Smith Mountain Lake Mystery Writer

Contemplations from a quiet cove on Smith Mountain Lake.

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Location: United States

I'm a Southern gal who loves life, my husband and our family (which, to date, includes 13 grandchildren). I enjoy being with friends and family. But I also like being alone and thinking up plots for future books. I've published two novels, both mysteries, and I'm working on my third. For more about my books, visit me at If you ever hear me say, "I'm bored," please get me to the ER immediately! Paddling my kayak and snapping pictures of the critters I see relaxes me. Beach music has the opposite effect--when I hear those old "doo-wops" I want to dance.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

46th Shenandoah Antiques Expo

Sometimes I get really excited about something I'll be doing in the future. Well, okay, those who know me well know that I often get excited about, well, just about anything. I especially love antiques. I appreciate the expert craftsman who has lovingly created a piece of beauty. I love that extra glow, the patina in those old cherry, walnut, and mahogany pieces. Old paintings seem to bring me into them, and I imagine all kinds of stories. The picture below was painted in 1865 by the Scotsman A. Perigal. I first remember seeing it at my grandmother's house when I was a little girl, and when boredom set in, I'd sit and stare at the painting, lose myself in it. I think that was when I started writing, only I didn't know I was writing. And now writing is a big part of my life.

When I eventually inherited this painting, there were holes in it, and the painting was in terrible shape. I couldn't stand to lose it. I found a lady who restored the painting and the gold-leaf frame. She was expensive, but I have not regretted it one bit.

And guess what? On Saturday, May 1, 2010, I'll be surrounded by antiques! And I'll be selling my two novels, Secrets at Spawning Run and Secrets at Sweetwater Cove. And my darling daughter Christine will be with me. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. Can you blame me?

Christine and I will be at the three-day 46TH SHENANDOAH ANTIQUES EXPO in Fishersville, Virginia, signing books and salivating over antiques. I just might bring home a found treasure or two. The show will be April 30, May 1 & 2. Christine and I will be there on May 1 from 9-12. For more info, check their website. The cost is $5.00 per day, except Friday when the charge of $10 will cover admission for all three days.

If you're an antique buff, you won't want to miss this show. And if you happen to come on Saturday, May 1, Christine and I will be in the Main Expo Hall to meet people and autograph copies of my novels. Hope to see you there.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sedalia Writers Conference

Anytime Darrell Laurant is involved with a writing conference, I know it will be a great experience. The 4th Annual Sedalia Writers Conference the weekend of April 16th and 17th was different, however. This time the experience was more than great; it was more like fantastic, perhaps the best I've ever attended. Small enough to interact with other writers, those attending were eager to share their knowledge.

I rode with fellow Lake Writers Betsy Ashton and Karen Wrigley to Sedalia, a community in Bedford County nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. From 7:00 to 9:00, we mingled and talked with other writers, and listened to Kathleen Grissom, our scheduled keynote speaker. We returned to Sedalia Saturday morning for lots more.

Karen Wrigley, Kathleen Grissom, Betsy Ashton, Sally Roseveare
Photo courtesy of Betsy Ashton

Keynote speaker Kathleen Grissom wowed us with her story of how she came to write The Kitchen House, an historical fiction novel, and how she managed to get the perfect agent and have her book published with Simon and Schuster, a large main-stream publisher. In her soft voice, she read portions of her book, and, of course, I teared up a couple of times. I bought her book and have started reading. It is excellent.

Darrell Laurant, a long-time columnist for The News & Advance in Lynchburg, is a writer who always comes up with the perfect first sentence for each column he writes. Darrell talked to us about freelance writing. He started me thinking about branching out, perhaps writing for magazines.

Darrell Laurant
Photo courtesy of Betsy Ashton

Amy Allen talked about marketing, public relations, media relations, advertising, publicity and promoting authors' books. I plan to use some of her ideas. Amy's business is called Ruth Communications.

Dawn Dowdle is an editor and also a literary agent. New in the business, she is hoping to pick up more clients and find publishers for her clients.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

You Should See This!

On March 25th, several of us met at Centerline View Farm in Moneta, VA. I've kept quiet about it until now, although I wanted to shout out to the world about the experience. Using self-control (which is hard for me), I waited until friend and animal communicator Karen Wrigley received a copy of the televised--yes, televised--session with Hal Hubener, host of the weekly "Cover to Cover" television show on BTW 21.

Hal, Griz, Karen, and Brian (camera man)

In this session, Karen and Hal spoke about how Karen started as an animal communicator, how communications are done, Karen's book Beyond Woofs and Whinnies (see my review of her book on my blog post dated February 15, 2010), and how the book was published.

Muffin loving on her horse Griz

I won't go into detail about the 30-minute interview because you need to see it for yourself. If you like animals and are curious about animal communications, you won't want to miss it. You can view it by clicking on Blue Ridge Regional Library. You want Episode 138.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sailing, Sailing . . .

When our friend Larry called and invited us to spend the afternoon sailing with him and his wife, Ron and I grabbed light jackets, hats, water bottles, and drove to their house.

Lacey, the Golden Retriever on dock; Larry, Joyce and Ron on deck.

THIS'LDO is a gorgeous, sleek 30-footer with teak decking, a nice galley, a head with all the necessities, main sleeping compartment, and the capability to sleep an additional four folks. Besides all the bells and whistles, she is immaculate and decorated to perfection.

Joyce below deck

Larry hoisting the mainsail

Ron enjoying the view. His main job was handling the jib.

I learned about "telltales," fine pieces of wool (or other light material) attached to the luff of the sail that let you know if the sail is "trimmed" properly. Ideally, you want the "telltales" flowing (or streaming) straight back with the sail.

Note the red telltales on the mainsail.

With my vivid imagination, I envisioned sailing across the ocean, fighting off pirates, and being keelhauled by an angry ship captain. Keelhauling is a brutal form of punishment that results in death or horrible injuries from being severely injured by sharp barnacles on the underside of the vessel. The person being punished would be stripped naked and dragged underwater from one side of the ship to the other. I'd read about keelhauling, but really didn't know much about it. Y'all probably thought, as I did, that keelhauling was mostly done by pirates. In researching it, I learned that keelhauling was more commonly used by the Navy. The Dutch started this barbaric practice in 1560; other maritime powers adopted it. And no, there isn't a picture of anyone aboard THIS'LDO being keelhauled! Supposedly, keelhauling is no longer done. I hope.

Captain Larry.

Thanks to a good breeze, sweet sailboat, gorgeous view, and nice and competent hosts, Ron and I thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon. By the way, the above sail with the navy border is the jib. Aren't you impressed with my knowledge?