Monday, November 19, 2018

Who's Who in the World of Reading

I love books. I love to hang around with people who love books. So, when I queried my Facebook friends about their reading choices, it was an interesting mix.

I’m currently reading Enduranceby astronaut Scott Kelly who spent a year in space. If there’s one specific thing I’ll remember about this book, it’s not his space adventures. It’s his transformation. He hated school. He was bored out of his mind and barely made it to graduation. After floundering a bit, he realized what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to fly. That was the turning point for him and it’s a valuable lesson for the rest of us. We should never give up on our young people. Never. Maturation is not necessarily chronological. If a lackluster student can become an astronaut, who are we to judge an eighteen-year-old who has not yet figured out his/her plan. My mantra: To everything there is a season.

Now, looking for a good book to read? Here’s some suggestions:

My high school buddy, Sharon McCagg, is reading Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty of Big Little Lies fame

Cyber friend, Dawn Miller, is reading Shades of Wicked by Jeanine Frost

Golfer Extraordinaire, Duane Oberlander, is reading The Litigator by John Grisham

Writer, Diane Tolley, is reading The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

My tiny big sis, Beth Cazel, is reading The Other Woman by Daniel Silva

My friend and fellow mahjongg player, Judy Ozanich,is reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. She also enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere by the same author

Retired Navy nurse, Debbie Zimmerman,is reading Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd

Apple Valley, CA resident, Phillip Schmeck, is reading The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager.

    My friend, Lee Hamilton, is reading The Bat by Jo Nesbo

So, there you have it. An eclectic mix from my FB buddies. You’re welcome!

If you want to add to the list, feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Refresh, Renew, Refocus

After neglecting Book Blather for way too long, the time seems right for a re-boot. The blog has focused on many things, book-wise, over the years. I’ve featured a number of authors, talked about my own books and shared my thoughts on books I’ve read.

Why the long hiatus? I’ve written eleven books in the last ten years and it’s been quite a journey. My first book, a medieval romance titled Castle Ladyslipper was followed by The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam featuring many fictionalized characters based on my career in public education. Then, on to the YA years with the Unbidden Magic series and Baby Gone Bye. Finally, back into the adult world, I wrote the Soul Seeker series, a 3-book trilogy, Affliction, Allegiance and Hope andHonor. Whew! I desperately needed to re-charge my creative batteries.

After taking time off, I’m ready to write again. Because I like a challenge, I’m tackling a genre new to me. Cozy mysteries feature amateur sleuths, dead bodies, multiple suspects, a sprinkling of romance and, for me, a dash of humor. With that in mind, I’m working on a cozy mystery titled, A Woman Scorned. The setting is a golf course named Fairway to Heaven in my home state of Washington. For a peek at the first chapter, check out the Work in Progress page on my website here:’m plugging along and hope to have the book completed by early 2019.

In addition, I’ve formed a partnership with friend and fellow writer Jonelle Mejica. Jonelle is a talented writer and editor with many projects under her belt. She recently accepted a job as editor and writer for a local magazine. We’ve launched a website, Two Wordy Women, and offer our services to those who may need help with their writing projects. To learn more about us, visit

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Here’s a little peek at Hope and Honor, the third and last book in the Soul Seeker series. The official publication date is January 15, 2017, but should be available for pre-order soon.

Life is becoming more complicated for soul reader Honor Melanie ‘Mel” Sullivan. Her boss needs help with his rebellious teen daughter who believes rules are made to be broken and her current boyfriend Homeland Security agent Mick Petrov is becoming an absentee lover, dropping hints about a major decision he faces. To make it worse, Mel’s ex, 3 Peaks detective ‘Billy the Kid’ McCarty wants her back. And those aren’t the only challenges…
When a paramilitary group called New Dawn wants her soul-reading skills, Mel meets five-year-old twins who steal her heart. Unwilling to abandon the motherless children, she strikes a deal with the compound’s charismatic leader. Drawn deeper and deeper into New Dawn’s twisted agenda, Mel must figure out a way to save the twins and herself before it's too late.

In addition, two books in the Unbidden Magic series will soon be featured in a special promotion by the publisher, Bell Bridge Books. The digital version of Book 4, Shadow Moon, will be available for $.99 on Amazon December 16-31.

Book 3, Moon Spun, will be $.99 January 1-15, so grab the bargains while you can.

Wishing all of you who love to read, a joyous Christmas and blessed New Year filled with wonderful books.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Goodbye Chef Jean

When I started this blog in 2011, I was delighted to welcome longtime friend and cookbook author, Chef Jean Denham. Over the years, she contributed many wonderful recipes to share with my readers. The soul of generosity, she often shared her creations on Facebook. Jean had a whimsical side as evidenced by her picture above. Nevertheless, she worked hard at her craft and was loved by all who worked with her. The first time I featured her on my blog, I introduced her as Jean Denham. She sent me a gentle reminder. Marilee, I worked hard to earn the title of Chef, could you please call me Chef Jean Denham?

 Jean married Roy Denham forty-eight years ago and they created their own little Brady Bunch, since each came to the marriage with four children. Here’s a quote from Jean, “They said it would never last.” It did, of course, until October 9, 2017, when Jean left us for that great test kitchen in the sky.

You are in our thoughts, Chef Jean. Here’s a recipe you sent to me, knowing my limitations as a cook.

Ramen Noodle Chicken Pad Thai

One of the fastest to put together and flavorful dishes I’ve made in a long time. Two best things about this dish is you can add any veggies you might have in the fridge and/or sauté a few and add; and you can discard that high-sodium packet that comes with the ramen noodle pkg. – not needed.

1 package chicken flavor ramen noodles, 3 ounce
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs peanut butter
1/2 Tbs garlic chili paste
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 to 1 cup cooked chicken, or whatever leftover meat/fish you have
Unsalted chopped peanuts, garnish

1. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add noodles, reserve flavor packet, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Drain noodles.

3. Add soy sauce, peanut butter and garlic chili paste to pan and stir to combine. If needed, add cooking liquid to smooth out sauce.

4. Add cooked noodles and stir to coat noodles. Add cooked chicken and stir to combine. Top with chopped peanuts. Serves 2.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Beautiful, talented women who want to move up the ladder. Powerful men who hold all the cards. It’s a blueprint for disaster and a scenario available to us 24 hours a day.

You know what frosts my cookies? Major news channels yammering on and on about the incredible gall and criminal behavior of Harvey Weinstein. Has it occurred to those in charge they may be part of the problem? Yes, Harvey is a creep. But hold on a sec. 
Check out the talent on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. By check out, I mean compare the attractiveness quotient of women to men. If you’re a woman and want to be on the air, you must be highly intelligent, articulate and drop dead gorgeous.

If you’re a man, you must be highly intelligent, articulate and, well, that’s about it. Why? I don’t have a good answer.

Maybe the majority of their viewers are men and they’ll change the channel if the women don’t look like super models. It’s the best I can come up with.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when powers that be review the tape of a female applicant?

Stroking chin thoughtfully, the big boss says, “Hmm, her chin’s a little weak and she definitely needs a boob job. No problem, we can take care of that.”

Heaven forbid, the female anchor should look like a real woman, not one put together by a committee of men. Maybe in my next lifetime.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

WOW (Words of Wisdom)

I was recently invited back to a group I’d spoken to previously. When the subject is related to my books, I’m so in my comfort zone and can talk a blue streak. But since I’d already covered that ground, clearly, I needed new material.

With fear and trepidation, I prepared a presentation optimistically titled, An Interactive Writing Workshop. My plan included a brief description of setting, character development, genre and point of view. Keeping those topics in mind, I’d follow up by reading the opening paragraphs from several of my books. Then, (cue music) the scary part. I would ask them to write the beginning of a story.

Assailed by doubts, the following scenarios appeared in my overactive imagination. What if nobody showed up? What if I was met with truculent glares and they refused to participate? What if I heard mutterings like, “Why the heck did I come to this stupid thing?” “You want us to write???” Or, worst case scenario, maybe someone would initiate a stampede to the exit.

Because of my anxiety, I over prepared. I arrived armed with a long list of possible settings and dozens of writing prompts. Guess what? Not necessary.

Jim arrived early so he could show me the book he’d written about his life, titled The Farm. Many others filed into the room armed with paper and pens. After my brief introduction, I asked them to write, either individually or with a partner. With nary a grumble, they got to work. What they produced was educational . . . for me.


Bob, a child of the depression, came home from school to find the all family’s possessions piled outside their re-possessed home. Despite abject poverty, Bob served in the military, earned his M.D. and had many interesting experiences as a county coroner.

When Judy, along with three small children, arrived in the Philippines to join her military husband, he was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, nobody told him she was coming. It was Sunday. None of the stores were open. There was very little furniture in the house and no food. Unlike today’s Millennials who panic when they can’t get cell service, Judy prevailed.

Sharon’s story of visiting her parents’ graves moved us to tears. Her husband’s description of an outdoor adventure was eloquent as well.

One group took the challenge of using a story prompt and penned a story about a group of 13-year-old girls gathered around a campfire and their rough-around-the edges visitor, Whopsy Willie. Creative, indeed!

If you decide to undertake a similar project, here’s my advice. Look for a group of well-seasoned adults who have lived life to the fullest. Their stories are amazing. I promise you will be richer for the experience. I know I was.