Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Picture Can Lead to 1,000 Words

 I often take pictures of scenery similar to that in my fiction. Grain elevators feature in Demise of a Devious Suspect, and I have dozens of single and multiple silos.

Because I could not travel to Garrett County, Maryland as I wrote the Family History Mystery Series, I'm especially thankful to have photos of that area. Even more so to have captured images from the trains, since they traverse areas I can't travel by car.

Some of these are in Maryland, others may be in West Virginia. There are no state line signposts among the trees.

Early spring in the Appalachian Mountains.
Note the Dogwood trees.

You can't jump out of a train for close-up photos of flowers. My guess would be this is a form of clover or perhaps sulfur cinquefoil, a perennial almost considered a weed.

This gives you a sense of how close the railroad tracks are to the rivers.

I'm still hopeful that 2022 will let me travel to Maryland as I write book four of the series.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Musing About Advice

Every now and then, readers will ask the common question about where I get ideas, or another author will ask how I publish several books each year. The answers are relatively simple:

1) My brain follows whatever thought comes to it, and my thinking is a tad warped.

2) I regard writing as a job and put my fanny in a chair and work, even when I don't want to.

No secrets.

However, I occasionally think about things I've learned in life that I wish someone would ask about. Or at least not roll their eyes if I suggest something. None of my thoughts are earth-shaking. For example: 

1) When working in the kitchen, keep the drawers closed. It's easier to wipe sticky stuff off the floor.

2) If you tie socks together before putting them in the washing machine, they are less likely to end up in the hozone (that part of the atmosphere where vanished socks hide). 

3) If you make a list, you get more done. If you lose the list, forget it.

4) Friendships may occur naturally, but retaining them takes effort, especially if you move away. It's worth the effort.

5) If you want to be remembered for something, do it well. Then draft your own obituary.

6) Write down family birthdays. They may be on the same date every year, but your brain wavers as you age.

7) Don't try to memorize any information you can easily look up. 

8) Learn to take and organize digital photos. They can bring you joy.

9) Every dime you save in your twenties will turn into at least a dollar when you're sixty. Lose the password to your savings account so you aren't tempted to take money out early.

10) It isn't worth it to go to bed mad. If you must, take a sleeping pill or you'll be awake for hours.

Aren't you glad you read this list? If you aren't, keep it to yourself.

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Mildred Mistletoe Adjusts to a COVID Christmas

Several years ago, I wrote about liking to have pets in my books but never writing a story from an animal's point of view. Over the next couple of weeks, I kept thinking, "Why not try?"

That led to Mildred Mistletoe, a black cat born in the manger under the family Christmas tree. I just completed the third story. I started it in 2020, but just couldn't get in the spirit to finish it. I certainly didn't think that in 2021 I'd publish a story called "Mildred Mistletoe Adjusts to a COVID Christmas."

But here we are, and it didn't feel right to ignore the stupid virus. At the same time, I wanted a story that offered at least a little encouragement without being syrupy.

And I do like Mildred. She's always a paw ahead of her humans.

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To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter