Saturday, November 28, 2015

Small Business Saturday!

Don't you love how every day has it's own title: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now Small Business Saturday? 
            No business is smaller than the independent author. Authors are always gathering at book fairs and farmers' markets, selling their wares and signing books for soon-to-be fans. Several West Michigan authors will gather Thursday night for the third annual Holiday Book Bash in Spring Lake.
            Unfortunately I can't make the Book Bash this year because I'm reviewing "Dogfight" at Actors' Theatre. (Community theater, talk about a small business that needs your support!)
            I am offering a book special for the holidays: A nifty set of  all three Jordan Daily News Mysteries for $29.95. That's 40 percent off the usual retail price of purchasing the books separately. You can give the trio to one mystery fan, or divide them up among three names on your list. And if you live in the Grand Rapids area, I can probably arrange delivery, so postage and handling won't eat up all your savings. To order, email
             Service with a smile. Just one of the benefits of dealing with a small business.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gunning for laughs

I don't honestly remember the Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun, but the world of Ralphie Parker and "The Christmas Story" feels like home to me. Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's stage production, which continues through Dec. 20,  is even funnier than the 1983 movie..
              But the best part is the innocence.
               My brothers had lots of toy guns. Westerns were the icons of 1950s television, so we always played shoot 'em up. If somebody didn't have shiny Lone Ranger pistols, they would pretend with a twig or a finger. But we were never scared of guns. Never imagined that someone would actually use one to hurt another person.
              Dad and my brothers always went hunting on Thanksgiving morning while the turkey baked. It seemed right. I remember frozen rabbit packed in cardboard milk cartons in the freezer. My brothers would tote their shotguns with them when they walked to a friend's house and no one ever called the police. Why would they?
             When I became a mom, my son was in the Star Wars generation. They fought with light sabers. Some of my friends banned their children from having toy guns. But kids still played shoot 'em up with a twig or a finger, and couldn't imagine guns really hurting anybody.
             And then something changed. Somebody brought guns to school. Real guns. And people were killed. In schools, in movie theaters,  at fast food restaurants.  And our innocence was gone.
            You can't take a water pistol to school anymore. And I'm sure a kid carrying a shotgun would be considered a community threat in most of today's neighborhoods.
             You can blame political correctness or the NRA or "lousy libs." But we aren't in Indiana least not Raphie Parker's Indiana.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Home Sweet Home

To be honest, the city lights below us didn't look any more familiar than all the glittering webs of light we had flown over during the hour flight from Washington DC to Grand Rapids, MI. But when the gear hit the runway I breathed a sigh of relief. I was home.
          It felt so comforting as we taxied from the runway to the terminal because I knew exactly where I had left my car. It was already dark, but I knew what roads to take home. And most importantly, I knew the Sunday evening traffic would be negligible.
          I don't know if you've visited our nation's capital lately but the traffic there is horrendous. There's a gridlock on the Interstates that rivals the impasse in the Congress. (hmm, wonder if that's related?) It's nothing new. I lived in Richmond, Va., more than 30 years ago and Interstate 95 from Richmond to D.C. was a 90-mile parking lot then. It hasn't improved.
          I wasn't surprised that it took two and a half hours to drive the 50 miles from Dulles to Fredericksburg for my nephew's wedding, though it was a little frustrating that a simple three-mile drive from the hotel to the wedding could take 30 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. I started the return trip at 1 p.m. Sunday. It was as bad as any rush hour. Solid back up. I probably covered 10 miles by 2 p.m. My plane was leaving at 5:20 so I did something rash. I headed off-grid. My printed map of Virginia was sketchy and my GPS was drunk, or at least a little tipsy, imagining roads that simply weren't there.
         Nevertheless, I headed away from the Interstate, going northwest in the general direction of Dulles. I asked the GPS to take me to Manassas, and I was afraid there for a while that I might never get there. The roads kept getting narrower and more winding. State routes turned into barely paved country roads. But once I came out in Manassas the roads finally looked normal. Busy but not frozen. I had no trouble following the signs for the airport and was ecstatic to have avoided the paralyzing traffic on I-95 and the Beltway.
         I got to the airport in plenty of time. The plane was oversold and the agent kept trying to entice someone to give up their seat. First she offered $400 plus hotel, dinner and another flight to GR the next day. Then the offer went up to $500, $600, $700.  I considered it because my Monday commitments were light and it might be fun to have an extra day to see the Newseum in DC. But just thinking about all that traffic. There simply isn't enough money on earth to make that worthwhile. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Friggin' Special

My nephew is getting married Saturday so everybody in the family is flying to Virginia on Friday. Everybody except me, that is. I'm flying on Thursday. If you didn't notice, Friday is the 13th. I'm not really superstitious,  but why take chances?
      Besides, after writing a wild and crazy book like Full Moon Friday, I have a healthy respect for Friggatriskaidekaphobia.
      If you'd like to read a fast-paced mystery about all the things that can go wrong when the full moon coincides with Friday the 13th, here's your chance. The Kindle version of Full Moon Friday will be 99 cents on Friday in honor of the auspicious date. Reduced prices continue through the weekend and return to the regular price of $3.99 on Monday, Nov. 16.
       Friday the 13th could be your lucky day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Trail or trial?

        This Friday night's  "Trail of Michigan Authors" is an ambitious collection of 50 local authors at one bookstore -- Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Muskegon.
        Maybe it's my dyslexia acting up, but every time I see the title of this event I imagine 50 Michigan authors  on TRIAL. And I guess in a way that's what a book-signing is, a trial of authors where the readers are the judge and jury. The author has a chance to testify and present evidence. The reader decides whether an author is guilty of writing a book that sounds too interesting to pass up -- or a book that would be the perfect gift for someone on the Christmas list. .
        And with 50 authors lining the aisles of the store, it should be the TRIAL of the century.
         Order in the court. Order in the court. The trial...ah, about to begin!

Friday, October 30, 2015


         Halloween is high season for the Jordan Daily News Mysteries. I just finished the Night at the Bookman author event in Grand Haven and next week I'm headed to the Trail of Michigan Authors at Muskegon's Barnes and Noble. 
           But it is hard to say which of my mysteries is the spookiest.  Great News Town is the bloodiest by far, considering 14 people get murdered. And the fact that it was inspired by actual events, makes it even more horrifying.
          One Shoe Off is the closest to ghosts and goblins. City Editor Josie Braun is haunted by the spirit of Zelda Machinko, another newspaper editor who disappeared 30 years before leaving only a shoe behind. 
           Full Moon Friday is a monsoon of madness when the unexplainable influence of a full moon collides with the bad luck superstitions of Friday the 13th. Eerie!
           I suggest you start with the blood bath of Great News Town for a horrifying Halloween. Get a copy of One Shoe Off  signed in Muskegon next Friday. And you should be just about ready for Full Moon Friday when Friday the 13th strikes in two weeks!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Long and short of it

  My genealogy research has uncovered all sorts of fascinating information, including the meaning of a word that was popular in my childhood as the longest word in the English language.
      Antidisestablishmentarianism can no longer claim to be the longest word. Evidently there's some protein enzyme with 267 amino acids so its full name has 1,913 letters. Don't worry, I won't try to spell it. And there are several other contenders with more letters than the 28 in antidisestablishmentarianism.
      In studying my son's ancestor Elijah Craig and his work for religious freedom in Virginia, I came across the term "disestablishment." The constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia "disestablished" the Church of England as the official church in the colony.
      Not everyone agreed with that. Patrick Henry, for instance, who defended the rights of ministers of other faiths to speak their conscience, was concerned that without an "established" church no one would take care of the the poor and fatherless and the citizens would fall into moral decay. So you could say that Patrick was "antidisestablishment" -- a perfect example of double negative creating a positive.
       But cousin James Madison pushed for a separation between the government and the church, so there would be no "established" church in the colony of Virginia. "Disestablishment" soon became the rule of the land.
       At least this land. The Church of England is still the "established" church in England, for very much the same reasons Patrick Henry gave. As recently as 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron disagreed on the subject.
       Antidisestablishmentarianism may not be the longest word anymore, but it is still a valid point of view.