Hello, World!

My blog is alive again, because my new website is finally ready! It’s wonderful to be back. Tune in today around noon (CST) for the cover reveal of BLUE BLOODED (Lord & Lady Hetheridge #5).

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Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

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Photo: StarWars.com

I never talk much about Star Wars, do I? I never talk much about my skeleton, either. Like Star Wars, it’s way down inside, it helps hold me up, and I take it for granted.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia was a huge part of my childhood. I saw Star Wars in the theater at age 8, but it wasn’t until The Empire Strikes Back that I became a true fanatic. Thanks to that fanaticism, I met the artist known as Rosemary O’Malley, who responded to my impatience for the movie’s arrival with this suggestion: “Why don’t we write a story about what might happen in the movie?

That’s how the Star Wars fanfic started, which led to the X-Men fanfic, which led to me calling myself an author from age 14 up.

I loved Princess Leia long before I loved Carrie Fisher. I thought Leia was incredibly heroic. She defied the Empire, risked her life to prevent the Death Star from becoming operational, refused to give up the plans even when everyone she knew and loved was threatened, and even quipped to her rescuer, “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” She could shoot, fly a Y-wing (in the comic books, which I read religiously), strategize, and lead. Luke was the kid with the big destiny and Han was the overgrown boy who loved trouble, but Leia was the adult in the room. You could count on her to do the right thing, to be courageous no matter what, and to keep her chin up even in the worst circumstances. Plus, she ran around in white go-go boots with flat heels. In an era when even superheroines wore heels to work, Leia had intelligent footwear.

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Photo: Lucasfilm LTD

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Carrie Fisher in 2013

Carrie Fisher was a different story. At first she shocked me with her wicked wit, her fearless honesty, her transformation from ingenue actress to bestselling author. Gradually I realized that while Princess Leia was a wonderful role model for my early teens, Carrie Fisher was a person the grown-up me could look up to.

I’ve struggled all my life with my weight, especially as I’ve entered middle age. She had a few things to say on the topic. I’ve also struggled all my life with clinical depression, something I’ve kept secret in my writing life because of the stigma. Now that Carrie, a brave and indefatigable mental health crusader, has left us, I suppose it’s time for me to do something she might have liked: add my voice to the long list of people living with depression.

In 2015 I suffered a major episode that lasted from early summer through the fall, throwing a monkey wrench into my writing schedule. By that I mean, I couldn’t write a word or do much of anything. It was hell. Lucky for me, modern medicine prevailed and I feel like myself again today. But take it from me, #depressionlies and there is help available.

Let me repeat: there is help available. I was lucky enough to regain my mental equilibrium before my vision problems started. Because of that, I went through the surgeries and life changes that followed with renewed strength.

So with a heavy heart I say farewell to Carrie Fisher. Princess Leia will always be with us, for a new generation of little girls and boys to discover and admire. Carrie has moved on, and she’ll be greatly missed.

Best Compliments of the Season

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At last!

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Divorce Can Be Deadly (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries Book #2) is live on Amazon. Here’s what it’s all about:

“Two ghosts troubled Dr. Benjamin Bones. One he feared would never release him. Another he worried might slip away, however much he tightened his grip… .”

So begins Divorce Can Be Deadly, the long-awaited second book in Emma Jameson’s wartime cozy mystery series. Return to Birdswing, a tiny Cornish village, in the bitter winter of 1939 and revisit old friends as they embark on more amateur sleuthing. Irrepressible Lady Juliet is taking a correspondence course in private detection and is vexed by the return of her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Meanwhile, not only has Ben failed to realize the depth of her feelings for him, but his obsession with Lucy, the Fenton House ghost, is growing stronger.

When a bloodless, half-naked corpse is discovered in a great house in a nearby village, Ben and Juliet must again follow the clues to solve the case. Join them as they pry into the secret lives of villagers in seemingly picture-perfect Barking, including a vicar who hides from his secretary, a baron haunted by the Great War, and a butler who just might have done it.

Brimming with romance, historical details, and warm humor, Divorce Can Be Deadly is already being called “worth the wait!”

The book is currently publishing on other platforms and should be available soon for Nook devices, the Apple store, Kobo, and Google Play. Watch this space and I’ll let you know!

Don’t forget you can also preorder Dr. Bones and the Christmas Gift on most platforms. It will go live on December 23rd and take up right after the events of Divorce Can Be Deadly. Click below on your preferred vendor:

Amazon 

Nook from Barnes & Nook

iBooks

Kobo

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Pre-Order for Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish

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Hello, all! I’m sure you can guess what I’ll be doing this weekend. Continuing to finalize Divorce Can Be Deadly, and watching tomorrow night’s Westworld finale. In the meantime, I have good news: Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish is now available for pre-order. Many of you have requested pre-orders in the past, but I’ve always been wary. This will be my first attempt. As for DCBD, it will go live the moment it’s finished, I promise.

To order Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish, click to visit one of these vendors:

Amazon            Apple iBooks           Barnes & Noble          Kobo

Here’s the details:

Dr. Benjamin Bones had no opinion on Christmas. That is to say, he had no polite opinion on Christmas. His actual opinion, the one he knew better than to say aloud, was that Christmas was a disappointment, a raising of hopes only to dash them, a festival of flash and dazzle which, come January, was hard to pay for and even harder to justify. That was Christmas: disappointment, with a price tag.

So begins Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish, a charming romantic short story set in the tiny Cornish village of Birdswing, 1939. Readers who enjoyed the Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries, Marriage Can Be Murder (#1) and Divorce Can Be Deadly (#2), will adore this holiday tale of love lost and love found featuring Dr. Bones and Lady Juliet.

I hope you’ll enjoy this novella set in wartime England, 1939. Please note the story takes place after the second book in the Dr. Bones series, Divorce Can Be Deadly. It’s not essential that you read that first, but I highly recommend it to get maximal pleasure from the story.

Cheers!

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“I’m Thankful For…” (That Yearly Thanksgiving Post)

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Photo: My collection

So most every year around this time, I like to post about things I’m grateful for. It’s essential to say this isn’t a comprehensive list. It’s just a taste of all the good things in my life.

I’m Thankful For…

My vision. As many of you know, I now see mostly with my left eye. However, the right eye has a tiny tunnel of vision (thanks to my excellent surgeon Dr. David R.). Because the last two surgeries played havoc with my eye muscles, it’s taking awhile for my eyes to become “straight” again–to work in unison. But it’s happening, and every week I can do more on the computer without getting a blinding headache.

My readers. I cannot express how grateful I am to each and every one of you. I was a slow writer before all this health stuff started, and it’s been a little scary to find myself so far behind. Yet virtually every communication I’ve received from you has been positive, supportive, and kindhearted. Thank you so much for sticking with me. There will be a book and a short story from me soon, I promise.

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Photo: My collection

Cornwall. It was everything I dreamed of, and more. I can’t wait to return, hopefully in 2018. We’ll see how things go.

Game of Thrones. Yes, I know. Aren’t I silly? But my mom and I had so much fun watching the series together, one episode a week, all year long. There’s nothing like bonding over beheadings.

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Photo: HBO

My friends. You know who you are. I am so richly blessed in friendship. Some of you I’ve known since childhood. Some I made as an author, some I met on Facebook, and some are from my own neighborhood. If I need to talk, there’s always someone I can turn to, by phone, email, text, or in person. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Photo: JacksonGalaxy.com

Jackson Galaxy and My Cat from Hell. I should have started watching this years ago. It’s a joy to see my three cats much happier and getting along.

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Photo: HBO

Westworld. Yeah, baby. Anthony Hopkins. Evan Rachel Wood. Ed Harris. Thandie Newton. I can’t think of anything else to say. That should be enough.

James McAvoy. Soon to be appearing in the movie Split. Can’t wait to see it.

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Photo: 😉

And once again, I‘m thankful for everyone who touches my author-life, from my readers to my editor to my expert readers to my cover artist to my formatter to (deep breath) anyone who plays any role at all!

I wish every one of you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Westworld: Another Man in Black Theory

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Photo: HBO

Hello! For those readers who don’t follow me on Facebook, a quick update: The first half of Divorce Can Be Deadly has been edited and critiqued by my experts. I am working feverishly on the second half, so it can receive the same scrutiny. It won’t be much longer, and that’s why I declined to write a blog post about Westworld 1.4 (“Dissonance Theory”) or 1.5 (“Contrapasso”). But I have the bare bones of yet ANOTHER Man in Black (MiB) theory that I want to share. As usual, my speculation is loaded with spoilers, so please don’t continue if you haven’t caught up.

Now. We all remember this guy, right?

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Photo: MGM Home Entertainment

Yul Brenner’s performance in the original film Westworld (1973) is arguably the best part of a fondly remembered sci-fi romp. I tuned into HBO’s Westworld expecting a similar gunslinger, and I got him in Ed Harris. One look at Harris in costume, complete with black hat and black horse, and you just know you’re looking at a formidable villain.

Or are you?

Let’s review his appearance on the scene. He taunts Teddy (who we originally believed to be a human visitor) and shoots him. Then he grabs a screaming, pleading Dolores by the hair and drags her into the barn, presumably to have his way with her. He says something like, “You think I paid all this money because I want it easy? I want you to fight.” We never see what happens, but we assume Dolores is raped and killed (in the sense that hosts can be killed), and the MiB is a sadist who visits Westworld to exercise his cruelest instincts.

Later, we see a bit more of what happened inside the barn. The MiB takes out his enormous hunting knife (which I originally took as a bit of Freudian symbolism) and says something like, “We’re going all the way back to the beginning.”

Until now, I’ve assumed Dolores’s father triggered her growing self-awareness with the phrase (voice command?) “The violent delights have violent ends.” But what if the MiB did it? And could the knife somehow be involved?

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Photo: HBO

Recalling Maeve’s flashback to a prior incarnation, we see her cornered by the MiB. He pulls the knife as he advances. Again, the obvious assumption is, he’s going to rape and kill her. But does that fit into what we’ve learned about him?

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Photo: HBO

We’ve spent a lot of time with William. Many viewers, including me, think William’s story only seems to be running concurrently with, say, Elsie’s realization that the self-destroying host carried a secret transmitter. Due to various clues, we think William’s story is a flashback to thirty years ago, just before the mysterious “critical failure.” William clearly has a thing for Dolores, and he’s discovered a knack for excelling in Westworld. Perhaps when the MiB mentioned “All the way back to the beginning,” this is what he meant.

William is a kind, decent, fair-minded person. Of course, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t transformed himself into a reprehensible beast over the intervening thirty years. But another guest recognized him and tried to thank him because his foundation “literally saved” the guest’s sister. So in the real world, at least, the MiB does good things.

In Westworld 1.5, the MiB tells Teddy he once cut open an early host model and found a mechanical marvel within. He then says something like, “What would I find if I cut you open?” I can’t help but think the knife is more than a knife, but not the way Freud meant. Even Dr. Ford, who seems to harbor some antipathy for the MiB, examined it with some interest, as seen below.

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Photo: HBO

So if the MiB was once William, and he’s been coming to the park for thirty years, and now he doesn’t plan to leave (as he said in WW 1.1), what’s his endgame? In my previous blog post, I floated the idea of consciousness-transfer: he wants to put his essence into Westworld and live forever, either in one host body or many. Now I wonder, despite his all-black costume that hearkens to Yul Brenner’s… are his motives more aligned with his real-life role as a philanthropist? Perhaps he’s dying, and has no wish to live as Dr. Ford described in 1.1, clinging to life through technology. And perhaps he’s returned to Westworld with the hope of a grand selfless act: the freeing of its self-aware hosts?

I can’t wait for next Sunday night. And now… back to those rewrites.