A post on Facebook this morning reminded me of something that happened several years ago. It was around 2001 or 2002, I think. I lived in a mobile home in Olathe and my oldest daughter lived under a mile from me. It was a June evening and we were under a tornado watch.
Now my youngest daughter has always been a worrier. “What if” was one of her favorite phrases.
I got home from work that evening and was fixing supper when the youngest called. “Mom, there’s a tornado on the ground in Topeka (60 miles away), you’d better take cover.” “M., Topeka is 60 miles from here. If they sound the sirens, I’ll go to your sister’s house.” So I hung up and called oldest daughter to be sure she was home and arranged to head there if the sirens sounded. Hung up. Youngest called again. “I’m fixing supper. If the sirens sound, I’ll go to your sister’s.” Sound of sirens. Phone rings. Oldest daughter. “Are you coming?” “I’m bringing my sandwich with me.”
I got to her house which had five levels. I found her and the two kids in the lowest level with their supper. Her husband was on his way home from Topeka and called. We didn’t know at the time, but he was even with Lake Perry where a tornado was on the ground at that minute. She asked him how to run the TV through the computer in the room we were in. (Remember, this was over ten years ago). We sat and watched the weather coverage for about ten minutes when daughter said, “I’m tired of watching this and turned the TV to HBO, grabbed her video camera and went out into the back yard leaving me and the kids in the sub-basement watching a movie. The movie? Twister.

Angel, Sassy and Daddy

Our ‘assignment’ for Friday’s writers’ group is to write a flash story about death. It wasn’t easy to come up with one, but here it is:

Angel Sassy and Daddy


I don’t ever remember a time when we didn’t have pets. Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits, horses and even once a couple of raccoons.
One of the dozer operators knocked down a tree and killed the mother raccoon. Daddy brought the kits home. We kept them until Daddy decided to write the conservation people to get a permit. They came and took them.
Anyway, I digress.
At the time he died, Daddy had two pets. There was Angel, a white, tea-cup poodle and Sassy a large, multi-colored, long-haired cat.
Now Angel was as tall as she was long and as wide as she was tall. This was because she didn’t know what dog food was. What Daddy ate, Angel ate. He’d go to the café for breakfast and bring home biscuits and gravy for Angel and Sassy.
Sassy was such a big cat I think he must have had some Maine Coon in his ancestry.
The last time I saw my father alive was a few months after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. He sat in his recliner with Angel on one knee and Sassy on the other and told me that’s the way they rode out the storm as it went through LaBelle. That’s one picture I’ll always remember.
Daddy always said he wanted to have his ashes scattered over Lake Okeechobee. When he died in 2007, the lake was so low because of draught you could hardly take a boat out. My younger half-sister came up with an idea. Since Angel and Sassy were both close to eighteen years old, they weren’t going to last much longer. She would hold on to Daddy’s ashes until they died, then have them cremated and scatter all of the ashes together.
Now everyone has their idea of what Heaven should be like. When I think of my daddy in Heaven, I see him sitting in a boat out on Lake Okeechobee trolling for large-mouth bass with Angel on one knee and Sassy on the other.


I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I posted. I MUST start doing this more often. Anyway, here’s a look at the beginning of Travelers:

There’s an old saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” Well in this case, all roads lead to Hamish MacKinnion’s farm in Maine.


Coast of Maine – May 28, 1919
Fierce, gale-force winds whipped the trees behind the house. The building shook with the vibrations of thunder. Lightening flashed non-stop across the sky and pounding waves struck the rocks halfway up the cliff below the house. Sara Carter struggled as she opened the door to the walkway around the third story and stepped out. The wind immediately attacked its new target. Her once-golden hair became a halo around her head as it came loose from the pins holding it in place. A flash of lightening illuminated the frail figure on the railing of the walkway around the third-story tower. The woman spread her arms wide and jumped.

September Sky by John Heldt

September SkySeptember Sky by John Heldt
When unemployed San Francisco reporter Chuck Townsend and his college-dropout son, Justin, take a cruise to Mexico in 2016, each hopes to rebuild a relationship after years of estrangement. But they find more than common ground aboard the ship. They meet a mysterious lecturer who touts the possibilities of time travel. Within days, Chuck and Justin find themselves in 1900, riding a train to Texas, intent on preventing a distant uncle from being hanged for a crime he did not commit. Their quick trip to Galveston, however, becomes long and complicated when they wrangle with business rivals and fall for two beautiful librarians on the eve of a hurricane that will destroy the city. Filled with humor, history, romance, and heartbreak, SEPTEMBER SKY follows two directionless souls on the adventure of a lifetime as they try to make peace with the past, find new purpose, and grapple with the knowledge of things to come.
* * *
If you like history, time-travel and murder all rolled into one, this book is for you.

Having read the author’s Northwest Passage series, I was honored and excited when asked to review September Sky, the first of his new series. However, I must admit I had a difficult time getting into the story. It started rather slow, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Chuck know a murder is going to be committed, but he not only doesn’t know who the killer is he also has no idea who the victim is.
Did I see any clues as to the killer? No. It was a total surprise.

Although it started slow, by the last few chapters, I was on the edge of my chair.

I have to admire the author’s research into history. His attention to detail in clothing, events, and atmosphere in every one of his books is astounding. As with the Northwest Passage series, it’s obvious he has spent hours on research.

John A. HeldtJohn A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at

New group

I joined a new group and just posted a snippet from Catriona’s Curse on a blog called Exquistiequills for Wash Line Monday.

Come see my snippet on Exquisite Quills’ Wash Line Monday!    

Cover contest


Last year Shifter Born got silver. This year See You in the Morning got gold.

gold award


For the second year, one of my covers is a finalist:

SeeYou 2