August 23, 2013

Here's to our Best Days

What makes 'the best day'? A few weeks ago we had family over to share crabs, beer, and burgers. My granddaughter, Sophie, who is five was the only child there. She seemed to enjoy herself, played nicely, ate crabs and lots of corn, found her Twizzler in her dessert drawer (where I keep candy just for her), put up no fuss when it was time to leave, waved and said "Bye everybody" (after a bit of coaxing - she's very shy), and hopped in the car.

On the way home Sophie kept saying to my daughter, "That was the best day, wasn't it, Mom?" and "Wasn't that the best day?" and "I had the best day!" for the whole hour ride.

So, what made it 'the best day' for her? Who knows? What makes any day that good? It's kind of impossible to pin down, isn't it?

I have found that special days are rarely 'the best days'. My wedding day, for example, was not a 'best' day. It was a good day and marrying Tom was the best thing I've ever done, but the day went by in a whirl. We were tired and nervous and it was over in the wink of an eye.

But there was an evening when Tom and I sat at the Lincoln Memorial and talked for the longest time. Just the two of us. I can't remember why we were there or much of what we talked about, but it was a lovely night and the feeling of that night has never gone away.

Another memory that always makes me smile is driving home from Baltimore with my brother back in the summer 1965. I remember it vividly, the sun roof open, Beatles on the radio, a tree lined portion of Route 1. We were happy and singing and having fun and it was the best . 

I have so many 'best' moments with my sisters, my best friend, Tom and the kids. Unfortunately, these tend to get overshadowed by the rest of life, the hard parts, the sadness, the day to day routine. So my new resolution is to try and think about a 'best' time, a memory that will make me smile, every time 'real life' chooses to smack me on the head. Maybe it will help. maybe not. But I think it's worth a try.

August 16, 2013

The writing bug is back

Fall is in the air a bit early and the dog days of August seem to be skipping us this year. Windows are open. My husband is wearing a sweatshirt which seems a bit excessive, but he finds anything under 90 degrees to be a tad cool. And I have got the writing bug back.

It tends to desert me in mid-spring and return in the fall. I have no idea why. I'm retired and have no fixed schedule to follow. But my muse or whatever little irritant that goads me on seems to run on a school schedule. A hangover from my youth when summer was for play? I have no idea. I just know that suddenly I have an urge to write something.

So, I've begun to map out my next Daisy&Rose mystery. I am not good at this process. I tend to invent as I write, but I do need a basic outline. First and foremost, I need to know who did what to whom and why. I also like to have a good idea about a little sideshow, so to speak - the hormonally exuberant Malcolm or a jogger who keeps showing up revealing a little more of himself than anyone would like to see.

There are other questions I need to think about. Is romance in the air? Probably not. Who needs romance when you've got dead bodies. What outlandish things will Angela be up to? Any more pets to be added to the menagerie? But really, I just need the basic plot. The rest will come, like Shoeless Joe Jackson in the movie.

Occasionally, someone will ask me where I get my ideas. And I usually have to say that most of the time I have no idea. They just arrive. I sit down to write, the flow is good, words get put on the page and there it is. A paragraph or a page or a chapter.

There are times that I've read something I've written a day or so later and think, "Wow. That's not bad. I like it. I don't remember writing it and I wonder where it came from."

Then there are times when I know the moment an idea came to me. This week it happened twice, both between four and five in the morning, my usual hour of insomnia.

The first was Saturday night. I was doing my version of counting sheep - going through the alphabet and listing items (flowers in this case) that begin with each letter - and it wasn't working. I suddenly remembered the meteor shower and decided to see what the heavens had to offer. Tom and I watched for a while (he, too, often has 4 a.m. insomnia). When I got back in bed, I had an image of Daisy and fog and knew just how I wanted to begin the book. Wonderful. Then I fell fast asleep.

The second time was the night before last. Again 4 a.m. and the alphabet thing not working. I just tossed and turned a lot thinking about all those little things that drive you crazy at four in the morning.

One of those things was the new book. I had a basic plot and the first sentence, but I was stuck. I couldn't grab what I call 'the hook', the hinge I hang the story on. After about forty-five minutes of checking the clock and making no progress with sleep or storyline, I gave up trying. I needed to talk to someone.

But Tom was actually sleeping for a change and I felt it unfair to wake him. So I had a little chat with my mother. A tad one-sided seeing as how she passed on to a better place quite a while ago, but I know she can still hear me. 

My mother loved mysteries. She turned me onto Miss Marple, Peter Wimsey and tons of other wonderful detectives when I was about twelve. So I told her about the new book and how I would love to be able to pick her brain because I was a bit stuck at the moment and it was frustrating. Then I said good night, closed my eyes, snuggled down, and there it was! I had the hook. A ghost who walks at four in the morning. Coincidence? I don't think so. Thanks, Mom.

August 8, 2013

The elusive, mysterious 'Woman of a Certain Age'

Let me begin by congratulating two fellow Intrigue authors who launched novels this week. DB Corey's thrilling Chain of Evidence and CA Verstraete's wonderful zombie novel Girl Z are taking off with a bang. Go to and to see what all the excitement's about. Both books are available at
I am a woman of a 'certain age'. Just what age range this encompasses I am not entirely sure. It's a phrase women like to use instead of uttering an actual number. And I think it's a nice idea. But let's face it, I do believe it's just a nice way of saying pretty old, but not old enough to be elderly.
Age is a funny thing, isn't it? Ask a teenager how old she is and "I'll be sixteen in two months and then I can drive!" is shouted with glee.
A few years later the same post-teen might utter, "I'm 21. I'm legal!".
Twenty-five is certainly acceptable. Right up to about thirty-two seems to be fine. Then we start hedging. "Why do you ask?" "How old do I look?" (Never a safe question as many have found out the hard way.) A few years later we move into "In my thirties," and "Old enough to know better." Sometimes we simply give the silent 'how-dare-you-ask' stare which we've been perfecting for just this moment. And so it goes until we become 'women of a certain age'.
So when does a certain age start? I suppose it's when we've stretched middle-age just about as far as we possibly can. Because as much as I hate to say it, 60 is not middle-aged. It may be the new 40, but I'm just about positive that 120 will not be the new 80.
Why am I pondering this arcane question for the ages? I have a birthday coming up shortly and being a woman of a certain age I want to make sure that I still am - a certain age. Of course, if you think about it, who isn't? Everyone is a certain age. Unless of course you have no idea when you were born.
Which brings me to a funny little story about my amusing little family. If you haven't caught on by now my family can be a little eccentric. Case in point. Until I was sixteen and I applied for my learner's permit I thought my birthday was August 15th. It isn't.
My older sister, Mary, and I had always shared a birthday. I was told stories about Mom having to leave Mary's party to go to the hospital to have me. So at sixteen when I excitedly filled out the application for my learner's permit, I wrote down August 15th under date of birth. I also sent a copy of my birth certificate with the form.
About a week later I eagerly opened my envelope from the DMV only to find my application and birth certificate returned with a note saying that there was a discrepancy in the birth dates.
This is when I found out that I was actually born on August 16th. For over sixteen years, no one, not my parents or three older siblings, ever mentioned that Mary and I did not really share a birthday. My Dad, a wonderful, but thoroughly goofy man, explained it by saying that if I had been born on a train, my birthday would be the 15th because trains ran on Standard Time, not Daylight Savings Time and I was born shortly after midnight DST which would have been shortly after 11:00 pm EST on a train. I was not born on a train. I was not born on August 15th. But I was born, I am having a birthday, and I will still be 'a woman of a certain age'. 
If you enjoy these little musings of mine, would you be so kind as to click the Google+ button and/or the Facebook share button? I'd be most appreciative.

August 2, 2013

Questions about very important things

I have questions. Lots of them. Most will never be answered, but I like to ask them anyway.

For instance, why does the spider on my bathroom sink just sit there? Why doesn't he move away from the faucet. His little web just gets pulled apart each time I wash my hands. He then rebuilds and sits there doing nothing, apparently waiting for me to turn on the faucet so he can rebuild once more.

Yes, I have a spider. I don't kill spiders. I think they do good work. And I'm fine as long as I know where they are. And as long as they are not actually on me. If they bother me, I simply put them outside. (Glass over spider, cardboard slid under glass, someone to open the door for you. Easy-peasy.)

I remember a particular spider that lived on the windshield of my little red VW. He was a little white spider and had been there for a few weeks, just walking back and forth. I don't know what he lived on. I didn't have food in the car. Well, I probably did - old fries or chips, but nothing on the windshield or dashboard.

Anyway, one day my sister got in the car and said, "Oh, a spider!" and smooshed the poor thing.

She no longer kills spiders. Perhaps it was my response when I yelled, "Why the hell did you do that?", but I think it more likely that she matured in her thinking just as I did learning that spiders are good people, too.

This spider inquiry seems to have nothing to do with writing, except that recently - this entire summer - I feel very much like my little spider. I sit and I wait and something interrupts me and I sit and wait again. Not much is getting done in the way of editing or outlining another book. Not much is getting done at all.

So the question remains, why does the spider on my bathroom sink just sit there? More to the point, of course, is why do I? I'll let you know as soon as I find out. I'm sure you'll be waiting with baited breath. Relax, I may be a while.

In the meantime, a question about hummingbirds. I know, you think I'm going to ask why they hum. But I already know that. (For anyone who has managed to live a life without hearing this oldie, but goodie, it's because they don't know the words.)

No, no. I have read that they like clean feeders. And I have watched them feast on my little feeder for two days, but the next they just fly by without even a sip. How do they know it's time for a wash? It's a mystery.