The Marvelous Marilyn




Today I have the pleasure of introducing my blog followers to a talented author, Marilyn Meredith aka F.M. Meredith. Marilyn is a fellow PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) member. In fact, she’s the person who introduced me to this wonderful group of writers.

How did you become involved in PSWA, Marilyn?

PSWA Member graphic


When PSWA reorganized just over ten years ago I was on the committee and took on the job of conference chair. That first year twelve members attended. The following year attendance went up to sixteen. It continued to grow every year thereafter and has now reached approximately fifty.

Each year we have a great mix of attendees including people from all the public safety fields as well as mystery writers wanting to learn from the experts. Two years ago I handed over the job of conference chair to Michael A. Black, retired police detective and well-known mystery writer. I had the good fortune to meet him at several mystery conventions and knew he would be a good choice for the position. I’ve continued with my other job as newsletter editor for PSWA.

Through the years of my writing career, I’ve attended many writing and mystery conventions and conferences, but PSWA’s conference is my favorite. Not only is the conference fun, educational and amazing, but I’ve made lots of friends within the group and know I can turn to them any time for the research I need for my own books.


Besides having law enforcement officers in her family, Marilyn counts many others as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, is a member of Mystery Writers of America and three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is on the board of Public Safety Writers Association.

Marilyn Meredith is nearing the number of 40 published books. Besides being an author, she is a wife, mother, grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty-years in a similar small beach town.

Garrett's class 2

Marilyn, where did the idea for A Crushing Death come from?


Another mystery author suggested the manner of death to me, something I’d never heard of before. After I did some research, ideas began flooding in as they often do.

The murder victim is a teacher who has been accused of improper actions toward one of his students. Is he guilty or not? It is up to the detectives investigating the case to find out, and in this particular instance, Detective Milligan’s wife, Stacey, helps find out the truth.

A religious cult has an important part in this tale—and no, I’ve never belonged to one or known anyone who has, though I’ve certainly read about many.

Another plot thread has to do with a big threat to the new police chief and how her fellow police officers react to it.

Because I introduced Doug Milligan’s daughter in the last book, Violent Departures, I wanted her to have a part in this latest book.

I’ve always felt that plotting a book is much like weaving—bringing different threads together into a colorful and believable story.

A Crushing Death Right

Here is the blurb for A Crushing Death

A dead body is found under a pile of rocks beneath a condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for attacking women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has a big problem.


Sounds fabulous!


Thank you, and thanks for having me on your blog. I wanted to mention that I’m having a contest. The person who comments on the most blogs during this tour can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. Tomorrow you can find me here:


If you’d like to have your name forever immortalized in a book, go to the above blog and leave a comment. Then see where Marilyn will be next and leave a comment. Your stalking is welcomed!

Marilyn Meredith Social Medias:



Facebook: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: @MarilynMeredith

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by: Sally Berneathy










Lady Killers’ Pharmaceuticals

Today we’re discussing one of my favorite topics, lady killers and the drugs they use as murder weapons. I’m also thrilled to introduce you to James Murray, a long time author friend and pharmacist who has agreed to answer some questions for us.


Jim has experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management. Medications and their impact on a patient’s quality of life is his expertise. He draws on past clinical practice as a pharmacist along with an infatuation for the lethal effects of drugs to weave tales of murder and mayhem.


Good morning, Jim! Thanks so much for joining me today on my blog!


Good morning, Diane. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. Ask your first question. I’m locked and loaded.


I know it’s out of the norm for women to kill. In fact, women do only 11-15% of ALL MURDERS. Is that correct?





That’s right. Criminologists agree that women who murder are not the norm, and that murder is a predominantly male trait. Women commit only 11-15% of all murders according to recent statistics, and women account for a mere 2% of mass murders.


Women are also not usually serial killers. Women tend to know their victims and, according to statistics, are more likely to kill just one person. Serial killings account for only 1% of all murders, and women represent only 17% of serial killers.

The usual victims of women who kill are their significant others (a spouse, an ex-spouse or someone the murderer is dating up to 60% of the time), and women tend to use poisons or drugs that don’t produce violent side effects to put down their intended victim.


What types of drugs do women often use and how do they affect the body?


The types of drugs most commonly used by women as murder weapons include those that sedate their victims—drugs that cause the victim to fall asleep and never wake up. These include toxic doses of alcohol, opiate painkillers, and sedatives-hypnotics. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of these general categories:



Alcohol: These might include spiking a drink with too much alcohol and then injecting the victim with a lethal dose after the victim is too intoxicated to fight back. Methanol and isopropyl alcohol (the kinds of alcohol used in rubbing and disinfectant alcohols) are the most lethal to inject. Ethylene glycol (a form of alcohol used in antifreeze) is a most effective poison to add to flavored drinks.

Opiate Painkillers: Opiate drugs include some of the most popular prescription painkillers. Some are natural opiates derived from opium poppy seed plants. These include the familiar drugs codeine and morphine. They are powerful painkillers, and larger than therapeutic doses will suppress the central nervous system to produce an opiate coma and eventual death.

Other often-prescribed painkillers are synthetic drugs manufactured to function as opiates in the body, are usually much stronger medications, and work faster as lethal drugs. These synthetic opiates include oxycodone (Oxycontin), oxymorphone (Opana), hydrocodone (Vicodan, Lortab, Norco), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol) and fentanyl (Duragesic). These are much stronger painkillers and, therefore, more effective and efficient when used as murder weapons.




For instance, a mere 7.5mgs of hydromorphone is equivalent to a larger 30mg dose of morphine. To view a chart of therapeutic dosing and duration of actions, and click for equivalent dose comparisons of the various opiate drugs. A normal one-week supply of any of these medications, as is often prescribed for severe pain, would be more than enough to kill a victim—with a few pills left over to calm the killer’s nerves.


Sedatives-Hypnotic Drugs: These medications, like the opiate drugs, cause body functions to slow down—and in large enough doses cause the body to cease functioning at all, resulting in death.


The barbiturate and benzodiazepine classes of drugs predominate the sedative-hypnotic drug categories. The barbiturates include all the “…bital” drugs: secobarbital, pentobarbital and phenobarbital most notably. The benzodiazepines include Valium, Librium and Tranxene tranquilizer drugs.

Some non-benzodiazepine drugs include the popular sleep medications Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata.


All of these sedatives-hypnotics are lethal in larger than therapeutic doses and are readily prescribed by physicians these days to patients with sleep disorders. Click here to review some of the specifics of these potentially deadly medications.


Thanks so much for the information, Jim. Jim also has some great books out. A list and links are provided below.


Diane, I have a new novel coming out in May 2016 that is the sequel to Lethal Medicine, and it’s also an international thriller, mystery, police procedural. It’s called IMPERFECT MURDER. And you’re very welcome. I had a blast. And I’m offering Lethal Medicine FREE to your readers for the next 5 days (March 2nd-6th). Just click on the Lethal Medicine link below.

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Jim’s social networks:





Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Lethal Medicine (Free for the next 5 days)

Clinical pharmacist Jon Masters seems to have it all. But, still haunted by his days in Special Forces, Jon’s life implodes when evidence found at a murder scene implicates him in an elaborate scheme to distribute a pharmaceutical quality street drug disguised as an experimental medication. With the help of a trusted army confidante, Jon reenters the world of covert ops and cyber intelligence and embarks on a global mission to save his reputation and regain control over his life. He uncovers a complex international conspiracy to redefine the nation’s recreational drug culture.

Cuffed (A Short Story)

It’s not easy to work the graveyard shift, and pharmacist Sam Delaney finds out that the overnight shift can be deadly when a dangerous patient from an ER steps into his pharmacy and presents a questionable prescription. Concern turns to panic as Sam calls the police and is told that they will be delayed. A storm and its inevitable fender benders leave Sam to deal with the situation on his own.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.

Unforeseeable Consequences:

Six short stories (including one from Diane) of intrigue and suspense created by five talented authors about the consequences of actions. The lives of the characters in each story are forever changed as a result of the choices they make and the unforeseeable consequences.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords

Almost Dead (A Murder Mystery):

Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez chase an elusive villain when not one but two victims turn up alive less than twenty-four hours after they are pronounced dead. The body count continues to climb as the detectives investigate how two seemingly unrelated victims share an almost identical near-death experience but have no memory of the event. The trail of evidence leads to startling revelations of deceit, greed, and an international conspiracy in this entertaining murder mystery.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords

IMPERFECT MURDER. Coming out in May 2016.

{No cover yet}

While mourning both professional and personal losses suffered in the recent past, clinical pharmacist Jon Masters learns that his trusted friend and mentor, Dan Whitmore, has died. Although the police have ruled the death a suicide, Dan’s wife, Sheila, insists that her husband was murdered and asks Jon to help prove that. Pushing through his tremulous emotional state, Jon convinces the police to reopen the investigation.

When Jon retraces the last hours of Dan’s life, he uncovers evidence that proves Dan was not only murdered but was also involved in an international conspiracy to undermine the nation’s drug delivery system.

Blog edited by: Sally Berneathy

Resources used in blog:

Statistics of women murderers/serial killers

How women kill

Women are more likely to use poisons to kill

List of Opiates

Chart of Opiate dosing comparisons

List of Sedatives-Hypnotics



From Fan Fiction to Profiles of Murder

Prescription For Murder

Several years ago I met an interesting writer online. There seemed to be an instant connection since we both liked cats—particularly black cats. More importantly, we were both struggling to find our niche in the ocean of new writers waiting to get noticed and realized we had a common fascination—Murder.

Let me introduce you to my friend and fellow author Diane Kratz.Diane Kratz Bio Picture

Diane Kratz is crime fiction writer. She has been married to her wonderful husband Tom for 30 years, lives on a small farm in Kansas and has worked as a social worker in domestic violence shelters, hospice, and in county mental health.

She graduated from Emporia State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and from Washburn University with a Masters in Social Work. She is accredited as a Licensed Master Social Worker from the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board in Kansas. She is also a member…

View original post 1,649 more words

Stephen King Part Five

Diane Kratz at Stephen King Book signing event. November 13, 2014 KC, Mo.

Diane Kratz at Stephen King Book signing event.
November 13, 2014 KC, Mo.

What happens when you finally get to be in a room with a legendary author you fell in love with as a teen? Would you fear being disappointed? Well, I did, and I wasn’t disappointed!


On November 13, 2014, this chick went to a Stephen King event in Kansas City, MO. Rainy Day Books put on the event. My sisters from Midwest Romance Writers and I all went as a group.


Stephen King  on stage, wearing a Royal ball cap.

Stephen King on stage, wearing a Royal’s ball cap.

He came out on stage wearing a Kansas City Royals ball cap, and of course the crowd roared. (Read the blog above this one)


He even read an excerpt from his new book, Revival. How cool is that!



As a wanna-be author, I was enthralled especially when he talked about his writing process. He’ll see a story on the news and it will stick with him or, as he said, “percolates” for a few weeks or even months. The idea begins to beg him to write about it. Once it does, he sits and writes his story. The writing takes about four months, sometimes longer. But his bottom line was, “it takes as long as it takes, but if you don’t keep at it, you don’t pay the bills.”


Of all the authors I’ve ever read, he is the one that sticks out as the “Great One” and always will be. Carrie scared the hell out of me when I was fifteen and went to the movies to see it with my girlfriends. That part where Carrie’s hand comes up from the grave and grabs her friend’s hand, just when she about to lay flowers on her grave, still gives me the willies. I think about it every time I visit the cemetery.

That, my friends, is what you call great writing—if the image is still with you from something you’ve read or seen a couple of decades ago. He talked about being called the “King of Horror” and how he never thought of himself as writing horror. He told about an older lady who came up to him in the grocery store and said, “I know who you are. You’re that man who writes all them horrible books and I don’t read those. Why can’t you write something like Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile?”


Ha! He wrote them both.


One of the questions he is always asked is, “What happened in your childhood that would make you write the kind of stories you write?” He didn’t have a bad childhood. His mother was a “hardcore” Methodist. He himself doesn’t like organized religion because it forces people to act, believe and think like the institution and not for themselves.


He read an excerpt from his new book, an excerpt about music. He loves rock and roll. The Rain Day people had a guitar brought in and he played song “Gloria” by the Doors for us. It was GREAT!


‪He talked about being offered a cameo part in Sons of Anarchy (one of my favorite TV series). He loves Kurt Sutter’s writing. He said, “Ordinarily I would say no but he said he’d put me on a Harley, so I agreed.” Sutter also assured King that his character would be doing something “suitably nasty.”


Stephen King played “Bachman” in Season Three, Episode Three, titled “Caregiver.” Also interesting for me is that King wrote two novels under the pen name of Richard Bachman—The Running Man (1987) and Thinner (1996).


King has been getting some bad press here in Kansas from Kerri Rawson, daughter of Dennis Rader (aka BTK serial killer from Wichita, Kansas), over his screenplay and upcoming TV movie from a story inspired by Dennis Rader. “A Good Marriage” is a story in a collection from his book published in 2010, Full Dark, No Stars. See Associated Press article dated September 27, 2014:

I am happy he is making the movie because his last stop before he came to KC was in Wichita, and I assume that was what brought him to our state. I love Stephen King books. As a writer, we get our ideas from the environment around us. Anyone who says different is in denial. I can’t wait for the movie to come out, and I ordered “Full Dark, No Stars” and got it today. I can’t wait to start reading it!


And so does Heidi Senesac!

And so does Heidi Senesac!

One disappointment was Stephen King only signed a certain number of books. I didn’t get one.  But our wonderful president of MRW did and e-mailed me asking if we could trade because she knows I’m a big fan! Thank you, Heidi! You’re the best friend ever and a wonderful president of our group!


What a year it has been! Life just keeps getting better and better!


Until next time,

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy





Only a Kansas City Sports Fan would…Part Four

October 26, 2014



Only a Kansas City Sports Fan would chant, “Let’s Go, Royals” for their professional baseball team (who made it to the World Series) at a Kansas City Chiefs football game!


I’m not from Kansas City. I live on a small farm in Kansas. I can tell you, coming from a small town doesn’t make you any less of a Kansas City sports fan. We love our sports teams!


Not so surprising when you think about small towns. Our kids play football, soccer, and baseball from the time they can hold a bat. There’s not much else to do in a small town.


Both my mother and father were diehard Chiefs fans. While they were married, they held season tickets. After their divorce, they only agreed on one thing: their love for their Chiefs would never die. And it never did.


I have memories of Sunday dinners and watching the game. We’d scream at the top of lungs when the team was about to make a touchdown or had made an interception. My mother once lost her false teeth screaming so loud for a Chiefs player to run. Her teeth went flying across the room and hit the TV. Even our dog barked when we yelled!


My husband won driver of the month at his company and was given KC Chiefs football tickets as a reward. On October 27th, 2014, I took my grandson, Alex, to his second game. It was his first one with me.


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Alex knows football. When I say he knows football, I mean he knows the players on every team in the entire NFL. No, he didn’t learn it from me; instead, he learned it from the PlayStation Madden NFL game he plays with his friends. He knows all the players’ stats in the NFL. Alex learned to be an analyzer of players so he could pick the best teams for his Madden game. Plus, he plays as a defensive tackle on his junior high football team.


He also enjoys telling me what I don’t know about players.


But Alex didn’t understand what it was like to be a Chiefs fan until he went to the game with his grandma.


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I screamed and banged on my seat when the opposing team had the ball. (In case you don’t know this already, Arrowhead is in the Guinness World record book for being the loudest confirmed stadium in the world.)


He kept hushing me, and I’d scream louder. Alex is a little shy. As I said earlier, he’s an analyzer of the game. I chanted when we got a touchdown or a first down.

Finally in the fourth quarter my grandson started to yell, chant and bang on his chair. My duty as a Chiefs fan and as his grandma had been fulfilled.

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Alex also got to experience a couples engagement two rows down. Three KC Chief’s band members showed up beating the drums in our section. KC Wolf followed them. KC Wolf showed the gal he stood in front of a chalk board. On It read: “Emily will you marry me? Blake”

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And she said yes!

I told Alex, ” Now, that’s a game she’ll never forget! I’d marry him!” LOL!  All of the couples family stood behind me holding up signs. It was great!


Both my parents are gone but I felt their presence at this game when I saw my grandson loosen up and scream for the Chiefs. He wasn’t an analyzer anymore; he was a Chiefs fan. My parents would have been so proud of the fans when we chanted for our Royals in Arrowhead Stadium. Win or lose, we love our teams!


And even then!

And even then!

We won against St Louis. It was the first time I ever went to a game where the Chiefs won. Alex is my lucky charm. As a writer, we must write words that evoke emotions. Sitting in that stand, feeling the power of the love for a team from all of the KC Chiefs fans is a emotion I know he’ll never forget. I know I never have!


Diane Kratz with her grandson Alex. at Arrowhead Stadium, KC, Mo.

Diane Kratz with her grandson Alex, at Arrowhead Stadium in KC, Mo.


Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

PSWA Conference 2014 Part Three


July 10-14, 2014

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 10.00.46 PM

Another year, another wonderful conference put on by the PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) July 10-14 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas! The conference is open to anyone writing crime and mystery fiction or non-fiction technical writing for public safety magazines in print or online or anyone interested in writing.


This is a small conference filled with public safety officers from all walks of life.


We had former undercover DEA agents, FBI agents, CIA agents, Naval Intelligence agents (that’s a whole lot of agents!), and detectives/police officers from all over. EMTs and firefighters were also in attendance as were seasoned mystery writers, therapists and social workers.


This year I volunteered to be a contestant to play CSI Jeopardy. I was the only non-law enforcement person to play.

and Diane Kratz

Joe Haggerty and Diane Kratz

I was up against Pete Kilsmet whom you met here on my blog. He wiped the floor with me. Even though I came in last place, everyone rooted for me. It was a great experience and lots of fun!

2014-07-11 09.59.53

Pete Klismet and Thonie Hevron


This year’s panels were a mix of the writing craft and expert knowledge.

2014-07-11 10.58.30

Panel- Madeline Gornell, Janet Greger, Marilyn Olsen and Marilyn Meredith.


Flexibility in Your Plotting

Writing Articles in Today’s Competitive Market

What are Setting and Dialogue and How Should You Use Them?

2014-07-11 10.58.16

Mike Black put together this years conference








Point of View: What is it, How to Use it Best

Working with an Editor, the Art of Revision, and How to Edit Yourself

The Aspects to be Considered When Writing a Series



On Expert Knowledge:

2014-07-12 13.42.35

Dave, a former DEA agent , gave a presentation on Working Narcotics Undercover.








Working Narcotics Undercover

The Medical Side of Wounds and Forensics

Weapons for Writers

Defense Criminal Investigative Organizations in the Military

The Evolution and Aspects of Fire Fighting and Arson Investigation

The Art of Interview and Interrogation


They also have a competition every year. No, I didn’t send anything but the entry fee is only $10.00 per entry.


Competition categories were:

Michelle Perin officiating Judge

Michelle Perin, PSWA award spokeswoman



Books, Short Stories, Flash Fiction


Non Fiction:

Books, Creative-Non-Technical, Creative-Technical, and Technical Manual






Also, if you join this group, you are entitled to a free one-time manuscript review.


On the last day we had our awards luncheon where the winners of the competition are revealed. I didn’t attend this because we met up with family.


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This year I got to meet in person, two people I’ve become friends with over the web in other writing groups. Sam Bradley, my KOD sister, joined PSWA this year and fit right in to the group. She volunteered to be on three of the panels.


Diane and Sam

Diane and Sam


Rayne E. Golay, an Elements group sister, also joined PSWA this year. She volunteered to be on two panels. I had a great time and learned a bunch.


Rayne E. Golay


I can’t say enough about this group of writers. I love, love, love PSWA!


If any of you would like information on or would like to join PSWA please go to their website at:

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

Oceanside, California the adventure continues…Part Two


LA- in front of  train station

LA- in front of train station

We arrived in the beautiful town called Oceanside. Oceanside is on the southern California coast next to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, it’s a beach community. Bags still in the car, we went straight to the beach. WOW! Talk about breathtaking!

Oceanside, California and my first look at the Pacific Ocean.

Oceanside, California and my first look at the Pacific Ocean.

I saw the ocean once as a child but never remembered it the way I saw it as an adult. It was powerful. It was beautiful. And it was seductive. I could have sat there for hours just gazing at the ocean’s beauty.

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean

Lisa and I had just earned our train legs. Now we had to earn our sea legs. The waves were strong. We walked up to the edge. When the wave came in, it almost knocked us over. Then when we thought we were out of danger the wave exhaled and almost sucked us back into the water.

My cousin Carla instructed us to position our legs slightly apart and dig our feet into the sand—sand shoes—which we did. I don’t know how long we were there, but I didn’t want to leave.

My cousin Carla

My cousin Carla

Eventually we left the ocean for lunch. We ended up at a sports bar named PCH to have burgers and beer while we watched the Chiefs playing against the San Diego Chargers. We were the only Chiefs fans in the bar. Lucky for us, the other patrons in bar were more interested in the San Francisco 49ers game than the Chargers. Only one TV had our game on.


I didn’t realize that California has three professional football teams—San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and the team every Chiefs fan hates the most, the Oakland Raiders.

This man has his car covered in jewels! Never seen anything like it!

This man has his car covered in jewels! Never seen anything like it!

We drank dark beer, watched our team lose by three points, then went on a tour of Oceanside. I got to see sea lions warming themselves on boat docks and a bedazzled car before we proceeded to Linda and Carla’s home.

Gets up to 126/ 10 MPG City/Hwy. Found picture at:

Gets up to 126/ 10 MPG City/Hwy. Found picture at:

As I stated in an earlier post, Californians eat smart and are environmentally responsible. My cousins are no exceptions. Carla and Linda recycle everything. They have a Nissan Leaf electric car and Fiat 500 convertible; both are energy efficient, as is every appliance in their home.

We stayed up late talking and catching up outside in their beautiful back yard. They have an avocado tree as well as a milkweed plant for caterpillars to munch on. Butterflies were hanging in cocoons everywhere. They are called “the butterfly whispers” by friends.

California days were in the high 80s and at night the ocean breeze cooled down Carla and Linda’s house to the 60s. PERFECT weather!

Bright and early the next morning we were on the road and off to Disneyland. California’s highways are very different than what we have where I live. They have a car pool lane that only car poolers can use. The landscapes that encircled the California highways were like looking at paintings. Absolutely stunning!

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As soon as we entered Disneyland, my grandma guilt kicked in for being there without my grandkids. But I looked at my sister’s face glowing with excitement because she had never been to “the happiest place in the world” before. I shucked the guilt and had fun watching her grin from ear to ear especially when we rode the teacups. Her dream since she was seven was realized.

Life was GREAT!

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We rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, went into the Haunted Mansion, took a ride through Storybook Land, ate homemade toffee, chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick, pretzels shaped like Mickey Mouse, and Carla and I had her favorite, corn dogs.

Tinkerbell in the parade

Tinkerbell in the parade

We watched the parade before going home. Carla thought since we spent the day walking, the next day should be a spa day—a day of relaxation, rejuvenation and, as a social worker would say, a day of self-care.


The next morning, we got up early and headed to Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa, in Corona, CA.

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I live on a farm. My nails are always in bad shape because I always have them in the warm earth. I’d never been to a spa before, and I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable things I did while in California.



I had my nails, feet and face done. Their nail polish had no harsh chemicals to damage my nails. The facial—I didn’t want it to ever end. The term “magic fingers” was an understatement!


Afterward I was slathered with a paint brush with a deeply hydrating masque of aloe vera, coconut oil, shea butter and hints of eucalyptus and lavender oil. This mixture was applied from the neck down and allowed to soak into my skin as I relaxed in a heated grotto area.

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The grotto was a cave-like sauna. I came out feeling ten years younger. I could do this again and again!

Lisa at Club Mud!

Lisa at Club Mud!

They have nineteen pools that I didn’t get to experience but my sister did. She enjoyed a massage, the hot spring water pool, saline pool for her aching muscles and the mud pool. It’s red clay mud only found in California.

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The setting at Glen Ivy was magnificent. It was like walking into a tropical paradise.

From right to left: Diane, Carla and my sister Lisa.

From right to left: Diane, Carla and my sister Lisa.

When it was time to go, we headed to Callaway Vineyards to do some wine tasting. But because I took advantage of so many of Glen Ivy’s treatments, we arrived at Callaway Vineyards five minutes before they closed so we didn’t get to experience any wine tasting.

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We did, however, get to see all their vineyards with the grapevines. They were massive and gorgeous to gaze upon. I promised my friend I’d bring her back some wine. Lucky for me I have the best cousin in the world, because Carla and Linda belonged to Callaway’s wine club. Carla picked up their monthly offering and gave it to me so I could give it to my friend. Isn’t that wonderful?

Image 8

Lisa and I, holding the wine Carla gave me. Neither of us had on any makeup. We just came from the spa.

We spent the next day at Buccaneer Beach in Oceanside. Carla packed a picnic basket with sandwiches, baked wheat potato chips, grapes and vitamin water. We were hypnotized by the waves moving in and out while we sun bathed, people watched, bird watched and collected shells. Finally I got up the courage to attempt to swim in the ocean.

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As I walked out, the sand turned rocky. I had to walk out a little farther to find sand again. The powerful waves grabbed me and I felt like a rag doll being shaken by a dog. I tasted salt water in my mouth and smelled it in my nose. Carla advised me to jump into the waves as they came so I wouldn’t be tossed about. I did, and I survived! I’ll admit I was scared to death. But I can die now knowing I swam in the ocean.

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That night we went to Carlsbad Farmers Market in Carlsbad, California. I bought Asian Pears (they tasted much sweeter than any Asian pear I ever bought in Kansas) and Pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid).

They sold big avocados called Reed avocados which I had never heard of before. Who knew there was more than one kind of avocado? There was strawberry guava too, another fruit I’d never heard of.

They had different honeys from different beekeepers. You could buy honey made by bees that pollinated plants from the region. Examples included: orange honey, avocado honey, wildflower honey, etc. I bought honey from wildflower because that’s what I knew and because it tasted the sweetest to me. Yes, we got to sample everything sold there.

Homemade peach pie! Thanks Linda!

Homemade peach pie! Thanks Linda!

Linda doesn’t eat meat but, bless her heart, she grilled us New York strips on the grill, and Carla made us a delicious kelp salad. For dessert, Linda made my sister and me our favorite pie, peach, from scratch. She revealed after I wolfed down half of it that the flour she used was whole wheat flour. I would have never guessed the crust was made from whole wheat. It was delicious!

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The next day we were off to San Diego to do some whale watching. Carla’s sister, Nellie, and our other cousin, wanted to take us on a chartered boat tour to watch whales.

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It was great! My sister’s phobias started to kick in again so I bought all of us a Mimosa (champagne and orange juice), hoping it would calm her down or at least take the edge off. She wouldn’t bite (or should I say, drink). She stayed terrified all the way there.

The captain kept us out an hour longer than he was supposed to. He wanted to make sure we saw a whale. And we did. I got to see an Orca. I’d love to say I got a picture of this beauty but by the time I got my camera out, she was gone.

I also saw a flying fish and, yes, this fish has wings. It flies and swims. Its scientific name is Exocoetidae, an Asian fish with wings.


. I’d love to say I captured a picture of this elusive fish, but although I snapped many shots, none of the fish were visible in my pictures. I found pictures of them on the Internet. They kind of look like dragonflies to me. It was AWESOME!


Here’s one of many pictures I tried to get of the flying fish. Just too fast to capture on my iPhone.


Afterward we drove to a restaurant called C Level right on the ocean and ate dinner. Carla had coupons she saved just for our trip so our meal was free. My cousins shared salmon with Wasabi mashed potatoes and ahi tuna stack topped with caviar. Linda had lobster macaroni and cheese. I ate a feta chicken salad, and my sister had a burger. We shared each other’s food, talked, laughed and had a wonderful time. The food was delicious, the company superb and the views were beyond words.

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The last night, Thursday night, we went to the Oceanside Sunset Market and shopped for souvenirs. I found an alpaca sweater for my daughter and a stone cross necklace for my husband. Carla bought us a cup full of homemade caramels. We hurried so we could watch the sun set on the ocean.

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OMG! What a sight! I watched the ball of fire slowly descend into the ocean as if it was taking a dip in the water. My sister and I waved goodbye to the ocean and I felt a sadness seep inside. I knew it was the last time we would see each on that trip.

After seeing all these beautiful landscapes, it’s hard not to believe in God or a higher power. Someone or something far greater than you or me painted these pictures. I feel so incredibly lucky to have seen them.

I am a very lucky woman. I’m so thankful to have a family who loves me.


Carla and Linda, my cousins

Carla and Linda, my cousins


Thank you, Carla and Linda! You made our days in California unforgettable.


Nellie and I

Nellie and I

Thank you, Nellie, for showing me what lived in the ocean. I love you girls with all my heart!

Until next time, enjoy the beauty that surrounds you!

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz


Blog edited by Sally Berneathy