Category Archives: General

Descriptions & Grammatical Errors

 

lush-lifeExcerpt from #8 The Lush LIfe:

Definition of an anomaly: Something that deviates from what is considered normal or expected, an inconsistency. That pretty much summed up my relationship with Clay, which wasn’t exactly what you’d call normal. We stayed in the same place with irregularity. Our whole relationship was a definite-maybe.

Clay and I go way back to when I was chasing down leads to find out why my husband, Stephen, had died under suspicious circumstances. Little did I know at that time when I first met Clay, he was not only a quaint bookshop owner, but also a very sly PI: a private investigator.

With and without Clay’s help, I solved that mystery. Of course, we both had commitment issues. So we eventually worked through my lack of trust in his slick segues in what was really going on back when we first met by managing some great undercover moments since then.

I’d say my relationships with my crew are ones for the books: my books. Each time we all get together to solve a another mystery, it ends up in my next novel. My agent usually fields my sometimes outrageous stall tactics, while my editor thinks up red side-margin, spot-on comments that are not only helpful, but give me a chuckle or two, while she critiques the believability of my mysteries and sentence structure. I love her to death, but…

Hey, we’re talking fiction, right? I always counter, many people and characters speak grammatically incorrect.

* * * * *

Take note of the following:

“This was the most unkindest cut of all.”

(Marc Anthony – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: Double superlative)

“To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

(An intro to each episode of Star Trek: split infinitive)

“You ain’t heard nothing yet, folks.”

(Al Jolson – Movie: The Jazz Singer: Double negative.)

P.S. Thank you, James Harbeck for those fine examples.

(I could go on and on.)

Hopefully, you understand the essence of my point.

(Adverbs first, tend to show the speaker’s attitude)

…chuckle

I hope you enjoyed this brief peek inside The Lush Life!

Peggy/Sam – Author/Sleuth

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Questions I’m frequently asked on being an Author.

peggy
Questions I’m frequently asked on being an Author. 
What is your specific genre?
Peggy: I write a mystery series. My protagonist is Samantha Jamison, an author, who solves mysteries with her crew.
Although I did write a French Memoir called The Riviera Is Burning. It is a true story about me and my family fleeing fire from our home in France. It is told in the first person. So you only see it playing out from my point of view. It was a frightening experience I wanted to share with my readers. Trust me, what we experience stays with us and affects how react and think in the future, which is a premise I base my 10th mystery on.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
 Peggy: Don’t let it stop you! Try to write everyday, even when the words are not flowing. That to me is important. Keep things moving along, no matter what. I just keep plugging away. I don’t set hours or have a rigid schedule other than writing each day. Of course I may delete a lot of it, but feel it’s important not to give up. I will consider anything, even swapping dialogue to do a change up for an unexpected twist, providing the chemistry works. Many times it does
What’s the best thing about being an Author?
Peggy: I get to start each book with a blank slate, making something out of nothing by writing whatever flows from my fingertips. I thoroughly enjoy my characters constantly vying for my attention, telling me what they should say and do. They have become so familiar to me, their like family. Several times I’ve had to yell, “Stop! I can’t write fast enough to get what you are all saying.” Sometimes it gets ugly and we have disagreements. That’s when I have put my foot down. After all, I’m the author, right?
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Peggy: Make a commitment. Become very familiar with the genre you’re interested in. Read and learn from the styles of other authors, but most importantly, create your own style. Make your own footprint. Have confidence and don’t ever stop believing in yourself. Surround yourself with things that motivate you to write. Your writing space is (your) space no matter how big or small.  Network with other authors of all genres. There is a wonderful community of talented people out there that you can learn from. They can give you valuable advice and guide you in the writing process. Read some of their blogs. Learn from their mistakes and advice. Only you can make it happen. Once you’ve made that plunge and are ready to publish, get a good EDITOR! I cannot stress that enough. A good Editor will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear!
What inspires you?
Peggy: Many times what happens to me in real life experiences or places that I’ve been to, inspire me to write a particular mystery. Each of my mysteries takes place in locales that I am extremely familiar with, which keeps the details and storyline accurate and true. I just throw in my crew and let them have fun with it, even at the expense of Samantha, my protagonist, who is constantly riding that learning curve of life.
Where did you get the idea for your 9th mystery in your series, Too Close For Comfort?
Peggy: After researching my last mystery, #8, The Lush Life, I fell down a set of 150 year old Victorian steps, breaking and fracturing my right leg, which led to a wheelchair, crutches and physical therapy. Well, it was while I was in my second round of therapy for back damage from being in a wheelchair for so long, that I got to thinking. What if someone were to approach me while I was in therapy, dragging me into an unexpected mystery from my past? Thus, Too Close For Comfort #9 was born. That Vertigo attack in that one actually happened to me, including my ER visit. I just wasn’t poisoned by a cookie, and as they say, the (rest) was history. (Forgive that pun)
Your series is always evolving. What are you currently working on?
Peggy: Starting with The Puzzle, which is the first in my series, I explain how Samantha starts solving mysteries by trying to find out who killed her husband and how she meets her sleuthing crew. With each mystery, you follow their escapades and sleuthing capabilities, or in Sam’s case some humbling blunders along the way.
My 10th mystery in my series is Saving Sindia, a striking departure for Sam. Samantha takes a timeout for some self-perspective and the reader learns more about her on a more personal level. She solves this mystery while recalling some of her past and discovers we are who we are for specific reasons. It shapes how we think and react. After that there is #11 Diamonds Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend, a gem of a mystery filled with humor.
Any last words of advice?
Don’t take your  life for granted. Make the most of it!
Life is one big mystery. I’m still trying to solve it…chuckle
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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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