Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Interview from Kentucky

An author's world with Laurel Heidtman aka Lolli Powell

Kentucky based author Laurel Heidtman joins us today for some Q. and A. and a glimpse into a writer's life.

Q. Laurel, tell us a bit about you.
 A. I write mysteries under the name Laurel Heidtman and romances under the name Lolli Powell. I live with my husband, four dogs and two cats on private land surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Over the years, I've paid the bills by being a dancer, a bartender, a police officer, a registered nurse and atechnical writer. I draw on that life experience and my two English degrees to createstories that I enjoy writing and hope readers will enjoy reading.

Q: How many books have you written?
A: I’ve written and published two mysteries under the Laurel Heidtman name and two romances under the Lolli Powell name. One of the romances, The Wrong Kind of Man, is a romantic suspense so it crosses the genre line with some bad guys, action, murder, and a little something else I’m not going to say. I’ve also got another book that I wrote back in the nineties, but haven’t yet published. One of these days I’ll get it out, clean it up, and put it out there!
Q: Reviews are helpful (usually) to authors and readers. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice how to deal with the bad?
A: I read every review, but I don’t respond to them. I think readers leave reviews for
other readers. By reading a review, an author can learn a lot about how readers are
receiving their books, but I don’t think they should respond in any way.
However, if a reader contacts me directly via my two websites’ contact email, then I
certainly respond. I’ve thanked the people who told me they enjoyed my books, but I
also answer—politely—anyone who says they don’t care for them. For example, I
received an email from one person whose niece bought her a paperback of Catch A
Falling Star at an author panel. She was offended by the vulgar language of some
characters in the first chapter and wrote to tell me she’d thrown the book in the trash. I
responded in a polite manner and told her I was sorry she was bothered by the
language and that I only put it in the mouths of the characters who would talk that way
in real life. Since then, I’ve made a point of warning anyone who buys a paperback of
my mysteries at a live event about the language, and so far it hasn’t stopped anyone
else from buying a copy.

As far as advice on how to deal with bad reviews, all I can say is try not to let it get to you. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Most people won’t say anything if they can’t say something good, but a few will. Read the bad reviews with an open mind. The writer may have a valid complaint that will help you improve your writing in the future.
Others are just “haters,” as a writer I know puts it. All you can do is ignore those. For example, I have a one-star review on Amazon from a woman who got a free copy of my book through LibraryThing. I sent the free ebook copies out on a Saturday and on Sunday—the very next day, she wrote a one-star review calling it “one of the worst books of 2014” and complaining she struggled to get through it. Considering she’d had the book no more than a day, I’m betting she didn’t even read it, or at least didn’t read much of it. The only thing to do is ignore a review like that.
Q: What are you working on now? What is your next project?
A: I’m actually working on two books now. Once before I worked on a mystery and a
romance at the same time. If I bogged down in one, I could take a break and work on
the other and it kept me fresh. I’m about a third of the way through Runaway Angel, the
first book in a romance series that begins in the sixties, and have three chapters of a
thriller titled Whiteout. I hope to release Whiteout by the end of this year or the
beginning of next year, but I’m going to hold Runaway Angel back until I have at least
one more in the series ready to go.

I’m also hashing out an idea for yet another romance series and another book in the Eden mystery series, but I won’t start either of those until I have at least one of my
current ones done. Two books at a time—yes, but more than that? Don't think so! I
value my sanity too much!
Q. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?
A. No. I’ve only attended them as a spectator.


Both books are only available for sale through Amazon or CreateSpace. The ebooks are available through Unlimited and KOLL as well.

Bad Girls
Amazon link: (Canada)
US - Bad Girls

Cal Becker, the former Chicago cop turned insurance investigator
readers first met in Catch A Falling Star, is back in Eden—and he’s brought his eighteen-year-old niece with him. Marnie Becker is a troubled young woman with an alcoholic mother and drinking problems of her own. When Cal offers to pay her way through Raven University and move to Eden with her, she jumps at the chance to change her life. But on the day of their arrival, she disappears.

It wouldn’t be the first time she ran away when the going got tough. Has she done so again rather than face the challenges of her new life or has something happened to her? Cal has hopes for a new life for himself in Eden, and when Marnie goes missing, he doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry. But when the beaten body of a young girl is found in Daniel Boone National Forest, he fears his worst nightmare has become reality—or has his worst nightmare only begun?

The Wrong Kind of Man  (Canada)
US - The Wrong Kind of Man 

At thirty years of age, Maggie Fields has had her fill of “bad” men. Unbeknownst to her, her investment counselor husband had paid for their luxurious Denver lifestyle by scamming his law-abiding clients and laundering money for his law-breaking ones. He lasted two nights in jail before a client who didn’t trust him to keep his mouth shut had him silenced permanently.

Maggie fled to her hometown of Vichy, Indiana, and safe haven with her grandparents. Now all she wants is a quiet life as a reporter for a small town newspaper. That quiet is shattered when her ne’er-do-well uncle shows up on her retired doctor grandfather’s doorstep with a wounded and very sexy friend. Did the friend really injure his shoulder while changing a tire, or is he the man shot by the homeowner during an attempted burglary of a house just outside of town?

Maggie soon has reason to believe the homeowner is not an innocent victim, leading her to wonder if her uncle and his friend are involved in organized crime. But in spite of her suspicions, Maggie finds herself drawn to the wounded stranger and realizes the bad experience with her husband hasn’t dulled her taste for the wrong kind of man!

Find Laurel at her website and on Twitter.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Do you have a scar?

Childhood scars - do have one?

I think many of us do. There's the falling-off-my-bike scars and the header off my roller blades scars and the "the other kid hit me with a hammer (true story) scar."

One of my daughters has taken a header off blades and bike and rolled her car (not her fault.) She has scars. She was lucky. In the first two instances, there was a plastic surgeon intern on duty at the ER when she arrived. Her scars are minimal.

I have several scars, but the one I think of first when asked is in my hairline. It's no longer visible, but gives me a fake cow's-lick if I try to wear bangs. I have the perpetual split of hair shown here.

That one I've had since I was seven. We were visiting on the North Shore of Cape Breton and staying with Roddie and Jessie. The big old house had no central heating and I remember cold beds, cold floors and a chamber pot. (No plumbing either.)

On the upside, Jessie made the best Moose-Hunters ever. Those thick molasses biscuits remain a favorite of mine even after five decades. Too bad I can't make them.

But back to the scar. 

The old road, partially grown in, ran along the back of the property (which had been the front) The short stretch left joined Roddie's property with Tommy-Peggy's place to the south-east. Tommy-Peggy (IE Tommy the son of Peggy) and his wife, also called Peggy, had sons our age. 

Me, Don, Mom, Roddie & Jessie
My brother, Donald, and I were coming back to Roddie's along the old road, accompanied by Buddy, Brian and the dog, Skippy. The crazy dog would catch rocks so Brian was throwing them. How we got so that I was between Brian and Skippy, I don't know. But, smack, a rock hit my forehead and the blood started.

Other than crying, getting to the house and sitting while the women cleaned up the cut, I don't remember much. They did have a discussion about taking me for stitches. But the doctor was a long way away in Baddeck, and the bleeding did stop. No stitches. Just a white plaster band-aid.

And so I have a physical scar and a memory. That link to childhood opens doors to many other escapades including bees, ankles and damage. But those are stories for another day.

What scars do you carry? How did you get them?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why do we take math in school?


As a student, I asked where on earth I'd use all that math they taught us. As a Grade Six teacher I was asked the same question by MY students. I used to say in cooking, is sewing, if you become a builder, an engineer, or any other profession using math. I still had trouble coming up with examples.

Now I know.

THE USE OF MATH permeates our daily lives.

You just never know when math will come in handy, even if you have a calculator.

Here are some ways I use my math.


When I am baking, I often reduce recipes by on half or one third. Fractions and how to add, subtract, multiply and divide them have served me well. My smaller size cakes and muffins come out just fine.


  • When I was an appraiser, measuring houses and calculating their area, I used basic geometry to make my task easier. I divided odd shaped houses into rectangles, triangles and parallelograms to figure out the areas. I used a calculator for the math, but needed to know what math to use.
  • Did you know that to find the area of a regular bay window (one that has a floor in it), multiply the longest side (width) by the depth.? Carpenters use shapes and math and measuring to create buildings, furniture and decks.
  • When crocheting hats, pi helps. The circumference of a circle is the diameter times Pi. 
    • So if the flat crown of the hat is six inches in diameter (the point at which you stop enlarging the circle) then the circumference will be about nineteen inches (6 x 3.142 = 18.8 inches) and will fit a small adult head. 
    • Adjust your basic crown and you can adjust your hat size. If you want a hat to fit a 14 inch head, you'd make the base @4.5 inches. (4/3.142=4.45 inches) 
    • Once you know what to do, you can use the calculator for the hard part. But I estimate and do the math in my head. (6" diameter by roughly 3 gives me an  18+ inch size) so I don't have to search for a device.


When appraising high rise buildings and motels and strip malls, I needed to use formula. Thank goodness I learned the proper order in which to deal with brackets and numbers. Things like Cap Rates or future value of the dollar would have been tricky without it. (Of course, now there are computers to do the math, but still, good to have a back up to check things.)


  • When calculating value of several items when I know the price of one,  I use the basic formula. 
If 2 = 10,
then 10 = ( 10x10) divided by 2
or 50.  

  • I estimate my total grocery bill by rounding the price of each item to the nearest dollar and adding the numbers in my head. Back in the day, when budgeting was critical to my financial management and I only had so much money in my pocket, it proved a valuable skill. 
  • Now that we don't have pennies (here in Canada), rounding is a handy skill  Remember: if the pennies are 1 or 2 - round down. If the pennies are 3 or 4-  round up.  (So $1.02 counts as a $1; $1.04 counts as $1.05)

My other uses include but are not limited to:
  • Figuring out prices of multiples or singles at the grocery store 
  • Calculating how many words a day I need to write to achieve 60,000 words in 30 days, or how many hours a 900 km trip will take.
  • Figuring out the ratio of dry ingredients to liquid to alter or create new recipes.

Where in your daily life do you use your math? 

Is there anyone out there who NEVER uses numbers and math?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Do you believe in the power of intent?

The Power of Intent
- the act of holding an outcome or event in your mind until it is manifested in real-time.

Self-help books have been around for decades. From Dale Carnegie and Earl Nightengale to Tony Robbins, tools for living life with intent and purpose and without worry and stress have abounded.

All, to some degree or other, involve using the power of our minds -- an untapped resource -- to help create the situations we want.

My story:

Years ago, as a struggling, divorced parent on disability, I wanted a dresser for the corner of my bedroom. The stack of clothing on a kitchen chair was not acceptable. Every night before sleep, and every morning on waking, I "saw" a tall, oak dresser standing in the corner. Abut a month into this process, in November, I went with a friend to a furniture store. 

While she was purchasing her new bed, I wandered into the discount section. There it was. The dresser I had seen in my mind's eye. A salesman approached and asked if he could help me. I told him I wanted that dresser, but I had no money to buy it. He suggested applying for a store credit card. Even though I thought I'd be denied, I did it. 

And a day later, the dresser was delivered to my house. It fit the corner perfectly. But now, I had three months before starting payments on the $397.00. If I paid it all before the end of three months, I avoided interest charges. I turned my mind to paying off the bill. 

Christmas arrived, and over the course of a week, I received cash gifts from family and friends totaling $412 dollars. (and no, I had not asked for money or told them about the dresser.) My bill got paid in ample time. 

The power of intent? Luck? You decide. But twenty-six years later I still have that dresser. It reminds me that my pro-active actions really need to include what I hold in my thoughts.

Are you using the power of intent, intentionally or accidentally, to create situations in your life? Please share if you have.

* Image: Brain on fire: