Pamela Kopfler’s Better Dead

We had a weather day today: the temperature dropped, the rain turned to sleet, the schools were closed, and everyone with any sense stayed off the roads. So I sat down with a good book—well, actually, I ran down the charge on my Kindle, but it hung on long enough for me to finish.

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Better Dead is the first in a new cozy mystery series by Pamela Kopfler. Holly Davis has Better Deadturned her ancestral home on the bank of the Mississippi, Holly Grove, into a B&B in a desperate attempt to keep it, but prospects don’t look good. Business is slow—and changing the place from a residence to a business has doubled the tax bill. But the worst of it is the ghost of her late and unlamented husband, Burl. He crashed his plane before Holly could serve him with divorce papers, and now he’s back, although only Holly and her faithful Yorkie, Rhett, can see him.

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So Holly makes a deal with Burl: she’ll try to help him settle the unfinished business that’s keeping him out of heaven (as if he ever deserved to get in!) if he’ll haunt Holly Grove through the October Haunted Plantation Tour season.

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As if Burl weren’t enough trouble, who should show up but Holly’s long gone high school sweet heart, Jake McCann, returning to the little Louisiana town of Delta Ridge to sub for the local newspaper editor and—unbeknownst to Holly—to investigate the drug smuggling going on at Holly Grove.

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Holly can’t tell Jake about Burl’s ghost—who would believe that? And Jake can’t tell Holly that he’s an ICE agent—she may well be running Burl’s smuggling ring!

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Throw in the local bridge club, with its fearless leader Miss Alice, Jake’s missing (and probably soused) father, an unhelpful sheriff and a very cranky dog, and you have a thoroughly delightful read. (And a few recipes at the end.)

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I’ll be looking forward to Holly’s next adventure, Downright Dead, coming in September.

 

Writer Wednesdays: Favorite Phone Apps

The Wednesday Writers are back, with a new list of slightly wacky topics for 2017. This month we’re asking one another “what is your favorite phone app?”

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WW 2017

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It was the prospect of phone apps that pushed me to move to a smart phone after years of carrying a basic Tracfone in my purse. I insisted for years that I didn’t want or have any use for a cell phone, until I started commuting to a job thirty miles from home. Shortly after I found myself marooned on the side of the freeway at twilight, waiting for a Good Samaritan to happen by and tow me to safety, I bought that first Tracfone.

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I seldom used it. Didn’t give out the number. Didn’t even turn it on very often. And then one evening, twilight again, about a year and a half ago, my car stalled on the way to an RWA chapter meeting. And I found out just how hard it was to contact AAA, and to punch in my account number, on that little phone (my sister-in-law swears I somehow called her before I got AAA).

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There must, I thought, be an app for this.

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phone apps 1So about a year ago, I finally marched into the local Verizon store, bought an expensive phone (an LG V10), and signed up for service. Among the first apps I downloaded were AAA and my car insurance company. Thankfully, I have yet to use either one of them.

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I still don’t make many phone calls with my cell phone, but I have learned to text. I give out the number now. I get robo-calls, which I have learned to recognize and ignore.

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But I certainly use the phone, the little computer I carry in my purse or park on my kitchen counter. I check my email and Facebook with it when I’m away from my computer (or my Internet connection goes down), but I don’t use Twitter or Instagram. I’ve never even opened any of the games that came with it. I don’t have any music on the phone, and I don’t watch videos. I use the Kindle app now and then, usually when I’ve forgotten my Kindle. Last summer I used the RWA Conference app quite a bit, and it’s still on the phone.

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I use the calendar all the time, and I’ve developed an obsession with the Google maps timeline feature, since the day I was startled to discover that the phone knew where I was. Most of the time. For some reason the maps app is convinced that my phone wanders off from time to time, usually at night, and apparently without me. But as long as I keep an eye on its roving, I find it a useful record of where (and when) I’ve been from day to day.

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My bank app makes it super easy to deposit my weekly paycheck from my kitchen counter. And speaking of the kitchen, I no longer keep a grocery list on the refrigerator door, where I all too often left it when I went out to shop. Now everything goes on the QuickMemo app as soon as I think of it, and I always have my shopping list with me.

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But I think my favorite app is the camera. My last Tracfone included a camera, but I never phone apps 2used it because I had no way to transfer the pictures out. (There probably was one, but the useless operating manual kept it a dark secret. It also claimed it could reach the Internet, but I never succeeded in making that happen.) The camera on my smart phone (far better than the digital camera I never remembered to carry with me) takes beautiful pictures and easily sends them to email addresses, Facebook, or someone else’s phone. I’m pretty sure I haven’t figured out half of what that camera will do. But I always have it with me, and I frequently remember to use it.

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What do you use your phone for? Any great apps I should know about?

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For more favorite phone apps, visit this month’s Wednesday Writers: Tamra Baumann, Pamela Kopfler, Priscilla Oliveras, T L Sumner, and Sharon Wray.