Welcome to my blog!

Here you’ll find progress on current books, behind-the-scenes insight and story inspiration, as well peeks at my life on rural, rainy East Hawaii Island.

I usually post something new every other Friday, but I’m doing something different lately.

I’m getting ready to release the 8th book in my Sydney Brennan PI Mysteries, Memory Lane—yay!! Happy Writer Dance!!

Did I hear an about time in the back? The snarkmeister (or mistress) is right—it has been far too long since you’ve had a new Sydney adventure. That’s why, in the weeks until Memory Lane is released, I’m going to reacquaint us all with the series you (I hope) love so well.

Each week, I’m focusing on another story, starting with the first book, Back to Lazarus, and working my way forward to Grave Truth. I’ll be doing fun things with my Newsletter folks (hint, hint, check out the sidebar if that doesn’t include you), but I’ll also be highlighting some posts about the books here on the blog.

So, let’s hop in our time machine. Destination: Tallahassee, Florida, 2004+.

(By the way, even when I’m not highlighting posts for an upcoming release, you can find many of these kind of posts by selecting the Blog menu dropdown, Magpie Moments.)

The Cheese, and Secrets in Stockbridge, Stand Alone

The next, long-awaited installment in the Sydney Brennan PI Mysteries, Memory Lane, is available for pre-order. Woo-hoo! Until its release, I’ll be continuing the Getting to Know Sydney (Again) campaign here at the blog and in my Newsletter, wherein I re-introduce you to your favorite Tallahassee private investigator. I’ve been pinning old—I mean, classic—posts about the series to the top of the blog as I reread the books. Be sure to check those out. But since I’ve been focused on Book Two lately, I feel like there’s something I need to add to the conversation. Let’s call it an authorial Read more…


Magpie Moments: Every Story is Better with a Dog

I know, I did a blog post last week. But it occurred to me today that 1) the world has felt rather dark lately (surprisingly, a lava-glowing horizon doesn’t help), and 2) it’s been forever since I posted a Magpie Moment. (Reminder: Magpie Moments are bits of real life I’ve incorporated into my characters’ fictional adventures; you can find more in the Resources section below.) The obvious solution: a quick, canine Magpie Moment. A large German shepherd mix tied to a doghouse wagged his tail and woofed as JJ approached… The dog followed them to the house and shoved a Read more…


Shades of Winterport on Vacation, or Why You Don’t Ask a Writer for Directions

Another airport, another Friday blog post. <Glance at calendar> But wait—it’s not Friday; it’s Sunday. Yeah, about that… I actually wrote the following post on an airplane Friday, intending to upload it at the next airport when we landed, but then things got complicated. One of our flights was delayed (while we sat on the tarmac with no internet), which meant we missed our connection at LAX, yada, yada, yada… The short version (I may share a longer version this coming Friday if I haven’t gotten it out of my system yet) is we spent Friday night in Honolulu, made it to Read more…


Magpie Moments: Careful with Those Summer Leftovers

I’m posting this on July 1st, so Happy Canada Day to our neighbors to the north! And Happy almost-Independence Day in the U.S.! (Apologies to the Brits if you feel left out; in light of the recent Brexit kerfuffle, you’re welcome to crash our parties so long as you don’t bring Pimm’s.) This holiday season seems a particularly appropriate time to share a cautionary Magpie Moment (bits I snatched from real life and incorporated into my fiction). To set the stage, Sydney has just returned from a prison visit that included a detour for a box full of pastries. Her Read more…


Braving the Boneyard Winners, and a Gridiron Magpie Moment

Congratulations to Sam, Marina, Glenda, Pat, and Christine! (Surname initials just looked too weird.) They’ll be getting free ebooks of Braving the Boneyard when it’s released on May 19, 2016. I’ll have more news about Boneyard’s release next week, but in the meantime, I thought we’re due for a Magpie Moment (bits of real life, incorporated into Sydney’s adventures), the first one for Braving the Boneyard. I’ve been reading In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero, edited by Otto Penzler (although auto-correct keeps insisting his name should be Penciler). If you’re Read more…


Magpie Moments: Not the Cheeseburger Pie!

We haven’t talked about food for a while, so I thought it was time. Or maybe I’m just hungry. I took a wary bite. The last dish my sister prepared for me was probably a bowl of cereal, so I was pleasantly surprised. “I’m usually not a fan of chilled quiche, but this …” “I know,” Lisa said, smiling. “It doesn’t just taste like cold eggs with some cheese thrown in. It has depth and subtlety.” “And sausage.” My eyes twinkled. “Of course, I should be easy to impress. Thank God mom never tried quiche. We’d have all ended up Read more…


Magpie Moments: The Glamorous Life of a PI on the Road

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Magpie Moments post (bits of real life, incorporated into Sydney’s adventures) about the Delta Orlando Resort. This week, I thought I’d write about less luxurious accommodations. “… I travel a lot, and I always feel funny about using the hotel phone. Like I can feel the last person’s face there.” Lisa looked at me as if I were wearing my underwear on the outside of my clothes. “It’s no worse than the bed, or—” she almost couldn’t bring herself to finish, “—the toilet.” “True,” I said. “And, unlike me, Graeme probably never stays in Read more…


Magpie Moments: A Hotel by any Other Name

As of yesterday, No Safe Winterport, the fourth Sydney Brennan book, is live! Woo hoo! Well, the ebook is anyway. Apologies to my paperback readers. I’m still waiting for a paperback proof copy (yes, I’m that paranoid) to make its way across the wide Pacific Ocean. It’s unlikely that I accidentally uploaded my grocery list instead of the manuscript, but in this unreasonably hot summer anything is possible. (By the way, I’m one of those people you hate in the grocery store because you think I’m that addicted to my smartphone; I’m actually staring slavishly at its screen because my Read more…


Magpie Moments: Animals with no Restraint

[Quick reminder: Magpie Moments refer to bits I snatched from real life and incorporated, magpie-like, into my fiction.] The post title doesn’t refer to twelve-year-olds at a pizza party or college students on Spring Break, but rather to beloved pets, and a scene from my most recent novel, The Perils of Panacea. In it, Sydney asks a couple about the origin of their pet pig’s name. “Why Banana Whiskers?” I asked. Danny smiled. “BW was the runt of his litter, and so sickly when he came to us that Sam wouldn’t let me name him. She didn’t want me to get too Read more…


Magpie Moments: Who Doesn’t Have a Soft Spot for Pretty Boats?

Today’s post is another installment of Magpie Moments, snippets I snatched from real life and incorporated into my Sydney Brennan Mysteries. I’m continuing with one from my most recent novel, The Perils of Panacea. I was reasonably sure the first boat I’d passed after jumping down was JD’s. I have a soft spot for pretty boats with lots of exotic hardwoods and long bowsprits. In other words, ones that are a pain in the ass to maintain. His was not a pretty boat, but it did look like it would still be afloat tomorrow, which was more than I could say Read more…


Magpie Moments: Caught Between the Moon and Pensacola (Flashed in a Florida Jail)

Time for another installment of Magpie Moments, posts about shiny bits I snatched from real life and twisted into a fictionalized shape in my Sydney Brennan mysteries! Today, we’ll continue with one from my latest novel, The Perils of Panacea. I’m omitting some of the plot stuff in this selection, but here’s the context: my PI Sydney Brennan and attorney Richard Frey have just finished visiting an inmate in a Florida jail in connection with a case (or two) they’re working. They’re waiting in an area in view of the inmates. Richard is not in his happy place (gotta read Read more…


The Return of Magpie Moments: Damn Yankees (and Mets)

For the first post of the New Year (Happy 2015!), I thought I’d bring back Magpie Moments, my occasional series sharing bits of real life that I hoarded and incorporated, magpie-like, into my fiction. [T]here’s very little I won’t do to go to a game on the rare occasion I’m within a couple hundred miles of Fenway. Make it a Dugout Box and the list gets even smaller. Chapter One, Secrets in Stockbridge In Secrets in Stockbridge, Sydney Brennan’s ex-boyfriend uses her love of the Red Sox to bribe her into traveling to his home in upstate New York. If Read more…


Magpie Moments: A Cute Car with a Cockney Accent

I’m in the throes of planning for upcoming travel while watching lava and possibly a hurricane (i.e. real-life dramas), and the conclusion of the second Sydney Brennan novel (not real-life, but so much more dramatic—I promise!), so I’m going to keep this Magpie Moments installment short and sweet. Like Sydney’s car. I’d left my car in the carport, but Cecil, a light blue Volkswagon Cabrio, didn’t take up much room. Back to Lazarus, Chapter 21 And later in the book… “Cecil shouldn’t give you any problems either.” “Cecil?” “Yes, my car’s name is Cecil, and he speaks with a cockney Read more…


Magpie Moments: Origins of Character Nicknames

Time for another Magpie Moments post, peeks behind the scenes where I’ve scavenged bits of real life for my fiction. Continuing with the theme of names, this time I thought I’d share the origins of one of Sydney’s nicknames. “If trouble starts, it’s usually because she brought it with her,” [Richard] said, pointing at me. “Little Miss Tempest in a Teapot.” Back to Lazarus, Chapter 39 My first job as a licensed attorney was for a Legal Aid office in Lafayette, LA. It was relatively small—just a few  each of attorneys, paralegals, secretaries and admin-type people—considering it provided services to Read more…


Where do you Get Your Ideas? The Inspiration for Back to Lazarus

I’m just starting to feel my way around Goodreads Author Land. They have an “Ask the Author” section where readers can submit specific questions to authors, but there’s also a rotation of commonly asked questions. One of these caught  my eye and my imagination more than I would have expected, so I thought I would share it here as well… Where did you get the idea for your most recent book? The seeds of Back to Lazarus were planted so long ago that I’d forgotten them, until I read this question and started digging in my brain and my notebooks. Read more…


Looking Forward to a Less Lousy Rest of the Year

Hey, remember me? I know it’s been a while, but I wanted to drop in and let you know that I’m still here. Mostly. How many of us started January with confidence and optimism, or at least the thought that, surely this year has to be better? You may recall that even after 200+ inches of rain here in 2021, I was trying to be cautiously optimistic about the future. (See Dog Pee and Avocado Blossoms.) That is, until the shit show that is 2022 exploded all over us in earnest. Not to make light of the ongoing global atrocities, Read more…


Postcard from Puna, Where Pork Might be Back on This Vegetarian’s Menu

Aloha, my daydreaming snowbound friends! Last post, I shared a bit of the reality of living in East Hawaii with you, specifically that we received (there’s that deceptively grateful word again) 17.5 FEET of rain last year. Seriously. Well, in true contrarian fashion, our normally rainy January has been quite dry. So dry that I’ve started regularly (dysfunctionally?) laying a hand against our catchment tank to check the water level when I feed the fish in the evening. (Don’t worry—we still have plenty of water; I just like to be reassured that we still have plenty of water.) It has Read more…


From Dog Pee to Avocado Blossoms: Odiferous Tales of Rainy East Hawaii

Happy New Year, everyone! I can still say that in the first week of January, right? It is so fricking beautiful now, sunny and breezy and the perfect temperature. Check out the anole sunning himself among the avocado tree blossoms. And boy, do they smell good. All in all, it’s the kind of day that would make you step off the plane from Iowa and exclaim, Wow, this really IS Hawaii! At this precise moment, anyway, so hurry and step off that plane because there’s a cloud bank on the horizon. 😉 Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful. We’ve Read more…


Friday Five: Things I Learned Writing Syd No. 8 (and her shorts)

Good news—I have finally finished a rough draft of the eighth Sydney Brennan book… Memory Road! It has been a hard slog during the Panda Bear Times, but I am cautiously optimistic that things have taken a turn for my writing brain. I’ve also been working on some Sydney Brennan short stories of late, enough for a mini anthology. (“Shorts” in the post title = short stories, not garments; if it were down to my seamstress skills, Syd’s bum would go naked.) Both of these projects will need editing, covers, sacrifices to the retailer gods, etc., before I can put Read more…