Saturday, January 31, 2015

I have a new webpage

I'm working on building a new webpage. 

This is a whole new adventure for me.

I did a webpage several years ago, it's still active, but it's mostly a photo album.  I wanted a place to "store" old photos of friends and family, and it is still serving that purpose well.  It was an effort in teaching myself as I went along, and it's in old software and well, this new one is a few steps forward from it. Although, this too is an effort in teaching myself as I go along. 

I'm having a bunch of fun with it, but setting it up is a lot of work.  I am far from done.

Actually, I see it as a constant work in progress, depending on what pops into mind.

I hope you'll give it a look, and let me know what you think.

All suggestions are welcome!

2014 Agatha Nominees Announced

I always look forward to hearing who the nominees are for the annual Agatha Awards

The awards are presented at the Malice Domestic Convention, which is a delightful mystery convention held in Bethesda, MD 

I'm sorry I  won't be attending this year, but I'm not sorry to have to choose who I might vote for!  Wow!  It's always a very tough choice because there are always friends included in the list of nominees.  But this year it seems to be an especially brilliant group (do I say that every year? I think I might say that every year).

My congratulations to all the nominees!!

The 2014 Agatha Nominees are:

Best Contemporary Novel

The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)

Best Historical Novel

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
Wouldn't it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland (Minotaur Books)
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Kensington Publishing)
Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien (Henery Press)
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)

Best Nonfiction

400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga (Quill Driver Books)
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan (ed) (Henery Press)
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora (New Horizon Press)
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books)
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates (Overlook Hardcover)

Best Short Story

"The Odds are Against Us" by Art Taylor (EQMM)
"Premonition" (Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays) by Art Taylor (Wildside Press)
"The Shadow Knows" (Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays) by Barb Goffman (Wildside Press)
"Just Desserts for Johnny" by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
"The Blessing Witch" (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave) by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Level Best Books)

Best Children's/Young Adult

Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4, The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlen Coben (Putnam Juvenile)

The winners will be announced at the Agatha Awards Banquet on May 2, 2015. Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zen and The Art of Housecleaning

Some of you are aware of my housecleaning efforts the past few weeks.

I love our little house, but truth be told - it had gotten pretty nasty.

Oh, on the surface things looked okay.

But anyone looking closely would notice corners not quite as they should  be.  Baseboards and woodwork not quite as they should be.  Windows . . .  you get the picture.

So I quit just talking and whining about the dirty house and did something about it, and boy howdy, did it need to be done.  

Truth be told - I have just been lazy.  Plain, rotten lazy.

Oh, I have had a dozen excuses -

"Well, I went to the gym today."

"Boy, did I ever get some writing done today."

"I could not put this book down today."

Rationalization is an art.  One I'm pretty good at.

And since I'm no longer working I've found without structure in my life, it is very easy for me to be lazy and particularly easy to rationalize. 

When we were still living in Atlanta and I was working, I would, from time to time, have someone come in to clean.  As I recall, most of those ventures didn't end particularly well.

Since we've been living here I have had help come in a few times, and a couple times I would just have someone come in to do a very serious, very "deep" cleaning.

But, now here's the thing about it.

I was never as happy with anyone else's efforts as I am my own.

And now that I'm retired, I can't afford anyone else's efforts - especially if I'm not going to be happy with those efforts.


Yippee Skippy -  today I finished.


I thought I had finished until I threw my head back to breathe a thankful "Finally!" and realized there was a ceiling fan over my head that was dangling cobwebs and dust bunnies.  I'm telling you - nasty!

But.  That will just have to wait until I'm finished writing this piece, enjoying a fresh, hot cup of coffee and spending a little time just relaxing.

I actually, when in the mood, enjoy cleaning the house.

Well, okay, not all aspects of housecleaning . . .

But I like watching the sparkle come back into things.

I like getting reacquainted with some of the pieces Donald and I have collected together.  Recalling a  little memory that might come with a particular piece of pottery, or thinking of the friend or family member who gave us that piece of china.  A shopping trip I might have been on with my mom or a girlfriend when I bought that small painting.

Standing back to look at old ironstone pitchers after giving them a bath is rewarding and even a bit comforting.

If I'm not in the mood, things get done in a sloppy, shoddy way and then I'm disgusted with myself.  But, truthfully, if I'm in the mood I can find comfort in the act and there's even some moments of Zen type reflection.

Today, the last task I did was cleaning a baker's rack downstairs.

It's where some crystal and glass pieces live.  Some are old, some are new.  There's some old green depression glass pieces that a neighbor gave my mother many years ago, and she has since passed them along to me.  There are a couple pieces that belonged to my Aunt Belle that she gave me several years ago when we were home for a visit.  The neighbor, Mrs. Parrot, and my much loved Aunt Belle are no longer with us.  So today, while I was giving those pieces a gentle cleaning I was able to spend a little bit of time thinking about them, which was nice.

My mind takes funny turns when involved in a task that is mindless and repetitive like I've been doing.  Skips around like jumping beans.  Probably a natural thought was having Callahan Garrity popping into my mind.  Remember her?

Callahan Garrity was the protagonist in Kathy Hogan Trocheck's mystery series set in Atlanta, GA.  She wrote the series back in the '90s and I loved every book in the series.  Callahan Garrity was a former Atlanta cop, former P.I. turned  housecleaning service owner.  Her House Mouse Cleaning Service employees were an eccentric bunch of women I was crazy about.  Callahan lived with her outspoken, chain smoking mother, Edna Mae, and the series was very southern.  Because I was living in Atlanta at the time, I was familiar with most of the neighborhoods Ms. Trocheck used as settings - in particular the Candler Park area Callahan and Edna lived in.  I lived in Inman Park, which is right next door to Candler Park.  It was, back when I was living there, a fun and funky area of town populated by an artsy crowd.  Ms. Trocheck portrayed it perfectly.

So.  Today, while washing Aunt Belle's crystal jam pot, I started congratulating myself on what an excellent housecleaner I am.  There was only one incident of breakage in which I accidently decapitated a miniature teddy bear, but all in all, I think I've done a bang-up job.

Patting myself on the back and thinking about House Mouse Callahan Garrity, I thought maybe I should look into going back to work.  Start my own housecleaning business.  Hire a couple women to help me.  

And then I thought.

Maybe not.

Maybe I need to just pay closer attention to my own house.

Work just a little harder at keeping it a little cleaner week to week so I don't have to work this hard getting it all sparkly clean ever again.

We'll see.

In the meantime - anyone out there planning on paying us a visit, could you maybe come like right now while things are looking so pretty?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cleaning, Writing and a new review

Today I have spent my day ignoring things that need attention in the house.  

Since launching what I'm now calling "The Epic Housecleaning of the Barley Abode," I have cleaned and scrubbed and sorted and tossed until I'm sick to death of it all. 

I have only one room left to do, but today was just not the day.  Maybe tomorrow.

I'm not looking forward to tackling this

and that's just one small part of a room full of books and ornaments, and "stuff."

If I had tackled it today, the job would have been a sloppy one, leaving me feeling the need to do it over, so it's best to just let it rest until I'm back in the mood.  

So, I wrote.

I wrote 1,121 words, which is a great writing day for me.  

The story has been rambling through my mind while I've been doing this massive housecleaning project, and a lot of new things presented themselves.  Including a new character who, hopefully, is going to be really interesting.  Eccentric, secretive, nurturing and very mysterious,

I've worked up to the scene that I've been excited about, only to find it impossible to get it right.  I can picture her in my mind.  I'm picturing the small cabin at the edge of the marsh she lives in.  But getting in on paper is proving to be elusive.

Hopefully, if I walk away from it for awhile after having written some bare bone facts to help me remember where I'm trying to go, things will come.  Fingers crossed that things will come.

So after leaving Olivia on the steps of Bronwyn's front porch, I wandered to amazon to see if there were any new Whimsey reviews and hooray, yes there was!  And, thank the muses, it was an excellent one!

I sent a reviewer by the name of Miss Susie an audio copy of Whimsey and she gave it an excellent review at, so I was happily surprised to spot a new one at amazon.  If you're not familiar with Miss Susie, do check her out.  She, like a well-trusted reviewer should be, is well equipped to do the types of reviews people can read and trust rather than just squeal (like me), "Oooh, I love this book!"   She and I seem to share a taste in reading.  

You can find her reviews here:

And - here's the lovely review she left for Whimsey.  I really needed this little boost today.  Miss Susie, if you're reading, Thank You!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars I want to live in WhimseyJanuary 14, 2015
This review is from: Whimsey: A Novel (Paperback)
I want to live in Whimsey! This book proves not only can you go home again but that you should. Emma tried to leave Whimsey in the past but when things go wrong in her life and her artistic jewelry line takes the hit , she eventually figures out she needs to find her inner magic again and with some help from her long dead aunt Elizabeth the only place that it can be found is on the island of Whimsey. I loved the scenes with Aunt Elizabeth and the crayon and the story of finding you crimson, we all need this lesson!

I also enjoyed the pixie Earlene, I loved that she made silver glitter fall off of Emma without her even realizing it. Oh who am I kidding I loved every character in this book. The whole ensemble is there for a reason each with their own set of advise to Emma and when she finally decides to listen to all the people and island are trying to tell her things get much better for. I also want to see her jewelry; I want to see these colors the colors of a sunrise on Whimsey with colors no one has a name for.

This book is right up there with Sarah Addison Allen in southern magical realism; in fact I think these two authors should get together because the big grand opening of the gallery needs a caterer and who better than the Waverly sisters!

Susanna Burney narrates this book; her narration is good my only quibble was that sometimes her voices weren’t consistent. But overall I enjoyed her narration she didn’t go full out on a southern accent so it sounded fake she just had a hint of it that made it believable, her characters were good with my one quibble being the exception.

I highly recommend this book to southern fiction lovers, especially fans of Sarah Addison Allen. This book has the same feel good aftereffect that Sarah’s books do. I was surprised to find this is Kaye’s first novel; I look forward to reading anything else she writes!

5 Stars

I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review. Thanks for the pleasure of listening to this delightful story!

FMS Photo a Day - Day 25

Jan. 25 -

"Black and White"

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Louise Penny

Sometimes when I say the words "my friend" when referring to someone who many people know of through their accomplishments, I realize it comes across to many as a name dropping kind of thing. I think though, that people who *really* know me know that I enjoy using those words about people I sincerely care about whether they're a famous author or someone I've known since my childhood and am equally as proud to call friend.

I cherish people I call "friend" and always feel a certain pride when I'm able to say "this is my friend so and so" as I introduce them. Therefore, I'm sure I overuse the phrase. Oh, well. If that's the worst of it, so what?

Louise Penny is a woman I am proud to call my friend.

She's a woman I started getting to know when she had a debut novel, STILL LIFE, hit the scene and made a bit of a splash. I'm not completely sure of the year - 2005, maybe?

I may not remember the exact year, but I very clearly remember telling people she was someone to watch. I very clearly remember telling her she was someone to watch.

So now when I read the winners of major awards and see her name I feel the same sense of pride I felt when I was lucky enough to meet her the first time and just knew that we would become friends. Of course, I had no idea then that she would become quite as famous as she has, but I did know we would be friends.

She is as gracious and as down to earth today as she was back then.

She is amazing in ways most of us would hope to be in the face of tremendously terrifying circumstances.

And, I admire her while I hold her in my heart while she and Michael walk this long road together.

Here's an interview she's graciously shared with us regarding Michael's diagnosis and their life since receiving it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

FMS Photo a Day - Day 23

Jan. 23 -

"Something Far Away"

This is a shot taken by Donald while hiking on Elk Knob near where we live.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

FMS Photo a Day

Jan. 20 - Window

This was written on a storefront window in Nashville, TN

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

National Hat Day

Did you know January 15th
National Hat Day?!  


The perfect excuse to play with old (and not so old) photos of me and Harley wearing hats.  

I came by my love of hats honestly, it would seem.  The two lovely women in the center photo are my Great Aunt Sadie and my paternal grandmother, Laura.  I do not know who the handsome gentleman between them is, but the gentleman with the mustache is my grandfather, Irvin Wilkinson (better known as Pop-Pop).

A toast to hats!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FMS Photo a Day Challenge - Day 14

Jan. 14 - "New"

Starting the new year off with the cleanest house possible (even if it kills me!)  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Sunday of the Month

And today's my day to play at Jungle Red as "Oh, Kaye!"

I hope you'll stop by to say "Hey!" as I share some of Neil Gaiman's magical words.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Another Day in Asheville

One of our favorite "get-aways" is Asheville.  It's only about a two hour trip and the drive is part of the joy.

It's a quiet, peaceful drive with rivers, mountain vistas, national forests and small towns.

With some fun things to warrant a stop along the way.

Sometimes it might be cool barns with beautiful hand painted barn quilts on them that beg to be photographed.

Photography was actually the reason behind this spur of the moment jaunt.

Any excuse to spend some time at Ball Photo Supply is okay by me, and it just so happens Donald is on the hunt for a tripod for his new camera.

While he looked and asked a lot of questions, I looked also.

Ball Photography fascinates me.

It's like a camera museum/store filled with knowledgeable, creative people who embrace the art of photography.  They still maintain a lab for developing film, still sell film and if you're really lucky you can also happen up on some pretty wonderful old cameras in working order for sale.

And - even cooler - you can play with them!

Or, step back and admire some old pieces that have been a part of a magical history.

Once we pulled ourselves away from Ball's, we went to visit one of the very best bookstores on God's green earth - Malaprop's Books,  

I cannot walk in the door of Malaprop's without taking a picture of the Shopping Daze sculpture that stands out front.

This was an especially fun trip.

I met a very nice family and had a fun visit.  The lovely Noelle is an avid reader and a writer, so we had a lot to chat about, AND - she asked me to sign a copy of Whimsey for her.  She had no idea, I don't think, that she had me walking on a cloud the rest of the day.

Then I did a little shopping with some Santa money I received from Christmas.  What could be any more fun than shopping in a delightful bookstore that knows exactly what to stock for book lovers?!

Then to top off a perfect day, we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants on our way home. 

The Italian Restaurant in Pineola.

And then, well, we get home to find my next month's supply of food from Nutrisystem on the door step.  

We wondered if they had perhaps spied me eating a wonderful dish of lasagna just a bit earlier?

And then, oh the irony.

Guess what was tucked into the box?

This adorable little bear to congratulate me on losing my first 10 pounds.

Happy New Year, everyone - it's back on Nutrisystem for me.  I can't bear to disappoint this little bear, after all.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

A One Word New Year's Resolution for 2015

Laura Lippman does a one word resolution every year, and invites us to share ours. 

My one word resolution for 2015 is "Do." 

And I think I need to have this quote scrolling across my laptop screen.