Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Fresh Start

The New Year will be here in a few days and, with it, comes a fresh start for all of us. Many people make New Year’s resolutions but I prefer to set goals instead. To me, a resolution implies a commitment that, if not met, will lead to disappointment and frustration. How many people do you know who resolve to lose ten pounds by swim suit season and, when they don’t, feel as if they’ve failed? What if, instead of a resolution, they set a goal?

A goal is something we strive to achieve. We can break it down into bits and pieces and, if we aren’t able to completely meet our goal in spite of our best efforts, we still see progress, which increases our self-esteem. So, if that person who wants to lose ten pounds lost five, instead of being down on themselves and possibly giving up, they would recognize and celebrate the weight they had lost.

I write down my goals for the coming year in a small spiral notebook. Throughout the year, I add to the list and, once a goal is reached, I take great pleasure (and satisfaction) in checking it off. I’ve made my first entry for 2016: Finish writing Book 5 of my Malone Mystery series and send it to my publisher in time for publication next year.

Have you made any resolutions or set any goals for next year? If so, I’d love to read about them.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Memories

Me with Santa Claus
There’s a scene in my mystery novel, Unfinished Business, where Ann and her older sister, Marnie, are remembering a Christmas from their childhoods: the year they decided to search their parents’ house, looking for their presents. More than anything, Ann wanted a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas and, in a hidden compartment in the closet of the master bedroom, she found it. At first, she was thrilled but, as you can imagine, finding the doll put quite a damper on her Christmas. She ruined her own surprise.That scene was a fictionalized version of what happened to me when I was a child.

I wanted a Patty Play Pal doll so badly and, like Ann, I searched our house and found the doll hidden in my parents’ closet. On Christmas Day, I had to pretend to be surprised when I unwrapped the doll but I’m pretty sure my mom and dad knew the truth. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I ever went looking to see what Santa or my parents had gotten me for Christmas. (By the way, since my name is Patricia, I named the doll Cathy.) 

 My Dad, Mom, brother, me (with Cathy) and my maternal grandfather

  I hope each of you has a very Merry Christmas and that you make some wonderful Christmas memories this year. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015


The holidays have always been a busy time of year for everyone. But, for me, this year tops them all! My mother sold her house in October and, less than two weeks ago, she and I both moved from the house into apartments across the hall from one another. After living in the house for twenty-three years, she had a ton of stuff. We went through as much of it as possible before the move but it took actually moving for her to realize that a lot more of it has to go. So, that's where I'm at right now. Unpacking boxes and trying to get some organization into her life. Not an easy task!

Which brings me to the topic of this week's post: priorities. First, let me say that I've always been a planner (and a plotter in my writing) and I'm pretty good at scheduling and setting priorities. This move has tested those abilities. I've had to decide what things MUST be done and what things can wait. Mom is my #1 priority but I've had to be careful not to put my own needs aside. Physically, mentally and emotionally this has been a stressful time - for both of us. But, she's eighty-six years old and all of this change is difficult for her. I'm doing all I can to make things easier.

One thing I decided is that I won't put my Christmas tree up this year. It's a seven foot blue spruce and I love it but it takes a few hours to string the lights and arrange the ornaments, hours and energy I can't spare right now. I've put out some other decorations, including my music boxes, but the tree will stay in the box. This weekend, I plan to put Mom's tree up because that's very important to her. It's a tabletop tree and doesn't take a fraction of the time mine does. I can't wait to see the smile on her face when it lights up!

So, if you're feeling stressed this holiday season, think of me surrounded by boxes and trying to create order out of chaos. I hope that makes you smile or even laugh - because that's what I'm doing. And if you're in the mood for a Christmas mystery, check out Unfinished Business. Our stress is nothing compared to what my main character, Ann, is going through.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Unfinished Business

The Westwood Strangler is dead. Or so everyone believes.

Ann Kern is busy preparing for her favorite holiday. She’s especially looking forward to her sister’s annual Christmas visit. But, several things threaten to ruin her festive mood.

The National Weather Service issues a severe winter storm warning for the Cincinnati area, predicting blizzard conditions, and Ann worries that her sister and her new boyfriend won’t be able to make the drive from South Carolina.

Then, a woman is found strangled in Ann’s neighborhood and everyone, including the police, assumes it’s the work of a copycat killer. However, when two more women are murdered in their homes, the police announce their conviction that the Westwood Strangler is responsible.

When Ann hears the news, the sense of safety and security she’s worked so hard to recapture since her attack on Halloween night, shatters. If the intruder who died in her apartment wasn’t the Westwood Strangler, who is? And, who will be the next victim?

Available in paper and Kindle formats

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Taking Time to Read

A few weeks ago, I participated in a craft fair at the high school I graduated from – a long time ago. I had a table set up where I displayed my four Malone mysteries, signing and selling them. I very much appreciate those readers who bought them. But, I got the following responses from several people. Words I, and probably every other author in the world, has heard many times.
“I used to love to read but I don’t have time now.”
“I’m in school and all of my reading is text books.”
“I have three young children and no time to read.”
“My job is so demanding. I don’t have time to read.”
Which presented me with the topic for this week’s post: Taking Time to Read.

Here’s a plain and simple fact: We can’t “make” more time. We all have the same twenty-four hours in each of our days and, I will grant you, how we spend those hours is largely dictated by our responsibilities. Life is complicated and demanding for most of us. We need to take care of business first but we also need to take time to do the things we enjoy. All work and no play. . . .  For me and many others, that includes reading in the genre of our choosing.

So, I’ve presented the problem: we’re all busy. Since I believe in focusing on solutions, rather than problems, here are a few suggestions for those of you who want to read but believe you don’t have the time.
1.    Waiting time can be reading time. All of us occasionally go to the doctor and the dentist, places where we usually have to wait. Instead of idly thumbing through a magazine or sitting there tapping your foot, why not bring a book with you?
2.    Schedule time to read into your day. Most of us have a schedule to keep and we somehow manage to do that. What if we included reading time in our schedules?
3.    Soaking in the tub is relaxing and therapeutic. Why not read while you soak?
4.    Turn off the TV at a designated time every evening – and use that time to read.
5.    Another TV option is turning it off when you find yourself flipping through the channels with nothing good to watch. Instead of spending your time that way, you could be reading.
Until next week, Happy Reading!