Author Corner–Jane Isaac

E: Welcome to Erindipity, Jane!  I can’t believe you haven’t been on here before now.  Oh, crap.  Get in the closet.  Run!  Charlie, NO!

J: Oh dear. Looks like Charlie’s taken a shine to Bollo. Watch out Charlie! We don’t call him (Where’s the Party?) Bollo for nothing. It’s not just burglars that regret meeting him, it’s anyone:/


Sure, blame the dog. That’s original.

E: You have a new book coming out called, The Truth Will Out.  I believe it’s available for preorder.  What can you tell us about it?

J: The Truth Will Out is the second book in the Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery series, and set between the Midlands and the Scottish Highlands over here in the UK. In this novel Helen faces her biggest challenge yet, clashes with her superiors in pursuit of the truth and has a love interest too. Let me share my blurb with you:

 “Everything’s going to be okay.”

 “What if it’s not?”

Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.

“Naomi, what is it?”

She whisked back to face Eva. “There’s somebody in the house… ”

Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder enquiry begins.

Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.

Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And as the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?

The Truth Will Out Cover

E: Helen Lavery also features in your first book, An Unfamiliar Murder.  What can you tell us about that book?

J: I’ve always been fascinated when extraordinary things happen to ordinary people and my novels are inspired by this notion.

An Unfamiliar Murder opens with school teacher, Anna Cottrell, arriving home to find the murdered body of a stranger in her flat. She immediately becomes the main suspect in a murder enquiry, spends the night in a police cell and, just when she thinks she has convinced police of her innocence, further evidence comes to light that links her inextricably with the victim.

Whilst An Unfamiliar Murder is essentially a murder mystery, it’s also the story of two women: Anna is fighting to prove her innocence, and Helen is trying to prove herself in the senior echelons of a competitive profession, whilst juggling the demands of parenting teenage sons.


E: Do readers need to read that book before this new one, or are they stand alone?

J:  No, both books are written as standalone novels.

E: Do you have any plans on continuing with Helen Lavery and how many books do you have ideas for?

J:  I’d love to continue working with Helen. I’ve already started a third novel and have ideas for a fourth too.

E: What kinds of research did you have to do for her character?  Were people helpful in assisting you, or was it difficult getting information?

J:  My books are police procedural/psychological thriller crossovers so they require tons of research to make them authentic and believable. I think it’s important to create characters that feel real so that readers relate to them. With this in mind, I interviewed people at many different levels of the UK police force to shape a female detective that is not only driven and vulnerable, but grounded too.

I did learn early on that you have to be quite direct and cheeky with research. In the second book I wanted to find out how the door panels of a Mini car come apart and whether there would be room to secrete some smuggled packages in the spaces behind. I phoned my local Mini garage and, after a brief explanation from me convincing the owner that I was writing a book and not a member of the local criminal fraternity (and several bouts of laughter from him), he was incredibly helpful – he even emailed me diagrams.

E: What are you currently working on?

J: I am presently working on a new mystery set in Stratford upon Avon. It requires lots of research field visits which I’m enjoying immensely. I just hope it works when I put it all together!

E: What was the most useful thing you learned while publishing your first book that helped you out publishing this new book?

J: Writing the book is the easy part. A regular presence on Facebook and Twitter is essential to get your work noticed, and participation in local events helps too. You could have written the best book in the world but nobody will read it if they don’t know it’s there. 


You can find Jane on her website, Facebook, or do what I do and bother her on Twitter.  Go ahead and bother us both.  We won’t mind.

Seattle Central Library

I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the other day and there was an article on the world’s coolest libraries.  Number 18 on the list just happened to be the Seattle Central Library, and it is every bit as amazing as the article said it was.  Libraries are my favorite places to be anyway, so you can imagine what it was like being there.


One of the most interesting things about the library is the floor of the languages section.  Every board is carved with a phrase from one of the books the library carries, and those books come in 14 different languages!  The phrases are carved so you can leave impressions on your body, show them to a librarian, and they can find the book the phrase came from.

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I probably spent way more time than I should have in the Children’s section, but it was huge.  In a back area they were having an event for small children and there were a lot of them participating.  I love seeing small people fall in love with the library.  Like the adult areas, the children’s book also came in multiple languages.

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Who wouldn’t want to spend all day reading in here?

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One of the coolest things about the library was adult story time.  That’s right, folks, it’s not just for kids anymore.  There was an auditorium that sat 200 people.  They watched the Super Bowl there this year.  I’d have loved to see people getting crazy in the library.

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There were also regular events held there.  I thought it was great that one event they had was a citizenship class for immigrants who wanted to become American citizens.  And let’s not forget the author events!

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Being in this place was good for my soul.  When I asked if I could take pictures, I was told to be careful not to include any pictures of people because there were a lot of fragile patrons that spent time there.  Spending this week in Seattle introduced me to homelessness in a way I haven’t experienced before.  Many times I saw people sleeping next to buildings or in the middle of plazas, so I was glad the library was a warm place that welcomed them.  They are open 7 days a week, so even on Sundays  they can get some relief from the weather.

I hope it doesn’t take me 18 years to get back to Seattle the next time.  I’d love to be able to spend more time here.


Wish List

When I posted about Pike Place Market, I posted some pictures of different vendors that have booths.  I’m dedicating an entire post to this vendor, Art of Wings.


She didn’t have any wings out that day, but she had these amazing hats that are completely customizable and she had some examples of the gauntlets she makes.  Did I mention she makes wings?!  This is from her website and is an example of her wedding wings.


Are these not the coolest ever?

She even makes clip-on dreads, people!  I dyed my hair blue, so you know I’m going to be all over these like a hobo on a ham sammich.


This comes from her website. Seriously, go check her out.

There is so much more that she does.  So, why dedicate an entire post to this one vendor?  Well, for one thing, she makes amazing stuff and I want most of it, so now you have ideas for holiday shopping.  For another, she works her table herself, so I got to meet her and she’s not only ridiculously talented, she’s also really nice.  Everything can be customized,so no matter what you need, chances are she can give it to you.  I respect craftspeople and what they do.  Consider this the equivalent of leaving a review on Amazon.


This year was one of the worst winters we’ve had in years.  We’ve had several days where the windchill was dangerously low and we’ve received near record snowfall.  It was with great delight, then, when I left my house to run errands that it was absolutely beautiful outside.  The sun is shining.  The snow is melting.  Sure, the sidewalks are all flooded, but I can deal with that.  It’s so nice, in fact, that I have all my windows and my sliding door open to let the place air out.  So, just how warm is it outside?

Drumroll, please.


It’s 46 degrees.


In related news, Smeagol is freaked out by weather.  The wind was blowing, and he was watching everything blow around like, “WTF kind of sorcery is this?!”  I do not believe he approves.

What Has It Gots In Its Pocketses, Precious?

If you follow me on Twitter, or you occasionally peek at the embedded Twitter feed here on Erindipity, then you know that on Monday, I took Smeagol in to get neutered.  I did this for several reasons.

  • Unaltered pets are obnoxious to be around during mating times.
  • They pee all over anything that doesn’t move.
  • Sometimes, they even pee on things that do move.  Things like me.
  • I refuse to contribute to cat overpopulation.
  • Neutering Smeagol makes my sons nervous.

Ok, so the boys aren’t really worried about losing a portion of their man business, but they pretend that they are and this amuses me.  A friend of mine refers to the process as “getting his pockets picked.”  Smeagol now has something in common with these tourists.

He despises his rather nice cat carrier.  It zips out so he can have lots of room once he gets to be a fatty and it has padded panels that go in it for his comfort.  You’d think he’d be a little more grateful.  I thought perhaps I could pet his head, but no.  No, he tried to get out.  I’ve never been so grateful for a red light so I could shove him back inside the carrier.

The people at the clinic were nice.  I filled out his paperwork, paid the fee, and left him there for his surgery.  I won’t lie, I worried about him while he was gone.  Complications are rare, but they do happen and I didn’t want them happening to my little buddy.  When the time came, I went to pick him up.  They gave me a list of instructions to follow and a number to call if there were any issues.  I don’t think anyone told Smeagol about the instructions, though.  He ran.  He jumped.  He was desperate to play with me, and when I wouldn’t play with him, he play attacked me.  He wouldn’t stop licking his surgical site.  He didn’t like that I put his toys on top of the dresser, so he went up there and got them back down.  One toy has been completely plucked.  Another time, I found him sitting in my kitchen sink.  Despite all of his activity, he seems to be doing well.  He hasn’t ripped anything out and it doesn’t look like there is any infection.

Even when he annoys me, I wouldn’t trade my kitty for anything.  He’s my precious.

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

My second favorite place to hang out while I was in Seattle was Pike Place Market.  There’s so much to see there and I know I didn’t see everything.  I bought hair wraps with silver charms, a tie dye shirt, a picture of pandas from a man doing Chinese Calligraphy, and sampled so much food.  Plus, the water!

First, the seafood.

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Until this point, I had only seen uni on television.  I’m not sure I would ever try it, but it was cool to see it.  I only took pictures of a fraction of the seafood displayed there.  As someone who adores it, I was in irradiated heaven.  The market was more than seafood, though.  There was a lot of fresh produce, as well.  I didn’t take a lot of veggie pictures, but trust me.  There are lots of spots to pick up whatever strikes your fancy.


There were a lot of vendor stalls.  I wish I had more money and more luggage space because a lot of this stuff would have come home with me.

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What wouldn’t have survived the 2500 mile trip home, no matter how much space I had in my bags, were the flowers.  They had stalls of both fresh and dried varieties and they were all so gorgeous.  If I lived there, I would always have these flowers in my house.

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This was the table where I bought my hair wraps.  They had lots to choose from, and I actually went back later in the week and picked up another one.  And here I am, freshly wrapped.  It’s hard to see, but it has three silver feather charms dangling from the end.  The other one I bought was shorter and black with a dragonfly charm.


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The tie dye shirts were so cool.  I’m not normally a fan, but I loved these and I’m still wishing I had bought a couple more.  This is Brandy and me at The Cheesecake Factory, where I did not have cheesecake.  I love my new shirt and hair wrap!

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They didn’t just have tables or stalls, though.  There were lots of little (and not so little) shops throughout the market, plus restaurants and food vendors.  The picture of the bottles was at a new agey shop.  The bottles were filled with herbs and spices, plus they had incense, books, and tarot cards.  I’m not going to lie, a new tarot deck almost made it home with me.

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One of the most awkward things about the market, though, was the women’s restroom.  The stall doors aren’t standard height, which means when you close the stall door, you can look out over the top of it.  The bank of stalls I used was right in front of the mirror, and both times I went in there, another woman went in there too, so we had this few minutes of awkward conversation by way of the mirror.  You know it’s a short door when I can see over the top of it.  #shortgirlproblems

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I’m still not entirely sure why, but the birds fascinated me.  Maybe it’s because they were so accustomed to humans that they went about their business not really caring.

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What would a trip to the market be without water shots?  Seattle, I already miss you.

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Erin the Explorer

After an interesting night’s sleep, Brandy and I decided to spend the day exploring.  I say it was an interesting night’s sleep because my body is on Eastern time and Seattle is three hours behind, so I’m about to drop from exhaustion and it’s still light out.  Anyway, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday were exploring days for me, so instead of posting pictures by the day, I’ve grouped them by subject matter.  This is me heading out on Tuesday morning.


All your seafood are belongs to me!

Since I spent a ridiculous amount of time near the water on Tuesday, I’ll lead off with shots of the water and of various things downtown.


That’s right. I’m not wearing a coat. Suck it, Indiana!

We found Sculpture Park.  And by we, I mean we had to have a stranger give us directions to Sculpture Park, and then chase us down the street, stop us from going the wrong way (even with directions), and then physically take us to the park entrance.  You were a super cool dude, wherever you may be.

The water is my favorite place to be, so I took a lot of water shots.

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For whatever reason, I was equally fascinated with the birds.  They were pretty cool birds.  By that I mean they were laid back and chilling on the sidewalk.

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Lastly, I took several pictures of interesting buildings and shop fronts.

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These next shots are of the same building.  There were panels going along the side and were written in several different languages.  I’m not sure how well you can read the script, but I thought they were awesome.

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This is one of the courthouses.  According to a placard, it used to be a hospital.  I can see that.  The courthouse is across the street from the library, but that gets its own post.

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This is a building that’s also not too far from the library.  I’m sure it’s architecturally sound, but I don’t understand how it stays upright.  It’s a cool building to look at, that’s for sure.


This is a church that was being worked on, so I couldn’t go inside.  It was barricaded off so I couldn’t even get a decent shot of it.  Even though I’m something of a heathen, I do love the architecture of old churches.


Outward Bound

Last Monday, ahead of the AWP conference, I flew out to Seattle.  This happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth and I still have friends out that way, so I figured a few extra days to explore and thaw was worth the extra expense.  The flight was ungodly early, but it also got me out to the West Coast in plenty of time to explore if I wanted to.  I don’t remember if it was snowing or not, but it was seriously freaking cold.  (As far as I can tell, we’re at 64″ of snow and counting for this year.  In fact, it’s snowing right now.)

We (my friend, Brandy, and I) arrived at the airport in plenty of time.  This is good because I had some issue getting through the security checkpoint.  For the record, it’s way too cold here to have to be without shoes for any length of time, kthnx.  I walked through the metal detector, which went off.  So, they wanded me.  I’m still not sure what set it off.  Then I got to go through the full body scanner, because apparently my lack of metallic objects isn’t enough.  They wanted to check out my lady parts.  Since my lady parts were up to snuff (or so I assume since no one came to strip me down and probe my various orifices), I went to x-ray my bag/purse.  They did this several times and then informed me that they would need to go through the contents and asked me if there was anything sharp and/or needle-like they should be aware of.  My natural reaction to this would normally be, “You scanned my bag like 8 times.  Did you see anything that looked like a needle?”  However, I didn’t have jail penciled into my schedule, so I just said, “No.”  The offending item?  My container of contact lens solution that was brand new and still had the plastic seal intact.

Once I successfully navigated the security checkpoint, I hung out near the gate until my flight boarded.  They checked my carry-on bag (it was a freakishly small plane) and I was set to take off.  It should be noted here that the airplane gods have  all conspired against me, and any time I could be seated in the middle of three seats, I was.  Sure, I’m claustrophobic, but whatever.  Wedge me in between my friend and some strange man (because it was always a man), or even two strange men as was the case that morning.  Thankfully, it was a short flight from South Bend to Detroit.  The real fun came on the main flight from Detroit to Seattle.

Brandy and I were seated, with me in the middle, next to The Lion Killer.  In all fairness, this man has probably never personally killed a lion, but I have named him this nonetheless.  To pass the time, he struck up a conversation with me and it was ok for a little while, but then he mentioned that he had friends who were going to Africa (He didn’t specify which country and I didn’t ask) and that they had asked him to go with them.  In fact, he would randomly interject, “Africa!” because he was so excited.  He pulled out his phone, opened up some pictures, and proceeded to show them to me.  He said they were of his friends’ home.  The photos resembled this:


The room was bigger, and there were several trophy kills displayed.  The ones that broke my heart were the giant bear and the fully mature male lion.  That lion was so beautiful and the thought that someone had killed him and stuffed him for no other reason than they could made my eyes tear up.  My first question to TLK was, “Are these real?”  I wanted them to very much be not real, but he enthusiastically answered, “Oh, yeah, they’re all real.”  My next question was stuttered out, not because I have a speech issue but because I had horror and rage battling to come out.  I asked, “Did they eat them?”  Now, I’ve never heard of lion steaks or bear tenderloins, but if they actually used the meat I could calm myself somewhat.  “No, I don’t think so.  I mean, I know they didn’t eat the bear.  The elk, though, they did.  Elk’s delicious.”  One of the pictures he showed me was of a room filled with various heads of deer, elk, etc.  Being from Indiana where natural deer predation is non-existent because we haven’t met a wolf we haven’t shot, I understand hunting to cull the sick and the weak.  They pose a danger to motorists when their numbers get too high and they exhaust the food supply so that the entire herd slowly starves to death.  There is no good reason to trophy hunt.

If you are a trophy hunter and you are reading this: Fuck you.  Fuck you in the ass with a splintered log covered in napalm.  You’re the reason we can’t have nice things, like the African Black Rhino.

Those of you who actually know me outside of the internet will wonder if I managed to not stab him in the leg with a plastic spork.  You will be happy to know I did not, in fact, stab him with a spork because no spork was provided to me.  Well played, Delta.

We landed in Seattle and I finally got off the plane, never to see TLK again.  If you’re reading this and you recognize yourself in this narrative, I hope you and your friends get eaten by a lion.

We made a beeline from the airport to the Westin Seattle hotel.


We stayed in the South Tower.  There is plenty I could complain about where the hotel is concerned, but it wouldn’t do any good.  Instead, I’ll concentrated on what was really nice about it.  For one thing, the bed was amazing.


The next great thing was the shower.


Why yes, this is a rain head. It’s delightful.

It was a decent size and it was clean, even though we didn’t have a working ice machine for the entire week we stayed there.

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By the time we got to the hotel, we were both too tired to do anything beyond sleeping.


As many of you know by now, I have a kitten named Smeagol.  Sometimes, I even call him that.  Usually, it cycles through Smeags, Smeagsy, Meagol, Meagols, Mr. Meagols, or some other variation.  These variations are almost always plural, as I believe there are several cat personalities camped out in his head, and I’m unsure about the intentions of most of them.  Following the tradition of human children who can gauge the amount of trouble they’re in by the number of names used to call them, “Smeags” usually implies a mild level of annoyance.  “Smeagol,” when paired with a stern tone, implies a moderate amount of anger and it can be safely assumed that something is either broken or irreparably stained.  The red on my anger-o-meter is reserved for when I am bleeding somewhere on my person.  This results in “Smeagol Goddamnit.”  That is his full name.  When speaking about him to other people, I usually call him Paws of Doom.

I found Smeagol on Craigslist.  A woman had found him near the dumpster where she works and brought him home.  Her son was allergic, though, so she couldn’t keep him.  I asked if she still had him, and she did, so we made plans to meet up and I would take the cat.  He was a tiny thing.  I’ve posted pictures before showing how tiny he was, but here is a good representation of just how small he was.  This was right before the first major polar vortex bullshit we got hit with and temperatures dropped to -30 and colder with windchill.  I believe that if that woman hadn’t found him, he would have died out there all alone.


Neither the woman who found him nor I had any clue how old he was, but his eyes were open and he was able to eat Kitten Chow.  She left him with me and he became my writing buddy.

One of the first issues I ran into with him was his habit of clawing me.  I’ve never thought he was doing it to be mean or out of fear.  Most of the time, he was trying to jump into my lap, but because he was so small, he had a lot of trouble getting up there.  So, he would jump, use his claws to catch himself as he started sliding, and then clawed his way up my legs until he either got into my lap or I hauled him into my lap, whichever one happened first.  At one point, I looked like someone tried to feed me through a wood chipper.  Now that he’s gotten much bigger, he can jump up without issue, so his clawing has markedly decreased.  The rest of the time, he was trying to play with me.  I think he was just too small to understand that claws hurt and shouldn’t be used during play.  The woman who found him didn’t find a mama cat or any litter mates.  This also goes with the next major problem we had.

Smeagol didn’t know how to use the litter box.  I tried placing him in the litter box, but he would jump out immediately.  If I caught him squatting somewhere, I could pick him up, place him in the box, and he would do his business, but he wouldn’t go to the box first.  I tried everything, and eventually he figured out that kitty litter is awesome to scratch with and he could bury his business.  Now he uses his litter box like a champ.

He’s a lot bigger now.  I took him to the vet for a tapeworm he had, and she aged him at 15 weeks and 6 pounds.  Counting backwards from when I got him, he was only 6-7 weeks old.  He was much too young to be away from his mama and litter mates and I have no idea how long he had been on his own.  It’s amazing he even survived.  He’s not a fat kitty.  He’s just a big kitty.

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Smeagol was not pleased when I went to Seattle last week.  I made sure a friend could come and check up on him, but she could tell he missed me.  I missed him, too.  When I got back home, he couldn’t decide if he was happy to see me or if he was pissed off at me.  In true Smeagol fashion, he decided to be both at the same time and saw no problem with this.  He forgave me when I gave him a can of Fancy Feast Kitten Formula wet food that I bought as a treat.  Apparently, food mends most hurts.  He’s a cat after my own heart.

Recommend It Monday–Beatrysel by Johnny Worthen

Since I knew I would be spending a lot of time trapped on an airplane (which didn’t crash afterall), I loaded up my current ebooks and got some reading done.  I don’t like reading ebook format.  It has nothing to do with the quality of book.  It’s a sensory thing, like eating pears.  Sure, they taste good but they feel like I’m eating grit.  That said, I’ve had this copy of Beatrysel for a long time now and it’s one that I’ve really been wanting to read, so I did.  It’s wonderful.

In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, I will say that Worthen is a friend of mine.  That said, this is still a damn fine book and I wouldn’t be reviewing it otherwise.

He did a good job creating characters that I cared about.  The opening scene was a little disorienting until you read further along.  I thought it was an interesting choice to give us the scene and then later on (more than a few pages) give us the context for that scene.  I think that choice made the scene more meaningful.

He writes beautiful prose.  Seriously, never underestimate the value of a well crafted sentence.  There were a couple of places where I, personally, would have worked it a little differently for smoothness and flow, but there weren’t very many of those.  His writing is engaging and keeps you interested from start to finish.

I’ve always been fascinated with the occult, so this book was great for that.

If I had to sum up Beatrysel, it would be:

If light, then dark; if love, betrayal; if joy, pain.