Monday, December 26, 2016

See Ya Later 2016!

I had no idea what I might blog about this week, but Patricia Gligor ( and Evelyn Cullet ( have inspired me. At this time of year, what else would one write about other than the past year?

It was here and it’s almost gone. That’s it. Nothing else to say.

You wish. (I’m smiling.)

2016 was an interesting year. I moved from Arizona to Washington a year ago this month, so the first part of the year was all about unpacking and putting things away. There were a few repairs that needed to be done to the house, too. Oh, yeah, my daughter and I bought a house together. Great move on my part! She’s a delight.

I can’t believe that in the middle of that I managed to release two books: Choosing One Moment – A Time Travel Mystery, and Having a Great Crime – Wish You Were Here, A Sandi Webster Mystery. It’s a fun year when two books are released.

I’d like to thank the authors who’ve done guest posts on my blog. Each and every one was a delight to work with, and I hope to see them here again.

It rains a lot in Washington, and I’ve had to adjust after coming from the desert. Needless to say, it’s much colder here, too. We’ve even had snow a few times, and this isn’t an area that normally has snow.

I need to get out the camera again. We’ve had a few foggy days where the fog lasted most of the day. If you look at the cover of Having a Great Crime – Wish You Were Here, you’ll see the view at the end of our street. Now picture those trees with fog swirling through them. It’s truly eye-catching.

My daughter started a new job, and she’s going to school to further her degree. She certainly has more energy than I do. Although, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to go back to work. I’ll have to think that one over.

I’ve mentioned in other posts that my two dogs have a new playmate, Clementine. Although she only weighs in at 11 pounds, and they’re 90 and 120 pounds, she rules the roost. They’re pretty funny to watch. My dogs, Sugar and Murphy, have adjusted well.

My husband passed away about a year and a half ago. Between that and moving, Sugar became quite depressed. I had no idea that dogs could go through so much emotional baggage. She has arthritis in her hips, too. I discovered a veterinarian in this small town who performs acupuncture on animals. It took several treatments, but it worked. While there, I mentioned the depression. Voila! There’s actually acupuncture for depression, and all it took was one treatment! By the time we left the vet’s office, Sugar was like a new dog – like a puppy (almost).

I wonder if that would work on me. Hmmm. I learned a valuable lesson. I lost quite a bit of weight, and the wrinkles practically leaped onto my face. True. I can’t honestly say that it’s broken my heart to have to buy some new clothes though. There’s always a happier side to weight loss.

Summer didn’t last very long. From what I hear, it was shorter than normal for this area. I planted a vine with flowers that look just like Candy Corn, but discovered it wasn’t a very hearty plant. Oh, well, it was great while it lasted. I mean, really, flowers that look like Candy Corn?

I miss my friends in Arizona, and I hope I can return one day for a visit. It’s not in the cards at the moment.

My life here in Washington is new, I’m meeting new people all the time, and I guess I can eventually get used to the cold, wet weather. Shoot! I spend so much time working on the computer that I guess I don’t really even notice it most of the time.

One thing I’d like to do in the new year is try another book trailer. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s like a movie trailer, only about books. Simple.

Well, that’s my 2016 in a nutshell.

2017, bring it on! I’m ready for you. It’s going to be an interesting year, and I hope it’s brings a few good surprises with it.

Until next time, I wish you all the best in the new year, and I hope it holds happy surprises for each of you, too.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website (sorely in need of an update)
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to


Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas

Laura Reading, please send me an email at with your address. You're the winner of a copy of "Having a Great Crime - Wish You Were Here, A Sandi Webster Mystery." I hope you enjoy it.

~ * ~

Once a year I write about my beliefs, and this is your lucky day.

I thought long and hard about what to write for my Christmas blog. I read about the origins of celebrating on December 25th, and then I thought some more. I know from reading the bible, books, articles and from listening in church that Christ wasn’t actually born on that date. December 25th was probably chosen for all the wrong reasons, but it’s the date we’ve become accustomed to for celebrating the birth of Christ. I still didn’t know what I was going to write about. Logically, a Christian should probably celebrate that birth every single day of the year. Many of us do.
 Then I remembered a song. It’s the one song I’ve ever heard that makes me cry. I doesn’t matter if I’m shopping at a mall or sitting at my desk, or even watching television. If I hear this song, it makes me cry, no matter where I am or what I’m doing -- and I'm not a crier. O Holy Night is the most beautiful and powerful music I’ve ever heard.

CLICK HERE to listen to O Holy Night, and listen to the end. I’m amazed that Charlotte Church (love her last name) can hit that oh-so-high note.

Christmas has been neatly deleted from schools, public buildings, stores and all types of places (except for the Santa Clause angle), but the joy of the Lord is still in my heart. Someone might wish me Happy Holidays, but I’ll always wish them a Merry Christmas. Yes, Santa came to our house when I was a little girl, to my house when my daughter was small, and he kept coming after my grandson was born. However, first and foremost was the real reason for celebrating – the birth of Christ. We never lost sight of this.

I know not everyone believes the way I do, and that’s okay. Celebrate whatever you want to in any way that pleases you. I’ll do the same.

Someone might think, “But, hey! She writes murder mysteries. How could a Christian write something like that?” Well, there really are murders and there really are mysteries. My intent isn’t to gross someone out, but to entertain. While there is drama in my books, there’s also some humor. My characters, for the most part, have heart. They’re just ordinary people who sometimes find themselves involved in extraordinary circumstances. Although one of my characters goes to church each week, the books aren’t religious. Oh, well, there was one book about some church ladies wanting help to find a missing friend, but it still wasn’t a religious book. The Church Ladies are fun and funny, and they remind me of some of the women in my life.

No, I don’t keep my Christianity and writing exclusive from each other. I’m simply not a writer of religious stories. Might be fun though.

So back to Christmas and O Holy Night. I confess, as if you couldn’t tell already, I am a Christian and I love the Lord with all my heart. I celebrate Him each and every day. I pray for people. I try to do the right thing, but often fail miserably. Am I perfect? Not on your life! I make more mistakes than you can shake a stick at, but I am forgiven, thanks to the birth of one small boy.

This week I wish you all a very blessed Merry Christmas, and I hope you’ll keep coming back here to find out what little tidbit I’m talking about each week. It’s usually something about mysteries and/or writing, and I hope you have a good time when you drop in.

Until next time, celebrate whatever’s right for you, and please keep an open mind when people like me pop up in your life. We care.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw's website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to

Wishing you all a happy and memorable New Year, too!

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's That Time of Year

Is everyone ready for Christmas? This goes beyond buying presents and sending out cards. Because I’m stubborn and… Well, let’s just say I’m stubborn. When I go to the store, I make a point of telling everyone “Merry Christmas.” You know what? Most people say it back. The heck with the political correctness of saying, “Happy Holidays.”

Anyway, there are other things to get out of the way. This morning I dyed my hair. Yes, I’ll probably be a blonde until the day I die, and my roots won’t show when I celebrate Christmas this year. I was born blonde and I’m staying that way. When I dye my hair, I wrap some of the faded ends with foil. That way my hair isn’t all the same color which would make it look dyed. So I came down stairs with foil sticking out and dye on the rest of my hair. My daughter did a double take, so I told her I was waiting for the Mother Ship. Oh well… Gotta find humor somewhere.

We put up some Christmas decorations, but we won’t have a tree this year. The dogs would rip it to shreds. They understand boundaries, but only if it has to do with something they don’t really want anyway. I have a few tattered books (a sin, to be sure) that Murphy has enjoyed gnawing on. Sugar would think anything sparkly is made that way just to get her attention. Our little one, Clementine, is a Chiwienie (half Chihuahua and half Dachshund). She’ll chew up anything she’s tall enough to reach or that she can pull out of the doggie toy box. Yes, we live in our own version of a zoo.

One of these days Clem will become a character in a book. I have a feeling she’ll have a crush on Bubba in the Sandi Webster series, just like the real Clem has a crush on Murphy.

Christmas baking should be coming up soon; however, I’ve found that the older I get, the less I enjoy cooking and baking. Oh, well, the guy next door came over and used his leaf blower on my yard and driveway without being asked. His kids deserve some Christmas treats. I guess we do, too. Hate the work but love the result.

We put some decorations on the front porch, but I haven’t plugged them in over the past couple of days because it was just too cold to go out and unplug them later in the evening. We’ve had snow twice during the last week. Not a lot, but enough to cause the schools to close. I lived in Northern Nevada for about twenty-five years and I’m used to driving in the snow. Unfortunately, nature’s little gift isn’t a common occurrence here, so many people have no idea how to drive in it. This makes for an interesting ride.

When my husband retired, we moved to Arizona. Now I live in Washington state. Moving from Arizona to Washington has turned out to be quite an experience. I’d forgotten what it’s like to live in a state where it rains often, snows occasionally (where I live), and becomes cold.

I mentioned Murphy and his propensity to chew up books earlier. He also loves tissues. I dropped a box of tissues on the floor the other night and he swooped in like an eagle, grabbing the box and running. We had a little tussle over that one before I got the box back. Unfortunately for me, he weighs as much as I do. I won’t divulge the exact figure. Let’s just say he’s over a hundred pounds. This leads me to mention that the decorations we’ve put out are set in high places, where he can’t reach them.

Well, those are Christmas preparations at our house. It’s been interesting.

Do you have any special preparations that are out of the ordinary at your house? Or are there limitations about what you can display?

Leave a comment to win a copy of "Having a Great Crime - Wish You Were Here - A Sandi Webster Mystery." A random name will be picked. Merry Christmas!

Until next time, I hope you find some great sales in the stores and that you finish shopping early so you can sit back and relax. Uh huh, like we’re all going to relax.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to

Just a reminder: Books make great Christmas gifts.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Doctor Who Couldn't Find His Brain

I figure not everyone would want to see an image of a brain, 
so here's the idea instead.

Someone told me that since I’m a writer, all of my posts should be advice for other authors. Who am I to give advice? I can write about what works (or doesn’t) for me, but I’m no expert.

This blog is for readers, too, so sometimes I might write about the funnier side of things, or vent a little about things that annoy me, like political correctness. I try to relate everything to writing, but in all honesty, sometimes I’m fudging.

Sometime back I wrote about a friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, not a funny thing. However, two things she told me stuck with me and I’m recreating them from an earlier post.

The first was that when the doctor told her about the tumor, she started to laugh. He told her it wasn’t funny, and she kept laughing. It was a reaction. We don’t always react the way people think we should. Okay, keep that in mind when creating situations in books.

The other story she told me cracked me up. The neurosurgeon who would do the surgery wanted to show her the logistics, using an artificial brain. He said he didn’t like the one in the exam room and he’d bring in his own artificial brain. The next thing she knew, he was out in the hallway, upset and saying, “Who took my brain? Where’s my brain? Would someone please return my brain?”

I don’t know if he was trying to lighten the mood or if he was serious, but my friend cracked up.

That’s not the end of the story.

The doctor finally gave up and returned to the exam room to use the artificial brain he didn’t like to show her what was what. He picked it up and the parts started falling off. While he talked, he calmly reached down and replaced the fallen parts of the brain.

Funny stuff.
Another repeat story is about a friend who writes romance novels. Many years ago she wrote her first book, a contemporary romance, and she’s quite talented. Unfortunately, when she submitted it the publisher told her she had to include sex scenes in a contemporary romance story. My friend was an older woman and maybe a bit straight-laced. However, she was determined to give it a shot.

She was well into a sex scene when she realized that her fingers were flying on the keyboard, but she was looking out the window, across the room and in the air. She couldn’t look at what she was typing. Her arms were extended and she was sitting as far away from the keyboard as possible.

I couldn’t help picturing this in my mind and it struck me funny. I don’t know if she appreciated me laughing or not, but she told the story so well.

She scrapped the book and went on to write some Regency romances in which she didn’t have to include sex. This was several years ago, and she’s moved on. She can now write about sex without looking away.

So are you wondering why I told these two stories? To entertain you. That’s it. Maybe you don’t find them to be funny, but they cracked me up.

What do these stories have to do with writing? Not much, except they’re a reminder that anything that happens in life can happen in a book, too. Of course, there will always be a reader who will say, “Pooh! That’s not believable.” Sure it is. Life can sometimes be much stranger than fiction.

My advice for this week? Don’t overthink what you read or what you write. You can drive yourself nuts with rewriting sometimes. Believe me, I know from experience.

Until next time, think of some of the funnier things that have happened in your life. They help offset the not so funny times.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to

Remember, books make great Christmas gifts, and it’s that time of year. Make someone happy!