Granny Logic

A woman on a pier, holding an umbrella over her face
SHORT STORY: I broke my right foot. Terribly inconvenient. But it inspired this story.

Nothing like having Granny on stakeout.

Sidelined by a broken foot, private investigator Erin King must go on surveillance.  Her body-building granny plays chauffeur.

Add a thorny case of fraud and an impatient insurance company.  And the bill collectors.

With time running out, Erin needs answers, fast.  But sometimes granny knows best.

Set in Pismo Beach California, this heart-warming mystery is a page turner.

A Granny PI mystery short story available from your favorite booksellers.

Strands of Blackmail

Cover for Strands of Blackmail
When I was driving home, a white dog was standing up on his hind legs, feet propped up on a fence, looking like he was chatting with the neighbors. So I had to use him in a story.

Sometimes returning home brings back good memories, or bad ones.

For Shari Kendell, it’s finding answers to the questions her grandmother’s death left.  Actors always live in their own world, but Shari is surprised and what she didn’t know.  Who was blackmailing her grandmother, and why?

A Morro Bay mystery short story, available from your favorite booksellers.

Spotlight on 5 Selected Links About Books

Girl lays on a bed, reading a book with a big smile on her face

Reading isn’t just the books, but sometimes the history of them, the libraries, or even how the world used them.  And sometimes it’s just wandering through the aisles looking at all of them and not knowing where to start.

7 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Bookstores This is a mostly fun list about bookstores.  I had no idea that books from different publishers had different smells! (16).

25 Interesting Facts About Libraries Did you know that there are libraries  where you can check out a storyteller?  Might have to steal that for a story.

Coalesce . . . A Bookstore & More.  This is a shout-out to a bookstore in Morro Bay, CA.  When my family visited my grandparents, I always ended up in this little bookstore, just a few blocks from the harbor.  Despite all the changes in the industry, the bookstore is still there.

Book Castle/Movie World: This bookstore in Burbank does not appear to have a website.  It’s a place I would check out frequently because I could find books and scripts and photos.  Just an awesome place to explore.

20 Interesting Facts About Science Fiction.  This has a lot of predictions that science fiction writers made in their stories that came true…like the internet.

Mystery Stories

I grew up reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Kim Aldrich. I could never get enough of girls having adventures with something exciting like solving mysteries.


A woman on a pier, holding an umbrella over her face
I broke my right foot. Terribly inconvenient. But it inspired this story.
Beach view of Morro Rock
When I was driving home, a white dog was standing up on his hind legs, feet propped up on afence, looking like he was chatting with the neighbors. So I had to use him in a story.

Massive Landslide in California

When I was growing up, we would drive from Los Angeles to Morro Bay, which is a coastal town in Central California, stay a day, and then head onto San Francisco.  My grandparents lived in San Francisco at the time, but later moved to Morro Bay. Our trip took us on Highway 101, which had beautiful views of the ocean.

But it had a big problem, too.  The road cut through these huge sloping mountains.  Always brown from the dryness, and some years, black, because brush fires had burned away the grass.  Nothing to anchor down the dirt when it rained.

One year, it was pouring rain and we were headed back to Los Angeles.  A state trooper stopped us, dressed up in his yellow slicker, and told us the road was closed.  We had to turn back and wait a day for it to be cleared.

A landslide happened this week in the same general area and closed a quarter mile of the freeway. Check out the video in the link.

Weird Typos and Other Distractions

Dena Wesley Smith has a post up today about typos.  In this case, it’s what every blogger has probably experienced–someone zooming in to inform us that they caught us in a typo.

You have sinned!  You made a typo!

I don’t know what it is about typos, but they bring out the worst in people.  I suppose if you attach writer to that and suddenly we’re supposed to be perfect with the words.

Hmm.  Tell that to my fingers.  I am constantly making corrections because I am a lousy typist.  My fingers get tangled up and sometimes I have words that are mostly spelled correctly,  but have an extra letter in there.  Particularly as I’ve gotten older (to the point of reading glasses), it’s harder for me to tell if I have too many i’s and l’s, especially if the font is small or condensed.

But then sometimes extra words creep in, and where they’re not supposed to.  I wandered into an existing scene, did a quick spell check (three typos, not too bad), then read it.  Found this:

Hope passed added the flatware to the plate and passed up up, but left the glass behind

Clearly I was thinking it too many directions when I wrote that!

I like checking soon after I write because occasionally I run into one where I have to stop and think about what I was trying to say.  If it’s too long after, I have to strike the sentence entirely because I don’t remember.

Working on Multiple Projects

This week, I was part of an online INTP discussion, which was quite fascinating.  Filing was actually the major part of the discussion, and how hard it is just to put pieces of paper in files.  It’s like details, and I don’t have much tolerance for it.

But, also my natural state, I like hopping between projects.  Sometimes it’s a break, or a way to get a different perspective.  Sometimes I even get bored.  Doesn’t mean the story is getting boring, but that I need a break from it.

At the moment, I’m working on a science fiction novel, a mystery short story, and a fantasy short story.  Both the short stories are set in Morro Bay, California.  I’m thinking of wandering around between them, following the flow of what I want to work on.  I ended up getting hung up on the fantasy for a week because of a combination of getting stuck (let critical brain in and went in the wrong direction) and wanted to get it done.  The result is not as much done as I wanted to. I probably would have figured out the problem if I’d hopped to a different story.  Sometimes I need a little time to process where I need to go next.

Washington DC’s big party: The Inauguration

That’s only a few weeks away now.  We will be shut down close into downtown because all the streets will be closed.  Expect it to be cold.  We were 11 when I went out to my car yesterday.  Probably no better.  But that’s typical weather for this time of the year.  At least things will finally get back to whatever normal is after that.

Only six more weeks until Spring!

Morro Strand: Building the Story 1

I thought I’d do a series on my writing process as I write Murder on Morro Strand. I had someone say to me she couldn’t figure out how I wrote a book without even knowing how it’s supposed to end. Another writer thought that because I don’t use plot points or structure techniques (both outlining techniques), I didn’t have a plot.

Where does this stuff come from? Yikes!

One of the things I’ve immediately noticed is that while I was writing the ending of Rogue God, and then the ending of Soldier, Storyteller, I didn’t multi-project. I have an idea for a short story, but I didn’t touch it even though the magazine deadline was coming up. Yet, throughout the writing of the book, I had up to three projects at a time.

Now that I’ve started Morro Strand, it’s the same thing: No multiprojects while I’m writing the beginning. It’s just too easy to use that to procrastinate while I work my way into the story.

I picked Morro Bay, California, as a setting because my family went there twice a year when I was growing up. It’s a place I’m well familiar with, so I’m not starting cold and trying to make up the setting as I’m creating, or needing to do basic research to get setting into the story.

I’ve been sort of wandering around in the first chapter, trying to make it click. I had some initial problems where Left Brain wanted to create the character backstory. When I originally tried starting this story a year ago, I made the character a spy because spies are way cool, and Left Brain jumped in and had to explain why she was there.

The backstory was that she had been a CIA operative who was now retired. There had been an active shooter in a mall somewhere in Virginia who took out a lot of people. She grabbed a dead security guard’s gun and shot the shooter, but not before she got shot in the leg. The CIA didn’t want the publicity, so they retired her.   She came to Morro Bay to reconnect with a home, and there was this whole military thing where her father had been the military and they’d bounced all over the place and she’d done the same thing as an adult.

Coming up with that backstory messed up the opening because I was trying to write to fit the backstory, not follow where the story needed to go.

When I started the first chapter this time, that pesky backstory started creeping in again. I had read a book on Erle Stanley Gardener, and it mentioned starting with a smaller mystery first to hook the reader. I started thinking that the main character is being followed, which would be the small mystery, and then it turns out to be a reporter who has tracked her down because of the mall shooting.

No, no, no. Left Brain is definitely misbehaving again, and the story was already starting to veer off track.

NO BACKSTORY.  Do you hear that Left Brain?

So the only thing I came into the story with was knowing that she’s a spy. Spies are still cool, and I’d like to do a story with one.   One of the things that got me out of thinking about character backstory for Rogue God was writing a story event with immediacy (that was chasing a monster), so I thought about what that might be.

The Pineapple Express hit the West Coast and dumped rain all over California. I remembered on one my visits to Morro Bay, we were headed home. It was pouring rain, and my father stopped on the freeway as a man in a yellow slicker emerged out of the deluge. It was a police officer. They had a conversation, and then my father turned the car around to head back to Morro Bay. “They had a mudslide,” he told us. “The road’s closed.”

Hmm. Storms are cool, too. Morro Bay is part a mountainous area. We’d have to drive on a road that cut through the mountains, and once I was there, I could look behind me and see cows grazing on the hills. One year, there was a brush fire and all of that was blackened.

Left Brain is still trying to insert a backstory, so I’m like in an alternate reality neutral zone wrestling with it right now.