Book Talk Tuesday: Three Wishes

I discovered Liane Moriarty late last year. I reviewed The Husband’s Secret here (I loved it).

When I noticed her book Three Wishes on sale for Kindle, I snapped it up. I read the first page just to see what I thought, and was hooked. I couldn’t put it down.

Three Wishes

Three Wishes

Cat, Gemma, and Lyn are triplets. As tangled as they were in the womb, their lives continue to intertwine and overlap as adults.

Cat and Lyn are married. Lyn has a child. Cat wants one. Gemma has neither a husband nor a child and is fine with it.

Then Cat’s husband makes a confession and no one’s life is ever the same.

There is quite a bit of backstory, (some it going back to the womb), but it’s skillfully woven in so it answers questions Moriarty cleverly planted in the narrative ahead of time.

I’m on the library’s wait list for her newest, Little Big Lies. Last time I checked, I was up to 10th place. I can’t wait for the call: “A book you requested is available.” Happy day!

Media Monday: Broke My Rule for A to Z

Rules are for a reason.

My rule to not watch a new show in its first season is a good one. I’ve been burned by the networks before. I watch. I like. I get hooked. They cancel. So I quit watching first seasons.

It wasn’t a perfect system, but it worked for us.

This year, I broke the rule.

A to ZI saw a few ads for A to Z. I remembered the male lead from Drop Dead Diva and liked him, so decided I’d try the premiere. It was good enough that I added it to my DVR’s To-Do list.

And of course, the network canceled it last week. After the filmed thirteen or so episodes, it’s over.

I’m sorry, A to Z, that I broke my rule. Your cancellation is likely my fault.

Was the show awesomely perfect? No. But neither was Frasier when it debuted. I remember being underwhelmed. But they found their footing and made it work.

A to Z is about Andrew and Zelda (A for Andrew, Z for Zelda, get it?) and their relationship from meeting to … we will never know. The opening narrator says Andrew and Zelda dated for eight months, five hours (I think), and eighteen minutes. And this television show is the chronicle of that relationship. She doesn’t say if they get married or break up at the end of that time. And now we’ll never know.

See? Rules are for a reason.

Do you have rules about new television shows? Do you give them one chance to grab you or will stick with them for a few weeks?

Food Talk Friday: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

I’d heard about it but never visited one until this last weekend.

Hubby ate at one in the Bay Area a couple of months ago and came home raving. We heard there’s one in Visalia, definitely doable for a lunch or dinner, especially since we can combine it with a visit to Darling Older Daughter.

But I’m no longer a Dickey’s wannabe. I’ve been.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit: Delicious!

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: Delicious!

It was really good.

Hubby ordered the sampler plate of pulled pork, chicken, and brisket for us to share. The sides were mac & cheese and loaded mashed potatoes.

I was starving when we arrived. And I’m not being overly dramatic. Well, maybe a wee bit. But I was very, very hungry. Normally, if I were ordering, I’d have gotten something that counted as a salad or green veggie, but I was so hungry that I embraced the protein and carbs like long lost friends. Which they sort of were.

The mac and cheese was maybe the best I’ve ever had. At least in the top two or three. And I’m picky about mac and cheese. Dickey’s was creamy and had plenty of sauce clinging to the elbow macaroni. The loaded mashed potatoes were full of flavor and had a good ratio of toppings (scallions, bacon) to potato.

The brisket was tender and flavorful, falling apart to the fork. The pulled pork had just the right amount of seasoning, a tricky thing to execute well. The chicken was the least exciting, but it still was tender and tasty. Since I’m currently on a tomato fast, I had to skip all the sauces, so I can’t say how spicy/sweet/tangy they were.

There’s a soft serve machine with cones to finish off the meal. The vanilla cone was the perfect finish to the highly seasoned meal. Cool and creamy and a bit sweet.

I’m ready to go back anytime. Or at least make a foray to Visalia. There are lots of other sides to taste test.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Research Rabbit Trails

I’m fast-drafting a new story for National Novel Writing MonthThe advised method of doing this is spending a few weeks or even October researching your story, writing your character sketches, deciding on setting, theme, etc. So on November 1, you’re ready to write. Anything else that comes up, write Research this later and keep on writing. 

Photo by Steve Cyr. Used by permission.

Photo by Steve Cyr, used by permission

I generally just dive in. Which means I spend the first two weeks with word counts so low, my Estimated Date of Completion is Christmas. Maybe even January. Because I don’t yet know my characters or story. Setting is a bit easier this time around, because this is book two of my Hart’s Leap series.

Since it’s still the first two weeks, I’m spending more time researching than I am writing. I’m learning about ballroom dancing, the military, genius kids, children with intelligence labeled “Very Superior,” and Down Syndrome. I don’t even know enough yet to be able to make up something and tag it Research later.

But I think I finally have the basics that I need and the story is starting to come together. Starting tomorrow, I’m working on this one only and the words should start flowing. Which I’m going to need since I still have well over half the book to write and only half the month to get it done.

Book Talk Tuesday: Nightingale

Regular readers here know the love I have for Susan May Warren and her books. I had missed Nightingale though so when it was recently on sale on Kindle, I scooped it up and finished it last night.

Tbb_Nightingale2he good: It’s by Susan May Warren, so of course it’s well-written and engaging. The story is well-researched and absolutely perfect in its time-setting.

But … for some reason I didn’t connect with the characters and story as I usually do in Warren’s books. I’m sure it was just me, maybe I’m in a weird place mentally this week. Or month. Because I always love all of Warren’s books.

Esther is a nurse in Wisconsin, waiting for her fiancé and the father of her young daughter to come home from World War II.

Peter is a German medic who writes to Esther to send her the letter entrusted to him by a dying soldier.

They begin a correspondence and develop a relationship.

Esther knows she doesn’t love Linus, her fiancé, and he doesn’t love her. But how can she love a German?

Warren’s theme in Nightingale is can one mistake in the past define our future? Are there such things as grace and mercy and a fresh start?

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot so I’ll stop there. I probably won’t review this one on Amazon since I got my hand slapped there recently by one of Susie’s friends who questioned why I said in the review that I loved the book but only gave it 4 stars (I reserve 5 stars for the truly exceptional).

Nightingale is good, excellent even, just not 5 star to me. I do recommend it!

Media Monday: Dolphin Tale

I admit it. I used the television as a babysitter when our girls were growing up.

Small Wonder cast

Small Wonder cast


Small Wonder was a lifesaver while I was fixing dinner. Vici and her family kept the kids occupied while I boiled pasta and stirred sauces.


As grandparents though, we rarely turn on the television when the grands are here. In nice weather, we play outside, or they’re in the water. In winter, they know where the toys are stored and can spend hours with the big doll house or books or Legos.

When our satellite TV provider had a free preview weekend, I recorded several movies I thought the little ones would enjoy. Brave and PochahontasMamma Mia and Dolphin Tale.

I expected the three-year-old would be enamored with the animated films, but the one she requests over and over again is Dolphin Tale.

Dolphin Tale

Dolphin Tale

It’s about a boy in Florida who helps rescue a beached dolphin whose tail is severely injured in a crab trap. Sawyer begins visiting the dolphin at the marine rescue hospital and they bond. He and the daughter of the staff vet become friends. It’s apparently based on a “true story.”

The true part is that the dolphin, named Winter, was rescued and did have her tail amputated and did learn to swim again with a prosthetic tail. She has inspired many other people, amputees and disabled, to face their own challenges and persevere.

I always watch these kinds of movies with a jaded eye. I expect a strong environmental message. If the message is blatant and a hard sell, I discount both the message and the film.

Dolphin Tale‘s message is quite subtle and more about Winter’s effect on the people she inspires.

I’ve watched it several times now, both in full and parts. It’s a bit predictable, sure, but over all, we enjoy it. Good thing, since I doubt the three-year-old will tire of it any time soon. (We do watch it only after playing outside. Or while playing with the doll house inside.)

The grand-daughter is enamored of a small cast resin bird I have for decoration on a shelf. She’s named the bird Rufus, after a pelican in Dolphin Tale and carries it everywhere when she’s here. We haven’t yet seen Dolphin Tale 2 but I expect it will be on the DVR when it’s aired.

In the mean time, we’ll make do with Rufus and the original, still on the DVR and which I don’t dare erase.

Spotlight Thursday: Marilyn Meredith

I’m so pleased to welcome Marilyn Meredith to Live Vi-Carrie-ous today. Marilyn is a writing friend and fellow San Joaquin ~ Sister in Crime. She’s here to talk about her newest release, River Spirits.

Marilyn Meredith



Welcome, Marilyn! Please, tell us about River Spirits and your Deputy Tempe Crabtree books. 





River Spirits

River Spirits by Marilyn Meredith

What Most People Don’t Know About the Deputy Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series

I wrote two other books in the series that became other books. Why? Because Tempe changed and became a different person. Both are available as e-books on Kindle with the names of the characters and the places changed. One is called: Deadly Feast and the other, The Devil’s Foothold. If you read them you’ll notice definite similarities, but I’m sure you’ll see why they aren’t part of the series anymore.

Though Tempe is a combination of three women I know, some of the other characters in the series are also based on real people. Except for one, no one has ever recognized him or herself. Nick Two John looks very much like an Indian I saw at a local event, long ago. I have no idea if his personality is anything like Nick’s. In another book, a fictional principal of the local school has the personality of a very popular teacher. I’ve used many real people as characters, mainly their personalities rather than their looks.

The one exception is a friend of mine who begged me to put her in a book. I didn’t use her real name, just how she looks and how I think she would’ve acted in the situations I put her in. She’s Miqui in Raging Water and plays an important role in the latest, River Spirits. All of her friends say I captured her essence.

Though I’ve known many preachers over the years, Tempe’s husband is not based on any particular one. Some readers have thought him too straight-laced, but I’ve tried to keep him true to his beliefs. Because it is important to have conflict in any book, one of the things I’ve enjoyed about Tempe and Hutch’s relationship is that though they love each other deeply, they often clash over her use of supernatural aspects of her Indian heritage. His reason? He’s worried about her soul.

I’ve based Tempe on the fact that where I live we have a resident deputy, which means the deputy lives and works here. Of course there are other deputies that come and work at times, but for the most part, the policing is done by the resident deputy. Tempe used to drive a Bronco, but now she drives a truck because that’s what our real deputy drives and I had the opportunity to look inside and check it out.

Tempe does many things that I doubt our resident deputy will ever do. We’ve only had two murders in the area the entire time I’ve lived here, far more have happened in my fictional town of Bear Creek.

The Bear Creek Indian Reservation often plays a big part in the series—and much of the action happens there in River Spirits. Yes, I’ve been to the rez I’ve based my fictional one on many times, but it’s not my favorite place to drive. In the books, there is only one road in and out.  There are two roads to the Tule River Indian Reservation, both narrow and curvy. Though I’ve borrowed a lot from the real reservation, there are some differences—because my reservation is fictional.

What some may know if they’ve read Dispel the Mist or Invisible Path, there is a legendary Big Foot character called the Hairy Man that roams the mountains surrounding both reservations.

Sounds fascinating! Tell us a bit more about River Spirits:

While filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground, threats are made against the female stars, a missing woman is found by the Hairy Man, an actor is murdered and Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

And tell about yourself, please.

I’m the author of over thirty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest River Spirits from Mundania Press. I’m a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. I live in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit me online at and my blog at

Anything else we should know about?

I’m having a contest for this blog tour. The winner will be the person who comments on the most blog posts during the tour.

He or she can either have a character in my next book named after them, or choose an earlier book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series—either a paper book or e-book.

Tomorrow I’m visiting John Lindermuth,

My topic: The history of the real Indians I borrow from.

Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn!

Thanks for having me.

Links to buy River Spirits:

From the publisher, all formats:

For Kindle:

Amazon paperback:

For Nook:





Food Talk Friday: The Best Spaghetti Sauce

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit several years ago. It’s morphed a bit, as I’ve made it and refined it to our tastes. But the basics never change.




It really is that simple. Sometimes Stud Muffin wants it made with olive oil or adds garlic. It doesn’t really matter. It’s all good.

The meatball recipe is very good, too, but I don’t really follow recipes for meatballs.

I like a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. I add an egg, some breadcrumbs, some parmesan, and some seasonings (salt, pepper, oregano, basil).

Sometimes I cook the meatballs in the sauce. Sometimes we want a meatball with a bit more texture so we’ll roast the balls in the oven for fifteen or twenty minutes. When they have a nice color on the outside, then we pop them into the sauce. We often make lots of meatballs and freeze some to use later.

This is about the most delicious and simple recipe ever.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Such a cynic

The gas station we drive by on our way to town had gas this morning for $3.19. Someone at church mentioned this morning that Costco was down to $2.99.

My first thought (unspoken) was: How long will that last after the election in a week?

The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

I didn’t have to say it though, because someone else did.

We laughed, and the conversation moved on.

But it made me a bit sad that our government has become so untrustworthy that anything good is suspect.

I still wonder: are gas prices being artificially lowered to lull voters into thinking things are good the way they are now, why vote for anything to change?

I’m interested in what others think about this. What say you?

Book Talk Tuesday: A Sneak Peek

I was supposed to do this last week, but I totally missed the boat. I was nominated by my friend, Brenda Hendricks. Check out her blog for her responses!

But, better late than never so here’s my answers:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historic?   Definitely fictional. Ginger Sanders is a successful radio psychologist in San Francisco. She’s finally achieved her dream: a syndicated show. But before she can savor her success, she accidentally tells a caller that her husband needs to beat a little sense into her. Quicker than you can say “Oops,” Ginger is fired. At home, she discovers that her husband left her. A week ago. And she was too busy to notice. All of a sudden, the woman with all the answers has none.

2) When and where is the story set? The story begins in San Francisco, California. When Ginger’s life falls apart, she heads to her hometown of Hart’s Leap, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, just south of Yosemite. Her mom is having surgery so she goes home to take care of Mom and figure out how her life went so wrong.

3) What should we know about him/her?  Ginger has always had an opinion and an answer for anything. When her life falls apart, she’s forced to accept that she’s not quite as together as she thought.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? Ginger herself messes up her life. She thinks she’s doing the right thing, but she’s waaaay off course. When Ginger discovers that her mother has become a hoarder, she orders the house cleaned out. This is not a good idea.

5) What is the personal goal of the character? Ginger wants her marriage and her family back.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? GINGER SNAPS BACK is my working title.

7) When can we expect the book to be published? Hopefully in 2015 or early 2016. God willing. Winking smile

And now, to continue the blog hop, I nominate : Cora Ramos and Beth Shriver. Thanks!