Author Archives: Peggy A. Edelheit

A Peek at Too Close For Comfort

Chapter 1

Too Close For Comfort

too-close“Ouch!” he protested, flinching in discomfort.

“That was a warning,” I said. “Touch me again and…”

“It’s this cold cement floor we’re sitting on,” he griped.

I was furious. My red silk dress was probably ruined.

“Man up,” I said. “Have you heard me complaining?”

“Being such a hot broad, how would you understand?”

“Keep your compliments and hands to yourself,” I said.

He sighed. “I was just trying to shift my position.” Continue reading

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An excerpt from #8, The Lush Life

An interview with Samantha

Looking Back At Vol.1 The Puzzle

An excerpt from the The Lush Life

lush-life 

the puzzle

First thing I noticed: my interviewer appeared nervous. Her foot was tapping a mile a minute on the floor, as she glanced down to reread from her notepad resting on her lap. Why the unease? I was the one being scrutinized here. Or did she think she was? Was she worried I was analyzing her? After several mysteries under my belt, I noticed I have that effect on people. She did admit it was her first interview with an author of my stature.

My stature? I had to laugh at that. No pretense here.   Continue reading

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Peggy’s Post: Gaining Perspective

peggyAccording to the dictionary, perspective is the ability to perceive things in their actual comparative importance. And by looking at the past, you are thus able to gain perspective on the present. But what is the point of gaining an accurate point of view if you don’t have the ability to see it for what it is? If you get lost in the details, you then lose the sense of the larger whole. You are ignoring the obvious. You miss the key point. You have tunnel vision.

In other words, if you are to solve something, don’t get hung up on all the small details. Look at the big picture. Keep everything realistic and in the order of its worth. When I become overwhelmed with the small stuff, I find I am wasting more time worrying about what I have no power to change or how it got there in the first place. It is already too late. It’s there. I have to deal with it. So deal with it, I do.

I have two choices. I can either accept it or not. If it is to my dislike or detriment, I usually choose to make the change. I have also learned that by taking evasive measures after gaining some perspective, I can alter going down that road again. In other words, I try not to make the same mistake twice. You do have choices and doing something is far better than doing nothing. So you may fall on your face. So you embarrass yourself. You get frustrated. Big deal. Make changes.

One thing you don’t want to do is to feel sorry for yourself. Mistakes happen. You correct them. You learn from them. You move on, even if others refuse to let you forget them. You see, I have learned that is a good thing, not a bad thing. Let them keep reminding you of your past mistakes, as long as you have learned something from them and try not to repeat them. You are gaining perspective in the long run. Trust me. That is a good thing.

Don’t let anyone else set your goals or your limitations. Don’t accept second best. Keep striving for the best, the best for you, that is. Stay singularly focused on what is right for you and what you are most happy with. Don’t let other people tell you how to live your life according to their perspective. Make it yours. One you can live with.

 If you have read any of my books in my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series, The Puzzle, Without Any Warning, 86 Avenue du Goulet, A Lethal Time, Mouth Of The Rat, Death Knell In The Alps, No Hope In New Hope, The Lush Life, Too Close For Comfort, Saving Sindia, and Diamonds Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend, you will notice that my protagonist, Samantha Jamison, (Sam for short) continually learns the meaning of real changes. She learns perspective, doesn’t let anyone set her limitations, or tell her she can’t do something. Even if she fails, she tries. She questions her motives. She is constantly learning that even though the small details may be important, it’s the big picture that finally gives you the answers. She’s human. She makes mistakes. She gets embarrassed doing or saying stupid things that seem to happen and complicate her life.

She is continually gaining perspective. And so am I.

Chase your dreams and remember, everyday is a blessing.

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The Diary

peggy I remember getting my first diary. It was one with a lock and key. This was an event. But what would I write? It didn’t come with a set of instructions. There had to be some magical secret because my sister treated hers like gold. She was an older sister: older enough in years for me to be constantly in her hair. But I was desperate to start writing and had to know that secret. I had no choice but to start spying. Continue reading

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Father, A Portrait

peggyFather. A word so easily said and yet, “Can one really fathom the meaning of such a powerful word?” To each one there is a different meaning, I guess. To me? It’s something that goes very deep, embedded in the depth’s of my heart, and the very root of my being.

When he died, I lost a father, mentor, best friend and confidant that was irreplacable. Continue reading

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Heartless And Heartfelt

peggyWhen those two words come into play in the same story, and they have countless times over and over, as an author, I am intrigued by the individuals, whether real or imagined, who get caught up in it. I also know that it is simply a matter of degree, how far or how little they play out. In my Samantha Jamison mystery series human interaction is a constant. And so this timeless subject brings to mind a true story I’d like to share with you about how someone felt after a heartless and heartfelt scene played out in the Frankfurt train station of all places.

What was her story?  Who was she waiting for? Why was she anxious?

As he approached the busy platform, but too far away to do anything, he watched helplessly as a young woman stood amid an enormous amount of luggage, eyes darting about, turning every few seconds, and then checking her watch nervously. That was when he saw another scene playing out to his shock that involved her. Some young men were slowly encompassing this young, unsuspecting woman in an arc and closing in on her very slowly, while they looked around to see if anyone was watching them and what they were about to do. The man held his breath as he picked up his pace. He had to do something before it was too late. He started calling and waving to her while he made sure his children were still safely by his side.

She whipped around at her name, and an enormous smile appeared on her face as her husband and three young boys came running up to her. The little boys wrapped their arms around their mother’s legs as their father hugged his wife and whispered something into her ear. She immediately glanced around them nervously. He had relayed what was about to happen. He squeezed her hand, reassuring her they were safe and together. He kept hugging her, and then reluctantly let her go. Smiling so as not to alarm their children at the near catastrophe, they grabbed their luggage as their train gave the signal for departure and hustled onto the train.

The young men were nowhere to be seen, having quickly dispersed and melted into the crowd. It was obvious that this was a loving family by the way they interacted with each other with truly heartfelt emotions. On the other hand, the young male youths were about to commit a heartless act. Were they going to accost her physically, or were they more interested in her luggage and what it might contain?

Heartfelt and heartless are two different words yet they coalesced perfectly into this simple, but true story. To this very day, I always look around me acutely aware of the potential for falling victim to that same situation as I remember that story. It also prompts a smile to recall the love and relief in my husband’s concerned eyes at how close we came to the unknown and the love of our boys for their mother as they clung to my legs at having been separated from me for a mere several minutes on that Frankfurt train platform. I am truly blessed.

Chase your dreams and remember, everyday is a blessing.

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Ah, Paris… We’re sleeping where?

peggyAt first, I was leery, but traveling through Europe by car had been fun.

My husband said, “We don’t need hotel reservations. We’ll be just fine.”So far, it had worked, just fine. We had been traveling (in a small rental car) from Luxembourg, Belgium, making pit stops (we had 3 small children with us) so you get the picture. Trust me, we were all tired and slightly claustrophobic after three weeks, but were happy. We arrived in Paris (our last major stop) at noon that day to find a hotel quickly so we could sightsee the rest of the day. Easier said than done.

We went from hotel to hotel: no rooms. We started at the lower priced. Slowly, it went higher and higher. By 6PM, my husband would’ve settled for anything with a bed. No go. By 11PM, we were all dizzy, tired and getting slightly grouchy and about to give up when my husband came running back to our car saying he found a room. Cheering with what little energy we had left, we all dragged our luggage into the four-story quaint hotel. Since it was the rule of the hotel, my husband had to pay in advance. And since it was located in the center of Paris and located in a nice area, it was perfect. It was their last room available. Just one snag: the elevator was broken.

So my three sons and I carried up the lighter luggage. My husband would bring up the heaviest after he paid for our room. The stairs were narrow and winding. We were on the fourth floor. I think this was when I started to have some reservations of my own about this hotel, but I was exhausted and so were the kids. Out of breath, the four of us finally dropped our luggage just inside the door to our room.

As we ventured further in, my son said, “Mom, what are those things on the walls?”

I walked closer. Creatures, bugs …whatever! Ugh!

“Don’t move!” I ordered, as I walked over and peeked into the bathroom. There were bugs crawling all over the place: walls, tub, etc. I whipped around in time to catch my other son about to throw himself onto the bed. I yelled, “No!” He stepped back as I gingerly pulled the sheets back. …Bed bugs! “Out! Out!” I ordered, as I ushered the boys out of the room with their bags. “Now!”

Halfway down the stairs, we met my husband, (sweating profusely) lugging those heavier pieces up. I gave him the death glare. “Don’t even bother! We are not staying here. We are leaving. Now!”

His head whipped around, as I kept moving downward. “But I already paid….”

“Then get a refund! The room is infested with bugs crawling everywhere!”

“Are you sure?” he asked, glancing back hopefully toward what (was) our room.

I gave him the death glare again.

“How am I going to explain this to the manager? He doesn’t speak any English.”

My husband followed us, marching down to speak with the manager. What transpired was a lot of screaming in rapid English then French, while my husband shook his head no. (I must explain we didn’t know French back then. We hadn’t purchased our home in the south of France for several years yet.) But we were extremely fluent in English. So everything was lost in translation and the shaking of heads, as my husband went through the motions of moving his fingers like legs walking all over, trying to explain the bugs on the walls, tub, beds, etc. I stood there with our three sons while  my husband imitated his best French, saying, “infeeestaaasseeoon!”

Finally, the shocked manager got the message then began swearing passionately, like my husband had just insulted his mother. I covered my smallest’s ears as I marched them back outside to our parked car. After several minutes ticked by, my husband joined us, slamming the door closed. He then turned to me with a smile, holding up his refund.

I frowned after checking my watch. “Now, where? It’s after midnight.”

Exhausted, we circled Paris again, my husband stopped again, we waited again.

“That’s the last straw,” said my husband getting back into the car at the last stop.

“So, where to now?” I asked.

“I’m pulling into the first open parking space I can find, that’s what,” he announced.

And he did: directly under the Eiffel Tower. (This was pre 9/11) Then he turned the car lights off, saying, “Everyone get comfortable and get some sleep.”

I turned to him. “We’re sleeping in this economy car …here with three children?”

“How was I supposed to know there are three major conventions going on in Paris?”

After some moaning and groaning, everyone settled in. I was almost asleep when a small voice said from the backseat, “I have to go…real bad.”

My husband eyed me then we both looked over to that tower and back to each other.

“There are more shadows over there. Besides, he’s only 3 ½ yrs. old…”

Afterward, we settled down once again and covered ourselves with our jackets. We did see the gendarme go by a few times, but they never stopped, just smiled at us and kept going. I guess we weren’t the only one’s without a hotel room because no one bothered us all night.

Lesson learned: we never traveled again without reservations well in advance.

Now during the holidays when the whole family gathers around the table and old family stories are retold, the boys always ask, “Did you make hotel reservations, Dad?”

Now, he laughs, “Very funny…”

Did I ever tell you about the time I had to use a hotel toothbrush for the bottom of my children’s sneakers one trip? You see, they had this petting zoo… 

And people ask where I get my inspiration and imagination from for my mysteries. Ha!

P.S. Little did I know then that a future home in France would inspire 2 of my 12 books: 

My true Memoir: The Rivera Is Burning & Mystery #3: 86 Avenue du Goulet

 

 

 

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I Remember

peggy I remember when I was a little girl sitting on the piano bench next to my mother, my legs swinging freely because they were too short to reach the floor, enthralled, watching her hands float over the ivory keys, hearing her soprano voice singing along, and being transported to another place by the sheer pleasure of it.

I remember my father nurturing and tending his irises, grapevines, and fruit trees when he wasn’t working. I always preferred playing hide and seek with my friends in my yard because I would always sneak behind the grape trellis and pluck away at the grapes as fast as I could, hoping no one would find me. Afterward, I would sit in the crook of a fruit tree, my legs dangling, biting into a pear or peach, and then wipe my sticky hands on the grass and running to my next adventure.

I remember my mother cutting a small bouquet from her numerous rose bushes still wet from the morning dew and wrapping them with wax paper for me to take to my teacher.

I remember in the summer sitting on the back porch step with a freshly-plucked ripe tomato from my father’s garden, sprinkling salt on top, and taking that first bite as the juices squirted all over me and giggling from the wonderful taste.

I remember my mother never wrote down recipes, not even her favorites. So when I was older, I had her sit down and list the ingredients and instructions, which I promptly filed away, only to laugh years later when I was newly married and finally read them. It was trial and error on my husband’s palate, experimenting with her ‘touch of this and handful of that, with a pinch on top’ until I got it just right.

I remember reclining on the grass under the massive oak trees in our backyard daydreaming and reading my favorite book of the moment, being carried to another world, totally captivated, and thankful the library kept me well supplied.

I remember my father always had a book in his hand, too, whether it was historical, biographical, or a scientific journal while I sat in his lap pretending I was reading it, too. He would often read three books, alternating from one to the other. Love for the written word was passed from father, to daughter, to my three children.

I remember racing my bicycle down the hill of our street throwing my hands up in the air and feeling the wind rake it’s fingers through my hair, tossing it in all different directions. It was exciting to feel free and race against the wind. To this day, the small scars on my knees are a constant reminder of those thrill-seeking rides that occasionally ended with me spread-eagled on a neighbor’s lawn, laughing.

I remember the joy, the heartache, the laughter, the pain, and the numerous celebrations of the births and deaths of the lives of those I’ve loved and lost.

I remember the birth of my three sons like it was yesterday.

I remember reaching the goals I set for myself, and those I never met.

I try to remember to stay humble and gracious to those who believe in me.

It is important for me to remember, to look back, to remind myself never to forget what molded me into exactly who I am today so I will always try to keep my adventurous spirit, my fearlessness, and my love of life.

And most of all, I try to remember what is important and what is not.

Chase your dreams and remember everyday is a blessing.

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The Snake

peggyMy three young boys were playing by our small waterfall moving large rocks at our log home in Highlands, NC (the setting for my first mystery, Volume 1, The Puzzle). They were hard at work hauling and dragging rocks to build a dam. My oldest son said his younger brother suddenly yelled out, “There’s a gigantic snake!” After getting a good look at it, our oldest son ran as fast as he could to go for help. I was in the kitchen baking cookies. He already knew how I felt about snakes and went straight for his father. My husband took the news in stride. He knew kid’s imaginations. They always exaggerated the size of things. He took his time strolling down that dirt road on our property wondering what kind of garden snake they managed to uncover.

He approached smiling, but then did a double take, stopping dead in his tracks. That snake was well over twelve feet long. My husband stepped back a pace and told our oldest son to quickly go back to the house and tell his mother to get his shotgun and cartridges from our locked gun case so he could bring them back to him. Our son ran back, hollering about what was going on. I handed over his father’s unloaded shotgun and he quickly flew through the door. I stared out the window, but they were too far away for me to see clearly. There was no way I was walking out there. I hate snakes.

I was told later on that our son gave the gun to my husband, who loaded the shotgun. He then waited so see what the snake would do, as he was undecided about shooting it. It wasn’t acting hostile. The snake then started to slowly slither toward the woods, but then it stopped. It turned around and rose straight up in the air about four feet, like someone was playing a flute then latched onto a branch with its head. It stopped and just stared at my husband at eye level, showing no fear whatsoever. The three boys and my husband could not believe what they were witnessing. My husband considered his dilemma. His young boys played in that spot everyday, and since the snake wasn’t slithering off like it should and wasn’t talking, the snake had to go. My husband didn’t want to take chances. He raised his shotgun and eliminated the potential future threat.

My husband then picked up a large branch, draped the snake over it and asked our son to go back to the house to show his mother the snake so I could see sheer the size of it, otherwise, I wouldn’t believe it. Well, I have to tell you it the wrong thing for him to do. I watched our son drag it back all excited. I had a fit. That snake was not entering our house. I beat our son to the door, took one look at how long that thing was, snatched that branch from my son’s hand and ran to the edge of our drive and heaved-ho. That snake went sailing over the cliff, branch and all.

Moral of the story to all potential predators vs. my children: Be cautious in the forest and pay attention where you walk or place your hands. ….Oh, and anything that remotely threatens the safety of my children better make sure they know how to fly first: dead or alive.

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A Perfectly Deadly French Mystery

86Aves-garden When I began the Samantha Jamison Mystery Series, Samantha made her debut as my protagonist in solving her husband’s death in Book 1 The Puzzle in Highlands, North Carolina. Certain distinctive characters from that book went on to Book 2, Without Any Warning at the New Jersey shore. When it came time to do the third in the series, 86 Avenue du Goulet, I decided to take everyone to the French Riviera. Why? Well, we had a house there and I thought the property lent itself to make a very intriguing mystery.

It was an old estate property built in 1954 by a married couple. It was all stone, with stone courtyards and curved arches, surrounded by elaborate gardens. Here is an excerpt from Book 3 describing the mysterious gardens and why it was a perfect backdrop for my next mystery. This was the exact way the gardens presented themselves when we first bought the villa. I merely added the intrigue and mystery, and, of course the storyline.

…I hustled up the stone path, but was startled when confronted by a massive several-foot-high cactus. I barely edged around it and pressed on, briefly turning now and then; noticing the views of the Mediterranean getting better the higher I climbed. A few empty pedestals with broken shards caught my eye too. What happened to the statues?

So many pathways crammed this unusual upper garden, but then they always seemed to turn off to a narrower connected pathway, which automatically led you right back toward the villa. Why the strange maze of paths?

I stubbed my toe and looked down. In the dark, these paths could be hazardous. On the edges of the path, stones were angled in an upright pattern. Intentional?

Whoever initially designed all this must have had a specific purpose in doing it this particular way. Why? Was I over-thinking the garden’s strange quirks?
I turned back to view the villa and spotted that the flat surface of the roof over the garage was also paved with the same earthy colored stone. At the very end of it, two old cement angel statues faced each other. That was it. Nothing else was up there. Why were they the only things up there?

A metal, spiral staircase led up to them. Like a magnet, this property began luring me in and latching onto me. Why was the staircase locked at the bottom with a gate?

I finally reached the upper level area where an abandoned swimming pool sat in disrepair, the mosaic tiles around its perimeter falling off or missing. The unusual structure I had noticed from below was a collapsed cabana, a stark contrast to the well-maintained gardens.
Why the disparity between the pool and lush gardens?

I turned again. The panoramic view at this height was spectacular, but being on a timetable, I had to keep going. I paused once more at a gated ‘fruit cellar’ that I was tempted check out, but staying focused, I turned away instead and hastily walked out the back gate to head for Martine’s.

However, my fascination for the villa and its property wouldn’t let me go. I stole one last look at the gardens that seemed to be calling me back for further scrutiny. Strange. Something wasn’t right. I could feel it…

I also tried to capture the beauty of not only the property but the whole area in general in describing what Samantha saw the first morning she woke up at her leased villa and looked out her second floor terrace at the Mediterranean Sea.

…I stepped out onto the deck. The residential area and town of Les Issambres had not changed much since I was here a year before, just a few new villas and houses here and there had sprouted among all the beautifully landscaped properties dotting the mountainous terrain. Yachts and jet skis crisscrossed far below as the sun reflected off the sea’s surface.
To my left in the distance were the beaches of St. Raphaël jutting out into the water and the magnificent Esterel mountain ranges beyond. Off to my right in the distance was the lovely town of St. Maxine and the bay of St. Tropez.
I looked downward. The small manicured lawn off the living room directly below was shaped in a half circle, just like the upper terrace where I stood. A stone wall, three feet high, bordered it to protect people from falling below.
Part of that curved wall dropped about two stories to the neighbor’s house and their pool, and then it curved around to my villa’s side gardens. Red bougainvillea spilled over it and trailed to the bottom. If you didn’t know where the wall was, it appeared as a lush carpet of red, and although beautiful to the eye, to a veteran, it concealed lengthy thorns, as sharp and painful as miniature daggers.
The wall continued from the back to along the side of the villa where stone arches ran parallel, wrapping around to the front entrance. I looked far to the right where an expansive stone stairway descended from the kitchen patio to a mosaic, tiled fountain.
At the bottom of those steps a maze of pathways cut from the same stone sloped downward along the lower gardens that contained benches and flower-filled urns.
I leaned out further and noticed in one shaded corner a cement table and chairs under a blooming magnolia tree. Ah – a perfect writing spot. I felt as though I had stepped into a Monet painting. At every turn, a blended brushstroke of color! With my agent lambasting me for taking this vacation instead of staying focused for my next novel, it seems as though this burial mystery was just the ticket I was looking for. Apparently my next book was emerging and unfolding right in front of me…

Our neighbors really were Martine, Jean, and their dog, Sonia, as in the book. In the interim of writing this mystery Jean passed away, so I dedicated the book in memory of him with a special thanks to Martine. All the rest of the names in the book are fictitious. I did spend time working in the gardens with our French gardener and the location of all the other properties that surrounded us and their exact locations played right into the mystery, including the house with the red light across the way. The mysterious cat lady who came and went at dusk, slipping cat food under our garden gate really did exist.

All our neighbors were from Paris with second homes on the Riviera. They were always gracious and hospitable to us on every occasion and the complete opposite from which I described the neighbors in the book, then again, you never know. I mean, after all, this was fiction, right? Since then, we have sold the property and I explain in the beginning of Book 4, A Lethal Time what really happened (which was true) to the old villa and it’s property after Samantha and her ‘crew’ left.

Like I said, I merely added the intrigue and mystery, and, of course the storyline. …Okay, Okay, so maybe my characters had a little say in it.

P.S. This is the exact location of my Memoir, The Riviera Is Burning. This is where my family and I fled the famous French Riviera fires one summer and explains my fear of fire to this day. We were a very lucky family.

My latest?

Book 11 Diamonds Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend.

Was it the value of the canes? Heritage? A collector’s sense? Or something else…?

Chase your dreams and remember, everyday is a blessing.

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