Category Archives: Thoughts on Writing

My Next Villain

This past week I got a letter saying that the city of Philadelphia will be pleased to forgive my debt relating to an old parking ticket which I received while I was living in Qatar. When I first received notice of the ticket eighteen year ago, I furnished the traffic department official documents offering proof that I was living outside the country when I received the alleged ticket. They didn’t buy. They continued to harass; I continued to protest. I re-sent the original documents and added others: a letter from my director, copies of passport pages recording my entry into Qatar, my work visa, all of them proof that I couldn’t possibly have been in Philadelphia on said day. Still, they persisted.

I gave up. Let them come and get me, I thought. Crazy thing is, according to the letter I received last week, I now owe for two parking tickets, both issued when I was living outside the country and no longer had my car. Yes, TWO! They don’t document what car I was supposed to be driving. I suppose it must have been a phantom car.

But you can’t fight the city of Philadelphia. Obviously! So, I’m going to take my sneaky self back to Pennsylvania, scope out the traffic department, and find out who’s in charge. That person — lock, stock, and barrel, and all the way down to his underwear— is going to appear in my next novel as the villain! Watch out, whoever you are; you’re about to become as villainous as Darth Vader and as unlovable as Uriah Heep.


My Favorite Prom Story

            Even though it isn’t yet prom season, I want to share a story told me by one of my tennis friends. He attended high school in a small community in eastern Kentucky. When he was a senior, several of the men students, who also happened to be class and student council leaders, as well as team captains got together and decided they wanted to do something special for their female classmates. Like seniors everywhere, they knew that many of the guys would invite girls from other schools and other classes to the senior prom, and that many of their female classmates would be left sitting home dateless. The small group of leaders convinced the other guys that every girl in the class should be invited to the prom rather than bringing in dates from other classes and schools.

            I would love to know the tactics these young men used to convince their classmates, but convince them they did, and every senior girl got invited to the prom. How they chose their dates was quite interesting: they staged a poker game to see who invited which girl. Years later, I’m told, when there is a class reunion or gathering the women still express their admiration for what their male classmates did.

            I loved this story so much I incorporated it into my novel that is coming out in March, Unringing the Bell. The novel is a murder mystery, but with romance and humor embedded in the plot.

            Wouldn’t it be great to see the guys who planned and executed this run for office? Maybe on the platform that decency still exists.   

This Grandmother Doesn’t Bake

Other grandmothers bake cookies with their granddaughters, while I pour fake blood on my oldest and make her pose as a dead ballerina (see

Back when I lived in Bucks County, PA, I woke up one morning with the plot for a murder mystery in my head. Since a “muse” had obviously visited me in my sleep and dropped it there, I thought I was duty-bound to write the story. Unfortunately, the muse neglected to reveal some essential plot elements as well as a couple of the major characters. I struggled to write the story, gave up, and moved on to other projects.

But the dead woman (a former New York City Ballet lead dancer) wouldn’t leave me alone. A couple years ago, I tried again and became intrigued with what can happen to innocent bystanders during a murder investigation, as well as how long a person can hang on to hate.

An attorney who graciously lent me some of his valuable time to answer legal questions pertaining to the story also suggested the title: Unringing the Bell.

When I finally finished the manuscript, I was full of uncertainty because the story doesn’t fit into the formula for most mysteries. It was only when an agent offered me a contract for representation, that I let my doubts recede. He told me that not everyone wants the same old stuff and that I should turn this into a series.

And that brings me back to my granddaughter and fake blood. For my website, I needed a model to portray the dead ballerina, shot through the heart by . . . . . Whoops, I almost gave it away. She also posed for the website for my other book, The Lady. (Xxxxxxx) Check it out!  I am definitely a proud grandmother!

Story Ideas

Where did the idea for the story come from?

I haven’t a clue where Quincy’s story came from. I think story ideas float around the universe, sometimes landing in people’s heads. Quincy’s story landed in mine.

Do you play the piano?

I began piano lessons at the age of ten. I wanted, in the worst way, to be a concert pianist. Like Quincy, I lacked the support. I also  lacked the talent. I endowed Quincy with my own wishes, although now I can’t even imagine living the life of a concert pianist. Too many hotels and late nights!

Is the story autobiographical in other ways?

Not really. I grew up in South Georgia in the same era as Quincy. Quincy’s parents weren’t mine. (With the exception that mine, like Quincy’s, didn’t support my interest in music.) I knew several people like Aunt Mildred, I’m sorry to say.