Saturday, January 28, 2012


Hi Readers! Today my publisher is offering  FREE  on Amazon Kindle my (one and only) nonfiction book, DEVOTED TO COOKING. (Usually $2.99 ) Today (January 28, 2012) it's FREE!
Devoted to Cooking: Inspiration for the Aspiring Chef in Everyone

Not a mystery, but true and written straight from my heart. In my writing, I always tell the truth as I see it.

DEVOTED TO COOKING is a sharing of family stories and individual lives and of cooking food needed to get through each day, whether happy, tragic or just mundane. Everyone deserves a proper serving of both love and food; all it takes is a little determination, a bit of planning, and regular prayer.

The book is written with Jennifer Sohl, chef and caterer, who happens to be my youngest daughter. Her passion is cooking and mine is writing, so we combined our talents for this book.

Jennifer shares hard-learned secrets of creative artistlry in cooking that will delight families and mystify friends. She tells how to organize your time so your family can eat home-cooked meals. She has collected and mastered quick and easy-to-prepare recipes necessary to balance the family budget and at the same time to provide tasty, healthy and attractive meals for her family.

She also tells how she started her business on a shoe string, and gives helpful advice and encouragement for anyone interested in striking out your own.

I share my life's path through divorce, death of a beloved son, and single living.

Today's impossible schedules with overworked parents, harried children, and fast-food eaten on the run, are flaws of our technological society. Although some meals-on-the run can't be avoided, you can learn to prepare and serve beautiful, tasty and simple meals for yourself and/or your family. A new demension of love and devotion is added to life when families eat together with everyone present and with the television turned off.

I hope you each enjoy your free e-book copy of DEVOTED TO COOKING. Available January 28, 2012 FREE on Amazon Kindle.



Thursday, January 19, 2012


I just finished reading Sue Grafton’s V IS FOR VENGEANCE and enjoyed it very much. In fact, I couldn’t put this book down. It haunted me like a box of See’s Chocolates! I couldn’t think of anything else until I’d consumed each juicy morsel. Of all her latest books I liked this one the best. I’ve read articles where Grafton said she didn’t plot her books, but this one must have been an exception. It was definitely plotted, not written by the seat of her pants.
V is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone Mystery)
Some of the chapters were written in first person with Kinsey Millhone telling the story, which is this author’s usual style. The book started with a chapter that, once upon a time, would have been called a prologue. Of course, that’s not done much anymore. Some readers dislike prologues, so writers solve the problem by calling whatever starts the book, chapter one. Or in this case, Before.

Most of the book was a flashback, and in less expert hands this might have been confusing and not worked. But in Grafton’s talented hands this technique just added to the suspense and was excellent. I loved this book, and I can’t say that about all of Grafton’s novels, even though I’m a huge fan.

Readers, if you have read V IS FOR VENGEANCE, let me know your thoughts. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. Just tell why.

Hugs to all,


Monday, January 16, 2012


I’ve just spent the last few days remembering my first detached retina in 2008. It was a harrowing experience, but the awfulness of the experience soon faded from my consciousness. Then just before Christmas 2011, my right eye developed symptoms.

It wouldn’t dare! I thought, but just to be on the safe side I went back to my retina specialist as soon as his office opened after the holiday.

“You have another detached retina,” he said. “Do you have someone here to drive you home? We’ll repair it now, just like we did before.”

Well, of course I didn’t have a driver. That would have been admitting that I might really have a problem. So once again I had to call a daughter to come and chauffeur me home. And once again I got fussed at for not telling my daughters that I was having a problem. (I think that’s why grandparents and teens get along so well; we’re both always in trouble with the same parents.)

I’d forgotten about the foot-long (or so it seemed) hypodermic needle, the frozen face afterwards and the deep eye pain. But soon I remembered it all. And once again I lived through it.

My writing was interrupted for a while as were other pleasant routines of my life, but finally I was nearing the end. I’m even almost finished with my steroid drops. Once again I have my sight restored and am feeling grateful. This time because I only have TWO eyes!

Hugs to all my reader and writer friends,


Sunday, January 15, 2012


(Continuing from yesterday's blog about my first trip back to the doctor...)

The nurse seemed unmoved by the fact that I couldn’t see squat. Then the doctor came in and finished his examination and said to continue “positioning.”

“But I still can’t see anything,” I said.

“As you heal your vision will improve,” he said.

This time he gave me permission to stay home alone. In order to make this work, Jennifer became my chauffeur and Susan my maid. It was comforting to be in my own house, but my usual entertainments of reading and writing could only be done in “the position.” Not being “Rubber Woman,” I spent most of my time listening to the cooking channel; white noise to quiet my ever-racing mind and imagination.

Days passed slowly. Boredom was broken only by Susan’s daily visits to tidy my kitchen, empty trash, sort through and read me my mail, and other such mundane tasks that we hardly notice in normal times. But suddenly, every small detail of life became a challenge. My big event of the day was showering and shampooing. (What a relief to be able to stand tall once again, even with one eye tightly shut against water and shower gel.)

I adopted my friend Peggy Fielding’s method of life; the one she calls “The Swiss-Cheese Method:” one small task at a time. Then I would reposition. Peggy called me and talked for brief periods, knowing that every act of life was complicated by my enforced awkward position.

And those eye drops! The never ending eye drops with a schedule so complicated that Susan charted my times with spaces to check off when completed. What a Godsend to have a private licensed Occupational Therapist at my beck and call.

Life without reading and or writing is like a life without sunshine. What do people do who don’t read? What seemed to me like my Technicolor life turned into Black and White. The only advantage was plenty of time to meditate and pray.

Small victories filled my life. Obvious day by day improvement encouraged me to believe that I might eventually recover. On frequent trips to the doctor my eye was checked and progress tracked. I lived for the nurse’s smile and her encouraging, “That’s better.” Especially after it became harder for me to tell if there was improvement.

A big step was the day I was told I could drive, “When I felt like it.” But in order not to trouble my grown daughters, I promised to wait a few more days. (I once was a mother with two daughters, now I’m a daughter with two mothers. How lucky can one woman be?)

And the thought of driving seemed intimidating. I longed for the freedom driving permitted, but doubts troubled me. What if I banged up my new car—that shiny red sedan with the new-car smell I so loved? Although I’ve never received any traffic violations, I feared if I got one now, my girls might “ground” me, fearing for my safety.

Finally I decided to venture to the grocery store for bananas and a bottle of milk. I felt as excited and nervous as a 16-year-old with a brand new license. You’ve seen these folks creeping along and driving other drivers insane? That would have been me on that day.

Almost as quickly as I went blinded, my life was restored. I could read for my own entertainment in addition to handling my own housework and mail. My driving fears quieted, and I once again had wheels. But most important of all, to me at least, I could write.

The first day I put in a serious day of writing, I felt exhausted. So I realized that, like everything else, I’d have to work toward my ultimate goal a bit slowly.

The last milestone was being able to exercise on my treadmill. The doctor wouldn’t release me for this until about two and a half weeks had passed. Again I began very slowly and for shorter lengths of time. But the important thing was:

I had my life back!
To be continued tomorrow…

My best wishes and healthy reading eyes to one and all,


Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Sad Tale of My Detached Retina


After learning that the local anesthetic to be used would be the same as used to earlier remove a cataract from my other eye—a procedure I was put under general anesthetic to accomplish when I was conveniently at the hospital—I prepared myself mentally to face exceptional pain. Not an easy task for a self-admitted coward.

But my life was centered around writing and around reading, and good vision was essential to preserve my quality of life as I now knew it. I was willing to endure any type of torture in order to be able to see. Still I was scared. I longed to be someone else for the next couple of hours—to transport myself into a character drawn from my imagination whose circumstances I could control by changing the plot.

I took a deep breath then I called a close friend to ask for prayer.

After the surgery was completed the doctor asked me how I was doing. I was so relieved to have everything over I generously said, “I’ve been through worse.”

He laughed. “I love having women for patients, after childbirth nothing seems overwhelmingly painful to them.”

“I’d have gone through much more pain in order to save my sight,” I said.

During surgery my youngest daughter, Jennifer had arrived. Her facial expression warned me that she was wrestling with both worry and annoyance. I prepared myself for being scolded, but worry must have won out because she spoke in a carefully controlled tone of voice.

“I know you like to be independent, but I want you to promise that the next time you have an emergency, you’ll call me.”

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I said. “But I know how busy you are. I just thought I could manage on my own.”

Dr. Garrett gave me a preliminary shot, much like that the dentist gives before drilling a tooth. He even made the same shaking motion, saying he’d learned that technique from his own dentist. Next came a needle I thought looked long enough to reach my belt buckle. I closed my eyes and reminded myself that nothing lasted forever.

This shot, which would numb the entire half of my face, taking until the next day to completely wear off, was unpleasant and uncomfortable. But I’ve endured worse—even in the dentist’s chair. The eye was prepared with more drops as time was allowed for the numbing to set in.

The doctor used a freezing technique to repair my retina, and then he inserted an air bubble to hold everything in place. But in order for the bubble to be in the correct spot, I was instructed that for the next two weeks I had to “position” myself for most of the time. At night I had to sleep on my side, my face turned downward. My neck hurt just thinking about that.

He pulled a chair next to me, bent at the waist, rested his chin in the palm of his hand with his elbow in the palm of his hand.

“Like this,” he said.

I mimicked his position until he was satisfied that I understood. I was told to go home and do this for an hour, and then to position myself in sleep mode and stay there the rest of the evening. I was so exhausted I wasn’t sure I could walk to the car, and any kind of a prone position sounded good to me.

The next morning daughter Jennifer took me to the doctor bright and early. The nurse removed my eye patch. I was excited but apprehensive, because I knew there was a chance this procedure wouldn’t work. Also, I’d been told that this easier approach was instantly successful. So I expected to be able to see pretty much as usual when the bandage came off.

Fear washed through me when I opened my eye. Instead of a black nothingness, I now had a blurry gray nothingness. I assumed the surgery had been unsuccessful and I steeled myself to hear the results.

To Be Continued…

See you tomorrow,

Friday, January 13, 2012


Good Grief! I've been recouping from eye surgery (obviously, considering these posts) and trying to continue writing my newest Grace Cassidy mystery THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, and my on going saga about going blind slipped my mind. My apologies to one and all. Now. Here is what happened next with my first detached retina.

April 21, 2008 was on a Monday. The “Foxy Hens,” as we call ourselves when promoting our anthologies with the same name, was speaking at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Our audience, pension fund investors from 18 states, was one of the most receptive we’d ever spoken to. The Oklahoma group running their conference had treated us as if we were royalty. We had been showered with gifts, charming conversation and an excellent meal. People from all over the country had taken our pictures as if we were Rock Stars and they were Paparazzi.

The Oklahoma group that hosted the event had bought 125 copies of STATEHOOD FOXY HENS AND MURDER MOST FOWL, our anthology written for the State Centennial. We had autographed copies until our fingers grew numb. (The dream of every writer I know.) Each of us felt as if we were walking on air.

I gathered up the trove of gifts bestowed on me and started out of the large banquet hall with the other women. Suddenly my left eye felt as if I had been dazzled by the sun or by bright headlights at night.

But there was no bright light.

I blinked because that’s what I always do when such a things occurs. But my vision didn’t clear as it usually does. All of this was done on automatic pilot. My mind was still occupied with the happy buzz that occurs after a signing that goes especially well. I blinked again and the distortion didn’t clear.

My mind was now fully focused on the sight in my left eye. The dazzled sensation was quickly followed by a black curve at the bottom right part of my left eye. As if I were wearing plastic rimmed glasses that were askew and the frames were blocking my vision. Except I wore light-weight glasses with no frames on the bottom. A fission of fear shivered through me.

By the time we reached the car I was almost completely blind in one eye. Except for a tiny sliver at the top left hand of the eye it was as if a heavy black velvet curtain had been taped over that eye.

I was so scared I couldn’t think, so I made all of the wrong decisions. I told no one. I didn’t call either of my two daughters who live close to me in Tulsa. I sat in almost mute silence all the way home. My run of good luck seemed to have ended.

A terrifying self-diagnoses sprang to mind. I must have had a stroke in that eye. I knew this couldn’t be treated successfully, so I planned what to do. (Learn Braille at my age?)

To complicate the situation and stress (as if I needed that), I had just bought a new car. Something I only do about ever 10 years. I listened to the hum of tires on the Turner Turnpike with a background of cheery conversation between my companions.

Would I have to sell my car?

Thoughts of an engineer at the company where I’d worked for twenty plus years came to mind. This successful man not only drove, he worked long hours over intricate specs. His one-eyed vision never seemed to bother him. I also thought of a master plumber I’d just had to repair a leak in my house foundation. He also seemed to live a satisfying and successful life.

But could I?

I’d bought the brand new car because it has been pock-marked by one of our Oklahoma hail storms. The price was considerably discounted and a guarantee had been given that the dents could be corrected without repainting. I was assured that the car would still have original paint.

The problem was, I’d agreed to drive the car across town to the dealership for repair on when I got back into town that afternoon. A free rental car had already been reserved for me to use.

For some reason that is totally unclear to me now, I felt compelled to carry through on the agreement. When Paula dropped me off at my car, I loaded my suitcase and other bits and pieces into my car and headed out. I still hadn’t told anyone I had gone blind in one eye.

It was true that I could safely drive with one eye and I delivered my car and picked up a rental. Then I drove home. I had decided to wait until the next morning and contact my ophthalmologist as soon as his office opened. I considered driving to the emergency room (which would have been the right thing to do) but figured they would simply examine me, send me home with the advice that I should call my doctor in the morning.

I’ve had experience with emergency rooms.

The next morning I arose early, showered and dressed. By this time it was about 8:30 and I called the doctor’s office. His clerk listened to my problem, conferred with someone and told me to come in and be prepared to wait. I skipped breakfast and applying makeup and once again drove myself across town. The waiting room was packed. I waited two and a half hours before being shown into an examining room.

The nurse added the necessary drops and tested the eye. Her silence seemed ominous. I considered pressing her for information, but knew she would be unable to share what she was thinking. Then she left me alone.

The knot of fear in my throat grew bigger as I waited for the doctor. I fully expected to hear that I had lost half of my vision permanently. Finally he bustled in with his usual efficiency and carefully checked my eye, having me look up, down, left and right.

“You have quite a problem, here,” he said.

Hearing the obvious made me want to let go of my Irish temper, but my generation of women was carefully trained by Emily Post mothers.

“Yes,” was my clever comeback.

“You have a detached retina and I’ll have to send you to someone else to get this fixed, I don’t do this kind of surgery.”
Fixed? The problem could be fixed? Relief washed through me like warm oil and my limbs grew weak with relief. In that moment I realized that “fixed” was the most beautiful word in the English language.
(TO BE CONTINUED...) I promise to finish this post as promised!!!

Loved all the FB answers from others who had suffered detached retinas and other problems.

Hugs to All,

Friday, January 6, 2012


“Thank God I only have two eyes,” I said to daughter Jennifer, co-author of my one and only nonfiction book, DEVOTED TO COOKING. Jennifer laughed, knowing it was a joke, but neither of us was feeling very merry. She was driving me home from having surgery on my left eye for a detached retina. This was my second time to have such a problem, and like most unfortunate happenings the timing was extremely inconvenient.

Christmas Eve, 2011, it seemed as if a curl had fallen over my eye. Without thinking I tried to brush this nonexistent curl aside, and nothing changed. My heart sank. It wouldn’t dare, I thought! Three days later the doctor performed emergency surgery and I knew from experience that I was in for a hard two weeks. This was my second trip around the block for a detached retina. The first time was even more traumatic.

Suddenly Blind—April 2008

On one of the best days of my life I went suddenly blind in my left eye. That glorious April day morphed into being one of the scariest days of my life. Along with the other two authors of Statehood Foxy Hens and Murder Most Fowl, I was about to travel back to Tulsa from Oklahoma City. We had just finished a successful speaking engagement at the Cowboy Hall of Fame. But the glow disappeared when an invisible curtain that could have been made of 4-inch black velvet suddenly blocked almost all sight in my left eye. Only a sliver of light was visible in the upper left-hand corner of half of my world.

Terror blitzed my brain and my reasoning powers froze. My mostly-healthy body had failed! Visions of tapping along with a white cane and learning Braille flitted through my writer’s imagination. I was so scared I couldn’t even speak. I felt unable to communicate my dilemma with my co-authors and friends, Peggy Fielding and Paula Watkins Alfred. If I voiced what had happened it would be real. So I retreated into the comfort of denial.
L to R: Paula Alfred, Peggy Fielding, Jackie King
“You’re really quiet,” Paula said, flashing me one of her dynamite smiles.

For a sensible person, this would have been the time to share the unthinkable thing that had happened. But I couldn’t. Making such a shocking declaration aloud would mean that it was true. So I hedged.

“I’m a private person,” I said a bit woodenly. I knew my smile was tight and no doubt phony, but the trauma seemed to seal my lips.

“She’s a Pisces,” Peggy Fielding said from the back seat. “A dreamer, you know.”

Gratitude swept over me. Thank God I wouldn’t have to talk much on the way home. Little did my friends know that my dream was actually a nightmare.


If any of you have suffered a detached retina or other eye problems, I'd love to hear about them. Readers and writers need their sight!