Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Springtime in SoCal


March has arrived, and with it, springtime in southern California. Rosebuds are patiently waiting for the sun and heat’s help to open into glorious displays of color. Rose-breasted house finches have begun weaving their nest in the sheltered area under my patio cover using grasses collected from my untended rose garden. The dog is shedding bushels.

The time change occurred last weekend, and now an extra hour of sunlight illuminates the evening and attempts to lure me from my computer.

March also means that April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the calendarial corner. April’s project is to finish the draft for Murder Goes on Vacation, the second Detective Scott McGregor mystery. A spreadsheet tracking plot points and actions for every character was created while I was still writing the first book. Now I’m working on the second book, but I’ve stalled about one-third into the draft. April is another chance to ‘get ’r done’!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Tied up in Vegas

The second Detective Scott McGregor mystery, Murder Goes on Vacation, has McGregor, his girlfriend Lynn, and his best friend Ryan in Las Vegas for a computer convention where a woman collapses in front of them. She did not die of natural causes and a murder investigation ensues.

Scott knows his detective skills would be valuable in the investigation. The problem is that he has no jurisdiction in Vegas and is not allowed to assist because he’s a witness. He manages to make a few benign-sounding comments that are acted upon in the investigation, but he’s warned repeatedly not to interfere.

With his hands officially tied, the binds chafe his behavior but not his determination. He knows he would investigate unofficially if the need arose.

Monday, February 4, 2019

McGregor’s Super Bowl Party

Guest post by Detective Scott McGregor who attended a Super Bowl party thrown by his best friend, Ryan Talbrook, who teaches at the university. 

Even though I love football, watching the party goers was more exciting than the game. Several mathematicians and statisticians debated hotly over the appropriate weighting of team variables in predicting the winner. Two die-hard Steelers fans attended wearing Steelers jerseys, rooting for the Rams to win to preserve the Steelers’ singular claim to the most Super Bowl victories. Several grad students intended to celebrate team touchdowns with shots of tequila and ended up dismally sober.

A football pool was created, and the winner of every quarter received a cheap trophy. The winner of the game received the grand prize, the “Armchair Quarterback Morning After Relief Pack” full of sports injury-related remedies: elbow, knee, and ankle supports; Ace bandages; sports tape; cold packs; and athlete’s foot ointment.

Great party. Hoping for a more exciting game next year.

Monday, January 28, 2019

J. Vance Miller - Artist

J. Vance Miller 
 Used with permission.
Several people have asked me if the artist and painting featured in the book, The Disappearance of Millicent Hart, are real. Yes, they are.

I had the honor of viewing several J. Vance Miller paintings in a private collection decades ago and immediately fell in love with his work. Since then, I’ve seen his paintings in art shows, at art galleries, and online.

Vance Miller was born in West Virginia and later moved to Blacksburg, Virginia, where he painted Blue Ridge Mountain landscapes using a palette knife.

Glow Along the Little Stony, the impressionist painting described in the book, was found on the JVanceMillerArt.com website (shown last on the Paintings tab). Prints of Miller’s work can be purchased through the website. The Contact tab lists an art gallery website with images of J. Vance Miller paintings currently offered for sale. Occasionally, Miller paintings come up at auction.

Miller’s paintings have enriched my life. I hope you enjoy them, also.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Book Launch Party

Photo by Pamela.
Used with permission.
Last weekend, I hosted a Disappearance of Millicent Hart book launch at Pamela’s Tea Room. The party began with a champagne toast followed by an introduction of the guests according to the characters in the book who used their names (with permission), or the role they played in the book’s publication.

For our meal, we had shepherd’s pie (prepared in the book by Pamela Powell, Millie’s neighbor and dear friend); egg salad sandwiches (a humorous nod to the hard-boiled detective stereotype - which McGregor is not); and salad. We had scones and a cake topped with an icing picture of the book cover for dessert. Of course, there was plenty of tea.

My publisher asked me to tell the group about the book I’m currently writing, and I read the first chapter of the second Detective Scott McGregor mystery, Murder Goes on Vacation. Literatea book-based goodie bags (E. Gads Hill Press) containing personally inscribed and signed books were given to the guests. What a fun and memorable book launch!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

I hope you enjoyed last night’s parties and don’t have much to show for it this morning in the way of a hangover or party residual (glasses and half-eaten plates of party goodies) stashed in various and unexpected locations in your house. I usually find those for days after a big party.

My neighbors party with illegal fireworks that rival Disneyland’s display. I usually stay up to watch those and the city’s fireworks, but last night I was so tired, I dozed off sitting up and dropped my drink. The shattering of glass startled me back into wakefulness. We’ll see if I get invited back to that party again next year.

I’m adding new entries to the standing resolution list of ‘eat better’ and ‘exercise more’:
  • Retire
  • Write in earnest every day
  • Leave a guitar in the living room in case I get motivated to practice
    (I’ll leave an empty space in case something important occurs to me later.)
I wish you happiness and personal fulfillment in the New Year.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


Publication day arrived December 12, 2018. It was the moment I had anticipated for over a year and a half. The book was released in both paperback and Kindle formats just in time for Christmas.

It felt incredibly satisfying to search Amazon for the title and see the cover of The Disappearance of Millicent Hart: A Detective Scott McGregor Mystery pop up on the screen. I peeked at a behind-the-scenes graphic and saw that book sales had already begun!

I’m pretty sure my publisher purchased the first copy. (Thank you for all your hard work! I expect it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to pull a first-time author through the process of getting out a debut novel.) The sales continued … and I probably know everyone who bought a copy the first few days. I suspect some people bought them just to stop my excited babbling.

“The publication of your first book only happens once,” my publisher insisted, and she treated me to a celebration lunch.

Then I went to my day job.