Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Letter from Jail

Detective Scott McGregor’s best friend, Ryan Talbrook, will be arrested in the first Lynn Carter cozy mystery. I tried to imagine what incarceration would be like and wrote this letter from jail.

Dearest Brother,

I am ashamed to admit I have been arrested twice in the past week and am writing this from an 8x10 jail cell.

The first arrest was for loitering in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store during this heat wave. My defense of being old and having trouble remembering what I was there to buy was not believed by the judge who had heard the same defense by the seven other customers picked up at the same time. (Three of them are in the cell with me. We’ve been sharing recipes.)

My second arrest was for biological terrorism using the US Postal Service. The main Portland P.O. sorting station was evacuated yesterday. They traced the return address of the stink bomb to me. I was charged with violating the Stilton Act of 1997 which states “no stinky cheese should be mailed through the U.S. Postal System without proper refrigeration.” How did I know it would take 17 days for the cheese (your birthday present) to travel from HB to Astoria? I’d included an entire tray of ice.

So, Dearest Brother, Have a Great Birthday! and if you can spare the time, please call the Feds and give me a (good) character reference. Although I can raise the bail, they won’t let me out on my own recognizance.

In other words, another year, still no present.

Your Loving Sister,

Inmate 727


Thursday, July 15, 2021

New Series, New Dog

Berger Soil Images: Berger Picard Mix
I grieved when I made the decision to skip my planned fourth Detective McGregor mystery. The second and third mysteries occurred out of town and McGregor wasn’t the lead detective. McGregor’s best friend is the prime suspect in the fourth mystery, so conflict of interest prevents McGregor working that case as well.

The series arc wouldn’t suffer without this story. But I liked the basic plotline (which was already developed), the setting, and the title.

It was a sticky situation, but with my first cup of tea in hand and my trusty dog beside me, a win-win solution crystalized in my mind. A spin-off cozy series featuring Lynn Carter, Scott McGregor’s girlfriend!

With a few minor modifications to several scenes, and a one-word change in the title, the intended fourth book in a detective mystery series is now the first book in a cozy series. Another out-of-town McGregor mystery was immediately reassigned as the second Lynn Carter Cozy.

And for a bit of eye candy, meet Maisie, Lynn Carter’s Berger Picard mix. Also known as a Picardy Shepherd, this is the breed in the movie ‘Because of Winn-Dixie.’

Thursday, July 1, 2021


Developing new plot ideas gets easier with practice.

I started with one scene idea. It was an image in my mind when I woke one morning. Brainstorming converted that image into a plot. The plot came alive and converted itself into a series.

Once my imagination and creativity muscles got a little exercise, they took over. Story ideas pop up unexpectedly. Last week, for example, the weather was hot and humid. As I tossed and turned trying to sleep, my discomfort transformed into an opening scene for a new mystery story idea. Not all the ideas are keepers, and some are blended into other stories as scenes or sub-plots.

A year or so after I started writing, I bought a new bookshelf and recycled some old binders to keep my writing ideas organized. It helped, but I still jot ideas in notebooks scattered around my house and never quite seem to get them added to a binder.

The ideas pile up faster than the publications. So far, I’ve published two mysteries, one children’s book, and short contributions to several anthologies. If my entire idea collection was published, I’d need a larger bookshelf.