Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus with poinsettias
in front of Honolulu Hale
MELE KALIKIMAKA is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Remember Bing Crosby's 1950 rendition, accompanied by the Andrew Sisters? "That's the island greeting that we send to you  . . ."

***This is a timely article that I wrote and posted on December 14, 2010. Upholding tradition, I attended "Nutcracker" at the Blaisdell again this year. Chi Cao, principal dancer of Birmingham Royal Ballet and star of Mao's Last Dancer joined the cast of more than 200 dancers for the production.*** The holiday season on the island of O'ahu opens with the Honolulu City Lights celebration. The Electric Light Parade travels through downtown to Honolulu Hale (City Hall) for the annual tree-lighting ceremony. This year's tree is a striking 55-foot Norfolk pine. Another tradition is "Nutcracker" performed on-stage at Blaisdell Concert Hall. 

At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, rows of evergreen wreaths on grave sites honor fallen veterans this holiday season. The wreaths adorn 1,288 of the graves, part of the Wreaths Across America campaign.

Aunties like myself, keiki, and tutus all enjoy the entertainment of Hawaii's local groups this time of year - Na Leo Pilimehana, Makaha Sons, Kapena, and the Brothers Cazimero, to name a few; special hula dance groups (halaus) including Hoku Zuttermeister; and celebrities Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, Keali'i Reichel, and Willie K (the title of his Christmas song "Aloha Kalikimaka" reveals what the K stands for.) Music by the late Israel (Iz) Kamakawiwo'ole is always heard around the islands. 

Candy Cane Train
At Ala Moana Center, our open-air shopping mall, children ride the Candy Cane Train and watch musical productions on Center Stage, the illusion of snow delighting the young at heart. Hula performers draped in colorful regalia entertain with beautifully choreographed, swaying movements.

Santa gets lei-d for the holidays
But it isn't officially the "season to be jolly" until the Santa Claus statue is assembled up on the center's rootftop for all to see!
In Honolulu, jolly ol' St. Nicholas arrives in an outrigger canoe, landing on the shores of Waikiki!

And we do have real snow here. Recently, my cousin reminded me of the snow-covered mountain of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Low temperatures on Maui's Haleakala also attract the white fluffy stuff that folks in the northern states take for granted this time of year.

Hawaiian Menehune
Kalikimaka is Hawaiian for Christmas.
Mele means song or chant; also, merry.
This is truly the locals' traditional way,
Of sending holiday greetings,
To say Merry Christmas. To you.

Aloha Nui Loa,
That's Hawaii's way to say
"a canoe-full of love."

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Flag waving on the USS Bowfin submarine over the waters of Pearl Harbor with the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri in the left background

My first thoughts upon waking this morning were of war and peace, not Tolstoy's epic novel or the end of the Iraqi war, but of a war so many of us wage daily as we strive for peace of mind.

In 1998, I waited with many others who stood along the southern beaches of O’ahu, facing east Waikiki where an extinct volcano jutted into the Pacific Ocean. Slowly, the battleship Missouri drifted around the land mass of Diamond Head, on the last lap of its journey from California to its new permanent home near Pearl Harbor's Arizona Memorial. The ship represented the second bookend of World War II. The peace treaty that ended the war was signed by members of the Japanese and American military on the deck of the Missouri.

I planned to tour the Mighty Mo along with family visiting from the mainland in 2007, only to learn the ship was in dry dock for renovations. My chance finally arrived on December 7, 2011, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor; a fitting day to see the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin.
Are wars inevitable, or is it just an inevitability that we accept wars? Either way, we can still obtain peace in our personal lives. By setting aside quiet time to reflect on the good the world has to offer, we can raise the bar from the low end, up...up...up, until a feeling of peace follows. Which bar? Why, the one that measures our mental state as it drifts between love and hate, happy and sad, courage and fear, or energy and inactivity.

Several weeks ago, an entertaining movie left me giddy with pleasure. Within minutes of exiting the theater, however, I encountered a situation that soured my mood. The rapid decrease of euphoria was disturbing until I realized my state of happiness is self-determined. It was my decision to slip from happy to sad.

Others may place obstacles in your path, but the final say in how you feel is yours. Will you love or hate, be happy or sad, become agitated or remain calm? Wars of the world may be beyond our control. But, ultimately, we maintain our own peace of mind.

Where will you set the bar to have peace in your lifetime?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Funny Bones, Making Bones, Dem Bones

The National Book Award winners were announced on Wednesday and Jesmyn Ward won an award for her novel “Salvage the Bones” about a pregnant teen living on Mississippi’s gulf coast around the time of Hurricane Katrina. I immediately added the title to my TBR list. (Salvage The Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward)

The reason for adding the book to my list wasn’t only because it had won this prestigious award or for my fascination with Hurricane Katrina. For years, books with the word ‘bones’ in the title have been like flashing neon signs for me. I’ve read most of Kathy Reichs’ Bones novels; after watching Seeley Booth race down an embankment to rescue ‘Bones’ from a car buried in gravel, how could I resist?

Before Temperance Brennan, though, I had already read several other books with the skeletal reference included within the title. Recently, I purchased an e-book without realizing a subliminal attraction was the specific word in its title: The Bones of the Kuhina Nui by Michael A Herr.

Unable to select an absolute favorite from the ‘Bones’ books I have read, I am listing my top choices - in no particular order.

Bone Cold by Erica Spindler
The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver
The Bone Garden: A Novel by Tess Gerritsen
Winter’s Bone: A Novel by Daniel Woodrell
City of Bones by Michael Connelly
Bones by Max Allan Collins and Kathy Reichs
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Bones by Jan Burke

Do you have a favorite “Bones” book to recommend? Or a word that pops up often in your list of titles?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mystery, Romance, and a Proper Manuscript Critique

The Sisters In Crime (SinC) Hawaii writers gathered with the Romance Writers of America Hawaii in the Laulima Room of the Hale Koa in Waikiki for a holiday luncheon. Our colorful meal consisted of creamy-broth vegetable soup; chicken breast salad with radish medallions and endive topped with a lemony-flavored dressing; and generous, wedges of cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries.

After gifts were exchanged, we collaborated in . . . what else . . . writing a group story. One person started the project by writing the first lines of a story, the next person added a few thoughts, and each writer along the way offered another segment to the tale of a girl in black-stockings and her encounter with a beer-bellied Santa. Things turned a bit risqué for a moment but got back on track to end with a touch of humor and the desired twist of a romantic mystery, or a mysterious romance novel.

A prop demonstration was next on the agenda. Each participant presented an item representing an author or famous character in a novel. A quill, protest sign, dagger, and a spray of orchids kept everyone guessing and laughing. The hands-down winning prop was a basket containing a puppy-dog named Toto.

Our guest speaker was Patricia Wood, the author of the novel, LOTTERY. With humor and the voice of experience, she entertained and educated us with accounts of her journey to publication. Of special benefit to every writer present, was her description of what is, and is not, a proper manuscript critique.

Copy editing, which includes pointing out errors in grammar, spelling, or sentence structure, has no place in a critique. Patricia stated that, so often before even beginning to read a manuscript, the person grabs a pencil with the intention of marking errors. But a critique is meant for the big picture, she said, a total read-through without any marks!

Prescribing is not part of a good critique either. Suggestions such as, “Give that secondary character more dialogue,” or “Change the direction of the story,” or “Make the protagonist a redhead with a lisp,” are passive-aggressive criticisms couched in the form of helpful critiques, ideas suggesting the writer change the story to what that particular person wants to read, not what the writer wants to write.

A proper critique, Patricia said, addresses such questions as: Does the story hold together? Does the narrative flow properly? And are all the story/plot lines tied up in the end?

Patricia also shared a few tips about how she revises her manuscripts. She begins by reading the first chapter and then the final chapter to see if the story forms a complete arc. She does the same with the second chapter, then the third, to the end, comparing each chapter to the denouement to ensure that everything comes together as planned and nothing gets lost along the way.

Patricia Wood’s novel, LOTTERY, opens with the sentence: “My name is Perry L. Crandall and I am not retarded.” The novel is hailed by author Jacqueline Mitchard as “solid gold.” You will find LOTTERY at

LOTTERY by author Patricia Wood on Amazon

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CHERRIES JUBILEE Sweet Fun & A Tantalizing Experience

My Cherries Jubilee book blog tour has been great fun and a tantalizing learning experience for me as a writer. Like the branches of a bonsai cherry tree, I have branched out in unusual directions to meet new friends and to expand my field of knowledge.

Why would I use the word "tantalizing" to describe the tour? After all, the word derives from Tantalus, the mythical Greek king who was punished in Hades by having to stand up to his chin in water that receded whenever he bent to drink. That is how I felt during the tour, as though so many wonderful readers and fellow authors were tempting me with something I had only considered a pipe dream . . . the possibility of emerging as a viable writer. With such encouragement, I look forward to fulfilling that goal.

To everyone who interviewed me on their blog sites, to those who offered reviews of my novel, and for those who hosted my guest blog or an excerpt of my book, thank you from the bottom of my writer's grateful heart!

The winners have been announced for the Goodreads book giveaway, of FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences. Congratulations to Barb and Nicky. Thank you to the other (would you believe!) 650 entrants who, by entering the contest, demonstrated their support: of Goodreads and of me.

Also, congratulations to everyone who received a free Smashwords ebook download of my novel during the tour. I hope you find the story an enjoyable and suspenseful read!

May all your days be of CHERRIES JUBILEE quality! Today is my birthday and I am now off to celebrate!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Melanie's Have You Heard Book Review

Today, Melanie places the cherry on top of the sundae for my CHERRIES JUBILEE book blog tour with a review of my novel. Melanie, thank you for reading my book, TWICE yet! and offering your comments.

Please visit Melanie's blog site "Have You Heard Book Review" to read her 5-star review of FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sandra "Jeanz" Author Interview

I met Sandra “Jeanz” Keys on Goodreads ( where readers and authors come together to share their thoughts on books they have read, submit book reviews, and participate in numerous other book-related activities.

When Sandra offered to host an interview of me on her site, I readily accepted. Here is an excerpt from one of her posts on Goodreads:

"On the 18th of October Gail Baugniet will be featured on my blog, there will be an author interview and of course a review of her book "For Every Action There Are Consequences" Don't forget to call by and have a little look!"

Also, Sandra's October book giveaway contest is still open for entries, and my novel is one of the books in the giveaway. Please join me now on Sandra’s site for the interview:

Pepper's Chili and a Book Review by Martha A. Cheves

Today my CHERRIES JUBILEE blog tour takes me to author Martha A. Cheves' site for "Pepper's Chili" recipe and Martha's review of my novel, For Every Action.

Martha A. Cheves is the author of several books, including “Stir, Laugh, Repeat ~ Finding Joy While Playing in the Kitchen.” Martha accompanies her recipes with nostalgic story tie-ins, presents alternate possibilities for her recipes, and offers tips to make cooking easier and quicker. Whether you are looking for a variation on preparing chicken or a delicious novelty dessert, Martha has a suggestion for you.

Please hop on over to Martha's A Book and a Dish:

Saturday, October 15, 2011


The second week of my CHERRIES JUBILEE book blog tour was filled with interviews, book reviews, Haiku poetry, Indie Snippets, and lists of "cherry-picked" e-book titles. My celebration Oct 1-22 is two-fold, for the publication of my novel and for my birthday on October 22, so I am giving away 22 copies of my ebook, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences at Smashwords:
7 copies for each week of the blog tour (leave a comment for a chance to win) plus
1 copy in Sandra Jeanz October Book Giveaway. Sandra is interviewing me on her site Oct. 18 so please check back here on Tuesday for further information.

Today, fellow blogger and author, Melissa Bradley, is releasing her new book NATHAN'S ANGEL. As Melissa describes her book: "Sometimes, the laws of Heaven were meant to be broken... " Visit Melissa today to congratulate her on the release of her latest novel Nathan’s Angel

Thumbnail Thoughts on 22 Cherry-Picked Titles Part 2

Can you pick a favorite title?

CHERRIES JUBILEE "thumbnail thoughts" for 22 "cherry-picked" e-books, Part 2, features all Kindle e-books; many are by independent/self-published authors. My eclectic choices range from romantic comedy to mystery, thriller to memoir, no erotica. I admit that book titles influenced my selections.

Each entry consists of a book title; author name; an opening line or heading; and ~ in 22 words or less ~ an incentive for choosing the book. After sorting through over 300 e-books with the word cherry or cherries in the title, I eagerly added 22 titles to my e-reader TBR list. I hope you enjoy reading my CHERRIES JUBILEE “thumbnail thoughts” as much as I enjoyed gathering them.

12. CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES by Shelbie Moore This large, diverse collection of addicting poetry captures emotions, hopes, and fears.
Which poem relates to you: Family Recipes; The Joker; For The Dark Knight fans; Cookie Crumbs; Fish Eye; or Chocolate Covered Cherries?

13. CHERRIES ON TOP by Rowan McAllister. Opening line: “Would you like another, sir?”
After ending a relationship with an abusive girlfriend, Craig finds a no-strings-attached date with Doug may become more than a one-night stand.

14. IF LIFE IS A BOWL OF CHERRIES, WHAT AM I DOING IN THE PITS? by Erma Bombeck. Okay, this isn't a new author, but on a list of books with "cherries" in the title, this just had to appear!

15. PITTED CHERRIES by Sophia White. About Zilla: “Kiss my ass was her motto and she welcomed any and everyone to do so.”
A story of three children in rural Hilton Head left vulnerable as their mother, Zilla, struggles to move on with her life.

16. UNDER THE CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE: An Old Japanese Tale by Allen Say. There were eggs in every bird’s nest, the air buzzed with honeybees, and cherry trees blossomed all at once.
He swallowed a cherry pit and soon a cherry tree grew out of his head ~ a witty retelling of a classic tale.

17. CHERRY-GO-ROUND by Lamar McMann. “I just ain’t interested in no traveling orgy circus,” she said.
Cherry is waiting tables and singing country music at the Dew Drop Inn when a hippie group asks her to join them.

18. CHERRY SOURS by Sean Micheal. A great opening line: “He was more gay by intent than practice.”
I am obviously old-fashioned or showing my age ~ never would have guessed that “Cherry Sours” referred to Gummi Bears!

19. BOWL OF CHERRIES: A Novel by Millard Kaufman. The brilliance of a ninety-year old debut novelist; co-creator of Mr. Magoo and twice-nominated for Academy Awards for screenwriting.
Assama, Paradise, a biblical Garden of Eden. Once a wasteland of roaming lions and panthers. Before Saddam.

20. SWEET CHERRY RAY by Marcia Lynn McClure. “You just keep blendin’ in all easy and such-for now-for yer old pa’s sake.”
One of Cherry Ray’s true delights was her dime novels, Oklahoma Jenny and Arizona Bill being her favorite.

21. CHERRIES COBLER - A Novel by JoHannah Reardon. Cherry is pushing 30 and has a bit of a weight problem. After ten years, her plan to find The One is growing a little thin.

22. CHERRIES - A Vietnam War Novel by John Podlaski. Chapter One, line 2: It was 1970, and just outside the compound, hundreds of hippies and former soldiers picketed and protested against the war.
Drafted and trained for five months ~dubbed “Cherries”~ nothing prepared them for the nightmare of the dense Vietnamese jungles.

Which title sounds the most interesting to you?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thumbnail Thoughts on 22 Cherry-Picked Titles Part 1

Can you pick a favorite?

As part of my CHERRIES JUBILEE book blog tour, I am serving up “thumbnail thoughts” on 22 "cherry-picked" e-books: eleven today and eleven more tomorrow. All are Kindle e-books; most are recently published first novels, many are by independent/self-published authors. My eclectic choices range from romantic comedy to mystery, thriller to memoir, no erotica. I admit that book titles disproportionately influenced my selections.

Each entry consists of a book title; author name; an opening line or heading; and ~ in 22 words or less ~ an incentive for choosing the book. After sorting through over 300 e-books with the word cherry or cherries in the title, I eagerly added 22 titles to my e-reader TBR list. I hope you enjoy reading my CHERRIES JUBILEE “thumbnail thoughts” as much as I enjoyed gathering them.

1. THE CHERRY BLOSSOM and THE PARANG by Geoff Anderson. Opening line: A group of tanned children set up a row of rattan rings on stakes and practised with their blowpipes.
Intrigued and challenged by the title, I have chosen to read this book first ~ to learn the meaning of the word parang.

2. WITH A CHERRY ON TOP by Dee Carney. 1st sentence: "A whirling dervish who somehow made the rolled-into-one aroma of peach cobbler, chocolate chip cookies and key lime pie smell good, barged into Emory's office."
Romantic-comedy with a capital C. When plump exec-chef Keira's job is on the chopping block, will she take it lying down ... err ...

3. WHO GAVE ME THE CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES? by John O. Long. Title of Chapter One: "1989 - The baby was planned, but the kitten was not."
Zany stories about a family of 6 growing up in North Carolina; includes cotillion cooties, zucchini Elvis and ice-cold zombies in togas.

4. THE CHERRY TREE by Bob Lockett. 1st sentence: "High up on the moors surrounding the city of Sheffield there is a Cherry Tree."
A story of marital infidelity, corporate boredom, and the power of nature over common sense.

5. SCENT OF CHERRY by Patty Hardin. Opening sentence: "The scent of cherry pipe tobacco drifts through Angela Caot's kitchen as she prepares to paint the walls."
She doesn't smoke, certainly not a pipe. Who is trying to tell her something and what is the message?

6. BENEATH THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS by Kathy Flanary Nelson and Bera Ellis Moss. Opening lines: "It was March. The Weeping Cherry Blossom had begun to sprout new blooms and that is when Brielle's father purchased the plat of land."
Kerry has lost her sister to cancer and becomes obsessed with the afterlife only to find herself existing between earth and heaven.

7. A BOWL OF CHERRIES: A Memoir by Tekla Dennison Miller. Opening line: "When I heard the first explosion, vibrations shot through my body."
A celebration of triumphs despite adversities ranging from suicide, a tragic accident, domestic violence, kidnapping, and poverty.

8. THE CHERRY PIT by Donald Harington. This is not a first-novel but the first on this author’s list. Some of Mr. Harington’s other unique book titles are: Lightning Bug; The Cockroaches of Stay More; Butterfly Weed; and Thirteen Albatrosses.

9. BARE FEET and CHERRY PIE by Cissy Hasell. "Laws matter little ~ when love finds a way.
In Alabama, you are not allowed to drive while barefoot. Worse, in Kansas it's illegal to put ice cream on cherry pie.

10. CHERRY HEAVEN by L.J. Adlington. The narrator describes a difficult lesson, that "you only find out what the Rules are when you break them."
A sequel, ten years after a war, this book was first published in Great Britain in 2007 by Hodder Children's Books.

11. CAN SHE BAKE A CHERRY PIE? by Jaye Watson. No opening sentence needed, the title's question caught my attention. Add to that its genre: A Novel Byte Mystery. Finally, for the cherry on the top: the title page lists the home of Uncial Press as Aloha, Oregon. 'Nuff said.

Which title did you pick as your favorite?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Indie Snippets With Bryan R. Dennis

My CHERRIES JUBILEE blog tour continues through October 22. On Friday and Saturday, I will share two lists of my TBR e-Books. Each of the 22 titles, in keeping with the theme of my tour, has the word “cherry” or “cherries” in the title. Research for the list was a hoot!

Martha A. Cheves, Sandra "Jeanz" Keys, and James Wallace Birch have graciously offered to host author interviews with me next week. Yikes, talk about exposing myself!

Today at Indie Snippets, Bryan R. Dennis is showcasing a "snippet" from my mystery/suspense novel, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences. There is so much to read at Bryan's site, including other authors' snippets, featured books, and short blurbs of popular posts. Bryan has two novels available on Amazon, one recently released. I enjoy reading stories set in Las Vegas and look forward to reading An Epitaph for Coyote: A Novel. Who could resist such a title?

Visit Indie Snippets by clicking on the blog title above: Indie Snippets With Bryan R. Dennis.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Week #2 of my CHERRIES JUBILEE book blog tour begins today! I met some wonderful new people during the first week and had the opportunity to share 7 copies of my ebook with readers. This week I will give away another 7 Smashwords downloads of FOR EVERY ACTION. If you enjoy a suspenseful mystery, please leave a comment for me here or with Kate at Back of the Books Reviews for a chance to win a copy.

Best 'O Books Reviews by Rae:

Back of the Book Reviews by Kate:

Also this week:
11. Susie Kline book review:

12. Haiku Around the Web
13. Indie Snippets:
14. My TBR list of Indie authors "Cherry" novels ~ Part 1

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When Life Gives You Cherries . . . CELEBRATE !!!

When life gives you cherries, celebrate with a Cherries Jubilee. During my October 1-22, 2011 tour, I am celebrating the publication of my first novel (and my birthday month) by giving away two signed print copies of my book, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences.

You can sign up through October 22, 2011 for a chance to win a copy by clicking on "Enter to Win" in the Goodreads Book Giveaway button located to the right > > > > > >

Also, everyone who comments on a participating blog in my October tour (see Week #1 links below) becomes eligible to win a free Smashwords eBook download of FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences, available in your choice of multiple formats for your computer or eReader.

In October, I will give away 22 eBook copies of my novel. 7 people have received their copies during the first week already. Within the next two weeks, I will give away 14 more copies of my eBook through Smashwords. And the 22nd free copy is featured on JeanzBookReadNReview blog site for her October eBook giveaway jeanz-october-giveaway .

Gail's CHERRIES JUBILEE Week #1 October 1-8, 2011 Book Blog Tour:

1. Blog Talk Radio interview with Coral Russell at alchemyofscrawl alchemyofscrawl
2. Goodreads contest open through October 22, 2011, for your chance to win a free, signed copy of my mystery novel, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences: Goodreads Book Giveaway Contest
3. Albert Robbins III interviews me on
4. Guest post on alchemyofscrawl and book review by Coral Russell:
5. A.F. Stewart interviews me on
6. Using Genealogy Research as a Writing Tool: Asymmetrical Branches of a Family Tree
7. A Sweet Way to End a Yom Kippur Fast, with Anthony Stemke:
8. Darcia Helle's "A Great Read" book review of FOR EVERY ACTION and more about Darcia:

Friday, October 7, 2011


"A Great Read" is how Darcia Helle titled her review of my first mystery novel, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences. This is an excerpt from her review:

Pepper Bibeau is an insurance investigator who unwittingly gets wrapped up in a murder mystery. Set in the sixties, before cell phones and computers took over our existence, Pepper has to do things the old fashioned way - by speaking to people in person and being available for landline phone calls. References are made to the political and social issues of the late sixties but not to the point where younger readers unfamiliar with the era would have difficulty understanding things.

... various subplots woven through the entire story ... all comes together in a well-crafted, tangled mystery.

For Every Action is the first in a planned Pepper Bibeau series. I'm looking forward to the next one!

* * * * * *

Darcia Helle is the author of several mystery novels, including NO JUSTICE (A Michael Sykora novel). The title initially caught my attention because Sykora is the maiden name of my mother's great grandmother. For me, everything relates to genealogy. And, yes, a book's title is an important consideration for the reader.

You can check out the full list of Darcia's books available on
NO JUSTICE by Darcia Helle

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Today for my "Cherries Jubilee" blog tour, I want you to meet a fellow blogger whose fabulous site offers some of the most colorfully illustrated recipes on the Web:
"Grits and Groceries: Anthony Stemke".

Yom Kippur, which begins today at sundown, is the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is considered the holiest and most solemn day on the Jewish calendar. Because this is a fast day, it is appropriate to wish Jewish friends an "Easy Fast."

In September of 2010, Anthony suggested Cherry Sweet Noodle Kugel as a sweet way to break the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur. Please join Anthony on his Grits and Groceries blog site: Grits and Groceries: Anthony Stemke
and learn how to bake his Cherry Sweet Noodle Kugel. Stay to explore his myriad recipes ranging from Turkey Hash on Earth Day and Chicken Tikka Masala to Real Cool Soup (made with berries.)

Which recipe did you find most appetizing? Comment below for a chance to win a free Smashwords download of my novel, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Asymmetrical Branches of a Family Tree

The spreading branches and leaves on the limb of a family tree look a bit like this accompanying print of a cherry tree branch. Nothing about a cherry tree's branches or the branches of a family tree are perfectly symmetrical or coordinated.

For over ten years, genealogical research has been an important avocation for me.

Yesterday, in my interview with A.F Stewart (see her blog site: afstewart interviews gailmbaugniet ) I mentioned creating a family of characters for Pepper Bibeau, my novel’s protagonist. This enabled me to develop Pepper’s back-story while providing a full cast of characters to draw from for this and future novels in the series.

Using information from the vital records I had compiled over a ten-year period, I also wrote this short family history for my great, great grandparents who emigrated from French Belgium.


Much has been written of the emigration of Belgian citizens and the hardships they endured to make a better life for their families.

Clement and Augustine had been married for fourteen years and had three young sons when they made the voyage by ship across the Atlantic Ocean in 1856. They left behind many loved ones: relatives, friends, and neighbors. Although Clement’s mother, Elizabeth, had died three years before the journey, his father, Andre, was still alive at the age of 82. Their youngest son, Frederic Joseph, was only eight months old when they sailed out of Antwerp. Before they were able to make a return trip to their homeland, Clement’s father died in 1858 and his sister, Marie Catherine, died in 1861.

Through these difficult times, Clement and Augustine found reasons to rejoice. The boys remained healthy and were able to labor alongside their father on the heavily wooded farmland located near the East Twin River, acreage Clement purchased in a quiet farming town in eastern Wisconsin.

In 1867, Clement and Augustine celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Within ten years, all of their sons were married, their youngest on the final day of 1877. Their celebrations included neighboring farm families who owned land adjacent to or near their homestead. Eventually, most of the neighbors became branches of the family tree as grandchildren married.

When Augustine died in 1890, she was interred in the burial ground behind the local church. Clement died two years later and was buried beside her. Their 17th grandchild, Arthur Thomas, was born the following year, 1893, in the same small town where Clement and Augustine settled decades earlier.

Least we forget the hardships they endured and the opportunities their actions offered to us, their descendents, it is important to record our family’s history. May their memories, along with their hopes and dreams, live in us and continue to inspire the constant striving for betterment imbued in the zealous Belgian spirit.

For pictures and articles about my visit to Belgium in 2007, visit this link: genealogy trip, Belgium, 2007

Not Normal Cocktail Party Talk

The words in the title of this blog post are part of an answer I gave during my interview today with A.F. Stewart at her blog site.

Ms. Stewart is located in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a writer who likes sci-fi and fantasy, mysteries and history. I am most appreciative that she agreed to hold this interview during my "Cherries Jubilee" blog tour. Please click on her blog site to read how the "cocktail" comment applies to my writing >>>> A.F. Stewart’s blog

If you would like to receive a free Smashwords download of my e-Book novel FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences, please include in your comment below a Jeopardy-style question for my "cocktail" answer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cherries Jubilee Day 4

There have been many variations on the idea of flambéed fruit, the most famous being Bananas Foster. Ever since the days of visiting my sister and brother-in-law in New Orleans, that has been one of my favorite desserts.
Variations include Mangos Diablo (mangos flambéed in tequila) and Pêches Louis (peaches flamed in whiskey). Now that I live in Hawaii, anything with mango tops my list also.

Coral Russell invited me to guest post at her blog site today. Please join Coral and me at Alchemy of Scrawl: alchemyofscrawl

Please leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for a free Smashwords download of my Pepper Bibeau mystery, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Blog Tour Interview

Today on my Cherries Jubilee blog tour, I am a guest at Albert Robbins III's terrific Indie Author site.

Please hop over to check out my interview and stay awhile to explore his many great author interviews and book reviews:
Albert Robbins III book tour interview

It is always best to experiment with recipes before passing them along. Last evening I combined the few ingredients for Cherries Jubilee listed in a recipe I found on the Web. Then I set a match to the "jubilee" part. Once the flames died down and I snipped away the singed hair, everyone enjoyed the melted vanilla ice cream with smoked cherries. I plan to use less brandy next time or stick with Cherry Vanilla Haagen Dazs.

Today I am giving away two free Smashwords copies of my e-Book novel, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences. For a chance to win, please leave a comment about the controversial topic I discussed in the interview at:
Albert Robbins III book tour interview.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Rememberance

In silent contemplation
And with love, I remember
The heroes of 9/11

My prayers today extend to all
Those who died for this country
And to those who survived

With pride, I pledge my allegiance
Secure in the knowledge that

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wisconsin Dairyland

This week I am making last minutes arrangements for a visit to my home state of Wisconsin. My last trip there was in March, 2010, to attend my mother's funeral. She had celebrated her 93rd birthday the previous June, still revelling in that eternal childhood pleasure of being "Queen For A Day."

A two-week trip to the mainland no longer involves the preparation it once required. With the prohibitive cost of checking luggage, I pack only the essentials and enough clothes to get me through to laundry day. My "essentials" consist mostly of electronics:

>cell phone,
>netbook, and
>Kindle e-reader.

Visiting with family and friends is the best part of a trip to my home state. The second best is the food.
To me, Wisconsin means:

-- Perch plates (fresh-caught lake perch ~ butterflied, breaded, then fried and served with German potato salad and cole slaw, foaming beer on the side.)
-- Cheese curds, those rubbery odd-shaped globs of dairy product that squeak against your teeth when you bite down.
-- Hard-packed ice cream from the town that invented the Ice Cream Sundae!

And I'll see lots of green and gold, the team colors of the NFL's Superbowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers. What more could I ask for?

My trip to Wisconsin is late this year, but that won't make it any less enjoyable. Where did you spend your most relaxing vacation?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tension Mystery Drama

To me, developing scenarios and moving them forward, backward, or sideways is more fun than watching monkeys swing upside down in a tree.

The second novel of my Pepper Bibeau mystery series is well underway with all the plot lines established. Now that I understand each of the characters’ roles, and how they've decided to act, I am ready to add the full weight of their reactions. That's the fun part.

After reading and rereading Donald Maass’ The Fire In Fiction, I know the most important task of writing is to create conflict for or within my characters. Conflict creates tension, mystery, and drama. It carries the threat of failure, something to which I can relate. Most people can.

Why does the threat of failure create such stress?
1. The father of seven doesn’t get the promotion that would include a much needed raise - will the family have enough to eat?
2. A young girl who doesn’t know how to swim falls into the deep end of the community pool - will she make it to the pool’s edge?
3. A strong wind causes a harsh drop in temperature - will the hikers survive?
Anyone can easily bring a scenario to its logical conclusion, but a good writer will continue to raise the stakes and tension, until that conclusion is reached.

A missed promotion or lost raise means less money for food. Unhealthy meals may lead to weakened brain power causing:
... lower grade scores for the child struggling to concentrate;
... slower reaction time in the mother cooking at a hot stove or carrying a squirming baby;
... reduced quality of critical-thinking for the father in his job as a stock broker or vehicle assembly lineman or construction crane operator.
Knowing that the result of one or more of these consequences can be deadly creates tension.

***If the young girl who falls into the pool can’t swim, and the gathering of people is loud, her distress might go unnoticed until it is too late.
***Or when her friend jumps in to save her, the girl panics and they both drown.
***Another possibility is that someone knows the girl can't swim and pushes her in, then covers her shouts for help by turning up a boom box to top volume, which leads to a CSI-type mystery.

A group of people climbing one of Alaska’s snow-covered mountains is unprepared for the drastic drop in temperature.
### Unable to reach shelter, and without proper clothing, two members curl up in the snow and freeze to death.
### Maybe the group brought tents, but one person wanders away from camp in a disoriented state and dies of exposure.
### Or worse, there isn’t enough room in the sheltered area, and the person who draws the short straw is exposed to a subzero wind chill factor. Drama ensues.

Whatever your choice of genre, what intrigues you most about a novel and keeps you reading: tension, mystery, or drama?

You can find The Fire In Fiction on Kindle:
The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Choosing Between Coffee and Chocolate

Is it fair to ask you to choose between two simple and relatives inexpensive caffeine pleasures, coffee and chocolate? I didn’t think so.

While reading the morning newspaper on Kindle, I enjoy two cups of freshly brewed coffee, usually 10% Kona but this week 100% Molokai dark roast. For me, beginning the day slowly is sort of a pleasant, guilt-free ritual. For years, I awoke to a clanging alarm clock, rushed through breakfast and morning tasks, then traveled to my place of work, whether across town, miles down the highway, or merely a few short blocks' walk. It was the choice I made when I was sixteen years old and continued to make for decades. Now that I can stay home and compile stories at my own pace, another choice freely made, I appreciate the more relaxed lifestyle.

Recently, I attended an informal talk given at the Duty-Free Shop in Waikiki by an author and coffee aficionado. Shawn Steiman earned his doctorate in Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i. One of his comments, something to the effect that coffee opens the mind and clarifies thinking, stuck with me. Could this reasoning apply to my writing? It was an idea worth some thought.

It isn’t necessary for me to have a clear idea of what I want to express when I first transform my thoughts into written words, I reasoned. But once the thoughts are on paper, I need to convert those ideas into a comprehensible format for others to easily understand. The mystery within a novel should not remain a mystery after the reader finishes the story. If I understood Shawn correctly, a cup of coffee, once consumed, should open my mind and give me the ability to clarify important details.

Yes, I know, the writing process still requires that I bring all the tools with me to the coffee table.

Shawn’s book, The Hawai‘i Coffee Book - A Gourmet’s Guide from Kona to
Kaua‘i also peaked my interest in coffee production and the diverse varieties
of coffees grown here in the islands. Some are even described as having a “chocolate character” so there really is no need to choose between coffee and chocolate. You can have your chocolate, and drink it too.

Knowing your brain needs stimulation to function properly, and assuming you have eaten all your vegetables, could you make a choice between that cuppa joe and a chunk of Belgian chocolate?

Click on the link below to check out Shawn Steiman's book:
The Hawai’i Coffee Book

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Writing Sparks Old Memories

Have you ever researched a topic and found yourself immersed in memories?

As a child, I was not afraid of bugs. We lived in what was considered the country as our house was located four miles north of the small town's main street.

In our yard, we had boysenberry shrubs filled with pebble-sized berries. My two older brothers told me I couldn't eat the juicy red and purple-colored fruit because they were "poison berries." I believed them, of course.

Blushing Bride hydrangea hedges bordered the south and east edges of the yard. Beyond the hedge on the east were open farm fields, to the south a cemetery. In the crook of the right-angle hydrangea hedges were a few scattered rose bushes, the kind with large country blossoms. The bugs crawling around all this greenery were called rose chafers.

These little bugs, smaller than your baby fingernail, found their way into my current Work-In-Progress novel. While researching the rose chafer, not for any bug-like traits or description, but for the correct spelling, I relived some of those childhood days when concerns about poison berries and rose chafers measured the depth of my worries.

Thanks to the Internet and dusty back rooms of libraries or Register of Deeds offices, I love the research process. Whether for a novel or a genealogy project, it is a pleasure to ignite that spark.

What sparks old memories for you?

For more information on chafers and hedges click on:
rose chafers
Blushing Bride Hydrangea

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


About a century ago, Chicago canals destroyed a separation between the Mississippi River and one of the healthier Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. Then, an infestation of Asian carp into the Mississippi River basin threatened a carp invasion of Lake Michigan. With this threat came discussions on how best to reduce or eliminate the Asian carp population before it overran or destroyed the delicate ecosystem of Lake Michigan.

Selling Asian carp to Chinese residents for their daily meals seemed reasonable. Except the cost of fresh carp in China was less than the price of a days’ old catch from America. Then someone decided to offer the fish to Chinese restaurant owners, using enticing words like
“wild catch”
to describe their product. The marketing plan worked and fish sales jumped.

Whether the sale of fish to China will alleviate the problem of infestation in America has yet to be determined, and remains a topic for another day. The point is that the right words can mitigate or intensify a situation, generate success or failure.

During an argument between husband and wife over the preparation of breakfast, the words “You always season the eggs wrong” will likely garner a less favorable response than “Can you use less salt tomorrow?” One emphasizes the negative, the other offers hope ... or at least helps the cook save face.

The right words can also make or break a novel’s scene or an entire story. Bland dialogue or action without reaction does not heighten tension. The words "mowed lawn surrounded by trees" does not conjure up pleasurable images as easily as "fresh-cut grass bordered by shrubs of blossoming hibiscus."

Can you taste the drizzle of lime juice on a fresh-cut papaya; smell the hint of cinnamon in apple pie cooling on the kitchen counter; feel the itch of a healing surgical incision; enjoy the sight of rain clouds after an extended drought; hear a faint sob of dispair near the closed casket?

Using the right words can activate a child's imagination, avert an argument, stimulate an emotional response, or even make a sale that might reverse the infestation of a lake.

Is there anything more powerful than words?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ju-dy, Ju-dy, Ju-dy

Remember Cary Grant’s distinctive voice purring: Ju-dy, Ju-dy, Ju-dy?

Okay, all you Cary Grant aficionados already know that he never repeated the name in Only Angels Have Wings or any other movie, though he did say "Susan, Susan, Susan" in Bringing Up Baby.

Yesterday at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, I stopped to talk with a friend who has managed one of the mall’s kiosks for several years. Judy suffered a setback a while ago when she tripped on a sidewalk curb and sustained multiple injuries. Her strong disposition and desire to remain active helped her to heal quickly. She continues to hold a positive attitude and always calls me by name as she greets me with a smile.

Thinking about that smile reminded me of my friend Judy in Minneapolis whom I haven’t seen in years. She always liked to say we were best buddies. We worked together for an insurance company on the hill whose image was all-important. They had once instructed the maintenance crew to spray-paint dead spots in the sprawling front lawn to improve its appearance before “the big bosses” came to visit. Judy found humor in situations like this and her bubbly laughter was contagious.

During my brief reverie, I wondered what might have triggered the thoughts about friends named Judy. Surely, seeing one smiling friend at the mall wasn’t a strong catalyst. I quickly realized that another Judy, a close high school friend, had been on my mind for weeks.

When I arranged to visit my home town of Two Rivers a few years ago, I made plans to meet several friends at a favorite gathering place. They surprised me with an unexpected guest, Judy. We talked about old times, indulging in uninhibited excess as we devoured our favorite pizza combinations and pitchers of ice cold beer.

Despite a beatific smile, Judy’s blue eyes held a perpetual gleam that revealed a devilish personality. Too soon, she died last month.

Everyone has a Judy in their lives, a friend whose smile lights up the room or brings a tear of joy at the thought of pleasant memories. Even if, rather than Judy, the name is Jesse, or Kris, or . . . .

Monday, June 27, 2011

Really, You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Recently, I asked fellow writers: In A Novel, Should the "Facts" Ring True?

Most authors perform in-depth research before completing their work. They do not want readers drawn out of the story by information that is blatantly false. In some genres, Science Fiction and Fantasy for example, an entire world is created by the writer, and truth is whatever the author creates for that world. But in genres such as Mystery, Romance, and Thrillers, generally accepted truths matter. That is why a newspaper article I read yesterday took me by surprise.

For my novels, research includes reading newspaper articles at the local library (local to the novel's setting), for the dates and locations of the story. As the tale progresses, I also check the Internet and various reference books to verify dates, medical facts, and name derivatives. I don't want a reader to wonder, "Where did she ever get that idea?"

In that frame of mind, I read with disbelief a detailed news article. A man walked into a hospital ... sounds like a take on the old joke, a man walked into a bar ... but this is no joke! The hospital checked his medical coverage, checked his I.D., then checked his heart and told him he was a “ticking time bomb.” He scheduled and they performed heart surgery on him. Days later the man died. His family plans to sue. Only one problem, the man used someone else's medical card and I.D.

If an author used this scenario in a novel you were reading, wouldn't you have a few misgivings about the feasibility of such an occurrence? What is the first question that pops into your head?

After sharing your answer, you can read the full story here:

Monday, June 6, 2011


Reporters write articles about
     our right to freedom;
Poets elequently express
     the ongoing fight for freedom;
Demonstrators protest 
     those who would deny us our freedom;
And courtroom attorneys battle
to prevent our loss of freedom.

Today, everyday, is the time
to remember the purpose of
the reporter's story, the poignant poems,
the demonstrations, the legal battles;
To remember those
who chose to protect and defend, 
who fought and died
The men and women of our Military.

Photo of Punchbowl Memorial Day by Gail M Baugniet

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Traditional Memorial Day

Traditionally, Memorial Day is set aside for all Americans to remember the men and women who died while in service to our country. The day, variously known as Decoration Day and Poppy Day, was officially proclaimed by General John Logan. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, small American flags are placed at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones.

On January 19, 1999, Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye (a decorated war hero of WWII introduced a bill which proposed to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May." To date, this has not occurred.

This year, however, May 30th falls on the last Monday in May and Memorial Day will be observed on the traditional date. Another easily followed tradition is to observe a moment of silence at 3pm (1500 hrs.) your local time in honor of those who have died in service to our country. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Photo Ops and Toasts

Today is the official start of my "Ravens With Writing Desks" critque group, a subgroup of Guppies, which is a subgroup of the National Sisters In Crime. Five of us writers have manuscript WIPs (Works In Progress) that we will  submit, chapter by chapter, for critiques, suggestions, and comments. Given a choice, I'd select this as one of the most beneficial forms of improving my writing.

It is next to impossible to spot all of ones own errors:

*repetitive use of favorite words
*redundant phrases
*neglected subplot lines

Could you make it through a complete novel if the main character's sidekick started every sentence with, "Well, like, you know ..." or if everytime the bad guy came on scene, his actions were described in narrative and then with flowing dialogue: Lenny tripped on the sidewalk as he stealthily moved toward the house. He almost fell, but after a moment of windmilling his arms, he caught himself. "Gees," Lenny thought, as he grabbed onto the porch rail, "I almost fell when I tripped over that sidewalk."  

How often have you finished reading a book only to sit back and wonder what. ever. happened. to Miss James after she left the coffee shop with the protagonist's favorite pair of red shoes? Or why. did. that. neighbor choose to turn on his lawn sprinklers at midnight, conveniently allowing him to witness a break-in next door?

Neglected subplot lines don't always mean the death of a novel. But if a reader hones in on a colorful bit of information and spends the balance of the novel looking for its purpose, when she reaches the denouement with nothing to satisfy her curiosity, you can bet disappointment will follow. Can you afford to alienate even one reader? I'd rather take my licks with a harsh critique.

So, what is the purpose of my opening picture?
It is a chuck of Alaskan glacier resting on an ice cooler, and I thought it would make one heck of an "On The Rocks" to toast whatever deserves toasting today!

Okole Maluna (Hawaiian/Bottoms Up)
Kanpai (Japanese/Good Health)
Prost  (German)

Teaching has ruined more American novelists than drink.
-Gore Vidal

"It takes only one drink to get me drunk.
The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth."
-George Burns

Got this scenic shot with my little digital
My Perfect Glacier 'Photo Op' at Prince William Sound

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Last Frontier

Cook Inlet with soaring eagle,
and backdrop of Mt. McKinley 
Tourist brochures, as well as local vehicle license plates, proclaim the 49th state 'The Last Frontier.' They're not just referring to the far reaches of gold-rush country in Yukon Territory or the frigid Arctic wilderness of Alaska's world-famous Iditarod Trail to Nome. Breathtaking scenery at every turn validates this claim.

A day's train ride south to Seward, a road trip by car to Wasilla (no sightings of former governor, Sarah Palin), even a walk down Anchorage's West 4th Ave. to Cook Inlet gave us a glimpse - or an eyeful - of what frontier means:

Unexplored territory
Region of backcountry
Outer limits

Captain James Cook and his crew weren't the only living creatures to travel between Alaska and Hawaii. I had hoped to spot a few friendly humpback whales that had wintered in Hawaiian waters and survived the arduous trip home through the Pacific. Though not to be, we were blessed with a sighting of their smaller cousins, a pod of excitable, black and white porpoises that flitted from bow to stern of our Klondike Express catamaran until everyone had a plethora of photos to show family back in the Lower 48, or in my case, 5-0. 

Today is Armed Forces Day, a day to extend a heartfelt thank you to all retired U.S. military and to members who currently serve our country. Most importantly, we remember all those who have given their lives to defend our freedom.

Alaska has played an important role in American military history since WWII.

Did you know the only successful invasion of American territory since the War of 1812 was in the Aleutians during WWII?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Eight days of vacation in Alaska with no panned gold to show for it! Now three days to warm up and recuperate!

I've unpacked, done the laundry, downloaded all my pictures, bought new earrings (lost one at the airport) and stocked up on chocolate bars. Now to get back into the swing of things!

Stay tuned for photographs of late-night sunsets and amazing glaciers!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Typalyzer for Blog

Before the April A to Z blog challenge, I vistied Joanna Campbell Slan's blog and read her 4-1-09  post about analyzing blogs.

She analyzed all the blogs she participates in with the Blog Typeanalyzer (Blog Typeanalyzer) which uses concepts from the Myers-Briggs personality test to analyze the writing style in a blog. The concept is that the writing style reflects the persona used by the blogger in writing the posts.

The analysis indicates that the author of (that's me!) is of the type:

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment and are highly skilled at seeing and fixing what needs to be fixed. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Check out the April 13, 2009 post at Joanna's blog:

and take the test for yourself:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

indie books featured

This week I discovered a new blog site for indie authors. N.L. Earnshaw features a new author's work each day with a synopsis of the book, the author's bio, and select interview questions.

This is a terrific site to find new indie authors with all their pertinent information right at your fingertips.

I hope you'll check out my interview and explore the many authors and genres featured on Nadine's site ... just click on the title of this article. And, if you're an indie author, arrange for your own interview!

Friday, April 8, 2011

HAPPY AS A LARK #SundayHaiku

Happy Hibiscus Haiku

Happy as a Lark
Happy-Go-Lucky, Carefree
Happiness is Gold

A major goal of humankind is to be happy. Is it possible for people to set goals that will measure up when they’ve reached their happy place?
Maybe something like, I’ll be happy when I:

A. Accumulate a million dollars.
B. Sell 100,000 novels or 100 residential homes.
C. Drop to 110 lbs.; Fit into a size-10 dress;
D. Get the kids through college.

After all these years, I’ve finally discovered something worth it’s weight in gold. I am happy when I’m writing and firing on all pistons; when the Hawaiian sun is shining; when I find my coffee cup - and the Kona coffee in it is still hot. Little, everyday things that make me smile are always welcome in my happy place.

It is my belief that, as the expression goes: happiness is the journey, not the destination.

What smile-inspiring events reside in your happy place?