Resting and Relaxing under the Cold Moon

Welcome to On the Prowl.

This Cold Moon edition wraps up this year musing about toe nails, tobacco roots, and my non-existent baking skills. This is a mellow edition. After the roller coaster that was 2020, I’m all in for some R&R.

December’s moon is the Cold Moon. For obvious reasons. The day here started out at 18 degrees. This year’s Cold Moon is in it’s full glory on December 29th at 10:30 pm EST. The Farmer’s Almanac provided a list of other names this moon was known by. Three of the more poetic are Long Night Moon, Winter Maker Moon, and Mid-Winter Moon. Under the category of “call them like you see them” are Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers and Snow Moon. By far, the more interesting are:

Drift Clearing Moon. Must come with a windy night, or a snow plow driver. That’s the only what I’ve seen the moon clear a drift.

Frost Exploding Trees Moon. OMG, the visual. Just reading it I hear a musical score and…then…the …cymbals….CRASH!

Hoar Frost Moon. Hoar? Ummm Miriram-Webster, a little help here. Whew, it means gray or white as with age. Like my hair. I have partially hoary hair. Oh, dear, no.

Little Spirit Moon. Aww, cute. It sounds like a Disney moon.

Moon of the Popping Trees. Again, the visual. Sounds like something that belongs in Alice’s wonderland, maybe a weapon of the Queen of Hearts.

My Dog’s Toes

Everyone, meet Lucy. Lucy is 2 ½ years old and is a mix of Great Dane, German Shephard, Black Lab, and Bull Mastiff. The runt of her litter, our Lucy Bear has enough personality for three dogs. She plays hide-and-seek, knee hockey, and is a killer trainer for puck (ball) handling. She has figured out how to open the bedroom doors, which open in, and the basement door, which opens out. She talks, sounding a lot like Scooby Doo, another Great Dane. Lucy’s most charming feature is her ears. One up, one down. Hard to stay mad at that. But her most curious feature is her toes.

Her front paws have black nails but her back paws have a mix of white clear and solid black. A moment of research shows this is hardly unique but still totally fascinating. Imagine how odd a thing it would be on a human to have some normal semi-transparent finger nails and some totally opaque, black nails. And then, what makes one toe different from the one next to it? You would think one foot would have nails of one color. Fascinating. Wrapping this section up. Lucy wants me to stop picking at her toes and just pet her.

An Americas Original

The leading man in Episode 5B of Mysteries to Die For is a smoker. As I started to write the adaptation, I had the Oh, sh*t moment that I didn’t know what he was smoking. I assumed it was tobacco but was it a pipe, a cigar, a cigarette? I had no idea what fashionable gentlemen smoked in the mid-1800s. So I asked Wikipedia.

It turns out, tobacco is an Americas original – as in North and South America. The plants were used throughout the continent for its medicinal and entertainment qualities. Natives from on end to the other chewed or smoked the leaves in a pipe. In the 1520s and 1530s, Europeans coming over took tobacco back along with maize, potato, and tomato. Tobacco was controversial for the “drunken effect” it produced. Needless to say, use of the leaf spread like wildfire.

In the 1850s, tobacco was broadly used in the US by men, women, and children. It was smoked, chewed, and dipped. Apparently, it created quite a nasty mess with people spitting. Finer establishments provided spittoons for use, although many missed. Even churches provided the amenity. (Disgusting. I gagged a little writing the section. The curse of an overactive imagination.)

Pipes have been around for more than a thousand years and people have tried to smoke everything that will burn in hopes of finding the good stuff. With the migration of tobacco, rolling leaves into cigars and cigarettes grew in popularity. In the late 1800s, commercially produced cigarettes came to market, lowering the price and increasing the fashion ability of the cigarette.

I ended up using cigars in my story. Using cigarettes felt too modern and a pipe too cumbersome. For myself, I tried smoking once, to see what the big deal was. My tongue felt like I licked a cat and everything I ate tasted like it was seasoned with mulch. So, yeah, once was enough.

It’s the Thought that Counts

I am a rotten baker. It’s true. I’m a decent cook, but utterly horrible at baking. So what was I thinking when I decided I was going to make fruit breads to give to a few neighbors and close friends? Like Clark W. Griswold Jr., I was thinking about having a fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas. Some lemon bread (made it before). Some apple fritter bread (made it once). A few each day and I would have gifts given with thought and time and attention. That was the idea.

The reality was I made garbage. About 4 pounds of it. But did I learn?

Nope. “Let’s make donuts!” See picture right. These donuts were so bad, they wouldn’t even fry! I know what I did wrong. I tried to make donuts! Ha! But seriously, I made a tiny mistake reading the recipe and…put 2x the butter. Ah well. Live and learn. Take 2 happens on Dec 31. Wish me luck!

Mysteries to Die For. Season 2: The Originators

I am pushing back the start of Season 2 to Friday, February 5th. I need a little more of a buffer after the holidays. Production of the podcasts is coming along. Episode 5a and 5b are in the works and Episode 6 is getting started. The deeper I get into these stories, the more I’m enjoying them. I know you are going to get a kick out of the stories that created the mystery genre.

Count Down to Suicide Squeeze

February 8th, book 2 in the Diamond series hits the streets. Pre-order available soon.

Diamond. One name for a woman with one purpose. Or she was, until she finished her to-do list. Now she’s just a woman ready to be over with it all.

Hanna Lang is the kind of woman men write bad checks for. She has a problem. Her man, Dr. Damon Marten, disappeared in the middle of an ordinary day. The police aren’t concerned but Hanna knows better. A clandestine meeting leaves her with an address, a sealed envelope, and one last hope. An hour later, she rings a doorbell.

Before Diamond was a widow, she was CIA agent with skills illegal in a dozen countries. When her marker is called in, she has no choice but to listen. It’s just like fate throw her a curve ball, sending her the one problem she can’t walk away from. Hanna’s situation is virtually identical to her own with one exception: Hanna’s man might still be alive.

Diamond reluctantly takes the case. She dives into the mystery, surfacing in the middle of a scavenger hunt for a secret known as Poe’s Raven. It takes Diamond’s flair for the impossible to capture this bird, only to discover what’s in her hand has the potential to take terrorism to a chilling new level. And fate isn’t done with Diamond, forcing her to put it all on the line or risk setting the caged bird free.

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl

January’s full moon was made for me. The Wolf Moon! Meet me on January 28th for e-zine packed full of fun. (Get it? Packed / pack. :))

Nothing to Buy Under the Beaver Moon

Welcome to this Beaver Moon Edition of On the Prowl.
If your inbox is like mine, it has been blown up with Black Friday ads. Each has a deal I need to act on now, right now. I need a break and I’m guessing you do, too.

This my gift to you, an edition filled with drunk squirrels, roll overs, gingerbread soldiers and a robin.

November’s full moon comes early on Monday the 30th, 4:30am. Also known as the Frost Moon, the Beaver Moon is the time of year beavers get busy preparing for winter. They reinforce their dens, getting ready for ice and snow. Not coincidentally, it’s the same time of year trappers stock up on their supply of furs for the winter. 

Here in Northern Indiana, we have 0% chance of seeing the moon. Forecast is for clouds leaking rain and then snow. It is officially the Holiday Season. Here in Northern Indiana, we have 0% chance of seeing the moon. Forecast is for clouds leaking rain and then snow. It is officially the Holiday Season.

It’s Not Just Your Uncle Who’s a Funny Drunk

Berries and fruits can ferment naturally. In the presence of yeast and bacteria, the sugar in the fruit juice can ferment into alcohol. Alcohol that some of our favorite critters love just as much as us two legged animals.  IFL Science has collected social media postings of zoned out chipmunks and uncoordinated squirrels. And it turns out trees and moose go together just as much as trees and cars. Gather the family around the screen for these videos. IFL Science Squirrel!

Some of our animal friends have harder tasted. Jaguars nibble on the hallucinogenic yage, regressing into stoned kittens doing impressions of rugs on the jungle floor. Parrots have been so aggressive in their pursuit of Poppies in India at this article called the attacks “raids”. The government has issued warnings about the addict birds, who have changing their habits, going into a stealth mode when attacking farms. IFL Science Polly Wanta Poppy


I am thrilled to reveal the cover for Diamond’s second mystery, Suicide Squeeze. Cover art is by the talented JT Lindroos, who has made the covers for Diamond’s 1st and both of Cruz’s covers. In the design of Widow’s Run, we featured a robin, Diamond’s arch enemy. JT incorporated this little nuisance into the new cover. Can you spot him? 


You know I love to share tidbits I pick up when I’m researching for my books or podcasts. This one, like so many, was totally unexpected. I needed a car crash for a scene I was working on. I didn’t particularly care about the crash so much as the result. I needed the driver to eventually die and the passenger to live. I called one of my favorite experts, my brother Vito, a Cleveland Fire Fighter. I explained what I needed and how I thought a roll over would make for a good dramatic scene but would it be too contrived to have a small SUV roll over on Cleveland’s city streets?

Short answer: No. Nope. Happens all time.

Really?!?!? Cause I’ve been driving for a lot of years, in a lot of weather conditions and never (knock on wood) did I feel in danger of rolling over.

And then began my list of questions. Were they on interstate on/off ramps? No. Normal streets. Did they hit some sort of ramp to make them flip? Nope. Just curbs.


His un-verified statistics indicated that speed is a key ingredient. It happens a decent amount of times with stolen cars. By the time Cleveland Fire arrives on the scene, the occupants have cut through the seat belts and fled the scene.

Here’s footage from a real roll over crash of an ordinary guy with a Go Pro mounted on his dashboard. Roll Over A vehicle stops unexpectedly in front of the driver, who takes evasive action that prevents a rear-end collision but results in a roll over. Start watching from the 2 minutes mark.

A 2011 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed 328 roll over crashes. The study was part of an effort into increase protection during rollovers because, while they accounted for only 3% of crashes, they were 33% of fatalities. Because statistics are fun (shut up, yes they are) here are a few for you:

  • 68% involved only 1 vehicle.
  • 50% had only 1 person in the vehicle.
  • 69% had male drivers. Of those, 31% were age 21-30, 28% age 31-40.
  • About 60% of drivers and passengers wore seatbelts.
  • 31% involved alcohol, which means 69% were sober.
  • The percent of people ejected and percent of people without seatbelts were about the same.
  • No numbers with this, but it seemed to this reader the fatalities were associated with being ejected from the vehicle or head injuries due to striking the roof.

Soooo if you are male, between the ages of 21 and 40, are sober and driving alone, wear your seatbelt and work extra hard to keep them tires on the road.

And, no, I didn’t end up using a roll over in the scene. I went with a front end collision.


Back in 2014, I began writing short stories revolving around Philip and Bridget and their not-so-picture perfect holiday adventures. Some were exaggerations of my own experiences. Some were pure fiction. This one is in the latter category (I can’t make a cookie to save my life!)

Bridget has a great idea. Instead of buying gifts for teachers, she is going to make beautiful, magazine worthy cookies, made even more special by doing them with her four (yes, four) children. Don’t laugh at Bridget, laugh with her.

Use this link: GSTA and the password Holiday20 to access a private page on my website. You can read story there or download the .pdf.

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
December 30, the Cold Moon will be on the rise. I look forward to bringing tidbits to warm you and to kick 2020 out on its buttocks.

On the Prowl: Walking Softly under the Hunter’s Moon

Welcome to this Blue Moon edition of On the Prowl. We’re going to explore the origins of the name of a not-blue moon, solve a real mystery in my own back yard, and hunt for a ghost. This edition is a little shorter than others. Sadly, real life got in the way of my playing this month.

October 31st is a busy day night this year and not just for the little ghouls and goblins trying to have fun amid this COVID world we are living in. Saturday is a full moon, the second one this month. Making the Hunter’s Moon a calendar Blue Moon.

The Hunter’s Moon is a call-it-like-you-see it kind of name. The weather around here has been great for getting outside. The Hunter’s Moon will crest at 10:51 A.M. Eastern Time and will look perfectly brilliant at night (if you’re lucky enough to not have a cloudy night)

Blue moons have a more complicated name. According to one of my favorite resources, The Farmer’s Almanac, the original definition of a blue moon was related to four full moons in a season. Since the moon’s cycle is 29.5 days, a 3-month season occasionally has 4 full moons. The 3rd of these was called the Blue Moon. Why the 3rd and not the 4th? If you were going to give a special name to an extra something being in a set, wouldn’t you give it to the last? The caboose?

And down the rabbit hole we go. Allow me to introduce you to a 2012 article written by Philip Hiscock for Sky and Telescope. He went after this. (Thank you, Philip!) His article is “Where does the phrase ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ come from?” He traced the term to 1937 where it appeared in an edition of Maine’s Farmer Almanac to refer to certain full moons. He heard stories of earlier uses but was not able to substantiate the use of the term.

In the 1940s, the early use of the term was misinterpreted. Instead of a blue moon being the 3rd full moon with there are 4 in a season, it was associated with the 2nd full moon within the same month. The version was reprinted and retold until it is now the more accepted definition.

I wonder if the newer definition took root because it’s simpler for us non-astronomical types to manage. Knowing when a season starts and ends is tricky, let alone counting the full moons in it. Knowing when a month starts is much, much easier.

A Different Kind of Cruze1 Mystery (in 500 words)

“Really? A car alarm? Sooo wrong, this was my Sunday.” Putting the pillow over my head, I attempted to ignore the fact that daylight had seeped into the room. Damn that alarm was loud. It sounded like it was in the yard. Tossing aside the useless pillow, I dragged my reluctant bones out of bed and peeked out the window. “Huh. J— your car alarm is going off.”

Like any normal 17-year-old, he was dead asleep. His car fob was on his bedside table, squashing my idea that he rolled over on it or Lucy Bear (our dog) was using it as a chew toy. I took it to my bedroom and pointed it at the car. Noise stopped. Problem solved. Resumed daylight denial.

The alarm went off again. Fob on my beside table. No hand upon it. I got back up, went back to the window, pressed the magic button again. The noise stopped but this time, this time my friends, I watched.

The brake lights flashed. The backing lights went on. The trunk opened! That damn car did everything but turning itself around and shout “That’s what it’s all about!”

Enter the husband. He’d been downstairs with the dog. “What’s going on?”

“J—’s car alarm keeps turning on.”

“Well, get the keys and turn it off.”

That’s why I got married, for inspired words like those. “I did,” I said. “The lights keep turning on, by themselves. I think the car’s possessed.”

He snorted derisively, but it made complete sense! This close to Halloween, when the threshold between Here and There is thin, our car could be a portal to the other side. An odd choice, admittedly. If I were on the other side, I would not choose a 2011 Chevy Cruze for my cross-portal transportation, but that’s just me.

A third time the alarm went off! Proof something was amiss. I returned the key fob, letting J— know his car was likely possessed. “Should be fine to drive, just letting you know.”

He sat up, rubbed a dog belly. “Yeah, rriiiight. I gotta go to work, so I’m just gonna get my laundry.”

Downstairs, I shared my theory with anyone who would listen (Lucy Bear). “Spirits are manifest energy. If the energy came in proximity to the car’s electrical system, it stands to reason that things could go haywire. The surge could affect the lights, the horn, even release the trunk.”

Lucy supported my theory and further speculated I could reach the treat jar if I leaned a little to the right.

“So, I might know what happened,” J— said, amusement in his tone. “Remember the car keys I couldn’t find? Found them…in the washing machine. Dad ran a load for me.”

The Husband had put a load of J—‘s clothes in just some ten minutes before J—’s car channeled its inner Christine2. Thus, a potentially amazing solution was displaced by a cold, wet reality and a truth was revealed: car fobs and water don’t mix.

  1. It’s a play on words. The possessed car is a Chevy Cruze. The lead in my mystery series is Jesus De La Cruz. You should read him. You’d like him.
  2. Christine is a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury. It’s classic Stephen King. You should read him. You’d like him.

Jack and I are continuing to work on Season 2 of Mysteries To Die For. Episode 3, Human Effect, is in the works. It’s a perfect story to record this time of year…

Our hero is a business man, a practical man, who can’t resist a good haunted house. Too bad every one he’s faced off with was a fraud. The “haunted” was nothing more than the effect of a human with some perverse motive.

But this house just may be different. A friend of his couldn’t stand being in the house more than two nights! And this delightful house was right in his own back yard. London.

Season 2 The Originators. Episode 3 Human Effect. Available 2021

While you’re waiting for us to release our next season, check out one of my favorite Podcasts Myths and Legends. Jason and Carissa do an amazing job telling stories from, well, myths and legend. I love hearing the stories I know, well, I thought I knew. Zeus and the Greek gods. 101 Arabian Knights. Robin Hood. Mulan. There is so much more to these stories then what you know from cartoons or children’s books.

Myths and Legends takes you to places you’ve never imagined. Ancient Japan with Princess Moonlight. Ireland and the tragic life of Etain. East to west, north to south, Myths and Legends is everywhere.

Check them out wherever you get your podcasts

Happy Haunting

I warned you this was going to be a short one. I’ll back on the prowl November 30 when we’ll be swimming under the Beaver Moon.


On the Prowl: Staring at Colors under the Harvest Moon

Welcome to the Harvest Moon edition of On the Prowl.
I’ve been in a lot of rabbit holes since we were last together. We’ll get into equinoxes, world times zones, the prime meridian, and the beginning of the mystery genre. Hope you enjoy!

Picking up from last month, the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is called the Harvest Moon. Most years, the title goes to September’s full moon, but not this year. Before we get into the Harvest Moon, follow me down the rabbit hole of the Equinox. Here’s the what-you-should-know-as-a-human-living-on-earth: an equinox is a day that is closest to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. There are two: one in spring and one in fall. Here’s something to share when you’re in a gathering and need something to say: there is an exact time for each equinox. This is the time when the sun passes across the earth’s equator. This year, the autumnal equinox was September 22, with that magical crossing happening at 9:31 EDT. Check out this video from National Geographic. It does a nice job explaining equinox and shows how it was built into ancient structures like Machu Picchu.

October’s moon is the Harvest Moon. Well, October’s first moon. We have a treat this year with a second full moon on Halloween. But this first moon will rise on October 1 and be visible after sunset. According to The Farmer’s Almanac, the timing of the moon rise increases the amount of light down here, extending the time farmers could work in the fields.

It’s About the Who Dunnit

I’ve been curious about when “mystery” became a genre. Why? I have no idea. I get curious about a lot of things. This is just one. Being impatient, I did some quick internet searching and found the term seemed to come into use in the first part of the 1900s, reflecting a style of writing that began popping up about 50 years earlier. I have begun searching for these first stories, wanting to see how they are different than what we have today and how they were different than other stories at the time. Right now, I’ve completed 4 stories and DNF (Did not finish) 3 stories.

My working theory is that mysteries shifted storytelling from a something happening to a narrator to a narrator as a removed person. Many of these stories of murder and mayhem, the narrator is either the person who did it or the person who it was happening to, which puts the stories more in the horror genre. The stories themselves COULD BE mysteries if they were told with the narrator being the cop / coroner / neighbor who investigated.

Take Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cat. The story is told by a man in prison the evening before he goes to the gallows. He tells of being tormented by a black cat, which (spoiler) leads to him killing his wife, hiding her body, and being caught. It is an engrossing story, a perfect pre-halloween read, but there is no “who dunnit”. It is a really good horror story. Here’s a link to it on Gutenburg

Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, for contrast, the murders of a woman and her daughter are read about by our hero C. August Dupin and his unnamed assistant/narrator. The victims lived on the 4th floor, the rest of the house was vacant. The murders happened at three in the morning. The equivalent of a year’s salary was left in the room as was jewelry and other valuables. All the doors were locked from the inside. This story is all about the “who dunnit”.

If the story of the Black Cat was told by the Police Officer who when looking for the missing (cause she’s dead) wife, the story would have been a mystery. They questioned the husband three times because they caught the break they needed. We would not have known the backstory, so it likely wouldn’t have been anywhere near as cool, but it would have been a mystery.

It was popular at the time to have continuing storylines that ran in magazines. In my mind, these were pre-television soap operas. It’s easy to see why mysteries would not fit this model. Once you know who dunnit, the story is over. It’s hard for a writer to make a living on it. Horror stories could run much longer, building the suspense and intrigue. Some of my DNF were in this category. The writing was fine, the premise caught my attention but stories were just coming in bits too small for me right now.

Below is a list of the stories I’ve been reading. These are all available for free. I’ve included the link to the documents through The Gutenberg Project.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Allan Pinkerton, The Somnabulist and the Detective
The Lock and Key Library (short stories, mix mysteries and others)
Not Mysteries
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (A “who is she”, not who dunnit)
Thomas Hardy, Desperate Remedies (A tragedy, soap opera) 

Welcome to Mysteries To Die For

This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Episode art is by Shannon. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

We are busy working on Season 2, which will feature adaptations of the story that started the mystery genre. All of the stories were written in the 1800s, They give us a glimpse into everyday life and the hotbed topics of the day, along with murder, mystery, and mayhem. Episodes begin dropping in January.

Episode 1: The Thinking Man. Two women are brutally murdered. They were in a bedroom on the fourth floor with the windows and doors locked from the inside. No money or valuables are taken. After a clerk is arrested, August Dupin takes an interest is the “impossible crime.” This is adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

Episode 2: Desperate Measures. Everyone liked George Gordon. He was a head teller at the bank who was murdered in cold blood for money in the vault. The heads of the Mississippi bank send for the famed Chicago detective, Allan Pinkerton. No costs are to be spared in the search for a killer. This is an adaptation of Allan Pinkerton’s The Somnambulist and The Detective.  

October Lady

Use the clues to find a word related to the harvest, then use the numbered positions to discover who our October Lady is. Answers are at the bottom. 

Time of year that begins with the equinox:  1 _ 2 _ _ _
Tool used to cut crops:  3 _ _ _ _ 4
When there are no crops to bring in:  5 _ 6 _ _ _
The kind of belt that carries crops:  _ _ _ 7 _ _ 8 _
Old school way of harvesting: by 9 _ _ 10
Cutting of grain: 11 _ _ _ _ _ 12

10 4 6 4 2 4 11,   12 8 10 10 4 3 3    8 5   2 9 4  9 1 11 7 4 3 2


BOWED HEADS for Ben and Patrick. For the hundreds of words I’ve written in this newsletter, I can’t find any to write here. The end came far too soon.

WELCOME TO THE PACK Susie’s little pup.

A SCRATCH OF THE EAR for virtual conferences and all the creative ways people are finding to keep rooted in normal. 

It was a quiet month for wolf calls. If I missed celebrating your big moment, drop me a note. 

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
October 31, 2020
Where we’ll be haunting the Hunter’s Moon

I hope you have a brilliant October. See you in 30 days.

On the Prowl: Amazed Under the Corn Moon

This month we’ll play with all different types of corn, we’ll take the way back wayyy back for a peak at story publishing in the 1800s, and we’ll play a little game I call “corn whole”. To really get into the mood this month, I’m featuring a salute to corny jokes. Check out for all ninety wonderfully, terrible jokes.

Why did the golfer bring an extra pair of pants?
In case he got a hole in one!

What lights up a soccer stadium?
A soccer match!

This month we are prowling under the Corn Moon. The moon will be visible after sunset on Tuesday, September 1 and crest at 1:23am on September 2nd. There is something unusual with September’s moon this year. September’s moon is often referred to as the Harvest Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the name “Harvest Moon” is the name given to the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. This year, that moon is in October. 

And so the dilemma. What to call this moon that isn’t the Harvest Moon? The back to school moon? The start of football season moon? The bring on sweatshirt weather moon? Let’s keep is simple and name it for the delicious vegetable ready for picking. The corn moon.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, other names for this moon include:

  • “Moon When the Plums Are Scarlet” by the Lakota Sioux.
  • “Moon When the Deer Paw the Earth” by the Omaha.
  • “Moon When the Calves Grow Hair” by the Sioux.

For me, this is the “Moon When the Walnuts Fall”, which is the shortened name of “Moon when walnuts fall and are crushed into glass like shards that make your feet bleed” 🙂 

Bacon and Eggs walk into a bar. “Sorry,” the bartender said, “we don’t serve breakfast.”

What’s red and bad for your teeth?


Embracing Every Department of Literature

In preparation for Season 2 of Mysteries to Die For, I have been scouring the internet for the stories that started the story telling style that became mysteries. Many sources recognize Edgar Allan Poe as the author of the first detective story. The Murders in the Rue Morgue was published in 1841 in Graham’s Magazine. Poe was the editor at the time. Graham’s Magazine featured drawings, stories, poetry, and musical scores. Check out Volume XIII from Indiana University and Hathi Trust. Graham’s Magazine Vol XIII

Looking at it with my modern eyes, it is fascinating. I am so used to stories and genre’s being grouped that I was totally intrigued by having stories of all types together with substantial amounts of poetry. Finding steel engravings was a delight. I love glimpses back into yesteryear. I prefer art that is more accessible rather than being limited to the creme de la creme in museums.

The music surprised me. I never thought about how music was distributed back in the day. The music and words are shared in the magazine. How else would a composer’s work extend beyond his own circle, I supposed. Now we have websites and apps that help us amateur musicians play the music we love to hear. Maybe Graham’s Magazine was the very early prototype for what we have today.

I set out to read mysteries and am enjoying what I am finding. What is surprising is how much I’m enjoying the hunt and all the unexpected treasures I’m discovering along the way.   Below is the title and index pages from Graham’s Vol XVIII. The second entry on the right hand column is Rue Morgue. Also included is the cover page of a piece from an opera. I wonder how much it will cost me to get Jack to play it. Hmmmm.

Why did the golfer bring an extra pair of pants?
In case he got a hole in one!

What lights up a soccer stadium?
A soccer match!


This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Episode art is by Shannon. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

Episode 13 is now live. Diamond and Irish turn a drive-by shooting on its ears, putting a classic into practice to find the name that’s behind the hit. We are racing to the wire in Bad Cop, Badder Cop.

The final episode in the story drops on September 11: I’ll Take the Coup de Grace with a Side of Fries.  If you are new to the podcast, start with Episode 1: What a Lovely Corpse You Have. Catch up to us from there. We’ll be waiting for you. A list of characters is included in show notes and on the HERE.

We are starting work on Season 2, which will tell the original stories that began the mystery genre. We are going back to the 1800s. Ladies, dust off your corset and gentlemen wax those mustaches, we are going Victorian. Check back here next month for more details.

Corn Whole

Below are clues to a word that contains the word CORN. The word appears in complete and in order. Each question has a point value. Total yours up and tell me how you scored! tina at tgwolff dot com. Answers are at the bottom.

3 points each
1. A dapper nut with a tasteful hat 
2. The wonderfully, terrible jokes in this edition
3. A movie gotta have
4. A St. Patrick’s Day delight, in the U.S. at least
5. No way out
6. The horn of abundance

5 points each
7. Where naughty children sit
8. You’ll see green alligators, but not these.
9. I see you
10. Hell pales to this woman 
11. A pepper’s berry

7 points each
12. Have you met my cousin the trumpet
13. An architect’s crowning glory
14. cockeyed


HOWL AT THE MOON to all the parents, teachers, and administrators who are working so diligently to give kids some sense of normal. The work you are doing matters. Thank you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend Karen, who writes as Kyra Jacobs. I so proud to call her my friend. Help me celebrate her birthday by checking out any of her 9 sweet romances. Kyra Jacobs on Amazon

MORE HAPPY BIRTHDAYS to the great kids in my life. My smart-mouthed, smart-assed, and just plain smart son Viktor. My trumpet playing, volleyball smashing niece Santina. My baseball playing nephew Rocco and his frog catching, football playing brother Luca. Let’s sing Happy Birthday…Uncle Vinnie style. HaPPy BirTHday to You!

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
October 1, 2020
Where we’ll be basking in the colors of the Harvest Moon

Corn Whole Answers

On the Prowl: Swimming under the Sturgeon Moon

This month we are prowling under the Sturgeon Moon. The moon will rise on Sunday, August 2nd and crest at noon on Monday the 3rd. Looking to the Farmer’s Almanac, the name refers to the time of year when the fish were easy to catch in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.

Now, my knowledge of fish is limited to the few I am willing to eat: walleye, cod, red snapper, tilapia, tuna. My first thought seeing the image of the sturgeon was…what an ugly fish.

I wouldn’t eat it.

Of course, if it was served fileted, I wouldn’t know it was ugly.   

So, what is so interesting about the sturgeon that a moon is named after it? Let’s look at what National Geographic says. The fish is old. It first appeared in fossil records over 200 million years ago. The fish is big. It can be up to 9 feet long and up to 275 pounds. The fish is long lived. The females at least. Males can live to 55 years while females can reach more than 150 years old. The females mature at 15 to 25 years and then spawn about every four years.

Sturgeon are famous for their eggs, which are better known as caviar (not eating that either). Intense fishing has lead to a dramatic decline in the species that once accounted for the majority of fish in the great lakes. Regulations on fishing have given the fish a break and they are trending in a positive direction.

For a different take on conservation, check out these NYT and CNN article where scientists working to preserve the species inadvertently created a hybrid fish. These fish won’t live in the wild…said the the mad scientist in every monster movie ever.

Old magnifying glass on old handwriting

Dateline June 2020. Message Written in Cryptic Language Confounds Teen.

A thoughtful gift turns into an adventure as a newspaper article is accompanied by a beautiful but baffling message. True story. The thoughtful gift was from Aunt Barb, the baffling message was that menagerie of curls and swirls known as cursive. “It might as well have been written in Greek,” his mother (spoiler: me) said.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.

Still, the laugh at my son’s expense got me thinking about cursive writing and its current state. If you thought cursive writing was archaic, you were right. Written script started to be used for business and correspondence by the Romans. The Roman Empire was expansive, spreading the writing across the territory. From that start, writing evolved in style and form right up to modern time. I like this summary of the history on Like all of you, I learned one way to write in cursive. It turns out, there are many different styles all with names. Draw Your World shows several examples of handwriting including the one that looks most familiar to me, Modern Cursive. I never could make the capital letters D, F, G, Q, S, or T. Sad but true, I am not talented that way and 23% of the letters escaped me including the ones in my name!

Ongoing is the debate of whether cursive should be taught in schools. For my kids, cursive has made only a brief appearance in their elementary curriculum. This blog post on Thinkfun gives some pros and cons. On the “pro” side is the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills. The info graphic created on the “pro” side triggered the engineer in me. “Fifty percent of students write faster and more neatly in cursive than print”…which means fifty percent write slower and more messily in cursive. Not a compelling argument. “There is a correlation between better handwriting and increased academic performance across all subjects.” Explain doctors. “Cursive is included in dyslexia therapy because its fluidity and baseline decodes and reduces the swapping of letters.” Totally buy it…but you can still make tails backwards. At least, I can.

On the “con” side of teaching cursive in schools is the argument that cursive was created as a communication. It was cutting edge in its day. Communication today needs to keep up with the speed of life. Life has shifted to a digital font and so our communication style needs to similarly shift. Competing and succeeding as an adult today is better served by developing a proficiency with a keyboard and competency with software.

Where do you fall?

Here’s where I land. Aside from a sweet note from your Aunt, there isn’t anything to read in cursive. Print is everywhere. Signs. Hard copy and e-books. Social media. Texting. There is no argument to be made that reading and writing cursive is necessary to functioning in our modern world. The argument, then, is for advantages to fine motor skills and cognitive development. To my mind, if it is included, it should be treated as a development tool. No poor marks for bad handwriting. Wide latitude to adapt, adopt, and create your own style as is completely normal.


Seriously, this isn’t just a game, you’re challenging your brain to think differently. It’s simple, all you have to do is write backwards. Before you roll your eyes, this is the way Leonardo DaVinci wrote.

EASY. Print mirrored all in capital letters: She’s not dead.
(Opening line to Driving Reign)

MEDIUM. Print mirrored with a mix of capital and lower case: They buried me today and I had the balls to show up.
(Opening line to Widow’s Run)

HARD. Mirrored cursive – You can do it: Today was a good day to die.
(Opening line to Suicide Squeeze, coming February 2021)

Here’s mine…alright my cursive needs a little work to reach DaVinci’s level.

Welcome to Mysteries To Die For
This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Episode art is by Shannon. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

Episode 11 is now live. Diamond travels to Oklahoma to put the screws to her #1 suspect. At least, that’s her plan.

August is the ramp up to the end of our story. August 14 is the drop date for Episode 12 That’s SWAT I Call Awesome. Diamond discovers there’s a bounty on her head, the kind of money people would kill for. This one has a hitch, she has to be recovered alive. And, please, who has time for that. Episode 13 Bad Cop, Badder Cop goes live on August 28. In this 2nd to last episode, the house of cards start tumbling down. 

If you are new to the podcast, start with Episode 1: What a Lovely Corpse You Have. Catch up to us from there. We’ll be waiting for you.


HOWL AT THE MOON to all of you for doing your part to keep your friends and neighbors healthy. Yes, masks suck, but COVID sucks more. In a few years, we’ll look back at just how crazy life is right now and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my son and podcast co-host and producer Jack and to my podcast cover artist Shannon. It is so much fun working with two such creative people. May every year be blazing with color and worth the treble. (Did you see what I did there? treble? trouble?)

BUCKING CRAZY but fun. Here’s my answers to last month’s game. Thanks to those who shared their answers. Yes, there was more then one way to skin that buck.

MY DOWN DOG THANKS to everyone supporting the release of my 3rd mystery as TG WOLFF. Driving Reign is out on the street, exactly where Cruz likes to be, especially when his mother is looking for him. Help me grow. Request my books in your library. Recommend me to a friend. Write a Review. Here is what people are saying…

“It grabbed my attention from the start and I couldn’t put the book down! “
“Captivating from cover to cover”
“I’m only disappointed in one thing…I want more! I don’t think she writes fast enough for me!”

If you have something to announce, cheer about, or celebrate, email me at tina at tgwolff dot com My rules: 1) Keep it positive 2) Keep it clean 3) Keep it real. Of course, I reserve the right to pick and choose what to include. It’s my right as the leader of the pack.

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
September 2, 2020
Where we’ll munching under the Corn Moon

On the Prowl: Under July’s Buck Moon

Welcome to the Buck Moon edition of On the Prowl.
This month we’ll explore how the July full moon was named, belly laugh to some of the best worst buck jokes, and have fun with words. We’ll explore an Italian town with an knife obsession and step back to consider a more serious topic.

July 5, 2020 is the Buck Moon

This month, the moon will rise on July 4, peaking in the early hours of July 5. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (, July’s full moon was called the Buck Moon because the antlers on a buck are in full growth mode. To celebrate, I searched for the best and the worst jokes the internet has to offer. had the best collection. The short ones are sprinkled throughout. Enjoy.

How do you catch a unique deer? Unique up on it! 
How do you catch a tame deer? Tame way – unique up on it!

Bucking Crazy

This is that game where you start with one word and end with another.
Rules: Change only one letter at a time. The new word has to be a real word.
Here’s an example to help FIND your way, using my name: 
Tina > Tint > Lint > Line > Fine >Find

#1 (easy) turn BUCK into RING
#2 (med) turn DEER into a place where you might hit one
#3 (hard) turn a female into something made from a pelt 

Email your answers to me at We’ll share the results next month.

What’s cheaper, beer nuts or deer nuts? 
Deer nuts, because they’re under a buck!

Welcome to Mysteries to Die For

This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

In Episode 9 Welcome to the Darkside, We Have Cookies, a small reference is made to the charming Italian town of Scarperia. This medieval town caught my imagination when we happened across it while exploring Tuscany. This wasn’t an elaborately planned trip, just an afternoon drive with no destination in mind. The town was charming, as most Italian towns are, but the emphasis on knives was fascinating. I had thought of knives as utilitarian until spending a Sunday in Scarperia

Scarperia, Italy

Northeast of Florence, in picturesque Tuscany, is the village of Scarperia. Founded in 1306, the Palazzo dei Vicari (Palace of the Vicar) is the iconic landmark of the town. The building stood as the home of the vicars who governed over the area, each leaving a coat of arms on the structure’s facade. Today, the palace is a museum dedicated to the art of knife making. Scarperia knives are still made today and valued for their craftsmenship.

Scarperia is a gem worth visiting in person, but since there isn’t a lot of that going on right now, live vicariously through these others.

Visit Tuscany’s page on Palazzo Dei Vicari
Pablo Bisquera’s photo slideshow (YouTube)
Lordes Flores’ Blog Post: The Beautiful Town of Scarperia
That’s’s background of Scarperia knives

Which side of a deer has the most meat?
The inside!

I Cried for a Stranger

The simple announcement said that one of our crew members had died. He was 25.
I cried.
I sent notes around to find out what happened. An accident? An illness? Violence?
It was Suicide.
I cried.
The obituary gave away little except he was loved.
I cried.
He was a stranger to me, as is his family, but they keep coming into my mind.
Even as I write this, I cry.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime of day. Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

In Widow’s Run, my hero, Diamond, is suicidal. She was depressed after her husband was killed, left an empty shell of herself. While I am her author, I did not chose to make her suicidal. I realize this may not make sense to those who don’t write, but it’s true. In fact, I work hard to keep her alive. But, this is fiction. If I fail, she doesn’t die, her story just ends.

The National Institute of Mental Health shows statistic for 2017, where suicide was the #2 cause of death in people 10-34. Yes, 10. There were twice as many suicides across the US as homicides. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) says depression affects 20-25% of adults and is 2x more common in women. Females suicide attempt rates are roughly 3x those of male. Suicide rates are climbing for men and women over 50.

This shit is real.
This shit can affect anyone.

Be your own hero. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the lifeline. There are solutions.
If someone says they are thinking about suicide, if they are withdrawing, exhibiting risky behaviors or these other symptoms, be their hero. Make a phone call. Get them help. Take action.


BOWED HEADS for Christian.

HOWL AT THE MOON for everything feeling their way through re-opening the world. Here is to the school superintendents, principals, and teachers working on plans to get kids back in schools safely this fall.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mother, Jane. Sorry, this is probably as exciting as it gets. And I was going to take you to Europe. Ah, well, maybe next year. Happy Birthday A.J. Love you!

EYE ROLL to me. Remember the word came from last month? Strawberry Moon? Well, I lost the piece of paper were I wrote out my words. **sigh** If you gave it a try, email me your list. We can chat about it.

My next book is here! Driving Reign. Thank you, Karen, for the fabulous graphic! Help me grow. Request my books in your library. Recommend me to a friend. Write a Review.

The 17th book in the Twin Cities P.I. Mac McKenzie series drops on July 28. Pre-order From the Grave. If you love trouble, you’ll love Mac McKenzie. Don’t know how Nina doesn’t want to strangle him.

Author Mark Edward Langley releases book #2 in the Arthur Nakai Mystery series on August 4. Pre-Order Death Waits in the Dark. Drop Mark a note and tell him Tina says hello.

If you have something to announce, cheer about, or celebrate, email me at My rules: 1) Keep it positive 2) Keep it clean 3) Keep it real. Of course, I reserve the right to pick and choose what to include. It’s my right as the leader of the pack.

Look out for the Next Edition of

On the Prowl

August 3rd, 2020
Where we’ll swim under the Sturgeon Moon

On the Prowl: In the Light of the Strawberry Moon

On the Prowl is my latest great idea. This isn’t a newsletter but a place to play with words, explore ideas, and absorb random facts. This is the first edition, released with June’s full moon, the Strawberry Moon. Welcome to my world.

June 5, 2020 is the Strawberry Moon

This moon can be the last of spring, as it is this year, or the first of summer. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (, June’s full moon was called the Strawberry Moon because the Algonquin tribes used it to mark when wild strawberries were ripe for picking. Interesting. I would have thought the conversation was vice versa, something more like…

Guy #1 “Finally, the strawberries are ripe.” Guy #2 “The full moon makes it easy to see.”
Guy #1 “What number moon is it?”
Guy #2  “Who knows. Why can’t it be something simple, like the strawberry moon.”
Guy #1 “Strawberry Moon. Huh. Sounds as good as this tastes. Can you pass the whipped cream?”

Backyard Phoenix

Embers cooled to ash
Now nestles egg and feather
with a crack, new life

(Yes, my grill is now a spacious birdhouse)

Rabbit Hunting
Like anyone, I get sucked down the rabbit hole of the internet. I had written a boat race into a scene in Suicide Squeeze, the 2nd in the Diamond series (February 2021). My hero, Diamond, jumps from one boat to another to save a hostage. I asked my friend Aaron to help make the scene more real. He boats and water skis, I do not. His response sent me down the rabbit hole for a good two days…come join me.

Excerpts from an email…
When you cross a boat’s wake at speed it can really throw you.  This is a really fast boat with a bad driver, but I believe they hit another wake at an angle.  This video has been around awhile. had seen the first video, but hadn’t thought it was real. There is another version of it set to music that I thought was masterful. The music overlay, not the driving. 

This one was because the fishing boat was going way too fast and was light weight, but the wake still caused it to go airborne.  See the 1:30 mark of the video.   This one created so many questions, they crashed in my head like a bumper car pit. Why would someone print over “wear your life vest and kill switch” and omit “don’t drive like a dumbass?” Why was the dumbass in the water for ten minutes when there is clearly a camera guy following him?

The next issue is the side spray of the boat.  This would push the two boats apart.  You could definitely jump between boats, but it would be a pretty bumpy and wet ride. Here is a video from Fear Factor where they did this.  This one was just cool and verified I will not try this at home.

Cat’s Cradle
Make as many words as you can from the letters in

Email your list to me. We’ll share the results next month.
Here’s what I came up with:
9 2-letter words, 34 3-letter words, 44 4-letter words, 32 5-letter words, and 5 6-letter words

This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. These are arrangements, which means instead of word-for-word readings, you get a performance meant to be heard. Jack and I perform these live, front to back, no breaks, no fakes, no retakes (unless it’s really bad, then he makes me start all over again.)
This season, Jack and I are bringing you my book Widow’s Run, one chapter at a time. It’s free from your favorite podcast sources including Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Look for Episode 1: What a Lovely Corpse You Have.


HOWL AT THE MOON for 2020 graduates. Congratulations and best wishes as you embark upon your next great adventures!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Frankie and Kristen. No blowing out candles this year, just cake eating.

WELCOME TO THE PACK May babies Clara and Amelia. Congratulations to both sets of parents.

BOWED HEADS for Terese, Rose, Earl and Paul. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Condolences to those who loved these dearhearts.

RAISE A PAW in support of everyone struggling with the consequences of COVID. No one has been sparred from the mental and physical health effects, but some have carried a greater burden. Reach out, you are not alone.

* Robert Goldsborough has a new Nero Wolfe book available. Archie Goes Home. This is on my want to read list.
* My next book released Monday, July 6. Check it out below. Love the cover. Thank you JT Lindroos.

If you have something to announce, cheer about, or celebrate, email me. My rules: 1) Keep it positive 2) Keep it clean 3) Keep it real. Of course, I reserve the right to pick and choose what to include. It’s my right as the leader of the pack.


Releasing July 6, Available for Pre-Order
#2 in the De La Cruz Case Files

The woman in the stingy hospital bed wasn’t dead. The question for Detective Jesus De La Cruz: did the comatose patient narrowly survive suicide or murder?
Faithful friends paint a picture of a guileless young woman, a victim of both crime and society. Others describe a cold woman with a proclivity for icing interested men with a single look.
Beneath the rhetoric, Cruz unearths a twisted knot of reality and perception. A sex scandal, a jilted lover, a callous director, a rainmaker, and a quid pro quo have Cruz questioning if there is such a thing as an innocent man. Truth is a strong rope, tied in a noose. As he closes in, the knot tightens, but who will pay the price? A killer or a member of Cruz’s own family?

Look out for the Next Edition of On the Prowl
July 5th, 2020
Where we’ll howl under the Buck Moon

Now Available: De La Cruz Case File #2 – Driving Reign

The woman in the stingy hospital bed wasn’t dead. The question for Detective Jesus De La Cruz: did the comatose patient narrowly survive suicide or murder?

Faithful friends paint a picture of a guileless young woman, a victim of both crime and society. Others describe a cold woman with a proclivity for icing interested men with a single look.

Beneath the rhetoric, Cruz unearths a twisted knot of reality and perception. A sex scandal, a jilted lover, a callous director, a rainmaker, and a quid pro quo have Cruz questioning if there is such a thing as an innocent man. Truth is a strong rope, tied in a noose. As he closes in, the knot tightens, but who will pay the price? A killer or a member of Cruz’s own family?

Available upon request from your local book seller and from these on-line retailers:

Down & Out | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

Podcast: Mysteries to Die For

Mysteries to Die For is my podcast that combines storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Some will be my own, others will be classics that helped shape the mystery genre we know today. 

For a full listing of episodes, click HERE.