That dollhouse I posted a couple of weeks ago? Fuhgettaboutit. On closer look, it was a real fixer-upper, with pieces of the exterior construction unconnected to each other, some splintered and broken. One good rainstorm, and it would have fallen apart!

So here’s a new one.

Formerly a mini Post Office, you man remember, now out of business, and being renovated as a small house in the woods.

The problem is, no place for a bedroom or bath. My plan is to add a loft, connecting that bar in front to a ledge in the back. I’m still working out what to use for the loft. Poster board might do; it won’t have anything heavy on it. Or a carpet swatch if I can find one.

Then, of course, I can decorate for the holidays. Christmas tree is ready to drag in! I’ll post here before I send it off to be auctioned at a local school fair.

In case you forgot what the PO looked like!


In case you missed my newsletter — I want to share my favorite holiday napkins. My favorite typo!

I bought a package of these years ago, and have been stingy about using them. Every time I call it a typo, I think again, and wonder if some worker in some factory simply wanted to make us think!

It can’t hurt.

Dollhouse 2022

An early dollhouse, a Tudor detailed by my creative niece, and donated to a school auction.

I’m not sure when the tradition started, but about 20 years ago is a good guess. A friend had a daughter in a local school and solicited donations for their holiday auction.

I volunteered to donate a dollhouse, and promptly enlisted my creative niece MES to help me fulfill the promise. Over the years I’ve enlisted other help, claiming it’s more fun than working alone. (Never mind that my friends and relatives are much more creative than I am. I do supply the furnishings, however!)

Here’s the “before” for this year’s house. It’s small enough that I can lift the job by myself! Maybe next year, it will be safe to have a full team working on a mansion!

2022 “before” photo. Some week in the near future, I should have the “after” to share.

The elephant in the room

This came up in a classroom discussion this week. It’s old, Hindu? But doesn’t it apply now?

What’s in a name?

Shakespeare asked the question in “Romeo and Juliet.” You remember: that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

So, names don’t matter?

They do if they live on as units.

Of course I’ve skipped ahead a few centuries, but I’ve always been fascinated by the names of units. In science, there are many that are named after key figures. We have the newton (unit of force); the ohm (unit of electrical resistance); watts (unit of power); the Tesla (yes, that one, unit of magnetic flux density); and dozens more here, including my favorite, the curie (radioactivity).

One that may also be familiar is the Mach, named after Ernst Mach whose work in aerodynamics led to the understanding of supersonic speeds. The Mach number is the ratio of the speed of an object to the speed of sound in the surrounding medium.

Image by Defence-Imagery from Pixabay

Why do I think of Mach today? Because this week marks the 75th anniversary of the breaking of the sound barrier. On October 14, 1947, pilot Chuck Yeager flew faster than Mach 1, the speed of sound. Details of the flight are here.

What’s your favorite unit?



Overstock: 2 copies of this book, featuring 22 short stories (one of them mine) with voting as a theme.

Let me if you’re interested, before going to the polls! US addresses only please.

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Fall Class!

Probably my favorite title, for a blog, an email, a spot on my calendar.

In October I’ll be giving a 3-Saturday Creative Writing Workshop.

The timetable:

3 Sessions, each 11 am to 2 pm:
Saturday, October 8
Saturday, October 15
Saturday, October 29

Ready to write and need some help? Register here!

image by Steve Johnson from pixabay

If you’re writing, or always wanted to — a novel? A short story? Your memoirs? This class emphasizes the craft of writing: plotting, developing characters, point of view, dialogue, and setting. You’ll learn techniques for submitting a proposal to an agent or publisher. Each class includes lecture, discussion, critique, and writing exercises.

Looking for Mishka

— a short story by Jim Guigli, appearing in Rock and a Hard Place Magazine Issue 7

This week my guest is Jim Guigli. I’ll let him explain!

Looking for Mishka — Why?

by Jim Guigli

My short story, Looking for Mishka, is now available in Issue 7 of Rock and a Hard Place Magazine.

This story, like most of my fiction, is about private Detective Bart Lasiter.  After he had enough time serving the Berkeley, California PD, Bart moved north to open a tiny office in Old Town Sacramento.

While plotting a Bart Lasiter novel, I faced a research problem.  In my respectful parody of the Marlowe/Lew Archer genre, Under the Black Flag, an important question about the laws and legal codes directing California private investigators stumped me and my inexperienced private detective.

In helping a wealthy Lake Tahoe woman deliver ransom to the kidnappers of her husband, what were Bart’s legal obligations?  His client didn’t want police involvement.  Was Bart required to notify law enforcement?

I couldn’t find a straightforward answer, even after a lot of online research and consulting both a working private investigator and a San Jose PD detective.  My solution was to have Bart remain as unsure as his author:

Did he have to report it?  He wasn’t sure.  He’d never had a kidnapping case before, except for Mrs. Tereshkova’s cat.

I continued with the novel, but Mrs. Tereshkova’s cat needed a life.  In time I invented the back story that became Looking for Mishka.

Another cat, Aggie/Agamemnon, appears in this story.  This guy was real, our pet, until he died last year at 18.  The Bart Lasiter stories featuring Aggie describe him as he was in life — except for drinking whiskey.

I hope you enjoy Looking for Mishka and Rock and a Hard Place Magazine.

Kill Your Darlings

by Anastasia Pollack and Lois Winston, her author, my guest blogger today.

As anyone who has read about my life knows, I have many bones to pick with my author Lois Winston. Not only is she constantly placing me in the path of dead bodies, but she also saddled me with the communist mother-in-law from Hades. You may remember that Lucille Pollack is based on Lois’s own communist mother-in-law. I suppose it’s one of those “write what you know” things I’ve heard authors talk about when they don’t know we characters are eavesdropping on them.

When I reminded Lois of William Faulkner’s writing advice to “kill your darlings,” she told me the saying actually comes from a Cambridge University lecture given by English writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch about a century ago when he advised, “Murder your darlings.”

However, Lois explained that neither Faulkner nor Quiller-Couch was talking about the characters that populate a novel. They were referring to the need to be ruthless when it comes to eliminating anything that an author may personally love about her writing but has no reason for being in the story.

Quiller-Couch’s full quote is, “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

Lois will tell you that one of the best pieces of writing advice she’s ever received is that everything in a book, whether narrative action, internalization, or dialog, must do one of two things—either advance the plot or tell the reader something she needs to know about the point of view character at that moment. In other words, ditch the filler.

However, unfortunately for me, the same is not necessarily true of the characters who populate stories. And yes, I get it. Mystery authors need dead bodies. Otherwise, there would be little need for me or any amateur sleuth to figure out whodunit—unless the mystery centers around who stole the cookies from the cookie jar. And we all know the answer to that—Cookie Monster!

Lois has a friend who adores both me and the novels Lois writes about me—with one major exception. With a passion bordering on obsession, this woman absolutely hates Lucille. She has begged Lois on numerous occasions to kill Lucille off or barring that, ship her to Siberia. However, Lois insists that Lucille is the character many of her readers love to hate. Yes, she’s irritating, but she provides both conflict and comic relief.

Unfortunately for this friend, as well as yours truly, Lois plans to keep Lucille around. She justifies this by citing the reader backlash when Elizabeth George killed off a beloved character years ago. Although, I doubt any of Lois’s readers would classify Lucille as a beloved character. Even Lucille’s son, AKA my deceased husband, liked his mother best when an hour’s drive and a river separated the two of them.

Thanks to Lois, Lucille is back again, causing more trouble for me and my family in Guilty as Framed, the newest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery

Are there characters you’ve come across that you wish the author would kill off? What about characters you wish an author hadn’t killed off? Let’s hear from you. And feel free to tell me what you really think of Lucille. Misery loves company!

Guilty as Framed

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11

When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history.

Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancé Zack Barnes.

A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history.

But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want?

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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 where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.