Milestone Moment

It's not often I am transported out of my seat and onto my feet when reading my morning email. Not so, today.

We are getting ever-closer to the publishing of Buckle Down. This means the 20th re-read is behind us, plot points, character crises and timelines have all been scrutinized and scrupulously screened for inconsistencies. These are not moments for the muse, but rather for the systematic genius of my editor and partner in crime. Now we're down to attribution. One of my scenes includes reference to work by Scottish author, Jackie Kay. I sent off this enquiry - a request to quote said work. As I'd tried to connect this request through contacts found on GoodReads, twitter and an online email, I held scant hope of a reply through a form. But look...success! See excerpts below.

Subject: Website Contact Form Enquiry - Rights

Enquiry: I would appreciate your forwarding this request to author Jackie Kay. Many thanks in advance for your assistance!
Dear Jackie, 
I write because I am the author of a series of "Cozy-noir" mysteries based in Portland, Oregon. The books feature a cast of strong female characters, with the protagonist's book group (populated, as you may guess, with strong women) aid in the resolution of the mystery and the opportunity for justice to be served. The group's readings' inform the narrative and the ensuing conversation helps untangle the puzzle. 

The first book in the series contains adoption as a theme. I would very much like to quote a bit of your poetry in a scene in which your book is discussed by the fictional book group. Specifically, I would like to include this from "George Square": 

"And off they went, my two parents
to march against the war in Iraq, 
him with his plastic hips. Her with her arthritis, 
waved at each other like old friends, flapping, 
where they'd met for so many marches over their years, 
for peace on earth, for pity's sake, for peace, for peace." 

The poem would be discussed in the context of what incredible people your parents seem to be, and the tremendous examples they set for you. Naturally, I would give you credit in whatever way you prefer. There is, perhaps, a more formal way of my making this request. Please let me know if this is something you might consider. 

Thank you again for your lovely work. 

and THIS was the letter I received back from the publisher:


Yes that’s fine with me and sounds like a great cause for discussion. please go ahead, citing the following acknowledgment in accompanying literature:

Jackie Kay, Darling: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books 2007)

I hope this helps,

Dr. Suzanne Fairless-Aitken
Rights & Permissions
Bloodaxe Books


So, imagine Mata's book group sitting around the fire on an autumn evening discussing a crime long unavenged, some of adoption's many faces, and a conversation informed by poetry and prose that illuminates the gathering. It is thrilling to me that I will be able to include something of Jackie Kay's sweet genius in  the pages of Buckle Down. Thanks, BloodAxe Books, Suzanne Fairless-Aitken and the author herself, Jackie Kay. I'm over the moon, and rejoicing in this milestone moment.


Book Group Gathering Place - 'round the fire. Cozy!

Book Group Gathering Place - 'round the fire. Cozy!

Let me Hear it @ Last Saturday Survey

Buckle Down's heroine, Mata Morrow, designs a specific and sensational line of travel wear. Travel wear that will get you on the road with flare and without stress. This is not just fiction, folks. Your opinions will help shape this project.



Responses will assist MmPorium Studios to better understand both the functional and the emotional qualities of clothing design that are important to you. Estimated time to complete this questionnaire is 10 minutes. 

1. What is your (current) favorite fall/winter outfit?

2. What do you love about it (color? fit? texture? memory? Use as many words as desired to describe ANYTHING that makes you feel good about the clothing.)

3. What is your (current) favorite spring/summer outfit?

4. What do you love about it (color? fit? texture? memory? Use as many words as desired to describe ANYTHING that makes you feel good about the clothingWhat do you love about it.)

5. Describe a most-fondly recalled fall/winter garment from your past. 

- When did you own it?
- What was the garment?
- What was the fabric?
- How did it make you feel?
- Any additional information you'd like to share

Each survey submitted gives you an opportunity to receive a downloadable copy of Buckled Down on your e-reader of choice. Email your responses to All feedback is appreciated.

As always, thanks for your time and thoughts.



Last Saturday Survey - Lula Flann



Trade Secrets - What Blows My Skirt Up

Yesterday I sent a "Hail Mary" note to Karen Canady of Bike Girl Bloomers. We'd met her briefly when she was in Portland this summer. My partner purchased the polka-dot bloomers with purple skirt and has worn the set proudly on a number of bike-commuter occasions since acquiring them. While D. was in the dressing room, I struck up a conversation with Karen on the sales floor. That conversation ultimately motivated me to begin an investigation of what garment-making resources are available in our neighboring state of California. Useful stuff as we create our line of travel clothing! This was my reach out:

"Karen! We will be attending the LA Textile show later this month, as I have long aspired to design a travel-clothing line. Meeting you and understanding what you have been able to do, in part by sourcing local talent, prompted me to look into what kinds of networking and education might be available on the West Coast.

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If, by any chance, you have plans to attend the show (Sep 28-30), we wold love to take you out for a beverage and learn more about your business. We are in Oregon, could it be otherwise?...but cycling clothing is not my specific area of interest, other than from that of wearer! From a functional perspective, however, I believe we have something in common. With Bike Girl Bloomers, you ave created garments providing utility, fun and style. I share those same goals in the development of my travel clothing line. Please let us know...." Etcetera.

I'm excited to see what comes of this. Stay tuned!

Cover to Cover

I'm nearing the homestretch on the first Mata Morrow Mystery. This includes half-dozen re-writes and - yes! - one more round of editing. One of the easiest bits of this literary birthing process has been the cover design. I spent an entire morning (maybe it was more than an entire morning...the time, it does run away) researching the specifics of book cover designs. Once we determined that a high-quality book cover was well beyond the scope of our graphic skills, I delved deeper into the non-DIY basics. How does one find the skilled talent with a compatible temperament within the budget?


Google Search, Hire-an-Artist (more about this in a later post), the ever-popular Word of Mouth were all alleys I traveled down. LinkedIn, though, was the resource that led me to Heidi Sutherlin of She even lives in Oregon, which was frosting on the cupcake as Oregon is virtually a character - a major player, in fact - in the Mata Morrow series.

I reached out to Heidi and she reached right back. I gave her lots of cryptic directions such as, "I'd like to use a color palette that mirrors this..." accompanied by a photo of crazy chrysanthemums. "Portland figures prominently in Buckled Down, with Old Town, the White Stag Building and a book group serving as key elements." I love how quickly and absolutely she got what I worked to convey. 

I'm including a first draft of Heidi's book cover here on the blog. You can see the final version of that on the "Books" page. I can't wait for you to read what's inside!

In the Weeds Wednesday

My queendom for reasonable runway spectacles. Not the Warby Parker kind, either. With Fashion Week and new collections almost upon us, I'm on the lookout for eye-catching togs that don't make me wince at the thought of walking down the street in a garb that looks to be made of candy wrappers and dental floss. That's no way to strut your stuff.

Here in Portland just last month we were treated to the Alley 33 fashion event, lauded for the display of locally-designed duds that can be purchased on premises. Lula was out of town at the Coast that weekend, but she read the articles and saw the photographic evidence. She is now following all the afore-mentioned designing women in the social sphere. Guilty pleasure (like museum-going and listening to endless and useless, "I like this but I didn't like that" interior snark) makes we want to ask: Of the garments modeled that day, what would YOU wear? And where would you wear it? 

I loved a number of the nighties, and that Moonchilde red and black number. But - did I mention? I was in Manzanita, able to ponder from afar the mystery of women and what we wear.

The What, When & Wherefores of this Blog

What you'll find here:

Mata Mondays - Check here for Mata Morrow mystery character back stories. Writing and reading- related. No 'rithmetic. Ever. I promise.

Traveling Tuesday - What's it all about if not to explore the world. Yes - and to feel great and look smart while you're out and about. Join along.

Wear it Wednesday - This is the place you'll find out about steps and mis-steps (no! not too many of those!) in designing, refining and sporting that super-fine clothing line you read about in the Mata Morrow series.