Monday, December 2, 2013



Saturday was a crazy wild day around the old home-front. Oh, it started out calm enough, Prince Charming was gone--visiting clients in custody at the county jail, and I was at home with the dogs and cats, thinking about decorating for Christmas.

It was a beautiful day in Southern California.  As usual, I had the sliding back door open to let my animals have free range to the backyard.  I had spread bird seed for my flock of sparrows that grows in number every day.  Also visiting the birdseed was my flock of pigeons.  Unlike many, I love my pigeons, and don't mind the occasional mess they leave behind, the soft cooing sound they make offsets the crazy yelling of the sparrows.

Suddenly, all the birds took flight is a crazy "run for the hills" scattered pattern, with at least two pigeons hitting the clerestory windows.  I looked up in time to see a falcon diving two of the pigeons with my favorite brown bird desperately trying to get away from the attacking predator.  The two came crashing into my den, with the pigeon making a desperate dive up to the soffit wall over my kitchen.  The falcon quickly retreated out the open door, but the pigeon remained in the house.

Unfortunately, Boo Bear, my cat, quickly caught wind of the bird and soon scrambled up onto the counters and tried to get to the frightened bird. Brownie, took off and ended up behind the couch, with Boo still focused on the area above the cabinets.

I left her, deciding to let her collect her thoughts and hopefully letting the falcon fly off to other hunting grounds.  

As I was finishing preparing lunch, the doorbell rang, with all the dogs running to answer the door.  At the door, Tara and Fina were content to terrorize the young couple giving out reading material, but, Scruggs being Scruggs, didn't stop at the door.  Nooo, he ran!

For any of you who read Scruggs and Samantha, How a Shelter Dog and Kitten Saved Cinderella's Marriage, you all know Scruggs is a runner.  He was OFF and RUNNING with Fina hot on his heels!

I watched to see which way they turned then grabbed the car keys to give chase.  Scruggs has learned that he can run, and eventually I find him and bring him back in the car.  So he runs as far as he can.

Fortunately for me, this time a new neighbor was watching Scruggs run, and decided to give chase.  Just up the street, another new neighbor was painting his house and had all the doors open.  Scruggs stopped to run through the open house and greet the neighbor.

Yes, of course there was wet paint!  Do you think this story would end without Scruggs getting covered in paint?  If so, you don't know Scruggs.

The good news is Scruggs helped me meet two new neighbors, one of which forgave the golden dog's indiscretions of leaving his golden fur on the new white paint.

Oh, yes, two hours later Brownie, the pigeon finally came out, and left by the front door.  Scruggs is still in the proverbial doghouse, but I have to forgive him.  He loves to run!

Have a safe and happy shopping period.  Remember, everyone loves to read.
Mary de la Pena

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Again, Hi All!

As many of you know, I also write under my maiden name, M.J. Hatch.  My first mystery is Murder Most Blonde, A Detective Jake Swanson Mystery.

Follow the link for the great five star reviews-- yes, I am patting myself on the back.  But here is the great news!  

My second mystery, Murder Most Judgmental will be out for a "soft release" in the e-format for Kindle during the week between Christmas and New Years.  I will be offering the first 500 copies of the e-version for FREE!  What I'd like from you, my patient readers, is a review posted on Amazon.  It would really help me when I do my "hard release" in Mid-March.  Also, we will be doing a "two-fer", adding both books for the price of one when Murder Most Judgmental is released.  So, look for that too on the amazon website.

Speaking of release dates, I will be celebrating its release at the Whittier College Meet the Author and Bookfaire.  Follow the link for more info. 

Yes, I am giving them a photo soonly.

Again, lots of love,
Mary de la Pena, also writing as M.J. Hatch


Hi, All:
First, let me apologize for not posting in a very long time.  Again it seems that life got in the way.  

The important news is that Tara had a "minor" surgery and is now doing well. A few slip knots on her tendons by a skilled surgeon, lots of rest, and the big girl is doing much better.

Also, just as importantly, what we at first thought was cancer on her spine was an infection, but showed as disorganized cells, leading us to think it was, in fact, the dreaded "C" word.  

Here's how it all transpired:

After watching my huge, beautiful Rottweiler struggle to get up, and stagger once on her feet, Prince Charming and I had to do something!  We took her to see Dr. Burnett at the La Verne Animal Hospital in La Verne, California.  He did a recheck on the lump near her tail. A quick check with the lab of the original cells, and we discovered it was an infection throwing off disorganized cells. The cancer scare was because the cells on the slide took the dye too well and showed what Dr. Burnett said looked like cancer, but in fact was cellular debris. Long and short--NO CANCER!

With the new diagnosis the next step was what to do about the torn tendons. Dr. Burnett, who has cared for Tara all her life, agreed that there was still too much life in our old dog to put her down. So, rather than submit the big girl to a lengthy surgery, Dr. Burnett agreed to tighten the torn tendons, and send her home with strict instructions to keep her "quiet", no hard play, no running, no jumping on and off the bed, and careful of slips and slides.

Tara is now 11 years-old!  She is a couch potato by choice, and the only jumping she does is to step from the floor onto a bench and onto our bed at night.  Easily fixed--Prince Charming and I lift her on and off the bed, and she's just fine. A more difficult task was keeping Scruggs from offering her toys to induce her to play.  But, Tara is wiser than most humans, and she politely refuses his offers, and stays quietly on her blanket.  She seems to know not to over-extend herself. She is now putting some weight on the leg, and is healing well.

Soooo, a huge THANK YOU for all of your PRAYERS! They really helped.

Also, the lesson of the day---ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION!

Lots of love, 
Mary de la Pena

To read more about Tara, Scruggs, Fina, and Samantha, read 
Scruggs and Samantha, How a Shelter Dog and Kitten Saved Cinderella's Marriage

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


My dearest Tara, the eleven year-old Rottweiler's health is again critical.  Her daddy, Prince Charming, and I are heartbroken.

Last week Tara was playing keep-away with Scruggs, and without a yelp or any other indication of pain, she started limping.  A frantic rush to the vet, and we find out the worst possible news!  Tara has arthritis pinching a nerve in her back weakening her right rear leg.  She also has destroyed the ligaments in her left leg playing with Scruggs.  Surgery is out of the question since she also has a large spot of cancer on her back, possibly intruding into her spine!

My baby girl is brave, braver than I would be.  She never whimpers, but needs assistance getting onto the bed to sleep with the prince and me at night.  She still is a chow hound, but I know her days are few--really few.

Now, it is time to keep the promise I make to all of my animals, the same promise I would hope my daughters would make for me--let me go peacefully when the time comes.  Do not keep me around just because you will miss me. It is the same for Tara, I can't make her stay if she hurts and cannot walk, though her chest is strong, a two legged dog is too hard to bear, for her and for me.

I spend my time now giving her kisses--loading up on all the kisses I want her to have before she crosses over.  I want her there to greet me when it is my time, so I cannot let her go until I know she will have enough kisses to remember me.

I love you Tara, my brave, strong, beautiful Rottweiler.
Your Mom.

Monday, November 4, 2013




Okay, guys, I have been writing and having books published for more than two years now. No matter what the dreams may be, this is a brutal business unless you have a built-in platform, such as a TV show, or are a recovering alcoholic, drug-addled celebrity, or have already sold a ton of books.  Does this mean I am ready to throw in the towel--no way Jose!  It just means I again need to work harder, and smarter.

This next series of blogs will be my journey through some of the process, but not all of it, because some of it is too dreadful to share.  As I said in the beginning, my precious dog, Scruggs, taught me to laugh and share, so bear with me while I learn to laugh through this grueling process.

But, first, some history:

When my first two books came out in 2011 and early 2012, I did all the right things, including book fairs, book signings, and lots of public speaking.  But, man, it was difficult, and somewhat soul-sucking, but also funny, enlightening, and always amusing, even when I was the main joke of the day.

Book signings are not like "Castle" on TV or any book signings, except for maybe J.K. Rowlings, who has thousands of screaming fans waiting for her.  Nooo, it is more like trying to hype liquid joint medicine at Costco.  No one really wants to try it, but the woman at the table stands bravely, smiles and offers it to anyone who passes by.  Book signings at a bookstore are similar.  You have a beautiful table, a poster, and a nice manager of the store.  But, expect to sell maybe 20 books during a six hour day.

What you do get  are wonderfully frustrated writers who want so desperately to write and have their messages heard.  Sometimes it is heartbreaking, sometimes enlightening, but always fodder for future tortured characters.  They will take your time, suck your breath out of you, and probably disrupt sales, but without them, you otherwise will stand alone for hours.  

If you are lucky, a sympathetic assistant manager will come by occasionally and offer you water, or maybe a cup of coffee.  Don't refuse it, it may be the only attention you get for another half-hour or more!

But, at the end of the day, when the sales are totaled, the manager will come to you and tell you that you sold more books that day than any other author in the store!  Take the complement and run, because it is true.  You did hustle, you did sign books, and you did make contacts.  Be grateful, keep an e-mail list of the people you met, and let them know how much you appreciate their support.  In the end, it does make a difference.  You have touched at least 20 people's lives, and isn't that why you wrote your book?

Writing books is not glamorous.  It is like anything else in life--if it was easy, anyone would/could do it. 

Stay tuned for next time, I will talk about mistakes I made.  Of course, that will take multiple posts, but so what, maybe it will prevent you from making the same ones.

Lots of love to all of you writers, and readers.  Without you, we are nothing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ROTTWEILER SNEAK, Don't Tell Me Dogs Aren't Smart, by Mary de la Pena

Hi, All:
This is Tara, my beloved Rottweiler, and senior citizen.  She's going on eleven at the end of November, old for a Rottie, but now old enough to believe she had special privileges--including sneaking cat food off a table.

Prince Charming and I need to feed the two cats, Boo Bear and Samantha on a small table we have in the kitchen.  Obviously with three large dogs, Tara, Scruggs and Fina, we can't feed the cats on the floor, or there would never be any food left in their dishes. This has worked well for many years, until now.

It seems that Tara has learned that she is tall enough to rest her nose on the small table, and if the dishes are close enough to the edge, she can use her tongue to scoop the food out of the dishes, or use her nose to push the dry food onto the floor.  However, until today, we never knew she was doing it--we just thought the cats were getting fat eating too much.

It appears, that she has learned to sneak.  Yes, my Rottweiler has learned to redirect our attention away from the table to the water dish on the floor.  She knows the prince hates it when she drinks water then rubs her face on his jeans. Now she goes to the water dish, takes a drink, and turns around to see if we are looking.  If we are, she veers away and comes back to the dish.  Today,  the prince caught her act out of the corner of his eye.  When Tara thought he wasn't looking, she swiped her tongue across the table, and walked away munching on goodies from the cat's table.

Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky dog!  But how can you not love a dog like that?

Lots of Rottweiler love,

Mary de la Pena

To learn more about the dogs and cats it my house visit or purchase the book on Amazon by following this link,

Courtesy and Customer Service by Mary de la Pena

Hi, all:

This is a Target Store, and this about a Target Store.  More importantly, this blog is about something as simple as a cashier not putting bags into a cart for a customer, and how that lack of courtesy can alienate a Target store customer FOREVER!

Today is Sunday, and it is late afternoon.  After a delightful weekend I went to Target to find a couple of things advertised on sale.  None of the items I wanted could be found, which is a bummer in of itself, but there is more. . .

My cupboards are bare at the house and I needed a few things for dinner so I decided to try the store's market and deli section.  Mind you, there is a perfectly wonderful Stater Brothers in the same shopping center, but that would have required me getting in the car a driving over to it, knowing full well that this time of afternoon it would be crowded.  So, I made the decision to stay a look to see what the Target store had in its deli and grocery section.

Much to my delight I did find several items that I could scrounge around for an acceptable dinner, and really, I was very pleased with the purchases.  But, when I got to the checkout stand, the young man working as a cashier did not know the prices of some of my grocery vegetables since they did not have a bar code. He depended on me to know the price of my grocery items, which thankfully I did, and I didn't cheat, either.

When he finished ringing me up,he bagged my items, then LEFT THEM ON THE COUNTER and WALKED AWAY!  He didn't even ask me if he could help me place them in the cart!  I was stunned at his indifference to me.  More importantly, as I lifted the one of the bags, he had loaded it with too many heavy items and the bag tore!  Had he stayed and lifted the bag he would have known the bag was filled with too many heavy items and corrected it.  If he had stayed he would have known I had a torn bag.

What!!!!????? When I grumbled about his indifference the cashier at the next stand just shrugged and did not help a man who had an infant in his cart and definitely needed help.  I could see him begin to fume at her lack of professionalism.  In a space of minutes, Target Stores potentially lost two customers.

So, what can we learn from this?  Courtesy, even if unexpected, will win customers, even if it's not in the job description.  Indifference will send customers scurrying to somewhere else to shop.  I know I WILL NEVER, EVER, NEVER go back to Target's market section or deli again.  And, maybe, just maybe, I won't go to that store again.

Readers--what how would you handle this problem if faced with it?

Mary [still grumbling] de la Pena, 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


                       NEW TOYS and the JOY OF SHARING
                                      BY MARY DE LA PENA

Who knew that colored tennis balls could make someone's life so happy?  Evidently, if you are part golden retriever, and all love wrapped in a fuzzy golden dog's body, they can make you VERY HAPPY!

Yesterday I needed to go to my local PetSmart to again restock the cupboard for my three dogs, Tara--the Rottweiler; Fina--the semi-Rott; and Scruggs--my beloved shelter dog; as well as the two cats, Samantha and Boo Bear.  It seems that the three large dogs and two finicky cats can go through food faster than a teen-age athlete, and the cupboard was bare!

While I was at the store I found Halloween colored tennis balls for 99 cents each.  How could I go wrong?  Of course I scooped up three, one for each dog, and happily carried them home.  But, as so often happens, after carrying the bags of food into the house, I was distracted with phone calls, and the bags of food and toys were soon forgotten.

That didn't stop Scruggies!  He sniffed through the bag, carefully nosing aside the cans of food and found the balls.  Then, with a happy snuffle, he made sure I saw how happy he was with each ball!  

One, by one he rooted the balls out of the bag and brought them to me to show me how happy he was--tail wagging, smile as wide as Texas, and proud prancing steps. He made sure I knew he loved each and every ball by showing me every ball, then throwing each one into the air so I could catch it, and throw it for him.  After I threw each ball for him to retrieve, he then carried them to the other dogs and invited them to play.  Soon, Tara, Fina, and Scruggs were playing with their new toys, sharing, and happy.

So, the lesson for the day?  No matter how simple the toy, when you have joy in your heart, and love in your soul, each toy is a jewel to be treasured, but also shared for maximum joy.

So says Scruggs, my God's angel wrapped in golden fur.

To read more about Scruggs the shelter dog, visit my website to preview Scruggs and Samantha, How a Shelter Dog and Kitten Saved Cinderella's Marriage.

Or visit to download a free copy of chapters from the same book.

Monday, October 7, 2013




This year the United States Supreme Court is taking up multiple issues that have incredibly thorny side-issues, such as States rights to use percentages for determining fair disparity of races at their universities (long thought to be settled); the rights of people 19 and 20 to purchase guns (also thought to be long settled); the right to use “Religious Freedom” by companies seeking to deny women health coverage for reproductive services (really?  You white guys still harping on this?); and the right to use prayer to open public meetings.

These are just a few of the issues the Supremes are focusing on this year, but there are more.  Let’s see if they can F***-up our political process any more than they did by dismantling our voter rights laws and our election finance laws.  It appears that they are ready to do more damage to our Republic by doing just that by taking up McClutchen v. FEC, which questions the limits on individual donors to a campaign or candidate.  Think the Koch (I originally typed--Kock--was that intentional?) brothers and their willingness to spend MILLIONS(!) on candidates and causes.  They will soon own the process—SCARY!

Actually, I agree with the city leaders of Greece City, New York in their desire to open their meetings with a prayer!  For God’s sake, we need guidance from a power much higher than what we have from our elected officials.  We NEED MORE PRAYER.  It doesn’t have to be denominational of any kind, just ask for a Higher Power than who is sitting in the chairs to guide them and lead them into some kind of wisdom—obviously they have none of their own most of the time.

I really don’t care if 19 or 20 year-olds can buy guns.  Most of my clients who are 13, 14, 15, have guns—can anyone say stolen?  I just don't want AK-47’s on the street, and God forbid 50 Caliber rifles!

For the rest of you old white guys consumed with women’s bodies—get over it!  Just because you haven’t had any of it in years doesn't mean you get to control our bodies now.  That means you Scalia, Alito, and Roberts!  Leave our bodies, our reproductive systems and our choices ALONE!

I will stay on top of this throughout the upcoming sessions.  It really is an obsession of mine.  Stay tuned for my over-blown opinions and some legal analysis.


MARY DE LA PEÑA, esq. and true independent.

to read more, go to and to order my books,