Now For Some Shameless Self-Promotion

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Coverbk2You are invited to a Book Signing for my new novel, TEACHING MYSTERIES 201: THE STRIKE. This coming Sunday, Dec. 10, from 1 to 3 pm, I will be talking about the book and signing copies at Read Between the Lynes on the Woodstock Square.

This is a busy time of year, but if you have a few minutes and care to stop by, I’d love to see you. If you can’t make it Sunday but would like to read the book, it will remain on sale at the bookstore. It is also available on in paperback and Kindle formats.

Want to know more about it? Here’s the summary that appears on the back cover:

In this sequel to Teaching Mysteries 101, we return to Hancock High School, where the 1972-73 school year is beginning under the threat of a teachers’ strike. Third-year English teacher Andrea Jackson ultimately decides to risk her job by participating in the unpopular strike. Then in the midst of the chaos, a murder takes place.

Is the death connected to the strike? Will Andrea succeed in clearing a friend who is suspected of the crime? Will her sleuthing spell an end to a promising romance?

Find the answers in this novel set in a small Midwestern town during the tumultuous early ‘70s, a time of mini-skirts, peace symbols, rock music, and the anti-war movement.

And here’s a little more info: Last month I posted about the process of writing the book. If you’d like to read that again, you will find it here.

Thank you, everyone, for your interest in this project.

Remembering My Dad, A Would-be Veteran

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Holidays / Mostly Musings

Editor’s note: I usually don’t believe in rerunning posts. Perhaps I should say, it’s fine for others, but I prefer to come up with something new for my own blog. But… it’s Veteran’s Day, and I want to acknowledge it.  Because I haven’t come up with anything I like better, here is the post that I published four years ago today. I hope you’ll like it.


My father, Carl Dierksen, tried very hard to become a veteran. And I guess he technically would qualify as one, though he never claimed the honor.

He was 22 when he and my mother married in 1940. The following year, during World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, both to serve his country and to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot.

mom & dad young

Dad reported to a base in Florida, where he had completed several weeks of basic training when he received the news that Mom’s father had died. As bad as that was, it got worse. Mom was an only child, and with her father gone, there was no one to operate the family farm outside of Davenport, Iowa.

Dad was given no choice. His commanding officer told him that his country needed him to be a farmer more than it needed him to be a soldier. He was given an honorable discharge and sent home.

So Dad, who grew up in town as the son of a house painter, became an instant farmer—without the benefit of any basic training. He would spend the next 30 years of his life as a farmer and a family man. He was good at both.


Dad was a humble man. He knew that a few weeks of training had not earned him any recognition on Veterans Day.

flagIf he were still alive, Dad would be flying the flag today. He would be the first to shake a veteran’s hand and thank him or her. Dad might still be wondering if his life would have been different if he had been allowed to stay in the Air Corps.

He never forgot his dream of flying airplanes. When he was in his 50s, he earned his private pilot’s license. A few years later, he bought his own small plane.

Dad lived his last seven years in Woodstock, where he and Mom were my neighbors. I wish he had lived to see my Abbey and Maples at the Sonatas. He would have liked helping me move and doing projects around the house. And he would have always wanted to walk down the street to the place where you can still see a farm in the distance.

Happy Halloween 2017

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Holidays / Just for Fun

Trick-or-treating is underway at the Maples. Every year that I’ve lived here, we’ve had more costumed kids stop by. And each year it has been more fun.

One of the most creative groups I’ve seen tonight came over from our next-door community, The Sonatas. It’s cold, so one of the dads rigged up a heater on the golf cart that carried the parents while the kids ran door to door.


Many of the costumes are menacing this year, but the children are delightfully friendly and polite.

Then there was this guy, who said he was going to make Woodstock great again.



Can’t say I agreed with his politics, but then I wasn’t convinced that he did either. It was his giggling that gave him away. And certainly, he wasn’t as scary as the evening news that I returned to after he left.

Happy Halloween night to all!

My New Novel

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Maybe 7 is a lucky number after all.

It was 7 years ago that I moved into my new Abbey, which eventually led me to begin this blog.

It was also 7 years ago that I began the first draft of a new novel that I expected to be quick and easy to write. After all, it is a sequel. I already had developed most of the main characters, the setting, the genre (cozy mystery). I already knew the steps in the procedure: write, write, write, revise, revise, revise.

My second biggest surprise is that it took so very long to reach this point. And where is this point? Almost to the finish line.

My biggest surprise is that I finished the book at all. There were so many times that I put the project aside, only to resume work after months away from it.

Yet here is the awesome cover, created by Mark Lobo, the genius designer that I worked with at The Woodstock Independent and, later, at Indepth Graphics and Printing.


The cover is ready to go, and very soon the interior of the book will be too. My genius editor, Kelly McNees, is finishing the copyediting this week.

From there, the manuscript goes back to Mark for interior design and then off to be printed. I’m hoping the book will be available for readers before the end of the year.


If you are on Facebook and you’d like updates on my novel, visit the book’s page, Teaching Mysteries 201: The Strike.