Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Beagle Speaks

My name is Sadie, and I am Mom's beagle. Since she's busy writing the last few chapters of "Deadly Deceptions", her second Mojo book, ("Deadly Gamble" being the first, and available now), I decided to fill in for her on the blog. This is no small challenge, considering I don't have opposable thumbs, but here goes.

My mom travels a lot, and my sister Bernice, the Yorkie, and I miss her a whole lot when she's away. When she comes home, whether she's been gone for a week or an hour, we always throw a big party. I get so excited, I can't contain my joy, and often run wildly around the house for a few minutes, with my ears tucked all funny, just to use up some glad energy. The cats are happy to see her, too, but they don't want anybody to know, so they act subtle. The truth is, the four of us are spoiled rotten, and we've never known anything but love in our whole lives.

Mom was writing "The Last Chance Cafe" when I came along. She and my two-legged sister, Wendy, happened to visit a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, and there I was, galloping around in a pet store window. Mom had planned to buy two Yorkies and take them with her everywhere she went, like Amy Tan does, (I'm not sure who Amy Tan is, exactly, but Mom thinks she's great) but she fell in love with me and the rest is history. So much for the take-them-everywhere plan--I wouldn't fit under any airline seat, and Mom wouldn't put me in the cargo hold. Anyhow, I'd want to run up and down the aisle and kiss everybody, and share their inflight snacks. Bernice is way too nervous to travel. So we stay home, where we are safe and comfortable and very well cared for. It gives us plenty of time to plan the welcome-home parties.

Today, Mom would probably do things differently. She'd get rescue dogs. But I'm awfully glad she chose us the way she did, and she is, too. After all, we already existed, and we needed homes, too.

Cha Cha and Jitterbug, the cats, were feed-store kitties, so that almost counts as rescued. They cost $10 each and were cuddled together in the back of a wire crate, cool, calm and collected. Mom had gone in to buy stuff for the horses. The nice lady at the feed store said Mom could only have them if she promised they could live in the house, not the barn. (Like Mom would keep cats in the barn. If they wouldn't squash us and poop everywhere, the horses would probably live in the house, too.) They got all their shots and came to live with us, and let me tell you, it was funny, because they thought Bernice was their mama and she went around with little spiky tufts sticking out all over her neck because the kittens tried to nurse. Mom said it meant they'd left their mother too soon, and she was sad, but we all love them and now they're big cats. But they still think Bernice is their mama, and they head-butt her all the time. She just sighs and walks away. Sometimes, she and Cha Cha sit side by side, and Cha Cha wraps her big, fluffy tail around Bernice, like a boa.

Yep. Mom loves us a whole lot. What's not to love?

Monday, October 30, 2006


Check them out. All sorts of great information, and a lot of it is free. I ordered Christmas cards, too.

I had a fabulous time in Washington, D.C., made some wonderful new friends, had dinner with niece Kelly, and did some power shopping. Oh, but I am glad to be home, too. Home is where the heart--and the pets--is. Are?

We had a little skiff of snow during the night, but this morning it is clear, cold and sunny. I'm nearly through with the second Mojo adventure, "Deadly Deceptions", and am I ever having fun with it. Copies of my December Silhouette Special Edition, "Sierra's Homecoming", have arrived. This book is technically the first of the modern McKettrick series, bringing Sierra home to the Triple M--for the first time. It has a paranormal element I think you'll enjoy, and you'll get a brief glimpse of Jesse, the hero of "McKettrick's Luck" (in stores in late January, and the first book in the McKettrick Men trilogy). I'm proud to announce that "McKettrick's Luck" will be a Wal-Mart Read of the Month!

More tomorrow. Mojo is ready to roll.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Humane Society of the United States

I just met with the wonderful people at the HSUS, and am so looking forward to our association. They are energetic, creative and, best of all, deeply committed to the welfare and humane treatment of our best but often neglected friends, the animals.

A line from a beloved old hymn comes to mind: "...all creatures, great and small...the Lord God loves them all."

I love them, too. And I want it to be an active love, a wade-in, do-something kind of love.

If you're having trouble with a pet--and I know how frustrating that can be--check out the HSUS's wonderful Pets For Life program. I'm so impressed with all these people have going on--would you believe online courses, devoted to various pet challenges and to general good care. They have a great program to provide for your pet in the event of your illness or death as well.

Look into the eyes of the nearest dog, cat or ardvaark. You will see love there, and trust.

Live up to that, and you will become your best possible self.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The LaJolla Writers' Conference

I had a great time at the conference--met some fascinating people!

It was a real thrill to share keynoting duties with two famous thriller writers, Steve Berry, "The Third Secret", "The Romanov Prophecy" and James Grappando, "Got the Look" and "Hear No Evil"--both have more books, too. Also present was Margaret Weiss, who is an institution in the fantasy genre (Dragonlance series) and too many other top notch writers from various disciplines to name. The setting--Mission Bay, outside San Diego--was heavenly. I wanted to stay, walk on the beach and do a little shopping, but alas, it was not to be. I'm off again tomorrow morning, on another junket, this time to the Washington, D.C. area to meet with the Humane Society of the United States. You'll be hearing a lot about that in future blogs and newsletters, so watch this space.

I hope you enjoyed Mojo's visit. You can get to know her in "Deadly Gamble", which will be in stores tomorrow. This, I hope, is only the first of many Mojo adventures. She and I have almost completed the second story, "Deadly Deceptions", and it was a lot of fun. As Mojo likes to point out, she's MUCH younger than I am, and a whole lot skinnier. I have to be up on my vitamins and get lots of rest when Mojo's around!

I'll try to post while I'm on the road, but I'm not very technical and I have trouble with even the "easy" high-speed connections in hotels. I'll be home the 28th of October, and there will be a blog the 29th. Please be sure to check back.

As usual, I will have stories to tell!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mojo/4 and final

I've enjoyed writing this blog, but frankly, I'll be glad to turn it back over to Linda. She's not very good at technical things, but I'm even worse. So I'll concentate on fighting crime and not joining the ghost-brigade before my time, and let her do this.

She's going to California tomorrow, to speak at the LaJolla Writers' Conference, and next week, she's only home on Monday. She has a meeting with the Humane Society of the United States, to discuss being some kind of spokesperson, and that's something I can really get behind, because I love animals as much as Linda does. In fact, I can't wait for you to meet my basset hound buddy, Russell, in "Deadly Gamble", and my cat, Chester.

It seems to me that if everybody was as genuine and affectionate as your average dog, and as self-possessed and dignified as your average cat, it would be a better world.

Check back often. Linda will have lots to tell you--about her meeting in Washington, D.C. with HSUS, upcoming projects, the Lifetime movie, "The Last Chance Cafe", starring that hot Kevin Sorbo (November 13), a great new contest that will give you a chance to show off your pets, and the lake house, which she has decided to call Sanctuary, instead of Primrose Cottage. (No way anybody's going to see THAT place as a cottage--it has a pool, for pete's sake!) Sure beats my little apartment over Bad-Ass Bert's Biker Saloon, I can tell you that. Not that I'm complaining. Whenever Linda is writing a Mojo book, I'll be around, probably lounging by the pool. (I will say I look a lot better in a swimming suit than she does. I'm eternally 28, remember. She's 57 and movin' on.)

See you soon. In fact, let's meet on Page 1 of "Deadly Gamble", which will be in the stores October 24. If you're game, we'll share some hair-raising adventure, a few laughs, and a lot of red-hot romance. (Tucker had better watch it. That Kevin Sorbo is seriously cute.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mojo/Day 2

I've already written this once. Hopefully, the blog gods won't zap it into the ethers this time.

I wanted to tell you all about Tucker Darroch, the man in my life. Unlike Nick, he's alive, which is a big plus. He's an undercover cop--when I met him, he was posing as a biker, complete with motorbike. He's in his early thirties, with honey-colored hair that's always a little too long, green eyes that miss very little, and he's built in a way that assures the continuation of the species. He's funny and smart, and he's an expert on body language, which is probably why he can get me into bed even when I'm ready to rip his lips off.

Tucker's not perfect. He has a history--so do I. The main thing that keeps us from getting really serious is this: he has an ex-wife, Allison, and two great kids, Daisy and Danny, seven-year-old twins. Allison still clings a little--make that a lot--even though she and Tuck were already divorced when I met him. I want it known, right up front, that I'm no homewrecker. He loves his kids, and he's determined to be there for them. How could I fault him for that?

Mojo Day 3

Dead people.
It's me, me, me with them.
Find out who killed me, pass on this message--yada yada yada.
Wouldn't you think they'd KNOW who killed them, for pete's sake? But no. Truth is, a lot of them haven't even picked up on the fact that they're dead in the first place. If there's a Cosmic Complaint Department somewhere, I'd like to find it. I think the intake system on the other side needs some tweaks, big-time. Signposts, maybe. Or even billboards, saying things like, "Hello! Get a Clue, Bozo. You're Dead", or "See the Big Light? Step Into It".
They seem so confused, dead people. Many of them think they're having a bad dream.
And here's the real kicker. From some of the experiences I've had lately (Linda and I are almost through with the second Mojo adventure, "Deadly Deceptions"), I wonder if they ARE dead--at least in the way we think of 'dead'. More on that later. Once "Deceptions" is finished, I'll be on hiatus for a while, while Linda deals with more McKettricks and some cowboys of the old west variety.
Who knows what will happen in the third adventure? I sure don't, and here's a flash for you, Linda doesn't, either. It'll be a big surprise to both of us.
I like surprises.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mojo/Day 1

I guess one of the first things you need to know about me—Mojo Sheepshanks—is that I'm determined. Due to weather in Spokane, Linda's computer won't go online. So I'm writing this, and then our good friend, Nancy Berland, will post it on the blog. Voila!

Okay, so enough about all that!

I'm 28 years old and live in Cave Creek, Arizona. (Linda can live wherever she wants, but I'm staying in Arizona, because I like it here.) One advantage of being a fictional character (though, trust me, I'm every bit as real as Linda) is not getting older. No matter how many books Linda and I do together, I will always be right around the age I am now, and we're planning to do plenty.

I work as a private detective. I sort of fell into the job, and I've got way too many non-paying clients (as in, all of them, at this stage of my illustrious career), but it sure beats what I did before—medical coding and billing for a lot of arrogant, pushy doctors. Due to an early trauma, detailed in DEADLY GAMBLE, which will be in the stores October 24, I had to reinvent a whole new persona for myself. A disturbing part of that new persona is a "gift" I'd rather give back to whomever gave it to me in the first place, but nobody's willing to own up, so far. I figure my dead ex-husband, Nick DeLuca, is the culprit, but I can't prove it.

Basically, my problem is this: I see dead people. Everywhere. In supermarkets, restaurants, casinos—oh, especially in casinos—and mostly they mind their own business, but sometimes they decide to haunt me. It's not my charm—I do have some, whatever my detractors may say to the contrary—they want me to be a go-between, find out who killed them, stuff like that. And it all started with Nick turning up in my bed one spring night, two years after he'd died. He was on a mission, and it soon became clear that he wasn't going to leave me alone until I helped him accomplish it. I suspect he wrote my name on the equivalent of some celestial men's room wall—IF YOU NEED HELP, HAUNT MOJO. I've been getting a steady stream of dead visitors ever since, and I don't appreciate it.

Now, all this would be trouble enough for one woman to manage, wouldn't you think? But there's a live man in my life, too. His name is Tucker Darroch, and I'll tell you all about his red-hot self tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sheep and Shepherds

(Still Linda. Mojo comes on Monday.)

Recently, I've read a book that has touched me deeply, and taken me to a new level. It's called "A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm", by Phillip Keller. I have always loved that Psalm, but I have a greater understanding of it now.

I guess it follows that a Psalm about sheep and shepherds would resonate with me. My paternal grandfather, Jacob Daniel Lael, called "Dan" by those who knew him, kept sheep. He knew a lot about them, paid close, assiduous attention to their health and well-being. He guarded and defended them, and made sure they were sound. Once, in fact, sometime in the 1930s, probably, he bought a car, took the back seat out, and hauled a couple of them up to the house. My grandmother was not pleased. The car was new, and here was Dan Lael with a couple of ewes bahing and dirty-wooled in the back! She protested, and Grampa's reply still rings through the annals of Lael Lore. "Dora, these sheep bought this car, and they can ride in it!"

My grandfather moved his sheep from one pasture to another, and knew where all the good watering holes were. He took some heat from the cattlemen around Northport, I'm sure, though in the case of a tragedy or hard times, he was always one of the first to pitch in and help--even, perhaps especially, when the person in need was not a fan of sheep.

It is widely believed, largely because of western movies, that sheep ruin any land they graze upon. This is patently not true. If sheep are properly tended, and moved when they should be, they can improve a pasture so vastly that it won't even look like the same place.

It's all in the shepherd's care.

My Shepherd knows just how to tend this scruffy, rebellious, distractable little sheep. He knows where the best grass is, and the still, pure waters.

If He had a car, I bet He'd even let me ride in it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

Don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm taking next week off from the blog, and Mojo Sheepshanks will be taking over for me Monday-Thursday. On Friday, Mojo and I are both going to California, where I'll be keynoting the LaJolla Writers' Conference.

Just to prepare you a little--as if anybody could ever really be prepared for Mojo--she's the heroine of my (okay, Moje, our) new romantic-thriller series, which begins with "Deadly Gamble". It will be available as early as October 24, I'm told, and everywhere in November.
Mojo has a peculiar talent--but I'll let her tell you about that.

Make it a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crisp, Cool and Sunny

That's how it is this morning, in Spokane, Washington. There's a chill in the bright air, though, as if we might get snow. I would love that, even though it's pretty early in the year for the white stuff. I remember one Halloween in my childhood when we had three feet of snow. It was beautiful, but I was bummed, because it meant I'd have to cover up my costume with a hooded coat.

I'm closing on my lake house tomorrow, and on Monday afternoon, the key will be in my hand. I am told that the lake sometimes freezes so solidly that fools drive cars across it. Nature's gentle way of weeding out the stupid, as my daughter would say.

A lake house. This is a gift from Heaven. He leadeth me beside the still waters...

But I shall be content to let Him walk on them--even when they're frozen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ordinary Days/Magical Days

I'm grateful for Ordinary Days--Tuesdays, like this one, with no appointments and no planes to catch. For me, it's thanksgiving. I can write. My dogs are nearby, and my cats. (The horses, alas, are still up the road at boarding school, but I'll have the barn up by spring.) There are wild turkeys beyond the fence, pecking at the ground and singing their gobble-gobble song. And my beloved pines stand sentinel in the draw, awaiting their lacing of snow.

Speaking of Thanksgiving--Canadians celebrated it yesterday. I think they're smart to have it then--ours is too close to Christmas. I'm nostalgic for the old days, when Hallmark didn't have their cards and ornaments on sale in July. We had time to appreciate holidays back then, it seems to me, and they were clearly differentiated from each other. Halloween was great fun in Northport--there were pumpkins and scarecrows taped to the windows of the schoolhouse, and deciding on a costume was something to savor for weeks. It was safe to trick-or-treat at every house in town, and a night's haul would fill a pillowcase. Thanksgiving, too, stood separate and distinct. Turkeys on the school windows then, and little pilgrim figures in the middle of everyone's table. No one rushed out to shop the next day--we were still digesting the feast. Christmas came in December, not November, and certainly not in July. Dad would take my brother, Jerry, and I up into the woods to pick out the tree, somewhere around the 14th of December. I will never forget that piney, snowy scent, clinging to the lush branches of that tree. I loved to plunge my face into those prickly branches and breathe deep. When we returned home, Mom would have cocoa ready, or cider, and Jerry and I were in a sweet agony of waiting, because the tree had to 'set' a while, dry off and let its branches down. Finally, the time would come to put it up in the corner between two picture windows in our living room. Dad muttered as he untangled the lights. Mom unwrapped precious ornaments, scuffed with memories, from tissue paper and bits of paper towel. We decorated the tree, and that in itself was a holiday--we loved the waiting, the anticipation, counting down the days. We'd stand outside, Jerry and I, in the gathering dusk, marveling at the way the multi-colored lights glowed through the frosty window glass. We looked forward to the lighting of the Lion's Club Christmas tree, at the center of town, and the programs at church. Uncle Harry used to play Santa--he had a mop for a beard, and he was skinny, but it was still utterly magical.

Magical days. It's the ordinary days, Tuesdays and the like, that make them special.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Weather Report

It's crisp and cool this morning, with a bright sun shining its blessings down on all of us.

This past Saturday, I attended the Lael Family Reunion in Colville, Washington (for those of you who don't live around these here parts, it's pronounced CALLville, not Coalville.) There was the usual laughter--the Laels are a witty bunch, inclined to laugh even through their tears. My cousin Dave, the MC, told his jokes. (Some of them, Dave, were even funny.) The senior Lael sibs all read a poem or sang a song--it's still strange that Uncle Wes isn't there, with his silly hats and his bed-pan banjo. Uncle Jack, a famous rodeo cowboy in his time, is confined to a nursing home now. When I went to see him, he greeted me with that old crooked grin of his and said, "Is the romance-writin' racket still being good to you?" I was happy to tell him it sure is. My cousins, who were kids yesterday, all seem to be grandparents now--there was a tribe of little Laels running around. My sisters, Sally and Pam, both attended, as did my mother, Hazel. Dad, being one of the original Lael brood, was there, of course, with his cowboy hat and his friendly smile.

So here's MY personal weather report. Clear, grateful skies. And if the clouds roll in, I know what to do. Laugh.

Because I am a Lael.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Major P.S.

How could I have forgotten????
There is a Christmas anthology out now, called "I'll Be Home for Christmas", and my story, "The Christmas of the Red Chiefs", is the headliner. If you're in a "snowy" mood, as I am, and starting to think of the festive season just ahead, you will love these stories.

Turkeys and Trees

There are wild turkeys behind my house, gobble-gobbling! They seem to know they're in no danger of becoming Thanksgiving dinner. (Or Sadie's dinner, either, though she barks at them with all the good-natured ferocity of any self-respecting beagle!) The deer visit, too--we have seen a doe with twin fawns occasionally, since spring. Now and then, there is even a moose--I've only caught a glimpse of one, since I write at the back of the house, looking out over my splendid draw full of dignified pine trees, and the mooses (meese?) seem to favor the ten acres of flat ground at the front.

The driveway is lined with young maples, now clad in spectacular gowns of yellow that will deepen to rust and crimson as autumn advances. The tall Aspens whisper among themselves, rustling a little in the cooler breezes. "Winter is coming," they say to each other. But they are not afraid. They move so gracefully between one season and the next. How I missed the seasons when I was away.

Although I lived in Arizona for eight years, and am not as used to Northwest winters as my beloved pines and maples and aspens, I look forward to the snow. For we are old friends, the snow and I, eager to be reunited. I remember the way snow muffles the world and makes it peaceful. I remember that particular cast of the light. I remember waking and, before I'd even opened my eyes, knowing snow had come in the night, just by that certain singing quality in the air.

Oh, yes. I shall welcome the snow.

For I have, after years of wandering, returned at last to the place my heart has always called...HOME.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Blog was Broken

And now, hopefully, it's fixed.

I'm officially halfway through the next Mojo book, "Deadly Deceptions". Meanwhile, the first Mojo, "Deadly Gamble", will be in stores soon.

I'm getting ready for the Lael family reunion this weekend--always a good time.

A bit under the weather, but I expect to be better soon.

Much love,