happy St. Patrick’s day

St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. ~ Adrienne Cook

hills of ireland

Had your share of green beer? cucumber-lemon-martini-1-1Then try a green martini. Spring is just a few days away and this drink can be served to celebrate the first day of Spring or for Easter.  Recipe can be found at Beyond Mere Substanceshamrock



thank-a-teacher Thursday

Growing up, I had some great teachers who inspired me to do more, to be more. Mrs. Lyles. Mrs. Pruitt. Mrs. Bourek. Mrs. Lawless. You get the picture. Which probably explains why I went through such a wide swing of career choices early on. It wasn’t until an 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Brown, told me that I could really spin a story that I began to dream of a career in journalism. Did I make it? Not quite. At least not in the newspaper business. But Mrs. Brown’s initial suggestion that I had talent and her yearlong encouragement gave me hope. And from that hope, stories began to emerge. Spinning tales became more natural for me. Short stories gushed out of me I didn’t know I could write. Many a creative writing class later, here I am. So to all the teachers who planted the writing bug in me…thank you! After all this time, I still hear their echoes of optimism, their inspiration, their determination. They instilled in me a forever sense not to give up.

So take it from me, it’s never too late to thank a teacher.




Sunday brunch and books

My turn to host the book club slash brunch today at noonish. A few may be running late due to Daylight Savings Time. We’ll wait. I’m serving a southwest breakfast bake as the main dish. The rest of the menu is salad and a bowl of fruit. For dessert…brownies, of course. For anyone who doesn’t like chocolate, there’s always a slice of sour orange pie with whipped cream. Oh my.
Southwestern Breakfast Bake

Credit: Mr. Food recipe and photo

Grab the ingredients:
  • 1 (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1/2 cups shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
To make it happen:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange potatoes evenly in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with cheese, green chilies, bell pepper, and scallions.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix well then pour evenly over potato mixture.
  4. Bake uncovered 55 to 60 minutes, or until center is cooked through and set.

book clubs and Coyote Wells

Excerpt from Shadow Canyon

Elnora’s house overflowed with Happy Bookers. The librarian took the time to introduce everyone to her new boyfriend, Ansel Conover, who seemed friendly enough carrying around a tray of rolled chicken tacos and dip.

Overall, the turnout was more than Gemma had expected. Just as club members had hoped, there were lots of new faces in the crowd. 3D SC png

Lianne had dragged her reluctant next-door neighbor, Enid Lloyd, to the meeting by promising her food and drink. On the other hand, Gemma had pushed the novel onto Leia hoping the chef would appreciate the depression-era southern recipes. Leia in turn had sweet-talked Rima and Willow into coming.

Gemma joined the others as they took seats in a circle around the living room, determined to fit in with the klatch no matter what.

While Elnora filled their glasses with a nice merlot that went well with the finger food, Gemma decided to bend Ansel’s ear on his next trip around the room with the hors d’oeuvres. It didn’t take long.

“You have an unusual first name. Anything to do with Ansel Adams, the photographer?”

“My mother was a huge fan. Ansel. Now there’s a name that gets you beat up a lot after school. You’re from San Francisco, right?”

“Actually I’m from Coyote Wells, born and raised. I spent several years in the Bay Area though until I moved back here a few months ago.”

“Weird weather there. Cold in the summer. Is there ever a time when it’s warm?”

“Not many know this but the hottest month in San Francisco is actually September.”

“Good to know. Maybe I’ll surprise Elnora with a trip there in the fall, make the rounds of all the museums. Elnora would love that.”

“Didn’t you used to teach archaeology at UC Davis?”

“Anthropology,” Ansel corrected. “The systematic study of our evolutionary origins. Studying our cultural backgrounds, processing our evolutionary biology, those are some of the most stimulating fields of study. How I do miss the classroom and looking out on the eager faces of my students. They always managed to ask great questions. I had to think on my feet and be prepared for any discussion.”

Gemma didn’t think she’d ever been that ecstatic about evolutionary origins, but then she’d come a long way since her days as a freshman. “I was wondering. Might you know a good forensic anthropologist, someone who could do a facial reconstruction like I’ve seen on the Doe Network?”

“What a fascinating question. I believe I could get you in touch with a former colleague of mine who does that sort of thing. Why do you ask?”

She filled him in on the town’s Jane Doe. “Her family deserves to know what happened to her. She at least deserves a name.”

“That’s a noble gesture. Don’t leave here without getting Candace Stewart’s number. She specializes in facial reconstruction at the Institute of Sciences. She still teaches a class at Cabrillo College.”

“Thanks. How much do you think something like that would cost?”

“Don’t worry about that yet. Besides, depending on the situation, it might fall under the federal grant Candace obtained. Or, she might get her students to do it gratis as a project. But you do realize the process takes months.”

“I just need to get it going. I don’t care how long it takes.”

“How long what takes?” Leia wanted to know as she elbowed her way into the conversation.

“The Jane Doe project.”

“The whole town could take up a collection and pay for it,” Leia suggested.

“Now you’re talking,” Ansel said as he moved on to fulfill his boyfriend duties.

Leia leaned in near Gemma’s ear. “When do I get to tell everyone here that those recipes in the book suck?”

“Shh! Don’t make waves,” Gemma chided. “I don’t want to get kicked out my first time here.”

“Oh, please. Don’t give me that superior attitude. You’d feel differently if it involved chocolate.”

“How many recipes did you try anyway? Maybe it was a fluke.”

“Mom and I picked ten and split them up between us. Of the five I made, it was that awful breakfast casserole that was the worst. I thought poor Zeb might have to make an appointment to see Luke to get his stomach pumped.”

“Oh, come on.”

“I’m not kidding. I should’ve thrown the entire dish down the garbage disposal the first time I sampled it. If the author messed up chocolate truffles the way she screwed up a simple pasta recipe, you’d be livid.”

“Well. Yeah. Goes without saying.” Gemma looked around the room, her eyes landing on Edna. “Did you know she brings fresh flowers every day out of her garden to half the stores along Water Street, including the shop?”

“Sure. Where do you think the restaurant gets all those hydrangeas we put on the tables? Edna’s garden is a showplace.”

Elnora called the meeting to order and everyone took their seats. To Gemma’s surprise, the book discussion lasted a mere forty-five minutes. All the while she had to keep kicking Leia to prevent her from complaining about the recipes. But in the end Lucinda Fenton was the one who brought it up.

“I think maybe the author left out a few key ingredients. That recipe for homemade dumplings turned out just awful.”

That subject had Leia bounding to her feet, thoroughly picking apart each recipe she’d tried and ruined. For the next thirty minutes they discussed flogging the author before the talk turned to more docile gossip. Everyone wandered back over to where the appetizers had been set up to graze and chat about the next book selection.

Getting bored, Rima tapped Gemma on the shoulder. “I thought of something else that happened that summer. It might mean nothing. But then again, it might just help in some way.”

“Come with me, let’s take this outside so we can hear each other,” Gemma said, steering Rima onto a side terrace lined with flowerpots, rows of containers overflowing with every color imaginable of blossoms.

“Geraniums are Elnora’s specialty. She grows them from seeds,” Rima pointed out.

“So I see. What’s up? What did you recall from that summer?”

“Remember how I told you that Lindsay Bishop was the second car accident that summer in August. Well, I forgot one little detail. Lindsay got married that spring, April I believe. She’d only been Aaron Barkley’s wife for four months when she had that car wreck. You should check to see if Aaron collected a fat insurance payout afterward. I remember his spending a lot of cash around town after that.”

“Why Rima, you think like a super sleuth. I’m proud of you.”

“Hey, I watch crime shows. Theo teases me all the time about them. It’s sort of a hobby of mine at the end of the day. It’s time he respected the importance of murder mysteries.”

“I’ll say. Any time a spouse ends up dead four months after the wedding is cause for alarm and a reason to ask questions.”

“That’s just it. I don’t think anyone did…ask questions. Do you think the two accidents might be related?”

“You never know. But it’s a highly suspicious coincidence. And way past time to start digging for answers.”

the best pug in the world

Last summer I lost my pug, Beau. He went to sleep one night  and just didn’t wake up. He’d had breathing problems in the past, but I never expected him to go so suddenly like that. The house seems empty without his little pug feet padding from room to room and his little body curling up next to mine. Walks aren’t the same.

Right away friends urged me to get another dog, a replacement, but no dog could ever take the place of a best friend like Beau. He would sit with me each time I started a book, watch me at my desk through the process right up to when I put the finishing details into its completion. If you’re curious or counting, that’s more than twenty novels during Beau’s lifetime. He’d listen patiently, he had a knack for that, as I worked out scenes and read the dialogue out loud. Maybe that’s why writing my last three books hasn’t been the same. Our time together went by too fast and even though it’s been eight months, I don’t think I’m ready yet to look for another. When and if that time comes, I might mark the anniversary of his passing by accepting another dog into my life, not a pug though. I don’t want to go through the breathing problems again. I’ll pick one from a shelter this time.  He or she won’t be a replacement. No one can ever take Beau’s place. Not even if I cloned him like Barbra Streisand did her beloved Sammie. Beau was Beau. And there will  never be another like him. But don’t worry, when I do choose another dog, I’ll shower the lucky pooch with all the love I can muster. That’s a promise.

Romance free through March 1

Sometimes a Promise Kept Can Change Your Life

Reeling from the violent death of her husband in war-torn Iraq, Jordan Phillips is at her FINAL NEW Promise Covewit’s end, left to fend for herself and her baby. Alone and desperate in backwater Pelican Pointe, she faces an uphill battle against a judgmental and hostile town as she tries to rebuild her life. But when a mysterious and handsome stranger with a tragic secret appears, her fragile new world threatens to come crashing down around her. A heartbreaking story of love and romance, Promise Cove will hold you breathless until the very last page.

❤  Promise Cove free through March 1st!! 

hard at work


2018 Book Schedule

Shadow Canyon

2nd in the Coyote Wells Mystery Series

Keeping Cape Summer

11th in the Pelican Pointe Series

Sea of Bones

6th in the Skye Cree Novels

Spirit Lake

3rd in the Coyote Wells Series