Monday, October 13, 2014

A SLICE OF LIFE: Studying the Nature of People

My horoscope for today says I should “Study the nature of people today.” I interpret this to mean I should be more observant of my surroundings. This is good advice that has worked well for me in the past. 

In 1998, I decided to “become” a writer. After writing a few short stories, I started my first novel. An entirely new world opened up as I learned to see past the superficial fa├žade of scenery and society, a very slow process for me. My reward for continuing to search and research was an accompanying symphony of sounds, changing colorless events into neon-flashing experiences. 
Blood Red Hibiscus
at Queen Kapiolani Gardens in Waikiki
Everything didn’t immediately and perpetually start coming up roses, or a profusion of hibiscus. I suffered my share of what life offers all of us in our turn. Last Saturday, a close friend since 1969 died. He, and the multi-hued colors he added to the world, will be sorely missed. 

My stories reflect some of life’s unsolicited offerings of fate. Not as a means of purging myself of uncomfortable memories; after all, we are made of memories; but to explore how the process of forging steel applies to life. 

As a result, I look at people in a new light, not to judge but to enjoy. I hear the words they say as they mean to say them, filtered through their experiences, not through my own. All of this helps me to flesh out my stories while creating entertaining and multi-dimensional characters and plots.

In bite-sized excerpts, A Slice of Life introduces you to my writing, my protagonist’s interactions with life, and the people who share her experiences. The following excerpt includes a slice of protagonist Pepper Bibeau’s back story. 

A Slice of Life: Excerpt from FOR EVERY ACTION
In this diner scene, Pepper holds a conversation with Toby, a Chicago homicide detective she meets during an insurance investigation that leads to murder. 

“Ursula was proud of her heritage,” I said. “It’s sad to think prejudice might have played a role in her death.”
Toby sighed and we retreated into our own thoughts until restaurant activity intruded. As customers left, more arrived to place orders for the fresh catch of the day.
“What about your relatives, Pepper?” Toby asked. “Do they live in Chicago?”
“Just Uncle Fred, my mother’s brother.” I pointed toward the ceiling. “He owns this apartment building.”
“Fred Cane still owns this place?” he asked.
Surprised Toby even knew of my uncle, I didn’t correct his pronunciation of the family name. Ka-ne, two syllables, was the Hawaiian word for male, and the name of a Hawaiian god.
“How do you know my uncle?”
“It would be more accurate to say I know the building. Or at least remember it was set up for demolition back in the 50s until some guy got it dumped on him as a sales bonus.”
I smiled at Toby’s description of the windfall Uncle Fred had received.
“With the riverfront Marina Towers absorbing available tenant interest in the area,” I said, “Uncle Fred suspected the company had written off the building as a bad investment.”
“He did a good job of turning it around.”
“His on-site management attracted financially secure tenants, and later he used the Chicago property as collateral to purchase coastline properties around the country. He still oversees the rental units personally.”
“And you?” Toby asked.
His topic-hopping caught me off guard again. I took a moment to collect my thoughts.
“I live in Wisconsin,” I said. “I travel a lot for insurance investigations.”
“Wisconsin your home state?”
“More of an adopted state. My father’s family settled in Wisconsin. Dad was in the military, stationed in Hawaii during the late 1930s. He and my mom met in Honolulu.”
“And she was Hawaiian?”
“Yes. Well, hapa.” I almost laughed at Toby’s look of confusion. “It means part, part Hawaiian. She married my dad on the Big Island in the spring of 1940 and I was born in Honolulu the following year.”
“Hawaii to Wisconsin, quite a leap.”
Whether he meant the weather, the culture, or just the distance, I had to agree. 


Thank you for joining me today. The first novel in the Pepper Bibeau Mystery Series,
FOR EVERY ACTION, is on sale at for 99 cents.

If you have already read and enjoyed one of my novels, I would greatly appreciate your time
and effort in writing a book review for Amazon and/or Goodreads. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, a day to talk about doubts experienced and fears conquered, and also to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Our fearless leader, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh says:
 Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
My awesome co-hosts for the October 1 special anniversary posting of the IWSG are: Kristin Smith, Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue!

  Be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!

After three weeks of traveling on the mainland, it has been difficult for me to get back into writing mode at home. Not so much writing mode, actually, as editing. My trip was mostly to do research for several projects, the major focus being on my latest novel. Now that the fun is over, I have to knuckle down. Applying the research to various scenes and chapters is the knuckle down part.
It hasn't helped that my calendar was packed with meetings and events for two weeks following my return. The final event was "A Taste For Books" silent auction to raise money for The Makiki Community Library, a non-profit, independent library that hosts our Sisters in Crime/Hawaii meetings each month. Delicious food, good wine, free books! And my auction-bid won a fine set of wine glasses and a pair of Hawaiian hand-dipped beeswax candles. No wonder I'm having a difficult time knuckling down!
My insecurity, and consequent (or is that subsequent?) inability to knuckle down, lies in how I feel about the plot cohesiveness of my WIP. It sounded great as I wrote the first draft, even held together through the second draft. Now that I am readying it for outside editing, suddenly this sounds dumb, that doesn't make sense, and the other thing definitely needs a complete rewrite.
When it comes time to open your work to criticism and editing, do you get the jitters like I do?