stomach than we ever hoped to see.  While he has his private pack, my husband and me, the son and daughter-in-law who rescued him and their dogs, most of the rest of the world is excluded, unless they come with treats in hand.  I spent more money this past week discussing Nemo’s peculiarities with my vet than I would have spent at a psychiatrist. (more…)

Eddie Fisher died this week, and now, thanks to this morning’s excellent Washington Post obituary, the man and his “impact” are on my mind. I’m a novelist, after all, and understanding the human heart is my job, maybe even my responsibility.

I’m just old enough to remember Eddie Fisher as someone other than the father of Carrie, the volatile, multi-talented Princess Leia of Star Wars fame.   My mother, who followed the lives of celebrities with the fervor we in the DC area usually save for politicians, was devastated when Eddie divorced Debbie Reynolds in favor of Liz Taylor.  Forever after, in my mother’s heart, Liz was the trashy other woman, and Debbie, the courageous champion of all women who had been trampled by their men.  Mom was, unfortunately, in need of a heroine with those qualifications.   (more…)

Two weeks ago I asked my Facebook “fans” to suggest topics they’d like me to blog about here.  Then I sweetened the pot by doing a giveaway in conjunction.  Three commenters were chosen at random and received autographed copies of my novels.  See what you miss if you’re not hanging out with us on the page?  We’re a wild and crazy bunch.

Now the winners have their books and I have twenty-nine good suggestions.  While I probably don’t have enough  to say about every subject submitted, some of them leaped right out at me.  Today’s idea was proposed by Audrey Bonnell, who asked:  ”How do you know when a book you write is going to be a series?  Do the people just keep shouting in your head wanting to get out? Or is there just too much about each one to make it into just one book?”

This suggestion comes at such a good time.  Last night I finished the rough draft of Sunset Bridge, the third and final Happiness Key novel.  Usually at the end of a rough draft I’m writing so fast and furiously I’m shocked when I finish, taken by surprise and instantly deflated.  This time, not so much.  Because Sunset Bridge was the final book of three, I had a slew of plot threads to tie up in that final chapter.  What I’d expected to be a brief epilogue turned into a twenty page extravaganza.  I truly began to think this was the book that would never end.  At 9:30PM it finally did, although I’m already making lists of the things I must rewrite and change before I even begin my normal edits. (more…)

Please welcome today’s guest, Aggie Sloan-Wilcox, who has chosen this interview over the Women’s Society monthly meeting at her church. The Women’s Society’s guest speaker will be Browning Kefauver, Emerald Springs’ mayor, who may be running for re-election next year against the Women’s Society’s own Sally Berrigan. Aggie preferred not to witness the slaughter.

Of course “slaughter” is never a good word to use when introducing Aggie. She’s just a wee bit defensive about her reputation and admits to becoming more so in the past few years. Unfortunately Aggie’s name has fast become synonymous with murder in the peaceful little Ohio town where her husband is the minister of the Consolidated Community Church. The church has a long, honorable tradition as well as far too many members either charged with murder or, well, worse.

The good news? After settling into the Tri-C parsonage, Aggie discovered she has a talent for bringing murderers to justice. The corresponding bad news? She’s not always very quick about it.

So without further introduction–because this one is getting worse and worse–let’s welcome Aggie to the blog this morning.

Aggie, your upbringing was not traditional. Your mother supported you and your sisters by traveling the craft show circuit and selling her handiwork. Your father lives in a survivalist compound in Indiana. Tell us what you learned from both?

Thanks for inviting me (I think), although it surprises me that my reputation has extended so far from Emerald Springs. Just for the record, I’m sure it’s complete coincidence that since I arrived in Ohio, the murder rate in town has skyrocketed. Junie, my mother, claims that according to the I Ching, because of my modesty and compassion, the benevolent will of heaven flows through me to right the wrongs in the world. Ray, my father, says the murders are just another sign of a vast international conspiracy to bring chaos to every household in North America.

I’m sorry, what was your question? (more…)

Aggie Sloan-Wilcox is at it again.

For those of you’ve yet to meet Aggie?  Aggie is the sleuth in my Ministry is Murder series, a minister’s wife who seeks justice with the same enthusiasm with which her scholarly husband seeks enlightenment.  Aggie always seems to be around when the going gets rough for somebody  in the small town of Emerald Springs, Ohio.  If people weren’t sure about this young woman when she arrived–a free-spirit with odd notions of what’s expected and two highly precocious daughters–they are even less sure as time goes by.  Because Aggie seems to attract murderers.

Aggie has consented to an interview with me later this month, in honor of the publication of A Truth for a Truth, book five of the series.  But before we get to that?  Several months ago on Facebook my readers and I spent some time concocting limericks in honor of National Poetry Week.  I thought this one featuring Aggie herself, written by the talented Kay Myhrman-Toso, was priceless.  Kay managed to get in something important about each book.  If you didn’t know Aggie before you dive into it, you’ll know her well afterwards.  If you did, enjoy figuring out which books Kay refers to.

As for the cover ?  A wee snafu somewhere during production means this cover is not as dark and forboding as we’d hoped. But I think it still catches the eye.  I hope both the cover and Kay’s limerick send you on a search for Aggie’s next tale. (more…)

Our TiVo died.  Not without fanfare, and certainly not without warning.  For the past four months, in the  most interesting part of any program, the picture was nearly guaranteed to break up, the progress of the story halted as we rooted for TiVo to heal itself and continue until we discovered who had killed whom.  Foolishly I hoped that TiVo’s lapses were signs of a passing illness, best addressed by watching some of the many shows we had saved and freeing the hard drive for a little R&R.  But not to be.  Even the good folks at telephone support agreed that TiVo, who had served us so well for so many years, had succumbed for all time.

We have two televisions, an ancient big screen with the potential for high definition cable–once we figure out how to hook it up without TiVo as the mediator.  And a small (?) 27″ with minimal cable access.  Our evenings have changed drastically.  What, watch what’s actually ON?  I think not.  Or pull the big TV away from the wall and try to figure out how to get it working again?  Horrors!  (more…)

The week of Labor Day marks a transition.  For me Sunday was the end of an energizing summer at our “new” cottage in Western New York, and a trip back into the reality of daily life in Northern Virginia.  Closing up the cottage for the first time I was struck by how symbolic the day seemed.  Rain had moved in, a cold rain that changed the location and atmosphere of the neighborhood “end of summer” block party, from the middle of the street to porches and living rooms.  Since our cottage has no heat, it was as chilly inside as out, and a nudge to pack faster and leave earlier the next morning.  The chilled Hershey Bar pies I’d made for the party felt less appropriate than pies straight from the oven.  (And wouldn’t Wanda be proud of me either way?) 

As the weekend progressed, endings seemed to be a theme. The final harvesting of my community garden plot and the ritual application of mulch in our flower beds to tide perennials over a long, hard winter.   Saying goodbye to friends and taking the last walk to the lake.  Several deaths in our congregation and one in the family of our in-laws.  Days growing shorter, nights longer. (more…)