Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Sunday, July 31, 2016


Usually I don't write on Sunday, but I'm hauling the proverbial large bull out of the bog. So here goes:

I recently finished a pretty cool book called THE LIBRARIAN SHOOTS A GUN by Amber Gilchrist. This is one of those rare birds, a murder mystery of the LDS variety. The Premise:
Two agents target Hepburn (Audrey) Scott, a librarian, as a possible contact for a murder suspect she has never met. They follow her everywhere in search of a connection between Audrey and the best man at her sister's canceled wedding who supposedly killed a man at the wedding venue.

Audrey has no idea why mysterious Agent Smith with his silver sun glasses and silver eyes can't just stop following her. Then she finds evidence that Foster McGuire isn't guilty. Audrey sets out to find the real culprit so the police will leave poor Foster alone.

Soon more problems pile onto Audrey than she ever thought possible. The Mob has it's players in the lineup and she has to end run them too. She can't go to the police because she has uncovered evidence that some of them may be crooked. She decides she has to trust the one guy she vowed never to trust.

The guy not only sticks to Audrey, but starts to grow on her. Together, somewhere between storytime in the children's section and church meetings, they start to untangle the mess, finding more problems as the days slip by.

I really liked it despite the heroine's apparent death wish and a missing-in-action hero at the end. I wanted a little more closure for this one. I get that there are cliff hangers. But it would have been nice to at least talk to the guy before he bailed. I assume the agent and the librarian will work together on something in the future.

That said, I enjoyed the writing style. She has believable characters and a fun storyline. I loved how intelligent and gutsy Audrey found her answers by reading information.

I'm giving THE LIBRARIAN SHOOTS A GUN four out of five books. You can get this book here.

Author Questions:

What kinds (if any) of music do you like to listen to while you write? 

I listen to whatever fits the mood of the story.  For instance, while I was writing the Aloha Lagoon mystery for GHP I started out by trying to listen to Christmas music because it's a Christmas story, and that wasn't working out too well for me, so I just switched to Hawaiian music.  For my Birdwell mysteries, I listen to classic country.  If it's a modern book I might listen to club music.  I listened to straight punk rock for weeks with Into Darkness Peering because that's what the hero listens to. 
I personally never listen to music while I write. It tends to sidetrack me. 

What was your inspiration for this book? 

I no longer remember what my original inspiration was on this particular book because I started writing it almost twenty years ago.  I do remember wanting to write a mystery, which wasn't my primary genre at the time, though it is now.  In the place of being able to answer about this particular book, I will say that most of my books are inspired by a question.  Like I read an article once about a local woman who burned her house down after repeatedly calling the police and telling them someone was in her attic.  When they arrested her for burning down her house, her first question was, 'did I kill the person in my attic.'  Of course, she was taken to a mental institution, but my thought was, 'what if she was right?'  And I had a whole idea immediately around that.  The power of What-If is my favorite inspiration tool.  
I like that idea too. What if is my favorite tool.

Have you ever knowingly put people you know in your books? 

When I was in high school I wrote books for my friends using them and the guys they had crushes on as characters.  I usually did it as Christmas or birthday presents for close friends. 
I've put both friends and...less-than friends in my books before, at least traits of said people. I consider it my best revenge...ha ha ha.

Do you have a favorite kind of brain food to snack on while you write?  

I don't eat when I write.  I just concentrate on what I'm doing.  Food is messy. 
I like plantain chips. And ice cream.

What kinds of books do you enjoy writing most? 

I actually enjoy romantic suspense the most.  It lets me dig into the real meat of a character and their arc.  I only write things with dead bodies and comedies, as weird as those two things seem together.  Cozy mysteries don't let me really dig in and deal with emotional issues or allow for the texture and complexity of relationships and human growth, which is my favorite part of writing.  Unfortunately, I've become almost exclusively a mystery writer since I've started working with a powerhouse mystery publisher.  However, I'd really love to find the time to delve back into rom sus again. 

Do you consider writing in other genres?  
I actually write several genres under three pen names.  I write mysteries, romantic comedies, romantic suspense, and urban fantasy.  So there's not a lot I don't already write at least sometimes.  I have been considering writing a historical mystery, set in a sort of Gothic feeling Victorian mansion.  I think that would be incredibly fun.  But I don't have time to address all the research I would need to engage in right now.  I hope someday I can, though. 

Thanks, Amber, for coming on my blog and for the chance to read your fun book. Go buy her book, peeps. It's a romp.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review of a Review

This is my mural. I kind of love it.

I'm running off to go paint a 16' X 10' mural of an aspen forest on my friend's business wall. But on the way I happened to trip over a review someone did of my newest book.
There wasn't anything glaringly wrong with the review, but she really disliked what made the book interesting and readable, instead of a boredom-inducing old soldier from from the rank and file of Regency novels. Anyone can write one of those pedantic plods. I write books with a little more flavor. My books try to edge to the front of the fighting where the bullets are flying fast. (Which is so far an analogy in case you were worrying.)
Hunter helped me on this one along with Jessa and Gabby.
It really annoys me when someone reviews a book which isn't in their favorite genre and then shoots it down for being not exactly their cup of tea. She called it silly and absurd and said the slang was overdone.
Let's just say I beg to differ. How better to show and be true to the two hundred year disparity? I feel like she and I should meet and discuss how she would have treated the problem.
And as for being absurd, please. Life is absurd. Problems are absurd. The idea that time travel is a dream is absurd. So what? I'm guessing that the problems in any contemporary romance can be called absurd as well. And the treatment of such problems in some of the books I've read? Absurd.
But I love absurd. The opposite is dead boring, and I don't have the time or the will to read a dead boring book. That's called homework or tax law.
Notice this post is all in black, with no pictures or fancy type fonts. That's how books are when they don't have any elements of the absurd in them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Oh IRELAND!--Post the Fifth

Fáilte chuig mo tráthchuid dheireanach!
(Welcome to my final installment!)

May 9, 2016

The Rock of Cashel--wish we could have gone but it was under scaffolding.
It was back to Dublin, the next morning. I rode with a little sadness since the trip was drawing thin towards the ending. It seemed to be a bit less real and I felt my grasp on Eire slipping--unable to 'own' it as well. We passed the Rock of Cashel, a huge castle half girded in scaffolding. It was a much more imposing place than Blarney Castle.

We couldn't take pics even of the stupid displays!

For B--a picture of Bacon
For some reason we did almost the same roundabout tour complete with reminders of who had which bridge or statue. We went past the Aisling Hotel and the Floozy in the Jacuzzi (a statue of What'shername in the pond in front of the hotel). I was hoping there would be time to see Christchurch with all its Viking artifacts, but it was not to be. 
The Bard and me

The square at Trinity College
We DID go to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Unfortunately they wouldn't allow photography in the exhibits at all, even though they were just large posters explaining the book. I could understand not allowing pics of the actual book...but the exhibits?

My size of library
So when I got upstairs to see the actual book, it was so very underwhelming, that I looked around for the real book. I mean they had it open to two of the least interesting, least illuminated pages in the whole book. I should have spent more time taking it all in, but I was so disgusted with it all that I kept going up the stairs to the library. 
Lisa in a classroom hall at Trinity College
There we actually COULD take pics, and did. Rows and rows of stacks, ancient books all. I tried to take pics of a few, but we couldn't actually get past the ropes to look at the books. Brother!

Afterwards, with the girls pulling at me to hurry, we looked around Trinity campus. I got to see Mercury. 
Mercury! Who knew?

ELK hunting at Trinity
The astronomy department had a telescope trained on it, apparently, but clouds had just obscured it, so they were showing previous images. We also went inside several of the halls. Mostly you couldn't go that far in because the students were taking exams. We went into the science building as they promised a museum, but only found a few things in the main hall.

Not sure what the big ball meant

After a trip across the street to the knocker shop (I should have gotten us a door knocker for the new door we plan to get someday) we scrambled aboard the bus (having missed the statue of Molly Mallone also) and took off for Lucan and Finnstown Castle Hotel. 
Just heading up to classes
I guess that was supposed to be the castle we stayed in, but it didn't seem to be anything but a hotel. They did have four peacocks and a couple of fountains and 2 summerhouses. We took lots of pictures. 

Another summerhouse, this one at Finnstown House

The ceiling at Finnstown House where we stayed our last night
May 10, 2016

The girls were supposed to wake us at 4 the next morning so we could make sure our bags were the right weight. Not only didn't they, but we were late and I was sprinting for the bus last. I tried to never be last on the bus since Murt made such a big deal of it. 

He strutted around and screamed like he owned the place.
When I got there, he was about to loft my suitcase in the bus and told me it was over weight. Lisa went to get her scales (she wasn't leaving until noon to go to Amsterdam) and it was 20 lbs over! What a pain. I ended up having to give Ross several things to carry in his backpack for me, and donate my 500 pennies to charity since Murt didn't want them either, right at the airport with several people yammering at me to dump my towel and dump this and dump that. 
My bags ended up being just under the mark and I had a headache from all the chipping.

Taking off. The plane was about half full.
The flight to Chicago was so empty that there were whole rows empty. Mom lay across them for a nap for part of the time, and sat next to me for part. I watched the rest of Tomorrowland and tried to look out the window. Unfortunately they had us close the blinds so people could sleep. When I opened it, we were above the clouds and it was so very bright that I couldn't see anything anyway. 
I tried to see anything of Chicago (since THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS and NO JOY FOR THE DEATHLESS are set there) but it was completely socked in and invisible. There wasn't time to see anything in the city, either. So I spent 3 + hours wandering the airport. I got Chinese food and hung out with the other people from the tour. At the last minute they changed our gate and we had to scramble. It turned out one of the planes had caught fire. Luckily it wasn't ours.

What I could see of Eire before it socked in
The next flight was both more crowded and less food was served (pretzels and juice for me). I waited an hour for Lon to come. I was dying having sat for like 18 hours, so I finally crawled into the back of the car and went to sleep. 
 I was really lucky I didn't have Lisa's flight home. She apparently had plane trouble and had to stay fastened in her seatbelt for the entire four hour flight. But that's her story to tell.
Everybody at home was so casual about missing me--like I'd just stepped out for a walk or something. Sir Riles Barksalot seemed to have forgotten me and cowered against Bit's feet. Luckily his defection was short-lived and lasted only until dinnertime...:o)
Coming down from a trip like this is interesting. I find my head split evenly between the lush greenness of Ireland and the ancient stones and the neat little cottages,versus the shrieking cicadas and 118 degree heat of the Arizona desert. I must say, though it is more otherworldly and remote, I'd rather be in Ireland this summer. 
My blue door
There are many places we missed that I'd still like to visit. The Waterford glassworks, other castles and cities (Belfast, Dunlough, all over the North, Dunluce, etc), gone swimming in the sea (I know it's cold but I've swum in snow melt for crying out loud), spent time in more cemetaries, and found my McKusick forebears. I'd like to go back when I've had a whole lot more practice with the whistle and feel more confident playing with people over there (gotten better at picking melodies out of the air to play cold) and actually get their names. It would have been so cool to know if I have CD's of any of those guys I played with but I was too chicken to ask who they were. Especially I want to know if the guys I thought looked like the Chieftains (from their many CD jackets I have) actually were. And I really need more time to research for FORLORN HOPE and PRIMA NOCHTA.
So someday soon, there's a second trip in the wings, holding me breathless with anticipation. Hopefully by then I'll have lost a person's worth of weight and will look better in photos...;op And maybe by that time we'll have a better door to put our new knocker on.
Anywho. That's my trip. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Oh IRELAND!--Post the Quatre

Gravestone in Sneem

 Fourth Installment

May 7, 2016

Today was Muckross day. Early on, we climbed into pony traps which hauled 6 to 8 lucky tourists each. Ours was driven by a leprechaun with a twinkly smile. We road through lacy green bowers, lovely curtains of lianas and carpets of bluebells and jonquils. It was breathtakingly gorgeous. Everything was the electric green of rain-soaked earth. We even passed fields of grazing red deer and sheep. I couldn't help feeling like those lucky people in Winterhaven who look down on we plodders with their self-satisfied smirks. I tried not to, but it felt funny. Probably I should have concentrated on just enjoying the method of transportation.
The K's (-Lisa) with the Leprechaun driver (OK this one looked like a leprechaun!)

Muckross House seemed to be more of a hunting lodge than anything else. Annoyingly, they wouldn't allow pictures to be taken. It wasn't really a castle, but it was large and full of trophy heads. Some of those stag racks were enormous! Dad would have loved them. We saw the children's rooms. Clearly the people there loved their children. When they left, though, they donated all their toys to the poor.

The only thing I could take a pic of--the Gaelic         
The explanation

The gardens were extensive and gorgeous and again the group forsook me. It was all exploring on my own—hard to really appreciate when I didn't know what was happening with the others—whether they'd leave me there and just go. Turns out Janelle and Ju and I finally met up and after taking pics in the summerhouse, walked home while the rest rode the bus. It had begun to mist and then to rain. It wouldn't have been bad, but Janelle was like a freakin' battleship plowing inexorably onward with few stops.

Muckross Abbey
Luckily one of those stops was at Muckross Abbey. The others on the bus didn't get to explore it. I was, then, glad we'd walked. The abbey was roofless and stone. It must have been horrendously uncomfortable to sleep there. We mucked about in the graveyard and climbed up all the floors and explored every inch of it. The abbey is much older than the house, the house having been renovated several times. That feeling of great age permeated the hoary stones which rose out of the lush green jungle. 

Janelle and I walking home from Muckross
We had a good time swinging on lianas and taking pictures next to the stump of an enormous upended oak. By that time the mist had turned to rain. We took a short cut, which of course is the longest distance between two points. Still now and then pony traps would come up behind us, or bikes. At last we hit the main motorway and walked along it. By that time, because my sleeves were too big to fit in my jacket sleeves, the rain was wicking up my arms. After not long I began to really feel awful. When I finally made it back to the hotel, I lay down and took a nap. Then a bit later I took a jacuzzi and felt better. The damage was done, however. I'd gotten a bad cold and cough.

The girls took off to go shopping when I got out. So, being hungry, I went to Jumping Jacks (sports pub) for a solitary dinner of a roasted ham and cheese sandwich. Man that was lonely. I finally took out my notebook and did a sketch and some little vignette bits for color later. Here are my impressions:

-The hulk of a stone wall rises from a velvet grass blanket. The clop of hooves coming up behind as pony traps pass on their way back to the city. A songbird breaks the flannel-clad silence, the notes sliding up and back down the scale.

-I feel a droplet and am instantly glad I brought the flimsy rain cape, tiny protection against the downpour.

-The rain and the week's end have driven everyone into the arms of the pub. There they find a pint, a bite, and a friend or ten. Because of the pints, the crowd's voice rises like a high tide, lapping at me, but not soaking.

-The walls are covered with rugby and football (soccer) pics, jerseys from Ciarrai (Kerry), Limerick, Cork, and Cavan.

-The Irish tricolor rises above the tables, complete with the Poblacht na H Eireann.

-Men fly back and forth from the bathroom, the trail just in front of me. It's a wet night in more ways than one.

-A football game rages on the TV above their heads, but they pay it little mind.

-Two little waitresses flutter around cleaning after a large party of half-buzzed or snockered men who charge back out into the rain or up to the front to swell the pack.

-The young man behind the till has finally spotted me. He sends a waitress with a side ponytail to bring me a hot ham and cheese sandwich and 3 kinds of potatoes. They sure love “mash” here.

-The air is soup-thick with the hoppy scent of beer and steaming wool, which swallows the creamy scent of my mash, which are now gone.

-When I can no longer endure my painfully single state, I launch myself into the drizzle, a ship hoping, at last, to fetch up against a friendly shore.

Afterwards I went walking and caught up with the girls. They were annoyed that I'd eaten already. Whatever. Mom decided we were celebrating my birthday and she gave me a CD she bought at the Gaelic Roots show. Also we went back to that Murphy's ice cream shop and the wonderful girls there treated me to a free ice cream. The bowl was cool. It was a balsa wood folded bowl with no bottom over which the sides of a paper cone folded. It was the perfect little bowl.

We bummed around looking in shops and buying atrocious touristy things. Again we saw a cool street performer--one of the better buskers I've ever listened to, and so entertaining. He sang happy birthday to me and heckled passersby. 

Insert the Ciarrai shirt story here, which is elsewhere in the blog. 

I think the guys loved their shirts.
(Just a note: The afternoon when we we'd first hit Killarney, we went to a sports uniform shop in a little mall and found nice jersey shirts like the ones we wanted, but they cost 50 Euros and up ($65 American).)

Unfortunately we didn't get to see the antique car museum or the cathedral inside. That's for next time I guess.

May 8, 2016
Each tree was for a fallen fireman

Today was Blarney day. We hopped into the coach and wended our way up into the hills above Cill Airne and thence on the road to Kinsale. Murt had this special place he wanted to show us all tucked away in what looked at first to be someone's pasture. 

We found, in an out-of-the-way, beautiful little place full of flowers and grass and trees, Ireland's homage to the firemen who died in 911. There is a tree planted (and plaqued) for every firefighter who laid his life down for others on that hellacious day. Clear over in Ireland they cared about our guys when their own leaders did not. Much. Lisa even found a tree for a guy she was in a wedding with (she was the bridesmaid, he was a groomsman). It really touched me how much the Irish cared.
Ireland's memorial for the firemen killed on 9/11

We started off again across the countryside towards Kinsale. It was a little fishing port, which we got to knock around in for almost an hour. Mom went to an antique show (didn't really find anything) and I and Lisa went to a bookstore. I bought my daughter's kids some little books about Irish folktales.
Lisdoonvarna--matchmaker capital of Ireland

Gorgeous rose window
After Kinsale with its colorful charm we piled into the van and stopped, almost like it was a whim, at St. Finbarr's Cathedral. Apparently there is usually a charge to go in. But I was following Cathy, whose husband, Ross, had already paid and gone in. She said that she was in search of her husband and paid. I think the guy at the counter thought that was me who said that, because I said I couldn't go in as I didn't have the fee. 
He said, “No worries. Go in and find your husband.” I didn't correct him and went and stuck to the rest of the people in the tour.
See, hear, speak, and read no evil

I love this juxtaposition of illumination and windows
What a gorgeous cathedral! Astonishingly so. It evidently has the most Old and New Testament themed stained glass windows anywhere. They were so VIBRANT with color. Gorgeous! They also had a cannonball on a chain hanging there, and lots of coats of arms and an illuminated scroll bearing the names of those who died in WWII. 

I can't imagine something like that in one of our churches or temples. Also there was a display involving an angel with two trumpets which once sat on the top of the steeple (Moroni anyone?). The story is that when that angel blows his trumps, the people of that town have a one hour jump on knowledge that the Apocalypse is happening. The thing is, I never saw that angel. I'm thinking he has gone to stand atop one of the Temples somewhere. I took lots of pictures there.

Waiting for Vizzini
Silly Jane kissed the stone
Blarney in the spring
Afterwards, we stopped at perhaps Ireland's biggest tourist draw. Blarney castle was actually fun to climb around in. Again, treacherous circular steps up to the towers, incredibly uneven floors, panting climbers, and no roof above. I took pics of several of the signs, climbed everywhere, took pictures out the arrow slits. 

I climbed up with Ju and a few others to kiss the stone. Somehow I don't have that picture, though. Lisa waited with Mom for a bit. I know Mom eventually got to the top, but I stopped waiting for Lisa. So, again, I got forgotten. Somehow they found the dungeon, which I did not. I found the Oubliette, though. I did meet Ross and Cathy in the Poison Garden, though. He did this weird chirp and his wife did too until they found each other. It was really effective. You could hear that chirp everywhere.

Ju and I at Blarney Castle
Anywho, I lost them too. I ended up going into the Rockery and doing the Wishing Stairs thing and seeing the Standing Stones, the Abbey, the dolmen and a dozen other beautiful features of the grounds. Everywhere there were riots of flowers and HUGE ancient oaks. But I'd had it with going everywhere alone, so I walked away back to the Woolen Mill Hotel where we were staying.
Gravestone in Sneem
Standing stones at Blarney gardens

Dungeon at Blarney

After a nice bath, I felt much better. Mom and I launched ourselves into the rain to find a place to eat, hopefully with the girls. Only we never found them and Mom had already eaten. They'd gone for soup for me, but I didn't want soup. I wonder what happened to it.

That night, because it was Mother's Day, we talked to our husbands on the girls' phones. I found out they gave us pie at church and my family ate all of it.