Has Spring Sprung for You?

Exactly when is Spring supposed to begin? I looked it up, and here’s what I found:

The vernal equinox in 2024 arrived on March 19, but that date varies year to year. It hovers somewhere between the 19th and 21st of the month, and is marked at the moment the sun is directly facing Earth’s equator. This is also known as Astronomical Spring.

But, because science allows the date to vary, I’m thinking it’s okay if Spring starts for people like you and me whenever we are able to feel it.

We’ve enjoyed the new season around our home for a few weeks now. Gardens are in full bloom. A multitude of songbirds greet us with their cheery melodies every morning, just like the ones Samantha Newman hears when she visits Serenity Ranch.

Spring is also when our cherished bluebonnets and other dazzling wildflowers begin to blanket our empty fields and rolling hills.

This past weekend made Spring feel official for me, with opening of the annual Kite Festival that takes place in our favorite public park. There’s something wonderful about a day when people of all ages gather on vast green spaces to share a picnic and fly kites.

A live band played upbeat music while children ran around, testing how far they could roam free. They squealed with delight. You couldn’t help but smile at the joy of it.

Those icy winds are gone. Gentle breezes flow. We’re unencumbered by winter coats and jackets, scarves and gloves. The world is refreshed.


What is the first sign of Spring where you liveAnd, when was the last time you flew a kite?

Here’s wishing you a very HAPPY SPRING, full of sunshine, flowers, celebrations, and laughter!


Gay Yellen is the author of the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series including: The Body BusinessThe Body Next Door, and The Body in the News!

Find her on Amazon, BookBub, Facebook, or contact her at GayYellen.com






Let the Good Times Roll!

Even after the extra day for leap year, February is the shortest month. But that doesn’t stop these 29 days from being chock-full of things to celebrate. Especially this week.

Due to a quirk in the 2024 calendar, there’s a danger of overdosing on special occasions. I live in what’s often described as the most diverse city in the U.S., where owners of all kinds of businesses (bakers, costumers, bars, restaurants, and delivery services) are working overtime to cash in on money-making opportunities.

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Thriving Asian communities and hundreds, if not thousands of restaurants, are serving that continent’s exotic cuisines to the rest of us for Lunar New Year. The exact official date can vary from culture to culture, but highly enjoyable ceremonies abound, including special foods, fireworks, music, and the boisterous Lion Dance.

Sunday, Super Bowl LVIII

Unofficially dubbed the Taylor Swift Bowl, this celebration of grit and brawn was finally played. It was a good day for grocers and purveyors of fast food. Did you watch? Did your team win? And did you appreciate any of the over-priced  commercials? The BMW/Christopher Walken spoof made me chuckle, and the Dunkin’ Donuts spot was amusing, too.

Next up: Leftovers Day

Not an official holiday, yesterday offered a little respite from the clash and clatter. It also gave us a chance to work through our leftover flamin’ hot chicken wings and Chinese moon cakes. And it was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, a nice opportunity for quiet contemplation before the rowdiest hoopla of all descended upon us today.

Today: Cue the parades!

Cue the beads, the drinking, and the debauchery! Today is Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday, when celebrants here and around the world are encouraged to laissez les bon tons roulez. So, let the good times roll! Wear the gaudy costumes and watch people behave badly. Catch some trinkets and cheap bling from a parade float. Eat, drink and be merry, and make sure to grab some King Cake while you can, for tomorrow is all ash and penitence. Unless you prefer to keep to fun going, because…

I ♥ U!

…tomorrow is Valentines Day! If, after indulging in all of the above, you’re still in the mood for rich food and booze (and your liver can take it), you can opt for a lovely restaurant in which to ply the object of your affection with oysters and champagne, and maybe some serious, not-so-cheap bling.


Thank goodness it will soon be Thursday, which is National Singles Awareness Day, in which we’re encouraged to celebrate the joy of being alone. After the week we will have had by then, it feels like an appropriate antidote to the bacchanal we might have endured. A good day to tend to our spiritual side. Or, depending on how well your Valentine’s dinner went, perhaps to try a new dating service.

There’ve been countless Valentine’s dinners in my life, some more meaningful than others. But I’ve never attended a Super Bowl.

I have enjoyed local Lunar New Year celebrations (lots of noise and fun). I’ve been to a Mardi Gras ball and three years of parades in New Orleans: first, among the raucous street crowd (never again), second, from a private balcony on Bourbon Street, and another atop a float, tossing beads in my homecoming queen regalia.

Here’s hoping we all have many more special days ahead to celebrate. In the meantime, let’s try to make every day a celebration.

How about you? What’s your favorite day in February?

Gay Yellen is the author of the  award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries include The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and The Body in the News!  Contact her at GayYellen.com.


Great to be a new member of the Stiletto Gang, the most talented writers I’ve come across in a group, probably ever. As an introduction, I’ll lay out the highlights of my literary journey below.


In 1962, my mother registered me for a writing class that was offered in summer school after the eighth grade. Only one other girl signed up, so the class was cancelled.


Once in high school, we were assigned a short story. I wasn’t present the day the teacher handed them back—I’d gone to the orthodontist—but when I returned to school, kids congratulated me on my story, saying the teacher read it to the class. The next day when she returned my story, I found she’d give it a B-.


My parents told me I couldn’t be a writer because I wouldn’t be able to make a living. I don’t know whether that is what would have happened. You never know what the future holds. But, I was an obedient child, at least for a while, so I said ok.


I didn’t know what else I might want to do. Dad wanted my sister and me to be teachers, so if our husbands died or abandoned us, we’d be able to support ourselves. My sister did and ended up as an administrator in a small public school district. Me? I dropped in and out of five colleges/universities until I was finally awarded a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice.


I once signed up, as an adult, for a writing class at the community college in our town, excited to finally get something going. When I received my first story back, the instructor had written that I had no talent—give it up.


After I began practicing law, I was lying around my living room once night and told my husband that if a writer could make $5,000 a pop for genre romance novels as it stated in the TV Guide article I read, I should try that. I read everything, including romances. I didn’t think it looked that hard. So, I bought some books on writing romances and sent for tip sheets and finally wrote one. I sent it off and waited for a response. The editor said no, she wouldn’t publish my novel, her rejection including some choice insults, and never to send her anything again.


I began writing suspense/mysteries in the 80s. My father was a criminal defense lawyer, (and later a judge), so I’d been around the law since I was little. I had been a probation officer and was at that time a criminal and family lawyer. Crime, I knew about. By the way, I heard that not long after the aforementioned editor rejected my novel, she died. Just so you know, I didn’t kill her.


When my editor at St. Martin’s Press, Inc. called me about MY FIRST MURDER, (my first published novel) he excitedly asked where I learned to write like that. He loved the book and said my manuscript was one of the best submissions he’d ever seen in terms of preparation, punctuation, etc. He loved it so much, a year later he rejected the sequel.


Enough of that. My point is, never give up. I had that first novel sale in 1988. I used the book as a political tool when I was running for office, donating copies across the county. What a great gimmick! I received free publicity and extra attention at every event, in addition to speaking engagements.


I was elected to the bench and took office on 1/1/91. My focus turned to being a sitting judge, modernizing practices and procedures in that court, including starting programs to help families and children. I continued to write whenever I could, though I didn’t have any other books published until after I left the bench at the end of 2002. In 2004, Eakin Press (a Texas publisher) released my nonfiction books: Heart of Divorce (which I wrote to help pro se litigants who couldn’t afford lawyers to prosecute their own divorces) and Murdered Judges of the 20th Century, which I researched and wrote over the previous six years, (and which began as evidence for the county commissioners that we needed courthouse security).


After that, I started submitting works I’d written while on the bench. I wanted to change my focus from the law to liberal arts. In 2015, I made the decision to self-publish. Though by then I had several mystery/suspense novels under my belt, I had grown tired of the traditional publishing process. I was aging out. The last straw was when an agent told me to cut my manuscript 20,000 words and submit it to her. I did, and never heard from her. That was it.


At sixty-five years of age, I was sick of the abuse most authors suffer at the hands of agents and editors. I was writing because I have to, not because I needed to. Or, as I often phrase it, I can’t not write. There was no joy, no pleasure in experiencing what they were dishing out. Where I had hoped for years to have the guidance and support of an agent and/or editor, I realized that would never happen. I have stories to tell. I’m constantly learning craft. I don’t care if I ever have huge sales. I’m having fun doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl with no pressure, no insults, no rejection. I love it.


Now, at 74, I spend a lot of my days writing or reading. I’m having fun living life my way. I never gave up. I suggest if you love to write, don’t let anyone discourage you either.

Susan has published 14 books in the last 30 or so years. Not all of them are mystery/suspense, but all of them have something to do with the law.

It’s World Hello Day!

There are lots of things to love about November. Cool, crisp mornings. Warm, cuddly clothes. A lovely fire in the hearth. And hints of cinnamon spice everywhere.

I recently learned that today, November 21, is annual World Hello Day. At first it seemed like a made-up trifle akin to National Pickle Day (which was actually last Tuesday). But after researching the origins and purpose of this holiday, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong.

World Hello Day

World Hello Day was created in 1973 by two young brothers, Brian and Michael McCormack, as a panacea for the Arab-Israeli war known as the Yom Kippur War. Gathering all the money they had at the time, these two bought postage and sent out letters to as many world leaders as they could and asked them to support this new holiday.

from Pete Seeger

Within the first 12 months of their campaign, the results were overwhelming. World leaders, educators, Nobel Laureates, show biz celebrities and other luminaries responded. And in the last 50 years, they have managed to gather the support of 180 countries.

It’s interesting to read the thoughts of people like James Michener, Colin Powell, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, and Whoopi Goldberg on the subject. My favorite replies are the little ditty that Pete Seeger offered, a wacky postcard from David Sedaris, and a heartfelt letter from the Idyllwilde Elementary School in Florida.

You can read more of these interesting letters here: https://worldhelloday.org/letters/

How to Celebrate

World Hello Day is a good opportunity to express our concern for world peace. According to the organization’s website, anyone can celebrate simply by saying hello to at least ten people. Friends and family count. Extra points if you greet a stranger, or say hello in a different language. And if you’re inspired to encourage a world or community leader to settle a conflict, go for it.

It seems a bit Pollyanna-ish to think that the simple act of saying hello can lead to world peace. And, we may feel silly saying hello to a perfect stranger. But we can start by greeting the nearly invisible people we encounter in an ordinary day: the checkout clerk at the grocery store, the people we pass on the sidewalk, someone we’re sharing an elevator with or sitting next to at the theater.

Acknowledging another human being’s existence can go a long way toward recognizing that we’re all in this crazy world together. At any rate, that’s the philosophy of the McCormack brothers, and they’re trying to make a difference. Why not try it, too?

And while you’re at it, say hello to Book #3 in the Samantha Newman Series, The Body in the News. I’m overjoyed (and relieved) that it’s finally out there!

Who have you said hello to today?

Gay Yellen‘s award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries include The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and The Body in the News!  Now available on Amazon.

Existing While Brown or Black in America

Existing While Brown or Black in America by Linda Rodriguez

In all the turmoil around #BlackLivesMatter and the extrajudicial killings of Black men and women by police right now, I notice the inevitable outcries from parts of the White community that the police wouldn’t shoot and kill these people for nothing, that they must have brought it on themselves in some way by their own lawless behavior. Perhaps. But when we have stringent, trustworthy investigations, again and again we find that these people did nothing so major that it would have warranted taking their lives. Still, to many White, middle-class people who are never hassled and threatened by police as they move through daily life, it seems that surely all these unarmed African American, Latino, and Native men killed by police every year must have brought it on themselves through some fault of their own.

So, allow me to tell a little story from my own life. In Kansas City, Missouri, where I live, the police used to be as undisciplined and out of control as some of the worst of police forces we’ve recently seen. A crisis finally forced the city to crack down, bring in a strong police chief to rebuild the force, and reorganize the police force around the motto of “Protect and Serve.” It never became a perfect police force, of course, but for a while it was plagued by less racial profiling and unnecessary civilian deaths than most urban forces today before lamentably reverting to its old forms.

Back in the 1970s when Kansas City’s force was so much like the departments we’re seeing on the news right now, pointing loaded rifles and screaming obscenities and death threats at unarmed demonstrators and reporters, I lived with my late first husband, Michael Rodriguez. Mike was a decorated veteran of Vietnam, married to me with two little kids, working a white-collar, full-time job as manager of a printing supply company branch, going to college at night, and the most non-violent and non-criminal person anyone could imagine. He went through some of the worst fighting in Vietnam as a medic, refusing to carry ammunition in his sidearm because he could not bring himself to kill anyone.

A fire station stood on the corner of the block where his company offices were, and several of the firefighters who were also Vietnam veterans had made friends with him since this was when no one in this country wanted to hear what these guys had gone through. This fact later saved his life.

One cold evening in winter when twilight came early, Mike was the last one out of his office, as usual, since he locked up at night and opened up in the mornings. He found his car’s battery had died and called a cab to come take him home. While he stood outside his own offices, long-haired but dressed in a business suit, waiting for his cab to arrive, two policemen pulled up, got out of their police cruiser, and started harassing him. They shoved him back and forth between them, called him racial slurs, searched him, and found nothing but his wallet, keys, and a tube of prescription ointment for psoriasis in his pockets. One then told the other, “We could shoot this motherfucker and say we thought that tube was a gun.” Kansas City police had just shot a fourteen-year-old African American boy three days before, claiming they thought the comb in his pocket was a gun—and they got away with it.

Mike thought he would die on that spot, leaving me a young widow with a baby and a toddler and no way for his kids or anyone to know that he had never done anything to deserve it. His firefighter friends had seen what was happening, however, and came out calling his name and asking what was going on and if he needed help. The cops told them to go away, but the firefighter veterans stood there watching and witnessing until Mike’s cab came, and he got safely away. Clearly, they saved his life that night.

If you talk with people of color, you will hear story after story like this. A friend of mine who is a White mystery writer married to an African American (extremely successful) artist just went out and bought all new dress business suits for her husband who, like most artists, normally wears jeans and T-shirts to work in, in the hopes that this will keep the New York City police from stopping and harassing him as he must travel through her city from home to his workplace and back. He must dress up for the commute, only to change into jeans and T-shirt at work, and then reverse the process to go home. White people don’t face this kind of treatment by law enforcement in their own lives, and it sounds so crazy and unreal to them that they assume people of color are exaggerating or making it up out of whole cloth, understandably, but this kind of harassment, threat, and fear is a part of daily life in communities of color all over this country.

Racism is a horrible and unjust fixture of American life, but just because you are White does not mean that you are safe from its destructive consequences. If allowed to flourish openly and unchecked, it won’t stop with communities of color. With the rising militarization of the police forces of large cities and small towns, I would caution my White friends to learn from our experiences. If this kind of behavior is allowed to continue and grow, it will eventually overflow into the White communities, beginning with poor and working-class communities and eventually moving up the socioeconomic ladder. It’s a matter of power and control, even beyond the matter of race and ethnicity.

Whether we know it or not, all of us in the United States have a vested interest in this situation of extrajudicial killings by police forces. Americans need to have a thorough reorganization of every police force in this country. We also need a national discussion of the growing militarization of our police departments, large and small, and what we as citizens want to do about this growing threat. The stakes in this situation are high, and the costs of failure for us as a nation and individually will be unimaginably horrific.

Linda Rodriguez’s 13th book, Unpapered: Writers Consider Native American Identity and Cultural Belonging, was published in May 2023. She also edited Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriqueña Poets Look at Their American Lives, The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, The Fish That Got Away: The Sixth Guppy Anthology, Fishy Business: The Fifth Guppy Anthology, and other anthologies.

Dark Sister: Poems was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. Her three earlier Skeet  Bannion mystery novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, Every Last Secret—and earlier books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart’s Migration—received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. She also published Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop.  Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in Kansas City Noir, was optioned for film.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Learn more about her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rodriguez_linda  or on Mastodon at https://mastodon.social/rodriguez_linda.

Stop! You’re Hurting My Eyes!

By Lois Winston

One day when my oldest son was two years old, I was singing to him in the car when he covered his ears with his hands and cried, “Stop singing, Mommy. You’re hurting my ears.”

It turns out he was born with perfect pitch, while I was saddled with two tin ears. Ever since I failed to make the cut when I auditioned for the elementary school talent show, I’ve known my singing leaves quite a lot to be desired. I’m no Taylor Swift or Beyonce. Never was and never will be. I wouldn’t even qualify as a backup singer for a third-rate tribute band. However, I never realized until that moment just how off-key I was.

Lately, I’ve felt the urge to rant at car manufacturers for hurting my eyes the way my singing had hurt my son’s ears. Have you noticed the garish colors of so many new cars? Some are the equivalent of chalk on a blackboard, shrieking and shrill, while others can only be described as homages to the scatological. What were they thinking? We’re living in a world that bombards us 24/7, causing us to yearn for anything soothing, whether it’s soft clothing, comfort foods, or escapist fiction.

The psychology of color is big business. Color experts get paid big bucks to determine which colors should be used in everything from clothing to home décor to appliances to automobiles. If you’re old enough to remember the sixties (or have a penchant for anything mid-century modern), you know that harvest gold and avocado green were the two colors that reigned supreme back then. Do you think it was a coincidence that your mother’s appliances matched your father’s station wagon? Those color choices were dictated by people deemed authorities in the field.

Has psychology done an about-face? If the screaming oranges, greens, and yellows aren’t bad enough, the other group is awful in another way. I really don’t want to drive around in a vehicle that reminds me of the last time I changed a diaper or hovered over the porcelain throne with stomach flu.

I wish some knowledgeable person would tell me what in the world were these so-called experts thinking. I’m flummoxed.

How about you? What do you think about the colors of automobiles you see on the roads lately? Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free download of the audiobook version of Drop Dead Ornaments, the seventh Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery.



USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

Reflections on the Passing of Time

Reflections on the Passing of Time by Debra H. Goldstein

Despite the temperatures being in the high 80’s and 90’s for the past few weeks, we’ve had just enough of a temperature drop that the leaves are beginning to change colors. It’s a sign of Autumn. The calendar even says Fall has begun. The big tell is that the grocery stores already are prominently displaying Halloween candies.

Personally, I don’t know where the summer went. It feels like I just pulled my white pants from the back of my closet and now it’s time to push them to the back again.

When I was a child, I remember being sent outside to play (I preferred staying inside and reading) and counting the minutes until I could go in again. Time moved so slowly. Yet, one day I woke up and it started whizzing by. For the first time, as this summer has flown by and I see changes in my husband, me, our children, grandchildren, and friends, I’m beginning to think of time as precious – and maybe going by a little too quickly.

Do you ever have thoughts like that?

Process Delayed Can Still be Progress…of a Sort

By Lois Winston

I’m not someone who immediately jumps into the next book as soon as I finish writing the previous one. My latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, A Crafty Collage of Crime, released on June 6th. Other than promotional blog posts, I haven’t written anything Anastasia-related since then. Haven’t even given much thought to the next book beyond the fact that I know I’ll be picking up Anastasia’s story shortly after the recent book ended.

It’s not that I’m tired of writing about my reluctant sleuth or have no ideas. It’s more about a process I’ve found that works best for me. After a book goes off into the world, I devote the next month or so to promotion. Once the flurry of promotion wanes, I give myself permission to clear my head before once again hitting the keyboard in earnest. We all have our process, and I’ve discovered over the years that this keeps me from burning out or developing terminal writer’s block. We all need the occasional vacay, even if it’s only a vacay from the keyboard.

With that in mind, I had set a schedule to start in on serious pondering, mulling, and research the week of August 21st, the day after the Killer Nashville writers’ conference ended. I’d plant butt in chair and fingers on keyboard in earnest September 5th, the day after Labor Day.

Of course, I didn’t factor into testing positive for Covid shortly after Killer Nashville ended. And I certainly didn’t factor in the far from mild case of Covid that broadsided me and still continues haunting me with lingering symptoms. I haven’t felt this tired since suffering through mono when I was nineteen or dealing with an infant who exited the womb never needing to sleep—ever!

About the only things I’ve been able to accomplish when not napping are watching TV and reading, more of the latter than the former, thanks to the writers’ strike and the absence of many of my favorite shows. For someone who has never been a napper, I’m beginning to suspect I harbor some cat DNA. Don’t they sleep about seventeen hours a day?

At least during my daily seven hours of wakefulness, I was able to make a decent dent in my overflowing Kindle virtual TBR pile. For someone used to juggling multiple balls, if nothing else, I’ve achieved a small sense of accomplishment during my illness and recovery.

Not every book I read is worth mentioning. Several fell way short of expectations. However, there were two books that I thoroughly enjoyed: The Book Woman’s Daughter, the follow-up to Kim Michele Rchardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and Kopp Sisters on the March, book 5 in Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series. However, if you’ve enjoyed the other Kopp Sisters books, be forewarned that this book is a bit of a departure from the previous books in the series. Although labeled as a mystery, the mystery element is a minor subplot.

One of the perks of being a published author is getting to read some books before they hit bookstore shelves. I had the absolute pleasure of losing myself in advance reading copies of two books that I highly recommend. If you enjoy women’s fiction, you won’t want to miss the recently released Picture Perfect Autumn by Shelley Noble. It truly is a picture-perfect novel.

If romantic amateur sleuth mysteries are more your speed, you’ll want to read The Body in the News, the third installment in the Samantha Newman Mysteries by The Stiletto Gang’s own Gay Yellen. I was hooked on this series after reading the first book. When I finished this newest addition, I wanted to pick up the fourth book right away. I hope Gay is a fast writer!

What about you? Read any good books lately? Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free download of the audiobook version of Scrapbook of Mystery, the sixth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery.


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

My Rare Pink Rocks

By Barbara J. Eikmeier

For many years I collected sea glass. I filled a small jar with pieces from beaches in Hawaii and California. It took a long time to fill my jar. Imagine my surprise when my sister took me to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California. I felt like there was more glass than sand on that beach. It made my humble collection look, well, humble.

In my yard in Eastern Kansas sit two pink boulders and several lesser boulders. They were excavated when the house was built in 1992. They are probably rose quartz although I hear people call them pink granite (mine don’t look like granite.) They are unique to my area of Kansas, and I see them in neighbors’ yards too. I’m not a native Kansan but have been told these pink rocks were a gift from Minnesota, brought down during the ice age. When the ice receded, the big rocks were left behind.

Visitors from out of the area have been known to covet my pink rocks, in fact at least two visitors collected smaller samples from my property to take home with them.

When the utility company trenched across our yard to replace a gas line, they unearthed more pink rocks. The evening before the trench was to be filled in, I claimed those pink rocks. With my husband’s help we rolled the biggest and pinkest of them down the hill, laughing all the way, to the spot where the driveway leveled out. Then we got our piano mover, which is not really a piano mover, but it works like one, (I bought it at an estate sale for fifty cents!) We rolled those big rocks onto that platform and wheeled them to select locations in the gardens. The new rocks are a fraction the size of my big pink boulders, but they still weighed a ton!

I’ve been basking in the glory of owning such rare and special rocks for years.

I’m writing this post while on a road trip with my husband. We spent two days in South Dakota where pink rocks are everywhere.  Apparently, my pink rocks may have been a gift from South Dakota instead of Minnesota.

Near Sioux Falls, South Dakota there is a huge quarry with a giant heap of pink rocks.

Further west I noticed them used for landscaping at rest stops along Interstate 90. Heck, in some sections, Interstate 90 itself glows pink because it’s made of crushed pink stone mixed with the asphalt. When we stopped, I checked. I could see the bits of pink rock.

The driveway in the campground we stayed at was made of crushed pink rock. I picked up two heart shaped stones for my granddaughter. I stopped at two, but I could have found 100, all pink, all heart shaped!

And the greatest shock of all, to me anyway, was pink rocks on the edges of the train tracks.

It feels like Glass Beach all over again!

Have you ever discovered that your rare collection isn’t so rare after all?

Barbara J. Eikmeier is a quilter, writer, student of quilt history, and lover of small-town America. Raised on a dairy farm in California, she enjoys placing her characters in rural communities.

RIP, Mac

By Lois Winston

Sometimes, there are no warning signs, no odd symptoms that crop up which would make us suspect something is not quite right. Such was not the case with Mac. Nothing made me question his health, nothing that would lead me to seek out the services of an expert. One moment, he was fine; the next he wasn’t. Worse yet, he failed to respond to all my efforts to make him well.

This all happened three weeks ago. Mac and I had been in a deeply committed relationship for ten years. I wasn’t ready to let him go. So I picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment for a full diagnostic workup. Surely, whatever the problem, something would make him better.

After arriving, I was asked about his prior symptoms. When I said he’d had none, the diagnostician showed surprise. She rattled off a series of the usual suspects, to which I answered in the negative for each one. She shook her head in disbelief. I suspect she thought I was too ignorant to recognize obvious signs of impending illness. I ignored her condescension. I needed her expertise to heal Mac.

When I asked what she thought might be the problem, she offered possible afflictions, some with remedies but others that were fatal. I crossed my fingers as she spent the next hour and a half performing a litany of tests to determine why Mac had suddenly become comatose.

The test results confirmed my worst fears. Mac had suffered a catastrophic failure. Both his hard drive and battery were dead.

I think the ratio of computer years to human years must be greater than that of dog years to human years. However, even if it’s the same, that would have made Mac seventy years old. Ancient as far as my millennial diagnostician was concerned, but I’m at the stage of my life where I no longer consider seventy old. Still, I suppose ten years is considered ancient for a computer, even one as stalwart as Mac had been.

Mac had served me well. During our time together, we’d written nine novels, five novellas, several short stories, one nonfiction book, and countless blog posts. We’d edited two multi-author promotional charity cookbooks and two multi-author box sets.

However, it was time to lay Mac to rest, sending him off to the big Apple in the sky. RIP, Mac. But really, after all we’ve been through together, he couldn’t have died a day earlier before the weekend state sales tax holiday ended?

Scrapbook of Murder, the sixth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, is now available as an audiobook. Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free download.


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.