This scene comes from The Body in the Buick, due to release December 21. Jerod’s dad, Eli, had to fire one of the mechanics who worked at his car repair shop for charging people for repairs they didn’t need. Vince was the first person Eli hired when he started his shop. He liked and trusted him. But something had been bothering Vince lately, something big.

Gaff walked toward them, and when they saw his somber expression, they all stopped work to gather around him.  He looked at Jerod. “When your dad got to work this morning, Vince’s old-school Buick was parked outside the fence.”

Jerod hesitated.  “He was driving that on Saturday when he went to see Dad.  Did he come to ask for his job back?”

Gaff shook his head.  “Your dad and Jarrett went out to look at it and noticed blood smeared on the trunk.”

“Jarrett was at the shop early?” Jazzi asked.

“He had a six-thirty-a.m. client,” Gaff explained.  “The guy was waiting for him when he pulled into the lot, so he had to get straight to work.  The minute he finished work on the car, the client hurried to his job.”

“And that’s when Dad came?” Jerod asked.

Gaff nodded.  “He and Jarrett popped the trunk on the Buick and found Vince’s body.  It had probably been in there from the time Vince disappeared.  Not in great condition.”

Jazzi wrinkled her nose.  “Was there anything on the security camera?”

“Someone drove the Buick to the fence late on Saturday, parked it, got out, and walked away from the cameras.  Wore a long, black overcoat down to his ankles, a black ski mask, gloves, and black gym shoes.  Probably tossed them all or burned them.  No way to identify him or her.  Can’t tell anything, nothing distinguishing “

Jerod leaned against his shovel handle, looking troubled.  “How did Dad take it?”

Gaff grimaced.  “Not so good.  He really liked Vince, says this whole scam thing is hard to believe, that Vince wasn’t like that.”  Gaff looked directly at Jazzi.  “He said your grandma predicted that Vince had died and it had been bothering him ever since.”

Jazzi nodded.  “If Gran is right…”  She hesitated.  They all knew Gran was always right.  “She saw him, and then the vision went dark.  She said he was going to have it out with someone.”

Gaff sighed.  “I don’t know why people won’t come to us when they need help.”

Jerod gave him a look.  “Probably because he did something wrong, too, and didn’t want to end up in jail.”

“That’s better than dead,” Gaff argued.

“How many people think of that as the alternative?”  Jerod turned to Jazzi.  “You’re going to help figure out what happened, aren’t you?”

Gaff jumped in.  “Eli asked for me to involve you, too.  Are you up for it, though?  I mean…”  His gaze went to her midriff.  “I heard. . .”

“That I’m pregnant?”  What?  Now her brain didn’t work when she was with child?  She swallowed her annoyance.  She looked at Ansel, who nodded yes.  “How can we say no to Eli?” she said.  “He and Eleanor let us use their lake cottage when they’re on vacation.  They’re family.”

Gaff smiled.  “Good, people really do talk more when you’re with me.  I’m going to visit Vince’s wife and brother tomorrow.  Want to come?”

“Sure, just call me when you’re ready to go.”

Best Laid Plans….

I meant to have the first draft of POSED IN DEATH finished by the end of June. I knew June was going to be a busy month, but I didn’t realize quite how busy it was going to get. There’s no way I’m going to meet my goal.

HH’s brother and his significant other came to stay with us for a few days for a visit. They live in California,, so we don’t get to see them often. We had a wonderful time, but no writing. I love having guests, so cooked things ahead for them, and we took them to different places for walks and hikes (their favorite thing to do). Our daughter, a traveling nurse, is still coming to stay with us on the days she works in town; and it’s wonderful getting to see her, so I shave off time for that. On a sadder note, my cousin who lives with my sister is having more health issues, and Mary had appointments she had to keep, so I sat with Jenny more than usual lately. She’s having more mild seizures lately and having more trouble walking, so Mary and I are starting to look at nursing centers.

Some people shake their heads at that, but after HH’s dad died, his mother was a lot happier when I found a good nursing home for her. She hated being alone, didn’t enjoy cooking, and kept forgetting to take her medicine. The home she stayed in had an activity every afternoon and usually another one each night. I went to take her out for lunch and for long rides every Thursday for twelve years until she told me that she couldn’t work me into her schedule anymore. I loved it. My writer friend, Ann–one of my favorite people–went to a nursing home after her husband died, too, and her daughter visited her every day. She was in my writers’ club, so I went to visit her occasionally and so did other members of our group, and she got happier and happier the longer she was there. I think Jenny will be the same. She loves being around people and doing crafts. Right now, she watches a lot of TV and can’t get out much. Mary and I will visit her if we can find a good home for her. So will my daughter. But finding that good place for her takes time.

I don’t have any deadlines I have to meet, and that’s a good thing right now, but I’m getting a little antsy to get this done. Sometimes, life happens, though, and this time, I’m doomed. I’ve been writing whenever I can, and I can smell the end of the first draft. Only five more chapters to go. I’ll get to them when I can. There’s no use fussing about it. It is what it is, and I did the best I could. So I’ll just keep chugging along. At least, for now, I’m happy with what I have, and I’m writing this ahead to schedule it, so who knows? Maybe I’ll have written The End by the time you read this.

How’s your summer going? Do you lose writing time once warm weather rolls around? I always think of the lazy days of summer, but the truth is, I’m busier once the heat cranks up. I have the yard to take care of besides the house. And we’re more social in warm weather and go out more. We play more. Do you still meet writing goals? Fingers crossed you do.

A Chapter a Day Keeps Panic Away

I’ve started writing THE BODY IN THE TRENCH, my seventh Jazzi and Ansel cozy. I had plot points–one for every chapter–so I knew how the story flowed in my head. So what did I do? I moved things around as soon as I reached chapter 2. I thought it would make the pace faster. Moving plot points and changing my mind doesn’t bother me at all. It’s like cooking. If I have all of the ingredients and a recipe I trust, I can tinker with it all I want, as long as I write a chapter a day most week days.

A chapter a day–most days–gives me enough progress to keep me motivated. Some take longer than others. There are those nice, happy scenes where the words flow and the ideas stream onto the page. On those days, I can quit early or sneak in another chapter. Then there are scenes that fight me every other sentence. The dialogue feels stilted. The descriptions make me yawn. If I squint, I see word repetitions sprinkled in every other paragraph. Doesn’t matter. I pound out the chapter anyway. When I go back to it the next day, I can make it better.

Some scenes are just plain tricky to deal with. Too many characters doing too many different things and yapping at each other. Or two or three scenes in the same chapter. I sit at my computer longer on days like that. Even the rewrites take more time. But good and bad days even out eventually, and if I just keep pounding keys, the book keeps growing.

I’m slow and methodical, but that works for me. I’m more of a perspiration than inspiration type writer. I like having deadlines, but I don’t like having to worry if I’ll meet them. I don’t write as well when I’m stressed. I’m like the tortoise, not built for speed. When I feel scrunched, I’m stressed. Arrgh! I have to force myself not to write shorter chapters to move the book along. Sure, I’d get to the end faster, but my word count would be pitiful.

What about you? Do you like deadlines? Do you write better under pressure? I know some people do. Or does pressure mess with you? Are you a marathon writer or a sprinter?

However you work best, I hope the words flow. And happy writing!


My birthday’s actually at the end of September, but according to the zodiac my birthday month is September 23 to Oct. 22.  So October is a special month for me.  Every year, when I reach it, I feel more energized, like I’m starting a new year.

Also, October is the month in Indiana when the leaves change color and the air grows nippier.  And at the end of the month, there’s Halloween.  I’ve always liked fairytales, paranormal, and supernatural.  And All Hallow’s Eve is when the veil between our world and the spirit realm thins.  Witches celebrate Samhain and put out a saucer of milk for Cat Sith.

Cat Sith inspired me to write a short story for Muddy River.  No horror or ghosts or goblins.  It’s how the supernaturals in Muddy River celebrate the holiday.  You can find it on the Muddy River Snippets page here:  

And today, for the Thursday Snippet, I put up a Halloween story for Jazzi and Ansel.  The body on their front stoop isn’t a stuffed dummy.  It’s real.

Another reason for me to celebrate lately is that I finally finished the plot points for Muddy River Four.  I’m often tempted by the desire to just wing it and see what happens, but it never works for me.  It always costs me more time and effort than if I make myself pound out ideas for chapters so I can see the cause and effect that take me to a book’s end.  When I write willy-nilly, letting my characters lead me, I run amok.  My characters must not be trustworthy.  Not sure what that says about me:)

Anyway, I’m going to try to pound out a Muddy River by the end of November, because my next Jazzi mystery is due on May 4th, and I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t get as much writing time in December as I usually do, so I’ll rub my hands together and plot out Jazzi 6 in-between holiday things.  I mean, it’s more important to see friends and family and have fun:)  Once January hits, I can hibernate and hit the keys every week day to make my Jazzi deadline.

At least, that’s the plan.  For now.   But you know how Life goes.  The best laid plans and all that….

So, I’m wishing you an awesome October, and happy writing!


Don’t Panic

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I’ve been blithely writing away, Ta da da, happy as can be, on Muddy River mysteries for a while now.  As if I didn’t have a care in the world.  I mean, I’m self-publishing this series, so there are no deadlines.  Right?

Except there IS a deadline for the next Jazzi Zanders mystery due–number 5.  But it’s not until Nov. 4th, months away.  Except…it takes me months to write a Jazzi cozy.  I still wouldn’t have actually counted out the months on my fingers except that I went to Amazon and accidentally found this:    A blurb for book 4, that doesn’t even come out until March 17, 2020.  Kensington was way ahead of me…again.

That made me seriously look at how much time I had to do what.  And all of a sudden, the lazy days of summer didn’t look as lazy anymore.  Yes, I panicked.  I couldn’t dawdle around finishing Muddy River 3.  I glued my fanny in chair, hit the keyboard, and wrote like the crazed person I occasionally become.  And today, at last, I finished the last chapter of the first draft.  RELIEF!  I can pass the pages on to my trusty critique partners and start work on Jazzi 5 on Monday.

And I’m even pretty much on track.  I shouldn’t have to buy stronger hair dye to cover any more gray hairs trying to get it done in time.  I won’t have to rush it.  I think that always shows (at least when I do it).

So, now that I can take a deep breath, I can settle down in front of my computer and write one scene or chapter a day every open weekday for months and months without having to try to write a kazillion pages in a short period of time.  I can breathe again.  And enjoy the summer.

Hope you had a great Fourth and happy writing!

(And if you live elsewhere in the world, hope your fourth was great anyway:)

Writing & Boys

I didn’t write my blog on Sunday, like I usually do.  Why?  I rented the movie Jack the Giant Slayer and watched it with Tyler and Nathan.  A fun movie, but a great evening.  I didn’t dust the house or weed my flower beds on Saturday.  I spent the afternoon watching repeats of the TV show Psych with Tyler–one of his favorites.  He intends to watch every segment before he goes back to IU this Fall–a worthy challenge:)  And I’ll watch quite a few of them, right along with him.

I take my writing goals seriously and make deadlines for myself that I intend to meet…and usually do.  But my grandsons are staying with us this summer, and this will be the last summer that Tyler means to come home.  He’s moving into an apartment in Bloomington before college starts and plans to live there year-round.  Nate will be a senior in high school this year and after he graduates, he’s itching to move away, too.  I have to enjoy them while I can.  Even now, while they zoom in and out of the house, they’re usually too “busy” for me.  That’s the way of kids.  They have jobs, friends, and plenty of things to do.  So when they finally want to spend time with me, I make time.

I learned a long time ago that kids talk to you when the moment strikes, not before and not after.  When I ask, “How was your day?”–I usually get “Okay” or a few mumbled words for an answer.  Over supper, we might get a few more sentences about this or that, but a kid only really talks to you when he’s in the mood.  And if you’re too busy to listen?  The moment passes.

So, for this summer, I write while the boys are out and about, and when a boy wants to “hang with me,” I save whatever I’m working on, put my writing aside, and make myself available.