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.