Sunday, November 16, 2014

Move Over H.G. Wells, Thornton Wilder Just Came On Board

I don’t know why Thornton Wilder’s classic 1938 play, Our Town, popped into my mind but it’s been lingering there for a few days and I suddenly realized why – it was, after all, a time travel piece! An unlikely, metatheatrical time travel piece that anyone over the age of 60 will remember. After all, it was a standard high school production along with one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. 

Usually, when we think of time travel, we envision time machines, formulas, and supernatural devices. That’s why it struck me as so odd that such a timeless play as Our Town really ventured into the world of time travel. But it did, and it left audiences wondering the great “what if.”

            What if we could go back in time to re-live an ordinary day like Emily Webb did when she returned to Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, to re-live her 12th birthday. That’s the stuff of time travel. For Emily, it was too heart-breaking and she had to return to her grave. But for most of us, the temptation would far outweigh the sadness. 

            Imagine seeing old friends and family and knowing what’s in store for them? Would you keep it to yourself or let them in on it? I’d be more than happy to share the universal generalities that I’ve learned: 

             "Chocolate is actually good for you."
            “Wearing a girdle is bad for you.”
            “The water in canned vegetables is probably more nutritious than the vegetables.”
            “White bread will eventually kill you.”
            “You’ll never keep up with technology – financially and otherwise.”

            I’m not so sure I’d want to share some of the more personal stuff:

            “Don’t hire Kimberly as your nanny! She’ll wind up having an affair with your husband.”
            “Don’t ride on Space Mountain. You’re going to throw-up and be banned from Disney World.”
            “Opening your own winery/bread & breakfast/organic restaurant is not a good idea.”
            And when would we want to go back? At age 12, 21, 34? Personally, I’d pick age 14 and find myself screaming in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater as the Beatles gave their first U.S. performance. I have a cousin who would pick age 20- something as long as he was following Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead.

            But I’ll tell you what I won’t pick:

            My first day in algebra class.
            My first night at Camp Mohegan.
            Taking the Amtrak across the U.S. with less than fifty bucks to my name.

            Thornton Wilder wanted his audience to appreciate the universality of life. Of course most of us who left the theater were too busy sobbing our eyes out. That’s why I like to keep a lighter approach to time travel. Still, if you combining sentimentality to the time-space continuum, you may just want to re-read this one. But don’t be looking for any high school performances any time soon. They’ve moved on to 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse and A Seussified Christmas Carol.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Where Have You Been and How Come You Haven't Written About My City or State?

One of the fabulous perks about writing time travel mysteries and adventures is the fact that I can take my characters anywhere back in time, not to mention the time era itself. I bounce all over the place according to whatever strikes me at the time. However, I’ve quickly learned that “what strikes me” may not have the same effect on others. 

Listed below are the places I’ve written novels about. They are listed in chronological order according to time, not the order in which the books were written or the sequence for the Light Rider series. Here goes:

            The Ice Age
            78 A.D. in Ancient Rome, one year before Mt. Vesuvius erupts
            1296 A.D. in East Lothian, Scotland
            1789 in Paris, France, just in time for the French Revolution
            Mid 1700’s on the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean
            1923 in upstate New York
            1930 in central and eastern Arizona
            1953 in Springfield, Missouri
            1973 in upstate New York
            Present Day Boston, MA, Tucson, AZ, Geneva, New York and Portland, Oregon

Now, here are some of the actual responses I’ve gotten:

Why did you pick Missouri? I’m from Wisconsin. Couldn’t you write about Wisconsin?

Someone already wrote about the Ice Age.

Will your characters be falling into the Grand Canyon or is that in New Mexico?

No one has ever heard of Anguilla. Why didn’t you pick St. Thomas? I went there on a cruise last year.

What the heck is in upstate New York? 

If I tell you where I’m from, will you write a novel about it?

Good News! I’m warming up for 2015! So if you have a particular time and/or place you’d like me to consider for a future novel, please email me at or send me a message on the Time Travel Mysteries Facebook page:

I will consider absolutely everything but I make no guarantees that you’ll like it. Some places are simply an acquired taste, like my hometown. But . . . I promise to keep the suspense and mysteries going strong. I’m truly smitten with time travel because this is one travel experience that won’t wind up on my credit card (at least not yet!).


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Borrowing or Pilfering - Only the Culprit Knows

            Maybe it was the title, The Time Borrower, that put the idea into someone’s head, but the result was pretty clear – someone walked off with a copy of my latest novel, right under the nose of the reader who bought the book in the first place. It happened in a medical office when the reader put the book down on the coffee table, bookmark in place and inscription clearly written on the title page, as she approached the window.
            When she returned, the book was gone along with whoever took it. I found out about the incident days later when the reader contacted me at my second home, the dog park, to purchase another signed copy. I didn’t know whether or not to be flattered because someone stole the book I had written, or outraged because they had committed a theft. Frankly, it was a little bit of both and the combination of curiosity and ego got to me. I had to know more.

            “Wow. That’s awful. They ripped off the book right out from under you.”
            (Holy cow! Must have been the cover design.)

            “No kidding. It was only on that table for a few seconds.”

            “Um. Do you mind telling me, were there other books on that table?”
            (Did I have any competition?)

            “Mainly magazines but there were a couple.”

            “Did they take those, too?”
            (Maybe the thief was into quantity.)   

            “No, they were still there.”

            “Gee. I don’t know what to say. That’s terrible.”
            (Ah hah! They really wanted my book.)

            “And the book was brand new. I’m only a few chapters into it. It wasn’t some ratty old book that had been sitting in that office for years.”

            “You didn’t possibly get a chance to see who wrote those other books, did you?”
            (Who did I beat out?)

            “No. I didn’t.”

            “Well, I’m really sorry. Maybe they thought the medical office loaned out its books.”
            (Really? Those offices wouldn’t loan you a pen without collateral.)

            “No. I think whoever took it was too lazy to go to the library or too cheap to buy one.”

            “They might bring it back.”
            (When hell freezes over)

            “Ugh. It could come back full of germs. No, I’ll just get a new one.”
            I nodded in agreement and raced home to tell my husband what had happened.

            “Don’t you see?” I said. “They could have stolen any of those other books but they took mine!”

            “I wouldn’t get too excited if I were you. Some of those people sit in waiting room offices all day long. They probably read those other books.”

            And there it was in a nutshell. No reason at all for ego inflation.

            “So that’s it, then. Petty theft.”   I was crestfallen. Not only did that person steal my book and ruin my reader’s day, but they walked away with my ego, too.

            WARNING  TO READERS:  Don’t leave a book in a doctor’s office or it may just disappear. Worse yet – It may come back all germy!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Going Left Handed Till My Brain Adapts

            I don’t know how I managed to torture my right thumb to the point of excruciating pain and an inability to lift the lightest of objects without breaking out into a sweat. Yet, somehow, I did. Add a bit of carpal tunnel to the mixture and I’m about to go under the knife this week for what is known as “carpometacarpal surgery.” 

            It’s more gruesome than regular carpal tunnel surgery. In fact, it looks downright medieval. I know. I started to watch the UTube video before feeling faint. That surprised me, since I sat through the entire UTube video of a shoulder replacement when my husband had that surgery two years ago. But this was different. This is my thumb and the blood would be mine, not his. 

            To prepare for weeks in a splint/cast and physical therapy for the hand, I needed to whip my left hand in shape. After all, I spend hours writing, not to mention every other activity that I take for granted. I can honestly say that I have the utmost respect and admiration for those people who work under handicapping conditions on a daily basis. It’s beyond challenging. So far, this is what I can do:

·         Drive left handed except for starting the car. Why Oh Why didn’t I buy one of those cars with automatic starters that do not require keys?  Oh yeah, the price tag.

·         Empty the dishwasher.  I don’t expect to be using it though, since I have no intention of cooking and neither does my husband. The local restaurants will be thrilled. 

·         Dust and vacuum. With all the cats and the dog, I would have gone broke hiring a cleaning person. 

·         Brush my teeth with the electric toothbrush. Unfortunately, they do not make an electric flosser so my dentist will probably enjoy another cruise to the Caribbean on my tab.

·         Type with my left hand. The only problem is that the letters have worn off of my keyboard and my brain types automatically. Now, I have to look and guess. So, please don’t expect many blogs for a while. 

·         Use my mobile devices. This just requires talking and a bit of tapping. I gave up on text messages a long time ago. Oh, I can still work the TV remote like no one’s business so my husband will still have to fight for it!

·         Get Dressed. Here in Arizona, that means tossing on shorts and a top. If I were still back in upstate New York, I’d be hours putting on those layers of clothing. Good thing it will be in the nineties and low hundreds for the next month.

I’m not thinking about what I can’t do, because that will only drive me crazy. One thing is certain – I’ll have lots of time to plot my next novel for Time Travel Mysteries! You didn’t think I was going to give my publisher a rest, did you? 

Now I just hope I don’t destroy my left hand!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Warning: Writing Novels Can Be Hazardous To Your Driving


             Granted, it’s not as overt as texting or putting on make-up when driving, but thinking about your next plot move or the development of your characters can be just as distracting, if not worse. At least with make-up, you still realize you’re behind the wheel of a car, even if one hand is applying the mascara. 

            Last week I drove to the dog park nine times. Seven of them were with the dog in the car. The other two just happened. I started out knowing that I had a different destination but a mile past my house, my mind began to wander. Actually, serpentine would be a better word.

 As the first draft of my latest novel moves closer and closer to the climax, I find myself re-charting the moves that my protagonists are making. Too bad I couldn’t do that and drive at the same time. Believe me, it’s more than embarrassing when you arrive someplace and have no idea how you got there.

The good news was that I had the best spot in the parking lot. That, in and of itself, should have been my first clue. The second came when I turned to grab the dog’s leash and realized that I was holding the straps to my handbag. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. 

And then, there’s that unsettling feeling that I missed something. 

“My God! I could have driven over a cow and I wouldn’t know it!”

It’s one of the hazards that writers face. Ideas pop in and out of our heads like kernels of popcorn hitting the side of a microwave bag. And why is it that my greatest epiphanies come when I’m nowhere near a pen or pencil, let alone a computer. 

After weeks of struggling, I once figured out how to resolve a complex plot twist. Unfortunately, I had turned onto the I-17 heading to Flagstaff when Tucson was my destination. I try to stick closer to home now, especially when I begin a new novel. Later on, during the editing and revision phase, I’m a much safer driver and can be trusted to leave the neighborhood. 

Like it or not, I’ve come to accept the fact that the creative part of my mind works best when I’m doing menial things. SHH! Whatever you do, do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT tell this to my husband or he will find all sorts of menial things for me to do including vacuuming, dishes, dusting, and changing the litter box.

And while driving isn’t exactly menial, it does cause the mind to wander. And in my case that means a nice meandering path through every conceivable obstacle my characters can face.

            So in the meantime, I’ll just take my chances behind the wheel and up my insurance. I’ll also warn readers when I’m starting a new novel so you can keep a good distance away from any cars in the Greater Phoenix area.