Category Archives: blog

Catch Up

on December 6, 2018

It’s been a crazy three months and I can finally sit back and take a breath before my next book, A Beacon In The Dark, launches.

SEPTEMBER was filled with last minute editing and proofreading. Hours and hours and days and days spent at my computer picking apart a story that I thought was finished. Working with a new company on the cover design was a challenge but I’m happy with the end result.

OCTOBER came all too quickly and I was off to Lexington, Kentucky for the Retired Racehorse Project. I arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park on Wednesday, October 3rd with the entire CANTER booth and much of the merchandise packed into my SUV. The four days was made even more exciting when I was able to tag along with friends who had the opportunity to meet Justify, who made racing history this year when he won the Triple Crown.

Yes, I was honored to stand next to such an amazing athlete. But as a writer, I found myself studying the magnificent barn where Justify resides, the majestic gates leading to miles of stones walls and buildings so reminiscent of Ireland’s grand estates. Ashford Stud Farm cried out to me. There was a story somewhere in its rolling hills with the nickering of contented thoroughbreds. My imagination was running at warp speed.

October 28th once again found me on the road to Kentucky. This time to Louisville for Equestricon at the convention center, a virtual Who’s Who of the Thoroughbred racing industry. Being the week before the Breeder’s Cup races, the atmosphere was electrifying and I jumped right in with the perfect hat.

I stopped by the Coolmore booth. Ashford Stud Farm is Coolmoore’s home in America, so of course I had to tell the young lady my experience on my recent visit to Ashford and meeting Justify. I just happened to mention that I’m a writer and I can’t get Ashford out of my head. There’s a story just waiting to be told. She gave me her card and said when I’m ready to call her and she will take me on a tour and put the final touches on that book. I did mention that there would be bodies, but I wouldn’t kill off any of the horses. Hmmmm, maybe the horse will be the murderer?????

The next booth brought me to Win Star Farms, and the same woman who had been our neighbor at the Retired Racehorse Project, a couple weeks before. After chatting for a while about how I had met Justify, (he ran under Win Star Farms), I mentioned that I was a writer and wanted to set a book on a Kentucky horse farm. She gave me her card and told be to call her. She’d give me all the information I needed on how one of the largest thoroughbred racing farms operates.

Looks like I’ll be spending more time in Kentucky.

NOVEMBER proved to be a giant challenge as I worked with a new company to do the formatting for A Beacon In The Dark. Each week brought more proofreading, corrections and more proofreading. However, the hard work paid off and I am now looking forward to seeing my book in print.

Peluche  ––  3 lbs. of fight

on August 27, 2018

Much of my writing time this month has been sidelined by this little guy. His name is Peluche, a Spanish word meaning plush, also stuffed toy, cuddly toy, stuffed animal, teddy bear, etc.  I call him Teddy. He came to me last December after having liver shunt surgery in Michigan. Little Yorkie Rescue, in Lorain, Ohio asked me to foster him since I had experience caring for my Yorkie, Hemingway, after his liver shunt surgery. I agreed to the 3 – 4 month rehab until he would be well enough to be put up for adoption.  It was slow going at first. He didn’t seem to understand anything I said. Then I found out through a Facebook post that he came from a Spanish only speaking family. Yikes!! I Googled the words and phrases I needed to communicate, but I think my accent was off. Fortunately he was leaning English faster than I was learning Spanish.

He needed regular blood work done to determine his progress. All seemed good at first then he went downhill. Five months later he wasn’t even at a healthy enough point to be neutered. His liver wasn’t working. After more blood tests and an ultrasound, it was determined that he needed ANOTHER liver shunt surgery.

On August 22nd he had his second surgery. It was supposed to last twenty minutes. Due to excessive scar tissue from the first surgery back in December, the procedure lasted almost three hours! We got the word that evening that he was in critical condition and would be monitored throughout the night. He may weigh only three pounds but he’s a little fighter. He’s now happy at home, in his own bed and doing better every day. He even likes chilling with the ice bag. Keep fighting little dude.


on July 6, 2018

Being a writer who believes in research and accuracy sometimes puts me in interesting situations––like today.

I’m working on the final pages of revisions for A BEACON IN THE DARK. This scene takes place in Charles City, Virginia and I’m at a point where I bring in the local police to help with a murder. I’d assumed when I’d written the original manuscript that it would be the closest major city––Richmond. Charles City stretches along the James River and isn’t very big. But today as I put the final touches on the scene, I begin to wonder if I’m correct. Google is a wonderful thing. I pull up the official website for Charles City, Virginia looking for the police department. Guess what? No police. I find the number for the Charles City Sheriffs office. Oops!! Well now, who comes to the scene of the murder? Is it the Sergeant I’d written about or does the Sheriff himself come? So I did what any conscientious writer would do ––I called.

Maybe I could have given the dispatcher a little more background about myself, and the fictional book I was writing. Instead I merely told her that I was researching a book that takes place along the James River and who would they send to the site of a murder in one of the plantations like Shirley or Berkeley. The word murder got her attention and she asked for the spelling of my name. Yeah, I need to work on how I approach law enforcement.

Well, once I’d explained how I’d actually done the initial research for the book on a trip there and mentioned the places I’d visited and who had helped me, our whole conversation turned around. She gave me the whole chain of command, and who would show up at investigations. We ended up having a great conversation and she invited me to stop by on my next trip. I promised an autographed copy of the book for the department.

The wheels are already turning for another book along the James. It’s great knowing I’ll have friends in the Charles City Sheriff’s office to help me with the bodies that always seem to turn up.

No I haven’t fallen off the edge of the earth!!

on June 12, 2018

Just got lost while finding my way through the world of writing, then got sucked down into the depths of everyday life.

I’m sure many writers have gotten lost along the way . . . well, maybe not for a whole year. But now I’m back in the saddle and heading to the finish line, and that would be seeing A Beacon In The Dark published this year. Justify made history yesterday wining the Triple Crown and I can make my own history.

This weekend I attended Killer Heat: A Mystery Writer’s Weekend Getaway. The event was sponsored by Northeast Ohio Sisters In Crime, of which I am a member, and certainly lit a fire under me.

My life won’t suddenly become less frantic, nor will unexpected problems and situations go away. But I was reminded of one important rule of successful authors this weekend and that is to hold fast to a specific writing schedule. Oh yeah, I learned that rule years ago. Problem is I haven’t followed it. I sit down at my computer and begin typing away. Then that evil demon called Distraction rears its ugly head and I’m off in another direction.

Now, it’s time to begin typing!!!!

Meet Hemingway

on June 8, 2017

It’s been two weeks since we welcomed this little Yorkie, named Rocky, into our home. It was amazing how quickly the adoption from Little Yorkie Rescue transpired after being notified that the little man was available. He’d just been picked up from his vet appointment after being neutered, had five teeth extracted and treated for a UTI. Not even two years old and the poor little guy was severely underweight and needed lots of TLC.  Donna Rickard of Little Yorkie Rescue met me at her house last Thursday night in Lorain. I’m new to small/toy breeds and the little guy was so thin and fragile I was afraid I’d hurt him. Donna was wonderful and made sure the tiny Yorkie was kept warm with a new shirt and blanket. He slept in his new crate and bed for the hour-long drive home. We arrived after 10:00 and had just enough time for me to read his medical/prescription needs and then tuck the little guy into his bed for the night.

He settled right in to life in his new home and now has us on a schedule that works for him. He had that grumpy old man look with his head full of silver hair . . . he was definitely not a Rocky. He was a Hemingway!  It’s hard to believe that so much joy could come into our lives all packed in a four-pound package.




on May 11, 2017

I know it looks like I’ve been MIA for months now. The truth is, I’ve been in a kind of funk. Oh sure, I’ve been writing, actually rewriting, attending my critique group, participating in INDIE panel discussions and running CANTER Ohio. CANTER’s kept me busy with everything from fundraisers to the daily issues revolving around the care and adoptions of our horses. But the spark’s been missing––that mental jolt that sends me flying into each new day and ending it with a contented sigh.

It’s been four years since our Golden Retriever, Murphy, made the journey over the rainbow bridge at the age of thirteen. He was the best dog ever and we just knew we could never replace him. Oh sure, we dog sat for family, and pets were always welcome for a visit, but they went home at the end of their stay. But as the years passed the house became lonely, cold winter days dragged on, and I’ve been noticing how many tiny little dogs are tucked lovingly in their owner’s arms.

I’m now searching for a little buddy. Being the Executive Director of CANTER Ohio I understand the importance of rehoming our four-legged friends. Okay, so I’m talking 1,200 lb horses and 5 lb dogs. But it’s really the same thing, so I’m watching the local dog rescues for a little Yorkie. A little ball of fluff who will keep me company in my office as I struggle with multiple plots and not complain when I kill off his favorite character. A little tyrant who will say “Enough! Time for a walk.” when I’ve been sitting at my computer for hours.


And a little guy who will jump into his tote bag when it’s time for a trip to the barn or book signing or days spent keeping me company in a booth at a fundraiser.

Yep, I’m getting my spark back.



Serendipity at work . . . AGAIN

on October 30, 2016

funny-cideI saw the signs for Lexington on I75 while driving back from the 2013 RWA conference in Atlanta. I’d been admiring the beautiful countryside when I passed the exit for Man O War Boulevard. Suddenly there’s a new story in my head. It’s a paranormal. I don’t do paranormal. I already had one finished book that needed polishing before publishing and two more in various stages. But some things you just can’t control and I couldn’t make the story go away. By the time I reached Cincinnati I had a book to get on paper. But to my chagrin, it was a story about a ghost horse . . . really? I wrote the first draft and decided that someday I’d get around to the research needed to make my premier thoroughbred horse farm believable.

Race ahead three years and I’m working out the details for coming down to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Retired Racehorse Project. I’d be working the CANTER booth for four full days so just maybe I’d have time to visit one of the farms in Lexington. I was given the contact information for a “friend” of CANTER who may be able to help me with research for the book that I didn’t have time to finish.  CANTER Ohio had two of our adopters who were competing, Smuggler’s Hold (polo) and One Wild Kitty (dressage) so I spent my days between manning the booth and racing back and forth to the barns for photos and visiting. By Saturday morning I’d crossed off trying to call my horse farm contact.  But heck, it would be at least a year before I could get around to finishing a story about a ghost horse. Today was grueling and I was exhausted after dismantling the booth and loading the vehicles. I had just one more thing left to do before heading out and that was to finish conversations I’d had with an organization where we have a horse in permanent retirement. Hot, sweaty, and out-of-breath I arrived at their booth to find they’re talking to a lovely woman with a warm, infectious smile. Yep . . . she was the contact I’d given up of ever finding.

We had a great chat and she’s intrigued with the story.  We’ve made plans for me to come back next summer, after the foaling and breeding season in the spring. She suggested that I check out the Keeneland library tomorrow for history on the thoroughbred racing industry.

That darn ghost horse is back in my head. Serendipity has, once again, stepped in.  I think a ghost is telling me that he wants his story told.








Serendipity at work

on October 24, 2016

bassisls-002I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on In the Shadow of The Lighthouse. People want more stories set in the Lake Erie islands.  I love history and doing research so my stories, although fiction, are based in real places with some history thrown in.  I love Kelleys Island and decided that my fourth book would be set there. Of course I need at least one contact person who I can pump for the bizarre and gruesome that will trigger a story in my head. Not an easy task when the island is only about four square miles in size with a population of just over three hundred permanent residents. This wasn’t going to be easy, but heck, I still have books two and three to finish.  I thought about hanging out at one of the B&Bs on the island for a week or two, travel the back roads (really?) in a golf cart and look for an old-timer with stories of dead bodies, smugglers, and horrendous storms. That plan got put on a back burner.

stormy-dude-going-homeAs the Executive Director for CANTER Ohio I see a lot of adoption applications from all over the country from people wanting to adopt our horses. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the potential adopter lives on Kelleys Island. Horses on Kelleys? Who would have thought? Even as a fiction writer I wouldn’t have put horses on Kelleys. Not only did my contact come to me, but she brought a resident of Marblehead with her.  Oh yeah, she loved the horse.  Stormy Dude, the tall chestnut ex-racehorse, left today for his new home. I wonder how he handled the twenty-minute ferry ride with the scents of Lake Erie and the raucous call of sea gulls overhead?

So, serendipity stepped in and I have my contacts. I’ll be spending a lot of time on Kelleys Island searching for my next story. It may even contain a horse named Stormy Dude.

Editing . . . Grrrrrrrr

on August 1, 2016

Pam C BlogWriting is such a solitary process. Sitting alone at the computer with only your ideas awaiting their translation into black-and-white. However, for me, the creative juices keep flowing wherever I am or whatever I’m doing. The new story keeps me company whether I’m gardening or running errands. Editing, however, keeps me locked in my chair and rewriting what I thought was a fascinating manuscript. My editor picks the story apart like a vulture on road-kill. In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse was too long. I needed to cut 60,000 words, bringing the total word-count down to 100,000. Then I needed to put the first chapter toward the end of the book. I wondered if it would ever be published.

I’m what is known as a Pantser in the writing world. I don’t outline, chart character development or pre-determine what will happen in each chapter. I write the story that’s in my head (first draft). Then I begin researching, making sure my scenes are accurate to the period of the story and give my characters life (second draft). The third or fourth draft goes to the editor and the hard part begins.

That’s where I am now, and have been since last December when I received A Beacon In The Dark back from my editor. I’ve made the requested changes, only to have more changes noted. It’s frustrating, especially since a third book, It Started With Besse, is waiting in the first draft stage. I love writing . . . I hate rewriting. However, I’ve found a part of editing which allows me to travel back to wonderful places.

Whenever possible, I travel to the locations I’ve written about to make sure I have my facts correct and get the “feel” of the surroundings. In The Shadow Of The Lighthouse took me to Marblehead, Ohio and Port Clinton. There were also side trips to Kelleys Island and Put-In-Bay. A Beacon In The Dark took me to the Waldorf Astoria in New York, Norfolk, Virginia and the plantations along the James River. Back in the early 1970s, I was given a book of Notable American Houses.

A two-page photo of Westover plantation caught my attention. I thought it the most beautiful house I’d ever seen. So when I needed a Virginia plantation for my story, it could only be Westover. I searched for information, which at the time was limited since the house was, and still is, a family residence. Then in 2011 following the Romance Writers of America conference in New York, I drove to Virginia. Only the grounds were open to the public, but that was enough . . . I fell in love with Westover. I took pictures of everything and spent hours walking the property and sitting on various benches. Through the many photos of the house and outbuildings, I was able to make my story come alive. The sounds of the river and the scent of the huge boxwoods will always be with me.

I may be sitting at my computer editing, but I’m not alone. My memories of Westover are with me, encouraging me to add this-or-that little piece of information I’d forgotten during the last edit.

Cicadas, Cicadas and Cicadas, OH MY!!!

on June 15, 2016

CicadasSummer has finally come to the north coast of Ohio, and so have the cicadas! I look forward to summer. It’s the time when Clevelanders can actually plan outdoor activities with some assurance of sunshine, or at least warm temperatures. Okay, so we witnessed snow just a few weeks ago, but it reached 92 yesterday. I waited until the middle of May to make my annual trip to my favorite nursery where I happily filled my SUV with hanging baskets, large pots of geraniums and flats of petunias. With the various beds, window boxes and urns filled with vibrant color, I headed to the basement for the outdoor chair cushions. Visions of days spent writing under a colorful umbrella, sipping frosty glasses of iced tea, danced in my head. This was the year I was going to embrace summer . . . then the cicadas emerged.

It wasn’t as though the noisy things were a surprise. The news stations had been filled with the stories of the event that happens every seventeen years.  I guess I’d forgotten what it was like. Then again, I remembered the old Maple tree in the back yard looking like it was covered in feathers. I’d forgotten about the loud vibrating sound they make beginning each morning around dawn, getting louder and louder as the day wears on until dusk. Then all is quiet. The ground is peppered with thousands of small holes . . . the door to the world beyond from which the insects emerge, then leave their shell behind to fly off. They aren’t very good at the flying part. They just seem to fly until they hit something then latch on or fall to the ground. That something is often me. I have a new routine now. I make sure there aren’t any sitting on the thresholds or hanging on the doors just waiting to “drop in” or being carried into the house on my shoulder. The good thing is that they don’t bite. The birds, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes and probably a whole host of other creatures find them delicious. Well, not the wings. I find piles of them at our chipmunk’s favorite dining places.

Needless to say, I’m not writing outdoors. Between swatting the flyers, brushing off the landed ones and listening to their loud mating calls, it doesn’t leave much room for a creative mind. However, I’ve been assured that their short life span will be over soon, their larva burrowing deep into the ground and life will return to normal, at least for the next seventeen years.