Halloween Apples!

When I was a kid, one of my favorite days of the year was Halloween. My mom would give my sister and me permission to rifle through a bunch of old clothes, and we’d be allowed to make whatever costumes our imaginations could create. I think the planning, crafting, and showing off our brilliant outfits was almost as much fun as being able to roam outside in the dark and visit all the lit doorways with our friends, clutching pillowcases, and screaming “Halloween Apples.”

I gotta admit that I’m kinda sorry the controlled kids of today can’t experience the holiday in the exact wild, free manner.

Yet, I still enjoy opening my door and laughing along with the happy faces, preening in their store-bought get-ups, and showing the same irresistible excitement to meet strangers waiting with handouts, and getting their treats.

Last year, the highlight of the evening was a three-year-old little cherub dressed like a pink angel holding out her lantern. In the wonderful language a child uses so aptly, she loudly announced. “I Ant candy!!!”

Have a wonderful time this Halloween!!

Fellow Floridians, Beware of toilet lizard and iguana aggression

From Dave Barry– Miami Herald

Here in South Florida we’re accustomed to lizards, of course; they’re everywhere. When I moved here decades ago, the lizards were one of the things I had to adjust to, along with the hurricanes, the 250 percent humidity, and the fact that Miami drivers actually speed up for stop signs. But the lizards didn’t bother me, because even though there were a lot of them, they were small and cute and non-threatening. They seemed to spend most of their time just standing around doing nothing, like members of a miniature highway-repair crew.

The most aggressive lizard behavior I’d see was the occasional male lizard trying to attract a sex partner by displaying the skin flap under his chin, which is called a “dewlap.” Apparently it is a strongly held belief among male lizards that the chicks really go for a guy with a big dewlap. It’s kind of like weight-lifter human males who believe human females are attracted to large biceps and consequently wear tank tops everywhere, including funerals. But I was not threatened — nor, for the record, attracted — by the dewlap displays. I left the lizards alone, and the lizards left me alone. If I encountered lizards, say, on a sidewalk, they always respectfully skittered out of the way, in recognition of the fact that I was, compared to them, Godzilla.

But lately the lizards are different. I don’t know what’s causing it. Maybe it’s global climate change. But what’s really disturbing is that many of these appear to be a new kind of lizard: They’re bigger, and they’re uglier. They’re not the cute li’l Geico Gecko types. They’re
more along the lines of junior-varsity velociraptors. And they have an attitude. More and more, when I encounter sidewalk lizards, they do not skitter away. At best they casually saunter off in an insolent manner. Sometimes these lizards don’t move at all: They just stand there defiantly, giving me that beady lizard eyeball, clearly conveying, by their body language, the
message: “Why should I fear YOU? You have a small dewlap!” Which, much as it pains me to admit it, is true.

Perhaps you think I’m overreacting. Perhaps you’re thinking, “OK, maybe the lizards are getting bigger and more aggressive. But why should I care? I spend most of my time indoors anyway, so this issue doesn’t really affect ME.”
Oh really? Let me ask you a question: While you’re indoors, do you ever have occasion to use a toilet? I ask because of an alarming report I saw July 8 on NBC6 TV news. The report begins with a camera shot looking down into a toilet bowl, which contains a large iguana. This exchange introduces a report concerning retirees Janet and Bruce Bleier, who, since moving to Hollywood, FL. from Long Island, have encountered not one, but TWO commode iguanas. The first time was in October, when Bruce went to use the bathroom late one night.

Janet discovered the second iguana. She offers this advice to NBC6 viewers: “Look before you sit.” In both cases, the Bleiers called Harold Rondan, proprietor of a company called Iguana Lifestyles, who came and took the iguana away. (Iguana removal is a major industry in South Florida.) Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, “OK, so this one couple had two iguanas show up in their toilet. It’s probably just a fluke. It’s not like it’s an epidemic.”

Oh really? Well perhaps you would be interested to know that on July 10, just two days after the NBC6 report about the Bleiers, another local station, WSVN 7News, carried a report about another Hollywood resident, Michelle Reynolds, who came downstairs one evening and looked into her toilet. Guess what she found? She found an iguana. A LARGE iguana. “He took up most of the toilet bowl,” she tells 7News. There’s video of the iguana being removed, again by Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles, who identifies it as a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana. Even by iguana standards, this is an ugly animal, and it does not look happy. You can tell by its facial expression that its goal in life is to grow much bigger so that one day it can come back and eat Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles.

And that’s not the end of our story. On July 11, one day later, the Bleiers were once again on the local TV news. It turns out they had yet another toilet iguana. This was their THIRD.
So please don’t try to tell me this isn’t an epidemic.
I spoke by phone with Janet Bleier, who said she and her husband are trying, with the help of Hollywood authorities, to figure out how the iguanas are getting in, but so far they’ve had no luck. “We never, ever, walk into one of our bathrooms any more without checking. Even if we’re not going to use the toilet, we look.”

In case you think this epidemic is confined to Hollywood, I urge you to Google “toilet lizards.” You’ll discover that this has been going on for a while now, and not just in Florida; it’s happening in warmer climates all over the world.
So I repeat: The lizards are up to something. But what? Are they planning some
kind of coordinated attack?
I don’t have the answers. But for now we all need to do our part. This means keeping our toilet lids down, of course, but it also means standing up to the lizards and letting them know we’re not afraid of them, even though we actually are. The next time you encounter a lizard, either on the sidewalk or, God forbid, in your bathroom, look it straight in whichever eyeball is closest to you and tell it, in a firm, clear voice:
“We know what you’re up to.“ If it’s a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana, you should say this in Spanish.
Also, if you have a dewlap, you should display it. They respect that.

I was lounging peacefully on my chair, admiring the ocean, but something was rubbing right under my …
Try to imagine my scream when I saw that big iguana
coming from under my lounge chair.

I hope you enjoyed Dave Barry’s article, especially if you don’t live in South Florida!!!

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Once Upon a (Cozy) Mystery


I grew up with mysteries. So did my children and my parents. For my mother, they were radio shows. In my day, it was the black and white TV show Perry Mason that brought our family together. For my youngest daughter, it was the NCIS series. Now, TV mysteries are whatever’s the latest movie on Netflix or Hulu, I guess.

Build your own favorite Cozy Mystery Box Set Project!

Fast forward to the next millennium and I’m actually writing mystery stories! I love it. Not only can I leave out the gory and scary parts if I want to, but I can also make my hero or heroine someone besides a cop.
I’m not the only one who likes Cozy Mysteries featuring Amateur Detectives. Five of us got together and blended our favorite themes and locales to come up with a new collection for our readers. MURDER IS SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY: DIEHARD DAMES AMATEUR DETECTIVE SERIES BOOK 2 has authors from around the English-speaking world (although our Canadian author, Susanne Matthews, is fluent in French).

Kids, neighbors, old ladies, and a black bear cub: who can help solve the murder?


I lived in Alaska for a long time, so I based my story there. The locals fascination with flowers and rush to get them up and blooming in the short growing season is part of my story. The dandelion on the cover? It’s there for a reason. The goofy guy all wound up about a loaf of bread? Yeah, he’s part of the murder mystery, too. NEVER A DULL MURDER features the gang from previous Arlie Undercover stories. Come along and see what happens when Arlie has more helpers than he wants.

Who’s the sharpest Girl Friday around? Stella James!


From the upper Midwest of the USA, Denise Devine brings one of the sharpest Girl Fridays ever to the aid of her Private Detective stepbrother in SHOT IN THE DARK. Meet Stella James. She’s burdened with the task of rescuing her tall, dark, and classically handsome stepbrother. The guy’s ego is bigger than his brain and it soon gets him a free vacation at the county jail when one of his female clients ends up murdered – in his bed. Can she save him from relocating to the slammer on a permanent basis?

Can teenagers solve the mystery before someone else is hurt?


Come to Maine with Canadian Susanne Matthews as your guide. PROVE IT! When high school senior Liam ignores the threats to stop running, he’s left for dead by a hit and run driver. When his friend investigates, he goes missing. Now it’s up to Hannah to find the missing boy and whoever is responsible for his disappearance before they strike again.

Dogs and Dames to the rescue!


The Pacific Northwest is home to Nancy Radke, the author of the Trahern Western Pioneer stories. She’s left the Nineteenth Century behind and updated her story with a Twenty-first Century sheriff who meets up with a sharp but lovable local lady. Sometimes help solving a mystery comes with curves and other times with four paws. Will the new sheriff be smart enough to accept the lady and her dog’s assistance in searching for the farmer’s eight-year-old son?

Try out a Regency-Romance-Time Travel Cozy Mystery from our English author, Katy Walters!


Last but not least, we reached across the pond to bring Katy Walters into our box set. A bit of romance, a twist of time travel, a whole lot of women’s lib, plus the murder of the talented chief librarian make for an interesting scenario in A DUKE’S BINDING LOVE.

Get comfortable with an Authors’ Billboard Box Set: All Free to read with Kindle Unlimited.


Feel free to bounce around the set. If you’re more of a Regency Romance fan, start with the last book first. Looking for something a little silly? Start with my book (Louie’s a lovable hoot!). Available to read for free with Kindle Unlimited or only #99cents.

Summertime Reading: It’s a Beach

I’ve been to the beach a few times this summer, but there was no reading involved. Heresy you say! (Or that’s what Myren, my chauffeur is accusing me of. Ignore him.) Aren’t we supposed to always bring a book to the beach to read as we lounge in the sun, you ask?

Summertime Reading: It’s a Beach

Well, I don’t know about you, but glare is a big problem on my iPad–which is the keeper of all my books these days–so things have changed–a lot. In the past 15 years, the tide has turned to more people reading on ebooks—aka electronic books—than print books.

Good for e-reader companies everywhere, bad for beach reading. I know, I know, this is not big news. Myren is asking me if I think my readers have all been living under a rock, but I tell him that’s not the point.

The point is, the diminishing of the grand old summertime passtime of reading on the beach is a consequence of the (not so) new electronic reader revolution. Sure, there are screens that eliminate the glare, such as the Kindle paper white, but those are expensive and not largely adopted alternatives.

A New Release Beach Read you might want to try… if you enjoy romantic comedies featuring bad boy hockey players with that glint of mischief in their eyes.

So can we still call a book a beach read if no one actually reads it on the beach anymore?

I say YES! Absolutely yes! The beach read is more an idea, a type of book that latches onto the connotation of the ultimate liesure activity, the summer vacation, the escape from the hum-drum daily life, like… well… like going to the beach.

That’s my $.02 on the subject of beach reads. What do you think?

Know of any great beach reads I can NOT take to the beach with me? (But I’ll read them, rest assured, when I’m relaxing and need an escape from the world.)

He Has Charm

a Boston Brawlers Hockey Romance

What readers are saying: Loved the characters of Maddox and Harper. They are such a great couple and the chemistry between them is off the charts”

-JeanP, Amazon Reviewer
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