Progress on New “Shades”…..

This is the longest gap I have had between books as Idyllic Islands was published in 2021. I’ve mentioned in a previous post I was struggling as I am writing Shades of Remorse, the fifth in the series with Police Detective Bev Henderson, from a triple Point of View rather than a dual as the others are. The reason I need to make this change is because while most of the action takes place in Verde Key, a critical event and character is in New Orleans and that character then arrives in Verde Key. I couldn’t find a way to realistically portray the character or events involving her only through the eyes of her aunt.

I have worked through most of the initial issues I had and am more comfortable with the way the story is flowing. I changed some of my approach as I certain elements I was going to include won’t synchronize as I thought. It’s all part of the process and I’m okay with that. I’ve also decided to introduce a new assistant medical examiner and I think fans will like her. So far, Kyle, Bev’s husband, isn’t as prominent as in previous books, but he may appear more in the later chapters. I’ll see how that fits. I still don’t have as much time to devote to it as I would like, but I do want to get it out this year. No earlier than fall and it might bump up against the holidays.

Whirl of a Week…..

Well, I knew it was going to be busy and with four extra events/tasks thrown in, let’s just say I haven’t had much spare time since our return. Some if it is social though so it isn’t as if it’s all work. At the moment – and I will try to keep it that way – Saturday will not require me to go out to meet with anyone. I may have one semi-obligation and if that comes about it will be here at the house.

Lots of things for the two non-profits I am heavily involved with have been at the core of the week and then there were some lingering input needed to get the taxes off. We split it with me gathering all the initial data, then Hubby has to do the on-line input of many pages. This is like the third time since our tax guy has started using this system and therefore, it’s more familiar. The issue is now that many institutions don’t have to send tax documents until the end of February, there are always one or two that are later. And between holidays and the surge of people who come to dive Jan-early March, it is really difficult to get what we need done by the first week of March. I can’t recall the last year we didn’t put in for an extension. Ah well, it simply stretches things out.

We have another artist reception this evening and while I have attended the last few by myself because of Hubby’s schedule, this is one he really wants to attend. That means I go to my 5:00 and instead of going from that to the reception, I’ll come home instead, link in with Hubby after he has a quick shower, then back to the reception. Dinner after with friends though who also can’t make it until later which allows everything to align.

Trip, Day 2…..

On the upside, we’re seeing friends in the dive world, meeting a few new people, Richie Kohler’s presentations were standing room only, and we sold out of Mystery of the Last Olympian because they didn’t bring quite enough books. That was only by a few and the people who were too late did get a photo with him.

I did meet one of the new ladies at Best publishing and we had a pleasant talk, plus she stashed our coats in their booth so we didn’t have to carry them around. They were doing a good business with selling some of the other books, too; those are the more technical dive type which is what they specialize in.

Our plans to dine out at a recommended Italian restaurant didn’t work out though because the rain and cold were absolutely miserable. It didn’t start letting up until after 6:00 and the wind was still strong as well as cold. Staying in made lots more sense even if the hotel restaurant was limited. Genuine NYC steakhouse is the special dinner for tonight, and not sure what we’ll do for lunch yet. We’ll head out from here around 10:00.

Snorkel, Not Scuba…..

In missing Jan and Feb for diving, yesterday turned out to literally be the only day I could go in March. I was all set and realized my wrist is still a bit “twingey”, and wrestling with thirty pounds of dive gear probably wasn’t a good idea. I am so close to being fully healed, it would be distressing if I messed this up. Snorkeling is a good alternative, although the chop was a little heavier than ideal. Visibility was good though and with the shallow reefs, the sites are good for snorkeling. I did see a turtle swim leisurely past on his way up for air on the first site.

That was the only really special creature, although several of my favorites were split between the two sites. I saw a French and queen angel as well as a couple of rock beauties and a puffer at each site. Barracuda and a nice size grouper, butterfly fish, a juvenile trumpet, midnight and blue parrot fish and the little chromis I always enjoy. There were quite a few moon jellies; some quite small, and the usual array of yellowtail snappers, squirrelfish and so forth. Since timing means I probably won’t try to go out again until the latter part of April, my wrist should be fine by then.

The only other drawback was I thought my 3mm wetsuit was in the dive bag and it wasn’t. The 1mm wasn’t quite heavy enough for the water temperature and it took a few minutes to stop feeling the chill after I went in. That did mean I cut my time in the water to like 30 minutes the first time and only like 20 at the second site. I generally use a 3mm through the end of April, then swap to 1mm, and in late July-mid-Sept, I use the skin. Ah well, at least I did get wet.

Two puffers from previous dives; don;t remember when.


Where Did the Week Go……….

Ah, the usual answer of course with some extra deadlines thrown in and forgetting to check when I did the last post. This week isn’t really any better as I have to line up an interview to ensure I have an article for the paper while we are away. It’s a nice story though – I think – as it is a Barber School which has opened downtown and promises a career in nine months. As anyone who follows the blog knows, I am a big supporter of the trades, or in this case, personal services, that provides a path to at least start on. I hope they also have some data as to hires after graduation.

Anyway, shifting onto the personal writing side, even though I’ve never had a commercial success, there are a couple of paths for writers like me who have a large body of work available. One way is to have some celebrity pick up a book and start talking about it. Not very likely to happen. The other is having a book picked up for film or television which then generally will drive sales. I receive weekly cold calls/emails offering a package about getting more attention for one of my books. In one case, it’s a company I did open an account with and never opted for their service. They recently sent a special offer for a significantly reduced price and since I didn’t publish last year, I thought I might as well have a conversation. That led to me agreeing to do a submission. What I didn’t realize was the offer was actually for five “pitches”, not one. Since each pitch requires about three-four hours to prepare, it has been time consuming. The focus will be my two scuba-themed mystery series. The first two are for Shades of Truth and Shades of Gold, then the first three in the Chris Green series. Those are Deadly Doubloons, False Front, and Georgina’s Grief. (If you’re new to the blog, everything is at I still need to complete one step to activate the other four and it’s a graphics thing I have to get help with. I can’t say I expect any real success, but as has been my approach all these years, I might as well try.

No Scuba This Month Either…….

In all fairness, I don’t usually have the chance to dive in February and often not January. While the water is colder, I can generally handle that. The issue more often is wind. Hubby has had some really tough days on the water the past three weeks and  was even if my schedule was better, the odds are I wouldn’t have gone out. Yes, those of us who live here do get spoiled. The amusing part is for divers who come from the Northeast or the Great Lakes area consider these conditions to be almost balmy.

Added to the weather aspect, I did take a tumble Jan 6 when I was in a hurry and didn’t notice the uneven paver. My hands were full so when I fell, my right wrists didn’t take the full impact. The sprain was manageable as were the scraps and bruises. It isn’t completely healed though and I suspect trying to wrestle with dive gear for another couple of weeks wouldn’t be a good idea anyway. I am working my way back to being able to do my toning exercises where I use 5-pound hand weights. I do that three days a week with a series of eight different exercises starting with 32 reps per arm, then 34 on the second day, and 36 on the third. I managed four exercises yesterday and stopped. As much as I would like to be completely healed, I know I have to be careful not to push too hard. A friend who was in physical therapy a few times following surgeries was bad about, “if some is good, more is better”. One of the therapists finally convinced him that, no, they set up his schedule for a reason and trying to “do extra” would do more harm than good.

I am grateful it was no worse and am respecting the fact that we don’t heal as quickly as we did in our younger years.

No Same Timeline……

Emotional content alert. For those who follow the blog, I touch into serious matters at times and today is one of them. The recent loss of a friend was not unexpected in one sense. He had a couple of different health issues and apparently another one or two that hadn’t quite manifested. Without getting into unnecessary detail, the rapidity of his decline is what took many of us by surprise.

For anyone who has dealt with the loss of a spouse, that, and the loss of a child (not something I have personally experienced) have dynamics that cannot be truly understood without having suffered that particular loss. People may care deeply about you, offer sympathy and support. That does help, is appreciated, and and it’s good to do. The irony is, of course, the one single thing you want is to have the individual back and that is the one single thing that can not happen. After the initial “buffering of shock” passes, there are so many actions to be taken and then there is your life in the new stage. One of the things difficult to grasp is there isn’t a “straight line” in dealing with the grief. I don’t recall how long it was after the famous “Stages of Grief” was published when the author explained she never intended for it to be taken as a “timeline”. There is no – “okay, it’s been X amount of time, so you should be at Y.” Other people around you get on with their lives and most of us adopt a public facade for the sake of those people. How one feels and deals with the grief in private depends on the individual. There is nothing good about having cared for a person in long-term decline and while that loss might be “expected”, it doesn’t necessarily make it less painful. The finality of death is what can be difficult. The lingering scent of someone’s clothes, the favorite foods you no longer buy or cook; the act of now cooking for one. These are things that seem small and yet can be emotionally draining. Time does help, if you allow it to do so. However, you can’t dictate how much time it will take.

How Many Names?……

I covered an event the other day I wasn’t originally schedule for – another of those reasons I’m behind on posts. It was a “re-naming ceremony”. For those who aren’t familiar with this area, there is a peculiarity about street names and numbers. For those who know, it may be worth a chuckle. We have County and Municipal systems as well as potentially State and Federal. In this county, certain cervices such as Fire and Rescue are at the County. There are also the property records. Anyway, the County designates streets in their system and each municipality in theirs. Since Miami Dade County is north of here, this is why NE 8th in Homestead is also 312th using the County System. It is named Campbell Drive. To complicate matters, sections of a street may be further named in honor of someone. I’m not sure how long a section is permitted and in all fairness, the sign that goes up is not entered into any of the navigation databases nor is it placed on the regular street sign. It is in talking to people where confusion can happen. I was interviewing an individual once whose uncle (maybe great uncle) had a section of one street named for him and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where he was talking about. It was maybe five or six months later I was on that street and happened to notice the extra sign showing the honor.

Anyway, in the case of the very well-attended Street Renaming Ceremony I covered, it is not a major street and probably won’t cause much confusion. The problem I had was for some reason, my navigation system wouldn’t accept the address on the press release and defaulted to a similar street in another direction. Fortunately, the route took me close enough to the correct place so after I passed it, I managed to work my way back around.

Extra Long Lapse….

As those who follow the blog might have surmised, things have been even more hectic than usual. It’s a combination of circumstances, events, overlapping deadlines, and the finally fading effects of a sprained right wrist. I took a tumble 3 weeks ago and while I can’t say I was happy about that, I was happy for a sprain as opposed to a break. I am also taking the unusual step of not attending an annual event this weekend in order to actually have one day for the first time in three weeks to not have an external commitment. Or maybe it has been a month; I am losing track a bit. Not that my to-do list has diminished by much; any amount does help though.

It’s Rodeo weekend and Hubby has to teach today and tomorrow and will be at the Rodeo Sunday for the photo shoot. I can’t recall how many years he has done this now, and it is very different from covering races at the Speedway. He does get some incredible action shots and some adorable kid shots as well as capturing the enjoyment of the crowd. The weather is supposed to be great this year and it is the 75th anniversary. I think all three days – well, one night and two days – are near capacity in ticket sales. Allegedly, approximately 20,000 attended last year when everything was combined. I don’t recall ever seeing an economic impact statement although I imagine someone has that.

Moving on to other topics, I  am getting used to the new Escape even though some functions still confuse me. I haven’t figured out how to pre-set music channels or really try the sun roof. The gas gauge indicator is odd as it has tick marks instead of a dial. On the other hand, there is a digital readout of how many miles until empty.

Oh, and one of our lovely orchid is in bloom again. The only ones we have luck with are the outdoor ones.

Orchid in Our Front Yard



Rain in the Sunshine State……

In an unusual twist, we are in our fourth day of rain and gray skies, plus significant winds at times. A number of holiday events have been postponed or cancelled and most of us are trying to stay tucked in. As annoying as this is – and I always feel badly for events that have been planned and have to be changed – the fact is we had a mild hurricane season. The other factor is visitors who came here and cannot enjoy the outdoor activities, which of course impacts the businesses as well.

Our hope, of course, is that not only will “normal winter” return, but we that we also get a little extra warmth so granddaughter can enjoy the pool as much as she wants. She is of a height and age now one of us doesn’t have to be in the water with her if she doesn’t want a companion. Kids can generally be fine in water a few degrees cooler than we adults. Last year was the best in a while and there was really only one afternoon I was uncomfortable. I am usually the one in the water with her as Hubby is often working and the kids like to have a bit of a break.

The other point of good weather is because most of the options we’re looking at are outdoor activities – after all, that is why people come to Florida in the winter. I think I mentioned previously I especially want to take granddaughter to Coral Castle; she’s the perfect age for it. She is curious about things like it and is still the right age to enjoy climbing all over the “furniture” made of coral stone. Hubby is supposed to be off two days for a change because otherwise, we’ll have to juggle a vehicle in order to let the kids have a “date day”. Now with the Nutcracker done – and it apparently went well – they will give some thought to what activities they want to do.