Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Put The Fruitcake Down, Stand Back, And No One Will Get Hurt

It's Christmas time, fa la la la la. Pass the eggnog, but only if made with fake egg yokes, fat-free half and half, and Stevia raw sugar extract. Keep the brandy coming, tho guys. It's going to be a tough season.
I write this because the lone fruitcake that has been circling around the globe for the past thirty plus years has gone missing. Unless someone ate it. Wait a minute! That can't be. Fruitcake is the scourge of the holiday, the odd-man out, the little guy everyone likes to make fun of. I have it on personal authority that many a fruitcake has gone to bed sobbing each night at this sort of treatment. Fortunately, those tears are what keep it from drying out. Truly.
I say, wake up, America! We are losing one of our natural resources! Fruitcakes are an endangered species! I mean, when was the last time anybody served a fruitcake at a holiday party? And with pride?
I used to make fruitcakes all the time. It takes weeks. Then you store them soaked in booze for months. I started mine in early October. They were delicious. Everyone loved them. Truly.
Then I don't know what happened. It's always the little things at first that set the pattern.
"No, thank you, I'm trying to watch my weight." Said after devouring five chocolate chip cookies.
"No thank you, I don't drink." Come on now! Something soaked in six or seven cups of brandy just heighten the experience! Truly.
"I've never really liked fruitcake," said one friend. She has since been written off my gift list. I knew from the first, tho, this comment was the death knell of the holiday fruitcake.
I don't bake fruitcake any more. A lot of work and it's an ungrateful world out there. Now I order them online from Harry and David's. And when I eat them, I wait until everyone has gone to bed then sneak out, and hide in the back of my larder. These fruitcakes are fabulous, a lot like mine, but not quite as much brandy. That's okay. You can't have everything.
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frank Scully is Here! Drumroll, Please!

I'm thrilled to say Frank Scully has graced us with his cyber presence. This is one fine writer. And he's also a cat lover! Frank has had a very interesting life, and I hope all of you will enjoy his interview as much as I did. Welcome, Frank!

Heather, it is a pleasure to stop by and guest on your blog. Always nice to visit a fellow Muser, and I have enjoyed your Alvarez Murder Mystery series. We are also apparently both cat lovers as well as mystery writers. Cats are a mystery in themselves that no one will ever solve.

Anyway, thanks for letting me stop by to mention my latest book, EMPTY TIME. I had fun writing this one. In most of my books the hero is, well, a hero type. A soldier or a cop, even if a part time deputy, or something similar. In EMPTY TIME, my protagonist, Jim Lang, starts out as a fat-bottomed corporate bureaucrat who is set up to be the patsy for international stock fraud, murder and other crimes. Now, although I have a day job as a corporate bureaucrat, it shouldn’t be assumed that I have a generous backside or am anything like the hero. However, I do know the inner workings of the corporate world and business negotiations all too well. Fortunately, I haven’t been set up to take the blame for murder and had to run from cops on several continents or been the target for killers. But who knows what might happen after my bosses read this book.

Today’s corporate titans are much like the feudal lords and barons of medieval times. They claw and scheme their way up a ladder of prestige, privilege, wealth and power. However, unlike feudal times there is no code of conduct or moral precepts. Chivalry is dead. Working on a global scale beyond governments and borders, these new aristocrats are almost untouchable.

Jim Lang sold his soul to the company for a salary and the promise of promotion. His life sputtered into a workaholic rut on a middle rung of the corporate ladder while his colleagues, using his business plan, became the international business barons he once aspired to be. Bad memories of busted marriages and broken promises are all that keep him company in his personal hours so he is more than willing to sacrifice that empty time to his job to make the corporation grow. His bosses have one more sacrifice in mind for him. To die for them. Deceived, betrayed and framed for murder and massive stock fraud, his bosses plan for him to die and disappear. Disappear, he does; die, he doesn’t.

Lang must face and conquer his old fears and guilt, and live up to the potential within. To save the people he loves he must put his life on the line to turn the tables on his former colleagues in an inter-continental, multi-billion dollar, fast paced and lethal game of corporate intrigue and treachery with bloody traps and deadly counter traps.

It is also different from my other novels so far in that much of the action takes place in Europe. I have done a lot of traveling and enjoyed working some of what I know into the book.

EMPTY TIME is my third book out from MuseItUp. RESURRECTION GARDEN and DEAD MAN’S GAMBIT came out earlier. I have three more under contract. Next up will be BLOOD SINS early next year followed by GRAVEDIGGER’S OPEN HOUSE and VACATION MAN.
All are part of my Decade Mystery Series. I am writing at least one novel set in each decade from the beginning of the 20th century to the current time set in different locales with both continuing and new characters in each one. There is something unique in each decade that marks it as separate from what went before or what follows. I explore aspects of what is unique as it is expressed in the locale chosen and how it affects the culture, characters and the tenor of the times and yet also see the common humanity that never changes.

I am hard at work on my seventh novel and a short story but never seem to have near enough time to work on them.

Thanks again for having me as a quest and thanks to all your readers. All of my books are available at the MuseItUp bookstore:
They are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other online eBook retailers.

I also welcome all to visit my website:

And blog:


Jim Lang’s life sputtered into a workaholic rut on a middle rung of the corporate ladder while his colleagues, using his business plan, became the international business titans he once aspired to be.

Bad memories of busted marriages and broken promises are all that keep him company in his personal hours so he is more than willing to sacrifice that empty time to his job to make the corporation grow. His bosses have one more sacrifice in mind for him. To die for them.

Deceived, betrayed and framed for murder and massive stock fraud, his bosses plan for him to die and disappear. Disappear, he does; die, he doesn’t.

Lang must face and conquer his old fears and guilt, and live up to the potential within. To save the people he loves he must put his life on the line to turn the tables on his former colleagues in an inter-continental, multi-billion dollar, fast paced and lethal game of corporate intrigue and treachery with bloody traps and deadly counter traps.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Well, Thanksgiving Has Come And Gone But...

...why does Life keep interfering with my writing? Who's going to eat all this leftover turkey crammed inside my fridge? And why am I the one stuck with thinking about it? And why does my home look like the inside of a frat house? And again I say, when can I get back to my writing?

I now understand why many historical writers were hysterical curmudgeons, not to mention recluses. It's the only way you can get your work done.
A short time ago, I finished giving my mother-in-law's dog a bath. There were a myriad of steps that led to it, but there you are. She and her son, my husband, just went swimming. The house is quiet. Finally. Praise the Lord and pass the pen.
LIVING VS. WRITING. WRITING VS. LIVING. And never the twain shall meet.
Well, hardly ever.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No, I didn't Save the Spider

I'm not sure what's up with me lately, but I and the animal kingdom are not quite getting along. First, the day before I left for the MuseItUp Retreat, my cat, Ellie used my neck as a perceived ladder in her bid for freedom. She repeatedly tells me this wasn’t her fault, though.
Being half-Siamese and half-Egyptian Mau (black one on the left), Ellie can only take so much at the vet's before she makes a break for it. She says her high-strung-edness has something to do with being related to Queen Cleopatera. That would be the half-Egyptian part, I’m thinking. Ellie says you can't have a relative who got bit on the asp without inheriting a very sensitive nature, no matter how long ago it was. Anyway, I go back to the doctor on Monday to check the remnants of the Cat Scratch Fever. I still have a little lumpy scar on my...ahem...double chin from that episode. I mean, enough already. I’m only one person.
Then and excuse me all to pieces for being annoyed over this, several days ago I got bit by a spider. This renegade spider hid inside the sleeve of my big shirt, inside my closet, inside my bedroom and then had the unmitigated gall to attack me, totally unprovoked. By the time this vile hooligan found a piece of unprotected skin -- I wore this big shirt over a blouse -- I was at a 1-day retreat at a friend’s house, walking down the street on a break, and minding my own business. Then YOWSER! I mean the inside of my lower arm felt the mighty jaws of this monster. I ripped off the shirt and there it was still clinging to inside the sleeve! At first I thought it was a bumble bee but I saw it was a large black and white spider, now drawn up into himself. I let out a scream, tossed the shirt away and the spider flew into the bushes.
With a burning and swelling arm, I ran into my friend’s house looking for anti-snake venom, Benadryl, and sympathy. What I got was, did you save the spider?
Now come on, folks. When you see something the size of a bumble bee inside your shirt sleeve the last thing on your mind is to save this sucker for posterity. And at least 50% of the people I told this story to - and most had spider bite tales – said to me, did you save the spider? No, no, and no!! Get over it, NO.
On reflection, I could tell by the looks of it, it wasn't a Brown Recluse (got bit by one of those 5 years ago, thank you so much) or a black Widow (never bitten; let’s keep it that way). And while I still have a burning, itching red mark, most of the swelling has gone down now. The consensus is in. I will live.
However, maybe I shouldn't leave the house for awhile. This is deer breeding season and as we all know, things tend to happen in threes. That's all I need is to be kicked in the shin by a rambunctious doe on her way to meet the buckaroo of her life. I mean, enough already.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

I may not have seen all the photos from the MuseItUp Meet and Greet in Montreal, but I've seen enough. Let me say this about that: my hair tells the story. It drooped, it dripped, it sagged and it flagged.
I'm sure this is because I was not at my best and NOT being a type A personality, it showed. I can rally, but only so much.
Two days before my departure to Montreal, I came down with a bad cold. The following day I took my beloved sweetie-pie, Ellie, cat extraordinairre, to the vet for her checkup and shots. Once at the vet's and having had enough, Ellie decided to make a break for freedom and used my neck in her panic to escape needles, prodding, and Q-tips. I bled profusely, the vet scurried, and Ellie ultimately leaped into her carrier to safety. The next morning the puncture wounds on my neck were swollen to goiter size, I was running a fever, and feeling miserable. Catch Scratch Fever, here I come!
I thought for sure I would have to bail on the trip but didn't want to do that. So sniffling with the cold and feverish from the infectious scratches, I went to the doctor for mega-size antibiotics and the okay to go. The doc gave it reluctantly. Ordinarily, I would have gone back to bed, feeling enormously sorry for myself, and sent an email of regret. But I had been looking forward to this trip for nearly 8-months. I hadn't seen my beloved cousin for nearly 5-years and wanted to meet the publisher, staff and authors who'd turned my life around. I was going to go to Montreal if I had to be carried on board the plane. It almost came to that.
The bottom line is after it's all said and done, I had a ball. I got to see cousin Gracie, meet some of the Muse authors, plus our leaders, Lea and Litsa. I soldiered through and thought I did well. I was so proud. True, I'm not the kind of person to run for president, unwilling to spend three-years campaigning 18-hour days, but I had risen above.
Then I saw the pics. No matter what, my hair carried my internal drama. And my smile, although sincere, was a little on the wanting side. Let's not even talk about my double chin, which was so red and enormous I kept whacking it with hands, forks, scarves, and glasses of wine when least expected. It throbbed, simply wasn't where it belonged, and kept getting in the way.
But I marshaled through. and I'm so glad I did. I am my own trouper. I don't care if anyone else gets it. I knew what I had to do to be there and I am proud.
Now, all I can ask is everyone throw away all those ghastly photos of me. Except, of course, the ones with the magenta hair and tie, given to me by our darling Karen. Somethings are worth having, no matter what you look like.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cousin to Cousin

Just returned from Montreal and it was a Cuz Love Fest! First of all, I met my own cousin there, fellow Muse Author, Grace DeLuca. It's so great when you admire and love a relative, a rarity, as everybody knows. But Grace happens to be one of my favorite people, even though she tends to order hamburgers and french fries when we're out, knowing I am weak and will follow suit.
Gracie and I haven't seen each other in person for five years, what with her living in Florida and me in California. Sure, we talk on the phone and email each other regularly but give me a real hug over a virtual one every time! We played catchup, revealed secrets to one another we would tell no one else, and talked about us, us, us. It was heaven.
Then I got a chance to visit America's cousin, Canada, and meet Canadians on their own turf. Friendly, friendly, friendly. And it seems to come from the heart. I can't wait to go back. I was so busy with the Muse events and visiting with Grace, I never got into the city of Montreal at all! That's okay, it merely means I need to return. Montreal Jazz Festival in July, here I come!!
Lastly, I got to meet those two Muse dynamos, Lea and Litsa, in the flesh. These amazing women are loaded with smarts, integrity and honor. Plus, they are two energizer bunnies dedicated to the Muse authors like no body's business. I found them to be in the author's corner and know us pretty well, sort of like the way a first-rate teacher knows her students. But Lea smacks with a wet noodle instead of a yardstick.
At the Friday night get-together dinner, we had a chance to learn something about our fellow Muse authors. What a group! I don't only mean those fortunate enough to be there but those absent, too. We spoke of the MIA continually and missed you like crazy.
I understand there are YouTube pics out there somewhere and all I have to say is, it wasn't me. Uh-uh. I never wear magenta. I will not be seen in a man's tie. And I never met Karen Cote in person, no matter what the tapes reveal. The defense rests.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I Know About Canada…

…you could probably put on the head of a pin and still have room left over for a recipe for Yankee pot roast. I don’t say this with any pride. I say this with the jarring realization I may be ignorant about our neighbors.
In two days I leave for the first ever MuseItup Publishing Meet and Greet taking place in Montreal. It also coincides with a mammoth book fair where…gasp….2000 Canadians have been known to show up. So if I don’t want to come across like an idiot, I’d better get cracking on gathering some facts about Canada. Let’s see what I know:
First, it’s to the north. Scoff not. I’ll bet you if you asked a roomful of 7th graders, some of them wouldn’t know that. I like to take my points where I can get them.
Second, they have mounted policemen who always get their man. I know several female friends like that, but we’ll let that go for the moment. Moving on, these mounted policemen sing songs astride their trusty steeds in a gorgeous baritone voice and look like Nelson Eddy. Soooo not a bad look. Songs like “Give Me Some Men Who Are Stouthearted Men” and “When I’m Calling You” and others are thrown in here and there while rounding up the bad guys. I think it’s a diversionary tactic.
If you don’t believe me, hie thee to Netflix and rent “Rose Marie,” one of those oldie goldie movies, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. A bonus is you get a gorgeous Jeanette McDonald singing in E above birdcall and if I remember rightly, she does it while sitting in a canoe. Imagine the balance needed to do that and still hit those high notes. I was mightily impressed with Canadian womanhood.
Third and speaking of singing, their national anthem is “God Save The Queen.” You can also see mug shots of Queen Elizabeth II everywhere, as she is the titular monarch. I throw in the word ‘titular,’ just in case you still think I am ignorant. It has nothing to do with breasts.
Fourth, Canada owns the other side of Niagara Falls. All that water starts there and ends in upstate New York. Never once has Canada asked for their water back. This is a giving country.
Fifth – and even I’m becoming impressed by my vast knowledge of this country – many of them speak French. I think where I’m going, which is Montreal, touts French as their first language and English as the other white meat. I could be wrong about this but I’m on such a roll right now, we’ll say it’s true.
Well, I’m feeling better. Now if I could just figure out if I have to bring an adapter for the electrical current and if they accept the American dollar, I’ll be in business. And here I didn’t think I knew anything about Canada. How silly is that?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Here is a little short story I wrote for MuseitUp Pub's blogsite:

Heather Haven

Cliff adjusted the eye-patch and scrutinized the perfect but expensive pirate’s reflection in the full length mirror. From black leather boots to golden earring, he looked real enough to sail the seven seas. And just as lusty. Women liked that.
“You’re one handsome son of a bitch, Cliffy Boy, if I do say so myself.” He let out a raucous laugh. “Especially now that you’re a widower.”
The doorbell rang. He grumbled about early trick-or-treaters as he went to the door. He wanted to leave momentarily for the Halloween party, hoping to score big with that hot Jocelyn, from the life insurance company. It was so nice when employees from the very company paying off for your wife’s demise also put out. Two short months of her being dead and he’d never seen so much action. All those babes just waiting to comfort him.
“Ahoy there, matie!’ He flung open the door, posed then looked up and down the hallway. There was no one. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small creature scurry across the threshold and into his apartment.
“Damn it to hell,” he bellowed and turned around to see his dead wife’s black cat run through the living room and out onto the terrace, the terrace from where he’d helped his wife to her untimely but necessary death. After all, she’d been cramping his style.
That day he would have tossed the beast over the railing, too, if he could have caught it. But right after the ‘accident,’ it ran out into the hallway meowing at the front door of their nosy neighbor, who’d scooped it up and took it inside. Ever since then, anytime he would step into the hallway to go to work or out on a date, the cat would be there, staring at him from the other side of the neighbor’s transom.
Now the cat leaped onto the ledge of the terrace railing and turned around. It crouched, tail lashing back and forth, black fur rippling in the wind off the Hudson River. Sharp green eyes glared at Cliff in an accusatory way.
“Damn it to hell,” Cliff repeated, crossing over and onto the terrace. He closed the sliding glass door, trapping him and the cat outside. The Manhattan skyline was darkening and the feline’s ebony-colored fur blended in with the on-coming night. But its emerald eyes glittered more intensely than any light in the city’s panoramic view behind.
“So you want to play, do you? Well, you’re dead meat, cat. I’m sick of dealing with you.”
The cat growled and hunkered down atop the cement railing of the barrier separating the terrace and the earth 42-floors below.
Cliff moved forward, unsheathing the large plastic sword from his belt. “I don’t have to come near you,” he yelled, raising his arm and preparing to strike. “Just a couple of swipes with this –“
“Now, Cliff,” a feminine voice chastised. “That’s hardly fair.”
“Who said that?” Cliff dropped the play sword and staggered back, banging into the closed glass door. He felt his heart thud in his chest. “Who’s out here? Show yourself! Who are you?” But he recognized the voice.
“You know who I am.” The tone was melodious yet firm, dripping with venom. “It’s one thing for you to do away with me, but an innocent little animal? That’s too much, Cliff, even for you.”
He looked in the direction of the voice and saw a small shimmering cloud, hardly more than a vapor, forming into the features of a face, his wife’s face.
Cliff let out a short shriek, turned and scratched at the handle of the sliding glass door. It slid open and he fell back into the room. He wheeled around to see his apartment, nothing more. Sounds of his heavy breathing filled the empty room.
It must have been the curry he had for lunch or the spicy lamb shish kabob! Well, never again, he vowed, with a shaky laugh. Time for that party, he thought, and stepped forward. An icy wind raged on his face, so cold his eyes began to tear.
“Where do you think you’re going, Cliff?”
The countenance was now in front of him, drawing closer, more solid, emerald green eyes flashing. Pushed back by the vision, Cliff found himself outside again, panicky steps taking him along the perimeter of the elegant, plant-laden terrace.
He neared the cat still on the handrail. It reached out, swiped at his hand, and drew blood. Thrown off balance, Cliff tripped over one of the potted plants his wife so dearly loved. He heard the cat screech, felt talons and fangs strike, and saw two sets of flickering green eyes, as he fell backward. He surrendered to the toppling over and the drop 42 stories to the pavement below.
On the way down and in between his screams, he thought of something odd. He’d never noticed before how his late wife’s eyes and those of the cat looked one and the same.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ellie, My Black Cat, Is Depressed

Elphaba Queen of da Nile, better known as Ellie, is devastated. She'd applied for a job as a witch's assistant but didn't get the job. Now true, she isn't authentically a black cat, being in reality a Black Ash i.e. black hair at the tip, pale grey at the root, but still. Being rejected hurts.
When the witch - who shall be nameless - sent back Ellie's application, she wrote Ellie didn't have the right attitude. As her mommy, I should have read what Ellie wrote on the application before she sent it out. This is my fault.
I'm sure what killed the deal was the answer to the question, 'how do you feel about being my familiar?' Ellie replied she didn't want to get familiar with the witch, as she would be merely working for her and not her friend or family. In addition Ellie added, she didn't want to get dirty, so there would be no riding brooms or climbing down chimneys. She would be willing to continue lounging on a cushion - color of the witch's choice as long as it was silk - for eight-hours a day, with two fifteen minute breaks and ninety-minutes for lunch.
The witch -- and I believe that's spelled with a capital "B" -- said Ellie sounded a little too California for her. It's all my little sweetie can do not to raid the catnip collection and drown her sorrows. I am off to buy her a few new toys and a new chapeau for Halloween. Hope you like last year's hat! But, darlings, soooo passe!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nothing Like a Writers Retreat to Get You Back On Track

Being able to do nothing but write - and being forced to write -- is heaven on earth. Even if you don't have kids under foot, the day-to-day stuff gets in the way, especially if there is a spouse or loved one in the vicinity. I also have two demanding cats, who think they are neurotic French Poodles i.e. love me, want me, hold me, feed me. Wait, that's my husband, too!
Then the phone rings, the handyman drops by, the dishes need to be done and what's that dust bunny doing over in the corner like that? There are days when I will make ANY excuse not to write, including cleaning out the laundry room or answering every email I've gotten for the past several months.
But when you've paid good money to be somewhere to write, driven hours to get there, joined other writing buddies to create something, making excuses is not going to cut it.
All I had to do was make my bed. End of story. Three meals a day were provided - fabulous food, I might add - and I could write, write, write. So I wrote, wrote, wrote. It was great. I also got several ideas for my new mystery series, which is a bonus. That's what happens when you get to think about nothing but you and your work.
I remember reading once Mark Twain had a secreted place on his summer estate, a small, one-room building, where he would go off by himself. I think Ernest Hemingway used his home in Key West in much the same way when he was there. You ever been to Key West in the summer? Believe me, there's nothing to do but sit and pant. You may as well jot down some words while you're at it.
Everybody needs a place that says "Here's where you work." So, my writing buddies and I decided to try getting away and do nothing but write together once every quarter.
Now I'm home and I still feel productive. I feel invigorated. I feel...wait a minute. Ellie, my youngest cat says she needs to be brushed. I'll be back with you in a sec.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My This and That Has Been Awesome Lately!

Some fabulous things have been happening for me lately! The 2nd book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, A Wedding to Die For, is one of the three finalist in EPIC's mystery book of the year. This is so exciting. then I was asked to do a reading at Litquake last week with such mystery heavy weights as Cara Black and Jacqueline Winspear! I mean, really! They are so incredible. The wonderful Meg Waite Clayton was there, as well, do a reading from her book, The Four Ms. Bradwells. Meg is a fine, fine writer, as was everyone else at the Murder, Mayhem, and Moxie readings. Tomorrow I'm off to a writing retreat in Healdsberg. Hubby Norman will be taking care of the cats and holding down the homestead. What a guy! Then November 3rd, I'm off to the MuseItUp Conference in Montreal where I will finally meet my publisher, Lea Shizaz, and our marketing expert, Litsa, and many other fellow Muse authors in person. Life is good, friends, life is good!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Milestone Party Huge Success!

Yesterday at Baird Nuckolls home, I was surrounded by talented, giving friends and writers, who shared their good will and best wishes with me. Baird throws a party as she does everything else in her life, like a master, being a true Renaissance Woman. It was a perfect soirée. The weather was glorious, the wine and cheese first-rate. Some people brought gifts and flowers, totally unexpected, but I accepted their offerings with gratitude and humility, because the greatest gift they gave was of themselves. The Bay Area is a big place and some friends traveled as far as from Oakland, Sausalito, and Half Moon Bay to be with me on this day. Friends like this are a blessing, whether near or far. I will never, never forget Sunday, August 21st. It was a milestone for me in so many ways. Thank you all so very much.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Night Owl's Treasure Hunt

It seems like it's almost time to do a treasure hunt! Night Owl's Treasure Hunt is soon to commence and if that's your thing, September 1st is the first day to start hunting. The contest ends October 31st and you have to find the symbol (to the right) in at least 25 places, 40 for the grand prize. Go to the website for more details, altho I can't get the url to paste into the body of the blog, only the title! Don't that beat all?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grace's New Blog

My cousin, Grace DeLuca, is a great person and a fine writer. Her first book, a YA called Betwixt and Between, was published in May by MuseItUp Publishing. Grace now has her own blogsite By Grace at Pop on over and see it and leave a comment. Thanks and have a great day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book By Book

The first book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, Murder is a Family Business, is finally in print. As my book was published by a small, independent epublisher called MuseItUp, there were and are no provision made for marketing print copies of books. Actually, the fact it has come out in print at all is a minor miracle to me. That said, I ordered 75 copies of my book at discounted prices, intent on distributing them myself. Naturally, because I am married, I roped my husband into helping me. So husband, Norman, and I threw the books into the trunk of the car and started the job of trying to get independent bookstores in the Bay Area to carry the book. We are helped by the fact the book cover is so darling you could eat it with a spoon. Thank you, cover artist, Delilah K. Stephans. It's a great size, too, somewhere in-between a pocket book and a hard cover. The book shows really well.
That said, I still can't bring myself to go into stores and ask them to carry it. I simply can't. I blither, I blush, I stammer, I look everywhere but at the person in charge. I have discovered I am horrible at promoting myself.
So Norman to my rescue. He's also darling and is willing to wear a suit in the summer heat to give him a professional touch. Wearing his new Panama straw hat, he marches right into that store, and tries to talk them into carrying my book while I trail behind. Norman introduces me, says I have laryngitis, which I did but don't anymore, but it is really so much better if I still pretend to.
Norman is terrific. I, as I've said, become a mere shell of my former self. I don't do much other than make sure Norman's hat tilts jauntily to the side, and murmur things like, 'go get 'em, tiger' before we enter the store. Once inside, doorknobs have been smarter than me.
But thanks to Norman, bookstores in Carmel, Healdsburg and Napa are carrying the book. And I am scheduled to do a Meet and Greet in Napa for 2 hours on August 21st. Heaven help me. I will try not to blather at customers when they walk in the door, sending them screaming into the parking lot from whence they came. And I will be thankful we live in wine country, so I can have a selection of calming wine to choose from when the two-hours are over.
But I am aware we have only skimmed the surface of the distribution game. We still need to go to dozens of bookstores through the Bay Area hoping a few of them will provide space for my precious little book. Should someone buy the book, it's a 55/45 or 60/40 split with the store. Subtracting the cost of the books, gas, and the price of having the jaunty hat cleaned, I might clear three bucks.
Welcome to my world.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Write The Perfect Mystery

Naturally, that's a teaser. I'm not sure there is a perfect anything, certainly not the perfect hairstyle. I know; I've felt the pain of that one.
But back to writing mysteries. I guess if anyone has penned the perfect mystery, it would have to be Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Both still stand up after decades of cultural use.
But next June 24th, I have the effrontery to host a writers’ blog conference on the MuseItUp Blog Site, where I show how to write one. Forgive me, Oh Ye Greats Of The Mighty Pen.
So forget that premise. What I can do, however, is give a few tips on how to write a mystery -- good, suspenseful, and readable -- if not absolutely perfect. But who wants perfection, anyway? Soooo boring.
Join me June 24th at We'll have a lot of fun!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pump Up Your Book Blog Tour

My PUYB blog tour is over as of today. It was nearly a month of whirlwind landings here and there, reading interviews or Q&As I'd forgotten I'd given, reading reviews that were mostly sensational, and being exposed to readers I might never have been exposed to any other way. The tour was upfront a lot of work. All the interviews, articles, columns, promotions, etc., had to be done beforehand. That part was intense. Basically, how many ways can you say, "Please buy and read my book, pretty please, pretty please?" But I did my best, actually had a great time, and hopefully, a few books got purchased along the way, or at least, read about.
My personal PUYB tour guide was Cheryl Malandrinos, a lovely gal with talent, perseverance, a lot of innate sweetness and tolerance, and very savvy. I adore her. Cheryl's willing to go where no man (or woman) has gone before within the blogging world. She set up my tour (and others at the same time) and traipsed along with me into the virtual world of web touring. She was there every step of the way, every single day, and I am grateful to her. it didn't always go smoothly, but what does? During the merry month of May, the blogger was down, it was up, it was down, it was down. Then the mighty floods happened, taking out some of our fellow bloggers in the Midwest, who couldn't deliver the goods on the specific dates committed. No matter. Everyone - without exception -- came through eventually. I had an opportunity to experience a nationwide coming together of we the people of book minds.
It was wonderful. I would do it again in an instant and probably will when I get another fistful of dollars. Meanwhile, thanks to all the PUYB Team. I am very, very happy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kirstie and Oprah, my kinda gals

For those of you who are fans of Dancing with the Stars and The Oprah Winfrey Show, you know better than anyone that we will no longer be tuning in to see either Kirstie and Oprah strut their stuff. Kirstie didn't win the glitter ball trophy, and even if she had, it's done and over. Oprah decided that 25-years was long enough for a talk show.
These two women have some things in common other than being in show biz. They are often two larger than life ladies - literally - and we love them for it. They balloon, they shrink, they balloon, they shrink, all in front of our eyes. And we love them for it. They talk about the problems of losing weight and we see them battle it, just like the rest of us do. It doesn't hurt they both are funny, down to earth, and seem to let it all 'hang out,' figuratively, moaning and groaning about life's travails, just like the rest of us.
it has been a blast watching the two of them throughout the years. For one thing, I had no idea Kirstie was 60. That's six-oh. I mean, the woman's gorgeous and doesn't look a day over 45. I'm impressed. As for Oprah, I have always been a fan, even though I've watched her shows only occasionally. I did see the finale and she is one gutsy lady. She says we should all take responsibility for our own lives and not blame anyone else for what happens to us.
She didn't mention the scale, but you could transfer the responsibility of life to that. I'm with her. I'm the one that ate the candy, cookies, pasta, bread, and drank all that wine. I'd love to blame someone else for being a pudge, but there you are. It's me. Thank you Oprah.
And thank you, Kirstie, for doing a cartwheel in front of millions of people, live and on-air. You got chutzpah, gal. But then, you were merely taking responsibility for your life.
Good luck to both of you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Murder is a Family Business has been getting great reviews!

I've been doing a virtual book tour - ah! the modern world of the internet - and my book has been getting wonderful reviews. check out the latest: Pretty in pink - That would be colors of the blog site, The Phantom Paragraqpher, who gave me a great review.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Just Finished Reading Pat Dale's Sleeping With Her Enemy

And thought I would let you know what I thought of it.

Sleeping With Her Enemy, by author Pat Dale, is a novel about a beautiful, bitter widow; a handsome, sad widower; a precocious, adorable nine-year old; and a darling, rambunctious dog. Deftly written, this story satisfies the reader from beginning to end, with large amounts of mountain scenery thrown in. If you are into a lot of romance, a little sex, a lot of plot twists and turns, and no small amount of villainy, then this is the book to take with you into a warm bath or under a cool tree. Pat Dale is an accomplished weaver of tales.

You can find this novel at MuseItUp Publishing:

Cheers! Heather

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So the Blogger Was Down

I'm sure that shocked a lot of people. It occurred to me that in this day and age, you can't trust much. One of these days, your car isn't going to start, you'll be charged by your bank for a withdrawal you didn't make, and your cat's going to poop in the bathtub. That just happened to me, by the way. Ellie, my little Black Ash doll baby, wasn't happy with the condition of the floor in her bathroom. I write her bathroom, because I've turned over one of the two bathrooms to the cats, Yulie and Ellie. I mean, where do you put litter pans, anyway? Who thinks of that when you get a cat? No screened-in front or back porch, no laundry room, and these are two indoor kitties. So, you turn over one of the bathrooms to them. Their litter pans are on the floor, their food and water sit across on the other side of the small room. Their bags of dry food and treats are on the back of the tub. Ellie uses the inside of the tub to play with some of her toys.
My two beautiful and well-trained cats have never made a mistake, even when they were small kittens. I should say 'had' never. Recently, I was sick and hadn't vacuumed the floor of the bathroom in several days. There was a build up of litter than had made its way onto the tiled floor, so much so I'd made a mental note to drag out the vacuum cleaner when I was feeling a little better. As I was thinking this thought, Ellie looked me dead in the eye, hopped into the bathtub and squatted. I was so stunned, I watched her in mute horror. Then when she was finished, she looked me dead in the eye again and if she could have crossed her 'arms,' to say, 'so there,' I think she would have done so. I cleaned up the mess, and with a runny nose, vacuumed the bathroom floor and have NEVER let it go that long again. P.S. and by the way, she has never made a mistake since that time. Now what has that got to do with the blogging site being down? Not sure, but I know it does. Let me think about it while I get out the vacuum cleaner.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

Putting aside your main question might be, why would I? I thought I would share an article about me appearing in The Hot Author Report:

1 – I have to stop writing at 12:00 noon no matter what to watch the soap, All My Children. It calms me, lets me shake everything out, realign myself. I’ve been watching that stupid soap since high school and I love it. I’m not sure Erica Kane can get married and married and married, without my love and support. I understand AMC is going off the air after 40 years the middle of September. When it does, I have no idea how I will get through. Maybe I’ll have to start taking Valium or drinking soothing tea in the middle of the day. Or maybe a martini, because I love green olives. Whoa! Wait a minute. There’s a slippery road to nowhere. Never mind.

2 – Whatever and whenever I write, I like to write draped in my cats. Unless I am really on a roll, where I have to have both hands free to type at 115 wpm, I usually lollygag around the office with one or both of my two cats hanging onto me or stretched out nearby. Yulie, my Flamepoint Siamese, likes to climb up on my shoulder and wrap himself around my neck like a scarf, purring incessantly. Ellie, my black ash mix, likes to hang over the keyboard, gazing at me soulfully with her green eyes. My husband of 28-years can’t understand how this isn’t distracting. But they have a soothing effect on me, like AMC. Hmmmm. I realize this makes me sound a little high strung. Must be the caffeine from all that tea.

3 – Both my parents were members of the Ringling Brothers Circus when I was born. My father was an elephant trainer and my mother was a featured performer. I have pictures of me as a toddler sitting atop a baby elephant’s head. This could explain a lot.

4 – I went to college on a costume scholarship. I still love glad rags, even though I don’t wear nearly the eye-catching numbers I used to. I was quite a clotheshorse in my younger, single days. Now I buy cat litter.

5 – I would like to write eight more books before I hang up my keyboard. That would make it an even dozen. But I could go for a baker’s dozen, too. I like to feel I’m flexible.

Friday, May 6, 2011

By Grace Is On Its Way

Talented writer, Grace DeLuca, author of Betwixt and Between, which debuts May 20, will be starting her own blog called By Grace. Please join me in welcoming Grace - my cuz, you know -- to the wild and whacky world of blogging! I know she would appreciate the support and good will!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Laura and Heather, Heather and Laura

Hi Everyone! Take a gander at this short, sweet, and fun interview I did with Laura Novak, author of the Clari Drake series. Don't you just love her hat? Here's the website:

Laura got a lot out of me in two quick questions! She's across the Bay in Berkeley but we've never met. We had so much fun!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Plese join me in welcoming Grace Deluca, author of Betwixt and Between

Welcome, Grace!
HH - Please tell the readers and me what it was like to write a story for 10-14 year-olds, which I believe was a first for you.
GD - Writing “Betwixt and Between” was a unique experience. The characters seemed to lead me where they wanted to go and I was happy to follow them. In the process the short picture book I intended to write for children (5 to 8 years) graduated to a novella for tweens (10 to 14 years). And somehow the hero was transformed from a plucky little eaglet into Michael, a spunky fourteen-year-old teenage boy who is sent on a Quest by his Guardian Angel to discover who he truly is. In the strange land of Betwixt and Between, Michael is helped by friends like Callie and her cat, Sebastian, but he’s also confronted by frightening enemies.
The book is a fantasy with spiritual overtones. These are generic, not directed to any particular religion or sect, simply letting youngsters know in an exciting, “fun” setting that they are special and they are loved.
Love the word "shalom" since I found out its real meaning. It means more than just "peace"-- it means every kind of peace, including the peace and wholeness (completeness) within ourselves. Isn't that beautiful?

HH - Yes, it is. Thank you for visiting with us and for sharing an excerpt of the story below.

“Who are you?” Michael asked.
“I’m your assigned G.A.”
“My what?”
“Your Guardian Angel. Who do you think pulled you out of the whirlpool?”
“You don’t look like any angel I ever saw,” Michael said.
“Have you seen many?”
“ ’Course not,” Michael sputtered. “But I’ve seen pictures of them. Everyone knows angels wear long white robes and have wings.”
“We can’t help the ideas you humans have. I’m a spirit; I can take any form I want, dress any way I choose.”
“W-e-e-ll, I did see one or two pictures of angels who looked something like you.”
“Ah, yes, you have seen many portrayals of my friend, the warrior angel Michael, after whom you are named.”
“If you’re an angel you’d have wings,” Michael said. “Everybody knows angels don’t travel in cars or buses. Wings are the way they get around. So how do you explain that?” Michael sat back, folded his arms in triumph. Gotcha!
“Mental propulsion. We just think of a place and we’re there.”
“No kidding?” Michael thought about it for a minute. “Can you think me home?”
“I could, but I won’t. Not yet.”

Betwixt and Between can be purchased in May at MuseItUp Publishing,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Writing With Cats

I am sitting at my computer, pecking at the keys with one hand, because the other hand is balancing a Siamese cat on my shoulder. His name is Yulie. I'm getting good at this one-handed thing. I'm also getting good at talking on the telephone over a purring, talkative Siamese, who has much to say and no intention of not saying it. Draped over and completely covering the 30-day calendar on my desk, is my 2nd cat, Ellie. I'm not so good at pushing her belly out of the way to write down upcoming social events, or work deadlines on the calendar. She doesn't like to be disturbed. Elle, 1/2 Egyptian Mau and 1/2 Sealpoint Siamese, maintains that there is no need for me to have any obligations, anyway, other than rubbing her belly or tossing one of her toys. We're at a stalemate over this but Ellie has the upper paw.
My husband says I spoil them. I have no idea where he gets that idea from.
What's that Yulie, time for a treat? Coming right up. Don't move, son. I'll bring it right to you. Where's that itch, Ellie? Let mommy get her backscratcher. Time to be brushed or have your nails clipped? I'll drop what I'm doing and get right on it.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes. My husband thinks I spoil them. Honestly. Men.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Energy Consumer

The horrible catastrophes in Japan are playing out like a bad Sci Fi movie of the week. If any writer had said to me, I’m writing a story about a major earthquake, followed by a lethal tsunami, followed by several nuclear plants having meltdowns, my reply would probably have been, chose one, maybe two, but you can’t have all three. It’s just way over the top.
And yet, here we are, with these very real horrors. As I watch what is happening, a visual and virtual partner via my TV and the internet, I feel almost a part of it.
In one way I am, but not in a way I’m comfortable with. After all, I can't control Mother Nature but I can control how energy is provided, can't I?
When I was having a self-righteous moment and condemning nuclear plants, my husband pointed out that I like my life just the way it is and would be unwilling to give it up. And the piper must be paid, he said. Nuclear energy is the piper.
I thought about it. My usual day consists of getting up in the morning, making coffee and breakfast on my stove in my all-electric kitchen, sitting down to my computer in my heated or cooled office depending on the weather, washing and drying clothes, vacuuming, getting into my car to go shopping for food, watching TV, listening to the radio, CD, or whatever, and so forth. A typical day.
I am a consumer. I am consuming vast amounts of energy just to maintain a very ordinary, humdrum life. Whether it’s oil, coal, or nuclear power that is converted into electricity, there is an ultimate price, far more than dollars and cents. We are seeing just a small part of it in Japan, a country that is the foremost leader and expert in nuclear energy, touted as the cleanest form of energy.
Solar and wind energies are but promises. Water energy is limited. Fossil fuels burn cleaner but do not burn clean, no matter what my beloved president says. We are dependent on oil from countries that sometimes love us, sometimes hate us, but always charge us top dollar for our gluttonous ways. And nothing much has changed or seems to change. Certainly not in the decades I’ve been around this planet.
Would I be willing to go back to beating clothes on a rock, reading by candlelight and living in a cave? No, for certain. But is there a compromise? And if there is, how much would I give up to ensure a brighter future for the generations to come?
Sticking to smaller cars, for sure. Using low energy light bulbs and turning them off when I leave the room, of course. Not running tap water unnecessarily. But they all seem like paltry contributions in the scheme of things, when I have a momentary overview.
So I see, in our not too bright future, nuclear energy. I don’t like it, but that’s what I see. It’s just too in your face and we are too unwilling to change our ways drastically enough to avoid it.
We will all watch this problem play out in Japan. But it’s not just their problem, it’s everyone’s problem. As a nuclear scientist said on CNN about reactors - and I’m paraphrasing but not my much - ‘When they are good, they are very, very good. But when they are bad, they go really bad and really fast.’
Whatever happens, let’s hope we learn something from this one.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stranger on the Shore by Roseanne Dowell

Please join me in welcoming Roseanne Dowell, as she writes about her exciting new story!

Stranger on the Shore started out as part of a 1000 word assignment for a writing course I took. Needless to say, Jordan wasn’t happy with that and over the years, I’ve expanded it.
After numerous revisions and expansions, it turned into an almost 7000 word story.
I first got the idea for this story when we went to a cottage along Lake Erie. Not isolated like Jordan’s but we drove past many like that. As we walked along the shore, I wondered what it would be like to live there during a storm. Lake Erie, being a shallow lake is notorious for sudden, treacherous storms. When the weather turns cold it produces Lake Effect snow.
Being no stranger to lake effect snow, away from the lake, I can only imagine what it’s like on the shoreline.
So as usual, my imagination took over and Stranger on the Shore was born.

Author, Jordan Blake rescues a handsome stranger from her shore and more than a storm rages inside and out. To make matters worse the sexy stranger has amnesia. Against her better judgment, Jordan finds herself strangely attracted to the man. Heck for all she knows he could be a serial killer. It’d be just her luck to be stranded in a storm with someone like that. To avoid her attraction and the stranger, who can’t tell her anything about himself, Jordan locks herself in her office. Not that she can work. Thoughts of the stranger interfere with her writing. Besides she can hear him moving around and whistling in her living room. What will happen when he recovers his identity.

Stranger on the Shore will be available March 1st from Muse It Up Publishing,
If you’d like to know more about my books, visit my website, or my blog, Or join me on twitter,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Please help me welcome Ginger Simpson

Pleae help me welcome the prolific and amazing writer, Ginger Simpson. Ginger is also the author of the award winning blogsite, Dishin' It Out. This talented lady can do things like nobody else, and all with a sense of humor! She writes now about her wonderful book,

Sarah's Journey

Months ago, I queried HQ on a short, historical story that is supposed to be 'spicy.' I thought I WAS writing spicy by using a few 'buzz' words here and there, and it made me sweat, trying to come up with something creative. BUT...I shared it with my friend who IS the Queen of Steam, and although she loved the story, she said it wouldn't fly. I know why!

It's hard to be inventive. I realize there is a lot of ME in each of my stories, and I don't feel the least bit sexy...for reasons I've described numerous times on my own blog. If I truly wrote what my mind sees when I think about sex scenes, it is highly doubtful that anyone would be swept away to anything but hysteria. Here's an example.

Moonlight filtered through the venetian blinds and highlighted him as he disrobed. He pulled his shirt over his head, then shimmied out of his pants. Her breath hitched. When had his stomach gotten so huge? *rofl*


His breath warmed her neck as his lips trailed upward. He nibbled at her earlobe then raised up and gazed upon her face. His mouth, a few inches from hers, he licked his lips and drew closer.

She recoiled and rolled away. "Geez, I told you not to have onions on that burger. You reek."

He entered her with a quick thrust. She gasped, feeling a sensation all too familiar. "God, get off me. Quick! I have a Charlie Horse in my leg!"

OR...last but not least....
Tonight was the night he'd waited for. They hadn't made love for a month and he was determined to sample her wares. Maybe more romance was needed. He hadn't been all that passionate or attentive of late. The moment was right. Everyone else was gone, nothing but the flickering TV lit the room. He slithered off the couch and crawled toward her chair. She appeared deep in thought, lost in the movie she watched. He inched closer and reaching her side, took her hand.

She jumped, then smiled. "What are you doing down there?"

"Come on." He raised to one knee. "Come to bed with me. I want to show you how much I love you."

She unfurled one leg from beneath her and nibbled her bottom lip. Tears glistened in her eyes. She offered her hand.

He took it and attempted to stand. A popping noise sliced the momentary silence between commercials. " back!" He managed to get to his feet, but remained bent at the waist. With pain etched on his face, he hobbled to the couch and collapsed.

"I guess we'll have to wait."

She blotted her tears. "That's okay. My leg's asleep and I can't get up anyhow."

I think I'll stick to what I know I can do and leave the erotic and steamy writing to those who can handle it without laughing. A great example of sexual attraction but no action can be found in Sarah's Journey. This book received great reviews and is my favorite of all I've written. Here's a teaser, but let me set the scene. Wolf and Sarah are traveling together toward Independence, and both are fighting the attraction they feel for one another. They've already been through a lot at this point. The reality is a white woman and a half-breed would never be accepted by society and they are all too aware of that fact.

Sarah stilled her fear and walked along the creek bank a short distance until it forked, winding off through tall reeds. The grassy thatch would be an ideal place for someone to hide, but if there was a war party, wouldn’t she have heard something? She pushed aside and weaved through the towering shafts, following the flow and still hoping to see Wolf’s face.

She stopped and listened, cupping her ear against the gurgling water and the rustling breeze. Something splashed up ahead. Treading softly, Sarah pushed onward, trudging through the annoying foliage and praying it wasn’t an animal she heard. The hair on the back of her neck bristled.

Sarah peeked out from the swaying corridor and saw him. He wore only his breechclout and stood with his back to her. For the first time she viewed his hair unbraided. Dripping wet locks hung well past his broad shoulders and glistened in the sunlight. When he swept the ebony mass to the side to braid it, Sarah’s hand flew to her mouth, silencing a gasp. Wolf’s entire back was a mass of welts and bruises. Some spots had scabbed over creating a zigzag of dark lines across his normally unblemished skin. No wonder he’d stiffened when she hugged him. She exhaled against her palm, shaking her head in disbelief.

As if sensing her presence, Wolf turned. His eye widened and he tried to shield himself with his buckskins. She knew it wasn’t out of modesty.

“Oh my God, what happened to you?” It was a dumb question. His black and swollen eye provided the answer.

“Nothing to fret over.” He casually finished plaiting his hair. “I’m actually feeling much better after my little soak.”

She approached him, rage heating her blood. “How could they… why… I’m so mad I.…”

Wolf met her half way and pressed a finger against her lips. “Shhh. I’m fine. I’ve survived worse, believe it or not.”

She studied his face through a blur of tears. “But it’s not right. They had no reason to beat you like this.” Her finger gently traced a welt on his upper arm. “Is there anything remaining from your mother’s collection of herbs that might help?”

“Really, I’m fine.” He pulled his shirt over his head.

Sarah walked around him, holding up the buckskin and surveying his back. “No, you’re not. I can’t believe you rode so many days to return to St. Mary’s, and now, traveling again… you’ve not said a word.”

He faced her, his eyes solemn. “Sarah, it’s over and done. Let it go. There’s no changing what happened. In a few days, you’ll barely be able to see the marks.”

She was speechless. How could he accept such horrid treatment? True, the lines might fade, but acts like that scarred a person’s heart. Hers ached for him—for all he’d been through in his life simply because of being a mixed breed. It wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t asked to be born. She touched his arm softly. “I’m so sorry you’ve suffered at the hands of ignorant people. I wish there was something I could do to make up for it.”

“There is.” His features softened and he gathered her into his arms. Before she had a chance to speak, his lips claimed hers, sending shivers of delight coursing through her body. Her mind screamed to pull away, but her heart’s plea convinced her to stay in his arms. She parted her lips, allowing his seeking tongue entrance to her mouth, his kiss quenching a desire too long denied. Twining her arms around his neck, she sagged against him, unable… unwilling to stop.

Wolf suddenly held her at arm’s length, jarring her back to reality. “Sarah, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what…”

She lowered her gaze, words failing her. Sarah’s cheeks burned with the impropriety of her actions. But hadn’t she dreamed of this moment? The sun beat down on her, increasing her discomfort in the awkward silence.

“That was a mistake.” His words cut like a knife. “I hope you aren’t mad at me. It won’t happen again, I promise.” He bent to pick up the items he discarded on the ground before his bath.

Did her face show the disappointment and hurt stabbing at her? If she apologized for allowing his kiss, it’d be a lie. She struggled to find her voice. “It’s all right. I think we’re both overwrought and tired. Let’s just forget it happened.”

As if she could

Friday, February 11, 2011

Moms Can Kill Ya

On my mother,The-Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day, Lila Hamilton Alvarez
Lee Alvarez

My mother makes me crazy. I say this because she is perfect. I once heard a joke that went like this: Two men are drinking at a bar. One man says to the other, “What brings you here every night? For me, my wife can’t do anything right. I can’t stand being around her.” The second man shakes his head and replies, “It’s not my wife’s faults that are killing me. It’s her virtues.” The first man says, “Wow! You have my sympathy. That’s even worse.”
I can relate to the second man’s point of view like nobody’s business. All my life I have lived in the shadow of the most beautiful, in-control, stylish, intelligent, and knowledgeable woman on this planet, my mother, the Blond Ice Princess.
Since I was a little kid, my girlfriends used to tell me how lucky I was to have such a ‘with it and gorgeous’ mom. When I got a little older, all my boyfriends developed huge crushes on her. I think most of them hung out with me, just to get to her.
When Dad was alive, he said Mom was the only woman alive to clean fish in a beaded Halston gown. Mom would respond, arching one of her famous eyebrows, that she didn’t see anything wrong with that, because she always wore an apron over it. Then they’d both laugh. It was a running joke between them.
These two were seriously in love. Dad worshiped Mom and Mom adored Dad. They were a modern day Romeo and Juliet, he the Mexican immigrant made good, and her the Palo Alto blueblood.
I’m told I take after my father in nearly every way. Dark hair, twilight colored eyes, fiery temper. When I was a kid, everybody said, “Lee’s got Roberto’s features but not his fixtures.”
Not that anyone ever said this around Mom. First of all, too crude. Gender-based innuendos are not made around L. H. Alvarez. She would be scandalized. And secondly, my mother can’t stand it when people use nicknames or abbreviations. She calls it lazy. I have been called Liana, since I dropped out of the womb. Whoops. Scratch that remark. Back to being too crude.
And what really makes her crazy – ha ha - is how at the tender age of eleven, I became enamored of Dashiell Hammett, the quintessential writer of hard-boiled detective stories. Dad had given me a set of the famous writer’s books for my birthday and, man oh man, it changed my life. I never looked back. Becoming a PI was the next logical step.
You could say I cut my teeth on Sam Spade. That’s who I emulate. Of course, I like to wear a Vera Wang and sip on a Starbuck’s mocha latté as I emulate.
Well, after all, I am my mother’s daughter.