Thursday, May 31, 2012


Yes, I borrowed this. But when you can't say it any better...thanks Marc and Angel!

Click above for their site.

Optimist:  Person who travels on nothing
from nowhere to happiness.
–Mark Twain
Some people are more optimistic by nature, but optimism is not a fixed attribute.  It’s a choice we have control over.  Every morning, we either choose to wake up grumpy or wake up with a positive outlook.  Research has shown that, in the long run, optimistic people handle stress better, get sick less often, live longer, and are happier and more successful than their pessimistic counterparts.
The good news is that we can all develop skills to improve optimism.  Here are nine ideas to get you started:

1.  Find the opportunity in every difficulty.

‘Optimist’ is a word which here refers to a person who focuses on the positive.  For instance, if an optimist lost her left arm in a car accident, she might say in a hopeful voice, “I’m alive.  I don’t have my left arm anymore, but I do have my right one, and my life still to live.”
Optimism does not mean ignoring the problem entirely; it means understanding that setbacks are inevitable, often temporary, and that you have the skills and abilities to combat the challenges you face.  What you are dealing with may be difficult, but it is important to remain hopeful and positive about a brighter future.  Optimism will inspire a sense of hopefulness and the confidence that is required to take full advantage of the opportunities that do exist.  Remember, the most beautiful rainbows come from the sunlight after a very dark storm.  Read Full Catastrophe Living.

2.  Surround yourself with positive people.

You are only as good as the company you keep.  If you’re around gloomy people, there’s a good chance you won’t to be smiling.  Make it your mission to dodge negativity.  Surround yourself with supportive friends who have positive outlooks.  As they say, if you want to soar with the eagles, you have to stop hanging out with the ducks.
Optimism is a learned habit, and it is positively contagious.  Surround yourself with people who could infect you with positivity.  In turn pass your new good mood on to a friend or stranger in words and deed – let somebody have that parking space, let that person with only a few items cut in front of you at the market.  The simple act of doing something nice for others is actually a good pick-me-up all by itself.

3.  Give love, receive love, and invest in love.

LOVE:  It’s the greatest force in the universe.  It’s a treasure that people would give anything for, yet it costs nothing to give and receive. There is an endless supply, and it can be extended to family, friends and strangers at any moment.  It increases positivity and acts like a shield against negativity.  It forgives, heals, encourages and inspires.
Give love, receive love and invest in love every day.  Because where you invest your love, you invest your life.

4.  Be realistic, and expect ups and downs.

A foundation of realism keeps things in perspective, and helps prevent things from being blown out of proportion.  Just because you’re an optimist doesn’t mean you’re not going to have bad days.  You will – that’s reality.  Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
Trying to be 100% positive all the time is wanting to be an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down.  However, when we recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the same one ocean, we are able to let go and be at peace with the way things are.
Bottom line:  Prepare for the worst but hope for the best – the former makes you sensible, and the latter makes you an optimist.  Read Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.

5.  Inspire yourself with a smile and positive reminders.

If you expect the worst, the worst will happen.  If you let things bother you, they will.  But if you smile, you’ll feel better.  Studies have shown that putting a cheerful smile on your face can trigger a part of your brain that actually makes you feel happier and more optimistic about the present and future.
Also, feed your optimism with positive reminders.  Write down short statements that inspire optimism.  Put them in places where you’ll see them every day, such as on your bathroom mirror, the inside of your locker, and on your computer monitor.
  • “Anything is possible.”
  • “Lead a life of positivity.”
  • “The only thing I can control is my attitude towards life.”
  • “I always have a choice.”
  • “Even the longest journey begins with a single step.”
  • “I will look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism shine.”
Read The Happiness Project.

6.  Work on the things you can control.

Pessimism is impractical because it causes you to spend time dwelling on negative things that haven’t happened yet, while simultaneously preventing you from getting things done now.  Pessimism breeds indecision.  It’s a waste of time, and time is a limited resource that you can’t afford to take for granted.  Every minute spent worrying guarantees nothing but less time to enjoy what life has to offer.
The solution?  Acknowledge the things you can’t control and don’t become a victim.  Stop thinking about what is happening to you, and start thinking about what you can do to make it better.  Know that you almost always have a choice. Is your job a bummer?  Find a new one.  Not ready to leave because of your 401K and vacation time?  Then celebrate those reasons and remember that you chose to stay.

7.  Count your blessings.

There is so much good, so much beauty, so much love in your life.  You have so much right now to be thankful for, you just need to pause long enough to appreciate it.  Do so.  This will help frame a better attitude and take your mind off of the negatives.
Start a feel-good journal.  Buy a blank journal and fill it with things that make you smile, like a photo of your pet, or a compliment a friend gave you.  Use it to track your accomplishments and celebrate your victories.  Stick only positive things in your journal and open it up whenever you’re feeling down.

8.  Appreciate that nothing in life is permanent.

Research has shown that optimists and pessimists attribute the reasons for success and failure differently.  Pessimists tend to attribute negative events to permanent, personal, and pervasive factors.  Optimists tend to attribute negative events to non-personal, non-permanent, and non-pervasive factors.  ‘Permanent’ are factors that will be with you throughout life; ‘personal’ are factors that relate to us as individuals; and ‘pervasive’ are factors that affect our ability in other parts of our life.
Bottom line:  Nothing is permanent.  However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.

9.  Focus on the present.

People often obsess themselves with the past and the future.  But life is happening right now.  You can’t learn something or remember something that’s happening now if your mind is stuck in another time.
It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a new piece of information into your long-term memory.  So don’t let your life and your mind slip away.  Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, practice being and living in the present moment.  Remember, right now is the only moment guaranteed to you.  Right now is life.  Don’t miss it.

So, who's with me?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Had to share the loveliness of this guest ranch resort...I hope you enjoy the video as it takes you away. Click the link.

Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort - Tucson, AZ

Tucson's renowned luxury resort, Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort emanates intimacy, vintage style, and authentic Southwestern ambiance. Rich in Tucson history, the resort is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains on 34 acres of natural desert landscape. Botanical gardens envelop the resort's private casitas, guestrooms, and suites. Authentic 1929 adobe structures and hand-carved wood-beamed ceilings are just some of the resort's preserved details amid its many modern day amenities. 1-800-728-6514

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This post is a request from a new friend I met on the plane yesterday. Thought I'd share it with you.
Gary Chapman's book "The 5 Love Languages" has been around a long time. It might open your eyes to help you understand how you or someone you love speaks "love".  Take the quiz and see what love language you speak. My language is Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. My husbands is Acts of Service. When I speak to him in his "language" he feels loved, and when he speaks to me in mine, I feel loved, too. Have fun taking the quiz. Let me know what your language is!

The 5 Love Languages®

What if you could say or do just the right thing guaranteed to make that special someone feel loved? The secret is learning the right love language! Millions of couples have learned the simple way to express their feelings and bring joy back into marriage: The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman’s New York Times bestseller.

#1: Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

#2: Quality Time
For those whose love language is spoken with Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

#3: Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

#4: Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

#5: Physical Touch This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

The Five Love Languages Quiz

Select the one you prefer most of your two options, the one that fits the best right now. Circle the letter to the right of the option you most prefer.

I like to receive notes of affirmation. A
I like to be hugged. E

I like to spend one-to-one time with a person who is special to me.B
I feel loved when someone gives practical help to me.D

I like it when people give me gifts.C
I like leisurely visits with friends and loved ones.B

I feel loved when people do things to help me.D
I feel loved when people touch me.E

I feel loved when someone I love or admire puts his or her arm around me.E
I feel loved when I receive a gift from someone I love or admire.C

I like to go places with friends and loved ones.B
I like to high-five or hold hands with people who are special to me.E

Visible symbols of love (gifts) are very important to me.C
I feel loved when people affirm me.E

I like to sit close to people whom I enjoy being around.E
I like for people to tell me I am beautiful/handsome.A

I like to spend time with friends and loved ones.B
I like to receive little gifts from friends and loved ones.C

Words of acceptance are important to me.A
I know someone loves me when he or she helps me.D

I like being together and doing things with friends and loved ones.B
I like it when kind words are spoken to me.A

What someone does affects me more than what he or she says.D
Hugs make me feel connected and valued.E

I value praise and try to avoid criticism.A
Several small gifts mean more to me than one large gift.C

I feel close to someone when we are talking or doing something together.B
I feel closer to friends and loved ones when they touch me often.E

I like for people to compliment my achievements.A
I know people love me when they do things for me that they don’t enjoy doing.D

I like to be touched as friends and loved ones walk by.E
I like it when people listen to me and show genuine interest in what I am saying.B

I feel loved when friends and loved ones help me with jobs or projects.D
I really enjoy receiving gifts from friends and loved ones.C

I like for people to compliment my appearance.A
I feel loved when people take time to understand my feelings.B

I feel secure when a special person is touching me.E
Acts of service make me feel loved.D

I appreciate the many things that special people do for me.D
I like receiving gifts that special people make for me.C

I really enjoy the feeling I get when someone gives me undivided attention.B
I really enjoy the felling I get when someone helps me make decisions.D

I feel loved when a person celebrated my birthday with a gift.C
I feel loved when a person celebrates my birthday with meaningful words.A

I know a person is thinking of me when he or she gives me a gift.C
I feel loved when a person helps with my chores.D

I appreciate it when someone listens patiently and doesn’t interrupt me.B
I appreciate it when someone remembers special days with a gift.C

I like knowing loved ones are concerned enough to help with my daily tasks.D
I enjoy extended trips with someone who is special to me.B

I enjoy kissing or being kissed by people with whom I am close.E
I enjoy receiving a gift given for no special reason.C

I like to be told that I am appreciated.A
I like for a person to look at me when we are talking.B

Gifts from a friend or loved one are always special to me.C
I feel good when a friend or loved one touches me.E

I feel loved when a person enthusiastically does some task I have requested.D
I feel loved when I am told how much I am needed.A

I need to be touched every day.E
I need words of encouragement daily.A

Totals: A: B: C: D: E:
Count the number of A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and E’s you have circled, and record them below. What is your “love language”?

 A = Words of Affirmation
 B = Quality Time
 C = Receiving Gifts
 D = Acts of Service
 E = Physical Touch

To take the quiz online, go to

Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, can be purchased at your local bookstore, or through

Monday, May 28, 2012



Welcome! Let me pour you a cup of jasmine tea and we'll get started. Please have an herbal egg salad sandwich and a current scone. There's chocolate cake for dessert.

Where do you live?
I live in Eternal Playland, Florida, a delightful location just off I-95. I often describe it as a little piece of heaven with occasional dampness, where the bugs are plentiful but respectful, and even the smallest strip mall contains at least one pizza place and a nail salon.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Where to start? I’m an extravert who spends most of my day alone, except for my characters. I’m an optimist who believes that decency is an intrinsic trait of humankind, but always locks her car door.  I’ve always been good at math, but if my bank statement shows my balance to differ from my calculations by less than five dollars, I don’t bother looking for the error. Like both parents, I’ve always loved to read and assumed everyone did. As you can see, I’m often wrong.  

Are you a traditionally published or Indie author?
I’m an “Indie author,” and I adore the term. It indicates a choice. I got tired of waiting for the economy to improve and my stressed-out agent to concentrate on selling my book. I can alter a dress, hang a chandelier, rewire a light fixture, etc. I check symptoms on the internet before seeing a doctor. I like being self-sufficient and capable. The rise of digital books simplified my decision.

What are your hobbies?
Besides altering clothing, hanging chandeliers, designing jewelry and rewiring light fixtures? I play golf when the spirit moves me and I invent stories to entertain myself and others.

Tell us about your current book. What was your inspiration?
My books are generally inspired by media coverage of events and people that I find intriguing. Not too long ago Florida television and newspapers were reporting a story of a local Palm Beach man (ironically named Fagan) arrested for kidnapping his daughters eighteen years earlier, when they were 2 and 5 years old. The primary reason that it had taken eighteen years to find Fagan was that he had successfully reinvented himself. As William S. Martin, a handsome widower with two young daughters and no apparent means of support, Fagan had met and married a wealthy Palm Beach widow. After their divorce, another affluent woman agreed to wed and maintain his family’s luxurious lifestyle.
Neighbors, friends and the teachers at the girls’ tony private school all described him as “likeable,” “charming” and “devoted father.” Throughout his arrest and subsequent proceedings, his loyal third wife steadfastly stood by him, as did both daughters. Perhaps what most surprised people who followed the case was that the girls’ mother, a research scientist teaching at the University of Virginia, through the media and her attorney, repeatedly begged her daughters to meet with her and they refused. To my knowledge, they have not agreed to meet her.  
As I was following the case I found myself thinking that there was an even juicier story behind this headline-grabber and set out to create one. I began with a few core facts. A man with an invented name and history, twice married to wealthy widows, living in Palm Beach, playground of the mega-rich and famous, and involved in a crime. That’s one slick conman. Two adoring daughters unaware of their true identities. Over time my imagination happily supplied the rest. A townhouse off Fifth Avenue. A sprawling estate in Virginia. Romantic Paris in the years prior to WWII. A riveting past for Jack Morgan: skilled lover, lack-luster artist and irresistible rascal. A full-blown range of challenges and hard-wrought triumphs for his traumatized daughter Charlotte (Charlie).      

How did you become a writer? When did you start?
I received A’s on every paper I ever wrote, but took my skill for granted. I thought everyone could write good clean prose if they tried. It wasn’t until my kids were grown that I realized I had to try my hand at fiction. Once started, I was hooked.  

How long did it take you to finish your first book?
Two years. Dangerous Lies is approximately 100,000 words (300 pages).  I estimate that I wrote and deleted more than a million.   

Where do you like to write?
On my computer, at my desk. And I’m very disciplined (or compulsive).  

Favorite author(s)?
I have so many favorites:  John Irving, Louis de Bernières, Amy Tan, John Updike, Edward Rutherford, Pat Conroy, to name a few.

How many books have you written, so far? Do you plan to write more?
I’ve written three and published two: Dangerous Lies and Exceeding Expectations – both receiving amazing reviews. Paradise Misplaced will be out Sept. 1, 2012. And there’s a fourth in progress. I can’t foresee stopping.    

Would you like to share a link where we can purchase your books?
I’d be delighted.  Depending on your device or personal choice go to  
Buy Exceeding Expectations on Amazon or
Buy Exceeding Expectations on Barnes & Noble

What about a link to your website?
Thank you for asking. Your fans and followers can learn more about me and my books at and thank you for inviting me to stop by.  

My pleasure! I wish you the best of success! 

Here's Lisa's first chapter of Exceeding Expectations.

Chapter One of  
Exceeding Expectations

January 2, 1962
       Glancing down at the Porsche’s speedometer Jack eased up on the gas. The nearest car was a mile back, but a cop could be hiding around the next bend. Being stopped by the police did not fit into Jack’s plan. He blamed the excitement. And guilt. Composing the single page to his daughters had been agony. There was no nice way to say he intended to kill himself. There were no comforting euphemisms for suicide. No words to excuse a mortal sin. And worst of all, no way to ease the pain his beloved girls would experience. But they, and everyone else, had to believe his intention was absolute and irreversible or the plan would fail. After several miserable gut-wrenching attempts, Jack wrote how much he loved them and said that this was something he had to do to protect them.  
       Knowing he could rely on Petal’s steely strength, Jack’s letter to his wife was more direct. He had explained that he was doing this to save her and his girls from scandal and disgrace. And as he was making this noble sacrifice, he knew she could be relied on to be good to his daughters. Petal might not be the maternal sort, but no one could accuse her of being tight-fisted. After reading the letter, his dying declaration, and waiting for two Chivas Regal’s straight to take effect, she would call a few select members of her powerful family, and her attorney. The results of those calls would be a discreet obituary in
The New York Times, another in the local paper, hinting at a long-term debilitating disease, and no further investigation. A quiet memorial service would be held in Manhattan, Petal’s preferred place of residence, and she would be stunning in black for the next six to ten weeks, depending on her social calendar.
       The best thing about his plan was its simplicity. He would wait until two or three in the morning when the roads would be deserted, park the car on the middle of a bridge and disappear into the night. The bridge and town had been carefully selected – less than a five-mile walk to the railroad to prevent someone later recalling giving a lift to a stranger. And the town had to be small – an insignificant speck on the map. The smaller the town, Jack had reasoned, the less sophisticated the police force. Fielding, Florida, a town that lacked a drug store, supermarket, bank, and beauty parlor was ideal. Serious crime in Fielding probably consisted of intimidating the kids who tipped over outhouses on Halloween and jailing the same town drunk every Friday night. A costly abandoned car, coupled with the later discovered suicide notes, guaranteed Jack would be the topic of intense gossip for years, and the object of a bumbling investigation for no more than a week. The Porsche would get more attention than the lack of a corpse in an area where alligators outnumbered house pets, and a Ford with all four fenders intact was considered a damned fine automobile.
      Once he boarded a train he’d be fine. Men who rode the rails kept secrets. They were members of a tribe of vagabonds who preferred the town around the next curve – adventurous men ready to share a pot of tramp stew with another kindred spirit. And he was eager to join them. For the last two and half decades, his life had revolved around his girls. Jack had chosen that life and never once regretted it. A man couldn’t have finer daughters than Amelia and Charlotte. But they were grown now and maybe he had earned himself a change. He thought he might head for Texas, a leviathan-sized state where a man’s past was not apt to be questioned. And Texas was known for its horses. He loved horses — riding them, watching them trot, canter, toss their heads, nurse their foals. Gorgeous, glorious creatures they were.
        After several hours of driving through towns too small to boast a stop sign, Jack reached his destination. A weather-beaten building with a concave roof housed the grocery that doubled as Fielding’s post office. He gave his letters to a leathery man behind the counter and gazed at a jar of pickles with interest. He had been so focused on reaching his destination he had forgotten to eat lunch. “Is there a place around here to get something to eat?” “Just Wiley’s. Kind of a bar/restaurant down the street. Lost its sign in the last hurricane, but you’ll find it.”   
      An orange neon light in the window erratically flickered
Budweiser. Jack glanced inside. It was more bar than restaurant, and grimy. Lacking an alternative, he entered. A wall of vacant knotty-pine booths faced a long bar backed by a mirror so streaked with fly droppings and smoke, that reflected images appeared cloudy. Five or six patrons turned to note his presence and then quickly resumed what they had been doing. Jack proceeded to the bar’s last booth and took a seat where he could oversee the comings and goings. The gym bag containing twenty-seven thousand dollars he stowed under the table.  
      A blowsy overweight waitress with an elaborate hairdo and a too-tight skirt approached. “Need a menu?” she asked as she wiped the table with a dingy towel.
      “What time do you stop serving food?”
      “The kitchen closes at eight.”
      Jack removed his buck suede jacket and placed it on the seat beside him. Assuming this place closed at midnight, he had five long hours to kill. “Bring me a draft beer and a hamburger. And if you could spare a newspaper, I’d appreciate it.”
      She soon returned with his beer and a ten-page weekly tabloid filled with notices of church events, and feed and grain ads. It was a typical weekday night in a small town bar: plenty of griping and boasting, lengthy recitations of what could have been and should have been, a few stale jokes, more men than women, a lot of talk, little action.
      “Would you turn up the radio?” a customer called from the far end of the bar. “That’s me and Wanda’s favorite song.”
      The bartender adjusted the dial. A twangy melancholy western tune drowned out the dull background noise.     
      “Turn it down! Turn that blasted thing down!” several customers shouted in unison.  
      The bartender found an agreeable level of volume and conversation resumed. It started to rain about nine — a light drizzle at first and then a steady hard-driving downpour. On her return trip from the ladies room, a woman in her late thirties, attractive in a tired way, paused to inquire if Jack would be in town for a while. He politely explained that he was just passing through and she rejoined her companions at the bar.  
      “That would be eighty cents, including the beer. Would you mind settling up now?” the waitress asked at nine-thirty. “I’m leaving in a few minutes. Buddy, that’s the bartender, he’ll take care of you. I’m going home to my kids.” Jack handed her a dollar and told her to keep the change. At ten o’clock Jack went to the men’s room and ducked into a stall. Removing the bills from the gym bag Jack distributed them around the money belt. Twenty-seven thousand dollars. Money painstakingly gleaned from his checking account in amounts that wouldn’t later arouse suspicion. It wouldn’t finance the way of life he had been enjoying very long, but it could buy ten new Chevrolets. More than enough for a fresh start.
      Customers, who had been checking their watches and shaking their heads for the last hour or more, decided the rain was not going to let up. One by one, they finished their beers, turned up their collars, cursed the weather and dashed into the street.  
      “Last call,” the owner announced to Jack and two stragglers. “Closing at eleven cause of this miserable weather.”  
      “No more for me. I gotta go to work tomorrow,” the older of the two remaining men announced. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and paid his tab. Jack closed his eyes and listened to rain pounding the wood roof. The last customer drank his beer and stared out the front window at the unrelenting downpour. He was about Jack’s size and weight, somewhere in his twenties – a kid. His light brown hair was home-cut and in need of a trim. His pants were deeply creased and stained with what Jack guessed to be grease. A handyman, or maybe a mechanic who worked nearby.
      Jack grabbed the empty gym bag, handed a dollar bill to the bartender, and headed for the door. The kid blocked the exit.
      “My truck’s about a mile or so down the road. It weren’t raining when I started out. I’d be grateful, mister, if you could give me a ride,” the kid said.
      Jack appraised the kid grinning back at him. Crooked teeth vied with one another for space, and his tired green eyes spoke of a resilience born of hardship. The faded denim shirt he wore over a grimy T-shirt would provide no protection from the cold and rain. Jack looked at the bartender owner hoping for some indication that this kid was a local, but the bartender was busy counting the day’s receipts. “You having any trouble with that truck?” Jack tapped his chest. “This old ticker of mine doesn’t work as good as it used to,” he lied. “If you need a hand with that truck, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to help.”
       “I got no trouble with the truck. Runs dandy,” he assured Jack. “I left it at a farmhouse to be unloaded. Sold them folks a cord of firewood. But they had to unload and stack it theirselves. That was the deal. They unload it and stack it theirselves whilst I go into town.”
      Jack weighed the risk. He had twenty-seven thousand dollars in the money belt, but this kid didn’t know that. All he knew was that it was pouring, it was cold and he needed a ride. Eleven o’clock was far too early for Jack to carry out his plan. All that awaited him was two or three hours of boredom in a parked car. “What’s your name, kid?”  
      “Folks mostly call me Iowa.”
      “My name’s Jack and the Porsche across the street is mine. Wait here. No sense both of us getting soaked.” By the time Jack reached the car and jumped in, his hair and clothes were drenched. Mostly Iowa had fared little better. “Which direction?” Jack asked his passenger.  
      “You’re headin’ the right way. Just follow the road a piece. I’ll tell you where to turn.”
      “Is it on the left or the right?”
      “I expect you live around here.”
      “Just passin’ through.”
      They soon left the residential part of town. The driving rain and incessant flip-flop flip-flop of the windshield wipers blurred his vision. Jack tried the high beams and quickly switched back. Pointing to a dim light on what appeared to be a house he asked, “It that it?”
      “Nope. That ain’t it. It’s up yonder a bit.”
      “When I first saw you, Iowa, I said to myself, now there’s a fellow who knows his way around cars. You a mechanic?”
      “I fiddled with cars some. Nothing as swanky as this.”   
      For the next two or three miles there wasn’t a break in the road — not a path, planted field, farmhouse or shed, only endless sawgrass and pine trees. “That had to be some hike into town. Are you sure we didn’t pass it? You did say it was on the left?”
      “Yep. On the left.”
      While Jack had been struggling to locate the elusive house and truck, Mostly Iowa had been facing right. Damn! What an idiot he had been! A solitary man wearing expensive clothes and a flashy gold watch. A new Porsche – obviously his. A mysterious gym bag that had never left his side. A transient loner who needed a ride.  “We must have passed it. I’m going to turn around.”  
      “Just pull over here!” Mostly Iowa’s eyes were cold. His right hand expertly cradled a knife.
      Targeted like a deer by a hungry kid. Stalked! Jack’s foot remained on the accelerator. “You don’t want to do this, Iowa. How about I slow down to ten, fifteen miles an hour and you jump out? We part friends and forget this ever happened.”
      “You stop this here car or I’ll stick you like a pig. It wouldn’t bother me none to kill you.”
      Now Jack was a man who liked a good laugh as much as the next guy, but irony had its place. Dying the very night he scheduled his fake suicide was not his idea of a joke.  Iowa grabbed Jack’s right arm. “Stop this car or I’ll cut out your gizzard and leave it for the birds.”  
      “I’m not stopping the car as long as you got that knife,” Jack said in a calm friendly voice. He could feel the frightening tip of the steel blade through his suede jacket. “Toss it out the window and I’ll stop the car.”
      Iowa grabbed the steering wheel. The Porsche hydroplaned and fish-tailed, barely avoiding trees on both sides of the road.
      By intuitively releasing his grip, the finely engineered racing car realigned itself. Jack glanced at his passenger looking for some hint of humanity, still hoping to change the kid’s mind, yet very much aware of the danger. “You’re going to get us both killed. We’re doing twenty miles an hour. The ground is soft from the rain. Open the door and roll out.”
      “Not a chance in hell, you miserable fuck. You’re going to die.”
      The knife slashed the jacket and dug into the money belt. If it weren’t for the thick wad of bills, the blade would be boring into his rib cage. Jack deliberately swerved the car right and then left. Iowa grabbed the wheel. Using the butt of his right fist Jack smashed his attacker’s hand. Iowa howled with pain and dropped the knife. He alternated curses with punches aimed at Jack’s head.
      Jack fought to simultaneously keep the car on the road with his left hand and ward off his attacker with his right. A pothole caught Iowa off balance. He slid away. Jack used the opportunity to use the bent right arm that had been guarding his chest and lash out, landing an explosive blow with his clenched fist. He could feel the bridge of Iowa’s nose collapse, hear the bones crack.
      “Goddamn you! You jackass. You busted my nose!” Iowa fumbled beneath the seat.
      Seeing the dreaded knife reappear, Jack made the only decision left. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He braced himself and floored the Porsche, aiming the passenger side at a massive oak tree. Iowa reached for the wheel again, too late. The car hit the tree with a violent jolt, throwing both men forward. A branch smashed the windshield a microsecond before Jack’s head reached it. The glass shattered harmlessly, but his chest had struck the steering wheel with an impact that left him gasping for air. The motor groaned and sputtered as Jack waited with his eyes closed. His chest ached with every breath. Tentatively touching his forehead he discovered a swelling throbbing bump. Jack opened his eyes. Mostly Iowa had not fared as well. He lay slumped against the door. Blood from the broken nose bathed his face, neck, and shirt. Jack didn’t know if he was dead or unconscious, but he wouldn’t be a threat for a while.
      “Why didn’t you jump when you had the chance?” Jack asked the limp figure. “Soon as I find out what kind of shape I’m in, I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with you. If I can walk back to town, I’ll send someone out to help. And that’s better than you deserve, you dumb bastard, considering you were trying to kill me.”
      Limb by limb, joint by joint, Jack tested his extremities. His arms, hands, and fingers moved, painfully, but they didn’t appear to be broken. He flexed one leg and then the other. “My legs seem okay,” he informed his silent companion. His chest and shoulders ached. “Probably cracked a few ribs and there’s a buzzing in my ears. Going to be sore for a while, as well as black and blue, but I’m alive. What about it, Iowa? You going to make it?”
      Jack leaned across the inert body expecting to hear a heartbeat. Nothing. Silence. The kid was dead! Jesus Christ! He hadn’t intended to kill the kid. His goal had been to prevent his own imminent demise.
      “Now look what you did, Iowa. You tried to kill me and you ended up killing yourself. God damn dumb kid!” he said to keep his teeth from chattering. “God damn dumb kid!” His entire right side throbbed and he was trembling. “Got to get out of here.”
      He tried the door handle. It turned, but the bowed door would not budge. He threw all his weight against it and grimaced. It groaned in sympathy and swung open causing him to crash onto the muddy ground. The rain had subsided to a trickle. Jack wiped his hands on soggy moss and sat down to think beside the demolished car.
      There was nothing more that could be done for Iowa. His problems were over. Jack’s problems had tripled. In a day or two, Petal and the girls would read the letters he had mailed. A first-class plan wiped out because he wanted to help out a dumb kid. Okay, he told himself, if faking his suicide by leaving the Porsche on a bridge was no longer possible, he simply needed a new plan. A new plan. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Porsche would be traced to him. They would find a dead kid in his car. If he disappeared now he would be accused of murder. Unless . . . Unless  . . . Iowa was about his size. The police would assume the body belonged to Jack Morgan if – if it was unrecognizable. But how? The car and its contents would have to be burnt beyond recognition. He could do that. Provided he kept calm, and no one came along in the interim, it was a good alternative plan.    
      Jack removed the ruined suede jacket. It could go on the corpse. A scrap of burnt suede would add to the illusion, as would his wedding band. He had intended to sell it before he reached Texas, but it would be better used now. As he removed the ring he noticed his prized gold watch. They might look for it. It was too bad about the watch, but it too had to go.  
      The tight quarters inside the crumpled Porsche, coupled with Jack’s reluctance to touch the bloody corpse made the exchange time consuming, exhausting, and grisly. As a final touch, Jack traded shoes with the dead man before shoving him into position behind the wheel.  
      An hour had passed since the crash and no one had driven by. His luck was holding. Now he needed matches. Matches or a cigarette lighter. His pockets yielded neither. His plan would fail because he lacked a pack of matches that every bar and restaurant supplied free. Think, he told himself. There had to be a solution. The Porsche’s cigarette lighter. Would it still work? Leaning over Iowa’s body, Jack located it and pressed it. Thirty seconds later it popped out glowing red. God bless the Germans! Every twenty or thirty years, it took a war to remind them who was boss, but they sure knew how to build a car. Jack looked for something to start the fire. Downed branches were too wet. A dry rag. He kept a towel in the trunk.
      Jack walked to the rear of the car to unlock the trunk but it wouldn’t release. He kicked it with his heel. Another sharp kick. The trunk creaked open. A white, still-folded hand towel lay tucked in a corner. A few more minutes and it would be over.
      He stuffed as much of the towel as would fit into the gas tank, then replaced the ignition key. As he was about to press the cigarette lighter he remembered the knife. What if it were found with the remains? Palm beach socialite Jack Morgan didn’t carry a switchblade. He would have to find it. Ten minutes passed as he searched the car and the corpse. He was about to give up when he felt it lodged under the passenger seat. He folded it, tucked it into his belt, and inserted the dependable lighter.  
      Half a football field away Jack leaned against a tree and waited. Several times the flame appeared to die, only to flare up again. And then the rag ignited with an enormous
pop – followed by ear-splitting thunder. Roaring flames, the height of a church steeple leapt from the car’s rear. Jack could no longer make out Iowa’s silhouette in the flames. Just a few more minutes, he told himself. The smoke and heat from the blaze reddened his face and seared his lungs. When it was time to leave Jack strode away in Iowa’s ill-fitting shoes, away from the wrecked Porsche, the town of Fielding, and his past. Then he heard it. A train whistle. The magical hollow sound of a train whistle. And it wasn’t far off. Damn, if he wasn’t a lucky so-and-so. One of God’s favorite children. Jesus tolerated the pious, sober, and abstinent. Yes, He tolerated the tiresome righteous and their smug unforgiving Christian smiles. And He had little pity for the tyrant, the merciless, and the cruel. But Jesus loved the ordinary sinner. Isn’t that what the bible taught? The Almighty loved sinners. Without sinners there would have been no reason for Jesus to come to earth and experience the joy and pain of mortals.    
      Intoxicating freedom mingled with the chilling air. Jack could forget the chafing money belt, cheap ill-fitting shoes, sore feet, and aching muscles. He had a new name and a thousand new possibilities. The next time he found himself with a drink in his hand he would remember Iowa and raise his glass to the tragic dumb kid.  
      “This one’s for you, Iowa, you miserable misguided creature,” he would say. “May the good Lord take mercy on your soul and your time in Purgatory be brief.”

Buy Exceeding Expectations on

Buy Exceeding Expectations on Barnes and

Friday, May 25, 2012


If it was easy, everyone would do it...Think working toward your goal is difficult, fraught with hurdles and distractions? Great! You will succeed at whatever you've decided to accomplish. Hats off to a few people I admire this week: Scarlett Rains, for working hard getting reviews and spreading the word about her blog, Tonya Kappes, for getting her Street Team up and running while raising a family of three busy teens, and Terry Stark (Terry Tyler) for getting back up when she felt overwhelmed wearing all the hats of an indie author. Thank you for your inspiration! Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Last kernel from David Hochman's article in the May 2012 issue of Spirit magazine. 
He says, "Time moves swiftly. Make the most of it." You may be 29 or you may be 69. Doesn't really matter. Young people have energy but  full plates of responsibility; older people move slower but seem to have a precious commodity that youth may not~time. Levels the playing field to the point of a simple truth: we really all have the same opportunity to realize our dreams. Mine is to publish eight books in The Jillian Bradley Mystery Series by November 2013 and a fictitious  memoir in 2014. One last tip: Working toward a dream is A BLAST! I'd like to hear about your dreams.

For more on the TED conferences:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


From the same article by David Hochman in Spirit magazine (May 2012), comes a mash-up quote I liked from poet Rainer Maria Rilke and philosopher Epictetus, summing up the mantra of TED (a convergence of technology, entertainment and design). And I quote: "If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself. Tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches. First, say to yourself what you would be. Then do what you have to do." May you be all you can be today, my friends. 
For more TED visit their website

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Came across a gold mine of positive ideas while on a Southwest flight last week. Found the article in their May 2012 in-flight magazine Spirit, rather aptly named.Written by David Hochman, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, the article was filled with ideas worth living, all from an annual big-brain gathering in California known as TED, or the growing convergence of technology, entertainment, and design. To name just one from Regina Dugan; "Be nice to nerds,...we all have nerd power, we just forget...We let someone more capable take the lead. but there is no one else. Just you," she says. "If we're lucky, someone steps in, takes a hand and says, 'Let me help you believe.'" I'll be sharing more in later posts, but for now, I say, "I am one person who believes in you."
If you can't wait, visit

Monday, May 21, 2012



Welcome! Let me pour you a nice cup of Bengal Spice tea and well get started.  Your desk teapot is so special that I just had to share it with our readers. Please help yourself to an herb biscuit with mushroom/basil/garlic pate, and for dessert, we have chocolate eclairs, filled with your favorite chocolate cream filling.

Where do you live? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live north of Houston in The Woodlands, Texas. Love it here. Love the people. And the food--barbecue, tamales, salsa, pico de gallo. . .the list is long!
I’m originally from New Orleans, but have lived here in Texas for 23 years (no-so-coincidentally how long I’ve been married).
Are you a traditionally published or Indie author?
I am traditionally published (so far).
What are your hobbies?
Besides writing, I like oil painting, crafting, beading and mixed media.
Tell us about your current book. What was your inspiration?
I have a series of three ebooks--cozy mysteries coming out in May (20th, 27th) and (June 3rd) “When The Fat Lady Sings Series” Spyglass Lane Publishing.  The inspiration came from my own friends—outrageous, fun personalities—people who I considered to be perfect characters. I just had to write storylines around them!
How did you become a writer? When did you start?
It really started in second grade when I used to read everything I could get my hands on (especially the entire collection of Nancy Drew books). But I also read grown up books, everything from the classics to book club novels from our home bookshelves. And there were times I didn’t like the way a certain story ended, so I would rewrite them. I promised myself that someday I would grow up to be an author and write books with the kind of endings I wanted.
Fast forward to adulthood, I became a freelance journalist with hundreds of articles published. But in 2003 I decided I was ready to move from newspapers to writing books. Actually, I couldn’t think beyond one book. If I achieved just one, that would have felt pert near perfect.
That same year, a friend of mine approached and asked me to co-found a Christian writers group. We named it “Words for The Journey Christian Writers Guild” and it was a huge success. We eventually opened a Rocky Mountain Chapter in Colorado as well. I began to learn the craft and grow from a news reporter to novelist. I was blessed to meet some wonderful critique partners, who helped to polish my work and really make it shine.
I’m still in a critique group. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve been in over the years, but I lovelovelove being involved with critique partners who tell me the absolute truth in love.
How long did it take you to finish your first book?
My first book, a nonfiction I wrote in 2005, was never published. However, it went to committee at three different publishing houses. The problem did not rest so much with the book as with the fact that I had no platform or brand or name for myself. The publishing houses were unwilling to take a risk on the book. But the good part about that is that I can now dust that book off, self-publish it in digital form and find out who was rightJ
My second book, a fiction was written piecemeal. I wrote the first three chapters, not really knowing what kind of book I was writing. I was just going where the characters took me—a real seat of the pants experience. Then I skipped ahead and wrote two more chapters at what I figured would be the middle of the book. Finally, I sat down and wrote every day for two weeks straight and finished the book. That one sold a couple days after I finished it, through a miraculous and bold decision to query and editor by email.
Where do you like to write?
I struggle with that. Proper ergonomic form is important, but to date, I haven’t found one particular comfort zone. So, I write in different places and positions all over my house. And yes, I write primarily in my home where I’m not distracted. Some people like to write in public places—restaurants, hotel lobbies or malls, but not me. I can’t concentrate with all the activity around. Even on a plane. And there’s nothing more annoying than having the person next to you reading your work while you’re writing. That’s happened to me on planes and in restaurants. I do take notes when I travel, notice something interesting or hear an intriguing conversation. But I write at home where it’s quiet and comfortable.
I have a chaise lounge in my study I like to start off in. when I get tired of that, I move to a leather Barco lounger in the living room. Then I move from my laptop to my PC upstairs where I sit on a large exercise ball in front of the computer desk. It’s supposed to ease tension on your lower back, and it does help.
Bottom line, I think it’s important to move around a lot when you’re writing for long periods of time.
Favorite author(s)?
Gosh, there are so many! Usually my favorites are the ones I’m currently reading. I really enjoyed reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” And I have to say, one of my all time favorite books is the novel, Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier.
I’m a big fan of Victoria Holt. Those books were my favorite rainy day reads. Though gothic stories fell in popular appeal years ago, I believe they are poised for a comeback. II particularly love southern gothic romance. I have one written and ready to go. It is by far, my favorite out of all the books I’ve written.
How many books have you written, so far? Do you plan to write more?
I’m right at six now, and my agent is shopping around a few as well. And yes, I plan to write more. I’m in this writing thing for the long haul. I feel called by God to continue.
Would you like to share a link where we can purchase your books?
They are available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc. My nonfiction book of devotions Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith is available in bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Lifeway, etc.
Check my Amazon Author Page. The latest books—the cozy mysteries release on Misfortune Cookies May 20th, A Tisket, A Casket  May27th and Dead As A Doornail June 3rd. A hardcover mystery, Strands of Fate (Annie’s Attic Mysteries) will release in October, 2012.
What about a link to your website?

 It's been such a pleasure meeting you, Linda. It sounds like readers are in for some fun books coming our way! Thank you again for joining me for tea.

Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Howard/Simon & Schuster) and author of Misfortune Cookies (2008), (Barbour Publishing). Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail will release as ebooks in “When The Fat Ladies Sing Series” in May of 2012 (Spyglass Lane Mysteries). She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, a local ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband Michael, married 23 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), WHRWA (West Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas. WoodsEdge Community Church, The Woodlands, TX.