…And It’s Friday!


Did I mention it was Friday?

And one more thing:  Happy Oneth of December.




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“Pharaoh Cat #1” Women’s Relaxed T-Shirt

A Simple Life

As we head into the traditional (at least around my neck of the woods) month of Winter Holiday gift-giving, I want a simple life–free to use my imagination and creativity without the hustle and bustle of early rising to write, edit, create artwork, run my online business, keep up with my blog and social media posts, and attempt to otherwise stay sane. So, my “Wishful Christmas Card to Santa” will read something like this:



Please visit my online shop for some great, unique gifts.

“Writing Keeps Me Sane” Mug

“Ill Wind” by Nevada Barr

Nevada Barr is best known for her mystery novels featuring the character Anna Pigeon, a National Park Service ranger. “Ill Wind” is the third book in the Anna Pigeon series.

“It is whispered that the Old Ones still haunt Mesa Verde—the restless spirits of the Anasazi, who carved their homes in the mountain’s face eight centuries ago…and then disappeared from the Earth.”

“Newly assigned national parks ranger Anna Pigeon seeks solace from her own personal demons in the ancient cave dwellings of a vanished Native American civilization. But an inexplicable illness affecting visitors to the popular Colorado landmark has dragged her from her reverie—as have two mysterious tragedies: the death of a child…and the murder of a friend. And now she must find the very human source of the evil wind that is blowing through the ruins. For it threatens more innocent lives. Mother Nature…and Anna herself.”

“Ill Wind” is set in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. In this novel, Anna Pigeon is on a temporary assignment as a district ranger at Mesa Verde. The story revolves around a series of mysterious deaths and accidents that occur in the park, and Anna becomes embroiled in trying to solve these crimes. As she investigates, she uncovers a complex web of secrets and danger in this remote and beautiful national park.

Nevada Barr’s novels are known for their vivid descriptions of national parks, their natural beauty, and the challenges of law enforcement and investigation within these settings. “Ill Wind” is no exception and offers readers an interesting mystery set against the backdrop of a stunning natural landscape.

This is the second book by Barr that I’ve read, the first being “Track of the Cat” and my review of that work can be found here.



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Looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind gift? Check out my Christmas mugs

“Merry Christmas” Mug with Color Inside

Thank you!

“Do The Dead Call?”

Do the dead call?

If they did, could we hear?

Would the voice be from afar?

Or would it seem quite near?

Would we listen with our minds?

Or would we run in fear?

Would we open to the chance?

Or would we jump and swoon?

Would we think it summer breeze?

Or howling at the Moon?

Do the dead call?

You tell me.

I wonder if you know.

Do they call on summer days?

Or whisper in the snow?

You tell me.

I’d really like to know.


I was honored to have this poem selected for inclusion during NPR’s National Poetry Month.

The poem opens Chapter 31 in the 5th Century Celtic novel, “Mystery Of The Death Hearth”, as the intrepid protagonist–a young Celt magistrate–must work with those whose ways are alien to his Elder Faith beliefs. Along the way, he must find an elusive young Celt girl and her missing grandfather, unravel the mystery of an Elder’s runevision, and avoid death at the hands of an assassin as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.




Please follow the link below and visit my online store for unique gifts like the “Three Skulls” mouse pad original artwork by J. R. Cotner


“Shattered Mirror” by Iris Johansen

“Shattered Mirror” is a thriller and part of the Eve Duncan series. It follows the adventures of forensic sculptor Eve Duncan who finds herself at the center of a dangerous mystery.

The story revolves around Eve’s quest to uncover the truth about her daughter, Bonnie, who was brutally murdered years ago. Despite her grief, Eve has dedicated her life to using her forensic skills to help solve cold cases and bring closure to families. However, when a man named Jim Doane comes to her claiming to have information about Bonnie’s killer, Eve is plunged into a web of deception, danger, and long-hidden secrets.

As Eve delves deeper into the investigation, she realizes that not everything is as it seems, and the people she thought she could trust may have hidden agendas. With the help of her friends and allies, including her lover Joe Quinn and her adopted daughter Jane, Eve must navigate a treacherous path to uncover the truth about Bonnie’s murder and confront the dark forces that threaten her family.

I personally do not enjoy novels that are rife with running, page-heavy dialogue and the occasional indefinite pronouns that confuse and slow down my reading. Again, that’s just a personal thing. And, honestly, this book did nothing to make me want to explore other works by this author.

On the positive side, if you enjoy suspenseful mysteries with strong, determined female protagonists, and don’t mind plentiful back and forth dialogue, you may find “Shattered Mirror” an interesting, worthwhile read.



Visit my online store for some great gifts! Looking for something with a feel good Winter vibe?

“Snowy Winter Cabin” Mug with Color Inside



The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

As Paula Cappa reminded me last week (thank you, Paula), another favorite of Ray Bradbury’s work especially for this time of year, is The Halloween Tree. A quick, fun read.

“A fast-moving, eerie tale set on Halloween night…

Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween.” –Goodreads

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!



Enjoying the Halloween Season? Me, too. Visit my online store for some great Halloween gifts. And you if you are preparing for the upcoming Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead holidays, the store has some unique gifts such as my  original, intricate design of “Three Skulls” on selected, high quality clothing and mugs for men and women.

A Modern Reader’s Lament

Japanese Choka Poetry Room

A Modern Reader’s Lament

In tales of old, we find a timeless theme,

Of stories bogged down in backstory’s stream,

The pandemic’s weight, a heavy narrative load,

Drowning the plot where the mysteries flowed.


In pages filled with words, the past unveiled,

Characters’ histories, endlessly detailed,

But where’s the heart of the story’s core?

Lost in the depths of exposition galore.


Oh, for the days of MacDonald and Hammett’s pen,

When plots were crisp, and prose was lean,

Elmore and Chandler, masters of their craft,

Knew when to let character depth take a backdraft.


Hillerman’s landscapes painted vivid and grand,

Yet never did he lose the reader’s hand,

Parker’s Spenser, sharp as a knife’s keen blade,

Intrigue and action, the focus never swayed.


So let us return to the art of the tale,

Where words and plots set our hearts to sail,

For character development, a spice, not the stew,

During a pandemic, the story must break through.


No more septic tank woes and rose gardens fair,

Let the plot’s heartbeat lead us from despair,

In the realm of storytelling, let’s find our way,

And leave the irrelevant backstory’s dismay.


In the echoes of these literary greats, we’ll thrive,

With stories that captivate, and narrative alive,

No more drowning in a sea of character past,

In the heart of the plot, our adventure will last.





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Halloween Chocolate Treats

The tradition of giving out chocolate treats–my favorite–during Halloween Trick-0r-Treat celebrations in the United States has its roots in the evolution of Halloween customs and the influence of the candy industry.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. People believed that during this time, the boundary between the living and the dead was blurred, and offerings were made to appease and honor spirits. These offerings often included food and sweets.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following World War II when sugar rationing was lifted, Halloween began to take on a more commercialized and modern form. The candy industry played a significant role in promoting the tradition of giving out sweets. Companies started marketing candy specifically for Halloween, and it became increasingly popular to give out pre-packaged candies during Trick-or-Treat.

Chocolate was among the sweets that gained popularity during Halloween celebrations. Its rich and indulgent taste made it a desirable treat. Over time, chocolate bars and individually wrapped chocolates became a staple of Halloween candy offerings.

The association between Halloween and chocolate treats was further solidified by popular culture. Halloween-themed packaging and advertising by chocolate manufacturers reinforced the idea of giving out chocolate during Trick-or-Treat. Characters like Hershey’s Kisses’ “witch” advertisements or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ “two great tastes that taste great together” slogan became iconic parts of Halloween marketing.

As Halloween continued to evolve as a major holiday in the United States, consumer preferences for candy also played a role. Many people began to prefer chocolate over other types of sweets, and chocolate bars and candies became a sought-after prize during Trick-or-Treat.

Today, giving out chocolate treats during Halloween is a widespread tradition in the United States and is deeply ingrained in the holiday’s cultural and commercial aspects. It’s not only a way to satisfy the sweet tooth of trick-or-treaters but also a symbol of the Halloween season itself. The practice of handing out chocolates and other candies has become a fun and cherished part of the Halloween experience for both children and adults.



Don’t forget to shop my online store for Halloween gifts such as mugs and Halloween Trick-or-Treat Bags to store all your Halloween goodies.

Try, Try Again

Good advice for children and adults from T. H. Palmer.

From hisTeacher’s Manual” (1840), page 223. Thomas Haig Palmer was born on 27 December 1782 in Kelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland. In 1804, he immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America, where he became a printer, a publisher, and an author of school textbooks and historical records. Thomas Haig Palmer passed on at 78 years of age on 20 July 1861 in Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont, United States of America. Quick Biography of H. H. Palmer. 


A bit dated but, none-the-less, Here it is, verbatim:

Try, Try Again by T. H. Palmer

‘Tis a lesson you should head,

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try again;

Then your courage should appear,

For if you will persevere,

You will conquer, never fear

Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,

If you would at last prevail,

Try, try again;

If we strive ‘tis no disgrace

Though we do not win the race

What should you do in the case?

Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,

Time will bring you your reward,

Try, try again

All that other folks can do

Why, with patience, you not do?

Only keep this rule in view:

Try, try again.

Writing Isn’t All I Do

Besides my Celtic murder mystery, poetry, and my book of short stories, I’ve managed over the last 40+ years to stay busy creating art. Actually, I’ve been doing some sort of art since I was old enough to hold a crayon but that’s too many years ago now for me to even think about.

It’s been a time-consuming challenge, but I’ve finally opened my online storefront to showcase selected pieces of my artwork on various items including mugs, notebooks, drinkware, clothing, and notebooks, just to name a few. And, since we are nearing the Autumn holidays of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and Día de los Muertos, I would be remiss not to mention many of my motifs concerning these holidays are available for purchase. Come by and take a look.