Excerpts from Lacey

A man came up and sat next to her saying, “A penny for your thoughts.”

She turned her head as her copper hair caught the light making it ablaze and said, “It will cost you a hell of a lot more than that!”

He said, “You must be Ms. Diamond. I’m Jake Milard.”

She smiled rather embarrassed, “I just thought you were trying to pick me up.”

She looked at this very handsome man as she extended her hand. He was six-foot-two brown hair and very sad velvet brown eyes. His beard was cropped short, which made his white teeth shined like pearls. They shook hands. He notices her handshake was firm and steady. She noticed his brown eyes that seemed to perk up.

He said, “Let’s get a table.”

He held out her chair and as she sat down. “You’re a very interesting woman and I wouldn’t mind picking you up.”

She responded, “Interesting is usually reserved for old maids and mothers.”

He blushed, “You’ve got me all wrong, interesting wasn’t the right word. How about mysterious, fascinating, intriguing and  you’re very interesting woman.”

Now she was the one blushing, “I get your point, Mr. Milard.”

“No, Dr. Milard.”

The waitress interrupted the word games.

Dr. Milard said, “Won’t you have a drink with me.”

He looked at the waitress and back at Lacey.

She smiled at him then turned to the waitress and said, “I would like a very, very dry martini with three olives.”

Dr. Milard said, “A Heinekens, please.”

She left them alone.

Lacey said, “Dr. Milard, how do you know me?”

He answered, “I don’t, but my sister went to Sacramento State University with you, Sarah Milard. She remembered you as fiery and determined so I tacked you down by calling the California Bar Association. Now Ms. Diamond you must call me, Jake if you’re to take my case.”



“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”      Mark  Twain

Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, (AKA: Mark Twain), words capture my mood perfectly. Everywhere I look, I see out buildings or logs or walls that need a good power wash, a fresh coat of stain or paint. When I walk out onto the back deck, I’m not gazing at the valley floor below, I am searching for the perfect location to put the new fire pit I bought myself last Christmas.

I find myself combing the boards on Pinterest. I’m searching for simple, inexpensive, DYI landscaping projects, from clever ideas for building the perfect bird house, to lighting projects, to flowering vines that could intertwine around the arbor that (amazingly) still stands at the head of the grass lane that leads down to our solitary apple tree.

I have spring fever. And luckily this year, I have a husband who has recently retired. I’ve a long list of honey-do projects, ten years worth in fact. He assures me he is ready, willing, and able to tackle the list. In thirty plus years of marriage and numerous properties, I have always been the one to plan our projects, do the cost analysis, and gather the materials needed. Nathan has always assumed the role of draftsman, carpenter, and site prep manager. Basically, I’m management and he’s labor, which suits us both. He loves buckling on his old tool belt, and I love hunting down a bargain. (Like buying a fire pit at Christmas when it was on clearance). I knew I wouldn’t be able to use it for six months, but at 70% off, it was a bargain worth the wait. After all, I’d waited 14 years for the perfect plan and right contractor to come along before I had our barn built. Six months is a piece of cake.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck on all your spring projects.


Deborah Epperson

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG


“And there will be other days and other ways and other months of April.”DSCF7014

Author Nan McKenzie, April 21, 2014

‘And the voice of the turtle dove will be heard throughout the land.’
This quote from the bible is inscribed on my father’s tombstone. He often quoted it as the April full moon came out, along with, ‘And the voice of the turtle dove will be heard throughout the land.’ April was his favorite month, with great promise held in the lighter days, new sunshine heating up the ground to prepare it for the many flowers he would plant, adding color to our cabin camp on Whitefish Lake. As soon as the ice left the lake for good, he could launch The Ranger, the 40-foot excursion boat he had built to carry “dudes” around the perimeter of the lake two to three times a day in high summer.

Mom, my sisters and I, would begin scrubbing the drive-in grille, the concession stand at Bay Point Drive-In Theatre, and the cabins on the lake. Excitement for the busy coming summer began building, even the trees and bushes did their parts, suddenly turning up green after a heavy April rain that caused squishy worms to leave their underground homes and wriggle along the ground.
We’d turn over the two rental inboard boats and three aluminum canoes that were lazing on land next to the dock. The metal canoes were the first of their kind, (Daddy named them for Egyptian kings), and it took several summers before some people would trust them enough to not sink, thinking that the metal was too heavy to float.

In April, Dad liked to call us outside to see the new buds on the many trees around our log house on the lake, and to notice the bright green grass poking heads up to check out the weather. He’d take the big truck with a trailer hooked to the back down to Big Arm to pick up our thirteen horses, which had wintered over in the better weather on the Flathead Reservation. The horses were used for dude rides along the east shore of the lake. Sometimes, Dad would use The Ranger to haul tents and camping gear to the head of the lake, and set up for the tourists to ride in by horseback to spend several days. A helper would take the horses back to the barn while the campers enjoyed several nights under the stars, congregating every night around the campfire. He’d pick them up in The Ranger and bring them back, sunburned, tired and happy.

“And the winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel is ….”

Every day writing thrills me. But one of the biggest thrills is being nominated for the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The Agatha Awards celebrate the traditional mystery, in the vein of Agatha Christie, and are given at the annual Malice Domestic convention. “Malice,” as its known to mystery fans, will be held this year on May 2-4 in Bethesda, Maryland.

On Saturday during the convention, the five nominees share the stage with multiple award-winning mystery writer and all-around goddess Margaret Maron for talk about our books and more.

So naturally, being both compulsive and curious, I’ve been reading the other nominated books. Ohmygosh, what fun! If you like your mysteries lively, funny, jammed with yummy food and quirky characters, set in charming locales with more than a pinch of intrigue, dig in!

cover-cannoliPasta, a Festa, a grandmother who wears kimonos, and a character named Landon. Sounds like I’m talking about my own Death al Dente, doesn’t it? Nope. It’s You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa (Simon & Schuster). The Festa is the Festa della Repubblica, Landon is Chef Eve’s 20-something cousin and sous-chef, and the grandmother is their shared nonna, jailed for the murder of her boyfriend on the kitchen floor of Miracolo, the Philadelphia-area restaurant she owns and Eve runs. Convinced her grandmother is innocent, Eve organizes the staff to investigate, only to find herself in hot water. Don’t read this on an empty stomach!

BOARD-STIFF-webElliot “Ellie” Lisbon loves her life as a Foundation director and private investigator in training in a South Carolina island community, until she finds a board member dead and the board chair—“the most unpleasant person on Planet Earth”—is charged with his murder, in Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn (Henery Press). What’s worse? The local PD’s new lieutenant is the college love who dropped her like a firebomb. This is nothing like the “indiscretions” she’s been investigating! A fun romp through blackmail, murder, schemes and scams.

cover-LizIn Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero (Kensington), Kristan “Stan” Connor has left a prestigious job in PR after unpleasantness bordering on the criminal, and impulsively purchased a Victorian fixer in a small Connecticut town. When Stan arrives at the town vet’s office with her cat, she’s shocked to find the woman dead—and stunned to find herself a murder suspect! The special treats and meals Stan creates for her cat lead her to several unlikely friendships—and a future business, making high-quality pet food and treats—but heighten others’ suspicions. Never fear! This animal whisperer uses her ability to relate to dogs to escape a killer and make a new home for herself.

FRONT-PAGE-set-webNichelle Clarke is an ambitious young crime reporter in Richmond, Virginia, wrapping up a long week, when a police boat crashes on the river, in Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker (Henery Press). Her week gets longer when a trusted source in the police department reports missing evidence, and a deputy prosecutor goes missing, then winds up dead. Are the two incidents related? Why do police deflect her questions about the incidents—and about the strangely similar killings of two drug dealers? Why don’t they understand: Never mess with a woman who can run in high heels!

deathaldentAnd of course, Death al Dente by Leslie Budewitz (Berkley Prime Crime). The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as the Food Lovers’ Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a specialty market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead!

The Agatha Awards honor the best in six categories: Contemporary Novel, Historical, First, Short Story, Children’s/YA, and Nonfiction. The Malice site lists all the 2013 nominees and past nominees and winners.

Marie’s Memories, A Memoir, Story Four

Story 4 Diving Boards

The bend in the creek made a great swimming hole. Kids being kids, we were not satisfied with jumping off the bank. Therefore, we spent hours building diving boards of various sizes and shapes. The engineering of these magnificent boards was something to see.
One of the benefits of Dad working in a sawmill was that he brought home scraps and pieces of lumber. He supplied us with old lumber for our projects. One day he even gave us a plank.
Our cousins from Kalispell were visiting. They spent a lot of time at our house in the summer. Jeanie, Bernie and Lyle were a shade older and very sophisticated. They were town kids. Bernie and Lyle lugged the plank the half mile to the creek. We built up the bank with the clay, making it as high as we dared and plenty wide enough to hold the plank. We placed it just prefect with one end sticking out over the water. We piled lots of rocks and boulders on the bank end to hold it in place. After many hours and much labor our supreme board was completed.
Norma was the only one whoever got to make a dive off the boards we made. She was the biggest, and it fell to her to be the test diver. If the board held up for her, then anyone of us could use it in relative safety. We watched from the bank as diving board after diving board fell into the water with great splashes of water when Norma jumped off.
This board was no different.
“We should get to go first,” said Bernie and Lyle. “We lugged the plank to the creek.”
Norma gave them the evil eye.
“All right,” said Bernie, “we’ll watch for weak spots in the rocks.
Norma took her time. She inched her way out onto the board. She jiggled it up and down.
“Any weak spots,” she asked.
“Naw,” answered Bernie.
Norma sprang in the air. Her feet came down on the board for a mighty lift off. It buckled, sending rocks and boulders high. Norma hit the water with a belly flop that shook the earth and sent a spray of water arcing over us. Her scream is what I remember. Never heard one like it again. I wondered how she avoided getting killed and going to heaven.

The Connor Cousins

The Connor Cousins

Memoir is available for all to read on mariefmartin.com