Monday, December 21, 2020

One Small Boy

This has been such a rough year for so many people. I guess that’s kind of an understatement. Hmm. No guessing. It’s an understatement. And now we’re in the holiday season. Christmas will be so different this year in homes around the world.

I usually post about writing, reading, and anything that’s related to those activities. There are times when I set all of that aside and think about my faith. This is one of those times.

Christmas has been neatly deleted from schools, public buildings, stores and all types of places, 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.

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

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a Christian and I love the Lord with all my heart. And 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? Absolutely not. I make more mistakes and wrong choices than you can imagine, but I am forgiven thanks to the birth of one small boy.

Someone might think, “But, hey! She writes murder mysteries. How could a Christian write about 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 my books aren’t “religious,” you will find some funny and lovable Church Ladies in a few of the stories.

However, this post isn’t about my books. It’s about hope, faith and peace, given lovingly by our dear Lord.

Hope is a positive expectation that something good is about to happen any moment in your life! Peace is what we need more of right now. And faith is knowing that things are going to change for us because of that small boy’s birth.

So what is the reality of Christmas? It’s about Jesus and the ways in which He’s changed the world over the last two thousand years.  

Santa can come to visit. He visited my home when I was a little girl, and he visited when my daughter and grandson were small. But throughout the years, first and foremost in our minds was the birth of Christ. Santa was just the frosting on the cake, so to speak.

I hope you’ll keep coming back here to find out what little tidbit I’m talking about from time to time. I’ll try to keep you entertained and we’ll talk about writing and reading, and who knows what I’ll think of next.

Until next time, I wish you all a blessed Christmas filled with peace, joy and hope.

P.S. There’s one song that I usually only hear at Christmas that can make me cry, no matter where I am. There’s a line that says, “Fall on your knees, and hear the angels voices…” My heart soars and the tears flow when I hear that. CLICK HERE to hear Charlotte Church sing the song that touches the very depths of my heart.


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Monday, December 14, 2020

Old Cases, Cold Cases

 Many people are fascinated by old crimes. Think of Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, The Black Dahlia, and think about the infamous Lindbergh Kidnapping. You can look back on them and wonder if things were really as they seemed. At one time it was said there’s new evidence in the Lizzie Borden case that indicates someone else killed her parents. Jack the Ripper? Do we really know, without a doubt, who he was? Do we have all the facts about the sinking of the Titanic?

What is it about old, cold cases that fascinates people? From a writer’s point of view, I think they’re somewhat easier to write about if the story is fictional, or at least partly fictional. I took stock of my own books and realized that several of my books involved crimes that took place in the past. It wasn’t something I did intentionally, but after thinking about it I realize, in their own way, cold cases are easier to write about – especially fictional old crimes that for some reason must be solved today.

I try to include some humor in my books, and it’s more difficult when writing about current times. There’s nothing funny about death, but you can find humor in the people solving the case and circumstances surrounding the event, especially if they’re trying to solve something from the past.

Does it seem too coincidental when a protagonist finds old letters or clues that have been hidden away for a century? It’s not, and I’ll tell you why.

My family has always loved taking photographs. My grandmother, thankfully, never threw any photos away. They date back to the 1800s. I have family photos galore. I have a relative who was in the Navy from 1904-1907. He took photos of all kinds of things, from the officers on his ship to the Great Wall of China.

Something unexpected happened. I was going through the family photos which fill a trunk, and something caught my eye. In the midst of the family photos was an unusual and disturbing one my relative took while overseas. It was a picture of a firing squad shooting people – not the kind of thing you expect to find in among pictures of Great-Great-Grandma. I can’t even imagine how he was able to take it. There was an officer on horseback with troops standing nearby. You could actually see the smoke coming out of the rifles, and… Well, I don’t want to be too graphic. My point is, you never know what you might find mixed in with family things. If I’d put that in a book, and the photo had significance in a case, no one would believe it. By the way, I had an expert look at the photo and according to him it involved foreign soldiers, not Americans.

Cold cases are different from current cases because you don’t necessarily think of them in the same way. Old crimes are more like a legend, and in some cases, that’s what they are. When telling the story, it’s almost like the crime is off stage somewhere, not just across town.

When writing about old cases the author has to do research. The reader needs to know what things were like in the “old days” to understand what those in the past were dealing with in order to solve a crime.

With today’s technology we can do a lot more with clues than they could back in the day. Imagine trying to solve a murder in 1880, or even 1926. You’d have to rely on circumstances much more than you would today. It could become very sticky. Today you can look at DNA, fingerprints, videos and so much more. The technology is mind-boggling.

So, again, what is the pull to cold cases? They involve looking back in time instead of looking over your shoulder. They involve more imagination. They involve a lot of “what ifs.” Things aren’t laid out in an A-B-C easy to read format.

Do you enjoy old cases? Do they stimulate your imagination more than current crimes? What case, solved or unsolved, has kept your interest over the years?

Until next time, look ahead, but look back, too. See if you can figure out some of the answers about Lizzie Borden or Jack the Ripper. Think about what you based your conclusions on regardless of what crime you’re trying to solve, even if you’re not sure you’re right.

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You might enjoy reading about Sandi Webster’s Great-Great-Great Aunt Sioux in The Accidental Gumshoe, or you might like to read about a deserted ghost town in Old Murders Never Die