Enter Agatha Raisin

Cozy Capers

agatha-raisin-imageBeing an avid Acorn TV user (the best of British television available to Americans everywhere!), I was thrilled to discover a new cozy mystery series available: Agatha Raisin. I’d never read the books, but I thoroughly enjoyed the series about a quirky 50-something single woman who moves to the Cotswolds for a quiet life and finds herself embroiled in murder.

quicheNaturally once I’d finished binge watching the first season, I had to read the books! I was a little worried I wouldn’t enjoy them after having seen the TV versions, but I shouldn’t have because they were marvelous! I was hooked after the first couple of chapters of The Quiche of DeathI’m now on book 3 25(good thing there are 27 novels!).

Are there differences between the books and the show? You betcha. There always are, aren’t there? And since the first book was written in the…

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UPDATE: Divorce Can Be Deadly; Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish; Blue Blooded


Hello all!

Sorry I haven’t checked in since late July. I’ve been writing! My eyes are doing better in the sense I’ve been able to tolerate longer and longer periods at the computer. Here’s an update:

Divorce Can Be Deadly (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries #2): I’m very pleased by how this one is coming along, and I hope when it arrives, you’ll agree it was worth the wait. I’m close to finishing it up–after which comes the rewrite, the editing, the proofing, and publishing.

Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish: I’m almost done with this one. It’s a novella set right after DCBD, and will be included in a Christmas-themed anthology called Romancing Christmas 2. Watch this space for publishing news on that book, which may introduce you to some new favorite authors. And yes, the anthology is about romance, so draw your own conclusions on that score.

Blue Blooded (Lord & Lady Hetheridge Mysteries #5): Yesterday, I glanced at my phone and saw a wonderfully prescient message. It was from a reader who said she needed more Hetheridges, and was waiting patiently. I usually answer all queries first thing the next morning, but I couldn’t find it today–not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or my email. (LOL, I am over-connected, like most of us.) However, I was amazed to see that message at that moment, because during the long drive back from my hairdresser*, the opening paragraphs of Blue Blooded came to me. That’s a sure sign my work on DCBD is coming to a close.

So for that reader–sorry I can’t locate your message–and anyone else who may be interested, here’s what my first draft of those opening paragraphs looks like. Not fine-tuned, not edited, but right out of my word processor, to show you Dr. Bones will soon return and the Hetheridges will be next up to bat.

Anthony Hetheridge, ninth baron of Wellegrave and former chief superintendent for New Scotland Yard, welcomed the spring. In January, he’d been forced out of his distinguished career by old enemies who’d long been sharpening their knives. In February, he’d returned to the Yard as a consultant, allowing him to do things heretofore only dreamt of; namely, billing by the hour, ignoring internal politics, and going home each day at five o’clock. In March, as daffodils sprang up all over London and pink camellia trees spilled over wrought iron fences, Tony completed the byzantine obstacle course necessary to receive his private investigator’s license. Now it was April— unusually sunny, unseasonably warm, and full of surprises.

On April fifth, his brother-in-law, Ritchie Wakefield, had modified the shape of a Lego brick by heating it with a cigarette lighter. In the process, he’d set alight a two-hundred-year-old French mahogany sofa. This had caught the nearby Italian silk brocade curtains on fire, which went up like tissue paper. Half of Tony’s ancestral London townhouse, Wellegrave House, had been burned out. Thankfully, no one was injured. As his wife Kate raged, his assistant Mrs. Snell tutted, and his manservant Harvey wept, Tony decided that he, too, would abandon British reserve and vent his true feelings on the matter: he chucked what survived and hired an interior designer to chase away the ghosts of Hetheridges past.

No more living in a museum, he thought, smiling as he passed from kitchen to stairs, a cup of tea in hand. Things are quiet at the Yard. Now all I need is a case.

*Redhead by choice



Stranger Things

Today’s post will be another quick one, as I am still very deep in writing, and it’s going well. I just want to alert those of you with Netflix to a remarkable 8-part series, set in 1983, called Stranger Things. It’s kind of Firestarter meets Jean Grey of the X-Men, with a little It thrown in. I’ve heard Stephen King is a fan, and I don’t doubt it. The series owes a lot to him, and I don’t just mean his trademark, the seamless intermingling of horror and real life. Like King’s best work, Stranger Things spotlights children in an unusually believable way, provides interesting backstories to virtually all adult characters, and unfolds at a unhurried, masterful pace.

Stranger Things stars 80s staples Winona Ryder (with a haircut straight out of the movie Silkwood) and Matthew Modine, who some of you might remember as the hunk from Vision Quest. It also features several future stars, including Millie Bobby Brown as El and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin.

That’s it. Enough from me! Go watch it.

Stranger Things Poster

Dispatches from Cornwall, Part #4

Hello! I’m currently at that stage of writing where my answer to everyone, in virtually all situations, is, “Not now, I’m working on the book.” But I’ll pause this morning to upload some more pics relating to my  June 2016 trip to England’s southwest country.

Rhododendrons are everywhere in Cornwall. Even a “routine” drive along the freeway was enlivened by bursts of color.

Rhododendron London Park

(My collection.)

Climbing roses. The notion of a rose-covered English cottage is quite real and just as lovely as you might imagine.

Climbing roses

(My collection.)

Lupines are another flower I frequently encountered. It’s no exaggeration to say that on every twenty-minute ramble along a footpath, I could have collected a bouquet of wildflowers.

Lupines in vase

(My collection.)

Chamomile flowers were also common, particularly in Plymouth (which is in the neighboring county of Devon).


(My collection.)

Variations on the English rose were everywhere: formal gardens, public greens, churchyards. They occupied pride of place in many front gardens, each specimen’s health and beauty a testament to the homeowner’s hard work. When the hired car got a flat and we awaited rescue, I enjoyed the neighborhood’s roses. They were just as fine as the ones I’d admired at St. Michael’s Mount the day before.

Damask rose

(My collection.)

All right, I must get back to writing. Have a wonderful weekend.


Dispatches from Cornwall, Part #3

Hello again. It’s Saturday and I plan to spend the weekend writing, so here’s another post that’s essentially just snapshots from my latest visit to the Mother Ship, England.

Fans of Poldark won’t be surprised to learn I spent a day at St. Agnes, which is part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site. Because I was still recovering from surgery, I didn’t actually get to walk among the abandoned mines. (Too much of a climb.) However, I could see them, even from far below:

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Here’s a much better professional photo of a tin mine, purchased a couple of years ago:

Cornish Tin Mine

From my collection.

According to The Little Book of Cornwall (a book I highly recommend for Anglophiles), “Most of the national Trust’s stately homes in Cornwall were built on the profits of our mineral trade.” That declined in the 1800s and disappeared altogether in the 1900s, but one wonders if the knockers remain in those deserted shafts. To learn about the knockers, also called Tommyknockers, click here.

More of my snapshots from St. Agnes:

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My favorite view.

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A holiday cottage for rent. (Or “to let,” as I should say.)

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Entrance to a old shaft.

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Another lovely view.

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A dreamy version of St. Agnes as viewed by me and optimized by Instagram. 

Have a safe and happy weekend.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know as a Writer, I Learned From the X-Men

It’s July 3rd and I am still embroiled in writing, so here’s a quick post for the next week. When I was 11, my good friend Rosemary O’Malley introduced me to the Uncanny X-Men. Here’s just a smattering of the lessons I learned.

Sometimes heroes and villains just have to take off their masks and have a rational (if contentious) discussion. The villain might even be genuinely horrified to hear that one of his adversaries is dead.


First issue I ever bought, Uncanny X-Men #150 (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel).

The best villains are capable of human emotion, including remorse.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel)

There are times when a tricky scene is best viewed through the eyes of a character who stands apart.


Uncanny X-men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

Even the closest relationships have their angry moments, especially if the dynamic is mentor/mentee or parent/child.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel)

When good people do terrible things, the root cause is always the same.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

Different leadership styles may be called for, and surprising results may occur.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

Change is never easy.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Romita, Jr./Marvel)

Even tough guys can be paralyzed by fear.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

The most interesting hero/villain dynamics are based on similarities as well as differences.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel)

Your most impulsive character may literally throw himself off a cliff rather than quit while ahead. Also: it’s glorious to see a hero do something stupid when that stupid action entirely in keeping with their characterization.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Romita, Jr./Marvel)

There is such a thing as a genuine change of heart. But amends and trust-building won’t come easy.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Marvel)

There’s all kinds of toughness (emotional, intellectual, physical) and all kinds of heroic people, from pretty ladies to growling savages.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Smith/Marvel)

It’s natural to look back on your old writing and want to cringe, laugh, or kill it with fire.


Uncanny X-Men (Lee/Adams/Marvel)

Note: it’s difficult to credit anything as collaborative as comics properly, but let me give a shout out to Glynis Oliver and Tom Orzechowski, who hand-colored and hand-lettered most of the panels I included, back in the day.

The complete stories these panels were pulled from can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other retailers.

Dispatches from Devon: Dartmouth

Hello! I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful holiday weekend. Me, I am writing. Thank goodness, nothing makes me happier than the times when it really flows. So here’s a quick peek at some of my snaps from a visit to Dartmouth Castle, Devon.

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Dartmouth village. We drove to the village of Knightswear and took the ferry across the river Dart. I love all that green. 

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Celtic cross on the grave of a local drowning victim.

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Inside the castle.

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The River Dart.


Here’s a gorgeous shot of Knightswear and the River Dart that I found on Wikimedia Commons. (credit: Herbythyme

And last but certainly not least, some flying quadcopter footage of the castle and grounds. (Credit: SparkoRC)



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