Book Launch — Bigfork!

img003A new exhibit, Bigfork in Paint and Print, opens Thursday, August 1, at the Frame of Reference Gallery in Bigfork, with an opening reception from 5 to 8. I’ll be signing books as we enjoy paintings of this lovely village by Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey, Tom Lewis, Jeanette Rehahn, Louise Lamontagne, and other Montana painters. And of course, because it’s Frame of Reference, we’ll be nibbling great food from Chef Dan Solberg and sipping Prosecco. Join us!

And if you can’t join us, my booth at the Festival of the Arts will be right in front of the Gallery.

img002If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, please do. It will go out later this week — and one lucky subscriber will win goodies from Jewel Bay and signed copies of cozies written by my friends! Plus — a recipe perfect for beating the heat! Sign up on the blog or my website,


Saturday Writing Quote — Flannery O’Conner

“The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.”

– Flannery O’Connor, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist (1925-1964)

Summer Vacation

lab's poppiesAh, summer! Sailing and hiking, enjoying fresh flowers and salad greens from the garden. Not doing much of that — just a little — because the writing life rarely takes a vacation. That’s fine by me — I’m loving it! But my usual Tuesday posts on legal issues for writers will be taking a short vacation, until early September. I’ll be busy writing Spiced to Death, first in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, and launching Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.

Meanwhile, you can meet me in person in Seattle in late July, in Western Montana in August, and in Denver in late September. Details on my Events calendar.

I’ll also be a guest on several wonderful blogs hosted by other readers and writers. I’ll share those links here.  Till then, happy summer!



In Seattle? I’d love to see you!

Untitled-4Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle this week!

Thursday, July 25, 2013   Seattle  Writes!   Seattle  Public Library, Central Library, 7:00 to 8:30. “Taking the Mystery Out of Getting Published.” This inaugural event will  feature six mystery writers — Leslie, Judy Dailey, Bernadette Pajer,  Charles Martin, Mike Lawson, and Waverly Curtis — talking about their new mysteries and the path to publication.

Friday,  July 26, 2013  Pacific  Northwest Writers Association Conference, Seattle Airport Hilton,  2:00  to 3:30 .  “Get  a Clue: How First-Time Crime Writers Become Traditionally Published  Authors.”  Panel  presentation with Leslie, Judy Dailey, Bernadette Pajer, Charles Martin, and           Waverly  Curtis.

Saturday,  July 27, 2013   Seattle  Mystery Bookshop, 117  Cherry Street,  12:00  noon Book talk & signing. (Shop staff asks that if you know you want a book, please call or email  them to reserve a copy so they can have enough stock on hand. (206) 587-5737


The View from Here


Have I told you about Montana Women Writers? Our subtitle says it all: the Women, the Words, the View. That last is a blog, and this month, we’re talking about the view from where we live—literal or, because we are writers, metaphorical. Today, I’m talking about how the view of and from my home influences my writing. Stop by and take a peek!

Stupid Criminal Update: the hitchhiker, the kindness project, and the shooting that wasn’t

I wrote last year about the hitchhiker who claimed to have been shot while traveling the country and working on a book about kindness. Turned out Ray Dolin shot himself, either in a suicide attempt — his initial claim — or as a publicity stunt for his kindness project. Another man was arrested and briefly jailed — he happened to drive the same kind of truck Dolin described, but GPS data showed he hadn’t been in the area when the shooting occurred. Dolin was charged with a felony count of tampering with evidence and two misdemeanor charges, and pled guilty.

The AP reports he’s now received a four-year deferred sentence on the felony, which includes numerous conditions, and a six-month suspended sentence on the misdemeanors. He must continue mental health treatment, and was also ordered to pay more than $2,000 in fines and $5,583 restitution. Readers of Books, Crooks & Counselors know that a deferred sentence means the judge reserves authority to impose sentence later; at the end of the deferral period, if the offender has met all conditions, charges will be dismissed. This is not a typical case for deferral — a gun was involved, and an innocent man was caught up in the lies. No doubt Dolin’s apology, his cooperative behavior, and his apparent compliance with mental health treatment were factors in his favor.

The Saturday Writing Quote — Roger Rosenblatt

“A curious line in Auden’s elegy to Yeats applies to writing great: “Teach the free main how to praise.” Auden seems to be saying that freedom, used most typically for carping and revolt, might also acknowledge that the world is worth thinking well of. The writers we admire most are propelled by a mixture of innocence and chutzpah — the nerve to write big coupled with a childlike need to cultivate the virtues they have always believed in. They may surprise themselves by the insistence of their own higher motives and values. They may also believe that as readers, we will surprise ourselves for the same reasons. Why else would eyeless Milton have decided to move heaven and earth to appeal to our better angels? Let us speak of Milton and our better angels.”

Roger Rosenblatt, in “How to Write Great,” NY Times, July 29, 2012

A Perry Mason question — objections

A reader says of Perry Mason, “He’ll occasionally object that certain testimony is “incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.” The last two words I have no problem with, but in that context, what does “incompetent” mean? It obviously doesn’t mean the
same thing as it does when I say that so-and-so is incompetent. :)”

Generally, it means that the witness has no basis to know what he claims to know. As if I testified about astrophysics or whether Oswald acted alone. It’s an old-fashioned term; these days, most lawyers would say “objection: foundation.”