Monday, September 2, 2013

Liz's Lair: Encore Blog - Why Labor Day Means So Much To Me!

Strapped to a gurney in the back of a C-130 military transport plane on my way from CCK Air Force base in Taichung, Taiwan to the Navy hospital in Taipei, I remember thinking how could I have been so stupid.

What in the world was I doing there, you ask. stupid.

This requires a little backstory. I married my high school sweetheart his last year of college. I was already a nurse and working in the Pediatrics department at the local hospital where I trained, but left it all to follow him to Nashville for his last year of college. One day in downtown Nashville, he and a friend went to see the local Air Force recruiter just for grins and hubby took the tests necessary to be a pilot. I talked him out of it because he was about to graduate with an engineering degree and had a really nice job lined up in St. Louis, Missouri, where two of my brothers lived.

Life was good.

Until LBJ instituted the draft lottery and he was number 68 in our small town and most certainly would be drafted into the Army. Quickly, he went back to the recruiter and signed on the dotted line. Thus began his military career where his first assignment was to CCK Air Force Base in Taichung, Taiwan, flying C 130 Hercules aircraft around Viet Nam transporting everything under the sun, including prisoners of war.

Did I mention how young and stupid we were at the time? CCK was considered a remote tour, but if wives went there, the Air Force would take care of them. I was seven months pregnant with our first child and we were so afraid if we waited, it would be three or four months after the baby was born before I could go. So, with two dogs and my fat self, I made the trip, missing my flight in San Francisco and having to stay over with no makeup or clothes.

When he left for his assignment, I was in hot pants (we all wore them back then) but the girl who stepped off the plane could no more have gotten her fat body into hot pants than Humpty Dumpty could have. My feet were swollen to triple their size, I was swollen and all I could do was cry that I wanted to go home.

Actually, it wasn’t so bad. CCK didn’t have a hospital, only a male clinic, so my prenatal visits were with a psychiatrist. Pregnant women had to travel to Taipei two weeks before their due date and wait in a hostel for women until they had the baby. I tricked them when my water broke two and a half weeks early. Thus the ride up in the C-130, affectionately called the Baby Bomber.

Two days later, I was still waiting for the baby when they decided to induce me. What I remember vividly about that experience was that a young Navy officer’s wife was brought in with contractions right off a commercial airliner. Being seven months pregnant, they were unable to give her anything for the pain. “The baby’s too small. We can’t medicate you without hurting your baby,” they said. As God is my witness, the woman screamed, “I don’t care about this baby. I want drugs.”

In the meantime I was waiting for the pitocin drip to start my contractions, alone in the room with no mother, no sisters, not even my hubby. Since the hospital was so small and there was another woman in the room, he had to wait outside. I was stuck in the room with this crazy lady who was ready to kill for demerol.

But this story has a happy ending. That night, I had a beautiful seven pound baby girl, and we called her Nicole. The next day was – you guessed it- Labor Day.

You can't make up stuff like this!!

What does this have to do with writing? Absolutely nothing, but I figured no one would be reading this blog today anyway. Hopefully, all of you are grilling hot dogs, at the beach, around the pool, with family celebrating the fact that we are all alive and healthy and able to work our jobs.

Cheers to all you workers out there, especially to the three young guys who flew the Baby Bomber that day so long ago and kept coming back to check on me. Guess they figured if I got them out on their day off, the least I could do was have a pain or two. It never happened.

Happy Labor Day to y'all. Happy Birthday, Nicole.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kari's Kave: Peril for your Thoughts: A Mind Reader Mystery (New cover New Book!)

PERIL FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: A Mind Reader Mystery by Kari Lee Townsend

A Fun Romantic Cozy Mystery!

Available in Serial format with a new episode each week starting on 8-27-2013  here  and in all formats on 12-10-2013

Kalliope Ballas and Nikos “Nik” Stevens are not a good match, despite the wishes of Kalli’s mother and the rest of her tight-knit adoptive Greek family.

Kalli’s a shy, slightly OCD fashion designer with a prissy calico cat and hand sanitizer always at the ready. Nik’s a loud and boisterous half-Greek homicide detective with a big sloppy St. Bernard and a devil-may-care attitude. And besides, ever since a freak accident gave Kalli the gift of reading minds, her long-standing low expectations for romance have dipped even further.

But when Kalli’s best friend becomes the number one suspect in a murder, the mismatched pair find themselves increasingly crossing paths over the course of the subsequent investigation. Kalli knows she must use her newfound ability to clear her best friend’s name, but how can she explain how she knows what she knows without confessing her mind-reading ability to Nik?

And don't forget, KICKING THE HABIT, a fun romantic soft-boiled mystery is now out in paperback here

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cassy'd Corner- Starting Something New

How do you think about a new writing project? I've started one and it's much darker than I usually write. It's slightly uncomfortable for me. But that might be good- pushing me out of my normal range. It might end up sitting on a thumb drive, but that's okay as well. It's making me think outside of my zone.

I have a normal appearing housewife who fantasizes doing terrible things. Then one day she does, just to see if she can pull it off.

Where do these ideas come from? I never would do a terrible thing on purpose, though I probably have unintentionally. Well, nothing really terrible. What makes a writer want to explore the boundaries? Having asked that question, I can also answer it. We have all the freedom to live the lives that we would never live. We can create characters who vicariously dream, love, hate, and (in my case) kill others. A favorite response of mine to people who annoy me is, "Watch out, I'll kill you off in my next book." People stare and then laugh. Ha! I have the last laugh on that.

So, back to the point. Where do ideas come from? How do we develop them? What makes them work for us?

I fuss about these questions for I find them to be the root of where our minds go at times. Any thoughts you can share?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cassy's Corner- A Talk with the Fantastic Author Nancy Barone

Dear Readers, Please join me in welcoming Nancy Barone to Mysteries and Margaritas. She is an author of many stories, one of which I just finished reading an advanced copy- The Husband Diet. If you've ever thought about throwing out your current life and starting over, this might be the tale for you. We laugh, we cry and we pick up a book to start all over again. Nancy has us coming back for more each time.

Cassy: Nancy, you live the life many dream of. Tell us how you ended up in Italy.

Nancy: Sure, Cassy!  I was born in Toronto and went to school there until my family moved to Sicily. I’ve always written stories but only first published in 2010. I’m married to a Brit and teach English in a small fishing village.

Cassy: Okay, more.

Nancy: My parents moved our family to Italy when I was 12. There I went to the local school, then to a Linguistic Lycée and finally to read English and French Literature at the University of Pisa, Tuscany. I’ve lived in Italy half of my life if you exclude my stints in Canada and the UK.

Cassy: You have been a serious writer. What drew you to that?

Nancy: I think it’s just an inner drive. When I set my mind on something I become obsessed until I get it done. A writer has to love what she’s doing otherwise it’s just a job.

Cassy: Tell us about the genre you write. The Husband Diet (out soon, folks) is a story of a woman who finds her way. It's a great read. Nancy, what drew you to write about a woman who looks like she has it all, but then recreates her life?

Nancy: I would classify The Husband Diet Women’s Fiction with a comic twist. Isn’t that what women’s lives are all about, trying to have it all, and then having to start all over again because of a (relatively) funny loop?

Cassy: When does The Husband Diet come out?

Nancy: May 31st- I can’t wait!

Cassy: As someone who has the privilege of having read an advance copy of The Husband Diet, I highly recommend marking your calendar for its release. Nancy has a gift of making you laugh at yourself, something we all need more of.

Cassy: Spill, girl, what's on the docket for your next releases? Will we read more of the blustering self- aware Erica?

Nancy: Well, there are another two Erica stories in the making, so that’s keeping me pretty busy at the moment!

Cassy: Okay, you write about your protagonist dreaming about moving to Tuscany for the magical life waiting for her. Truthfully, I spend a great deal of time in Tuscany. I love it. But it's not really an easy place to live. You live much farther south. What would you say were the best and the worst things about being in Italy? I have my own list.

Nancy: Geez, I’d need another book to answer that question! I love living in Italy except for the following:
Bureaucracy, the closed small-town mentality and the way it takes forever to get anything done. Some people don’t take their jobs seriously and Domani, Domani seems to be the operative word here. Everything else- the weather, the food, friends- all a big yes!

Cassy: On the side here, Domani, Domani means "tomorrow, tomorrow." I hear Nancy big time. I remember clearly standing at the post office mailing a package home- to myself. No line. No one waiting at all. Two hours later I adjusted my sweater and looked up to find my husband smiling. The loud stamp kerflunked against the paperwork, reminding me of how hard it was to get anything done. But, I will never stop going back. Never.

Cassy: Want to give a pitch for our Brainstorming Sessions in Matera and the Women's Fiction Festival? It all can't be beat, my dear readers. Go ahead, Nancy, tell them what we've come to love.

Nancy: The Brainstorming sessions were what brought me to write seriously. I had never even heard of them and one day while browsing I came across this Festival in Matera starting the next day. So my fantastic husband booked my flight while I threw some clothes into a bag and took off. Needless to say I was amazed by what people like Elizabeth Jennings had managed to put together. I was flabbergasted by the beauty of Matera, the number of pros in the Industry present, the helpful and kind nature of agents, writers, etc. I instantly elected it my writing home and go back whenever I can! I’ve made some amazing friends, among which Christine and Cassy, of course!

Cassy: Matera, Italy and all the people associated with the Festival are beyond incredible. I have now been a number of times and will continue to go. Those of you who write or read, must think about showing up. You'll not find a better location or a better group of folks ready to cheer you on.

Nancy: Thanks so much for having me, Cassy! I enjoyed this interview so much!

Cassy: All of us at Mysteries and Margaritas thank you!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cassy's Corner- A List to Live By

I confess that this is repost of something that a close friend sent to me. I don't normally forward postings or chain-mail type letters. But, I confess there were a number of items on this list that caught my attention. See what you think, and let me know.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.

16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Liz's Lair: Heading to a Great Conference

Still panicking because of a May 15th deadline, I have been very busy the past few weeks and writing like a mad woman. Stuck in my writer's cave hasn't been fun because the weather in Texas is gorgeous right now.

But I know I have to keep going until I write "The End" because the upcoming summer is so busy for me. Last week I found out I need foot surgery to remove bone spurs so that I can walk normally. Sheesh! I am one big orthopedic mess. So, for me, no cute sandals at the conference when I meet and greet so many wonderful mystery fans and talented mystery authors. Crap!

The good news is that HEARD IT  THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE released early so I'll be able to sign that one in Maryland this weekend. I'm so excited for people to read this one.So, I decided to post another small excerpt to show you my irreverent ghost who, if I did it right, will make  you laugh throughout the book. Tessa's (the ghost) dialogue is in bold print.

Lainey perched on the edge of the ugly chair and Tessa moved behind it. “First off, I know you’re not happy with Tessa’s decision to leave me half this winery.”
“Damn right, I’m not.”
I don’t know what makes this guy so stupid, but whatever it is, it works.
“Regardless of your opinion, I intend to take my responsibilities seriously.”
The smile faded. “And you think your experience in front of the camera qualifies you to waltz in here and pretend to know what the hell you’re doing?”
    About as much as watching naked women on your computer qualifies you, ass wipe.
     “I’m a fast learner.” Lainey moved forward in the seat. “I didn’t come here to discuss that, Jerry. I came to find out if you had anything to do with my sister’s death.”
     The smile disappeared completely. “What kind of jackass question is that? I admit there were times I wanted that woman out of my life, but killing isn’t my style.”
     Oh, please. Like you have a style.
    Lainey decided to jump right to it. “What was in the bottle of white wine you dropped off at Tessa’s the night she was killed?”
     His face flamed. “I was nowhere near your sister’s house that night. Working with her eight to ten hours a day was more than anybody should have to tolerate. I sure as hell wouldn’t let her ruin my evenings, too.”
     Lainey forced her lips to part in a curved stiff smile. “We both know that’s not true, Jerry. You brought her a bottle of the new batch of Viognier, but conveniently, you didn’t stay to taste it with her.”
     He jumped up, his knee connecting with the edge of the humongous oak desk, nearly knocking it over. “How the hell would you know that?” He grimaced as he rubbed his knee.
     Lainey cringed under his rage and slid back into the chair. Had she miscalculated what he might do? She began to rethink her decision to question him by herself.
     Tell him Paul Ridley told you.
     “Paul told me.” Lainey had no idea who Paul was.
     Slowly, Jerry lowered himself to his chair. When his eyes met Lainey’s again, she could tell he’d calmed down somewhat. “Our vintner is mistaken. We did taste the new wine together, but that was the night before.”
     This SOB is lying like a rug.
     Lainey shrugged, deciding to play nice cop. “People sometimes get confused about those kinds of things. It’s possible Paul mixed up the two days.”
     The beginning of a smile again formed on Jerry face. “I’m pretty good at remembering things like that.”
     Bullshit! You can’t count your balls and come up with the same number twice.

So, what are you waiting on? Head over to my FaceBook page and comment on my latest post. I want to know what you'd say to me if you met me at the conference this weekend. You could win a copy of this book or any of my others--your choice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cassy’s Corner- How do you know about people?

Last night I was at a church supper. Lots of people roaming around. Terrible food. Little girls twirled on the stage without any embarrassment. We sat at long tables covered with plastic covers that stuck to your arms when you shifted in your seat. The noise was painful.

I looked for a spot, not really knowing anyone. I don’t really like to eat much, so my plate of mixed things that all were white was really about having something to hang onto, not really about eating. My bottle of water kept me busy as I tried to fit in.

Then there was Richard. I sat next to Darlene who motioned across the table to her fiancé. These are not spring chickens. I reached out with my hand to introduce myself. The right thing to do. He greeted me warmly with a hand shake that could have taken out half of California. The tattoos up his arms told stories.

This was a wonderful moment for me. Here were people I needed to know. Remember, I am a writer.

After we finished the macaroni and cheese, I leaned across the table and asked Richard what excited him in the morning. What made him want to get up and start the day. Hell, where do these questions come from?

He paused. He thought. He chewed on his bottom lip. Then, he said, “I love to drive.”
“Drive?” I asked, a little confused.
“Yup, drive. I drive cars, I drive motorcycles, I drive a lawnmower. I drive.”
I sat back. This was a new look on life for me.


Then it came to me. This was a story. This man was offering me language, a view on life and a chance to see something through another’s eyes. This was special.


I have decided that I need to drive. My new goal is to stop everyone who will let me hold them up. I want to hear what gets you up in the morning. I want to learn about your passions.

Tell me about your drive.