Reminder! March 28-31: LCC 2019 Whale of a Crime and Special News!

Hello Precious Readers!

A final reminder that at the end of this month I’ll be attending Left Coast Crime 2019: Whale of a Crime* in gorgeous Vancouver, B.C., Canada! It’s only a bit north of my home so I’ll be making it a mini-road trip for traveling there.

Left Coast Crime 2019: Whale of a Crime


I will be at LCC merely as an attendee. I haven’t been to this conference before as it has an annual, roaming location. Last year was in Reno, Nevada, next year will be San Diego, California. Lucky me as a Washingtonian, this year’s location is right in my backyard. Hoping to see you there if you’re in attendance!

From the website:

What is Left Coast Crime? Left Coast Crime is an annual mystery convention sponsored by mystery fans, both readers and authors. LCC is held during the first quarter of the year in Western North America. Conventions have been held from Anchorage to El Paso, from Boulder to Hawaii, and various locations in between.

Our purpose is to host an event where readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans can gather in convivial surroundings to pursue their mutual interests.

Left Coast Crime is an all-volunteer organization — neither the members of the Standing Committee nor members of each annual convention committee are paid for their time. LCC is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. Each Left Coast Crime Convention raises money to support a local literacy organization with funds collected through silent and live auctions, and the annual Quilt Raffle.

Who Is Left Coast Crime For? Left Coast Crime is for fans of the mystery/crime genre: readers, authors, librarians, bloggers, publishers, editors, agents, and booksellers.

What Happens at a Left Coast Crime Convention? Our days are built around panel discussions and other programming on a wide variety of topics designed to allow interaction between readers and writers. There are typically three or four programs to choose from during each time slot. The panels can be humorous or serious, educational or entertaining, and are often a mix of everything.There are signings after each panel slot and a book room.

Several special events are included in your Left Coast Crime registration: Thursday Opening Reception, Friday Meet the New Authors Breakfast, Saturday Awards Banquet. Other special events vary by convention.

Connections between authors and fans are encouraged with activities like Author Speed-Dating, Author-Reader Connections, and Author-Hosted Tables at the Awards Banquet.”

I hope to see you there, and I can’t wait to report about this major conference after I’ve experienced it and had time to process what I learned.

Amelia Darnell: Secrets of Silvercrest Village

There is some new progress on the video game! I just received some of the first pages of the revised script late last week and already finished my edits. I’m excited about the new draft I’m seeing because it means our final version of the game will be even better than our awesome demo!

Haven’t played the demo of Amelia Darnell: Secrets of Silvercrest Village? Well, get on that! It’s 100% free to play, and is available for both Mac and Windows.

Also remember, the final version of Amelia Darnell will also be 100% free to download and play. I highly, highly encourage you to try the demo and let me or our team know what you think!

In more personal news…

There have been some major life changes over the last few months. My husband, Pilot got a new job at Washington-based big business, Boeing! This is, of course, a natural field for him to be working in. He’s loving it! I’m still plugging away at my daily life job at a school. Much of the country was laughing at Washington State due to the 2 weeks of snow we encountered in the month of February. Our home received 18 inches of snow! The East Coast tends to laugh at us West Coasters, but I find that a bit unfair. That amount of snow is highly abnormal for our area, so our towns and cities do not have have the same amount of plows or resources available to handle intense winter weather like our coastal counterpart. Grocery store shelves were ransacked and emptied, but for good reason. Washington is an incredibly hilly and still heavily forested, creating major pockets of immobility for its citizens and often leaving thousands without power for several days, sometimes weeks.

My in-laws, Honey and Silver Fox are out in the country at the top of a steep hill. Any time there is a wind storm/heavy rain, snow, etc. they always lose power, often for several days. There is a reason their home is naturally built-in with a wood-burning stove on each level of their home.

Alas, War Machine is no more as it died (over and over and over and over and over again) and had to be retired. We purchased a new (used) crossover vehicle, in a sharp blue, which Pilot has now lovingly dubbed Blue Steel. I call it Blue Streak. We’re still debating on the new name.

We are actually moving this month! We got the keys last week to a brand new Bacher Fort and will be spending the next few weeks moving in. I can’t explain how much changing from a dwelling with all carpet to a new place with hard-surface flooring is happiness-inducing to my life. It will make cleaning so much easier and help keep my allergies in check. I know a lot of people really enjoy carpet, but I hate it SO MUCH. Having hard-surface flooring will literally be life-changing. Less than 20 minutes to clean, I don’t have to worry about pet messes, it’s easier to move furniture, and so on.

This is good news because… Pilot and I are expecting our first child! That’s right, a Bacher Baby is on the way! The Bacher Fort is expanding, as well as my uterus. We planned this move because of us having 2 dogs and a wee babe-in-arms while running up and down stairs to take the pups outside is an incredibly bad idea. Especially when one half of our dynamic duo (meaning: me) is incredibly accident-prone, stairs + baby + 2 dogs on leashes = imminent death.

Baby Bacher is predicted to arrive end of July. This means as summer approaches my random blog postings may be even less frequent than they are now. It kind of depends on how I’m feeling. At least now, out of the first trimester, I’m no longer dealing with nausea.

Yes, I buried the lead.
Yes, you read that correctly.

In less than 6 months, Pilot changed jobs, our car War Machine died (over and over and over and over and over), retired War Machine, bought a new (used) car, found out we were expecting our first child, found a new place to live, am currently moving, and prepping for the arrival of Baby Bacher, ETA July 2019! Most of the time, the “experts” never recommend doing more than 1 of those things within the same year. We did all of these things in less than 6 months.

No sweat, right?
Well, no one ever said we were smart.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, you already know that I’m not particularly sentimental regarding infants, nor am I a firm believer that every person is required to be a parent. Whether you choose to have children in your life or enjoy having a child-free lifestyle, I salute you. Neither is wrong, neither is better than the other. Success is only what you measure for yourself. I will not become one of those people who will inundate your inboxes with tons and tons of baby photos or videos.

Unless something particularly challenging or side-splittingly hilarious happens, most of our private life regarding Baby Bacher will be kept quiet. (Although as time goes by, I suggest keeping an eye on my Instagram for the occasional family photo.) I will never be afraid to answer any question you might have, so post your questions in the Comments section below. (Be prepared, I will answer you honestly.)

Yes, this means that if you take photos with me at Left Coast Crime 2019: Whale of a Crime, I will be sporting a baby-belly as well as my typical Michelin-man style fat rolls. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, people!

I wish you a happy end of winter/early inklings of spring and hoping this blog post finds you well.

*If you would like to attend, please note that pre-registration and fees may apply.

Haven’t read the Roxy Summers Mystery SeriesStart with Capture Me and meet Roxy in a case of cat-and-mouse for a grand Seattle adventure! Then, travel with Roxy to sunny Los Angeles for a food competition to die for in her sequel novel, Crush On You! Roxy’s third book, Missing You has Roxy and friends searching of her ex-boyfriend, lost in a blizzard-riddled Alaska, hoping to find him before time runs out.

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giving good advice and hoping it’s the best

I encourage you to inspire someone today.

“Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.” Got to love the endlessly quotable Jurassic Park. Today’s DWC is about influence. When we question something, are we truly seeking advice in the first place? Some say when we go searching for answers, we already know what our answer is. Instead, we’re looking for validation for our decision.

Words are a powerful motivator. Whether it be positive or negative advice, it can generate repurcussions far beyond our expectations.  In the film The Shawshank Redemption, the film touches on whether “hope” is good or dangerous, and the fallout of believing both.

After reading my instructions for today’s DWC, I began to wonder about influence and another word often used interchangibly for seeking enlightenment, “encouragement.”

What is the difference between influence and encouragement?  Hmm…

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “influence” as:

1. an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans
2. an emanation of spiritual or moral force
3. the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command
4. the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways
5. one that exerts influence

“Encourage” is defined as:

1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope
2. to spur on
3. to give help or patronage to

I began to think about “advice” and how so many of my life’s decisions were for issues falling under some shade of gray rather than black and white, and praying that the decisions I’ve made were the right ones.

Not all of them were the right decisions… Oh, well.

Influence is motivation from an unknown source (whether it be a thought referencing to an earlier conversation or decision, signs from ‘up above’ or whatnot). Where as encouragement is a suggestion from a direct source.

Identifying my DWC’s grammar is wrong, that’s a different different post for another time.

The scene I wrote below is dealing with some very difficult issues. Murder, abuse, drunk driving, and most of all, parenting. What guidance do you give someone who has suffered a horrible tragedy?

Advice can be good, but is it always the best?  Check out today’s DWC and let me know if our protagonist, Roger is receiving good advice.  If separate, is Roger receiving the best advice?

What were some encouraging words that you’ve held onto in your life?  Were they helpful or did they cause more trouble than the advice was worth? 

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 18: Your character has a conversation with an influential person in their life. It can be a parent, a teacher, a mentor, anyone your character looks up to. Why are they having the conversation? Write the scene.

The steel gate shut, the sound of the lock settling echoed through the cement hallways.  Next was his least favorite part, but a necessity of the procedure.  After walking through the metal detector, he spread his arms and legs.  Roger let the security guard pat him down, check his driver’s license and walk up to the check in desk.

“Nice to see you again, Roger,” Lorraine greeted him with a slight nod.

“Afternoon, ma’am,” returning the nod as he signed the paperwork and turned over his personal belongings. 

“Got a new pic of that darlin’ girl of yours?” Lorraine asked.

“Yup. Won the school spelling bee this year!” he said proudly.

“Now ain’t that nice,” Lorraine winked. Giving a nod to the row of seats she said, “She’ll be out in just a few minutes. Go to number six.”

He sat at the cement table, its cool hard surface chilling his hands. Through the glass, Roger saw a flash of orange appear at the doorway.

She looked thin. Her cheeks used to be full and pink with color. Now, after three years of being in Willow Creek County Correctional Facility, her face was sallow and worn. A blue bandanna was tied around her head, her hair wiry and raw from the harsh soaps.  He remembered she used to spend an hour in the morning, making sure every hair was in place, with a shellac of hair spray over the top. If she’d set her hair correctly, Mother Nature herself wouldn’t dare ruffle that hairdo.

As the correction officer led the woman into the room, Roger grabbed the wired phone and tapped the window with the receiver, then placing it to his ear.  The woman grabbed the receiver on her side of the glass, and her voice funneled through the earpiece with some slight static.

“Hello, baby,” she said warmly.

The same calm voice that comforted him when he was sick, that helped guide him during his baseball games, that same voice who would read him bedtime stories when he was little.  It was always difficult seeing her through the safety glass.  Not even able to give her a hug of support during her time in this horrible place.

“Hi Mama,” he said.

“Did you get that fancy job in Chicago?”

“I did, Mama. I got it. We’re supposed to leave next week.” His heart sank. How could he move on with his mama living in this shithole?

“How’s my little angel?” she asked, glancing at his shirt pockets.

Roger took the picture from his shirt and held it up to the glass.  “She’s seven now, Mama. She looks just like Whit. More, every day,” he said, giving her his best smile.  “She won the spelling bee.”

“Oh she’s so big! And she has her daddy’s smile!” His mother ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the picture for a few more minutes. “Anyone can tell after meeting her for two seconds that that girlie is goin’ places!”

In the photo, stood his beautiful little Jenny. A spotlight on her, with her shaking hands with the school’s principal. Sure enough, she had her daddy’s ear-splitting grin, which was wide as the Mississippi is long, despite missing a couple of teeth. Standing up straight with her chest puffed up, holding her certificate proudly on stage, you could just feel the joy emanating from the photo.

Returning his smile she replied, “There now! That’s what I like to see!  A smile looks good on you. And yet…” her brow furrowed. “Now what’s troublin’ you, baby boy?”

Roger’s smile fell slightly, “How did you know something was wrong?”

“A mother always knows when her baby is hurtin’.”

Roger wiped his face with his hand and sighed.  After a few moments of silence, he decided to just get right down to it.  “I don’t know what to do about Jenny, mama.” He shok his head. “She’s getting big now, and she’s smart. Smart as a whip.  But that means she’s starting to ask questions I don’t have the answers to.”

His mother just sat, patiently listening to him, letting him gather his thoughts. She had always been a good listener. Hopefully she’d know what to do.

“She wants to know why Whitney is gone, and I can’t…  I just-” he voice faded, pausing as an ice block settled into this stomach like every other time he remembered his wife.

“You don’t know how to explain why her mama’s gone,” she said more as a statement rather than a question.

He looked up at the ceiling, hesitating before responding.  “What am I gonna do, mama? How do I tell my little girl.. How that idiot was too drunk to know his ass from his elbow and crashed into Whitney’s car? It’s a miracle Jenny even survived the crash herself, let alone having to explain to my girl that he killed my wife?”

His mother gave him a stern look and pointed her index finger firmly at him. “Roger, your daddy made his own decisions and ruined this family. I let that nonsense go on for far too long, and I will not let you continue to feel guilty about your daddy’s sins. It was not your fault.”

“Mama, if I had just been there instead of off the coast for work, Whit would never have gone to pick him up at Two Snake Jake’s.”

His mama raised an eyebrow. “Roger, you listen to me and you listen good. What’s done is done. You can’t change the past. But you can build a newer and brighter future for you and my granddaughter.”

“But what do I tell her?” he exclaimed. “How do I explain Whit-… And you bein’ in here?”

“This is what you tell her. Life is all about choices. That the ones you ignore are just as powerful as the ones you make, and hope you have the sense to know the difference.”  Her eyes softened.  “You tell her that she had a beautiful mama who died trying to do the right thing. And a nana who-” her voice caught and she paused a moment. “A nana who made sure that her granddaddy couldn’t hurt anyone ever again.”

She blinked back some tears.  After taking a moment to compose herself, she said pointedly, “You tell my little angel that people make mistakes. It’s part of being human. That I made mistakes too, and I have to live with them, and that’s that. She’s only a little girl. That’s all. She. Needs. To. Know.”

Roger felt a huge vice clamping down on his heart, immobilizing him.  “You shouldn’t be in here. It’s not fair. It’s not your fault that daddy was a no-good sonfabitch.”

“It was my decision. I did a bad thing, and that’s why I’m here.  This had nothin’ to do with you,” she said firmly.

“It had everythin’ to do with me! With us!” he was shouting now.  “Daddy drank till he was blue in the face, and any time he wasn’t drinkin’ he was smackin’ you around!”

“Hey!” the guard said in a steely, cold voice. “If you don’t simmer down right now, you’re gone. Understand, son?”

“Sorry. Won’t happen again,” Roger grumbled under his breath.

His mother watched Roger carefully for a few moments before speaking again.  “Now, Roger, you go on up outta here. Give your baby girl a hug and never let her go. You hold onto her with everything you’ve got, take the job in Chicago and don’t ever look back at this town.”