September 11, 2001…

On this day of remembrance, I thought I would share a post I made five years ago on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. My feelings are still the same. I’ve tried to avoid watching coverage today, but in today’s age of social media, it’s impossible. I saw something earlier, and my first reaction to what I saw was the same as it was fifteen years ago: I thought of my son. I picked up my phone and sent him a text: “Just wanted to say I love you.” He replied: “Love you too.” Tell your family you love them; tell your friends you care. Think of the almost 3,000 people whose families won’t hear those words from their loved ones again. With everything that is going on in our country and our world, we need to be united, not divided. I don’t normally say anything about current affairs, but I will say this much today. It does not matter to me what your religious beliefs are (or aren’t); I don’t care what your political views are; I don’t care about the color of your skin. I will treat you with the same respect and dignity that every human being deserves, until you give me a reason not to. I taught my son to follow these same simple rules. Remember the Golden Rule: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I’ll get off my soapbox now.

With love and respect to all,

My Funny View of Life

As the first tower fell 10 years ago, I was in my third week of teaching. 15 minutes earlier, one of my students came up to me in the hallway. “Ms. Burns,” he said, “I think something bad has happened. I heard on the radio as my mom drove to school that a plane has crashed into a building in New York.”

I remember feeling shocked, but doing my best not to show it. I asked him not to say anything to anyone else, because I didn’t want to scare the other students, and I wasn’t for sure if it was true.

Sitting down at my computer, I quickly fired off an email to the front office to let them know what my student had told me. I am sure that they were aware of it before I sent the email. I taught two classes, wondering what was going on…

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No Rehab for Murder, Chapter 2

“I cannot believe this,” Fern Parker said as she paced the floor in the ER cubicle. “I just don’t understand how this could happen.”

“It’s nothing serious, Fern,” Violet said, trying to reassure her friend. “I’m pretty sure it’s a clean break. There’s no reason to end our trip early.”

Fern waved her hand dismissively. “I’m not talking about your leg. I can’t believe you got Sven to put his arms around you before me!”

Violet sighed and shook her head.

“Really, Fern, this isn’t about you,” Mary Jo Kimbrough said. “Violet is the one we should be focusing on here, not your imaginary love life.”

“What about poor Sven?” Fern retorted. “That gorgeous man probably has a broken back. Now I’ll never get to have a romantic evening with him before we go home.”

“You weren’t going to have a romantic evening with him in the first place!” Mary Jo replied.

“You don’t know that,” Fern said. “I had it all planned out: a romantic candlelight dinner, a stroll in the snow, the moonlight shining down on us, Sven taking me in his arms and…”

“More than I really need to know,” Violet said, stopping her before she went into more graphic detail.

“I think we should all be grateful that Sven and Violet weren’t killed,” Felicity Vinson pointed out.

Violet studied her friends as they continued to talk. Four people could not be more different: Fern was a rich widow who flirted with every handsome man who crossed her path, regardless of age. She was a natural beauty who wore very little make up, and was always immaculately dressed in the latest style.

Mary Jo was a mom to four sons who played football in the fall and baseball in the spring. She usually had her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, and wore jeans and t-shirts. Whenever she and Fern got into an argument, Mary Jo resorted to sarcastic remarks, which made Fern defended her position even more fiercely.

Felicity was the peacemaker of the group. She dressed simply in slacks and blouses, but felt just as comfortable in jeans. While she wasn’t a natural beauty like Fern, everyone who knew and loved her said that her inner beauty and generous heart made her the most beautiful person in the room.

Violet was the tomboy of the group. She preferred working with her hands, either in her garden or in her workshop, where she refinished old furniture. Some of her free time was spent volunteering at a local animal shelter, which is where she had adopted her beloved cat, Max. Her daughter Dawn was constantly reminding her not to adopt any of the cats she occasionally fostered. Like Max would really go for that. He was king of the castle, and no one was allow to invade his kingdom without permission.

The curtain was pulled back and a young nurse appeared at the foot of the bed. It’s going to be just a few more minutes before we take you down to x-ray,” she told Violet. “There’s a policeman outside who would like to talk to you.”

“To me?” Violet said, surprised. “Whatever for?”

“About your accident.”

“It was an accident, nothing more than that.”

The nurse shrugged. “I only know what he told me, Mrs. Jansen. Do you want me to send him in now, or wait until after you come back?”

“Now is fine.”

The nurse left and came back a few minutes later with a young man wearing a black police uniform. “Mrs. Jansen?” he asked, looking around at the four women.

Violet raised her hand. “I’m Violet Jansen. What can I do for you, Officer…?”

“Bruce Coleman, ma’am,” he said, shaking her hand. “If you feel up to it, I’d like to ask you a few questions about what happened on the mountain this morning.”

“I’m not sure there is much I can tell you. It all happened so fast. And like I told the nurse, it was just an unfortunate accident.”

“Anything you can tell me me will be just fine, ma’am.”

Violet told him everything she could remember, which didn’t seem like much. The young officer looked disappointed when she finished. “So you don’t know what happened when the person who ran into you caught up with the woman?”

She shook her head. “I’m afraid not.”

“You didn’t see anyone standing off to the side before you and the ski instructor hit the tree?”

“Not really. There was a mother and son who stopped to help us; you might ask them.”

“Another officer has already talked to them. They didn’t see anything, either. They were focused on helping you and Mr. Jorgenson.”

“I’m sorry, Officer Coleman,” Violet said as the nurse came back in with an orderly. “I wish I could be more help.”

“It’s not your fault, Mrs. Jansen.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a card. “If you think of anything else, please give me a call.”

“I will. May I ask you a question?”


“The young woman…what happened to her?”

“We don’t know,” Coleman replied.

“I couldn’t help but notice that she was lying on the ground further down the hill from us.”

“That wasn’t her,” Coleman replied. “It was the man who had been chasing her.”

“What happened to him?” Fern asked. “Did he break his leg, too? Doesn’t surprise me. Violet told us he was flying down the mountain like a wild man.”

“No, ma’am, he doesn’t have a broken leg. He was murdered.”

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No Rehab for Murder, Chapter 1

My good friend Stacy ( who is also one of my editors who takes care of everything on this blog) told me a couple of weeks ago that her mom had fallen at home, breaking her ankle and upper arm. After her surgery, she was sent over to a rehab facility. So I decided to write a little story for her to keep her entertained while she is there. Here’s the first chapter. Enjoy!

No Rehab for Murder

Chapter 1

Not for the first time, Violet Janson wondered what in the world had possessed her to go along with this cockamamy idea. She was standing at the top of a snowy mountainside in Vail, Colorado, wearing a neon pink snowsuit, a blue hat with a bright green pompom on top, holding two pairs of ski poles. A very handsome young man named Sven was helping her put on a set of skis. “There, Mrs. Janson, you’re all set,” he said, getting to his feet. He took his poles back from her. “You’ve been doing very well this week during our lessons. Today, we’re going to ski down to the bottom of the hill.”

“I’m not sure I’m ready for this, Sven,” Violet said as she looked down the slope. She watched people swishing their way confidentially across the snow. A snowboarder zoomed past her, and she thought that person was crazy to be doing this with just one board. She thought she was crazy for trying to do with with the very thin pieces of wood on her feet. “Couldn’t we do this tomorrow?”

“You’ll be just fine, Mrs. Janson,” he assured her. “I’m going to ski ahead of you, just a little bit, and then I’ll stop. You watch me and then follow me down.”

He took off before she could protest. She watched him turning left, then right, then left again. He made it look so easy, so graceful…and he really had a nice looking butt. Sighing, Violet pushed off and started down the hill.

She made it down to where he was standing with no problem. “Well done, Mrs. Jansen!” Sven said, a huge grin on his face. “Let’s go a little bit further this time.” He took off again.

Before she could follow him, someone went flying by her. The person briefly looked back, and Violet could tell it was a woman, and she looked terrified. The woman faced forward again and dug her poles into the snow, trying to make herself go faster. Violet shook her head. Didn’t that woman know it was dangerous to race on the slopes with so many people around?

She started down, keeping an eye on where Sven was standing. He started waving his arms frantically. Was she doing something wrong?And was he yelling at her now? She thought that was odd; he had never yelled at her before.

Suddenly, she was hit by something from behind, throwing her off balance and off course. Instead of heading down toward Sven, she was headed for a grove of trees to the right. Oh no, this was not good.

Whoever hit her managed to right themselves and was headed after the woman who had just passed Violet. They seemed to be gaining on her. At the same time, Sven was moving horizontally, trying to cut Violet off, hopefully to keep her from slamming face first into a tree. Unfortunately, Violet couldn’t remember how to stop, and she braced herself for impact.

She slammed into something hard, but it was Sven and not a tree. Her momentum kept them going, and the next thing they hit was a tree. There were several snapping noises, and Violet wasn’t sure if it was the skis, the poles, or various body parts that had been broken in two. They landed on top of the snow in a tangled pile of limbs and skiing equipment.

“Mrs. Jansen, are you all right?” Sven managed to gasp.

“I’m not sure, Sven. What about you?”

“I think my back is broken.”

“Don’t move,” she said. She looked around and noticed a couple of people coming toward them. “Do you have your phone with you?” she asked one of them when they stopped next to them.

“Yes, ma’am,” the young man said. “I’ll call for help.”

The woman took her skis off, stuck her poles in the snow, and knelt down next to Violet and Sven. “I’m a nurse,” she said. “Try not to move.”

“I’m all right,” Violet told her, “but Sven has hurt his back.”

“Ma’am, I’m afraid you’re not all right,” the nurse said. “It looks like you might have a broken leg.”

“Funny, it doesn’t feel broken.”

“The adrenaline is giving you a natural high,” she explained. “Give yourself a couple of minutes; you’ll feel it. Just sit there and let me take your skis off.”

“Ski patrol is on their way,” the young man said as he shoved his phone back into his jacket. “What do you need me to do, Mom?”

“Let’s move this broken equipment off to the side, Sam, so it won’t be in the way when the patrol gets here.”

Working carefully, the two of them took off Violet and Sven’s skis. “I saw what happened,” the young man said. “That guy was chasing someone. He almost ran me over right before he hit you.”

“Did you get a good look at him?”

The young man shook his head. “Mom and I were at the top of the hill, getting ready to head down, when we heard a couple arguing. The man grabbed her arm and told her that she was going to give him what he wanted, or she would be sorry she ever crossed him. She jerked her arm out of his hand, said that it was too late. She had given it to the authorities, and that she was going to enjoy watching him go to jail. The man stuck his hand into the right pocket of his jacket, and she suddenly looked scared. She took off, he said a few choice words and went after her.”

Violet looked down the hill and noticed that a crowd had gathered around something lying in the snow. She hoped it wasn’t that young woman.

“Ma’am?” the nurse said. “I’m going to have to move your leg a little so I can check out your friend here. This is probably going to hurt.”

Violet merely nodded. The nurse took her leg in her hands and moved it slowly, and Violet felt a shooting pain, and she sucked in her breath. Sam knelt behind her, and Violet leaned against him. He held her hand. “I broke my leg on this same hill last year. I lost my balance and tumbled halfway down the hill,” he told her. “Snapped my tibia in two. My friends never let me hear the end of it. At least you have a way cooler story to tell your friends about how you got hurt.”

Violet didn’t think slamming into a tree was a cool story, even if Sven had had his arms wrapped around her when it happened. Then she smiled; the girls were going to be SO jealous when they found out that she had been in Sven’s arms, especially Fern. She had been trying to figure out how to get Sven to hold her all week, but had failed miserably. Fern was going to pout all the way home.


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Happy Homicides 4: Fall Into Crime

HAPPY HOMICIDES fall into crime large banner 640 1Happy Homicides 4: Fall Into Crime

by Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, Carole W. Price,
Lesley A. Diehl, Nancy Jill Thames, Teresa Trent, Maggie Toussaint,
Anna Celeste Burke, Randy Rawls, Nancy J. Cohen,
Terry Ambrose, and Deborah Sharp

HH 4 revised 07212016

Happy Homicides 4: Fall Into Crime



Joanna Campbell Slan / Vendetta: A Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery – The House of Refuge on Gilbert’s Bar is known for its 150-year history as a way station for shipwrecked sailors. But when Cara Mia visits, the museum becomes the scene of a crime.

Linda Gordon Hengerer / Dying for School Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Novella – Chelsea Powell and her sisters are providing treats for Citrus Beach High School’s freshman orientation. Can they solve the murder of the beloved softball coach before someone else dies?

Carole W. Price / The Glass Birdhouse – Glass artist Bella hopes to find clues about her student’s death in the woman’s unfinished glass birdhouse.

Lesley A. Diehl / Bobbing for Murder – A visit from Darcie’s family is always chaotic, and this time the relatives bamboozle Darcie into having a Halloween party. It’s a decision that definitely comes back to haunt her.

Nancy Jill Thames / Raven House – When a reporter is murdered after a fundraiser at the historic Raven House, the police call on Jillian and her Yorkie Teddy to help them investigate.

Teresa Trent / Falling for Murder – Helpful hints columnist Betsy Livingston is an expert at household organization but her skills are put to the test when she’s called upon to conduct an efficiency review for a haunted house.

Maggie Toussaint / Dead Men Tell Tales – In this third installment of the Lindsey & Ike romantic mystery novella series, things don’t add up after a suspicious hunting accident. The more Sheriff Ike Harper and newspaper editor Lindsey McKay dig, the more questions they find.

Anna Celeste Burke / All Hallow’s Eve Heist – Date night for Georgie Shaw and handsome detective Jack Wheeler goes terribly wrong. A botched heist at Marvelous Marley World has everyone scrambling as trigger-happy bad guys head for the Halloween celebration in Arcadia Park.

Randy Rawls / Accident, Suicide, or Murder – Retired policeman Jonathan Boykin’s primary interest is improving his golf, but a grieving father’s request to investigate his son’s suspicious death is an entirely different ballgame.

Nancy J. Cohen / Haunted Hair Nights – As a new stepmother, hairstylist Marla Vail hopes to win brownie points by helping her daughter with a school haunted house project. Marla has her work cut out for her when she stumbles over a corpse on the spooky estate grounds.

Terry Ambrose / Spirit in the Rock – An invitation to a museum’s grand opening turns into a showdown with the spirit world for amateur sleuth Wilson McKenna.

Deborah Sharp / Haunting in Himmarshee – When a ghost comes to call, Mace must sort out the haunted from the homicidal in Himmarshee, Florida.

Bonus Story—
Joanna Campbell Slan/Kiki Lowenstein and the Doodoo – A fun family outings turns into a fearful fright, but Kiki Lowenstein is good at sniffing out bad guys.


Comes with a bonus file of recipes and craft tips!

All for just 99 cents!

Pre-order Links Coming Soon!

Great Escapes Book Tour – August 29 – September 11, 2016

Find out about the authors on their webpages below.

Joanna Campbell Slan

Linda Gordon Hengerer

Carol W. Price

Lesley A. Diehl

Nancy Jill Thames

Teresa Trent

Maggie Toussaint

Anna Celeste Burke

Randy Rawls

Nancy J. Cohen

Terry Ambrose

and Deborah Sharp

a Rafflecopter giveaway





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An answered prayer leads to true love

A young woman, who was a youth director at a Methodist church in Missouri, was lonely. Dating was not that much fun, and the type of man she was looking for seemed to be out of reach for her. So one day, she said a simple prayer, asking God to show her the path He had laid out for her, and to lead her to a man who loved Him as much as she did.

On a spring day in May of 1975, this young woman was driving down a small road in the Oklahoma countryside, appropriately named Methodist Road, toward a church camp. There was a conference for youth directors being held at this camp, and even though her traveling companion had backed out at the last minute, she decided to go ahead and go.

As she pulled into the camp in her little yellow Mustang, she was unsure where to park. She saw a young man walking toward one of the buildings, so she rolled down her window and stopped next to him. “Excuse me, could you tell me where we’re supposed to park?”

He looked at her like she was crazy before pointing to her right. “Right over there with all the other cars,” he told her.

Feeling a bit embarrassed, she thanked him and pulled into a parking space. The young man just shook his head and walked off.

As the conference got underway, people were broken up into small groups. The young man realized he was in the same small group with the crazy lady who had asked him where to park. But as the week went on, he found himself spending more and more time talking to this young woman. Her love of God was something he had not found in his own dating experiences, not that he dated much. He was a lay pastor for two small Oklahoma churches and was a divorced father of two young daughters, aged six and five. But something about this young woman fascinated him.

At the end of the week, instead of going back his own home, he followed the young woman back to her Missouri town. They both knew they were going to get married; he asked her when they got back to Monett, where she lived. Even though they had only known each other a week, they realized that God had brought them together.

For the next three months, they drove back and forth between Monett and Pryor, Oklahoma, where he lived. They alternated weekends. On August 15th, 1975, they were married at the Monett Methodist Church. Their honeymoon was spent moving to a little town in Texas called Dimmitt, into a house that was right across from the FFA feed lot.

Four months after they got married, his daughters moved in permanently with them. She became an instant mom just before her 30th birthday. The first gift she made for them was two dolls: one with a big head and one tooth, orange yarn for hair named Roothy Toothy, and another doll with auburn hair, a sun hat, a dress, velvet shoes and a purse, and her name was Lulu.

For thirty-nine and a half years, these two wonderful people served churches in Texas and New Mexico, working as a team, sharing their love of God with everyone they met. And it wasn’t just their love of God that was evident to everyone, but their love for each other. They rarely spent more than one day apart. They raised their two daughters with love, teaching them to love God and to have faith no matter how hard things got to be at times. And when they because grandparents, they showered their grandson with the same love and affection, and also taught him to have faith.

The answer to that young woman’s prayer all those years ago passed away in February 2015, a few days after she lost her beloved mother. But the reminders of her answer to that one simple prayer to God is still around her: through the friends they made over the years, the stories that are told about the things they did together, through the love of their daughters and their grandson. He is gone, but he is not forgotten. Today, we remember and celebrate the day that God brought this wonderful woman into our lives.

I have a reminder of the love she showed to me that first Christmas over forty years ago: Lulu is sitting on my bookshelf in my room. The hat and purse are long gone, lost in one of the countless numbers of moves we made over the years. The velvet isn’t as soft as it once ways, but the love that was poured into it when it was made is still there.

I wish I could be with you today, Mom, to remember that day in August of 1975 when you said, “I do” to a goofy man with wavy reddish brown hair. Just know that every day, I thank God, and Dad, for bringing you into our lives. You may have been looking for an answer to a simple prayer, but I believe you were the answer to one that was unspoken by all of us. I love you more than words could ever say, and I am truly blessed and honored to call you my mother.

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Book Review: Murder on the Mother Road


Bobby Navarro decides to visit the Grand Canyon, so he decides to stay in the little town of Williams. As soon as he pulls into town, he sees someone hit a car and then drive off. But it is what’s in the trunk of the car that he hit that upsets Bobby the most: the body of a young girl.

After being questioned and released by the police, Bobby can’t help but ask a few innocent questions about the young girl. He suddenly finds himself drawn into the investigation by one of the local police officers, Lucinda, a woman he knew in high school. She wants him to keep asking questions without being too obvious, and see if he can learn anything that will help nail someone she suspects helped the man they have arrested for the girl’s murder.

Bobby’s questions lead him to the Holiness Pentecostal Church of the Brethren, where Lucinda’s second suspect works part time. Bobby starts to get the weird feeling that things are not what they seem at the church, and that perhaps Pastor Martin and his two right hand men may be doing more than leading their flock to the Lord.

But the closer Bobby gets to the truth, the more dangerous it gets. And when he finally learns the truth, another murder happens, and another young girl who was a friend of the murdered girl is almost killed. Bobby needs to step into make sure that no one else gets hurt, but will he be in time?

Glenn Nilson has written an intriguing mystery set in the Arizona desert. Having grown up in the New Mexico desert myself, I didn’t have a hard time imagining what Bobby was seeing (and it makes me wants to go visit the Grand Canyon myself!). Beautiful descriptions, a wonderful storyline, and plenty of action keep me hooked from beginning to end. I enjoyed it because it was not graphic or gory. I also like the idea that Bobby is a roamer, so that means an always changing cast of characters, so it will keep the series fresh and new. This is the second book in Nilson’s series, and I have every intention of checking out his first book, Murder on Route 66.

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Book Review: Something’s Knot Kosher


When Birdie Watson’s husband, Russell, is murdered during a bank robbery, her quilting friends Martha Rose and Lucy rush to her side. As they help her make funeral plans, long kept secrets start to surface, shocking Martha and Lucy. How could they have not known these things about their dear friend’s life?

After someone tries to break into Birdie’s house, the FBI warns the three friends that someone may be after Birdie as well. Since Russell will be buried in Oregon in his family plot, Martha figures that Birdie will be safe if they get out of town. But in the journey from California to Oregon, the hearse driver suffers a heart attack, leaving Martha to drive the hearse. When they are involved in an accident, they discover that Russell’s body isn’t the only one in the coffin.

So who killed Russell, and who’s after Birdie? The past and present collide as Martha and Lucy try to protect their friend while trying to find the mastermind behind the murders, before one of them becomes the next victim.

I have read one other book in this series and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I couldn’t wait to read the latest book, and I wasn’t disappointed! Mary Marks has written a delightful, exciting book that I could not put down. From the shocking beginning to the heart stopping conclusion, you will be glued to your seat and cheering on these fierce, brave women. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

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