Nardi Point is Chanticleer Blue Ribbon 2012 Published Novel Finalist!

How exciting to receive notification Nardi Point has finaled in the Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon awards contest for Published Novels in the Mystery/Romance category!

The Finalists were announced at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in Seattle on Saturday, July 21st, 2012.  Editors Tom Colgan of Penquin/Berkley and Meghan Stevenson of Penquin/Hudson Street Press presented the certificates and blue ribbons individually as Kathryn Brown announced the winners.

Leyla Jo’s Pineneedle woven basket

One of Leyla Jo’s most cherished belongings is the small, artisan basket hand-crafted from North Carolina longleaf pine needles. The beautful basket features a small pine cone handle at the top and open weaving at the bottom. The basket was the only piece of her heritage, one lovingly passed to her by Aunt Beatrice.

“Will anyone come for me?” Leyla Jo asks.

Aunt Beatrice takes a small round basket made of coiled dried pine needles and places it into her small hands. Leyla Jo knows she is being given a treasure, even then, and recognizes it’s a connection, a link to another time. Aunt Beatrice hastily wipes away tears, the only tears she remembers the dear old woman shedding, then pulls her protectively into her arms. The summer sun edges down behind the pine-covered foothills of Robeson County. That night, Leyla Jo’s small makeshift bed tucked next to Aunt Beatrice’s room, becomes comfortably permanent. She loves the safety its warm pinecone patchwork quilt provides.

Whatever Leyla Jo placed into the basket was special. “She went to the book shelf, removed the small coiled pine needle basket and sat on her practitioner’s bench with it. Her spirit leapt as she opened the basket. Three pottery pieces rested inside. She reverently lifted each one and her heart beat faster as she relived the spell.”

Barb Dedrickson of Somethin Country in Clay Center, Nebraska, talked to me about baskets like the one Leyla Jo loves. If you enjoy collecting beautiful handcrafted objects, contact Barb at


Nardi Point at Zest Cafe!

What an exciting Saturday! Signing copies of Nardi Point at Zest Cafe and Home Art and sharing excerpts with dear friends and new readers! Thank you Lisa Hagan and Rachel Bates for your help! The Cafe was alive with folks enjoying Tarragon Chicken Salad, awesome quesadillas, asian style spring rolls, Coconut layer cake, and Nardi Point!

Several folks enjoying lunch were intrigued by the story and its local setting and came by to hear more. As we chatted, I learned they’d grown up in the North Raleigh region and were interested in the history of archaeology we experience in North Carolina. Love that!

And since it’s Fourth of July, I’m celebrating Independence day by participating in the Independence Blog Hop! Join the fun! Great prizes! Summertime means fun! Have some great reading opportunities!

Summertime at the lake

Summertime can be hot in North Carolina. But in Raleigh, not as hot as other southern venues due to the effects of the Piedmont. I’ve experienced more uncomfortable humidity in D.C. and Westchester County, NY than I’ve ever encountered here. From June on through September, you know it’s summertime. And I say, bring it on! Celebrate the golden daze of summer with joy and zest!

Falls Lake, north of Raleigh, offers a wonderful, wooded and cool refuge on particularly hot days. A favorite spot selected in Nardi Point was the Upper Barton Creek boat launch.

          “He sat companionably alongside her on the quiet, Upper Barton Creek wooden boat dock that stretched out like a slender hand into the blue, warm waters of Falls Lake. The dock floated parallel to Six Forks Road and drivers-by might distractedly notice the attractive young couple finishing an impromptu fast-food picnic lunch of golden-fried, bucket chicken along with the fresh slaw they do so well in North Carolina, and fresh biscuits. Both enjoyed the Mayberry-bright summer day. Sweet tea filled yellow plastic cups, and although a sparkling, white Riesling wine would be perfect, the tea was sweet, cool, and familiar. He’d introduced the tea to her and there was no reason to risk the occasional State Trooper patrolling the public recreational boat ramp who would take exception to alcohol in the park.

          Her energy was triumphant, confident. Bronze curls shot with red caught the sun and tumbled softly over her Farah Fawcett face complete even to her green eyes. Her flame red summer cotton dress of billowy proportions caught the gentle breeze coming in off the lake like a sail for a boat the couple would surely have enjoyed launching if they had one.”

Ahhhh. Summertime! In honor of summertime and the good reading opportunities, join me in my publisher’s blog hop! Link to their site to join in. And to celebrate as well, Please add a comment here to my blog on June 10th to enter a drawing for a $15 Amazon gift card! Winner will be notified by June 12th!

Have fun! It’s summertime after all!


The story behind the story

What was going on while a writer crafts her story? What was the inspiration for the events unfolded or who were the characters “fashioned after?” That’s the real story behind the story and every good book has one! Some writers keep a journal or diary for each story they write. More fascinating to read after the book is completed, you can gain interesting insight into your creative process from the journal. I’m one of those writers. I like to see how daily activities influenced my work in progress.

So, what is Nardi Point’s story? Thank you for asking! (smile) I’ve had a long interest in discovering or uncovering objects secreted away, buried in the earth. I admit to burying a story out in the backyard one summer and wondering how long it would take to transform into a crinkled, yellowed pirate map. One week later, unable to wait, I dug it up and found it to be just wet.

Years later, I was in North Carolina, a state rich in prehistoric and historic artifacts (old things long buried and being dug up out of the ground). Excited, I volunteered at the State Archaeology office and was trained to handle and categorize selected artifacts under the watchful supervision of the experts. I handled ten thousand-year-old Native American stones smoothed for pounding, or sharpened for scraping, and sherds of pottery broken apart centuries ago. To actually hold a sherd in the palm of my hand that was created by indigenous peoples from that long ago was startling. The artifacts were found on a Piedmont farm and brought to archaeologists’ attention through the wisdom of the family who noticed the bits of history and recognized them for being something out of place and intriguing.

I thought about what would have happened had these artifacts been handled in a less than responsible way. The writer’s “What if” drill. You see, where the artifacts are found is called their “provenience.” What is found with them comes from the same time period and provides clues for what the object was and its use.  Archaeological resources are limited and irreplaceable, and should be left in the ground untouched until responsible and scientific methods can ensure no provenience information is lost during their removal.

This spring, a reality series, American Digger, follows a team across the nation which callously excavates archaeological artifacts using metal detectors and state of the art backhoes. Their goal is to sell the unearthed artifacts to collectors, then split the proceeds between the landowner and the team. Some of these sites contain unmarked human burials and skeletal remains. Their greed robs us all of the chance to understand and learn from our shared past.

Does your latest project have a story behind the story?

Moms today!

Traditionally, most of us have only one Mom. But, like Modern Family, mom status has expanded to differentiate biologic, adoptive, step, surrogate, foster, and relative in this fundamental role. There could even be a case made for a close neighbor, or church-affiliated nurturer.

Society is enlightened about these evolved caregiving roles. A look at the Mother’s Day card selection reinforces that understanding with special cards that begin: “I loved you as a mother,” or “While not my mom, you gave me your love,” or “Please know you provided the encouragement and love of a mom.”

Back in the day and outside of heavily populated areas caregiver roles were less regimented. A family took in one of their loosely related kin without much fanfare, or maybe the care was given by a concerned neighbor. Leyla Jo Piper experienced personal family upheaval without missing a beat. Kind, “Aunt” Beatrice smoothed history with love and wisdom.

“… Aunt Beatrice, holds her small hands together tightly in hers and looks into Leyla Jo’s eyes. She looks back into Aunt Beatrice’s brown, sun-wrinkled face and knows something’s happened, something she doesn’t understand. The dear old woman tells her, momma won’t be back, never mind a father gone long before.

“Will anyone come for me?” Leyla Jo asks.

… Aunt Beatrice takes a small round basket made of coiled dried pine needles and places it into her small hands. Leyla Jo knows she is being given a treasure, even then, and recognizes it’s a connection, a link to another time. Aunt Beatrice hastily wipes away tears, the only tears she remembers the dear old woman shedding, then Aunt Beatrice pulls her protectively into her arms. The summer sun edges down behind the pine-covered foothills of RobesonCounty. That night, Leyla Jo’s small makeshift bed tucked next to Aunt Beatrice’s room, becomes comfortably permanent. She loves the safety its warm pinecone patchwork quilt provides.”

Moms are so special! The role of Mothers and preservation of family is a recurring theme in Nardi Point. Happy Mother’s Day!

ZEST Cafe and Home Art … Laurinda and Leyla Jo’s favorite Cafe!

Just off Six Forks road, in North Raleigh, is a very special Cafe and Home Art emporium– ZEST. If you’re meeting someone for lunch, or browsing for fantImageastic smart home decor accent pieces, ZEST is a joy for the eye to behold.

Most items are delightful accessory accents, the type that makes entertaining fun for both the hostess as well as the guest. Items are whimsically displayed pattern on pattern, dazzling the eye in bright color blocks with small touches of humor. ZEST is the perfect source for great gifts, particularly wedding or engagement showers, new baby, anniversary, or birthdays. An especially tempting children’s gift selection inspires anyone who has a special young child in their heart, to pick up an item anticipating the child’s beaming smile as she opens it!

Laurinda Elliott and Leyla Jo Piper met often at ZEST to catch up and lunch. Laurinda planned an October wedding along with decorating her and Dan’s new home built in the Nardi Point subdivision, so she coveted every item as a possible addition.

The gift section doesn’t stand alone, there’s also the great Cafe in a modern cozy setting. Wonderful ZESTwiches, Salads, Soups and larger Main offerings such as the awesome quesadilla. Laurinda’s favorite lunch was the french brie cheese, baby arugula, sparkling cranberry apricot chutney and spiced almond slivers on homemade honey wheat bread, with a glass of cranberry juice. Leyla Jo, enjoyed the modern coziness of the space, and the souper soups to which she often added middle eastern style hummus with a great bread. Image

It was here Leyla Jo spoke her heart to special friend Laurinda, opening her eyes to the situation with Dan.

“He’s different,” Laurinda confided softly to Leyla Jo as they shared Sunday brunch back at trendy, contemporary Zest Cafe. Leyla Jo knew this was her friend’s favorite eatery—a combination cafe and boutique displaying snappy, chic household items in creative color groups that never failed to delight. It seemed so long ago that she’d watched Laurinda enthusiastically covet the tabletop accessories for entertaining, knowing Laurinda visualized the bright colors in the new home she planned with Dan. Now she saw her lack of interest in the attractive items as concern over Dan deepened.

Leyla Jo put down her baked-brie, cranberry chutney sandwich avoiding her friend’s eyes.

“It’s always been difficult getting to his emotional side, but of course it would happen,” Laurinda continued. “Now, there’s a change, a barrier. Maybe it’s the travel to Chicago. I don’t know.” Laurinda looked away. She hadn’t touched her chicken tarragon salad. “He’s had to step that up for the wizard project. Maybe that’s it?”

ImageIf you happen to feel like you need a touch of ZESTfulness in your day, ZEST is the place to go! Who knows? You just might get to meet Laurinda and Leyla Jo! They’d like you! Enjoy!