I Get Questions

Dear Kids and Other Readers,

Now that my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries Books 1 and 2 are published, the question I’m now being asked is, when is Book 3 coming out, and what’s it about?

Thanks for asking! Book 3 is Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, and it’s ready for a turn in the publication line. The expected release date will be late 2021.

So, what’s this next adventure all about, anyway? Here you go:

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch and youth saddle club for kids with emotional issues. In town on Walnut Street at a welcome barbecue for the newest club members, the four thirteen-year-old Botanic Hill detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—also guests, are hired to investigate.

Adding to the excitement is that somewhere on the forty-acre ranch just outside the mountain town of Cody is a long-lost gold mine staked in 1875 by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-times great-grandfather, Pappy Mayfield. Pappy was one of California’s first Black deputy United States marshals turned gold miner. (His character is modeled after the first real-life Black deputy United States marshal, Bass Reeves.)

That afternoon following the party, a nervous Ben reveals his frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seem a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the ranch thefts? Why are objects disappearing? Is he somehow connected with the lost gold mine, and the ghost town of Rainbow Flatts? The detectives aim to find out.

Walnut Street: Phantom Rider is a family-friendly read harking to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries but vastly updated with four diverse, tech-savvy close friends turned sleuths, and other characters of color.  In addition to a challenging mystery on horseback, the Botanic Hill detectives offer middle grade readers, and special education students in grades 3-12, valuable role models in how friendship, kindness, perseverance, and teamwork can help anyone solve complex problems to benefit many.

So, get a clue, Readers. Watch for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider to debut in late 2021. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy Books 1 and 2. And please remember. They’ll make great holiday gifts!




Dear Readers,

Bad news: My books are in prison! Good news: Their time in the slammer is temporary.

What crime got them “booked” and incarcerated? None!

It’s all my fault. I’m having a beautiful new bookcase built. It won’t be ready for installation until New Years, so my sweet book friends are doing time in twenty-three bankers’ boxes in the spare room. Out of sight but not out of mind.

Woe is me! No Dickens’ A Christmas Carol! No Shelley’s Frankenstein! No Stoker’s Dracula! I’ll just have to watch the movies instead for the holidays this year.

But what a Palace of Tomes awaits my bookish jailbirds! For starters, elegant glass doors to protect them from pesky dust. They will practically leap off the shelves with delight after shedding their prison-issued, striped dust jackets–one of these days.

I miss my wordy friends. We can’t celebrate their jail break soon enough.


We Have a Book!

Dear Readers,

I hope you have enjoyed weeks of excerpts from Book 2 of the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse.

So happy to announce that now, you can read the entire story. Eucalyptus Street released on October 20, 2020. Hurray! Just in time for Halloween. That will make sense when you read the book.

Thank you to everyone behind the scenes at Acorn Publishing and beyond who helped make my book a reality.

A very special thank you to you, my readers. Reading and writing are mutual endeavors. We need one another. Thanks for your ongoing support!

In case you need a copy, here are the purchase links:    Paperback on Amazon     eBook on Amazon      or      eBook at Barnes and Noble and Other Fine Retailers.

For those who like to frequent their local indie bookstore, Eucalyptus Street will be available by order (in person or online) in paperback at any bookstore by mid November. (Hmm, Books 1 and 2 would make a wonderful gift set for a child, aged 9-12.)

So, get a clue, dear Readers. Like our intrepid detectives, may you always have courage to seek out what is hidden. Happy reading!



Excerpt, Plus: Chapter 25 & ?!

Hello, Readers! At last we find ourselves five days from the release of Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse. Hoo-ray! And just in time for Halloween.

Here is your final excerpt, from the last chapter, and the tool the detectives must decipher to search successfully for the Green Curse, namely, The Puzzle Poem.

I hope you enjoy both!

And please click here to pre-order the eBook from Amazon for delivery on October 20. Thanks for your loyal support!


From Chapter 25, “It’s a Wrap”

At the celebration, the detectives share their feelings and hopes:

Moki said, “My only regret about this case is that I didn’t have time to make my famous pineapple-coconut upside-down cake for this party.” He was still wiping melted cheese strings and pepperoni bits from his hands and face.

“My only regret is that our case is over,” Lexi said. “I hope someone else hires us soon.”

“I do, too, BFF,” Rani said. “Plus, your aunt Connie is leaving tomorrow, so no more fancy-pants parties. No more dress up. Life could get pretty boring. And Moki and I might have to return to regular school.”

Moki grinned. “Oh, I don’t know. We don’t do ‘boring’ very well. Something always comes up.” He smiled and reached for another slice of pizza. “I happen to know for a fact that something evil is already unfolding just a few streets from here.”


The Puzzle Poem

 “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.


Excerpts: Chapters 23 & 24

Dear Readers, Just one more week of excerpts to go. Let’s get ready for Launch Day on October 20th!


From Chapter 23, “The Keys from St. Barnabas”

The Leticia Emerald has been found! A celebration is in order:

The afternoon sun had just moved behind the cathedral . . . . Father Pete had everyone quickly circle and join hands. He said a brief blessing for the de Cordobas and their deceased ancestors.  . . . The priest congratulated the group and invited everyone to come to the cathedral soon for a tour and a celebration of life. All agreed it was a fabulous idea.

The group walked back to the house. “Well, two cases solved on the same day,” Isabela said to the kids. “You should be proud.”

“Not yet,” Lanny replied.


From Chapter 24, “The Green-Eyed Monster”

Some unfinished business regarding the found emerald is needed:

The de Cordobas and the kids were bursting to share the news that the emerald had been found. Instead, they chose to keep it a secret . . . [until it could be] shipped to its country of origin as Isabela intended. . . .

Isabela’s eyes were downcast. “All the news is certainly sobering today. I’m glad we didn’t share the finding of the Leticia Emerald—I mean, the Temple Emerald, with the world yet.”

Tomás said, “Yes, the emerald. We need to give it its freedom in more ways than one.”


Excerpts: Chapters 21 and 22

Dear Readers, I’m almost out of excerpts, which can only mean one thing:  We’re approaching Book Launch Time!

Watch for Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse to release on Amazon in paperback and eBook on October 20, 2020.


From Chapter 21, “Glittering Exposé”

The four detectives are suspicious of Madame Ronescu and decide to test her. They knock on the casita door:

“What do you want?” [Madame Ronescu] asked with a scowl and thick Romanian accent while blocking the kids’ view into the house.

With a bright smile, Rani said, “Madame Ronescu, bună dimineaţa. Eşti o vrăjitoare.”

“Huh?” she replied after a momentary pause. Her face had clearly paled.

Rani repeated the phrase.

“Oh, uh, I speak only English in America,” Madame Ronescu said. “I ask you again. What do you want?”

“We just wanted to bring you these pears from Ms. de Cordoba’s garden.” Rani pushed a small paper bag of fruit into Madame Ronescu’s gloved hands. “Have a nice day.”

The kids turned away before she could reply and strolled back toward the garden near where they had been hiding. After getting some distance away, Lexi said, “Rani, you were incredible. We now know at least one person is still inside. But what did you say to her?”

Rani giggled. “I said, ‘Good morning. You are a witch,’ in Romany.”


From Chapter 22, “Clues from Old Hollywood”

The group takes a break from the Puzzle Poem to focus on another clue—a silent movie starring Isabela and Tomás’s great-grandparents. Lanny has a surprising announcement as the movie ends:

Isabela led the group to what she called the movie room. The kids couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was actually an old gilded theatre with scents of popcorn and candy lingering from bygone days. In no time, the group, including Oso, was gathered in front of the theatre-sized screen. Everyone settled into a plush velvet seat, and the lights faded to blackness.

Lanny barely ate any of the buttery snack, mesmerized by the film. There was Alondra in the wedding gown . . . . And Lorenzo appeared in a tuxedo . . . . Isabela and Tomás exchanged many smiles as they watched their great-grandparents’ performances. An hour passed. No clue.

Or so they thought.

Immediately as the movie ended, Lanny jumped to his feet and snapped his fingers.

“Guys, I know where the emerald is!”