Tonight when I found myself distracted from the book I was reading, I decided to peruse the archives in this blog, and found this post from 2010.  The photo (above) is one of me back in my early social work days:

In my novel “An Accidental Life,” I focused on a local phenomenon in the Central Valley of California – methamphetamine abuse. In the early nineties, I was working in child welfare services for the County of Fresno, and a proliferation of substance abuse cases (related to methamphetamine or “crank” abuse) became a regular aspect in the life of the social worker.

Years later, when I decided to pen a novel that featured these issues, I chose to zero in on characters that were composites of those I met during this time in my professional career. I also added my own personal take to the story by creating characters from my own history.

As a result, we have a bird’s eye view, as it were, into the lives of social workers and their clients.

To spice things up a bit, I added a subplot that featured a stalker/murderer, a nod to another aspect of Central Valley life – homicides. We have had our share of unsolved mysteries in this Valley city, but in my novel, I chose to reach a solution to the stalker/homicide that focuses on one of my characters.

Finally, because I do not believe in “happily ever after,” I did make one concession to this familiar theme: I chose what I call a “hopeful ending.” The characters are left with the faith that the “journey” in life is really what it’s all about. Finding themselves on the path of self-discovery, with its complexities and obstacles, allows the characters to persist – to believe.

In the end, that’s really all we have.



Version 2 - logo

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our new leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at The Book Date.

What a week!  It was short, with the holiday and all, but I did read and review three books, so that worked out for me.

I also enjoyed spending Wednesday at the movies.  Don’t you love going mid-week?  I saw Secret in Their Eyes, with Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, etc.



Before the movies, I had a lovely cocktail and appetizers at Dai Bai Dang, near the theater.


geisha martini nov 25



Sunday Thoughts: Book Reorganization

Enter My Interior World: Musings

Read the Books You Buy Challenge

Serendipitous Moments: “Snow Angel Cove”

Let’s Spark Some Intrigue: Waiting On “After She’s Gone”

Returning to My Roots

Happy Thanksgiving!

Quotes from the Interior: “The Black Widow”

Pondering the Early Days: An Excerpt from “Interior Designs”

Review:  The Admissions (e-book), by Meg Mitchell Moore

Review:  Truth Be Told (e-book), by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Review:  Snow Angel Cove (e-book), by RaeAnne Thayne




Check out Karen, at Booker Talk: Books Are Not Weeds


INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

No books in my mailbox this week.  I did download one book (purchased).

Forever, Interrupted (e-book), by Taylor Jenkins Reid





WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Covers/Titles Linked to Amazon)

All the Houses, by Karen Olsson (Vine)




All the Stars in the Heavens, by Adriana Trigiani (Vine)






Angels Burning (e-book), by Tawni O’Dell (NetGalley – 1/5/16 Release)





That was my week!  What did yours look like?  Tomorrow I’ll be having lunch with family at a neighborhood restaurant.  Then I hope to do a little Christmas decorating.  (Below) Here’s what I did last year…I’m thinking, less this year.  And my rooms have been rearranged.






Today I’ve been thinking about those accidental moments in our lives, the happenstance…the SERENDIPITY.

All of those themes that are featured in the book I first published, An Accidental Life, and created in the A-frame house pictured above.



As I recall the history of that book and this blog, I took a look at my “about” page, and decided to excerpt this portion:


When I decided to create this blog, I had been contemplating some issues about life and choices…and how sometimes we end up accidentally in one place or another, either because we made a choice that had these results, or perhaps because we didn’t make a choice…and life just happened to us.  Serendipitously.

In working with dysfunctional families as a social worker (for three decades!), I saw many of my clients making “choices” in this way.  Just allowing things to happen to them.

I also recalled how I sometimes made a choice and wound up facing unexpected consequences.  So I thought…what if I created characters out of these ideas, and spotlighted ways in which they found themselves inexplicably in one place or another because of choice?  An accidental choice.

So my first published novel came about.

However, this particular blog is not just about that first novel.  It encompasses the issues of choice, accidental moments, consequences, and how to live with these events.


Going back to the beginning sometimes helps me focus.  Which brings me to my next point:  I began posting my Sunday Salon events here, back in the day, when the blog was called An Accidental Life…then, Accidental Moments.

Nowadays, I combine the Sunday Salon event with others, like The Sunday Post,Mailbox Monday, Stacking the Shelves, and It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

I took a detour for a while over to Rainy Days and Mondays, as I had just moved that site to Word Press from Blogger and wanted to give it a chance to attract visitors.

But this Sunday, I’ll be returning to my “roots” and posting all of those events here.  I hope you’ll stop by and join in the serendipitous moments.

Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of opportunities to Chase Away the Blues on my Rainy Days and Mondays site….In the meantime, Enjoy Life’s Unexpected Treasures here….








Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s featured book is one I bought for last year’s Christmas season, and then didn’t get around to it.  Here’s hoping to enjoy it this year.  Snow Angel Cove, by RaeAnne Thayne, is a story about Haven Point, a small town full of big surprises that are both merry and bright…





Intro:  Oh, this wasn’t good.  At all.

Eliza Hayward stood with sleet pelting her like hard little pebbles, gazing at the blackened, charred bones of her future.  Cold dread wormed its way beneath her coat like the wintry wind blowing off Lake Haven, just a few hundred yards away.

“I don’t like this place,” Maddie muttered, gripping her hand tighter.  “It’s ugly and scary.”

“Yes.  Yes, it is.”

This couldn’t be real.  She had driven the two hours from Boise with such eager anticipation, singing Christmas carols all the way, loud and silly enough to make a five-year-old giggle.  She had been so excited about this new chapter of their lives in this lovely Idaho town nestled in the raw and stunning Redemption Mountains.


Teaser:  The bruise above her temple looked dark and ugly against the pale loveliness of her features.  He couldn’t look at it without guilt drenching him like somebody had tossed a bucket of ice water in his face. (p. 73).


Blurb:  Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward’s Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she’s stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a hero, but she’s not expecting one who almost runs her down with his car!

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza’s hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew what his life was missing before Eliza, but now he’s willing to risk his heart on a yuletide romance that could lead to forever.


What do you think?  Could this be the story to get you into the holiday mood?  I know I’m eager to find out.



1979 family framed

Good morning!  A week ago, I wrote some thoughts on Holidays: Sharing Life’s Unexpected Treasures.

In my post, I spotlighted some photos…and mentioned one special holiday tradition that began in 1979:  see photo above.

A couple of days after Thanksgiving, we found this great sculpture over at the local university, and a tradition was born.


A few years later, we took another photo…I couldn’t find the snapshot, so I took a picture of the framed version from my iPhone…it’s not that great, but you get the idea:


family in 1984 -

Fast forward to 1991…we tried to take the photo in 1989, set on the five-year intervals, but something went awry with our photographer (not my son that year!), and we couldn’t do it again until 1991:



That was the last one we took of the original four kids!  Some grandchildren have tried…here are a couple of them…Fiona and Dominic in 2009:






When my eldest son was here in the summer, we had hopes of recreating a shot of the Original Four…but again, one member of the crew was unavailable.

My second son, Brett, is the “Arbiter of the Tradition,” pushing for a recreation of those special moments.  He persisted…but despite his efforts, we were unable to pull it together.  Sigh.

Perhaps there are just some moments you cannot recreate…and you just have to find new traditions.  Or savor the memories of the old ones.


Do you have traditions special to your family or group?  How do you maintain them?




Fall is the season of new beginnings.  For me, that has always been the case, starting back in childhood when the season brought release from the long hot summer days…and the endless chores.  Living on a farm was like being on a treadmill of continuous chores.

Above is a photo of my second son and his daughter Aubrey, years ago when I still lived in my house in the foothills.  This snap was captured at Thanksgiving.  Aubrey is now in college, so you get the sense of the passage of time.

In the background, note the climbing device…my youngest son built that, and the grandchildren all clamored to it.

In my first published book, An Accidental Life, one of my characters lives in an A-frame house with a guest house next door.  Like mine.  Here’s an excerpt:


Autumn slipped toward winter, its days beginning with that hideous, low-hanging fog that characterized this part of the valley.   But Melody woke in the mornings feeling something akin to happiness.  Taking her large mug of coffee over near the tall side windows, where she had set up a little table and wicker chair, she would spread out the newspaper.  Reading, sipping her coffee, and occasionally glancing toward the guesthouse, waiting for the first sign of Hugh so she could invent some excuse to saunter on over.

Since their first encounter a few months back, the two of them had established a more or less regular routine.  One or the other would initiate contact, they would chat for a bit, and then they would end up in bed.  Melody still felt wonder when she reflected on their moments together.  What an unlikely pairing they were.

She felt the heat rising in her face as her thoughts raced backward and she quickly fanned herself with the front page of the paper.  Despite all the passion the two of them generated, however, she sometimes walked away afterwards wondering who Hugh Kincaid really was…They never really talked about anything substantive.  Oh, they had shared the superficial biographical sketches.  He knew that she had been in Haight-Ashbury in the sixties and on the road for awhile in the seventies.  He knew about the trust fund that had brought her this house.  She knew that he’d retired from a state job as an engineer, that he loved photography as art, and that he had been married once…But had no children.

Her brow furrowed as she tried to focus on the newspaper.  Her thoughts refused to cooperate, continuing instead to ramble in Hugh’s direction.  She realized that she wanted to know more.  And she was even willing to share more of herself.  The realization surprised and worried her at the same time.  What did it mean?




What does Fall bring to you?  Family moments?  New beginnings? 





After eleven years together, Ryan and Lauren have reached the breaking point. The slightest little habit or action of the other person is so irritating that they each say that they are no longer in love. And in frustration, they make a startling decision. They will take a year apart, with no contact: no phone calls, no texts, and no e-mails. Then they will get together and reassess.

After I Do is a heart-rending story of what happens after the love and romance have died. Is there a way to ignite the passion? Can they discover what to do in the absence of these feelings? How will they find the special ingredient that has been missing?

In a somewhat underhanded attempt to rediscover who her husband is, Lauren takes drastic action. But she does find answers…and she arrives at some realizations.

It helps that she has close friends and a great family. I loved how each family member felt real, and the ways in which they communicated and supported each other were so loving: from Grandma Lois, who pointed Lauren in an interesting direction, to younger brother Charlie, who inspires Lauren with the surprising choices he makes. Sister Rachel, who offers support, but who also calls Lauren on her mistakes, feels just like the kind of sibling one needs.

A book I recommend for all who enjoy stories about relationships and family. 5 stars.



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is a day chock full of family, friends, and stories.

Yes, no matter whether or not I’m celebrating with my own kids and grandkids, or with friends, everyone shares stories at some point.  Some of my favorites are those moments we treasure from the past.

The photos capture those memories from the past, like this one from Thanksgiving 2009.  Typically, we gather a couple of days after the holiday in a restaurant, and not everyone is there every year, but this one shows a fairly good group gathering together:


Thanksgiving 2009

As time passes, we tend to have more people missing, as they go their separate ways:  Alec attending UC in Berkeley; Aubrey in San Diego; and Fiona visiting friends in other places.

I treasure the photos and the memories, however, and when we can, we catch up with those we “missed” on the holiday.

A couple of years ago, we had our most successful turnout:



This year will be a small group again, as some of the older kids have jobs, and Alec will be back at Berkeley the day after Thanksgiving.

But when we gather together, we will have stories to tell, anyway.  And memories.


We love talking about the last Thanksgiving we shared in the foothills, (2006) in the guest house next door to my main house.  The kids were pretty young that year.  My youngest son is holding his youngest, Aiden, on the right, and Noah, who is the youngest grandchild, on his left.



Here is the group in 2003, the year we first began having our holiday in the foothills.



What an odd assortment of photos, right?  I like seeing how everyone has grown and changed, and the memories keep those times alive for me.

Do you find yourself remembering past holidays when the season rolls around?






Could each person live out different versions of his or her life in alternate universes?

This question is posited for the readers of Maybe in Another Life, and we watch this theory play out as Hannah Martin shows us that life can take different turns, with consequences following the choices made.

After living in various parts of the country, Hannah returns to LA where her best friend Gabby Hudson still lives. Gabby’s parents, Carl and Tina, have been like Hannah’s parents, too, since her own went to London with her sister Sarah when Hannah was in high school.

On a night when she first arrives back in LA, Hannah attends a party with Gabby…and reconnects with her high school boyfriend Ethan. At the end of the night, he asks her to stay with him…and Gabby invites her to go with her.

One version of Hannah leaves and another one stays. And in alternate chapters, we see how Hannah’s different “lives” play out.

The story was fun and it was easy to engage with each version of Hannah; I rooted for her, no matter which universe she inhabited. In the end, I liked how there were overlapping aspects in each incarnation, making it seem possible to imagine how other lives would unfold. 4 stars.



The women connected on their blogs, recounting their battles with cancer, and finding support in the community.

But when one of them, Meredith Heywood, one of the few who used her real name on her blog, was murdered, fear cuts through the online community and turns them into frightened people, not sure who they can trust. Or even if they can trust each other.

Could someone evil be hiding behind an innocent screen name? Like Jaycee, the only one who doesn’t even post a profile photo? How do they even know who each person is, when their identity can be so anonymous?

When a small group of the women go to Meredith’s funeral and meet each other for the first time in person, they will feel a connection and start to trust. But then more things happen that make them doubt everyone again. Even each other.

Landry, Kay, and Elena all meet again in Alabama, at Landry’s home, but none of them feel safe, and the suspense ratchets up until, in the final pages, we discover the truth. The Perfect Stranger reminds us that just when we believe we are safe, we can be very wrong.

Alternating narrators drive the story and keep the reader hooked. We know all of the narrators…except the anonymous murderer. And in the end, could that anonymous person be someone we know, someone unexpected?

I loved turning the pages and trying to guess who was killing the seemingly random victims. 4.5 stars.