Real Worries


Worried about fanatical groups taking over the world? Worried about China taking over world economy? Worried about big brother controlling our every move?

Those are not the big dangers. It’s household appliances and electronics that we need to fear.

It’s all those little lights controlling us—turn me on, plug me in, recharge me, answer me … Computers, iPads, phones, clocks—they’re all telling us what to do and when.

Then there are the little beeps that set us running. Oops, time to put dinner in the oven. Oops, time to take dinner out of the oven. Oops, time to fetch the toast from the toaster, time to unplug the coffee, time to turn off the timer …

Not to be outdone by the kitchen cousins, the washer and dryer sing to us. Yes, sing. Merry little tunes as we turn them on. Merry little tunes when the cycles finish. Merry little tunes when it’s time to clean the lint screen.

Do we need all this “control?” Are our brains so overloaded that we can’t remember what to do and when? Maybe so, but I for one could do without all the not-so-gentle reminders. The laundry can wait. So can the phone. If the call is important they’ll leave a message or call back. In fact, everything can wait and the world won’t end.

On second thought, I’ll keep the beeps that tell me when dinner is ready.


Writers beware – danger lurks in Victoria

DSCN3889 (2)

Victoria, BC is a very dangerous city. We moved here a year ago and it’s a wonder I get any writing done. The view of the gorge from our living room and the mild weather lure me outside. The beautiful historic buildings in a downtown that’s always bustling with tourists and entertainment and food trucks—impossible to resist and we can get there by water taxi. Is there a better way to travel for a leisurely Saturday lunch and afternoon of fun?

Then there’s the list of attractions demanding to be explored: Craig Darroch Castle, Point Ellice House, Fort Rodd, Ross Bay Villa, Fisherman’s Wharf (with the lovely houseboats and an assortment of restaurants and seals to feed), Chinatown ( the second largest in North America  …

And the list of natural sights to be enjoyed: Beacon Hill Park, Ogden Point (where the cruise ships dock), Mount Tolmie offering a panoramic view of the city, Dallas Road following the ocean shore, the Butchart Gardens …

And the list of restaurants enticing us with their varied menus: Glo, Milestones, Green Leaf Vietnamese Bistro, La Taquisa …

How to fit all of that in and still find time to write and market my books? Somehow, I manage and a new book will soon be ready for publication.

Meanwhile, the first novel of my Em and Yves Series, EMBATTLED is available free. And, the second can be yours free too when you subscribe to my newsletter. For more information go to




A bit of time travel

point ellice house


Since moving to Victoria, we’ve been exploring our new city and recently discovered yet another treasure – Point Ellice House. This National Heritage Site, overlooking the waters of Victoria’s scenic Gorge Waterway, exudes the peace and charm of a former time.

Peter and Caroline O’Reilly moved into the Point Ellice House in time for the birth of their daughter Kathleen December 31. 1867.  The house remained in the family’s possession for 108 years.

What makes this “museum” truly unique is that in 1975, three generations later, O’Reilly’s grandson, John, and his wife, Inez, sold the house and all its contents to the Province of British Columbia. The family left behind everything – furniture, clothing, toys, tea services, a harp, writing desks, board games, kitchen utensils, and more  – giving us a rare opportunity to see one of North America’s largest collections of Victoriana in its original Victorian home.

On seeing the parlor, my granddaughter said, “This must be the playroom!” Chess set, piano, harp, toys, tea sets … definitely the playroom.

Ellice parlour



Finding David

EPS                                                            Edmonton Public Schools Central Office

Since I’ve been in leadership positions, I’ve learned that there are four ways you can get lucky when it comes to staffing your school.

One is connections:

  • You hear from colleagues about good teachers.
  • You wait (timing is everything – you learned this working in personnel).
  • You phone your staffing consultant, tell him you need a teacher and ask if you can interview so and so.
  • Five minutes into the interview you know you want the person and you are antsy as hell waiting for your assistant principal to finish asking his questions so you can offer K the job.

Another is seeing in action:

  • You have watched the person when they have been supply teaching in your school.
  • You wait (timing is everything – you learned this working in personnel).
  • You call your staffing consultant as ask if you can please have M for the maternity leave position that must be filled now.

Yet another is interviewing:

  • You call your staffing consultant and ask for candidates.
  • You interview the individual and after a few minutes you send him packing when he tells you he doesn’t think he would want to teach at your school because he couldn’t further his career doing so with the kind of kids you have (yes, this is a poor part of the city, but we love our students and know how wonderful they are).
  • You call your staffing consultant again, give him a report on the interview, and ask for another applicant.
  • You interview and are more than pleased to offer G the job.

And then there is the “given” category:

  • You get a call from the superintendent’s office telling you that you can’t advertise the position because they have someone for you.
  • You stifle a massive groan and hold your head in your hands as an instant migraine develops and wonder what you could possibly have done to upset the superintendent (You worked in personnel—you  know how these “givens” work).
  • You get a call from the giving principal telling you about the individual.
  • You know better than to trust this particular giver so you make some calls of your own.
  • Within a few minutes of meeting the individual and a few days of working with him, you know that someone up there loves you because you now have David, who will prove to be an absolute gem as your new assistant principal.

EMBROILED – Em and Yves series – the conclusion


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]

Em and Yves – the story concludes in EMBROILED


BLURB I had this insane urge to go “up there,” a yearning so strong that I couldn’t function. Dr. David even tried hypnosis.

Then he came, claiming to be my soulmate from another world. Why does my heart melt at the mere thought of him? Me in love with an alien? Yeah, sure, that makes sense.

Now I’m “up here” in his perfect heaven of a world—learning jiu-jitsu, making new friends, falling in love. Only there’s deception in the ranks, plots, and great danger in this other world. No one sees it but me. Do I love him enough to give up everything and stay with him? If I can I save him, that is.

Heaven and Earth, gods and monsters … is this Emily’s last chance for love? What will her decision be?




He was waiting for her outside David’s office—Pretty Boy. Emily froze, took a half step back, then another.

He held his hand out to her. “Hello, Em.”

Oh, God. She shivered as his voice seemed to roll over and through her. And again, he used the diminutive of her name that she hated so much. But when he said it … it sounded like love in its purest form. Why? How could this stranger possibly love her? How could he have such an effect on her? And why did she want so much for it to be true?

Her stomach churned. She swallowed bile. Was she that afraid of him? That afraid of what he might mean to her? Her only defense against the fear was anger. Her muscles quivered and her heart pounded. She undid three buttons of her coat, pulled off her scarf, and fanned her face. I’m much too young for hot flashes. She planted her feet and lifted her chin. “It’s Emily.”

With her lips pressed together, Emily shouldered past him and strode down the street, back stiff, fists clenched at her sides. Her bag slid off her shoulder. “Damn!” She paused, mid-stride and stooped to pick it up. He was faster.

She turned and saw him holding her purse in his hands as if it were a fragile heirloom. Without meeting his gaze she reached towards him to retrieve it, but just as her fingers touched it she let her hand drop to her side. She raised her eyes to his face. His stare seemed to penetrate through her. First his voice and now this. Jeez, what was it about this guy?

Emily took a deep breath. “Who are you?”

“My name is Yves.”

“You already told me that.”

Yves chewed his lower lip. “I’m the man waiting for you under the ice.”

Emily screamed—a primal sound that couldn’t possibly have come from her. She snatched her purse from his hand and bolted, glancing back only once to see that he was not following her, but she didn’t slow down. She had to get away. As far away as possible. Blinded by her tears, she ran until her chest hurt.

EMBRACED – book 3

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]


Now, see what’s happening in book 3 of the series EMBRACED


BLURB Curtis says the clickings in the fillings of my teeth are messages from aliens. He’s 14. What does he know?

The writing paper by my bed is another thing. I didn’t put it there. Curtis says I have to write letters to the editor and ask for things that will make the world a better place. Okay, I’ll humor the kid. Can’t do any harm.

Oh My God! Everything I’ve asked for is coming true. I’m so scared, I can’t breathe. Now what do I do?

Teachers beware for when aliens come calling with their secret codes, mind reading, magic powers, and reincarnation, who knows if gods’ promises can save you?


“More drawings?” Curtis gestured at the papers she held.

Abby looked down at the pages and willed her hand to stop trembling. The three pages of code drawings seemed to shimmer and shiver with a life of their own. “Yes. Three pages. From Friday, Saturday, and last night. They’re pretty … they’re … pretty well done, I’d say.”

But Curtis was no longer listening.  He waved the papers she’d just handed him and almost shouted with excitement. “These are amazing. Way better than the first drawing you brought us.”

Abby stifled a small grin, but she had to agree. The drawings outclassed her scratches a million times over. “My friend developed instant artistic talent.”

“I’ll say.” Curtis shuffled the pages back and forth. He shook his head slowly and muttered “wow” over and over. Finally he looked up at her. “Miss D, thanks for getting so many. Now we have four to compare. We’ll see if there are any repeated patterns or sequences of symbols. Your friend is great to share these with us.”

“No problem.” Oh God, I’m such a liar. Of course there was a problem, and not just because she was lying to Curtis. My friend. How lame was that? The mere existence of the pages was the real problem. Some nights the clickings chattered incessantly in her fillings, almost driving her crazy. Those were the nights of very little sleep. The weekend had been eerily silent. That was a new phenomenon since Friday, no clickings, instead Coder Guy had begun leaving the pages filled with drawings. Either way—no escaping the code.

A while back, she’d grown tired of sharpening the pencil she used each night and replaced it with a pen, which was now almost out of ink. She’d have to remember to get out a new one tonight. Or maybe not? What would happen if there was no writing utensil?

“What’s so funny?” Curtis asked. Abby hadn’t realized she’d laughed out loud. The lack of pen wouldn’t stop her night visitor. She stifled another burst of laughter she knew bordered on hysteria. Truth was, much as the pages of code scared her, she’d be devastated if no more came. The person—being, alien, Coder Guy—was an integral part of her life now; his existence had established a rhythm that kept her balanced. Or so she thought. Maybe she was completely off her rocker.

Whatever the case, she didn’t want to lose that contact. Coder Guy’s presence warmed her, kept her from feeling alone and lonely. Oh, man, I am losing it here. Really losing it.


EMPOWERED – book 2 – free when you sign up



Double your reading pleasure with books 1 and 2 of the Em and Yves series.   


BLURB My face is on every television, in every newspaper. They say I’m saving the world. I know better. I’m a school principal not a superhero.

Of course that doesn’t explain the blood on my hands. Or the strange languages coming out of my mouth. Or the feel of swinging a machete. Or the sensation of lifting off the ground before I lose all memory.

Someone or something has hijacked my life. How do I get it back?

Alien contact leads to adventure and love as the characters involve themselves in world affairs in this science fiction novel series. But are humans given second chances after our superhero fights war or will the gods decide our fate?

Subscribe and get book 2 EMPOWERED FREE

BLURB I do what I do to make the world a better place because of these visions I had when I was a kid. I’m sort of invincible too. Crazy, huh? And I’ve found my promised soulmate. Victor doesn’t believe he’s the one. Not yet, anyway.

Damn, damn, damn. I’ve been kidnapped. Victor will find me. He has to. Doesn’t he? The visions can’t be wrong.

With her bodyguards in the hospital it’s up to her watcher, the ex-cons, her dad, and friends to save her. Will they and her soulmate come to the rescue in time or will her delusions be her ruin?


“Okay, Unc, I’m dying of curiosity. What do you need?”

“Anything and everything you can find on Brian Berdin.” Maria’s eyebrows rose.

The Mr. Berdin!”


“Jeez, what’d he do? Rob a bank or something?”

“Nothing like that.” Nick grinned. “If I tell you why, can you keep it a secret?”

“From Mom and Grandma too?” Nick nodded. He could see the wheels turning. Maria loved subterfuge and wanted to be a police detective like him. He was confident she would keep his secret when many adults wouldn’t.

“He offered me a job.”

“What?” she squealed and then clapped a hand over her mouth. “Sorry Unc. I better be quiet or the boys will be in here and you know how they blab everything.”

“The chief recommended me for the job and I met with Mr. Berdin yesterday morning.”

“Were you nervous?” Maria asked. “I mean it being Mr. Berdin and all.”

“Yeah,” Nick admitted. “Who the hell wouldn’t be, Kiddo?”

“So when do you start?”

“I’m going to say no.”

“But, a chance to work for Berdin? Are you sure you want to give that up? I know you love being a cop but jeez, couldn’t you take a leave from work or something and try it anyway?”

“It’s tempting but, no.”

“But …” Maria stopped when Nick frowned at her. “Okay, okay, but if you’re not going to take the job, why do you want the info?”

“He made me an offer and I feel that I have to at least do the research to be fair before I give him my answer.” Maria nodded agreement. Nick knew that would make sense to her moral code too. What he didn’t tell her was just how tempting the offer was. He could buy a place for his mother, send her on a holiday to visit family in Italy, and ease the financial strain for Angie, Maria, and the boys. God, to do all that; to have real cash flow, no money worries. Much to his chagrin, he hadn’t been able to put the financial side of it out of his mind. “Also, see what, if anything, you can find on Jasmine Wade.”

“His sleepover?”


“Give it up Unc. I know all about that stuff.”

“You kids grow up too fast,” he muttered as he studied the little girl become woman. How had that happened? Just yesterday she was a miniature of her mother.

Maria groaned. “I’m almost fifteen for heaven’s sake, not a baby. You sound just like Mom.”

“Okay, okay.” Nick held his hands up in surrender.

“Did you see Miss Wade? What’s she like? What was she wearing? Are her eyes really that green? I mean, in pictures they look brilliant. Is she as beautiful in real life as in her pictures?”


Finding a Good Book

haystackFinding something to read has become little more than hunting for that proverbial needle in the haystack.

In the “old days” we searched the shelves in the library for a title or cover that attracted our attention and then read the blurb. The hunt could take hours, followed by the trek home with an armload of books, only to cart several back unread as they just didn’t appeal.

Now, we face another haystack as we receive emails from publishers and Amazon, from book groups like The Fussy Librarian and bloggers we follow with a multitude of suggestions for our reading pleasure.

With each book that captures our interest, we first read the blurb, then download the sample. Many of these too, will be deleted when the first bit doesn’t hold up to its initial promise.

In all of this time consuming search, it is perhaps the suggestions of fellow readers that hold the most promise for a good or great read.

With that in mind, here are a few books that I feel are worth your time.

The Iron Wire by Garry Kilworth who learned to receive and send Morse code at the age of 15. Recommended by my aunt who lives in Australia, this recounting of the construction of the Adelaide to Darwin telegraph line is much more intriguing than it sounds. No dull list of facts here. Kilworth imbues the story with drama and a love of the harsh beauty of the land traversed in the stringing of the line.

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle. A modern murder mystery, set apart from most by the fact that it is entwined with characters from WWII. Set in Florence we are shown a different side of the ravages of war as a senior policeman agrees to supervise a murder investigation, after it emerges the victim was once a Partisan hero.

Because We Are: A novel of Haiti by Ted Oswald. Harsh, gritty, and heartbreaking, this look at Haiti today will bring tears, but you won’t be able to stop reading. When ten-year-old orphan Libète discovers the bodies of a murdered mother and child, we are taken into the depths of the slums of Haiti’s most infamous slum.

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement. If you want to know what life is really like for the majority of Mexicans—that is the poor—read this. It is the most accurate account I have come across.




An American Stands Out in Mali


The airport is small and crowded. We’re the only foreigners and are surrounded by Malians as we wait for out flight. The men could almost be in uniform as they are all dressed alike in khaki pants and short sleeved shirts.

We introduce ourselves to one of the men and ask where, in the US, he is from.

“How did you know I’m American?” He gestures to the crowd around us. “I’m dressed exactly the same as everyone else here and I’m black.”

“Well …” How do we put this delicately? “Your walk, your stance, your haircut all scream US.” We hesitate and then say, “You’re black, but your skin tone isn’t at all the same as the Malians.”

“You know,” he says, “I’m dean of the school of architecture at UofX. I came here to study the buildings, to see how they keep them cool in such extreme heat. I’m looking for ways to conserve energy back home, and in an ideal world, to eliminate the need for air-conditioners.” He smiles ruefully. “I thought that if I dressed like everyone here, I could blend in and travel unnoticed, so to speak, but I’ve been spotted as a foreigner every time. Now I know why.”

We nod, not at all surprised. “And what did you find out about the buildings?” we ask.

“Mud brick homes are built with two ceilings about three feet apart. The heat is trapped in between and the homes are surprisingly cool.”

Mud brick buildings in the US? Not likely, but we tell him we hope that he can find a way to create a natural air conditioning effect and wish him well as he heads for his plane.




cracked - Copy




My face is on every television, in every newspaper. They say I’m saving the world. I know better. I’m a school principal not a superhero.

Of course that doesn’t explain the blood on my hands. Or the strange languages coming out of my mouth. Or the feel of swinging a machete. Or the sensation of lifting off the ground before I lose all memory.

Someone or something has hijacked my life. How do I get it back?

Alien contact leads to adventure and love as the characters involve themselves in world affairs in this science fiction novel series. But are humans given second chances after our superhero fights war or will the gods decide our fate?




“Sue,” Tom called. “You here?”

“In the supply room. Gotta check the back-up tapes. What do you need?”

“The Boss in?”

“Haven’t seen her.”

Tom took a step back, and surveyed the office. “Her door’s closed. Coast is clear. Listen Sue, what’s up with her?”

Sue shrugged. “I don’t know. She’s been vague and forgetful lately. Not like her at all.”

“Loses her train of thought. Did you notice her struggling for words at the staff meeting? That’s not like her at all. Normally sharp as a tack.”

Sue glanced out the door. Two teachers were passing through the office on their way to the staff room. She waited until they’d gone and lowered her voice. “Do you think we should talk to her?”

“I tried. As diplomatically, as I could.” Sue arched her brows. Tom chuckled. “Okay, so I asked her outright if she was okay.”


“I don’t know. It was like she didn’t hear me. Like she was someplace else.”

“Do you think we should call her family?”

“Yeah, you should.”


She didn’t need to overhear that conversation to know she was slipping away. Away to that other world.


And later in the story:


She picked up the phone, dialed Tom’s room. “Can you come to my office please?”

“What’s up, Boss. You sounded worried and I don’t mind telling you, you look like hell.”

She took a deep breath. “Do you believe in extraterrestrial beings?”

“Whoa, girl. Where did that come from?”

She shifted in her chair. “I… Nothing. Sorry. It was a bad dream I had last night. Spooked me is all.”

Tom frowned. “Are you sure you’re not sick or something?”

She nodded. “Yeah, sorry to have bothered you.” She waved a hand at him. “Now get out of here. Back to the kidlets.” Her grin was wobbly.

Tom grinned back, but felt like cursing. He found Sue refilling her coffee cup in the staffroom. “She’s not okay, is she?”

“No, and I don’t mind telling you I’m worried sick. She asked me today if I believed in aliens and then seemed heart broken when I said no. I thought she’d burst into tears then and there.”

“So what do we do?”

“I’ve called her family like you suggested last time we talked. Waiting to hear back.”

Tom squeezed Sue’s shoulder. “Let me know as soon as you get word. I’ll go with you to talk to them.”