RIP, Mr. Bean

Dear Readers, 

Today, I am veering off my usual literary topic to sadly report the passing of my granddog, Mr. Bean. He was eleven.

Bean lived a great life in Virginia with my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. He quickly intertwined himself around their hearts, souls, and daily routines. Bean enjoyed a good walk around the lake, showing off for my granddaughter, splashing in the ocean during the annual family trip to the Jersey Shores, and holding sway at the head of the table during his yearly dog birthday party right after Thanksgiving. He was King of Dog Fashions, always sporting a sweater or t-shirt to match a season or holiday. He even dressed up in theme with the rest of the family’s Halloween costumes.

Bean was a little Lakeland terrier, but his heart, presence, and unconditional love equaled those of ten mastiffs. His sudden passing has left a huge, gaping hole in the Virginia household and in all our hearts.

Bean was my little snuggle buddy whenever I would visit, keeping me company when no one was around, and springing up onto my bed in the guest room to nap or cuddle. How do you let go of all of that and move forward? We must, of course–when the ache and tears can eventually be replaced by smiles and fond memories of a Great Dog.

Mr. Bean, your family, neighbors, and dog friends miss you terribly and will love you forever.

RIP, sweet Bean. November 28, 2008 – February 21, 2020. Thanks for gracing our lives and teaching us about love and patience.  We thought we would have you longer to keep showing us the way.

Now, it’s your turn to romp and play, young and healthy again, with Rosie, Snickers, and all your doggie best buds over the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again to hold you in our arms, we will continue to hold you in our hearts.

 

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“Riddle Me This!”

Dear Readers,

Now that Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, Book 1 in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series is launched, some of you have asked when Book 2 will come out. Books 2 and 3 are finished and awaiting publication.

The short answer about Book 2’s arrival is . . . hopefully, by the end of this year or early 2021. I won’t bore you with the long answer.

The title? Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse. If you’ve read Book 1, you might have noticed the reference to the next book at the end of the last chapter: “[The four detectives] would have been heartened to know their next daring mystery was already simmering not too far away on Eucalyptus Street.”

If you read to the end of the Acknowledgments (no one ever does), there is a teaser scene for the book: “You will be challenged by a mysterious old mansion, a seventy-year-old puzzle poem, dusty secret passages, a hidden gemstone, and a flickering light in the nearby cemetery.”

To whet your appetite, below is the entire puzzle poem.

So, get a clue–or two or three– dear Readers. Let’s see what you can figure out about Book 2’s mystery from this riddle. Use the contact form on my website, Website Contact Form, and let me know your guesses! Here is the puzzle poem (riddle). Good luck!

 

‘Wishful dreams of bold emerald trappings

From radiant treetop and archaic wrappings;

To find what you seek, you must dash and dart

Only to discover the ending was at the start.

 

Deep down below a chamber to nourish

The players’ voices, where still flourish

Wooden words helped create the magic:

Sometimes comic and sometimes tragic.

 

Lions’ threatening stares from their moonlit perches

Warn of danger for would-be explorers’ searches;

But once their eyes are turned down to the floor,

The way becomes clear, it reveals much more.

 

An artisan’s tilework leads to loftier places

Where there are myriad quarters with timeworn traces.

When the sunlight’s ray strikes the portrait at three,

Look to the jeweled hand that recommends your knee.

 

Treehouse gardens seen from highest window stained,

Its panes have witnessed material treasures that remain

Dazzling and fine, but now hidden, soon forgotten with time,

Perhaps to be rescued because of this rhyme.

 

At the end of it all, blackened roses, wicked thorns, and delusions,

So from Gray’s elegy, I ask if beauty isn’t wasted in seclusion?

Searching must continue now but at a funeral’s pace, awaiting the light

That appears however improbably, yet shining green and eternally bright.’”

 

Whoa! Right? Think you know what the riddle is about? Please let me know.

 

 

 

 

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Heartfelt Thanks!

Dear Readers of Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets,

Thank you so much for taking your time, effort, and money to get your hands on a copy of my debut Middle Grade book! Some of you have also been so kind as to review it on Amazon and/or GoodReads. (It’s not too late–hint, hint! https://amzn.to/3ad9T6T  and  https://goodreads.com/book/show/46306620-nutmeg-street).

A special thanks to all who helped make my book possible: Acorn Publishing, friend and author R.D. Kardon, cover designers, editors, a map maker, a formatter, marketers, publicists, literary assistants, friends, and family.

Buying and reviewing an author’s works are so complimentary and important for a writer. For me, knowing that my first mystery story is out in the world and doing well is especially heartwarming!

So get a clue, Readers. Stay tuned for Book 2, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse, coming soon! You can rejoin our four detectives as they take on a spooky ancestral estate, secret corridors, hidden rooms, and a decades-old puzzle poem to find a gigantic hidden emerald. Suddenly, time is of the essence when they learn of a sinister competitor. And remember. Duck your head in those dusty passages. In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day!

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An Origins Tale

Dear Readers,

Today, I want to share with you how I came up with the primary settings in Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets.

My story takes place in the Pacific coastal resort town of Las Palmitas (“the little palm trees”). It is a quainter, much less populated version of palm-filled San Diego, California, USA, where I grew up and still reside.

I came up with the idea of “Botanic Hill,” a neighborhood in Las Palmitas, one day while walking my dog, Jimmy Lambchop. He and I live in a historic neighborhood in San Diego with charming botanical street names like Jacaranda Street, Nutmeg Street, and Quince Street. There is even a neighborhood nearby called Bankers Hill; hence, “Hill.” As a child, I always wanted to live on Nutmeg Street because I thought something magical would happen to me there. Well, I never did end up living on Nutmeg Street (at least, not yet), but on that walk that day, it and the other streets seemed to be screaming at me, “Make us famous!” I hope to do just that.

And just a reminder: In case you haven’t gotten your hands on your copy(ies) of my book yet, it is now available in paperback and ebook. An audiobook version arrives in April. You can get your paperback or eBook now by accessing the links below, or by clicking on my websites’ Buy Links.

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/3ad9T6T

Kindle (eBook): https://amzn.to/2NuhVyq

Other Fine Online Retailers (eBook):  https://books2read.com/u/3JD0yJ

So get a clue, Readers. Join the Botanic Hill detectives in sun-drenched Las Palmitas as they take on ancient Egypt, venomous snakes, wily criminals, and earthquakes. It promises to “shake you up,” too. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist!)

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Why I Created “Super Sleuths”

Dear Readers and Loyal Newsletter Subscribers,

Drum roll, please! . . . We are on the brink of the release on FEBRUARY 1 of Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, Book 1 in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series!

At this time, I would like to share with you what motivated me way back in 2013–and still motivates me–to write my mystery series. My interesting muses:

If my four teen detectives seem unusually mature, polite, and helpful, they are–by my design! My goal was–and still is–to create positive role models, someone for kids ages nine to twelve to look up to in this scary world and, perhaps, to emulate. Better yet, I hope my four “power sleuths” become kids’ new heroes. 
The detectives’ real-life prototypes were my then thirteen-year-old twin cousins and my eleven-year-old fifth grade students.  That’s right. Eleven. They were some of the smartest, most poised, and respectful kids I ever had the pleasure to teach and learn from. They energized me and made me feel daily that our planet will be in good hands when they take the helm.
Then it hit me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more kids could develop the same abilities to let their best selves shine forth? If they could learn by example to boost their confidence in order to showcase their intelligence and skills, not be ashamed of them? If their concerns for others could translate into being more helpful at home and in their communities? So, I launched my uber-efficient Botanic Hill detectives as guides for kids to courageously “up their game.” Nancy Drew was my childhood courage coach! Why not see if this concept will work for kids today? I hope to hear feedback from them when I visit schools.

So get a clue, Readers.If you’ve been reading my blogs/news items this month, you’ve gotten a little taste of Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets. It awaits the pleasure of your company. And don’t forget to mark your calendars and purchase my book at Amazon.com in paperback and/or eBook on FEBRUARY 1. Thank you for all your support!

 

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The Conclusion of Chapter 2

Dear Readers and Loyal Newsletter Subscribers,

We are getting closer to the release on FEBRUARY 1 of Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, Book 1 in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series. I continue offering excerpts from the story.

Last time, I featured the first half of Chapter 2.

So get a clue, Readers. Please let me know what you think. And don’t forget to mark your calendars and purchase my book at Amazon.com in paperback and/or eBook on FEBRUARY 1.

But for now, sit back and hopefully enjoy the conclusion of Chapter 2:

 

Lexi and Lanny didn’t arrive home on Quince Street until the late afternoon. As they walked through the back door into the large, well-equipped kitchen, they were greeted by the spicy aromas of freshly chopped cilantro and cheesy homemade enchiladas, and by the family’s cook and houseman, “Uncle” Rocky. He’d joined the family shortly before the twins were born. He had been the cook for one of Dr. Wyatt’s archaeological excavations, and the two men struck up a long-lasting friendship.

Lexi squeezed the middle-aged man around his big aproned middle. “We’re on a new case.”

“Great. I hope we’ll get to hear all about it at dinner­time,” the gravelly-voiced New Yorker said. “Which reminds me, your parents are home. Dinner’s in a few minutes. Go wash your hands, pronto.” He accentuated the last word with a beat in the air from his large chopping knife.

The twins were proud of their famous parents, Dr. Ian Wyatt and Dr. Becky Marlton. They usually left for their jobs at the ARC at the same time every weekday and came home together, walking hand in hand or riding their bicycles. Lexi had her father’s green eyes, dark hair, and love of ancient cultures. Lanny had inherited his mother’s creative sensibilities, curly blonde hair, and unusual blue-violet eyes—“Liz Taylor eyes,” as Uncle Rocky called them, referencing the beautiful, purple-eyed actress. Even though Elizabeth Taylor was a woman, Lanny couldn’t be happier about the comparison. One of his hobbies was watching old Hollywood movies, and he admired all those stars from long ago. In fact, one of his all-time favorite actresses was Miss Taylor.

Soon, the five were seated around the enormous kitchen table that often accommodated neighbors or guests from the ARC. During the meal, Lexi and Lanny shared their new case with the family. Their parents weren’t ones to worry. Uncle Rocky worried plenty enough for everyone. Still, Dad didn’t like the sound of a chase. “A theft is one thing,” he said, “but I don’t want you getting in over your heads.”

“The police are handling that part, Dad,” Lexi said. At Uncle Rocky’s snorting sound, she continued, “Really. You can check with Moki’s dad if you don’t believe me.” She had them there. She and her brother never lied. It was a point of pride for their parents.

“Okay, then,” Dad said, “anything we can do to help?”

“Yes. Please explain to us what exactly happened to Dr. Thornsley,” urged Lexi. She leaned over and tightly squeezed her father’s lower arm with both hands. Hearing him wince in pain, she quickly released her grip. Grabbing flesh when exuberant was her bad habit.

“Well,” he said as he set his fork down and massaged his arm. “It was last October when the theft occurred. Our family was out of town as you might remember. The urn Dr. Thornsley had found last summer in Egypt was on loan to the ARC from the British Museum in Cairo. It was stolen the very first night it arrived here.”

“Some people still believe he stole it,” said Mom with a pained look in her eyes.

“How could anyone believe that a man of Dr. Thornsley’s character and reputation would do such a thing?” returned Uncle Rocky. He shook his big sphinxlike head.

Lanny asked, “Dad, do you and Mom believe Dr. Thornsley stole the urn?” He slathered more salsa across the enchilada on his plate.

“Not for a second. For one thing, all the evidence against him turned out to be circumstantial,” replied Dad.

Lexi looked up from her meal. “Wait. What does ‘circumstantial’ mean?”

Lanny, the walking dictionary, pounced. “‘Circum­stantial’ means that the so-called evidence gathered was not determined to be worthy enough to be able to lead to an indisputable conviction of guilt in a court of law.”

“Okay. Thanks, I think,” Lexi said. Her brother was smarter than anyone else she knew, except for her parents, of course. But she didn’t tell him too often, or it might go to his head.

Dad continued, “Besides, we will always feel, as does Uncle Rocky, that Dr. Thornsley was too honest and devoted to Egyptology and the laws and ethics of archaeology to ever commit such a crime.”

“I still can’t believe he’s not with us anymore,” Mom said with a catch in her voice.

“No one ever said how he died,” Lanny nudged, hoping for information, not tears.

“Massive stroke,” his dad explained. “Perhaps from being under a terrible strain for six months following the theft.” He finished the last bite of tortilla left on his plate.

“What a waste of a terrific person and a great life,” Uncle Rocky sighed, hauling his tall frame up from his chair to serve the ice cream dessert. The others passed their dinner plates to Dad who rose and set the stack by the sink.

“Get this,” Lexi said. “While we were waiting for the police to arrive, Mrs. T shared some bad news she got this morning from Dr. Abbott. He told her Dr. T can’t be honored at this summer’s annual Paradise Days Festival. I just don’t understand that.” She scowled.

Dad returned to his seat. “Well, my princess, there are some people at the ARC and from the public in general who still have unfavorable opinions about Dr. Thornsley’s part in the theft. They feel that until the urn is found and returned to the ARC, and until any possible culprit or culprits are arrested and convicted for its theft, doubts about Dr. Thornsley’s innocence and integrity as a scientist will surely remain. Honoring a man who might be guilty could embarrass the ARC.”

“That’s so unfair,” replied Lexi, pushing away her chocolate dessert with a pout.

“Who at the ARC is in charge of finalizing the festival honorees’ list?” asked Lanny. He took a large bite of his ice cream.

Lexi had to admire her brother’s many qualities. He could separate out his feelings and get down to the business at hand. That’s what made him the leader of their detective agency.

“Dr. Abbott is the director, so he has the final say,” replied Dad. “But he must take into consideration what the ARC’s festival committee of scientists and art historians advises.”

“Before you ask, your dad and I couldn’t be on this year’s nominating committee since we served last year,” Mom said regretfully. Her ice cream was starting to resemble chocolate soup like Lexi’s.

“Life just isn’t fair sometimes, and that makes me angry,” Lexi said, scowling more intensely now and slumping at her place.

“I know, sweetie,” Mom replied. “But remember. You four kids are on the case now. That means you’re doing your part to set matters right. Think positively.” She stroked Lexi’s hand.

“Which reminds me,” said Lanny as he sat erectly. “We have our direction for tomorrow. The four Botanic Hill detectives’ first stop will be the ARC to see Dr. Abbott.”

Come back next time when the author will explain what motivated her to create the Botanic Hill detectives as “super sleuths” and their mysteries.

 

 

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