Month: May 2014

Life is Good

Adelina has gone back to that place where she goes when she is not guest blogging. To be honest, I’m a little fuzzy on where exactly that is. I do think she may come back and guest blog from time-to-time when she is not planting beets or jello wrestling.

May has been a remarkably busy month. Most of my free time has been devoted to the edits on my next book, Death and White Diamonds. A month ago, my publisher told me that much of the book is great. But there were a couple of story elements that were flawed. In essence, he challenged me to make the entire book great. I have devoted the month of May to taking up his challenge. The re-write is now finished. On Tuesday, I plan to proofread the changes one last time and send the file back to my publisher.

Did I meet my publisher’s challenge? That is not for me to decide. But I will say this much. A month ago, I thought it was the best thing I had written. Today, I know it is better than it was 30 days ago.  Soon enough, I will start to hear from the people who really matter. From readers. So, as Adelina might say, there is that.

Today, my wife and I are celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary. I have no particular words of wisdom regarding marriage, except perhaps this quote from a refrigerator magnet. “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Or perhaps, it’s about the scene in As Good as It Gets, when Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.”

Anyway, what are we doing to celebrate? Last night, we entertained a few friends, but that was not about our anniversary. You don’t need an anniversary to cook mussels for good friends, four pounds of mussels cooked in white wine with grilled chorizo and fresh thyme.  And you certainly don’t need an anniversary to enjoy a little blood-orange gelato. We didn’t push our chairs back from the dining room table until well past midnight, but this morning, I was on the computer at 6:30, re-writing one scene and adding a new scene that propels the story to an action-packed conclusion. This afternoon, I planted a euonymus and a butterfly bush in the perennial bed.  My wife is, apparently, puttering in the vegetable garden.

When my second book was published in 2006 (A Minor Case of Murder) I dedicated the book to my wife. I wrote,

“Now that I write murder mysteries, I see dead bodies most everywhere that I go. On more than one occasion, I have recounted for my wife Carol the details of her gruesome and untimely demise. Carol listens and smiles and encourages me to write. She is a lover of good murder mysteries and seems to count my stories among the good ones. Carol is not my most objective reader. But I didn’t marry her for her objectivity.”

I no longer recount for Carol the details of her gruesome and untimely demise. But at breakfast this morning, I did tell her how Jon dug up a maggot-infested duffel bag filled with decomposing body parts.

Life is good. I hope it is good where you are too.



Adelina here. I am sorry. I look at Jeff’s blog and realize I have not been keeping up. You would think, being dead, that I would have plenty of time to blog, but it is not so very simple. Just because you are dead doesn’t mean the beets don’t need to be planted, the butter doesn’t need to be churned, the laundry doesn’t need to be beaten on a rock. My cousins have been no help at all. Tunde and Iulia have discovered jello.

We are a fortunate family, having one of Romania’s first jacuzzis.  Tunde and Iulia have filled the jacuzzi with jello and now Vlad is partying like it is 1869. “C’mon in,” he shouts. “There’s always room in jello.”

Vlad likes to take his clothes off and shake his little thing at me. I made him promise to keep his clothes on. Soon we were all in the jacuzzi.  That was Saturday. The next thing I remember it is Tuesday. The beets have not been planted. The butter has not been churned. The laundry has not been beaten on a rock. But Vlad did keep his clothes on. And I feel o-double-good. So there is that. We plan to do it again next Saturday.




A very happy, belated dead Romanian ancestral Mother’s Day

It was my plan to post a new blog yesterday but Jeff was hogging the computer.  He was mumbling about line edits and cursing periodically, but mostly he seemed happy with his progress. Which is, I think, a good thing. Being dead, I am not such a good judge. Anyway, I introduced you to our coaches, Irina and Paul Cojocaru. So today I should be telling you about our progress in the pool. But I think perhaps I feel sad, or maybe guilty that yesterday was Mother’s Day and I didn’t tell you anything about Stela. Stela was a seamstress, a beet farmer and a single parent, after the unfortunate incident at the mill. She was an entertainer of sorts. Stela especially loved to entertain our brave Romanian soldiers, doing her best to keep up their spirits, far from home. Here she is, doing her almost famous impression of the Marlene Deitrich.

ImageIt is a good impression, yes? She was a most perfect mother and I miss her dearly. She is dead now a very long time. Of course, I am also dead a very long time, so anyway there is that. I should tell you that Stela was jealous of my relationship with Irina, but not today.  I think they call it picking a nit and I will not pick even one of my dear Mother’s nits on this day.

A very happy, belated dead Romanian ancestral Mother’s Day to Stela and to all of you.

Picking up where I left off

Where did I leave off? You will excuse me, but my memory is not so good any more now that I am dead.

Anyway, if I am remembering, my cousin Iulia gathered us all in the kitchen to tell us of what she would daydream. We were very much surprised when she told us of her hope to become a member of the Romanian Olympic Team.  That we would all become members of the Team. Iulia explained that we must all agree on a sport. Tunde suggested gymnastics. Doris said,  what were the chances that Romanian girls would ever become world-class gymnasts? Doris is the smartest so we agreed that gymnastics was a bad idea.  We waited for Doris to suggest another sport. After much time, she suggested skeet shooting. Andreea had not so very long ago joined PETA. She explained to us how skeet are like humans, with hopes and dreams, with feelings and thoughts and a central nervous system and we were all deeply shamed by our willingness to murder poor defenseless skeet.

It seems that our Olympic dream would die there, until Vlad suggested that we form a synchronized swimming team. Vlad said he would be the team leader as he was of all the cousins the best at swimming.  Vlad was the best at everything. So you will not be surprised when I tell you that when we decided to become a famous band of the rock-and-roll on Romania’s Got Talent, we were known as Vlad and the Impalerettes. But you are not ready to hear that part of my story. So please to forget about the Impalerettes.

I still need to tell you about synchronized swimming. We were fortunate to secure the two best coaches in all of Romania, Paul and Irina Cojocaru.


Here they are at their home on the Black Sea. That’s Irina on the left.

We were fortunate indeed.

A story must have a proper beginning, middle and ending

Jeff assigned me the responsibility to keep his blog going while he’s busy dealing with edits. He assured me that people would be interested in my experience as a contestant on Romania’s Got Talent, and perhaps he is correct, but so far it seems that he is not. Don’t tell him I said this, but Jeff is not correct about many things. Still, he trusted me with his blog and I feel some responsibility, in his absence, to hold onto his audience.  If you read Jeff’s last post, you may be wondering which one I am in the photograph. I am the pretty one.


Anyway, Jeff says I am supposed to tell you about Romania’s Got Talent. As if I could begin the story at such a point. I do not understand how Jeff can find a publisher who will pay him any money at all for his stories when he does not seem to understand that a story must have a proper beginning, middle and ending.

So today I can only begin to tell the story.

My name is Adelina, and as I have already mentioned, I am the pretty one. The others in the photograph are my cousins, Andreea, Iulia, Dana, Tunde, Hannah, Doris and Vlad. (I do not understand how a boy with such a tiny putz can gain the nickname The Impaler.  I asked my cousin Tunde. She smiled, but would not say).


We did not start out to become contestants on Romania’s Got Talent. We did not start out to be anything. We did our chores and studied the Talmud and daydreamed about our future husbands. (I do not know what Vlad dreamed about.).

Also, I did not know what Iulia dreamed about until one day, she gathered us all in the kitchen and told us of her plans. And that, I think, is as much as I can tell you today.