Friday, April 27, 2018


The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less. 
Arthur Miller 

I think we give Eve a bad rap. She gave in to temptation to break a law of God but, she was stuck. There was another law to multiply and replenish the earth. Which law was she to obey? There were no babies in Eden, no staying up listening to their crying, no agonizing over a teenager who doesn't come home. It was an ideal environment but she was stuck.

    Progression is the real prize. Not even arriving is as satisfying as progression. As a writer I often get stuck in a paralyzing moment when nothing sounds right. Sometimes I walk away but other times I wait and then keep writing, erasing, writing, until the words sort themselves into intelligible sentences that push my project farther. What a lark!


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Writing Wednesdays- Setting A Mood

Three brief scenes- Three different moods

He was late. She sat at the table made of two by fours, drinking her peppermint tea and trying to read Rebecca, a novel her sister gave her about a place called Manderley. Marta stretched her aching feet towards the little pot belly stove. The heat traveled up her legs and settled in her belly. A gust of wind whipped the tall evergreens and they slapped the cabin walls like the back hand of an angry mother. He didn’t call it a cabin, he called it a hut because in the winter, huts like this one became a temporary shelter for skiers coming down the big mountain. Except, this one was not temporary. This one was their home until he could earn enough money to move them into town and she liked calling it a cabin. A pattering began up on the tin roof. The weather was going to make it difficult for Kurt to pedal his bicycle. He rode down the mountain every morning before dawn and came home just before dusk. She felt the doorknob rattle before she actully heard it and then he came through the door. Her heart melted as she saw his wet face. He was home!

The cabin stood bathed in midnight moonlight. She stopped on the trail and took in the unexpected beauty of the dark evergreens bending in the breeze, the lapping of ominous waves on the beach, and the drip of recent rain from the branches above. The door should be locked but when Stevie tried the knob it moved easily. She slipped her gun out of the holster. The door creaked as she cracked it open and light flickered across the wall. She stopped, listening. The pounding of her heart missed a beat. Using the door as a shield she moved into the room further, scanning the perimeter. It looked empty but not deserted. The light came from a candle on the table; alongside ribbons of steam undulated from a mug of tea, and open next to the hot mug, a book. On the dog-eared page a sentence was circled in red. Stevie slipped the small flashlight out of her pocket and read the words. Very few of us are what we seem.”

Who’s idea was this again? Two buckets were almost overflowing with the steady plunk from above. A piece of crusty linoleum curled up to snag her feet. Mouse droppings in every corner kept her scanning the cupboards. This cheery weekend at the cabin was turning sour. It would take more than a couple of hundred dollars to make repairs. Every family needed a vacation get away, right? Dan’s words sounded ridiculous in this setting. And then he couldn’t come with them because the boss needed him to sort out the taxes. Dorrie and David were rolled up like burritos and refused to get out of their sleeping bags. She stepped over them trying to get to the sputtering fire in the stove. She should go outside and check on Davis who decided to brave the rain and go to the beach just one hundred feet from the front door, but the fire needed stoking and she just couldn’t let it die. All she truly wanted was to sit by the fire and read a good book, with a cup of tea.


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

What If I Get Off Track Again?

               What If I Get Off Track Again?

    Many weeks ago I wrote a post about my meditation practice. I marveled that after ninety-seven days in a row I suddenly forgot to do meditation one morning. I did feel deflated and my readers reminded me that ninety-seven days was amazing. What happens to our attitude when we stop and start habits? 

  Maybe you are an all or nothing person. You establish a really good habit and prepare yourself to add it to your daily life. Then, the phone rings and someone needs help immediately, or you get sick, or a friend calls to whisk you away on an exciting adventure. There goes your habit. Do you quit? Is meditating for ninety-seven days in a row and missing the next day a disaster? No, you say. Get real! Things happen. 

   But, the truth is I use getting off track as an excuse to quit my new habit. Yes, I do. Here's what I say to myself. It's not practical. Or, I'm not good at this so why do it? Or, it's the wrong time in my life. 
   In my humble experience, the answer to the question, what if I get off track, is GET BACK ON! If coming back to a habit, or project, or goal is good for you and makes life better than just start again with a clean slate. Brush yourself off and get back onto the saddle. Happy Trails and lets circle round and start again.


My novel Rubato

Friday, April 20, 2018

Umkehr Another Word For Turn

FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out

I have been suffering from FOMO lately. You probably know what that feels like. It is that odd nagging feeling that everybody around you is engaged in their life but you can't figure out how to get on board of your own. It occurred to me that I've been here before. I worked on this very issue and back then I came up with six habits of happiness that made my life feel connected and sure.

      I go to the water on a regular basis to watch the sunrise. The light coming out of darkness everyday is very comforting to me. The return, or Umkehr, is symbolic for all the truths I've learned that get forgotten or put on the back burner. These truths rise up again and testify of their veracity on a regular basis. 
    Six Habits of Happiness-
       Pray Everyday
       Study Everyday
       Eat for Health Everyday
       Create Something Everyday
       Move Your Body (Exercise) Everyday
       Serve Someone Else Everyday

When I'm practicing my habits FOMO evaporates. My life goes back to feeling connected and sure. 

On an island in the Pacific Northwest a piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Characters

What I can say is that all my characters are searching for their souls, because they are my mirrors. I'm someone who is constantly trying to understand my place in the world, and literature is the best way that I found in order to see myself.
 Paulo Coelho

I find it amazing that some of the minor characters in my novel Rubato became so interesting. Franz Liszt is really a minor character but he has influenced my writing a great deal. As I listened to his music I found myself trying to describe the action in his pieces with words. 

"She picked up the manuscript, looking at the handwritten music from so long ago. The first strong notes cascaded up the octaves and culminated with ten repeated C sharps, all in a row. The sound of the music in her head was rich with color and texture. It gave her the greatest of joy to play the F Sharp minor section with it’s  melancholy announcement before the beauty of the change of key. The change from minor to major left her soul lifted and energized."

To write about his music made me a better listener. 

Another minor character who surprised me was Alexander Patchett.  Stevie Dangerfield, my main detective, ends up interacting with him more than I planned. I so enjoyed bringing his eccentricities to life.

   Alexander Patchett met them at the door bulging with curiosity. He was dressed as if he intended to go into battle. His camouflage pants and dark green shirt suited his colorful personality. He motioned them inside with enthusiasm. His questions came at Reggie like gunshots, loud and insistent. Was Horak  the murderer? How did he do it? Did he have accomplices?
   “May we observe from your windows?” Stevie said quietly. 

   "Yes, anything I can help you do is fine with me," he said.  

He started as a negative, ungenerous character but by the end of the book I found him endearing and wistful. 
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that no matter how much you think you know your characters when you begin writing, they change and grow as they interact with the others in the book and with the main plot.
But, this is my first book and I'm lacking in experience. Perhaps I'll be more intentional with my characters from the beginning with my next book. 
I suspect that my experience will be the same.
Wink! Wink!

My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Unused Creativity Is Not Benign

Creating is really important, you know. It has very little to do with being good at something. It is more about whole-hearted living.   

Years ago I started working on a project. It started with a little nudge from a fellow blogger to try my hand at making a family video. I wanted to document the experience of teaching piano lessons to some of my own grandchildren. Then a piano student came to lessons with a piece of music stuck in his head. I didn't know it myself but found it on U-Tube. While I was writing him a little simplified version I found the music captured me, too and it became the soundtrack to my video idea. My family endured my amateur filming and with just my Apple products I started creating. 

Creating is really important, you know. It has very little to do with being good at something. It is more about whole-hearted living. What do I mean by that? Putting your heart into a project gives you a space to feel connected with your imagination, your insights, and your intuition. You can open yourself to seeing with new eyes.

  "Creativity has to be cultivated. Unused creativity is not benign, it matastizes. It turns into grief, judgement, sorrow, and shame. We are divine beings and we are by nature creative." Brene Brown

    "Although the principle of doing new things to achieve new results applies in many areas of life, the underlying quality is the same. It is creativity. Creativity is what allows us to see things in a new way. We can enhance our ability to think creatively by engaging in pursuits that are different from our normal activities."
    "Search for feelings that prompt you to try something new yourself, and if they are not there strive to generate them. Try art, poetry, prose, music, dance, photography, clothing design, or anything you haven’t done before. Otherwise you may never know the thrill of personal creativity nor enter the doors it opens to insight, enjoyment, and wonder"
Elder Richard G. Scott 

   Here is the video I created about going to teach my little grands. I call it The Summer of My PianoTeaching

My word for 2018 is Umkehr, a German word
 meaning to return or to get back on track. 

      Click here to see some other Umkehr challenges this year..


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Setting

We the readers contribute our imagination to that of the writer, willingly entering his world, participating in the lives of it's people and forming from the author's words and images our own mental pictures of people and places. The setting in any novel is therefore an important element of the whole book.
P.D. James

My novel Rubato takes place on an island similar to the place where I live. Island living has oddities which add to the plot line and give ample opportunity for beautiful descriptive language. 

"Stepping through the entrance her eyes took in the view from the waterfront home. The sea shimmered silver with the afternoon sun. Sections of the water looked like panes of glass, smooth and transparent. A single dark line of crayon scrawled a lazy trail across the expanse." 

Perhaps the oddest aspect of the island in Rubato is the need for ferry transportation, to and from. The detectives are bound by the ferry schedule, but then so is the murderer. 

"Stevie pushed back her irritation. This was the first suspicious death on an island she had investigated. The ferry system felt like a hindrance. Reggie Watts, her partner, told her to come quickly as the medical examiner wanted a homicide team to investigate. The examiner told Reggie that he found indications of foul play but did not want to make a definitive statement until the autopsy. She glanced at her phone and noted the time was almost 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Maybe it was early enough to avoid the worst ferry traffic. She had priority boarding which meant she was the first to drive off the ferry. The highway climbed up a steep hill from the water. She noticed a few people on bicycles alongside the road, laboring in what seemed slow motion. Bicycling had once interested her and she tried bicycling from West Seattle to the police precinct. It was an activity that quickly lost it’s novelty."

In detective fiction I love the descriptions of "home" for the detective. For Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs it is the flat she buys for herself with the garden outside the living room, for Poirot it is his fancy apartment, and for Duncan and Gemma, in Deborah Crombie's series, it is the house they rent in London where Gemma has her grand piano. 

  "When they arrived in West Seattle Reggie took a few minutes to look at the house where Stevie lived. He tried not to gawk, but her house was several steps, no triple digit steps above the apartment where he lived. She must be living with someone or could it be she was living with her parents? That was not a negative idea but it would be a long time before he took her to his dingy digs. The house was older but well preserved and gave the impression of gracious living. It reminded Reggie of a Frank Lloyd Wright house called the Meyer May House. He had always liked looking at American architecture. Three stories of windows faced the street. The top floor window looked like a small attic room. The second floor had four leaded colored glass windows side by side, tucked under the eaves, which stood out from the house similar to bay windows. A covered porch area had boxes filled to the brim with greenery. 
    “This is a great house.”

An unseen aspect of the setting I picked are the many references to the lack of parking space. My daughter-in-law pointed that out and even suggested that it is one of my themes. 

"The address for Mr. Chavez was a half mile further north. The highway twisted and turned as it started going down towards the water.
  “There are never any places to park at these waterfront homes.” Reggie made a u-turn and carefully moved his car in front of what looked like a garage. “That trail there looks like the way to the house.”
   “The pathway seems steep. I wonder how fun it is to carry groceries up and down.”
    “It would get old fast.” Reggie answered." 

Lack of parking space is very much part of our modern dilemma. It is fun for me to see that it affects my story and adds credibility to the plot. As Jeffrey Deaver said,

Rule one: Write about settings you're familiar with. 


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Monday, April 9, 2018


What does it mean to me to Umkehr, or return, to habits that bring me happiness?

My life has a pattern of change and retreat. I find a new way to navigate and set a course only to notice that some time later my ship is veering off the path. 

    1- The first question is should I go back to a path I cleared before? Was it effective? Where did it take me? What was the outcome?

   2- Do I desire the return with all my heart or am I just returning to the path because I don't know where else to go?

  3- I have used a habit tracker before where I mark a daily chart at the end of the day. Did that prove useful?

  4- Is it worth returning if there is a chance I'll go off track again anyway?

   These are the burning questions this month if April. I will ponder and seek for guidance. Of one thing I am sure, Umkehr is a human condition, a blessing, a hope, and a much needed experience to growth.


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Friday, April 6, 2018


 A great feeling of dread enveloped Judith’s first waking thoughts. What was she dreading? Did she make a serious mistake in removing the autograph manuscript from The Liszt Museum? Should she have presented it to the director that very day?

My head is very wrapped up in my novel. I am doing editing,  again. When I saw the prompt for this morning's writing I thought of my main character, Judith. She did not release. She held on tightly even when her conscience told her to let go. Wanting something is very dangerous when it clouds your moral code.

“Can I keep these a while? She did give them to me.”
Stevie looked with compassion at this woman who cared very much for her colleague and friend. She explained that the book and music autograph would now go into the custody of the police department and be instrumental in convicting ....................... of murder. 
“We can’t keep them, even overnight. I learned that lesson.” Stevie said very seriously, trying to comfort herself as much as Linda. “The autographs have an indefinite future, as well as Judith’s book. We can monitor their safety but the prosecutor will make decisions about when they will be released and who will receive them.”
  “Can I show my son the pictures?”
  “I won’t tell. How is Jon?” Stevie remembered the young man from the first day. 
 “He was a little freaked out. We talk about it often. It still all seems a little unbelievable.” Linda handed Stevie the box.
 “Are you disappointed in Judith?” Stevie asked.
    “Disappointed? In her decisions? Maybe, but I learned so much from her about music. I am more resolved to be an inspired musician because of Judith.”

   Can't give everything away, but you can read the whole book online for a limited time for free.
On an island in the Pacific Northwest a piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill? 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Themes

You can't tell any kind of a story without having some kind of a theme, something to say between the lines.

Robert Wise

By choosing the title Rubato for my book I knew the theme of robbery would reoccur. Rubato comes from the Latin meaning 'to rob'. It is a musical tempo word and in the words of my character Stevie Dangerfield, “Rubato is a musical term which means temporarily leaving a strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slowing, usually without altering the overall pace." Robbing a fraction of a beat in a measure of music isn't the only robbery that happens in my story. A more subtle example of this theme is the attempted robbery at Detective Dangerfield's home. Unfortunately her mother comes home in the middle of the crime. She becomes a traumatized witness.

Stevie found Angelika waiting in the hall with a piece of paper in her hand, her head bowed down. Stevie embraced her and felt the shudder in her mother’s body as tears erupted.
    “I didn’t remember enough to make a likeness.” She gave Stevie a sketch of a dark haired man who looked very tall. “Is he likely to return?”
  Stevie took the picture and checked to see if he looked familiar. No one came to mind.
   “I don’t think……..that he will come back since he didn’t find what he was looking for. Thank you, Mom. I know this ordeal has worn you out. Why don’t we go home. It’s Friday and the detectives are all hoping they don’t have to work tomorrow.”
   Reggie came down the hall and Stevie showed him the sketch. He nodded and she knew that he understood Angelika’s problem. Trauma robs the clarity of memories.

The autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt may also be a stolen  object. The murder of Judith revolves around this piece of music. But, where did it come from originally? Was it stolen or found innocently and not revealed? 

To her amazement and delight she found the autograph manuscripts of both Hungarian Rhapsodies. An intense inward struggle ensued. She described how she knew she should immediately report her findings, but the joy of seeing Liszt’s hand written music overcame her rational thinking. Her actions left the rigid tempo of law and she acted from her feelings instead of her head. She robbed justice, just like a pianist robs a measure of its strict beat by holding on to certain notes intentionally longer than prescribed. 

Having an overarching theme gives structure to the plot. I hope it gives the reader a thread to tie the story together.


On an island in the Pacific Northwest a piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill?