The Sasqwatch Film Festival

Last year, I connected with a Canadian film director who was looking for a fast, funny, crime-centered short script. Of which I had… zero.  But what I did have was a stack of short stories.  So I transferred one of my short stories to script format.  He loved it, optioned it (that’s put it on hold in movie terms) and then produced it. It was a fantastic collaborative process and I loved seeing what he did with the script.  Once the short film was complete, it was submitted to a variety of film festivals (including Sasqwatch Film Festival).  Unfortunately, I wasn’t near to any of the festivals that accepted the film.  And I wanted to see MY movie on the big screen.

But finally…

Then it got accepted into the Sasqwatch Film Festival in Vancouver BC.  Which is well within driving distance for me in Washington State. So we farmed out the kiddo to my brother and invaded Canada!  And then, after four hours sitting down in the car, we sat down in a darkened theater and watched Suzy Makes Cupcakes and a slate of other shorts.

So, it’s about cupcakes?

No. It’s about crime. And cupcakes.  But mostly it’s about a woman who got married young to an abusive jerkwad who works for a crime syndicate.  Suzy wants out of the life and away from her husband, but how to do that? Well… you come up with a plan, you make some cupcakes and then you see where the day takes you.  But you do it all in twelve minutes or less because this is a short film after all. The short story version of the story made it’s debut at Noir at the Bar in Seattle and you can hear me read it in the recording from KUOW.

Was Sasqwatch everything you hoped?

Yes, actually it was. While it was a bit weird to hear people saying words that I made up, it was so fantastic to see it on the big screen. The director Jayson Theirren also flew into town and we got to meet in person for the first time.  Afterwards, we all got drinks and talked movies, movies, movies.  Then my partner and I went out for dinner, ate too much, and had a lovely evening out in Vancouver sans child. So basically, it was all that I hoped for and more.



There are plenty of life affirmations that get put on artistic signs.  And  I usually mock them.  If you need someone or something to remind you to Live, Laugh, Love! then you’ve probably got bigger problems than a sign can help you with. However, I do think people sometimes need to be reminded to celebrate the accomplishments of the day. We get caught up in measuring my win, against your win, against that person over on social media, and so on, that sometimes our win doesn’t seem like a thing worth celebrating.

But this past week, as I celebrated the release of my latest mystery novel (Eye Contact – it’s awesome, go buy it), I caught a case of the comparisons as I compared myself to another writer.  Writing is a very internal process and while there are certain parts that invite collaboration, by and large, it requires sitting down and plunking out words in solitude.  And as an introvert, that is usually fine by me, but sometimes… Sometimes I think we need some friends to show up to remind us that the things that go on in our head aren’t always real.  Fortunately for me, one of my friends excitedly commented how funny they found my book and were excited for the release.  (Get yourself some friends like that.  They’re gold.)  Thanks to her enthusiasm I remembered that oh, wait, this is a win.  It’s a whole book. MY book and I’m proud of it.

So if you’re over there struggling with what someone else has done… This is me whispering in your ear.  Hey, you, you’re pretty cool.  Your win is good and I hope you have many more.  Don’t let comparison be the thief of your joy.

However, if you put that on a faux vintage sign, I will mock you.  (But I will also celebrate you getting it actually hung up.  Way to check something off the list!)

EYE CONTACT: Lexi Byrne, UW grad student, brilliant researcher, and high-functioning autistic is working on cutting edge research into how to replace damaged eyes with bionic technology. But after Lexi’s normal, safe, science-based life takes an abrupt left turn after her prototype is stolen, Lexi learns that not everyone on campus is who they say they are. Now Lexi’s scrambling to recover the prototype and figure out who is behind the theft before her work is sold to the Chinese. Lexi must fight her own limitations and lean on the strengths of her friends to stop a misogynistic, greedy thief and recover her work.

BUY HERE (all retailers):

Valentine’s Noir

Noir? No Are? Nwar?  What now?

Noir at the Bar Event Announcement for 2.15.14 - shows a martini glass with a swirling green liquid that forms a skullI occasionally participate in an author event called Noir at the Bar. Local writers bring crime and “noir” themed stories to scandalize listeners with tales of the seedy underbelly of society.  Oh, and also to drink, socialize and terrorize ourselves by reading in public.  This time around our date falls on the day after Valentine’s Day and our ring leader has decreed it to be a night of lost love, long hangovers, and doomed romance.  It’s Noir at the Bar – Heartbreakers Edition.

So What Kind of Noir Are You Writing?

True confession time… I’m terrible at noir.  I have a general lack of depression and tend to write characters I like. And since the nihilistic outlook seems to be the hallmark of noir that kind of makes me Noir-light at best.  So usually I write crime stories about characters who have managed to get themselves into a little bit of a pickle or are trying to get ahead for once.

Story Time…

This time out I’m reading The Rage Cage. I got the idea for this story from a therapist friend of mine who mentioned that one of her clients worked at a rage cage, and then of course, I had to ask, “What’s a Rage Cage?” It’s an establishment that let’s you smash everything.  If you’ve ever wanted to reenact the printer beat down scene from Office Space, they can make that happen for you.  They have enumerable objects to smash and lots of things to smash them with. I don’t know if it’s any cheaper than therapy, but you might get a work out.  And they find those smashable items in auctions of online storage units.  If someone forgets to pay their storage unit, the storage company will auction off the units.  Usually, someone will buy these contents sight unseen, pick through and sell what they can for a profit.  But a rage cage business is looking for breakable items. But that got me thinking about just what kind of items might turn up in those storage unit collections…

The Rage Cage

When Amber, the manager at the Rage Cage, stumbles on her ex-husband’s belongings among the items from a storage unit auction, she learns a secret that changes everything about her marriage and concocts a plan for revenge.

So wish me luck as I venture forth out into… gulp… the public and read The Rage Cage to it’s very first audience.

Mystery: An Unfinished Storm

An image of the mystery novel An Unfinished Storm on kindle.San Juan Islands Mystery #4

This October 23rd will see the release of An Unfinished Storm—book 4 in the San Juan Island Mystery series. When I started the series I had just started my own business, but I was still spending a few hours a week with my grandmother attempting to clean out her house. The things she thought needed cleaning and what I thought needed cleaning were quite different, but I soldiered on because I knew that even if all cleaned up on was the crossword puzzle she didn’t mind because she liked the company.  My biggest complaint were all of the political solicitations for donations that she wouldn’t let me throw out.  At one point I secretly sent about fifty “please remove me from your list” letters.  I also tried to bring in the mail when she wasn’t looking so that I could pre-recycle a large amount before they got to her. I adored my grandmother, but having her fret about not having opened and read every piece of mail was enough to drive me bonkers.  So that was the state of mind I was in when I started this story about a girl who gets fired and ends up solving mysteries with her grandfather.  It was a lovely chance to reflect on my experience and inject some reality into the book.


My grandmother passed away at the age of 96.  She was hilarious and sharp to the end although she did better in a quiet environment because her hearing wasn’t as good as it used to be.  Her collection of Dick Francis and Agatha Christie novels went to good homes, but I know that her legacy can also still be found in my books as Tish and Tobias  putter around, solve murders, and still leave time for afternoon naps and watching Quincy M.D. on VHS.   Not that my grandmother ever solved mysteries, but I like to think that we both would have liked the chance.  We both loved all the murder mystery shows like Perry Mason, Matlock, Quincy M.D., Murder She Wrote and the Rockford Files. I told someone recently that the San Juan series was like if Matlock and Psych had a baby and then threw in some Death in Paradise for island vibes and I stand by that. With Tish and Tobias surrounded by the quirkiness of island life as well as a few murderous villains I hope the books make readers laugh as much as my grandmother would have.  I also hope that readers are inspired to go hug their own grandparent and for goodness sake, throw out the political ads before they make it in the house.  No one needs that much junk mail in their life.

If you’re interested in Tish and Tobias Yearlys journey through the San Juan Islands, you can find out more from all the usual book selling suspects or learn more over here:

Next Stop: The Islands

Quote from An Unseen Current: This island is full of private little wars. Mostly it just pays to be polite and keep your head down.Ahhhh…. The Islands

Sounds so dreamy and vacation-y, doesn’t it? I’m working on book four of my San Juan Islands Mystery series.  A book that I have been swearing that I will get to for about three years. And I’m finally doing it! And good lordy do I hate the islands. It’s not vacation. It’s a slog.  All of which is completely unfair to the islands. It’s not their fault that I’ve been procrastinating.  Or that I named three different people Cooper.  Or that I chucked out at least three different plots before I got to this one.

So Whose Fault is it?

Oh.  Yeah. It’s mine.  But taking responsibility really throws off a good rant. Part of the problem is that past self did not set me up for success. At three books in, you would think that I would do what I usually do with a series – start a spreadsheet.  Keeping a spreadsheet of characters names, a general description, and what books they appear in really cuts back on how many people are named Cooper.  (We’re now down to one.  The other two got magical name changes.) But when I started the series I didn’t intend for it to be a series. It was supposed to be a fun standalone mystery about an ex-actress and her ex-CIA agent grandfather solving mysteries in the islands of Washington State. The problem is that Tish and Tobias Yearly are funny and fun to hang out with.  Also, they just keep finding bodies, so… they keep needing more books.  It is not my fault.  It’s theirs. Blame the Yearlys.

And What Are You Going to do About it?

Keep better notes? I really am trying this time.  I revived the spreadsheet.  Added all those extra people I forgot about.  And I’m swear I’m this close >< to being done with book 4 – An Unfinished Storm.  Tish and Tobias are battling life, love, and Hollywood and trying to keep a police detective from jumping to some very wrong conclusions.

a banner showing the 3 book covers for the San Juan Island Mysteries

If you’re interested in Tish and Tobias Yearlys journey through the San Juan Islands, you can find out more from all the usual book selling suspects or here:


Plotter vs. Pantser

Battery Life

A Christmas Novella & a Craft