#NotMe, but I Stand With The Family of Women

Women have found their voice, and damn it’s loud. And solid. And proud. And it brooks no doubt or slander or thrown tomatoes. We’re finally standing strong and solid with arms bound and spirits raised. We’re finished with all forms of subjugation to men.

It took us awhile.

In my mind the very first brave woman was Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas vetting for the Supreme Court. She took backlash and whiplash and everything else, but she held fast and honorable to her values.

And no one listened. Not even women.

While other questionable male entitlement came out over time, I don’t remember other women standing up. As far as I know Monica Lewinsky never said a thing.

But then we saw the sheer number of women accusing Bill Cosby—and oh man, did that hurt. Really? Bill Cosby? America’s favorite dad? My heart still cries with that one. But I’ve come to terms with what I wish to be true versus what is likely true.

Today we’re hearing women’s voices, from politics to entertainment to business. Some people wonder if all of them are credible. Some people, even women, think it’s all just some silliness they need to get over.

#NotMe. #NotEverAgain.


It’s all better with friends.





Villainy + Power

I’ve been pushing the concept of villainy around in my head for a couple of days, trying to decide how I wanted to put my mark on the amazing discussions from my fellow Mysteristas. You guys rock!

It occurred to me that without some kind of power, villainy is rather innocuous and impotent. It’s still evil, but it’s evil that’s ineffective.

Villainy + 23 weapons modified to fire like automatic rifles

Villainy + Harvey, Irma, Marie, Nate (Yep, nature can be villainous.)

Villainy + Professional connections, inflated egos, money and lifestyle that says you can’t be touched

Villainy + Assumed privilege.

In Real Life, when something abominable happens, I find myself stepping back from my manuscript for a period of time. One can only take so much. Gradually the story beckons and I realize that within the pages of my book I can vanquish the diabolical. While it doesn’t exactly balance the scales, it does feel good.


Peg The Conqueror


It’s all better with friends.



Night Play

Air shifts as the earth moves through its rotation.

Dawn brings a fresh current that’s both quiet and invigorating. A promise and a plan. Your plan. Possibilities.

The day is filled with chatter and movement and news and emotion commotion. The current is busy and robust and packed with energy. Wins and losses. Joy and pain. That point when you realize your plan is so much smoke. The usual.

Twilight into dusk is a time for calmness. Reflection. A bit of mental planning (yes, you’re an optimist) for the following day. Deep breaths. Soft breezes carpeted with fragrance.

From evening into night we strip our faces, don comfy pajamas, and decide how we want to relax for a few hours. (Or if you’re a writer, what to work on next.)

Lights flick off. The urban wave of traffic calms, and almost—but not quite—disappears.

And night slides into the deep.

In the deep current Darkness rules. Spirits and magic and things that hide from the light come out to play. To tempt, trick and trap.

It’s when I can see you. The real you.

And I know exactly how to get to you. Are you ready to play?


It’s all better with friends.



When Vindication Sucks

“I know I’m right, and so do you.” Anna Palmer looked at her partner, her eyes drilling his for a sign of concession.

“What we know doesn’t matter without solid evidence,” Kevin DeGross made a dismissive gesture with his hands. “There’s no way we can take what we’ve got and get a warrant.”

“Forget a warrant,” Palmer pushed. “We don’t have time. She doesn’t have time.”

“I’m not going down this road with you again. Every writeup I’ve ever received is because I’ve gone along when you’ve cut corners, crossed the line—”

“I’ve never crossed the line.”

“—and I don’t want to deal with that crap again.”

Anna felt rage rise inside her gut but pushed it down. Now was not the time. “Louise Jackson’s life is in danger. We need to protect her.” It’s not about me or you or your lousy career.

“We can pull him in for questioning.”

“Yeah, and hold him for how long?” Palmer asked, her voice dripping sarcasm.

And so it went. Palmer and DeGross battling each other, trying to gain traction and make a case for their particular position.

The next morning they got the call. A murder scene.

Anna Palmer arrived first.

“Evidence enough?” She spat the question, handing her partner a coffee.


It’s all better with friends.


Famous Americans, no–––––––––> Brits

I can’t say that I’ve felt personally influenced by Britain since the Fab Four and Twiggy, but here’s a list of Brits that part of me wants to claim as American:

  • Stephen Hawking
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Cat Stevens
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Cary Grant
  • Peter Sellers
  • Minnie Driver
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Eric Clapton
  • H.G. Wells
  • George Orwell
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones

Do any of those names surprise you? I mean, I suppose if I thought about each of them long enough I could say, “Oh, yeah. U.K. Definitely.”, but off the top of my head? Nope.

And here’s a random question: Why is it that when singing, all signs of an accent are gone? That’s so confusing.

Okay, and here’s this photo of a rather grumpy Prince George. Now this is truly universal.


It’s all better with friends.

Grumpy Fries and Lazy Lies—Part 9

Short of throwing Persephone MacGillivray out of the apartment, I wasn’t going to be able to control her—or her mouth. She pushed out from behind my back and marched up to her ex.

“I asked you a question, Alo, and I expect an answer. What’s going on here?” She shoved into the man’s space.

“I don’t answer to you.” Spittle flew, but to Persephone’s credit she didn’t flinch. “And why the hell are you here anyway?” Alo demanded. “You and Doctor McDreamy?”

I’m watching the interraction between these two and am pretty sure I can learn more by staying quiet, at least for the moment.

“For your information ‘Doctor McDreamy’ is Detective McDrea… I mean Detective Sterling Spreadbury, and you do have to answer to him.”

“No, I don’t.”

Aloysius Everslam knows his rights. Interesting. I wonder where he obtained his education.

Without skipping a beat, Persephone leaned in even closer. Considering the guy’s proclivity to add moisture to the environment through his mouth I was pretty impressed. “What were you doing in my place this afternoon?” She jabbed his chest with her finger.

Another score for her. She didn’t give him a chance to weasel because she didn’t ask if he’d been there, just asked what he’d been doing when he was there.

Alo’s eyes shifted to the back of his apartment then to me, finally settling in a very unsettled way on his old girlfriend. “I uh, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t try and feed me your usual load, Al.”

“I swear, I wasn’t there. I gave you back your key.”

“Doesn’t mean you didn’t make a copy.”

“Screw you.”

Persephone laughed. Kind of a “gotcha” laugh with a snicker behind it. Even though I understood it was bad news for Alo, I found it strangely attractive. In an evil sort of way. I guess maybe because it wasn’t directed toward me.

“Speaking of screwing, you want to explain your relationship with Duncan? And why you never had the guts to tell me you were leaving me for a man? Who just happens to be a murder-victim’s ex son-in-law?”

Everslam’s confusion was apparent. Before the interaction I’d been observing gave way to accusation and blame, I intervened. “I have a question for you, and you need to think carefully before answering.”

Confusion gave way to wariness. “Yeah?”

“Are you an applesauce lover?”

“Huh? Wha… I don’t understand.”

“From what I can see, you’ve got at least three empty cans of applesauce sitting in the trash bag by your door. That’s a lot of applesauce for one guy.”

More noise came from the back of the apartment, like someone trying to force open a window.

“Duncan Meadows!” Persephone screamed. “Get your ass up here now!”

Everslam didn’t move. Resignation poured off him in waves.

I’d noticed the windows in the building when we drove up. While they were big enough to crawl out of in an emergency, we were five stories up and there wasn’t a fire ladder in sight.

Even though I couldn’t legally search the apartment, I could get all Authoritative Cop. “Don’t make me haul you up here, Meadows! I’m sure I could lay my hands on the paperwork from last month when you ruined my Saturday night by tossing the Blue Parrot.”


“Now would be good.”

Shuffling steps came from the hallway. A minute later a pony-tailed man moved into the room.

“Who the hell are you?” I asked.

“That’s Elton Fries,” Persephone answered. “Grumpy’s son.”


What’s The Dirt?

(This post is appearing simultaneously on Suspense Novelist.)


Seeds. Some writers can take a seed or two and grow an amazing story seemingly out of thin air.

Me? I need some dirt. Preferably dirt grounded in a social issue. The messier—the muddier—the better.

That’s where TRAFFICKED began. I had a list of topics that were interesting to me and I kept going back to one. Human trafficking. At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This dirt ran deep. And wide. And muddy.

My kind of gardening.

In some ways TRAFFICKED was the most difficult story I’ve ever told. In other ways it flowed from my heart to my head to my fingers to the page effortlessly.

Many readers of this blog are fans of cozy or traditional mysteries, and while this book is neither, it walks right up to the worst of the mud and doesn’t get mired in explicit detail. The idea was to deal with the horror of sex trafficking without spelling it out.

Two early cultivators:

Peg Brantley’s TRAFFICKED is a heartbreaker, a thriller, and a hair-raising education, all at once. I wish I hadn’t already read it, so I could read it for the first time again. — Timothy Hallinan, author of the Junior Bender and Poke Rafferty crime novels

The scourge of human trafficking is worldwide; yet, most Americans clutch the idea that it couldn’t possibly exist here.  Peg Brantley’s chillingly honest, gritty novel moves readers to empathize with lives shattered by modern-day slavery.  Through an accessible, awareness-raising narrative, Brantley spotlights a foul, hidden human crisis.  In Americans’ own back yard, not only can trafficking happen, it does.  — Susanne E. Jalbert, Ph.D., Activist

The bloom:




The dirt:

Sex trafficking.

Not Thailand. Or the Philippines. Or Russia.


Rich or poor, black or white, girls disappear across this country every day, pulled into the nightmarish world of prostitution and drugs.

Mex Anderson is back, tasked with finding three missing girls before it’s too late. Three girls. Three girls who could live in your town, your neighborhood, or in your own home.

Jayla Imani Thomas is fifteen. A smart kid from a poor part of town who has to fend for herself. Jayla is headed for college and a better life than her mother had.

Alexis Emily Halston is seventeen. Money provides everything she wants or needs except functional parents. Alexis has the world by the tail and she knows it.

Olivia Emma Campbell is twelve. She’s a middle child who dreams of being a veterinarian when she grows up. But right now “Livvy” just wants someone to notice her, maybe even to love her.

Caught up in a cruel system fueled by lust and money, all three young women must find the courage within themselves to survive. And Mex must come to terms with his own loss and face his demons head on—or he might not have the strength to save them.


TRAFFICKED is now available for pre-order.


It’s all better with friends.