"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, June 21, 2020


For years, I've read the book reviews on Big Al's Books and Pals blog. It all began one day years ago when I was avoiding work by surfing the 'net and found a polite but honest review of a spectacularly bad book. Not all books are gems, however, the author of the book began arguing with the reviewer in the comments. Soon other people chimed in with their opinions and the whole conversation got so hilariously awful that Big Al had to turn the comments off.

From that moment, I knew I wanted a review from one of the Pals.

I have since submitted every one of my novels to the site for review, always with a polite but clever note about the book and/or myself. That's seven books. 

Turns out, seventh time is a charm. On Friday, I discovered a new review on Amazon for MURDER BYTES. It was from Big Al's Books and Pals! It was a good review! Five stars!

Here is the link:

Color me over the moon. And a Friday review means it's the first one on the blog site until Monday. 


Friday, May 15, 2020

When worlds collide...in a good way

Sometimes you are doing two disparate things within the same time frame and they somehow magically pop together to make the third thing you're actually doing look not just doable, but achievable in a stronger, more bionic way.


If that makes little sense, it's because I'm so fired up, my words can't contain all the excitement I feel. I'm sharing this today because I have to tell someone to get these crazy-happy words out of my head so I can get to work. 

And I'm hoping you can read this and look for the same kind of inspiration and encouragement in your own life and work.

Let's start at the beginning, with the fantasy I've written. I wrote it back in late 2016, got it edited, and sent out queries. I am a gal who self-publishes, so that was always an option, but I had some very smart people convince me that a more traditional publisher would be able to offer me a larger fantasy audience.

I sent out 50 queries, got several requests for full, but everyone said no. I truly believe in this story, and I was thisclose to self-pubbing, but I took one more look at the comments several of the agents graciously gave me, PLUS I did a thing: I submitted the manuscript for a $99 BookLife critique. They all gave me the same notes. 

So I went back to the editing board, made substantial changes, and I've got it out with another round of beta readers. In the meantime, I was wavering, between submitting to more agents or just being the captain of my own ship. There's a lot to discourage me from submitting--I have to find new agents, plus I'm still not getting any younger and the years from query to book look like a century to me.

Then, two things happened:

1. I spent a fabulous evening talking to my pal Melanie (on the phone, like good social distancers). She completely lifted me up. First, she convinced me that what I have is YA fantasy, not just fantasy. New genre means new category of agents to query. Next, she pointed out that the eons it will take to get the agent, get the publisher, get the book on the shelves will be time well spent by writing the second and third books in this trilogy. 


2. I got Disney Plus and watched The Mandalorian. Not only did it give me an idea for a serious obstacle I had given myself in the second book (I now see it as a plus instead of a minus), but I watched the documentaries after, where the directors were all interviewed. Listening to them talk about the Star Wars movies was enlightening, from one director's excitement at having this "galaxy far, far away" where multiple stories could be told, to another director's explanation of the entire theme of the prequels leading into the original trilogy and the thread woven through all of them. Which is what I've been missing with this fantasy--the string that pulls it all together.


What a bounty! I have a better idea of the theme, which means I know where the story needs to go, and I have the luxury of developing it while the first book is out with agents. Also, knowing the theme helps in developing my query. It's not just a telling of this happens, then that happens. It's a specific tale of a universal idea.

I'd go on, but I need to get to work on all this. I hope you can take a lesson or two from my experience. Believe the universe conspires to help you, then look for the clues.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Murder Bytes is alive!

What a fabulous Valentine's Day. My creature...it's alive!

Amazon's got it here, so you can get it right now!


And don't forget the other Kindle deals today. FREEZER BURN and HIT OR MISSUS are free, and THE HOT MESS and A MORE DEADLY UNION are only 99 cents! Here's my Amazon author page, so you can pick and choose which ones you want:


With love,

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

It's almost here!

First of all, the latest book will be out and available in a mere 10 days! It is the 5th and final Peri Minneopa Mystery.

In this fifth and final installment of the Peri Minneopa Mysteries, Peri has had enough. She’s closing her business, marrying her detective boyfriend, and settling down to a life of ease–until her brother shows up, accused of a murder he swears he didn’t commit. Now she’s back in the thick of things, investigating the death of an engineer who may have been stealing techno-secrets from other companies. Her relationship with her brother is an icy one, at best, and she struggles with her ambivalence, as well as her desire to leave investigative work behind. Digging around in people’s lives is reasonably easy, but when the bullets start flying, will Peri be able to keep her promise?

Wait--what?!?! The FINAL?!?!

Calm down. Peri will return, along with her co-horts. Without giving away any spoilers, they will simply be returning in a slightly different series. It's all good.

In the meantime, MURDER BYTES will be released on Friday, February 14th. How will we celebrate the day? Forget the day--how will we celebrate the weekend?

1. FREEZER BURN and HIT OR MISSUS will be FREE on Amazon Kindle.



2. THE HOT MESS and A MORE DEADLY UNION will be available for 99 cents on Kindle.


In the meantime, you can pre-order MURDER BYTES and have it before anybody else. Just think, with a few taps of your fingertips, you could get five (count 'em, FIVE) books for $7.97, and spend your entire President's Day Weekend in blissful reading.


PS, MURDER BYTES, as with all my other books, is available in paperback and hardcover, too. They will also be available for purchase beginning February 14th. 

I can't wait!

Monday, December 23, 2019

God bless us, one and all

If you did not get a Christmas card from me, my apologies. Either you didn't give me your address, you gave me the wrong address, or the postman didn't ring twice. At any rate, here it is. First, the family photo.

After two of my horses retired in Temecula, I gave up on the whole family photo thing. But here are some shots I included on the card.

And of course, the obligatory letter.

For those of you who can't read the fine print, here is the text:

Every Time a Bell Rings

…someone tells me to take off that stupid elf hat.

Where has 2019 gone? For a while, it felt like a long year, but now I’m thinking, wait—come back here. Half the time, I barely knew where I was or what was happening.

We had another year of not traveling far, but traveling well. At least that’s the spin I’m going for. The annual trip to the Gold Lakes Recreational Area was just as glorious as ever. There was still snow to be found in July, which was a treat. Dale got in some golf, and Marcus hiked a chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail…alone. Amazingly, he was able to update me with his location via Facebook Messenger. Even more amazingly, I stayed calm. Mostly. I mean, he could’ve gotten eaten by a bear.

We went to a couple of weddings this year. In May, Dale and I traveled to San Luis Obispo for Gabi and JT, and in September, our whole family went to the Sacramento area for Mindy and Dylan. Both are sweet, young couples—younger than Marcus, which freaked me out a little. In each case, we got to spend time with friends, and went wine tasting. It was a win-win-wine weekend.

Dale did his usual trip to Angels’ spring training in Arizona in March. He also went to Massachusetts for the yearly golf tournament. He and his team represented the West Coast, and happily won the tourney. The Placentia Parks and Rec department still counts on him to coach at least two basketball teams of youngsters, but they do appreciate his service. This year they awarded him the Placentia “Do the Right Thing” award, established by our current mayor. So far, he hasn’t let it go to his head. He still golfs as often as he can, and gardens the rest of the time. At the moment, he’s working with a company to install solar panels on our house. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I went to a lot of horse shows and a lot of library events this year. Dale accompanied me to the ALA Conference in Washington, DC, where we had a lovely dinner with our niece Ashley. She’s in the Navy, and we don’t get to see her often. The big event for me was our library’s renovation to celebrate our centennial. As the president of the library’s board of trustees, I found myself presenting our plans and progress to every group in town. I nearly cried when I spoke at the ribbon cutting—I’m so proud of our library staff. Our library looks fabulous.

My horses are still alive and kicking (sometimes literally). Snoopy and Frostie spend their days being horses in a herd. Dhani and I are beginning to show well together, and I’m looking forward to 2020. I’m also looking forward to 2020 because I will be releasing the 5th Peri Minneopa Mystery in February. Look for MURDER BYTES!

Marcus seems to find a new job with a new group every day. He’s still handling recital hall duties at CSULB, but in the meantime, he’s in several choral groups, an acapella group, a doo wop crew, and does a lot of random singing with other musicians. This year, he managed to sing in a choir with Pete Townshend. The first concert I ever took him to was to see The Who, so it felt like full circle to me.

In the movie I quoted, Clarence says no man is a failure who has friends. We are thankful to have many, and no matter what kind of ups and downs we experience, I feel as successful as any billionaire.

We wish you all a wonderful life, however you want to define it.

Best wishes from our house to yours,

The Carlines


Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy New Year! 

Oh...just...be happy.


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