Meet the Neighbors

Yesterday I finally got out to look again beyond the lanai at all the flora. I needed the soothing vibrant colors and the sun after a slight accident when my slipper caught on the venetian blind and I lost my balance. Landed on my well-cushioned butt. It still hurts! My neck too. So as an exercise in appreciating what I have, I took my photo stroll. The banana tree above is in the side yard. It’s a lush yard full of palms and flowers and lest you feel my life is paradise, I ran into some trouble when minutes later I ventured out on my first solo trip to the local grocery store just down the road. All would have been fine if I had not turned the wrong way leaving the store. I figured out what I had done when I passed the paint store we’d shopped at. I knew it was the other way. So I pulled onto a side street; I knew my house was in there somewhere. I clicked on my phone map. In that nano second, I hit a mailbox which went flying everywhere.

Put the car into reverse to fess up and as I looked in my rear view mirror I saw a very large man in his driveway with his hands on his hips and a disgruntled look on his face. I carefully drove in and he turned out to be very nice, as was his wife. But they called the police, who did not issue me a ticket, for which I am eternally grateful. The homeowners, meanwhile, had stored my frozen food in their freezer and my perishables in their fridge. (They had an extra one in the garage.) While the report was being written up they had me come in and sit down and gave me water. Very kind. Al (on phone) talked to the mailbox owner who said this was the third time his mailbox had been hit so he had specifically used concrete to anchor it. It would be expensive to replace. Al is repulsed by the word “expensive.”

But the important thing was no one was hurt. “It was just a mailbox” the owner said when I kept apologizing. He said he was just happy I was okay and that I didn’t try to speed away! He was wondering if he’d have to chase me down. The reason they called the police was because I had a Michigan license plate, a Michigan car registration, and a St Pete address on my driver’s license. Nothing saying I lived where I said I did. So it seemed a bit suspicious. I believe I said I’d drive him to my house and show him the deed, but he declined.

Back home, Al was pissed. Of course he was. I’d just been in an accident in the bedroom a few days ago and when I confessed I’d taken my eyes off the road in front of me for one second, he was steaming. Unlike the hot tub he was supposed to be warming up for me! “So this is my punishment?” I asked. Listen, it’s been stressful. We moved twice this year on our own. Now with his stitches (never mind, he’s fine, and he would kill me twice if I told a story about him. Yes, he reads this blog now! Sometimes.) So anyway, he could not carry in the heavy groceries as he usually does. With my butt, my neck had also been whacked. Or my head. This is accident one in the bedroom, not accident two in the car. After I accused him of torture, he turned on the hot tub and we went in.

All my pain and trouble instantly dissolved. My butt didn’t hurt anymore, nor did my neck. I was buoyant! The bubbles were soothing. Al came in and we enjoyed an interlude of peace. Later, I grabbed the bar to get out and it was wet and my grip was weak, so I slipped right under the water, head and all. I never learned to breathe underwater but I’m okay. It’s a spa, not the ocean. 

Jane 1-2-3

Photo by Leonardo Rossatti on

I imagine Jane 3 cover something like this. It seems so far off. I did finish first draft of Act 1 Jane 3. But now it’s time to change gears and do another edit for my publisher for Jane 2. I’m still hoping it comes out this summer but heck it could be fall. Or winter. Jane’s house looks like this year-round, though because she’s in Florida. If you’ve read Jane in St Pete, you might wonder what happened to Jane’s condo in Winding Bayou. Somewhere close to the end of Body on the Bayou (Jane 2) (coming soon) there’s a big change in Jane’s life. Huge change.

And it will last into Jane 3 except now I have to take a break from J3 to do more edits on J2. Then I think after these edits I’ll have a cover. And hopefully J3 draft done and revised as well by the end of the year.

What else?

I am changing my main social from Twitter to Instagram and it’s going slow. I’m also changing from photos and my #bookstagram hashtag to reels. So I did one today! I have yet to figure out how to load photos from Mac to Windows. All in good time. We have our house mostly fixed since the hurricane six months ago. Again, going slow. And I’m in a writing group that is very active, thus making me active. IRL. You know, on the circuit selling books at community fairs like the Venice Book Fair. Giving library talks. But mostly behind the scenes, doing my part as Vice President of Gulf Coast Sisters in Crime.

I could not wait to move to Florida full time and write full time and that is what I’m doing. We made it happen! Although there are still other things I need to do and want to do besides writing. Like reading. And catching up with friends. My birthday is this month and my friend since 5th grade invited me out to lunch. I’ll take a picture and hope I can post it here. If not, for sure Instagram.

Everything Imperfect All the Time

Yes, it was thrilling for my story to be chosen by my new writer’s group in Florida for their first anthology. But not perfectly thrilling. So far I have been told several times by people I trust that the story is triggering. One of my Michigan critique group members quit the group and couldn’t finish my story it triggered her so bad. Also found out that according to Sisters in Crime national, it will need a content warning if I don’t change those triggering bits. That’s not such a bad idea, really. I want to entertain people, make them happy, with my writing. I had actually pulled the story from Jane 3 because it wasn’t cozy. And it was another teenage girl trying to take over Jane’s trilogy. I pulled it and thought maybe I’ll use it in future. Which I did. I spoke to my editor for anthology and she agrees it should be edited if I don’t want a content warning. Example of how it would read:

Some content, such as kidnapping and rape, may be triggering. Read at your own peril.

Ok, second sentence I made up. Anyway that is Imperfect thing #1. Also I can’t get the indent off now.

Imperfect thing #2

My website is out of control and the people I rely on the work on it were not able to help. One of them is seriously ill and the other just could not figure this site the fuck out. I have a lot of content. This is true. 20 years worth of blogs and hundreds of photos and all kinds of banners and book covers and whatnot. I was just going to migrate to something easier but it cost $600 because I have so much content. And the media person at my publisher showed me how to do some cool things on Instagram with my content. My husband said “Just stay at WordPress and hire someone there to help you.” Which is a good idea but then I saw some of my plug-ins would disappear until I switched to jetpack. So I did, because the comments say it’s so much easier. Well, I beg to differ. It’s a teeny tiny bit easier but I still am not happy with the appearance of my website and I need help. Know anybody?

imperfect thing #3

My Mac, which I was trying to keep chugging until I finished editing Jane 2, crapped out before revisions even started. My editor is understanding but it is embarrassing when I do something she asked me to do, something simple if a little bit time consuming, and then I send the manuscript to her and she says “I don’t see any changes after page 100” and asks nicely again for those changes. I look for and find them and am able to insert them into master document but it is so unprofessional to not know how to use your tools. People warned me not to switch from Mac to Windows. But I love WORD in Windows. Not so much WORD for MAC. Except WORD now is like, a whole new universe from when I first used it.

and another imperfect thing

Life. Life is imperfect. I have not seen my grandkids (and of course my kids. and their wives.) in over a year, but we are going to see them all finally this summer on a long trip. I moved into an older house (2006) formerly owned by a master gardener who had lovely plants and blooms everywhere. Which I have mostly killed or if I didn’t the hurricane did. We did not lose any palm trees (or our lives) so that’s good. I worked in the yard for twenty minutes today and my legs were shaking from exhaustion. It used to take four or five hours before that happened. Hmph. On the plus side, I have a book out this summer on top of the anthology story and as every writer knows, that makes up for everything else.

Cindy x

Holiday Happenings

I’m giving away five copies of my first mystery “Blue Lake Christmas Mystery” during December 2022. On December 23 I will choose five random names from the comments section, contact you for your address, let you know you’ve won and mail a book to you anywhere in USA. I can send Kindle copies to UK, where I know so many of you from blogging, reviewing and Twitter. I have not had time to tweet, but I love and miss my blog and chatting with other bloggers. How did I let this happen? Here’s the story, short version.

Al and I moved to Florida, where we had a little condo for winter getaways. Soon we were looking for a bigger place and moved again. Al realized his lifelong dream of becoming a landlord. Yes, we kept the condo too with the understanding that I would not be involved except when shopping or decorating. Florida, we love it here. Except less than a year after we moved, a CAT 4 hurricane blasted us. We are still recovering. Most of our damage was to the outside: no more garden, no more screens on lanai, toppled trees. We’ll be needing a new roof but we have a temporary one our insurance guy says will “last a year.” He said this cheerfully, which is not a good sign.

The condo in St. Pete sustained no damage from the hurricane although we are doing a refresh for new snowbirds. I chose the carpet and furniture and Al deep cleaned everything. He’ll also wait for the various deliveries and installations. Likewise he is dealing with renters and contracts, past and present.

Speaking of contracts, I just sent in my contract for the second in my JANE IN ST PETE series, so there will be a new book in 2023. Happy Holidays!

Kindle Exclusive

Finally after two years of Covid, another year of moving three times, and a hurricane, I have started to plan and attend book events. First a great weekend at Cedar Key. No hurricane debris! Working WiFi! New writer friends! Sold many books 🙂

I’ve got two more one day events coming up in November and January at local libraries. I want to make a Kindle Exclusive thing to show off my e-only books. Tried on Canva all morning. About to cut and paste something by hand. Maybe with help from an office supply store.

Unless anyone has a better idea…

The Hines Shakes

Photo by Sunsetoned on

It has been a while. Only a few months until my 20th website anniversary, which is when I’m leaving the weekly blogging commitment…so I’m tapering. The earliest iteration of this website was mostly just a blog. I wrote every day for many years and yes you can read it all here. I’m not disappearing…but I didn’t have any books out yet in 2002. Blogging was my bliss. Now I’m a multi-published novelist with e-publisher The Wild Rose Press. I’ve just turned in the second book in my second series for them. I’ve written a few stand-alones too. I even have a couple of free books and stories here on the website. My earliest novels were Kindle novels and I think they’re all 99 cents.

It’s difficult to dedicate yourself to too many things, and so not a lot of blog posts while I moved from Michigan to Florida and finished my 12th book. I’m about 75 pages into the third book in Jane in St Pete series–and wondering if it will be a trilogy. It feels like something new is hovering. Hoping to get Jane 3 out closer to Jane 2–Covid kind of upended life for me (and the rest of the world).

The most difficult thing moving has been finding new doctors and explaining things to them like the Hines Shakes. I was born Cynthia (Cindy) Hines. Sorry, the Hines Shakes are not milkshakes, but a condition medically referred to as “essential tremors.” It can interfere with writing. In our family some folk can’t write their name without meds.

I use medication, but I don’t want to become a prescription medication addict, so I check in with the doctors. I think I have finally got a plan with a good doctor and a therapist as well as a neurologist and other specialists for other conditions besides these shakes. One priority besides being able to type my novels is having the energy to run a household again. We have been in condos for almost a decade. Now we have a big yard, several garden areas, a lanai (that’s what they call a screened in porch in Michigan) with a built-in hot tub. The house is our largest, too. Not by much, but at 67, it’s a bold move. My husband has more energy than me. As our financial manager, he’s been riding this crazy stock market wave with a cool head and well as fixing up this place, which was a bit more of a mess than we thought.

He does all the difficult jobs like landscaping and keeping the hot tub spotless, plus he’s been working on the master bath walk in shower. He had to pull up tiles, clean up rot and re-whatever it is you do to make them new. We have chosen a painter, who starts on the inside end of June. After rainy/hurricane season he’ll do the outside. The hurricane shutter guy is coming in a few days. We do have hurricane shutters but after having to buy a water system, replace a dishwasher plus those floor tiles and more, we don’t quite trust them.

I’m doing my same old cooking and cleaning and laundry and shopping. Al finally got a grill so I try to have him cook dinner on that a few times a week. I still make the salad. And I’m writing!! Just not blogging so much.