Fireworks Show ~ at Evangel Temple

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My energetic, fun friend Deborah Williams knows almost everything that’s going on in Jacksonville. Well, almost everything that would be of interest to her group of friends (a bunch of seasoned gals to like to kick back, but also want a few laughs now and then).

So, she told me about the pre-holiday fireworks display at Evangel Temple [5755 Ramona Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32205]. I said, “Yippee doodle, let’s go.” And we did.

It turned out to be the quintessential Fourth of July celebration. Little kids ran around playing with sparkling toys their parents purchased at various booths on the church grounds. Some of the girls turned cartwheels. Deborah and I got steak hamburgers and fries from one of the food trucks in the parking area.

A pastor gave a sermon about freedom in Christ changing one’s life which was appropriate, I thought. There were worship songs and patriotic marches. The young lady who sang the Star Spangle Banner did a wonderful job. Whenever that song is sung, I always wonder if the singer will be able to hit the high notes. She did.

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Then they shot fireworks from the roof of the church. A totally professional extravaganza that seemed to go on and on thrilling everyone, especially the children

Evangel Church bills itself as a vibrant evangelical church in the heart of Jacksonville. They certainly lived up to that.




Inspired Hostess/Bread and Butter Gifts ~ making merry



I’m moving into a new condo and my mind is running to all things home/homey. Honestly, I’m NOT asking anyone to bring me a gift, but I am thinking of all of the holiday celebrations and house parties I can have in this larger home. As a teenager (in an era gone by) my friends and I spent a lot of time learning about etiquette and entertaining. At that time it was something girls/women learned (and I think it’s something boys/men need to learn). I’m often saddened by how little people think about customs and amenities. I think it’s important to preserve heritage and legacy. I still enjoy pouring over my cookbooks, especially the holiday ones, looking at table-scapes.

1 Peter 4: 8-9 [New International Version] ~ 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

On that note…it’s a good rule-of-thumb that unless you’ve been asked by the hostess/host to bring a food-item, such as the salad, always bring a small gift to dinner or to a house party. These have been called Hostess Gifts and/or Bread and Butter Gifts. This gift should be something the hostess/host can easily handle while performing all the duties required of him/her in making guests comfortable. My gal-pals and I have a ten-dollar limit on all gifts (birthday, Christmas, etc.). If you don’t know the host/hostess that well, shoot for $10 – $15. If you’re on a very strict budget, don’t turn down an invite because you can’t afford a gift. Go to Dollar General or an off-price store and purchase a gift that looks as if it cost ten dollars.

Coasters make a wonderful gift and are extremely useful to the person who loves to entertain. They can never have too many coasters.

kitchen utensils

Kitchen utensils are something everyone can use. They could be wooden, or plastic in bright colors, or in black/white. There are even whimsical ones. I’ve seen a salad spoon set with a bride painted on one spoon in non-toxic paint and the groom painted on the other. Super cute.

hand soaps

Hand soaps are practical and beautiful. I like both practical and beautiful. There are wonderful scented soaps and they come both in bars and in liquid form in pumps. These are readily available in super markets, drug stores, off-price stores. You could even throw in a scrub. A twist on this would be shower gels or environmentally friendly kitchen soaps.

herbed oil

Herbed cooking oil is terrific for the hostess/host know as a gourmet cook. You could add a container of Himalayan pink sea salt, or any other small gourmet item…and bon appetite!

A box of chocolates, the old stand by, is always fun. The hostess/host can open it and put it our for guests. More than a few people at the party will love chocolate.

Things not to bring, or to be cautious with.

Uncut flowers you get at the supermarket or other markets is not a good idea. The hostess/host will be in a better outfit. She/he will have to go find a vase that fits, or will have to cut the flowers to a vase he/she has and mix in the powder that comes with the flowers. This is messy and will take her/him about ten minutes. Bringing flowers in a vase is also not a good idea because someone may be allergic. Scented candles have the same problems with allergies. Be sure you know your host/hostess will use them.

Wine and liquor should only be brought if you know your host/hostess will drink it, and if you know what they like to drink. Don’t bring a $12 bottle of wine to a wine connoisseur. It will sit in the back of their wine cabinet for years.

Never bring dessert. Never. The host/hostess will feel obligated to put yours out and they won’t know what to do with the one they’ve made.






Who’s A Recipient of the Sweetest Award? ~ Moi, Ain’t That A Kick In The Head?

I’ve been called a lot of things, but not often “sweet.” Perhaps…intense, stubborn, opinionated, but I digress.

Of course the one who deemed this blog to be the recipient of the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award is indeed a sweet lady herself. And she’s prone to baking awesome strawberry shortcake. That’s Barbara Robinson, writing as BJ Robinson. Author of SOUTHERN SUPERSTITIONS and LAST RESORT. Check out her blog, Christian Inspirational Fiction, also nominated for the Sweetest Award.

The rules for the Irresistible Sweet Blog Award are that nominees thank the person who nominated them,  nominate at least ten other blogs and contact them to let them know, share seven random things about yourself/your blog.  Here goes…

My Ten Nominees for the Sweetest Award…

1. FAY LAMB ~  On The Ledge, an interesting, topical blog surveying the writer’s world, with tons of humor

2. LORILYN ROBERTS ~ An inspirational blog about homeschooling, animals, biblical topics, parenting, politics, and of course writing

3. STACI STALLINGS  ~ Books From The Heart, reader reviews, Bible study, fiction/non-fiction, and more.

4. LINDA WOOD RONDEAU  ~ This Daily Grind, author interviews, inspirational topical articles

5. JANALYN VOIGHT ~ Live Write Breathe, creating worlds of beauty and danger, living a writer’s dream

6. TRACY KRAUSS ~ Expression Express,  author interviews, the arts and inspiration

7. VIRGINIA TENERY ~ Agatha Remembered, showcases the best in faith-based fiction

8. WENDY L. YOUNG ~ reviews, interview, guest posts, author resources

9. ELLEN C. MAZE ~ Curiously spiritual vampire tales-the blog, geared to the discerning reader, reviews, author interviews

10. TERIC DARKEN ~ Dark Domain, a really sweet guy blogging about faith found in the darkest of places.

Here iare seven random things about me and/or the Crime Fictionista blog…

1. I have a passion, go absolutely bazonkers for a suspenseful, page turner of a crime fiction novel. And I go round the bend for detective novels.

2. I’m a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC) and worked in the bridal industry. In the world of fashion I used to hear the term “fashionista” bandied about. So, I thought, why not a Crime Fictionista? And the idea for the blog was created as well as a neat moniker for moi.

3. I love the quality of contemporary inspirational crime fiction (mysteries, romantic suspense, thrillers, detective novels) and can’t wait to showcase these new novels when they come out. I love finding a new author I’d not been to familiar with before.

4. I enjoy immersing myself in research in the post WWII era in American history. My Sanctuary Point series showcases that period in this country’s history in my breakout novel BURNING HEARTS (arson/murder and romance) and GOODBYE NOEL (Christmas/New Year’s/winter themed).

5. I’m fiercely loyal to other authors. When I really like a book or author I’ll promote that author with vigor.

6. I’ve been an animal rescuer for about 28 years. In this time I’ve found homes for about 40 cats and dogs. I have a house full of the less adoptable one, the quirky ones, more antisocial and reclusive one. I’ve also rescued and released baby squirrels who fell out of the nest.

7. I’m very proud of my social worker husband who’s assistant director in the substance abuse program of one of the craziest public hospitals in New York City. If I need an off the wall druggie character, I simply ask my DH for a profile for a particular drug and its effects on a person. I’m equally proud of my teenage daughter who has auditioned for three of NYC’s public art high school and also applied to one oceanography high school, as weather and oceans is her other passion.

Ain’t That A Kick In The Head by Dean Martin

Featuring Multi-Talented Author Robert Liparulo

This guy’s writing knocks me out!!!

A former celebrity journalist who intereviewed the likes of Stephen King and Charlton Heston, Robert has over a thousand articles and short stories, not to mention  multiple awards.There’s no doubt he’s a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He gets police procedure and the action/adventure parts right. The lable “high-octane suspense” fits his work, no doubt about that!

I’m an over-the-top fan of his Comes A Horseman and Germ. I’ve got Deadfall on my to read list and can’t wait to get to it.


Robert is currently working with a few Hollywood producers. Three of his adult novels are in various stages of developement for the silver screen. Film rights to Comes A Horseman was purchased by the producer of Tom Clancey’s action/adventure movies. The word is he’s now in the process of writing screen plays for Germ and Deadfall…and is also working with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller.

I’m not at all surprised to learn that J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings trillogy are among Robert’s favorite books. I love those three as well and agree it’s a work that not only gets out of the box but goes off the reservation. Of course, Robert has said he also liked Moby Dick, which I couldn’t get through. So, there’s no accounting for taste on that one.

Now I’m Really Blogging, Blah, Blah, Blah

So, how does one write an interesting blog that others will want to read? Good question.

The interesting part has something to do, I think, with figuring out what your passion is and writing about it.

The who will want to read it part has to do with figuring out who your blog audience is and writing for them.

As you can guess, I’m krazy about edgy crime fiction and boy do I like to write about it. But who wants to read what I write about it? That’s another good question. I’m starting to find out, but it’s a process.

A lot of people are writing about edgy Christian fiction these days. I’m not the only one. Just look around at other blogs. Go ahead, if my blog’s any good, you’ll come back.

When I look around at blogs writing about edgy Christian fiction I see a lot of articles on when to break the rules, and/or when and how to write an acceptable sex scene in Christian fiction. Sex is part of life and I can be edified by a tastefully written sex scene.

Why doesn’t anyone write about a tastefully written sitting in church scene, listening to a sermon scene? Frankly I’ve been bored to death by many a too long worship service scene. I’d like some tips on how to write a good church scene. Really, I’m not being cute.

At this point I have to confess, I’ve never written a sex scene. There, I’ve admitted it. Now do you feel better having dragged it out of me?

I’m always talking about being authentic as a murder mystery writer. Well I think blog writers should also be authentic. The good ones are. Honesty goes a long way. People know when they’re being fed a bunch of canned crap. [I was going to change “crap” to “bologna” so as not to offend, but decided that wouldn’t be authentic. Is there such a thing as canned bologna anyway?]

So, here I am plunking away at my keyboard, vowing with all my heart to really put it out there and let the process unfold. Ghee, even I want to see what I’ll write. LOL

Last Minute Gifts – Run To The Book Store

If you’ve checked your list twice and still have a gift you didn’t get for Aunt Felice. Not only that, you just realized you left Uncle Tad off your list altogether. Run, don’t walk to your nearest Barnes & Noble or Borders.

Here are a few suggestions for the discerning Christian reader…

Fit to Tied by Robin Lee Hatcher. It’s 1916 and Idaho rancher Cleo Arlington knows everything about horses, but nothing about men. Enter: English aristocrat Sherwood Statham.

Celtic Knot by Tammy Doherty. A tale about learning to love and trust in the midst of lies, turbulance, counterfeiting and betrayal. Set in 1890 Colorado, this book is a compeling western romance.

Try Darkness by James Scott Bell. Former high power trial attorney Ty Buchanan is out of prison and trying to put that period of his life behind him. He’s living in a trailer on the grounds of a monestary. He’s easing back into professional life when his client is murdered…and he has to protect the woman’s little girl.

Deuces Wild: Beginner’s Luck by L. S. King. With gangsters on their tail a berieved cowboy and and cynical space pirate are forced to work together for their mutual survival. A full of explosions, spacey technology, and more.

Deadline by Randy Alcorn. After a tragic car accident involving suspicious circumstances, award winning journalist Jake Woods teams up with Detective Ollie Chandler to uncover the truth.

When A Female Writer Checks Out Men

Caught in the Act of Observing

At least once a month my husband and I take our 12 and 13-year old girls to the local skating rink. It’s a big place, housed in what was a WWII hangar on the old Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn — hence the name Aviator Sports and Recreation.

They have two rinks. One for ice hockey and one for figure skating. Between them is a concession they call the Aviator Cafe. It sells really good brick-oven pizza, pretty good sandwiches, soft drinks, coffee, and an assortment of health and power snacks. On the outskirts of a grouping of aluminum tables, and standing agains the walls are a variety of arcade type electronic games. Two swinging doors lead to a basketball court. Way at the other end of the facility a gymnastics class is being taught and they have an indoor rock-climbing set-up near that.

Aviator Cafe

My husband and I watched the girls on the ice for about an hour, then decided to thaw out over a cup of coffee. That night they had an ice hockey game going on in the other rink. So, the place was crawling with dads who had come to see their sons on the ice. Since I was ensconced on a seat next to my husband, I decided this was a good time to observe the physicality of how fathers relate to their sons. We have girls, and daddy relating to his “little women” is a completely different ball game.

I wanted to get a firm picture of the nitty-gritty of fathers and sons so I can reproduce it on paper. How do men smile at their sons, move their arms when they draw the boys into a bear hug? What is the precise physical movement?

I was furtive, not wanting to intrude on personal family moments. One man thrust his chest out and beamed at two other men as he bragged a bit on his son. I duly noted the chest thrust. I caught a man scolding his son, quickly took in as much of the scene as I could and averted my eyes, not wanting to embarass the boy.

I watched body language — the tilt of a head, a man’s girth shaking as he laughed, another’s hands on his hips, yet another’s proud smile directed at his son. My gaze traveled across the rest of the room, catching dads carrying trays laden with pizza and drinks to their sons waiting at tables re-lacing skates. All this fodder for my upcoming novels — which I’m hoping to sell gads of.

So my eyes were sweeping the scene on thier return recon mission, going back across the room, when a certain man caught me checking him out for the second time. He stared back, directly at me — hard. I scooted closer to my husband and wanted to shout out at hm, “Don’t worry about it. I’m a writer.”

Aviator Figure Skating Rink