Sunday, October 9, 2016

Let's Get Serious for Just a Minute...

In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, recognized Oct 9 through 15, 2016, I’m reprinting, with permission, an essay written by a young friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. Our society has benefited greatly from the invention of an automatic sprinkler system.  Such a simple concept, when you read about it.  I found this a very interesting essay and I wanted to share it with you, and perhaps give you something to think about and be thankful for this week. (ps...any typos are mine as I had to transcribe from hard copy...)  

          Mrs. O’Leary and her fabled “cow-tastrophe” which resulted in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 would not have become legendary if automatic fire sprinklers had been installed in her barn.  But the first practical system would not be invented for another three years.
          Two-hundred people who perished when a gas lamp ignited a fire at the Paris Opera in 1897 would not have had their lives cut short had automatic fire sprinklers been installed.  But the first system was designed to protect commercial goods stored in warehouses, not to save lives.
          Four-hundred and sixty-four Paraguayans would still be alive today had there been sprinklers at the Ycuá Bolaños Botánico Supermarket when a fire swept through there in 2004.  But Asunción city code does not require automatic sprinkler systems be installed in new construction.

Friday, April 29, 2016



Excerpt from The Blond Leading the Blond: 
          The pantry held a treasure trove of snacks.  My gaze flitted from cereal shelf to canned vegetables shelf to crunchy snacks shelf and then, lo and behold, a dessert shelf.  Lined up in alphabetical order was the entire line of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies:  Double Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mint, Orange and Raspberry.  I gasped with the realization that Aunt Izzy was alive.  Not “alive” in the physical sense, in that she’d been pirated away in the witness protection program somewhere, and another woman’s face had been beaten beyond recognition, or even the paranormal sense in that her spirit would be dragging chains down the stairs or moaning at all hours of the night.  I  meant alive in that she was not a glossy photograph but a real flesh-and-blood woman who had lived and breathed and loved and shared her DNA.  With me.
          We had the same cookie-loving gene. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

What in the world...

is Jayne up to now????  Any guesses?

Details of the project to follow soon.
As an aside, this many cookies is hard to hide, but I'd stacked them in a rarely used closet at the top of the stairs.  It has all the old record albums and photos stored in shoe boxes waiting to be organized, and I can count on one hand the number of times anyone in my house has opened that closet in the last 3 years. But it took the Cookie Monster in my house less than 24 hours to find them!  I'm taking bets as to how long the stash remains in tack now that it has been discovered...

Monday, February 29, 2016


The much anticipated second installment of VIRGINIA IS FOR MYSTERIES has arrived!  Thirteen of the authors will be on hand at the East Beach Sandwich Company (4500 Pretty Lake Ave, Norfolk) this Saturday, March 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. to sign books (available for purchase) and to have a good time.  The East Beach Porch Players will be there.  Come on down and join us!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Remember the cookbook project I was involved in?  The premise being for 88 authors to supply easy to prepare meals so that writers (and other very busy people) had time to do what is most important for them.  Well, after 4 months on the market, the book earned enough money that a donation was made to charity which feeds hungry children!  I feel quite proud to have been part of the process.  A special Thank You to Lois Winston <> who spearheaded the project (and did 99% of the work getting it published!)

Friday, February 12, 2016

CHOCOLATE! ('nuf said...)

Ah, tis the day to celebrate LOVE!  AND CHOCOLATE! 

And why do love and chocolate go together?  Research has discovered that “Chocolate gets right to the heart of sexual pleasure by increasing the brain’s level of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. Serotonin plays a major role in positive mood, emotional health, proper sleep and balanced appetite, contributing to numerous behavioral and physiological functions.

So if you're in need of a dose of serotonin, along with the best feel-good drink around, try this one for Chocolate Hecho à la Espalola , which translated means “The Spanish made chocolate.”  But what it really means is “drinkable melted chocolate that will make you feel wicked and divine and goooo-ooo—ood!”

Chocolate Hecho à la Espanola

4 -1/2 cups whole milk (divided)
1 pound semisweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
      broken into bits
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
½ cup fresh whipped cream

Bring 4 cups milk to a boil over high heat.  Remove pan from heat and add chocolate and sugar.  Stir regularly until chocolate is melted.

Mix cornstarch with remaining ½ cup milk.  Stir into chocolate.  Return to heat and stir until thickened, approximately 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chesapeake Chuck, Our Southeastern Virginia Cousin of Punxsutawney Phil

 If you still believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or that Carolyn Keene (author of the Nancy Drew mysteries) exists, then you might not be ready for the dose of reality I’m about to administer. If you want to flip over to play a game of mahjongg while the rest of us discuss this, that’s OK by me.
     Those of you still with me, you might want to sit down. 
     Is everyone ready?  Then here we go.
     The groundhog who “predicts” if winter will end soon or drag on for another six weeks does NOT come out of his hibernation annually on February 2nd for that reason.  No, the male emerges from his hidey-hole to mate.  Yup, he’s had a nice long nap and now he’s looking for some fun. It’s that simple.
     So from whence did this vernal misconstrual come?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Signing Event at Royal Chocolate

What better way to shake off the Winter Blues than by curling up with a good book and a box of chocolates?  On Saturday, February 27 from 3 to 6 p.m., the authors of By the Bay: East Beach Stories will be gathering at Royal Chocolate, 164 Central Park (VBch Town Center) in Virginia Beach to sign copies of their book.  And while there, you can sample your way through some of the most delicious chocolates ever!  Take a box, and a book, home for the weekend!

To sweeten the tempting offer, here is an excerpt from my story, "Secrets."

The biggest secret of my life was on the eleven o’clock news. Local investigative reporter Chuck Northwood had shown up on my front porch early this morning, tapping out an SOS on my doorbell. I’d answered the urgent summons and had been met with lights flashing and cameras rolling.