Book 3–Chapters 1 & 2 Excerpts

Hello, Kids and All Readers,

From now until Walnut Street: Phantom Rider is released on November 9, I will be sharing excerpts from two chapters every Thursday on my weekly News Blog (

As a preview of coming attractions this fall, here are some tidbits from Chapters 1 and 2:


From Chapter 1, “A Mystery from Walnut Street”

Moki Kalani couldn’t stop thinking about three things that warm October afternoon in Southern California. First, his pineapple-coconut upside-down cake, which he had baked for the Mayfields’ potluck barbecue on Walnut Street, was a hit. The guests had gobbled up almost every crumb, and the empty dessert plate in his hand provided the final proof. Second, the four amateur detectives—the twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Rani Kumar, and Moki himself—tended to learn of their next mystery case as a squad. This time, the thirteen-year-old Hawaiian boy had a heads up that required his pledge of secrecy. Third, the secret’s details could finally be revealed once the barbecue ended.

[Ben Mayfield] had convinced his parents to . . . hire [the four detectives] to solve an ongoing, annoying problem at the Mayfields’ horse ranch and youth saddle club about two hours east of town. Ben’s parents had confidence in their son and in Moki, so they had agreed to the plan. But now, Ben had his own private reason far beyond his parents’ motivation for wanting the detectives’ help. Last month, he alone had witnessed a terrifying spectacle at the ranch. He hadn’t shared it yet with his family—or with Moki.


From Chapter 2, “A Golden Mystery”

Ben and his father are about to share the ranch mystery details with the detectives. In the Mayfields’ study, the kids are looking at a photo of a tall, muscle-bound Black man in full cowboy dress wearing a large brass star on his vest. . . . He looked like a sheriff from the Old West. Ben explains who the man was:

“That’s my five-time great-grandfather, Aloysius Mayfield. He was a famous Black cowboy. In fact, he was an important Black deputy U.S. marshal for California in the 1860s—one of the first in our state. Deputy Marshal Mayfield. Friends just called him Papa, though.”. . .

“Ben, what are the chances Papa has something to do with the ranch mystery?” Lanny asked. Hope was evident on his face. Cowboys, ranches, and mysteries, all in one lump? Could they be that lucky?

“I strongly suspect so,” Mr. Mayfield answered instead, patting his corn-rowed hair. He was already seated in his overstuffed, brown leather easy chair. “You see, Papa was the original owner and builder of our ranch east of here in the mountains near the old historic town of Cody. He named it Gold Mine Acres Ranch.”

“A gold mine is involved, too?” Lanny said. “Best case ever!”. . .

On tiptoe, [Ben] led all four kids up the back staircase to his room. Once there, he shut the door. Perspiration beaded his forehead. “There’s more. I’ve seen something—or, to be more exact, someone—at the ranch.”

The squad quickly encircled the nervous boy. “Who, dude?” Moki whispered.

“I call him the Phantom Rider.”


So, get a clue, Readers. Check for more excerpts on my blog every Thursday, or stay tuned for my end-of-month newsletters where I compile them for you. I hope you’re getting as excited as I am about the November 9 release! And please don’t forget to check my website events page on September 9 for the Cover Reveal for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider at



Got Some Press!

Hello, Readers!

Authors love seeing their name in print in a news story, and I’m no exception.

Click HERE to check out this article in the Del Mar Times (a San Diego County newspaper) about the Barnes & Noble book signing event in which I and other Acorn authors will participate. I’ll be selling Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, Book 1 in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series.

So, get a clue, readers. If you’re in the San Diego area on Sunday, August 15, from 2 – 4:30 PM, please stop in. I’d love to meet you. Bring kids!


Be the First to Read Book 3!

Hello, All Readers,

Want to read Book 3, Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, in the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series before the general public?

The formatted files for my book are now out in the world! ADVANCE READERS are busy reading Walnut Street electronically to help me in two ways:

  1. To find any errors needing correction before the book is published on November 9, 2021
  2. To provide an honest review for posting on various sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, BookShop, et. al.) in November

If you’re interested in being one of my ADVANCE READERS for a free e-copy now in exchange for a book review later, please contact me HERE.

So, get a clue, readers. All readers and writers need reviews! Won’t you please help while getting your eyes on the book pre-publication?


Golden Flicks: Reel #1

Hello, Movie Lovers!

One of my favorite pastimes is watching movies from and studying the history and bios of The Golden Age of Hollywood. As you might guess, I have a book collection to nurture my hobby.

There is something timeless and enchanting for me about Hollywood movies from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Many have earned the designation “classics” because the age of the films and the viewers doesn’t seem to matter. My five-year-old granddaughter is currently enamored with Abbott and Costello and The Three Stooges movies. I have been watching “old movies” since I was a kid, enjoying Universal Studios’ 1950s and ’60s revival of its ’30s and ’40s monster classics, namely, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, etc. I still watch them repeatedly–and not just at Halloween. That began what developed into a lifelong passion. Yay for TCM–Turner Classic Movies.

Some dismiss the “old” black-and-white movies as dated. But I think there is much to be learned from them. For example, many special effects, camera angles, and lighting techniques we marvel at in movies and video games today came from those intrepid directors and cinematographers back in the day who were willing to experiment. Animator Willis O’Brien (1886 – 1962) produced the special effects for King Kong (1933). Think, King Kong battling aircraft as he clung to the Empire State Building. Then came O’Brien’s student, Ray Harryhausen (1920 – 2013), who refined the art of stop-motion animation and other visual effects to bring us the fighting skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), the enraged Cyclops in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), and the freaky Medusa in his last film The Clash of the Titans (1981). 

Want to see those battling skeletons while admiring Harryhausen’s genius? Click HERE. (From YouTube, MadmanFX68 Collection, 2010. Photo of Ray Harryhausen and some of his creatures from

Another time, I will tell you about one of my favorite movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Stay tuned.

So, get a clue, Movie Buffs. Butter up that popcorn, cozy down with your best bud, and let the magic roll.



Here’s the Scoop!

Dear Kids and All Readers,

For many, summertime is ICE CREAM time. But did you know that the frozen treat has an interesting history?

Kathleen Kalb from Facebook’s Cozy Mystery Village (of which I’m a villager) posted some fun historical facts about how ice cream came to be. She got the information from #goodreads in its #ThrowbackThursday column. You can read all about it HERE.

Basically, here are the facts:

Ice cream was invented in New York City in 1714 by a British confectioner who also sold jams and sugarplums. Ice cream flavors of the day included oyster (yes, oyster!), parmesan cheese, and tea. The treat became popular with the upper class. George and Martha Washington loved it and reportedly spent upwards of $700 for it one summer while they were living in New York–even though Mrs. Washington complained that it tasted rancid. That’s a lot of ice cream money! (Further research reveals that ice cream made from milk and rice was created in China in 200 BCE,)

By 1820, the first ice cream cart vendors were selling ice cream to everyone in New York City parks. Those carts are still rolling everywhere to this day!

By 1850, ice cream parlors became popular destinations for the masses and appeared in many neighborhoods.

By 1900, soda fountains sprang up serving ice cream sundaes, sodas, and floats in flavors we would recognize today. Soda fountains became popular date-night destinations.

Chunky Monkey, PhishFood, and Cherry Garcia were a few more decades away.

So, get a clue, Readers. Oyster-, rose-, or violet-flavored ice cream may not be your first choice, but nowadays, we can pretty much pick our pleasure for a delirious ice cream brain freeze. Make mine chocolate!

Vintage print by Frederic Florian from Wikimedia Commons.


I’m Not Lion

Dear Kids and All Readers,

Somewhere, in nearly every work of fiction, you’ll find a little piece of the author’s life–added with tongue in cheek or, possibly, to cement the object or idea in immortality.

This addition could be something significant like a character’s name, personality trait, or journey, mirroring the author’s. But it could be something obscure like a song, a poem, or an object referenced that has hidden meaning for the writer.

In my Book 2, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse, there is a remnant from my childhood that remains a part of my life, namely, lions. So, it’s little wonder that lions “prowl” the de Cordoba mansion and grounds, as you know if you’ve read the book. Some artists’ creations are from scratch, but lions “came naturally” to me as I wrote my story. Why?

As a child, I would hurry off to play at my friend Mary’s house many blocks away. The most direct route would take me past a pair of identical stone lions. Beginning in the late 1950s, to replace some crumbling lampposts, they came to majestically flank the walkway leading to a tall wrought iron gate and the steps to the front porch of a pretty Spanish stucco house. I remember stopping occasionally to admire the full-maned animal twins, even patting them on their heads. Was the attraction because I, too, am a twin? Perhaps.

Years later, in the 1980s, I would walk my then little daughter past the same male lions. Despite their obvious gender, she named them “Cindy” and “Linda,” and that’s how she would greet them whenever we passed. The previous owners attached a historic designation plaque by the front door that says “The Lion House, 1920,” and named the pair “Max” and “Scotty.” But to my now-adult daughter, they’ll always be “Cindy” and “Linda”!

The current residents have maintained the proud pair perfectly and even “dress” the lions to match the holidays–Game of Thrones costumes for Halloween, masks for the pandemic, and patriotic bunting for the Fourth of July! What a privilege that  I still get to enjoy them on my walking route. One glimpse and I’m transported back to my childhood and to my early parenthood. I hope to share them with my grandchildren when they visit.

So, get a clue, Readers. What are some significant objects in your lives? Like me, do you still get pleasure from them? I hope you’ll create a work of art to anchor them to your history.