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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

TBT: Has it only been four years?

      Leave it to Facebook to remind me that just four years ago on this date, Oct. 15,  I was featured at an Author Fair in Joliet, Illinois.I reconnected with friends from the 1980s and sold 24 copies of my first mystery, Great News Town.
     As I prepare for tomorrow night's book signing at The Bookman in Grand Haven, I am astounded that this all began only four years ago. Since then I have released two more books in the Jordan Daily News mystery series -- One Shoe Off and Full Moon Friday. I have received recognition from Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Awards and the Writer's Digest Self-Published Awards.
      And I have attended more book signing events than I care to count in Illinois, Michigan and Florida. The signings often require a lot of preparation and promotion and get in the way of the real work of writing.
       Four years? That's the standard length of a college program, and I can testify that these years have indeed been an education. Self-publishing is a whole career unto itself. But there is no graduation, no degree that says sufficient learning has been completed. Writing is a continuous learning process, ever changing and growing. I'm excited to see what the next four years will bring!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Birthday Wish

In 67 years I have had some fantastic birthday celebrations, including a dinner in Rome on my 60th birthday. But today's celebration is the best so far. Today my son starts taking Orkambi.
       This expensive drug -- which costs a quarter of a million dollars every year -- may not be a cure for Cystic Fibrosis but it is the closest thing so far. It's actually a double drug. A couple of years ago, a Boston company, Vertex,  released Kalydeco (ivacaftor), a drug that helps correct the genetic defect in about 5 percent of CF patients. Orkambi, also released by Vertex,  adds lumacaftor to ivacaftor to expand the effectiveness to the vast majority of CF patients. Clinical trials showed the combination to be somewhat effective, increasing lung function about 4 percent, but not as effective as the 10 percent increase that Kalydeco delivers to patients with the rarer genetic defect.
      Nevertheless it's a huge dose of hope to CF adults, whose days have been filled with medications and therapy treatments since they were infants.
       First of all, I want to thank God for keeping Ryan safe through 38 years, way beyond the predictions, so he could live long enough to see this medical advancement. I want to say thank you to everyone who ever supported me in one of those annual CF walkathons because your donations really did help provide research. And I am grateful to the scientists who have made these discoveries. Of course I appreciate Vertex for producing the drug, but I am concerned that the outrageous price is more about greed than need. I pray that  wisdom will prevail and this life-saving drug will be available to all who need it.
       As I blow out the imaginary candles on my fantasy cake (thanks to Diane Carroll Burdick for the ones in the photo!!)  I wish for this drug to work its magic, to go into every cell and make those ion transfers work so the mucus that lubricates my son's exocrine system will no longer be sticky and trapping infections. And God's masterpiece machinery will be returned good working order.