Friday, April 30, 2021

Zealous Research: Why I Love It! #AtoZChallenge2021

Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, news articles, or physical travel. When asked what I most enjoy about the research process of writing, I look back to my second novel because it is set in my home state. 

Lambeau Field
Green Bay, Wisconsin
For DEADLY AS NATURE, the second novel in my Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, I returned to my home state of Wisconsin and spent a couple of weeks revisiting old stomping grounds, especially restaurants like Krolls and Coaches Corner, to refresh my memory.

Some of the highlights of my research trip to the eastern portion of the state included meandering drives around the countryside and along the shores of Lake Michigan; a ferry boat ride from the tip of Door County Peninsula to Washington Island; a tour of an ostrich farm; the sight of a beach made up of limestone pebbles polished by millenniums of wave action; experiencing Packerland and cheese curds anew; and eating fresh perch.

Ostrich Farm on Washington Island
Guide is holding an ostrich egg

Pebble-filled beach on Washington Island
(School House Beach)

My research also included visits to local Wisconsin libraries to view past newspapers, and an interview with a Brown County Police Sergeant. My relevant reading material consisted of such eclectic topics as medical procedure, hypothermia, special breeds of dogs, a 1970 Green Bay Packers - L.A. Rams football game, roofing, roses, and rose chafers. 

Is it any wonder I remain zealous about the research process of writing a novel!


Thank you for visiting today and throughout April. This year's AtoZChallenge has been another great experience and I am so happy to have met or reconnected with many wonderful bloggers. The Scavenger Hunt for designated words for each letter of the alphabet was quite a challenge within a challenge and added to the fun. I'm still short a few but will continue scavenging and will include a detailed list in a follow-up post.

Aloha nui!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Yawny (not Yanni) #AtoZChallenge2021

My word choice for today may have sparked thoughts for you of the spectacular Greek-American composer, keyboardist, pianist, and music producer, Yanni. As it did for me, and I immediately headed over to YouTube to indulge in a few of his top hits, including One Man's Dream and Santorini. And, of course, Standing in Motion.

So easy to relax and reenergize in the presence of genius.

Also energizing is the act of yawning. Yawny is an adjective characterized by or producing yawning. Yawning and stretching is possibly beneficial for brain temperature regulation. You may feel yawny when your body wants to wake itself up. The yawn helps stretch the lungs and allows the body to flex its muscles and joints. Blood forced to your face and brain also increase alertness. 

My research on yawning began several weeks ago, after a routine teeth cleaning appointment at my dentist's office. Near the end of the procedure, my face began to feel strange and I quickly sat up in the chair. That's when my jaw slipped out of joint. With this large ball protruding from the left side of my face, I could still talk and felt no pain. The dentist told me to gently massage the cheek, which I did, and after about a minute the jaw slipped back into place and life went on.

But now when I feel yawny, my first inclination is to stifle the urge as a precaution against opening my mouth like the lion in the above photo, none too eager to have my jaw displaced again. My research suggests this is not an unusual occurrence and once it happens, it may likely reoccur.

No one I asked has ever had this happen to them. Did you or someone you know ever experience a dislocated jaw not caused by trauma?

(669) YANNI - “One Man’s Dream” (Live At The Acropolis 1993) ! 1080p Digitally Remastered & Restored HD ! - YouTube

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Xylocarp and Coconuts #AtoZChallenge2021

My AtoZChallenge theme for 2021 is Novel Research - novel meaning interesting, different, unusual. Most of my posts pertain to topics I have researched in the past. For this year's letter "X" though, I had to do some current research. Definitions for the word xylocarp describe a hard woody pericarp (outer layer) of a fruit, or a hard woody fruit that grows on trees; and the example consistently listed is the coconut: botany, a fruit such as a coconut having a hard woody pericarp (outer layer). A perfect "X" word for me. Sometimes, the stars align rather well

Hawaii is synonymous with coconuts. Every day I drink refreshing and hydrating coconut water, and I  sprinkle coconut flakes into my smoothies.  What is a Pina Colada or Blue Hawaii without cream of coconut or coconut milk? A Lava Flow without coconut rum?  

Lava Flow

A ubiquitous Hawaiian dessert, haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based delicacy often found at luaus and other local gatherings in Hawaii. Over the decades, it has become a popular topping for white cake, especially at weddings. Although considered a pudding, the consistency of haupia resembles a gelatin and is most often served in small blocks.

Visitors to Hawaii enjoy watching locals demonstrate the art of climbing a coconut tree to claim a ripe fruit. I, on the other hand, prefer to find my coconuts in the fruit section of the grocery story or farmer's market.

How does coconut play a role in your diet?


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Whale Migration Between Alaska and Hawaii #AtoZChallenge2021


Whale watching is a popular tourist activity, whether in Alaska or Hawaii. 

Talk about snowbirds! 

Every year, around November, humpback whales leave their Alaskan home waters and travel south to Hawaii. The adults don't eat for the duration of their stay in Hawaiian waters. They fill up on good stuff like krill, small fish, and crustaceans before they begin their journey from the Gulf of Alaska. Their 3000 mile journey can take anywhere from 36 days to 6 weeks.

Arriving in Hawaii, they concentrate on mating and giving birth, fasting and relying on stored energy. Their newly born calves are the only ones who "Eat Hawaiian." 

One year I participated in a whale count of migrating whales off Magic Island in Honolulu, the project coordinated around the islands by the Pacific Whale Foundation and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. 

Ala Moana Beach Park
Magic Island in background

By April or May, the whales are ready to take the show back on the road (or, I should say, ocean) and head north to Alaska. Once, when I cruised the waters around Anchorage in May, I looked for whales I might have spotted earlier in Honolulu but didn't recognize any of them. Once resettled in their Alaskan home waters, they probably fatten up quickly!

Actually, I saw lots of snow, but no whales!

My sister made sure our Hawaiian Islands cruise was set during the whale watching season 2020, but then the cruise was cancelled (postponed?) and I settled for editing and publishing my latest novel, Island Cruise Homicide, which admittedly is more cruise than homicide but a nice window into the Hawaiian Islands. As the saying goes, "Lucky we live Hawaii."


Monday, April 26, 2021

Village Cemetery #AtoZChallenge2021

During the research process of my fourth mystery, Neshoto Junction Homicide, I visited several cemeteries in the eastern half of Wisconsin. When ancestors came to Wisconsin in the 1800s, from France and Ireland by way of Quebec, they settled along the rivers flowing to Lake Michigan. Some relatives bought land and built homes in the Town of Mishicot (the village was not incorporated until 1950.) Although a few relatives were buried in the cemetery behind Holy Cross Church, most are buried in the village cemetery.

Baugniet section of village cemetery
Gravestones for Frederick and Macila are front-right

One of my research projects on the internet uncovered an interesting unsolved Mishicot mystery recorded in the Town of Mishicot meeting minutes. One entry shows that the town paid a Mr. Baugniet about $3 monthly to care for a "Mrs. Mishicott" at the Mishicot Poor House, which had been built in 1870 to care for those who couldn't care for themselves. Potawatomi officials say their chiefs could have had up to four wives. So the question remains: did one of them stay in Mishicot after Chief Mishicott left the area in 1862?

Later, according to another entry in the minutes, Mr. Baugniet was paid $7 for a casket to bury Mrs. Mishicott. But where was she buried? Speculation is that she was buried in the village cemetery, in a part that was often called potters field.

As for Mr. Baugniet, the only male Baugniet living in Mishicot at the time who would have been age-appropriate to care for the woman was my great grandfather, Frederick Baugniet. He and his wife, Macila, are both buried in the village cemetery.

1855 - 1931
1861 - 1934




Saturday, April 24, 2021

Unabomber on Display #AtoZChallenge2021

Research often spawns more research. While writing one of my AtoZ2021 posts, Notorious Prisoners - Orphan and Prodigy, which I initially titled Alcatraz Prisoners, I mentioned the Unabomber. Curious about any updates on the captured prisoner, I then learned that he is housed in Colorado at Alcatraz East where they have a museum containing a display of items about the now 75-year-old Ted Kaczynski. (More questions led me to even more research: according to Wikipedia, his original hand-written 35k word manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future, was auctioned off along with typed copies and the typewriters to raise money for his victims.)

Among the items on display in the exhibit at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum that focuses on the Unabomber are his passport photos. Also included in the display is a postal scale that the Unabomber used to determine postage for mailing his packages. The scale was discovered in his Montana cabin along with a finished bomb ready to be mailed. The arrest of the Unabomber was made without incident when a forest service agent and FBI agents approached his cabin and stated they were doing a property survey and might need to cut down a tree.

Also on display at the museum is a wanted poster for Belle Starr, reward: $750.00. An American outlaw, Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr associated with the James-Younger Gang and other outlaws. Convicted of horse theft in 1883, she was fatally shot in 1889. The case was never officially solved.

1933 Hudson Essex Terraplane 8 (
John Dillinger's 1933 Essex Terraplane

Sometimes ending the research and getting back to the task of writing that novel, short story, or blog post ultimately becomes rather difficult! 


Friday, April 23, 2021

Taborites of Bohemia #AtoZChallenge2021

Genealogy research over the years led me to many unusual topics that proved interesting because of the relationship to my ancestors' countries of origin. Several of my great grandparents emigrated as children from Bohemia in the present day Czech Republic. The following is an excerpt from a short story (Can Any War Truly Be Called “Holy”?) that emerged from my research of that country.

Taborites of Bohemia

The Taborites, Czech Táborité, were named for the town south of Prague in Bohemia. Here they formed another party of Hussites, a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation. Their theology was a departure from the medieval Catholic Church.

The only two sacraments that the Taborites accepted as part of their religious beliefs were that of baptism and communion. Baptism was their first affirmation of belief in God. Communion was the partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the forms of both bread and wine.

They rejected the Real Presence, purgatory, and prayers for the dead. They did not believe in the sacraments of confirmation, reaffirming belief in God; matrimony, union of man and woman; holy orders of priests; extreme unction, or blessings and forgiveness for the dying.

Taborites also discouraged most other beliefs and practices of Christianity. They believed Christ would soon return and they wanted to establish what they envisioned was His heavenly utopia, which excluded personal ownership of property, class distinction, human laws, taxes, and marriage.

They also disregarded the idea of pacifism, some Taborites choosing to divide even further. In a short period of time, power and privilege raised their ugly heads and those who advocated for peace and freedom lost their place to more tyrannical forces.

In the early 1400s, Taborites won numerous crusades fought within Bohemia. The battles they chose to fight in a series of marches outside of the country were lost. Their extended military campaigns and total destruction of churches within Bohemia, however, eventually led to the Battle of Lipany, east of Prague.

The attackers were Catholics, along with another branch of Hussites, Ultraquist nobility who believed in the partaking of bread and wine; Catholics reserved the privilege of taking wine, as a symbol of Christ’s blood, to their priests. The battle, described by some as a massacre, ended the Hussite holy wars.

Often, the divide appears as nothing to a casual observer. But to a true believer, the division is everything. Many wars have proven that fighting to change the beliefs of others is a futile battle. Changing another person’s actions does not eliminate the core doctrine of their beliefs.

It becomes incumbent upon those who have the authority to create wars to accept responsibility to first learn from past conflicts before instigating future ones. Rather than plan another conflict to establish strength or to impose beliefs on others, would it not be better to remain sympathetic, and accept differences as God’s true utopia?


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Swans of Bruges and Boston #AtoZChallenge2021

Swans have long held a particular fascination for me, possibly because of an early presentation of the ballet performance, Swan Lake. The production that most stands out for me appeared in Montreal, Canada, during my trip to a land of paternal ancestors. Quebec does not first spark thoughts of stage musicals, but more likely of fur trapping or the latest DiCaprio movie, The Revenant. Yet, for me, thoughts of Quebec conjure up feelings of gracefulness and peace represented by swans. Whether white or black, swans cast a beautiful shadow. photo
A second powerful connection in my mind involves the swans of Bruges/Brugge. “It’s in Belgium,” offers a culturally-challenged main character in the movie, In Bruges. Belgium is another of my ancestral homelands. The famous story of the Bruges swans goes back to the 15th century. Legend has it that Emperor Maximilian of Austria was quite unpopular with the oppressed people of Bruges. They revolted, capturing and imprisoning the emperor in a house on Market Square. They did the same for his adviser, Pieter Lanchals, who was equally unpopular. Pieter was condemned to death. The emperor's life was spared but he was forced to watch the rather brutal execution before escaping and taking his revenge. Until the end of time, he decreed, Bruges must keep swans on all its lakes and canals, and do so at their own expense.
Why swans?
The city legend was born because swans have long necks and the Dutch word for “long necks” is “lange hals” or “lanckhals”.

 ChocoladevanBrugge - The Swans of Chocolade van Brugge
While visiting relatives in Boston, you can imagine my excitement at seeing two beautiful swans in the Public Gardens lagoon at Boston Common. Two swans, always only two swans, and always named Romeo and Juliet. Naturally, it became necessary to include them in my latest novel at that time, much of which is set in the Boston area. While the novel is entitled Blood Red Homicide, no swans were harmed during the writing of this story!

For more information or to read a sample of Blood Red Homicide:

*****     *****

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Road Trip - Having Fun With Research #AtoZChallenge2021


Lake Michigan western shoreline - much colder than
Pacific Ocean at Waikiki Beach

If you’re like me, you enjoy the on-scene part of researching a novel.
Rocky trails to caves at Maribel in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
Talk about eerie! Fits right in with my story.
One year, during a trip to Wisconsin and Massachusetts, I spent most of my waking hours visiting sites, talking to people, driving around gathering information, and taking photographs that would support the story in my latest WIP.
Boiling brats in beer before grilling.
Food was an important part of my research, especially the bohemian kolatches.
It is debatable whether my research had gotten a bit out of hand. I gathered details for three separate projects. Still, even if not everything pans out, the visits with relatives and friends, with discussions over fabulous meals made the hours well-spent.
Silouetted Clouds on the Water - Shoto Lake

For me, Wisconsin and Massachusetts were all about water and food. My research also included such diverse topics as gun cartridges, fishing bait, environmental issues, and taste-testing Friday perch plates at every possible venue.  
The road trip was a research success. I was able to flesh out the stories for two Pepper Bibeau mysteries, Neshoto Junction Homicide and Blood Red Homicide.

You are welcome to check out my Pepper Bibeau mysteries in print and ebook format at Reviews are always welcome.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Quirky Retold Tales #AtoZChallenge2021

Earlier this month, I wrote about a project involving fractured fairy tales. The anthology we compiled to raise money for local libraries in Hawaii is entitled KISSING FROGS and other Quirky Fairy Tales

Frogs are well represented, in such tales as the eponymous Kissing Frogs; Frog Prince Wants a Condo; and The Kindred Frog. Some tales are a bit more unconventional, quirky to be precise. Examples include: Jack and the Beanstalkers; Why Were the Brothers Grimm?; and Hansel, Gretel, and the Food-Challenged Witch.

One of my tales easily falls into the "quirky" category. The story employs details from various tales of Snow White, concerning the methods in which the queen attempts to eliminate Ms. White - diabolical plans that included ordering the huntsman to cut out the step-child's heart; then resorting to poison, and finally asphyxiation. And while Snow White is forever associated with the lives of seven dwarfs, my story has Detective Whitey Snow focused on the demise of seven corpses. 

Available at

In the opening lines of her FOREWORD to the anthology,
Cultural Mythologist Jane L. Mickelson poses the questions: 

"What is the relationship between ancient myths and retold fairy tales? When does a myth morph into a fairy tale? And at what point is the fairy tale turned inside out to become “fractured” or “retold”? 

She continues in this following excerpt: "In one sense, all myths, fairy, and folk tales, as we know them now, are retold. They arise out of oral tradition and are passed along by memory, which inevitably puts new spins on their telling, to match the cultural environment in which they’re told. From the sacred to the profane, nothing seems outside the permissible."

Would your version of a fractured fairy tale lean toward romance, comedy, mystery, or a completely different genre?


Monday, April 19, 2021

Pigasus the Pig: A Presidential Election 1968 #AtoZChallenge2021

Writing full-length novels is a time-consuming process. Though I've never felt at a loss for subject matter, piecing together a story filled with tension, conflict, and a satisfying ending presents an endless challenge. That's why posting short articles about topics researched during the writing process is a lot more fun.

The setting for my first Pepper Bibeau novel, FOR EVERY ACTION is Chicago 1968. This era brings back strong memories for people of a certain age. I didn't remember all the events of the time, so while researching articles for backstory, I felt like a kid in a candy story.

This post is a bit tongue-in-cheek.

1968 Chicago Electing a President
Chicago Police holding Pigasus the Pig
Disillusioned by the choice of presidential candidates during the 1968 presidential campaign, college students in Chicago during the days before the convention decided to submit their own candidate. As a planned protest, several young men purchased a pig they dubbed 'Pigasus' and hauled it to the Civic Center Plaza (since renamed Daley Plaza) where they proclaimed the cloven-hoofed animal their choice for president. The idea was to show the country how ineffectual the government could be.

Chicago police arrived on the scene to scatter the participants. History records that those taken into custody asked the officers how they learned of the protest. The reported response, whether urban legend or truth, stands:

"The pig squealed."

The protesters soon learned a valuable lesson: for every action ... there are consequences. Following is an excerpt from the official public court record concerning the arrest of seven men and the aforementioned pig:

MR. KUNSTLER: Mr. Ochs, can you describe the pig which was finally bought?
MR. FORAN: Objection.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection.

MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what, if anything, happened to the pig?
THE WITNESS: The pig was arrested with seven people.

MR. KUNSTLER: When did that take place?
THE WITNESS: This took place on the morning of August 23, at the Civic Center underneath the Picasso sculpture.

MR. KUNSTLER: Who were those seven people?
THE WITNESS: Jerry Rubin. Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, myself is four; I am not sure of the names of the other three.

MR. KUNSTLER: What were you doing when you were arrested?
THE WITNESS: We were arrested announcing the pig's candidacy for President.

MR. KUNSTLER: Did Jerry Rubin speak?
THE WITNESS: Yes, Jerry Rubin was reading a prepared speech for the pig---the opening sentence was something like, "I, Pigasus, hereby announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States." He was interrupted in his talk by the police who arrested us.

MR. KUNSTLER: What was the pig doing during this announcement?
MR. FORAN: Objection.
MR. KUNSTLER: Do you remember what you were charged with?
THE WITNESS: I believe the original charge mentioned was something about an old Chicago law about bringing livestock into the city, or disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct, and when it came time for the trial, I believe the charge was disorderly conduct.

MR. KUNSTLER: Were you informed by an officer that the pig had squealed on you?
MR. FORAN: Objection. I ask it be stricken.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. When an objection is made do not answer until the Court has ruled. . .

* * * * *
The humor of the situation played out as a backdrop to the more serious presidential election campaign. Meanwhile, life continued at a calmer pace for many citizens of the city. I worked in the Chicago Loop at the time, across the street from the Civic Center. I often took my lunch and sat near the Picasso to watch people stroll by. Many years later, I decided to write soft-boiled mysteries, and chose 'Chicago - 1968' as the setting for my first novel. From that initial decision evolved the Pepper Bibeau mystery series, beginning with FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences.

You can click here to purchase a copy of FOR EVERY ACTION in ebook format, only 99c at Amazon. Also available with Kindle Unlimited and in trade book format. Reviews are always welcome.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

'Ono Zippy's Chili #AtoZChallenge2021

The Hawaiian word 'ono (pronunced oh-no) means delicious. The word, with the okina marking (') before the o, shouldn't be confused with the word ono (without the okina) which is the name for a type of fish from Hawaii, also known as mackerel and wahoo. 

How To Catch Wahoo - Home Run Fishing Charters & Lodge (

The last time I enjoyed a bowl of chili from a Hawaiian Zippy's Restaurant escapes me, it was so long ago. But my research of the topic was extensive and I can still taste the spicy flavor of the sauce and feel the satisfying fullness after devouring the entire mouth-watering serving.

Those with a heartier appetite or looking for a bit of adventure, you are welcome to try any of the many choices of Zippy's Chili and . . . 

Chili not enough? Add a burrito or hot dog and macaroni salad; or smother your fries with chili and cheese. For the truly adventuresome, Chili Moco is available. A Zippy's unique take on the classic local dish, Loco Moco, includes an abundance of Zippy's chili over a layer of rice and a hamburger patty, topped off with two eggs over easy.

This is one menu choice I haven't personally researched. But from what I've heard, it is definitely 'ono!



Friday, April 16, 2021

Notorious Prisoners - Orphan and Prodigy #AtoZChallenge2021

A story I researched but didn't include in my “A World of Crime” blog series concerns the mystery surrounding a famous prison escape in 1962. (I did mention Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly who were both incarcerated there: see GANGSTERS and GOODFELLAS and ALPHONSE CAPONE ) Alcatraz seemed an appropriately unusual beginning to the AtoZChallenge2021.

According to federal officials, the mastermind of the escape from “The Rock”, a maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island off the coast of San Francisco Bay, had an I.Q. ranging in the top 2% of the nation during the early 1900s. His plans for the escape were elaborate.

Theater billing for
Escape From Alcatraz
In the movie, Escape from Alcatraz, Clint Eastwood portrays the mastermind and makes a successful escape. This is one interpretation of events. Another is that the three prisoners who attempted the escape probably drowned in the riptides and undertows of the bay.
While the movie is entertaining, I find the history of the mastermind disturbing. An orphan before his teens, he lived in foster homes before a theft conviction. From there he moved up to robbery and narcotics, which led to jail, a penitentiary, and finally Alcatraz.

The intellect of this male was wasted as he slipped through the cracks of society’s awareness. As was the intelligence of Theodore Kaczynski, considered a prodigy in his youth but known by today’s society as the Unabomber. One man spent his teens in reform school. The other received a degree from Harvard and earned a PhD in mathematics. Both ended up in prison.

We know the Unabomber pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and received eight "life sentences". It isn’t so clear what became of Frank Lee Morris and the Anglin brothers, Clarence and John, who attempted an escape from an escape-proof federal prison. Were their remains strewn along the seabed after being swept under the Golden Gate Bridge?
Or, having been whisked away by a girlfriend after struggling to shore, were they transported alive to reside in Mexico - only to have Frank and one of the brothers die in obscurity, with the other brother attempting in 2018 to turn himself over to authorities in exchange for medical treatment for cancer?
Some mysteries never die. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mishicot and Neshota Rivers #AtoZChallenge2021

My hometown in Wisconsin is situated between the parentheses of two gently flowing rivers. Once carrying the regal names of Mishicot River and Neshota River, both of Native American origin, they were later renamed the East Twin and the West Twin rivers. For many years, Neshota River supplied a variety of fish, mainly bass and trout, that my dad caught and my mother fried up for our supper.

Along the banks of the rivers, Dad set traps for muskrat (sometimes catching mink) and sold the pelts. The Neshota River allowed for enjoyable boating excursions in summer. When frozen solid during the winter, the Mishicot River supplied an alternate route for my grandfather to travel by automobile.

While researching the lives of my ancestors, I noticed that European rivers seemed to play prominent roles in their lives, also. With the researched genealogy information, I wrote a series of short stories, using the collected facts to detail the lives of my ancestors as I imagined them.

One tale is set in a village of the area now known as the Czech Republic and revolves around my father’s great grandparents. The narrator is the great grandfather’s older brother, who remains on the family farm while his brother immigrates to the United States. At one point he muses over the inevitability of his brother’s life:

Years ago, Adalbert had told me that the Blanice river cut through the farmland owned by Jan Novotny. This was something he’d learned after he married Jan’s daughter, Marie, and moved up to Horni Hrachovice, a village divided by the Blanice. He always believed the river, which flowed through our land also, had connected him to Marie from the time of their births.

Because of this, I knew Adalbert and Marie were destined to leave our bucolic South Bohemian countryside and travel far. Like the river that drew them together, it was not in their nature to remain still.

Do rivers play a prominent roll in your family history?


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Leukemia and Leprosy #AtoZChallenge2021

Boston Children's Hospital

The protagonist in my mystery series is an insurance investigator. Plots or subplots in the novels deal with several different illnesses or diseases, although none of the unusual or obscure conditions begin with the letter "L", such as sickle cell disease, gas gangrene, the thalidomide tragedy, and gene disorder. But subplots in the first and sixth novels focus on leukemia and leprosy.

My research of leukemia began when I worked in the cancer ward of a hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at a time when a diagnosis didn't often include a cure. Eventually, after taking up writing, I familiarized myself with Boston Children's Hospital and the Jimmy Fund in Boston where hope of successful survival from childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer reigns eternal.

Leprosy in the Hawaiian Islands, now known as Hansen's Disease, is a well-researched story of devastation and hopelessness. Its role in my sixth novel was not of an illness, however, but an example of how happiness ultimately comes to those who choose to be happy. Living conditions in the leper colony at Kalaupapa on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai in the 1800s was primitive; afflicted persons of all ages were shipped there from the other islands and left to fend for themselves until their death. For an in depth and enlightening story about this time in history, check out the best selling historical novel entitled Moloka'i by author Alan Brennert.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Kindle Create #AtoZChallenge2021

Publishing with

When CreateSpace moved to Amazon, I was in the process of publishing a standalone novel. Not wanting to deal with the new process at that late stage, I rushed publication through CreateSpace before the deadline. But with my sixth Pepper Bibeau mystery, this old dog had to learn some new tricks.

Are you ready to publish your novel as an eBook on To get started with using Kindle Create to prepare your eBook for publication on Amazon, download the Kindle Create program to your computer desktop from this link: Getting Started with Kindle Create (

To prepare your manuscript on Kindle Create for publication, first save your document as a Word doc or docx file (not pdf or any other format.) Then upload the document containing only the story chapters. The program will format the Table of Contents for you. Later you will add “front matter” such as copyright page, dedication, etc.; and “back matter” such as acknowledgments, author info, etc.

The process sounds easy now that I have gone through it. But I tend to “do” rather than “read instructions and then do” so it was a bit of a struggle in the beginning for me. If you follow directions and start by practicing with a sample document - the program supplies samples or you can practice with your own document - all might go smoother for you.

Bottom line: Kindle Create works well for publishing an eBook to If you haven’t set up your free account yet on Amazon, here is the link to kindle direct publishing to set it up: Self Publishing | Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

Have you published an eBook using Kindle Create?


Monday, April 12, 2021

Jubilance and Janis #AtoZChallenge2021

What is it about the measured notes of
Wynton Marsalis' trumpet,
the vibrancy of Elton John's piano keys,
and the
hip-swaying rhythm of a Hawaiian mele,
that can melt your troubles away?

Music relaxes the mind and calms the nerves.

More eloquently stated during an interview, Italy's Andrea Bocelli believes music is "a balm for the soul that should be used sparingly lest its benefits wear out."

As I listen to him sing The Lord's Prayer with The Morman Tabernacle Choir, I feel the soothing, restorative power of music - that jubilant "balm for the soul."

Research for my first novel included immersion in audio/visual material on the life and music of Janis Joplin. The time was well spent although only a short scene survived the final draft which refers to "Four gentlemen and one great girl: Big Brother and The Holding Company.” In the scene, the one great girl, Janis Joplin, dominates the vocals on her inimitable rendition of Piece of My Heart.

Janis Joplin became known as the first female rock star, or as stated on the Cheap Thrills album, "the first, true female rock superstar", after Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and The Holding Company became a #1 selling record album.

For some fans, myself included, the song Piece Of My Heart is synonymous with the name Janis Joplin. Though she didn't compose the lyrics and wasn't even the first artist to take it to the charts, she made it her own and proved that a twenty-four year old Caucasian female from Texas could, indeed, sing the blues. Yes, "balm for the soul."