Desert Winds, Surf’s Up, and the call of Kielbasa…

September 14, 2010

Sometimes I wonder, occasionally out loud, but mostly to myself—why the heck am I living out in the middle of the desert? The question usually pops in mind after the winds have howled all night, or my sinuses have turned to sandpaper, or a wave of humidity decides to tag along with the 100+degree temperatures. So far, I’ve always ended up with answers that made sense, and I’ve yet declared to my hubby the staggering words— “I’m ready to move again!”

But, if I did want to move, California’s Central Coast is high on the list, and living in a windmill home on Mariposa Bay would be fabulous—well maybe a windmill in the English Countryside would almost be comparable. However, the first time I met Sue McGinty[i] I had no idea the location for her wonderful mysteries (now two!) was California’s Central Coast. Or that her protagonist, former nun Bella Kowalski, and her husband Mike live in a windmill home.

I still remember the day I met Sue. It was on the second floor of the Hanford Veteran’s Hall, at the 2009 Hanford (CA) Book Festival.[ii] She was wearing a full nun’s habit. I was immediately taken back to fifth grade, while simultaneously thinking how cool a promotional idea, and how hot she must be! Since then, I’ve met Sue several times, and I’ve never asked about the heat part, but the promotional part certainly worked that day. I bought her book without hesitation.

Lucky me! Sue’s debut novel was wonderful—and for me, the beginning of an irresistible mystery series—meaning, I read both books non-stop.

But there’s more. For me, Sue’s two novels—Murder in Los Lobos, and her just released Murder at Cuyamaca Beach—are a happy combining of so much I like and admire in good writing. I know, I continue to mention I love fiction, love being taken away, and that location is so much a part of that experience. When Sue describes the Central Coast, I can smell and taste the ocean air—feel the wind and moisture on my skin. Somehow, Sue takes you there without the reader knowing they made the trip.

And such fun—standing with Bella on the widow’s walk of their Mariposa Bay windmill home, or going on a frigid and frightening Polar Bear Dip at Cuyamaca Beach. Brrr! I shiver even now, remembering that scene. Throughout the entire book I was there.

But there’s more. Bella and Mike are immensely likable.

Okay, you can’t get through location description, or get into a character’s head without a certain level of writing craft. Sue’s writing style is smooth, clear, and her sense of storytelling excellent for a good mystery. And in this case, a multi- character (my favorite), complex, and intriguing tale.

But there’s more. The first line of Murder at Cuyamaca Beach is PERFECT.

Disclaimers: (1)   Sue and I are both published by Aberdeen Bay Publishing . We will both be at the San Luis Obispo Book Festival Sunday, September 19th. Come by and say “Hi” if you’re in the area.

(2)   My hometown is Chicago and I can still taste Maxwell St. Polish Sausage, Crawford’s Krakow and minced ham, and the potato salad and rye bread with caraway from the corner Polish deli. (This connection is only relevant if you’ve “met” Bella and Mike in one of Sue’s tales.)

[i] Sue’s website is , and her books are available at, publisher website, and directly from Sue.

[ii]This year’s Book Fest is October 2, and renamed The Big Valley BookFest to be more inclusive. Kings County Library, the Hanford Sentinel, and Sunny Frazier are the “engines” behind this event.


3 Responses to “Desert Winds, Surf’s Up, and the call of Kielbasa…”

  1. And by the way, I was hot in that nun suit and probably will be again this Sunday at the SLO Book Festival.

  2. To two great “M&Ms”, not red or green, but my sisters, Madeline and Marilyn. Madeline, I am awed and humbled (and a little teary) at your thoughtful review. Thank you.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to our good friend, Sue McGinty. I’m sure she will be as thrilled as I was for my review. Can hardly wait to see you this weekend and Sue too.


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