Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blackholes and Subterranean Gremlins

Dear peeps,

I've decided that the reason I can't find things here in this new/old house is that we have some kind of timey-wimey blackholes in the walls, AND/OR we have subterranean gremlins that live under the floorboards of the house.  They must sneak up through the cracks overnight and snatch anything that interests them.

Like, for example, my notebook of story ideas.

Why is it, that the smaller my living abode shrinks, the harder it is to find stuff?

Answer me that.

After several days of pondering that question, and tearing the house apart--twice--I've decided that the only logical answer is, and I repeat...

Subterranean Gremlins.

I'm thinking they look sort of like this:

Sweet and innocent during the day, but voracious little notebook-eating buggers at night.

More study is needed on this matter.

happy trails,

bobbi c.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mincemeat and Murder

Where Short Story Ideas Come From. . .

I talked to my mother yesterday. I had sent her a copy of my Christmas short story "Holly, Hemlock & Mistletoe" in with her Christmas card. She's always been amazed at my stories and always wants to know where the ideas come from. She marvels at the fact that I actually have ideas, I guess. LOL. When she pressed me for details, I finally said I have more ideas than time to put them into stories.  True. But I really couldn't explain where some of them come from. She never believes me anyway since some of them are so convoluted it's hard to track the origin.

So, this morning I was relaxing and browsing online for recipes. I've recently gotten into making chutneys and such, and love tasting (in my mind) the mixtures of tart, tangy and sweet ingredients. I made two over the last few days—a delicious Pear Ginger Chutney and my annual Cranberry Sauce tarted up (literally) with oranges and candied ginger. (It's similar to Aunt Jewel's recipe for Cranberry Sauce except she's not brave enough to add the ginger. She says it gives her the colly-wobbles.)

I ran across a recipe for mincemeat, a traditional Christmas condiment. That brought back memories. My grandmother was fond of making and eating mincemeat, although as a child we hated the stuff. I wondered why that was since we'd loved her other concoctions. So I went in search for the origin of the stuff and ran across the phrase "Operation Mincemeat."

It seems that Operation Mincemeat was a WWII British "dis-information plan" carried out in order to fool the Germans into thinking that they had, by accident, intercepted 'top secret' documents.  According to an article in Wikipedia, the documents were attached to a corpse deliberately left to wash up on a beach in Spain.

 Ah, a corpse planted with false documents! Interesting! Pretty soon, my mystery-writer imagination went on overdrive and I had an idea for a story. There's still some thinking to be done, because I don't really write historical world war stories. Still, there's a hint of an idea there and actually several other authors over the years have felt the same way.

 I sure hope my mother doesn't ask for the origin of that story, because I'm not sure she'd believe it anyway.


Copyright © 2014 Bobbi A. Chukran. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Free Short Story -- A Holiday Gift to my Friends

Dear friends,

Please accept this gift as a token of my appreciation for the support that you've given me over the last year. It's just a fun little story, nothing too high-tone, no swearin' or cursin' either. :-)


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!

And Happy Trails!

bobbi c.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Five Things I Learned from Patricia Highsmith

by Bobbi A. Chukran

Last week, while re-arranging my book hoard, I came across Patricia Highsmith's book, PLOTTING AND WRITING SUSPENSE FICTION. Then a member of my Sisters-in-Crime group mentioned it, so I decided to re-read it. 

Last time I read the book, it didn't "resonate" with me but I decided to give it another try. It's a short volume and easy to get through in a Sunday evening when there isn't much else on PBS besides the Boisterous Boy's Bell Choir from Belgravia or some such.

Patricia Highsmith was a suspense author from Ft. Worth, Texas (my birth town) who wrote THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, her debut novel that was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock into one of my favorite movies.

Ms. Highsmith admitted that the book is NOT a "how-to write" but a series of things she learned throughout her career. Throughout my re-reading of the book, I learned things about my own writing and had a few mini-epiphanies that will definitely change the way I think about my work.

1. I learned that "who-dunnits" might not be the best thing for me to write.

Ms. Highsmith admitted that she was "not an inventor of puzzles" and that the "mystery who-dunnit" story was "definitely not my forte." She goes on to say that her worst book (A GAME FOR THE LIVING) was of that type. 

This made me think about the types of stories I'm writing. I've been reading lots of cozies and traditional locked room (puzzle) mysteries, and increasingly I have to admit that they aren't my favorite, either. I've actually been trying to write some and have that unsettled "queasy" feeling that comes when I go off track.

Turns out, my favorite short stories I've written have not been the traditional "who-dunnits,"—they've been SUSPENSE. Even my literary short stories have an element of suspense in them (see "Sadie and the Museum Lady" -- free to read on The Dead Mule).  My first mystery novel, LONE STAR DEATH is a sort of hybrid of suspense and traditional who-dunnit. I'm not sure why I never noticed this before.
The stories I like to read the most aren't traditional "who-dunnits" or cozies. Or should I call them "dozies"? Just kidding, sort of.

The ones I like the most are the more suspenseful types with lots of action and  little twists at the end. Stories like you might have seen on the Alfred Hitchcock TV show, or The Twilight Zone. So if I don't like those other types, why write them? Good question!

 I think one of my best stories is "Dewey Laudermilk & the Peckerwood Tree." I consider it more of a suspense story than anything else. And the one that sells the most is my "Aunt Jewel and the Purloined Pork Loin" story. It's a comedy caper with suspense and not a who-dunnit at all.

2. I learned that it's OK not to like all of my characters.

I recently admitted to some writer friends that I don't like many of my characters, and I wondered why this was so. In her book, Highsmith also talked a lot about liking characters and the importance of the reader caring about them. Her amoral, warped characters are actually sympathetic. Highsmith invented characters like Tom Ripley, a con man who became a rich sociopath. Her admiration for the character came through as she talked about him. And, according to Highsmith, it's valid for the author to actually like characters like these—even the bad ones--but we don't have to in order to write a good story.

After reading that, I realized that I DO like some of mine, but I was thinking about my protagonist when I should have been looking in the other direction. I DO like my villains and those like the poor luckless slob in "Dead Dames Don't Wear Diamonds," published recently in THE ANTHOLOGY OF COZY-NOIR (Darkhouse Books).

Now, I need to figure what it is about the characters I DO like and about the ones I do NOT like. Maybe I can apply some of that knowledge to new characters to make them more sympathetic to my readers.

3.  I learned that my main recurring theme seems to be REVENGE and that's OK.

 Ms. Highsmith claims that every author has a "theme" that will eventually emerge and that they should pay attention to it. Her theme, she said, was the relationship between people (especially men) and those sometimes life-changing or threatening encounters. This is certainly illustrated in her first novel, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.

Knowing a theme is useful for an author because it helps with plotting and coming up with ideas for new stories. Sure enough, when I flipped through my files, I found that six stories have "revenge" as the theme. Instead of cringing and feeling like I'm a bad person, I'm running with it.

4.  I learned where that "really sour feeling about the whole project" comes from.

I've been calling it that "queasy feeling" and am glad to know that it's not just me and it's not the stomach flu. The feeling that a story is "forced, self-conscious and utterly without life" comes about when an author doesn't identify with her character and isn't feeling the emotions of the character. Now that I know where it comes from, perhaps I can pay more attention to it and take steps to alleviate it. Without Pepto-Bismol.

5.   I learned that authors have always struggled with some of the same things.

Ms. Highsmith stated, "I have scarcely a morning that doesn't bring something in the post that could be called psychically disturbing" and brings about "anguish and muted screams." She mentioned taxes, not being able to go on four hours' sleep any more like we used to and the feeling that "the aim of society is to put us all out of business." She ends the book with this advice: "…remember that artists have existed and persisted, like the snail and the coelacanth and other unchanging forms of organic life, since long before governments were dreamed of."

Good to know. And to remember.

About the Author

Bobbi A. Chukran writes short tales of mystery & suspense from "Nameless, Texas" featuring mirth & murder, holidays & homicide.
A complete list of Bobbi's stories and books can be found here:

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Cottage Cat Does Christmas

So I says to Roja Consuela Ann Chukran, "Leave that tree alone!"

To which she replied, "Who, me? I am NOT messin' with the Christmas tree. You must be mistaken," she sniffed, looking disdainful.

 Likely story.

Roja looking suspicious, crafty and downright guilty.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Another snippet from CATTYWAMPUS CHRISTMAS

--> -->
A heartwarming tale with bite.

Another short excerpt from the new holiday satire:
Dot walked around slowly, taking in the decorations. The room was decked out like an upscale hotel lobby with everything modern—all in black, purple and lime green. A huge wreath the size of a wagon wheel hung above the fireplace and was decorated with black and purple ornaments topped off with a huge lime and white polka dot bow. A string of garland hanging over the front of the fireplace was also festooned with purple glass ornaments.

Dot stared in dismay, but tried to think of something to say that wouldn't hurt her mother's feelings. "Wow, looks like you’ve already done all the decorating. And it looks so . . . modern. And fancy. Not like you at all, to tell the truth." Sort of like you're decorating for Halloween, she thought.

Her mother smiled. "Yes! I know! Don't you love it? We just couldn't wait to get busy. We started decorating the day after Halloween, transitioned right past Falloween, on through Thanksgiving and are headed right smack dab into Christmas!"

"Once we got going, there was no stoppin' us!" Doris explained. "Me and your mama were just a couple of crazy whirlin' dervish decorators!" She flung her hands up, twirled then collapsed on the sofa. "Whew! We've had a bit of eggnog, dear," she explained. "To help the process along."

For more, click through to the sales page on Available in e-book and paperback.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Poem about Thanksgiving. . .and Christmas

Dear Reader-Friends,

A few years back, I wrote a Thanksgiving poem. It's recently been unearthed here in the Cave du Chukran and I thought I'd post it here. Ironically, one of the themes of my new Christmas novella, CATTYWAMPUS CHRISTMAS, is all about WANTING stuff. I thought I'd share the poem with you. Feel free to share, but please give credit to the author, me. :-)

Thankful for ALL my readers!

Thanksgiving Cancelled for Lack of Interest

Christmas wreaths on Credit Union wall
decked with colors never seen in nature.
First week of November, plastic needles
wilting in the hot Texas sun.

Halloween décor still hangs
from trees two blocks away.

Children rush to their parents,
chatter with glee and clamor about
what they WANT for Christmas.

Parents smile and take out
scraps of paper or phones and
take it all down, nodding,
with promises of e-mailing it to Santa.

Straight from sugar shock
to shopping excess
with no pause in between
for gratitude or thankfulness.

Has Thanksgiving
been cancelled,
due to lack of interest?

Copyright © 2014 by Bobbi A. Chukran

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The New ANTHOLOGY OF COZY-NOIR -- Review and a giveaway!

Dear reader-friends,

Please check out the new (great) review of THE ANTHOLOGY OF COZY-NOIR by Cynthia Chow in the Kings River Life magazine.

AND...enter their giveaway and you might win a free copy!

Cynthia gets it right, and saw exactly what Andrew MacRae, the editor/publisher (Darkhouse Books) and authors were trying to do with this unique new genre.

This is my first anthology publication (my story, Dead Dames Don't Wear Diamonds, is a sort of spoof), and I'm so proud to be in the company of these other fine authors!

Happy trails from wet and warm Texas!

bobbi c.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to Cook Greens in the Crock Pot--A Recipe from Aunt Jewel--Slow Cooker Turnip Greens with Potlikker

Aunt Jewel is one of the spunky main characters in my "Nameless, Texas" fiction series. She's "somewhere between 50 and ancient," she says, and she loves to cook. And she loves to cook things she grew in her own garden. For Thanksgiving, she often makes a mess of greens to go alongside all the other traditional foods. I asked her if she'd share her family recipe for Crock-Pot greens here, and she said "OK, as long as you make sure those folks do 'em right."

So folks--do 'em right, OK? I'd hate for Aunt Jewel to get after me with her rolling pin.

Aunt Jewel’s Slow Cooker Turnip Greens with Potlikker 

 Like any good Southern recipe, this healthy one pot meal doesn't include precise measurements.  You make enough for your family, and have extras for leftovers.  Here are the ingredients I use to make a "mess" of greens.  I use a Corning Ware slow cooker, 10-quart size.  If you want to use a smaller size,just use less greens.

Greens 'n cornbread! The way it's meant to be
Fill the cooker with one large bag of pre-washed greens from the store OR enough fresh greens from your garden—well washed, of course. Get those snails out of there! Don't worry if they won't all fit.  Cram them on in. The lid will hold them down, and the greens will shrink and cook down over the course of the day.

Add 3 cups of organic chicken broth, either canned/boxed from the store (I use organic) or homemade. This is not a precise measurement; if you don't have enough, substitute water.

Pour in a big splash of good olive oil, and some chopped garlic cloves—as many as you can stand.  If desired, add some leftover ham or a small ham bone, bacon or pork fatback cut into small pieces.  This is not required, but does make a traditional "mess" of greens and really adds a lot of flavor and protein to the dish without using a lot of meat.

Add enough water so that the greens are moist. Gently toss the greens so that they're coated with the liquids. 

Replace the lid on the cooker. Have a glass of wine. (optional)

Cook the greens on HIGH for the first four hours, stirring occasionally, then reduce the temperature to LOW and let them cook until they are done—the longer the better. Traditionally, this means that they are cooked down into a very concentrated dish, with lots of lovely potlikker on the bottom.  Serve the greens in a bowl with plenty of the potlikker and serve with homemade cornbread.  Drink the remaining potlikker—that's where all the vitamins are hiding, and it's good for you!


Aunt Jewel

Friday, November 21, 2014

Where the Heck did THAT Story Come From? CATTYWAMPUS CHRISTMAS

Dear Friends-Readers,

 Here's another story to put in my "Where the Heck did THAT Story Come From?" file.

In my new Christmas comedy, CATTYWAMPUS CHRISTMAS, there is what writers call "the inciting incident." The incident here is when the main character, Dorothy Norton, AKA "Dot," comes home for the holidays to "Nameless, Texas" and helps her father catch a giant runaway inflatable helicopter with a Santa in it.

Sort of like this one. It's SEVEN feet long! Jeepers!

 Have you noticed that these things are getting larger EVERY year? Scary. But I digress. . .

 Dot isn't paying attention and gets knocked down by her neighbor's VW Bug. I'll leave it up to your imagination to figure out what's real and what isn't, but all sorts of craziness ensues—vintage toys come to life, there's a spunky British Christmas fairy, some ravenous invisible flying monkeys and a very rude Santa who is NOT your typical ho-ho-ho jolly old elf! (Think The Wizard of Oz meets Monty Python meets Lost in Space with Snagglepuss. I think I used up my quota of atrocious groaners with this one.)

Parte Dos! Anyway, when I was a kid, we lived in Ft. Worth, Texas--home of Bell Helicopter. We passed Bell on the drive to our grandmother's house in Dallas. Every year, they'd put one of their older helicopters on their front lawn with an animated Santa inside, and he moved back and forth, waving at the traffic. It was such a thrill to anticipate it. We'd keep asking "How much longer?" and Daddy would frown and say "We'll get there when we get there! Be quiet and let me drive!" Then we'd finally see it and squeal. Daddy would cringe, slow down as we passed and we waved back to Santa, never doubting that he was real. Sigh. Good memories.  

 (Does ANYONE have a good photo of this? I'd give anyone a free book if they come up with one I can stick here in the blog. Seriously. This would have been back in the '60s.)

So, back to CATTYWAMPUS CHRISTMAS--take an errant yard decoration, a few childhood memories, a love for vintage Christmas with just a bit of snark against all the "holiday hoo-hah" insanity and mix all together. That's where THIS story came from.

And I hope y'all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy holidays,

bobbi c.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Available now! New Christmas Comedy. Warning! This is NOT a Children's Book

New Christmas Comedy Available Now! 

Part of my "Nameless, Texas" series, a new Christmas parody/satire/spoof novella loosely based on The Wizard of Oz (and other things). 


Just to whet your appetite, here's a short quote from the book: 

"I don't know how to fix this thing! I can fly around the world in one night. I can wink and go up a chimney in a split second. I can be in 500 shopping malls on the same weekend. I can even fit enough gifts for the entire world into one tiny sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, but I CANNOT FIX THIS CONFOUNDED COMPUTER!"
"Oh my goodness, Santa," Dot said. "That is bad."

Available on as an e-book.

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Gobble Up these Thanksgiving Short Stories!

Dear friends, 

If you're looking for some fun Thanksgiving tales filled with quirky people getting into trouble, check out my three "Nameless, Texas" stories set around the holiday. Thank you!

Death at Do-Lolly's Diner

Aunt Jewel and the Poisoned Potlikker

Aunt Jewel and the Purloined Pork Loin

Friday, October 24, 2014

Planning Ahead. . .Christmas Novella Cover Reveal!

New Christmas novella, in edits now...cover reveal!

CATTYWAMPUS CHRISTMAS--A Fantasy Adventure, is based on one of my award-winning plays for young people, Dot & the (Amazing Technicolor) Quest for the Real Santa Clause.

It's all about a crazy Texas family, a runaway inflatable Santa Clause, a little accident that leads to an adventure, toys that come to life and what happens when Santa has to outsource to Mars. (Mars? Really? Yep.)

Oh, and it's all about family, and holiday traditions.  Hope you like it.

Publication Date: November 10.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Fall Thanksgiving Cozy Mystery E-Story!

Yes, I know it's a bit early, but I wanted to get this out where my readers can find it in time for their holiday read-a-thons. :-)

A new "Nameless, Texas" holiday/Thanksgiving story!


Available now at for the Kindle (and free apps for other devices).

Story cover features my grandmother's vintage turkey salt and pepper shakers, Made in Japan

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What I see from my windows...







Back to work!


New Cozy-Noir Anthology Out!

When Andrew MacRae of Darkhouse Books sent out his call for cozy-noir stories for their first published anthology, many of my short story author friends thought, what the heck? LOL. At first, I ignored it because that's not the kind of stuff I usually write. Then, as so many of these things do, it bored into my brain and sat there, and pulsated, and grew and I thought, hmmm, why not?

I did a bit of research. Got on Google and surfed around all the sites that discuss noir movies and novels and I realized how many of them are my favorites. I thought, well, maybe I can do this. For a challenge. For a few laughs. Hmmm. . .

Before long, I got a vision of a slinky dame---and of course, she was blonde. And buxom. And she was sitting on a bar stool in a smoky old Texas beer joint. "Well, HEY there, good lookin'!" I said. "What are YOU up to?"  

I frequently ask my characters what they're up to. You'd be surprised what they tell me.

Then little snippets of dialogue started running through my head.

One of these snippets of dialogue in particular turned into the first line of my finished story "Dead Dames Don't Wear Diamonds."

"I wonder how many damned fools have been led astray by a blue-eyed buxom blonde whispering the simple phrase through her blood-red lips -- "All you have to do is--  ""

The voice was of a male protagonist. Which was interesting, since I'd never written a story with a male POV before.  He gets into a bit of trouble. Of course, it's all the blonde's fault. LOL. I'm not sure how many people will recognize all the references to other noir books and movies I included in the story, but it was fun fitting them in.

I guess I pulled it off, because the story was accepted and published in the book along with others by authors Robert Lopresti, Deborah Auten, Judy Brownsword, Magdalena Jones, Herschel Cozine, L.E. Schwaller, Percy Spurlark Parker, Michael Guillebeau, Kate McCorkle, David Himmel, Lynn Kinnaman, Wenda Morrone and John Haas.

I'm pleased to be in this anthology for several reasons. One, it's my first published story in an anthology. Two, it's my first fiction story published in print (and e-book) by a small press and three, I'm in some great company.

The book is out now, for sale on

Take a look, read a sample. It's a good one.

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Readers love DYE, DYEING, DEAD

Two great 5-Star Amazon reviews for my new "Nameless, Texas" novella, DYE, DYEING, DEAD:

A Delightful Mystery, August 27, 2014
"A great read, perfect for summer reading, or a cool, rainy fall day. As a native Texan, I found much of the dialogue familiar and fun. The characters are broadly drawn, but definitely true to the Lone Star mystique. If you're hankering for an engaging mystery with an entertaining cast of characters, this will more than fill the bill. Dying to see what Chukran has up her sleeve next for the folks in Nameless, Texas."

A Romp, October 5, 2014
"What a romp! With quirky characters, secrets large and small, a town with a personality all its own, and a solid plot, I found myself smiling more often than not when reading Dye, Dyeing, Dead. I hope more books about Kendra, Aunt Jewel, and Nameless, Texas are coming soon."
Thanks, y'all!
bobbi c.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where do you get your short story ideas, anyway?

Most authors are asked that question at least once in their career, if not many times. I get the same question, although sometimes it's worded differently. Like, "Why do you write such strange stories?" or "Where on earth do you get such strange ideas?" LOL. People are surprised when I tell them that most of my stories come from simple things that happen in real life. Or they come from something I wonder about.

For example, in my first short story collection that was just released, HALLOWEEN THIRTEEN--A Collection of Mysteriously Macabre Tales, all of the stories were inspired by everyday occurrences.

Breakfast du Jour, my tale of comedic West Texas zombies, was inspired by a long-ago memory of driving down an inky black highway and seeing an old neon sign in the distance. Out there, in the dark, the road turns into a shimmery snake-like mirage and you see all sorts of things. Or you THINK you do. :-)

Phone Calls from Dead People was inspired by something my grandmother used to say.

One of only two poems in the collection, Catalyst, was inspired by watching how crazy my cats get sometimes in the middle of the night. I wondered, are they affected by phases of the moon? The other poem, Phantom Lover,  was triggered by a dog barking in the night.

My tale of the Poes, Edgar Allan and Virginia, Forevermore, was inspired by thinking how hard it must be sometimes to live with a famous author.

A reader's favorite, Best Halloween Ever, 1965, was inspired by a childhood memory.

Vampire Fever (or Hairum-Scarum Vampire), started out as a spoof of the classic DRACULA novel I wrote titled THE JOURNAL OF MINA HARKER. I wanted a shorter version with an alternative ending. And I'll admit it's a bit of a fun poke at all the vampire stories that have been swooping around the last few years.

Of course, I just can't help myself, I have to put a bit of black humor into my stories. Believe me, I've tried to write them otherwise and it just doesn't work.

For me, coming up with the ideas is the easy part. I love writing holiday stories and although most of these are not Halloween stories per se, they can be enjoyed at Halloween, read-aloud (most are rated PG-13) and shared with others who like their short fiction a little, how shall we say, straaaange?

If you're a fan of strange stories, please check out my collection.

Available on as an e-book; paperback to come

Happy trails from Texas!

bobbi c.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Announcing, a new Halloween Short Story Collection!

My new short story collection, HALLOWEEN THIRTEEN--A Collection of Mysteriously Macabre Tales, is now available as an e-book on Amazon for only $2.99.

It features thirteen stories written over a period of 25-years, most of them within the last five years. The stories are quirky, strange, a bit macabre and mysterious with my signature strange sense of humor.  These are some of the most fun stories I've written, so I really hope you're enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

And yes, that's Louie Eduardo on the cover, taken a few years ago.

The book is over 12,000 words in thirteen short stories and two poems and has a linked Table of Contents. PLUS a bonus excerpt from my new novella, DYE, DYEING, DEAD.

Stories included are:

Best Halloween Ever, 1965
Little Window in the Door
Phantom Lover, a Poem
Breakfast du Jour
Catalyst, a Poem
Edgar Allan and Virginia, Forevermore
Phone Calls from Dead People
Revenge of the Ulagu
The Winged Crusader
Think of the Snakes
Mistaken Identity
Vampire Fever
Good Neighbors

Several of the short stories included in this collection have been published online in places like Mysterical-E, Kings River Life and The Clockwise Cat.

Best Halloween Ever,1965 is still available as a single short story for the Kindle on Vampire Fever is excerpted from THE JOURNAL OF MINA HARKER (my DRACULA adaptation novella) and published with an alternate ending.

All of the other stories and poems are original to this collection, never before seen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Real life steps in . . .

Dear friends,

No matter how deep  authors try to immerse ourselves into our books, real life always steps in to throw in a big STOP sign to our creativity and yank us back into the "real" world. I've been up half the night, listening to the quiet in the house, jittery from too much caffeine and suffering the ill effects of a bit too much comfort food and red wine from dinner last night.

Yesterday, my husband and I had to make the decision to put our oldest family member, Ginger Snap Ann, AKA Granny Cat, out of her misery. She was at least 18 years old, maybe older. She'd been declining for the last couple of years, had numerous health issues, had lost a lot of weight, cried constantly throughout the night at the top of her lungs, yet was still eating very well. Then all of a sudden she wasn't.

Ginger, helping in the office.

Playing with youngest sister, Izzy June.

Helping with my still life photography

Ginger, Solar Cat

This photo portrays her personality very well. She didn't suffer fools.

Guarding the bed from evil-doers. And other cats.

Ginger was feisty, independent, sometimes infuriating, but always loving to her human friends.
 Not so much to her sisters and brother Louie. :-)  She made sure they knew who was boss. She was one of those older shelter cats that had grown out of kitten phase, yet not adult.  We never really knew how old she was, maybe one, one-and-a-half, the vet guessed, when we brought her home. She was lame in the back legs, but after she snaked a paw out of her cage and snagged husband's jacket, there was no way we could leave her behind. She soon got over that little problem and was leaping all over the house in no time at all. A bit too much, actually. One time she climbed a ladder, leaped off into the air, breaking her jaw in the fall. Another time she tried to fly off a loft and hit her nose on a table, breaking it. Did that stop her? Nope.

This morning, her remaining five adopted siblings are wondering where she is. Missy Jane sits in front of the litter box, staring into it. Izzy June noses around behind the dryer. Maybe she's there. No? Where could she be? She looks up at me, stares, then stalks off to nose around the bookshelves.

Roja (the brains behind the outfit who Knows All) is hiding under the bed, her big yellow eyes staring back at me in accusation. Roja's sister, Blanca, is beside me on the bed and from time to time looks up at me with her cornflower blue eyes. Blanca has always been the more "simple" of the bunch, but even she knows something's not quite right.

Louie, who always loved a rough and tumble smack-down with Ginger, has been sleeping non-stop since we got home yesterday. Maybe he's got the right idea.

The vet said that cats mourn, too, and I believe it. The memory that keeps going through my mind is the day that my  beloved cat Demi, died, years ago. Demi and Ginger had been adopted together and had a strong bond to each other. Demi's body lay in the entry way of our home, covered with a blanket until my husband could get home to bury her.

For two hours, Ginger sat on top of her, not moving, not twitching a whisker. Staring off into . . . somewhere.

Rest in peace, little one. We already miss you, and hope you're in a much better place right now, maybe nipping at the tails of your former sisters and brother who all left us way too early.

bobbi c.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another great review for DYE, DYEING, DEAD!

This time, in the August 2014 issue of Over my Dead Body online mystery 'zine, reviewed by Cherie Jung:

"DYE, DYEING, DEAD introduces readers who haven’t met her previously in the author’s short stories, to Kendra Louise Harper, in the first novella of the Nameless, Texas mystery series. Kendra is an avid gardener, folklorist, and amateur sleuth. Her plan for the day was to help her Aunt Jewel with a Natural Dyeing with Plants workshop for the garden club. Before the workshop concluded, a dead body turned up and a witness claimed that Aunt Jewel bashed the victim over the head. No one really believed Aunt Jewel was the killer except the sheriff. Hence it was up to Kendra to change his mind.

The author has a folksy, fun style of writing with a clever turn of phrase. She has assembled quite a group of characters that readers are sure to find amusing. The dialogue is witty and sparkles.  Nameless, Texas is a town I want to visit again! 

DYE, DYEING, DEAD is a 35,000 word novella. I love novellas! Since I read a lot of short stories and a lot of full length books, when I get a chance to read a novella, it seems like the perfect length to me."

Thank you, Cherie!

bobbi c.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Short Stories--How I'm Inspired, Where I Get My Ideas and What-not

Dear friends,

I was lucky this morning to be interviewed by Linda Hall (fellow Short Mystery Fiction Society member)  on her Short Story Summer Spectactular!  She asked some hard questions, and we talk about inspiration for my short stories, how I write them, where I get my ideas, etc.

Please read, leave a comment, etc. In the comments, there are several links to free stories to read online. Not all mysteries, but hope they're all fun!

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

One of my "Nameless, Texas" short stories, available on Amazon for the Kindle

Friday, August 22, 2014

Everything you Need to Know about Me - LOL

Dear friends,

This morning, I was interviewed over on Lois Winston's Book Club Friday blog where I talk about my writing history, where I get my inspiration, how small towns and quirky individuals have influenced my work---you might even learn some stuff my mama doesn't  know! LOL

Happy trails!

bobbi c.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

First (great!) Review for DYE, DYEING, DEAD

 Dear friends,

The first review of my new mystery novella, DYE, DYEING, DEAD, was published this morning in the Kings River Life magazine. I love reviews like this, because it confirms that readers "get" my characters and what I'm trying to do with the story.

And the fact that the reviewer, Cynthia Chow, is a librarian is icing on the cake. :-)
Stop by before August 23rd and leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of the paperback! 

"After the end of her marriage and equipped with a college degree that usually requires additional doctorates to insure employment, the chance to live with her aunt was a godsend for folklorist Kendra Harper. The contrast between Austin and tiny Nameless, Texas was a bit of a shock, but it gives Kendra the chance to research and write about ghost stories and local legends. When Kendra isn’t at a cemetery photographing tombstones, she helps Aunt Jewel with gardening classes. The most recent is the prophetically titled Dyeing with Plants workshop.

The class for the Nameless Garden Club has a rocky start as the ladies arrive fully dressed for a formal Southern Tea and bring along their own heckler. Eula-Mae Bunch spends the entire workshop denouncing the need for natural dyes while praising cheaper manufactured versions. Aunt Jewel finally kicks Eula-Mae out. The next time the abrasive woman is seen, she’s a corpse.

Jewel’s neighbor declares he witnessed Jewel kill Eula-Mae which means the sheriff isn’t going to look too hard in any other direction. Knowing how gossip can damage a reputation, Kendra and her best friend Jeremy Clifford conduct their own investigation to discover who among Eula-Mae’s many enemies was finally pushed over the edge. The fact that Eula-Mae was on a righteous march to censor the library certainly doesn’t make her any more sympathetic.

As a novella, the pace moves quickly while still fleshing out the characters of Kendra and her closest friends. Readers may spot the clues and the identity of the murderer far ahead of Kendra, but she has the task of weeding through numerous suspects, none of whom are shedding a tear for Eula-Mae. The tone remains light with Jeremy encapsulating most of the humor with his eccentricities and Spock ears. Kendra has a low-key romantic relationship with a deputy and even Aunt Jewel may have a potential beau on the horizon which makes this a very funny and romantic blend of Southern charm and mystery."

Thank you, Cynthia, and thank you Lorie!

bobbi c.