Without a Home

A post apocalyptic novel or film might have used this plot. The world has been ravaged by a pandemic, killing millions of people and wrecking economies. The most vulnerable lose everything. Into this world, a woman and her dog seek shelter in an open space, finding others in similar circumstances sheltered there as well. One of the inhabitants, someone she has seen before, begins to behave more erratically than usual, and, though her dog will defend her, she fears for her life. Though it’s late and dark, she seeks aid from a lighted house nearby. She asks to use a phone–she lost hers long ago–and begs the police to come and defend her.

This is a true story. This happened. A homeless woman and her dog rang our doorbell, desperate and terrified. The police told her they couldn’t run the guy out of the park, and she had best find somewhere else to sleep. We said she was welcome to spend the night on our front porch. The cops discretely warned my husband and me to be careful about letting her stay too long. Because of issues with squatters rights, she might be hard to get rid of. We considered inviting her into the guest room, but we didn’t think the cats would approve of the dog, and we knew she wouldn’t leave the dog all by himself. The cops warned her she would have to move on in the morning.

She had a can of dog food in her backpack, and not a lot else. We fed her leftover pork fried rice which she also shared with her dog. We gave her a thick comforter and a pillow that the dog quickly claimed.

I didn’t sleep much that night. In the morning I researched how to make dog food. When she started stirring, I made her toast, coffee and a hard boiled egg, and added two little oranges. My first attempt at homemade dog food was a resounding success. While she and the dog ate, I made two sandwiches (BLT and PB and J, my favorites) added carrot sticks and an apple to the paper bag. I scrounged up $40. We don’t keep much cash in the house. I wish it had been more. I packed the rest of the dog food in a container, and refilled her water jug. She was tearfully grateful when she left.

I’ve agonized for days over her. She said she’d be getting a check the first of the month. No matter how big that check is,  I doubt it will be enough to get her an apartment and medical attention for her aging dog or enough groceries to last a month.

Homelessness is its own epidemic, and it will only grow. Moratoriums on evictions have ended, and many people are still without work or resources. And how do you find work without a phone, an address, decent clothes to work in?Kansas City has begun to try to address these issues. But the books Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond make it painfully clear that poor people are profitable for those who prey on and use them, and getting out the hole of poverty and homelessness is a massive struggle.

The woman and her dog are heavy on my mind. This could be any of us. So many of us are one paycheck away from where this woman and dog found themselves. The time to act is now.

Image: A home. By Jonathan Hutchins

The Well-Edited Garden

I’ve lived in the same house for about thirty-two years. During that time, the park across the street has lost a lot of trees to old age, storm damage, and other causes. Also during that time, none of those trees have been replaced. I took it upon myself to write a letter to the parks department suggesting they might want to plant a few trees, you know, for shade and beauty and the environment. I didn’t expect anything to happen, so imagine my surprise when this spring, people and equipment appeared and planted forty new trees. I know because I walked around and counted them. Best of all, they seem to be entirely native species. Mind you, I might have made slightly different choices, including some chokecherries and hickories, but in all, I’d say they did a pretty good job. I look forward to watching that edited version of the park over the next several years as those trees grow.

I would like to have a native forest garden on my property with Missouri fruit and nut trees and shrubs and a few things introduced from other parts of the U.S. like ramps and wild ginger. But a certain amount of tending and editing is required to stay ahead of the conquering hoards of plants brought by accident or design from other continents.

I have personally declared war on the invasive species in my yard. Fortunately, I can eat the garlic mustard, so it’s not wasted, but when it’s gone, I won’t shed a tear. The problem with invasives is they squeeze out  native species and in some cases are a poor substitute for the native plants. Number one on my hit list is Chinese honeysuckle. It’s everywhere, hard to kill, quick to spread, and some people actually plant it on purpose. There was a time I was willing to let it live because it is a shrub that allows cover and nesting for birds and has little red berries that they will eat. Then I found out the berries are relatively nutritionally poor. Add to the that, the plants are a bit thin and therefore not as good cover as other plants are. On top of that, it starts growing up in other shrubs and, out competing them, kills them off and is the only plant standing. End of my compassion. You die, honeysuckle.

Even the desert needs help. You may have heard of the threat buffelgrass presents to the saguaro cactus and the desert habitat. Without an army of volunteers, habitats could vanish in a blaze of wildfires that benefit the invasive buffelgrass and not much else in the Arizona landscape.

I’m not saying all introduced species are bad. Apple trees didn’t come from North America, but who doesn’t love an apple?  And it goes both ways. The fruits and vegetables from the Americas have become essential to the cuisines of many countries around the world. But when I can, I’m trying to keep it local. And that requires constant editing out of things that would overwhelm my garden.

Let me bring this back around to writing, if I may. I’ve been doing a bit of editing for a friend who is in the process of finishing up yet another novel (Dennis seems prolific to me, but it usually takes me years to write a novel). One of the things I notice about writers, I am a perfect example, is that in some early drafts, certain phrases or words pop up again and again, pushing out other, possibly better words. I know this because my writing is full of these, and I have to weed them out when I’m reviewing my own work. It took a good editor to point this out to me, and I’ve been trying to share the wisdom when I can. That said, some writers are better at self editing than others, and Dennis is one of them. He leaves me little to do.

So, my friends, whether it’s writing or gardening, tend to your editing. Keep the weeds to a limit, but know that sometimes a weed is just a plant–or a word–that isn’t in the right place.

Happy gardening. Happy writing. Happy May Day.

Image: Chinese honeysuckle rising from the dead to kill my shrubs. By Marilyn Evans

The First 100 Years

[This guest blog is an essay by my good friend Chris (you remember Chris?)]

The first 100 years is the hardest, I think.

Looking backward through the lens of all your most trivial possessions—this essential oil from the 1970’s—nobody makes this sort of thing anymore. Look at that hand-typed label.  Smell the subtleties, still caught inside this vial.
Nowadays if you try to buy a fragrance oil with this name you get a paltry counterfeit.

And don’t even get me started about the real perfume houses and the gems they used to make, which _maybe_ you could find, used, on ebay, for more money than the many hundreds they cost you already in the 1980’s.

Looking back at this kerosene lantern—nowadays nobody even dreams of trying to camp with that old biohazard!  For eight bucks, you can buy a realistic looking kerosene-lantern-shaped object loaded with LED lights, running on batteries that easily last all night, never presenting a fire hazard.  You don’t have to pump it to pressurize the fuel.  You don’t have to know the dark secrets of burning the new mantle down to ash first, if you’ve had to replace it because it got bumped.

Those glorious, circular, wicked Aladdin lamps…hard to get…THOSE lamps cost hundreds of dollars.  The last time I saw one, I saw three…all brass polished and silver.  Their owners had lived by them while homesteading in Alaska for two decades.  They still looked new.   I pull the little LED flashlight from my pocket—cost me $5.

The first 100 years is the hardest because you are still rather moored to your technology, and nostalgia is still possible.

This Swiss Army knife-like phone in my pocket—what DOESN’T it do?
I still have my real Swiss Army knife…with 22 functions, including a magnifying glass. (“In case I needed to start a fire with no matches,” I told myself the day I bought it.)  That princely $40 I spent as a teen (investing in the best, following the wisdom of adults who had their own first 100 years from which to advise me), would be like spending $250 today.  Good knives, bright lenses…these, I was promised, would always serve.  But I haven’t pulled it from my drawer in a decade now.  My phone magnifies; my Bic lights fires.  Don’t even get me started on sturdy lost Zippos, or (equally lost) refillable butane status markers—engraved, sometimes.

The other day, I realized I no longer carry a car key. There’s a tech that’s slipping away—remember when it was a rite of passage to admire a muscle car?  To gain a license?  To OWN one of these things?  I hear the kids don’t even want one.  Too much trouble.  Just hire it.  Use your phone. And now, with a trace of contempt, we speak of “ICE”…Internal Combustion Engines.
It’s no longer taught in high school.  Why would it be?  People laugh aloud when a particularly old one goes by, and you can smell it for a long while after.

I think back.  Grama’s keepsake wedding china was shoved off to some Goodwill, I am sure, because that glorious gilt pattern couldn’t tolerate a microwave.  Heh.  Microwaves.  Remember when your first microwave cost $800 and lasted about 20 years?  Remember appliances that were meant to be repaired?

What other buggy whips do I have lying around? I have digital buggy whips!
I have a digital clock so old that it remembers THE FIRST daylight savings time.  Every year it shifts itself forward about three weeks too soon.  Every year it falls back three weeks too late.  I have to manually intervene… there’s no update for the onboard chip that old.

For a brief time, I got out my old wind up clock—a travel alarm of which I was enormously proud.  But it makes a racket, and it needs winding every day.  I finally let it run down again, because my spouse couldn’t abide the noise.  For his sake, I also had to tear the batteries out of the modern clocks that are not really mechanical, but they “tick” anyway.  What a legacy!  My phone doesn’t tick, always knows what day it is.

After the first 100 years—I think that the older I get, and the farther removed I become from the tech of my childhood, the easier it will be to just wave it past and mumble, “Ah, there goes another one.”  I haven’t worried about warming up the TV in many years.  I haven’t had to adjust the vertical roll that started when the CRT was too hot. Likewise, I haven’t had anybody invite me inside to admire the fact that the image was IN COLOR, and we all had to come over to see the first of us to manage getting one of those! Now… the screen goes from “WYSIWYG” to “Retina-display” with barely a shrug.  Somehow, we take that for granted.

Remember how we all laughed at the idea that we’d PAY for TV?  That’s what commercials were for! Remember VCRs were supposed to liberate us from that? Remember Blockbuster? Remember when Netflix came in the mail?

Remember going to a movie theater? Does anyone remember when the insides of the “movie house” were as ornate as jewelry boxes?  Balconies and carved ceilings and layouts that reminded more of cathedrals than of cushy living rooms?  I think it’s harder to have lost the ornate theater space than it was to say goodbye to VCR’s and their blinking 12’s.

First hundred years….
I think I shall barely notice passing through my second hundred years.

Image: Jonathan’s Swiss Army knife. By Marilyn Evans

Calculated Cuts

For some reason I can’t quite remember, I decided to count all my books. Of course, it was only ever going to be a rough estimate. I’m convinced the books move around when they so desire, just like the Rollright Stones, so you never get a true accounting. Still, I gave it my best shot. It was upward of 2000 on the first and second floors, but not counting the attic. In this book count, I didn’t count the electronic books. There are a few thousand more of those.

Now some of these belong to my husband who has a formidable science fiction collection. His collection includes many classics and some books that are truly awful. I, on the other hands, have a lot of mysteries. I’ve given away many of the ones I’ve already read, and some that are part of a series, I’ve borrowed from the library. When I used to fly a lot for work, I’d buy a book in a series, read it on the plane and at the hotel, then leave it behind for someone else.

It occurred to me during this exercise of counting books that a lot of the ones in my house I had never read, and some I had only scanned. So for the new year and here around my 70th birthday, I have decided it’s time to start making my way through the paper books at least, then consider giving away any that aren’t necessary references. So far I’m on my seventh gardening book.

I had no idea I had so many gardening books. I’m learning a lot, and kind of wonder why I hadn’t read these sooner. It could have saved me a lot of time, effort, and failure. One of the books that has really impressed me is Pruning Made Easy. These books have taught me that pruning isn’t just keeping the size of your plants under control, it’s increasing their productivity. You gotta cut to be kind. And you know where this is going, don’t you? Yep, editing writing has much the same effect. Not just cutting down on the hyperbole but making everything more direct and concise.

Now, I have to qualify this cutting down with the qualifier: I have been known to write like a scientist–just the facts without description, discussion, explanation, and all the other stuff that makes reading a story interesting. The trick in both pruning and editing is not to cut the good stuff or too much, but just the stuff that needs to be cut. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a good editor is worth their weight in whatever you’re willing to pay. The same can be said for a good tree surgeon.

So I’ve been pruning my blueberries (I was wondering why their yield had dropped so much), and anything else that can be pruned this time of year. I’ve been offering my services to a friend as a proof reader (he pays in barbecue). I’ve been doing some writing that I am editing as I go and again after it rests for a bit. I’m doing some indoor gardening and lots and lots of reading.

After the gardening books, on to the horse books. That may not be until well into spring. Did I mention I have a lot of gardening books?

Image: Tools by Marilyn Evans

In the Dark

I haven’t been able to write for a while. You may have noticed. Or not. I’ve been in the dark–the dark of winter, the dark of the pandemic, the dark night of the soul.

Winter has come with too little rain or snow, too much cold, too few encounters with my fellow humans. Over three hundred thousand people have died from the pandemic. My husband and I are refusing invitations, trying to be safe, trying to be responsible, though we so want to see our family and friends. The holidays should make it brighter, but this is the first Yule season without my good friend who was killed in the spring.

And I’ve been wondering about writing. Do I even like writing? Writers say they write because they have to. I don’t really have to. Anyway, it doesn’t seem like I have to. Am I really any good at it? Should I even be bothering? I had planned to work hard in November, but more than a week into December I still couldn’t get started. Is it time to just stop?

Still, in the darkness of this season of festivals of light, it’s not so very dark. I’ve sent cards and cookies and gifts, called people, stayed in touch by social media. I’ve gotten through my Buffy the Vampire Slayer binge watch, and it wasn’t as dark as I remembered it. I’ve been working my way through all my gardening books, because it will be spring again some day. There is a vaccine for the virus, and it’s already in use.

And the writing? I get a regular newsletter that has calls for submissions. One of my stories seemed like a good fit for a call. It was ultimately rejected, but had made it all the way to the final round. I got the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever had.That encouraged me to send it out again. Another one of the magazines, published four times a year, uses the same opening line for all the stories in that issue. The February issue’s opening line intrigued me. I wrote a story. I polished it, adjusted it, sent it to a friend for review, polished some more and sent it off. It was fun. I enjoyed the writing and the editing and the submission process. It might get rejected, but maybe, just maybe, I’m not done writing quite yet.

Maybe the darkness is lifting. We’ll see where I stand a week or two after the Solstice. I bet the world will be just a little bit lighter.

Bingeing and Other Indulgences

My husband and I binge-watched Game of Thrones a few months ago, at least the last several seasons we hadn’t seen. I followed this with a binge of Lord of the Rings–Peter Jackson’s great films. I have now moved on to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and will follow that with Babylon Five. I actually own all of these so I can watch deleted scenes, interviews, “making of”, and anything else my little heart desires. I especially love the “making of” bits. I like seeing how and why what was done was done. The details–set design, costumes, special effects, and all fascinate me.

I love film and well done television. I actually also love live theater, but that’s not happening right now. Books are amazing, and I read obsessively, but I really like seeing someone’s idea of how something should be brought to life on the screen, the television, or the stage. And it’s always fun to see a new or different interpretation, a re-imagining. Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes all have been remade a hundred times, and I’m always fascinated. The real reason I wrote Beloved Lives was because The Hunger was such a great re-imagining of the vampire world that I wanted to see the same take on The Mummy. I was not impressed with the new films, so I wrote my own version. I’d love to see it be a movie some day. Not holding my breath, though.

Writing can be somewhat collaborative, but mostly it’s a solitary affair. On the other hand, making a film calls on the talent of a vast number of people. Even the shoestring-budgeted indie, Pi (not to be confused with Life of Pi--see info at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138704/), had quite a few people to pull it together.

A film can be made or broken by the strangest things. A bad director can get a lack luster performance from a great actor, the wrong music can kill a film. Terrible special effects can turn a potentially great film into a laughable cult classic. But when it all comes together in the right way, when all the moving parts mesh, the result can be epic.

One of my favorite books by the late Dick Frances is Wild Horses about the madness that surrounds making a film. In the end, a mystery is solved, a great film gets made, and everyone hates the director and treats him badly, but he doesn’t care because he’s already thinking about his next film. That’s kind of the way I write. I don’t write great things, at least not in my opinion. But I enjoy writing and sharing what I’ve written. If no one likes it or reads it, never mind. I’m on to my next book or story or article or blog post. And if anyone ever decides to turn any of what I write into video, I’ll be fascinated to watch how it was made.

Image: Jonathan and friends settled in for a binge. By Marilyn Evans.

The Variable Muse

My muse can be a pain in the butt. Anyone who has a cat can sympathize—sometime around four in the morning, or some other equally inconvenient time, I’ll get a poke, poke, poke. Cats usually want food, to crawl under the covers, petting. string pulling—cat things. Muses want to tell you their ideas. The following is a nearly word for word conversation between the pain-in-the-butt and me. Nearly.

“Are you awake?”

“No.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I wasn’t until you poked me.”

“Yeh, but you are now. So, I have this great idea for a story.”

“I’m trying to sleep.”

“Yeh, but it’s a great idea. It goes like this.”

And off she goes. Sleep is a distant memory. Sometimes it really is a great idea—or at least it seems to be at four in the morning. It needs work. The details need to be hammered out. That takes thought and time. By six I’m up and writing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But she is a persistent bugger. And if I ignore her, she gets huffy and doesn’t speak to me for a long, long time. That is a bad thing. A very bad thing.

She is extremely unreliable, my muse. If I court her and pursue her and beg her for her attention, she pretty much blows me off. Worst of all, she’ll sometimes show up when I’m having a party night, and if I’m drunk, so is she. She has great ideas. She pokes me. I write them down. If I am sane, I wait until I’m sober to look them over again. A drunk muse is not a dependable muse. Never, never write a story and submit it while drunk. That way lies embarrassment. Yes, I have done it. Only the once, and thank goodness the editor politely told me to take a flying leap. Otherwise I would have publicly embarrassed myself and her. My muse and I had a stern discussion after that.

I’m not sure where she gets her ideas. She might be stealing them from other writers. Maybe that’s where she goes when she’s gone for so long. Maybe she’s hanging out in a bar with other muses, trading ideas, brainstorming, eavesdropping. Sometimes I wish she’d steal ideas from a better class of writer. But I suspect it’s not her inspirations that are wanting but my weakness as a writer. She does her best.

Two nights ago she poked me. I did not want to be awake. She had this story. It was good. It was really good. I mulled it and chewed on it, wrestled it to the ground, beat it into submission, coaxed it, coddled it, and got it all written down. I waited a little while, then reread it and adjusted it. I sent it to a friend. He had great suggestions. I fixed it. Then I fixed it some more. Then I sent it away. It may flop. It might get published. But my muse, for all her being so annoying, really came through.

Now if she would just get back to work on the novel I’m currently trying to write. But like I said, unreliable.

Image: Muses partying. Source unknown.

Strange Past Times

Pandemics make for peculiar past times.  My friend, Chris, is making Viking grease horns for her needles and tying knots around bottles. Besides the usual writing and the more mundane gardening, I’m reading tarot cards and cataloging my weeds.

You may recall, I was the crazy cucumber lady last year; this time it’s tomatoes I’m inflicting on anyone who will hold still. I have promising cantaloupe vines, but the fruit seems to be slow to ripen. I suspect my impatience and not the vines is the issue here. 

This year for the first time, I have a butterfly garden. Among my guests have been a tiger swallowtail and a pair of monarchs. It’s also a favorite hiding place for the yard bunny.  I don’t usually realize she’s there until I water and she runs out, all indignant. I don’t mind deviling the chipmunks, but I really don’t like terrorizing the bunny. You know my opinion of squirrels.

My yard is really good at growing brush but the traditional edibles have been struggling. In fact, all the fruit trees in the neighborhood are bare. It will be a lean year for some of the creatures who rely on them. But you can always count on the poke weed to have fruit, little poison bombs the birds eat with impunity but that can kill a human (the seeds are the poison part). My chokecherry tree had a lot of fruit, too. The birds got all of it, but I don’t begrudge them. It makes lovely jam, but I have jam enough for now.

If you remember that the apocalypse I have always been preparing for is retirement, you’ll appreciate that I’ve discovered many of those weeds in my yard are culinary, medicinal, and otherwise useful. It’s weird how much we don’t use these days that in the past were the stuff of home remedies and the dinner table. But while chicory and dandelion root coffee may be interesting, I think I’ll pass for now. I’m not that desperate yet. Still, all this is useful fodder for writing. Especially the poisons. Always gotta love the poisons if you plan on writing mysteries. Did you know…never mind. Wouldn’t want to give bad ideas to anyone stir crazy from quarantine.

As for the writing, it’s had its ups and downs. Last night I wrote a really terrible flash fiction piece. In fairness, I was quite drunk. I’ve got to stop writing drunk. It may have worked for Hemingway, but I need all my wits to keep from embarrassing myself. If somehow that story ever escapes into the wild (it’s about taking a van to the apocalypse), promise me you’ll ignore it.

It’s being fun releasing a chapter at a time of The Gingerbread House. I’m making final edits as I go, and it’s good to revisit it from a distance. I don’t know how the experience is for the readers (drop me a line and let me know, if you are reading it), but I’m liking it even better now than I did before.

That’s how I’m doing. Now back to the tarot and my weeds.

Image: Butterfly garden. By Marilyn Evans

Plague Journal

As I’ve said before, my survivalist and prepping interests have always been to prepare me for the impending disaster, not of nuclear war or a solar flare or the zombie apocalypse–but for the disaster that will be my retirement. If I don’t manage to have enough savings or investments or social security to feed my husband, myself and the cats, the disaster will be right there in our faces. Turns out, the disasters have hit a bit sooner than I expected, so I’ve upped my timeline. Toward the goal of being less dependent on the world at large that is failing to provide, I’ve started by analyzing my yard. As Euell Gibbons used to say, many parts are edible. I’ve been amazed at the variety of medicinals and edibles merrily jumping out of the ground that most people would be dumping weed killer on. On top of that, the herbs I’m growing, especially basil, seem to cure everything. If I have food and medicine covered, what’s next?

Since I’m planning on being in quarantine until there is a safe and effective vaccine (for the sake of the at-risk people I might infect if I should get sick), I’m staying in and trying to keep from dying of boredom. I genuinely believe people can die of boredom. It’s caused me to leave more than one job. Our first line of news, education, and entertainment is probably the television followed closely by the computers and magazines and newspapers. But my greatest source of comfort is reading a book–paper, electronic, audio, it doesn’t matter. Besides, as so many writers have said, you have to read to write. I’m chest deep in reading material right now. My husband is slightly horrified at how many books I currently have piled on my desk. That happens when you’re trying to research more than one topic at the same time.

The library has a reserve and pick up service so, like your favorite takeout meals, I can carry out books I want to read. Right now, among others, I’m reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. While it was published in 2016, and covers Milwaukee, I figured it would be relevant to our times of people not being able to pay rent or mortgages. Even with eviction moratoriums, homelessness is coming. Already the park across the street from my house has more homeless people camping out in it. One has a dog. One has a scooter. I’m not sure what will become of them when winter comes. Maybe by winter things will be better, but that’s not the way I’m going to bet. I worry about these people a lot. As for us, for a retirement present, my husband paid off the mortgage. If we keep up the taxes and don’t have a tornado, earthquake, fire, or gas explosion, we’ve got a place to sleep.  The way 2020 is going, I’ll keep my fingers crossed, even though it makes typing tough.

Then there are family and friends, essential survival resources for sanity and humanity. My mom is in lock down in an assisted living facility. I call. It’s not the same as visiting. My neighbors are cautious about visiting at a distance. We chat across yards and streets. My friends post on Facebook. I’ve seen a couple of them in person, carefully after self quarantine when there was any chance of exposure. We chat on the phone or by e-mail. It’s not the same.

And finally, the other essential of survival, useful employment, to keep up my sense of self worth. I’m writing. Finally. The pandemic took several months away from me, but I’m finally writing again. I eased back in with non-fiction, but I’m working on fiction again. I’m posting The Gingerbread House as a serial on tapas.io, and I finally know what the sequel is going to look like. You may have noticed (or not) that I haven’t been blogging much. It’s hard to know what to say when you’re not writing and everything you want to say seems so bleak. But here it is, my current survival status. I hope you’re surviving as well. I worry about you. It’s what I do. And I write.

Image: Basil, a universal cure? By Marilyn Evans

Buy My Books! (Or Read for Free)

How’s that for shameless self promotion? Thanks to everyone who has already acquired one or both of my published works, the novel Beloved Lives and Undeniable, the anthology that contains my novella “Wasting Water”. And to all who are about to buy them. I appreciate the support.

But if you’re broke or are not willing to spend money in anticipation of further impending apocalypses, you can read my newest book for free (Yes! Free!) by going to https://tapas.io/series/The-Gingerbread-House

Tapas offers free serialized novels, comics and other such fun stuff. You can subscribe for free, tip the authors in some cases, and in other cases the authors can have ads on their pages. I’m still working out all the ins and out of it, but so far, so fun.

My novel is The Gingerbread House , a mystery that is being released as a series, two episodes a week. Here’s the summary:

Philly MacPherson is stuck in the Midwest with a struggling tea and herbs shop, a surly cat named B. Bub, and the responsibilities of being a “public” witch. While she might be up for advising possibly-pregnant teens and Ouiji-board-haunted college boys, she’s a little less prepared for the wealthy Lawrence Michaels asking her to banish a destructive ghost from his 150-year-old house.

Meanwhile, a local missing persons case might be just another runaway wife, or something more sinister involving a homeless veteran with PTSD or the missing woman’s jilted lover. When Detective Wilmount of the local police finds his search keeps bringing him back to The Gingerbread House, Philly and the detective decide to join forces to solve more than one mystery. 

The story has a cat (of course), a witch, haunting, romance, Tarot, tea and herbs, mystery, a good-looking police detective, and what is sometimes called magical realism. The latter means nothing that happens in the story is out of the realm of everyday life, if your life contains a few inexplicable things from time to time.

I had a lot of fun writing The Gingerbread House, and I hope readers will enjoy it. If you subscribe, you’ll be notified when new episodes come out, and I’ll get nice praise and angel kisses.

Image: The Gingerbread House cover. By Marilyn J. Evans.