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Everybody Lies

    First, let me say I'm aware that I make things up for a living, so writing about lying is a little hypocritical. But I don't pretend that what I say is real, and that's the difference. Everyone in our society is bombarded with lies all day, every day. We're used to it. Sometimes we even enjoy it. When analysts dig into why people believe lies, they find all sorts of explanations. Confirmation bias means we like things that reinforce what we already believe, so we accept lies that help with that. Many like leaders or organizations that tell them what to think, so they don't have to reason things out for themselves. If that leader lies, at least he's tough. If the organization runs to propaganda, at least it's working for "our" benefit. Another big reason we believe lies is fear . If we don't think we can cope with X, we like it when someone promises that X won't happen, even if we know in our hearts that it isn't true. Conversely,

A First-World Issue, Funny...Maybe

 I have really short little fingers. I mean, I know that "little finger" should alert one to the fact that it won't be much, but mine are way shorter than the others, barely passing the middle joint of Finger #4. Why is this a problem? Because my new keyboard, which is ergonomic and supposedly hand-healthy, requires a strong push to work the keys on the top row. I learned typing in a real class, where every day we set our hands on the Home Row and learned to keep them there. That means that my right-hand little finger should operate the "Back" key without much change in hand position. Sadly, it isn't up to the task, and it really slows my typing when it takes two or even three tries to erase a mistake. Will this bring about the end of Western Civilization? No. Could I buy a more compact keyboard? Probably. I just thought it was kind of funny that as the world rages and ruins around me, something so small can be so irritating .

Have You Missed a Book in a Series?

A word I hear sometimes when people talk about me is "prolific."  Yes, I do have a lot of books out, and that can get confusing. Did you miss a book? Maybe a whole series? To help readers decide if they're up to date, I've devised a list a la Seinfeld, using "The one where..." THE LOSER MYSTERIES     Killing Silence- The one where we meet Loser, a woman who lives on the streets of Richmond, ignoring just about everyone until she feels compelled to help a little girl and her dad. Killing Memories- The one where Loser goes home to West Virginia, intending to live alone, but finds connections to people who need her, especially her crime-solving expertise. Killing Despair- The one where Loser goes back to Richmond to face her past and learn what exactly happened the night her husband died. THE KIDNAP CAPERS KIDNAP(.)org- The one where Robin becomes a criminal by helping her neighbor right a wrong--and decides she likes putting cheaters in their place. Pharma Con

Are You Kidding, or Are You Being Mean?

👿  I taught tenth grade for decades, and one of the things I tried to make my students aware of is the difference between joking, kidding, being funny, (whatever we call it) and being cruel. One of the lamest excuses we offer for cruel behavior is "I was kidding." I asked them to consider the following things, but people on social media might take the same lessons to heart. Is it necessary to point out differences? The other day I was sitting with several people when a woman we all know came along wearing, for the first time since I've known her, a wide-brimmed sunhat. The day was hot. She has lots of skin damage from years in the sun, and I happen to know she sees a dermatologist regularly. As she approached, the comments started. "Are you going out to pick cotton?" "Where in the world did you find that hat?" "You look like a dork." She took it well, but come on. Was it necessary? Might they have figured out why she'd chosen a hat that

What's the Deal with Subscriptions?

 I'll be honest. I know that the "deal" with subscriptions is guaranteed income for the entities that sell them. But if I were to organize a revolt, it would likely be due to rage against that particular machine.  In the last week, I tried to buy two different online products that claim to be environmentally advantageous: laundry detergent that comes in dissolving sheets rather than bottles, and toothpaste in the form of pellets, so there's no tube. When I got to the checkout, both required that I sign up for a subscription to the product, so I never have to "worry" again about running out. Really? I wasn't that worried about running out of toothpaste. We face the subscription thing in many places.My printer company wants to automatically send new ink cartridges when they estimate that I'm about to run out. The photo sites I use to create book covers won't let me buy a single photo. I have to subscribe and pay a fee every month, even though I onl

Are You in Panic Mode Yet?

 It's two days until Christmas. You have someone to buy for. Maybe you forgot. Maybe that person is difficult to buy for. Maybe you feel like the trite gift card is just too...trite for this person. You're desperate. How about a book? No, it probably won't arrive before Christmas, but you could present the description and cover art, creating anticipation for that 'something nice' that will arrive later, when things have calmed down a little. Each book is a personal choice, but there are so many to choose from, so many great hours of enjoyment to come. And if it happens to be one of mine, well, you'll make another person happy. Bonus! Find all my books (and Maggie's too)

Book Clubs Take Note: Discussion Guide: Sister Saint, Sister Sinner

  When I sent Sister Saint, Sister Sinner to my editor, she was (as usual) helpful about pointing out areas that needed more development, parts that repeated information already given, and places where the logic  temporarily failed. At the end, she made a comment that stuck with me: "People are going to be talking about the things you deal with in this book." To me, that meant the story was destined for book clubs. Having visited a few in my years of writing, I knew that they often begin with a list of discussion topics. Now, they often don't stay focused on them, and that's okay. Sometimes it's the wine. Sometimes it's a natural progression. But discussion leaders like having questions that can get the conversation back on track when it strays too far from the story. Every person who reads a book gets something out of it that no one else does. I had the experience once of visiting a book group where one reader didn't like the book and kept bringing up her