Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tokens And Talismans

Please help me welcome Elizabeth Hein as today's Wednesday's Guest. She is going to talk about the importance of some of the tokens we may hold dear. In honor of Lara, the central character in Elizabeth's book, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower, I thought we would have some tea as we sit back and read what she has to share.

I am honored to be a guest here on Maryann’s blog and share a little insight into where story elements come from. 

The tokens we keep can take on significance far beyond their form. For instance, I wear a silver scarab ring as a memento of my journey through cancer treatment. In 2002, I visited the “Quest For Immortality - Treasures of Ancient Egypt” exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. The timing of our trip was fortuitous. I had recently finished the radiation phase of my cancer treatment and was on the mend.

The special exhibit had a room that traced Thutmose III’s journey through the netherworld to the after life. The parallels between the Ancient Egyptian story and my experience with cancer treatment were remarkable. I stood in that room studying the hieroglyphs and reading about the Egyptian god Ra in the form of the rising sun, Khepri, until my family pulled me out of there. Khepri, the god that escorted the dead person across the river of death into the afterlife, is usually depicted as a scarab beetle. I love a good symbol so the image of the lowly dung beetle laying its eggs in a ball of dung and rolling it from place to place as a metaphor of rebirth and the rising sun resonated with me.

In the little gift shop at the end of the exhibit, I bought the silver scarab ring to mark my visit. For several years, I wore it every day as a talisman. I still wear it often, especially if I am feeling anxious or worried about the future. It reminds me of how I went through a terrible experience and came out the other side.
When I was writing How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, I decided to use my scarab ring as a model and imbue pieces of jewelry with significance. In a pivotal scene, Lara Blaine, the main character, finds the cross her grandmother wore and begins to wear it as a reminder of her grandmother’s love.

Jane Babcock-Roberts, the other main character, has a charm bracelet that she uses to remember all the places she has visited in her world travels. Whenever she visited a special place, she added a charm to her bracelet. Instead of scrap books or trinkets, she kept her memories around her wrist. I won’t give too much away, but that charm bracelet becomes significant to Lara and Jane’s relationship

Now it's your turn. Do you keep things? Have they become more significant to you over time? I’d love to hear about them.

Don't forget to enter the RAFFLECOPTER Give-Away  to win a lovely charm of the Eiffel Tower.

About Elizabeth:
Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. After studying psychology at the College of the Holy Cross, she and her husband embarked on the adventure of parenting their two beautiful daughters. They now live in Durham, North Carolina.

In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. She learned that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse.

Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her first novel, Overlook, spotlighted a housewife dealing with a cheating husband and the pressures of keeping up appearances. Elizabeth has published several short stories and is currently writing a novella and beginning to write a historical family saga about how love and identity effect four generations of women. Elizabeth enjoys interacting with her readers and can be found on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and her blog

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

Today I thought we'd just have some fun here on the blog. I did not watch the news at all over the weekend, although I did buy a newspaper on Sunday, but I only read the comics. Usually I read the editorials as well, but never got past the funny papers yesterday. Several of the strips had me nodding and chuckling, so I thought I would share them.

First we have this from Shoe by Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelley:

Senator Batson D. Belfry is holding a press conference, telling Shoe and Cosmo, "I was on an important trade mission to Pango Tango in the Pacific. And of course, I needed assistance from my staff,  so naturally my executive assistant, Miss Starlight, had to accompany me. And those, um, incidences at the resort pool and Tiki bar were misreported by the press. So a clarification of the subsequent arrest by the Pango Tango police is in order."

Cosmo sighs and says, "Here he goes again burning the scandal at both ends."

Next up is this from Non Sequitur by Wiley:

A future President of the United States is sitting in an easy chair in a cave being interviewed by a reporter, and the reporter says, "Okay... so it turned out there wasn't an advanced army of alien roaches hiding inside the moon preparing to invade earth right?"

The president says, "So?

"So? You blew up the moon for nothing, resulting in disastrous consequences on a planetary scale."

The president sips a martini. "I fundamentally disagree with that."

The reporter stops writing in his notebook, "Wait... you disagree about the actual results of your actions?"

The president nods, "Facts are debatable"

"Blowing up the moon puts us back to living in caves and on the verge of extinction."

The president waves one hand. "Like dwelling on the past is going to change that? So let's stay focused on what we should do now."

"Like trying to blame all of it on the current administration for not putting the moon back together? Right?"

"Oh, like that's so much to ask?"

Finally one from Dustin by Steve Kelly and Jeff Parker:

Dustin's parents are at a restaurant for dinner, and the waiter steps up to the table. He says, "We have a sumptuous dessert special this evening. It's seven sheets of flourless chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, in between glazed and rich chocolate ganache dusted with cocoa powder and topped with dark chocolate shavings.

"The chef calls it 'Death by Chocolate.'"

Dustin's father says, "Actually were trying to watch our diets. Could you just bring enough to put us in critical condition?"

Did any of these make you laugh? I didn't laugh at the one from Non Sequitur. That one was too much like reality to be funny. And I do wish that waiter would come to my house and offer me that dessert.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review - "How to Climb The Eiffel Tower" by Elizabeth Hein

How to Climb The Eiffel Tower 
Elizabeth Hein
Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing (October 1, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

The author hooked me with the opening sentence: "Ellery Cancer Center protruded from the hospital's facade like a glass tumor."

This is how Lara Blaine, the central character, begins her journey through cancer treatment. That is challenge enough for any woman, but added to that is the emotional trauma she still carries from an abusive past. She has tried to hide from that past by maintaining a rigid routine of work and exercise, but this cancer thing throws that routine out the window. As the treatments make her sicker and sicker, she discovers that she cannot fight everything alone. For the first time in her life, she needs people and reluctantly allows one or two to come into her private life.

One of those friends is Jane, another cancer patient, and a wonderful character. It is Jane who helps Lara step away from the past and embrace herself as a strong, capable woman. I enjoyed getting to know  Jane  and Vanessa  and Sebastian  and all the other characters who touched Lara's life. They were all so well done, they came across as real people.

The book is listed as contemporary women's fiction, and it is an easy read, despite the heavy subject matter. There is just enough humor to lighten some moments, and Vanessa is one of those bright, happy friends anyone would want around to come over and brighten a day. All in all this is a wonderful story, very well-written, and it would be good for a book club discussion.

How to Climb The Eiffel Tower is scheduled for release in October, but is available for pre-order. Elizabeth is also doing a give-away via Rafflecoptor. The contest will run all week, so enter often and tell your friends. She is going to give one lucky entrant a charm of the Eiffel Tower. Click on the link below to enter the contest.

The Rafflecopter Giveaway

Elizabeth Hein is a mother, author, and cancer survivor. She grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in North Carolina. She writes women's fiction with a bit of a sharp edge. She is fascinated by how friendship and human connection can help a person through the most difficult moments in their lives. When not writing, she is trying to raise two young women and a husband. She will be this week's Wednesday's Guest, so do try to come back

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday's Odds And Ends

Another week just whizzed by. It's amazing how that happens, and every Friday I look back to see what I accomplished in the week. Some weeks are better than others, but I am sure that is true for most of us.

On Monday I tied up some admin things for the drama camp - doing reports and thank you notes - and I even managed to get some writing done on the new book I started the first of June. Friends from Omaha, NE came for a short visit on Tuesday and left yesterday morning, and it was so nice to see them. It had been about 13 years since we had seen each other. What fun we had catching up on everything, and again I was reminded of how friendships that root so deeply never wither.

Image courtesy of Deviant Art
 I didn't watch the news most of the week, so I have no idea what is going on in the world, which might be for the best. But I did catch a bit of a story last night before I turned the TV off. The story was about how people no longer join groups and organizations because they do their social interacting online. Part of the story was about a community-service organization closing after almost 50 years of organizing events for a Texas city, and a spokesman for the organization said they had to close because they no longer had enough people joining to have the personnel to put on the events.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteering is also down:

The volunteer rate declined by 1.1 percentage points to 25.4 percent for the year ending in September 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. About 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2012 and September 2013. The volunteer rate in 2013 was the lowest it has been since the supplement was first administered in 2002.

It's kind of sad to see that we are getting more and more isolated because of advances in technology. I remember when more homes got television sets and less people sat out on front porches in the evening and less children played stick-ball in the streets. My grandfather said that television would be the ruination of our society.

I wouldn't go that far, but I do think we need to find a balance between our use of devices and our enjoyment of people and places in real time, not virtual time.

Now to end with a joke, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

      A man answered the phone. "Yes, Mother," he sighed. "Listen, I've had a long day. Jane has been in one of her awkward moods . . . Yes, I know I should be firmer with her, but it's not easy. You know what she's like . . . Yes, I remember you warned me . . . Yes, I remember you told me she was a vile creature who would make my life a misery . . . Yes, I remember you begged me not to marry her. You were right, OK? You want to speak to her? I"ll put her on."
      He put down the phone and called to his wife in the next room: "Jane, your mother wants to talk to you."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How's Your Love Life?

Once more Slim Randles joins us as Wednesday's Guest with an update on how it is going with Marvin and his advice to the lovelorn. Grab your favorite beverage of choice and enjoy...

Things were going kinda slow down at the Fly Tying Love Center and it bothered Marvin Pincus a lot.

He found it hard to believe that, out of all the people in the valley, none of them needed love advice and the proper type of fishing fly to illustrate it. He had the sign made and put in the yard, and he’d obviously had great results with the Jones kid and good ol’ Dewey. Since Marvin’s advice to Dewey to shower before asking a girl for a date, Dewey Decker, the Fertilizer King, had met Emily Stickles, the love of his life.

Now the fishing-fly earrings part of the business was going great. Women all over town were wearing dingle-dangle earrings with Marvin’s point-clipped fishing flies hanging therefrom. He learned that short ladies tended to go for the smaller dries, like Griffith’s Gnats and Royal Coachmen, and the taller ladies leaned toward salmon streamers. For the “simple black dress” that women seem to need, Marvin discovered a pure black stonefly nymph tied on a number 6 to be just the right touch. Some of the ladies slipped Marvin’s wife, Marjorie, a couple of bucks to help buy more feathers and hooks.

But on the love advice front, there was a dearth of heartbroken customers.

“What would you think,” Marvin said, “if I ran an ad in the Valley Weekly Miracle?”

“For what?” Marjorie said at breakfast.

“You know … love advice.”

“Well, you have the sign out front. I think everyone in the valley already knows about it.”

“But they’re not coming in.”

Marjorie smiled. “Honey, some people find it hard to talk to others about their personal problems. That’s probably it.”

Marvin got a piece of paper and began writing. Then he’d scratch it out and start again. This went on through both bacon and toast.

“How’s it coming, Honey?”

“About got it right, I think, Marge.”

“May I see it?”

He handed it to her.

The best love advice in the valley, tied up with the appropriate fishing fly. Call the Fly Tying Love Center for an appointment. Results guaranteed.

“What do you think?”

Marjorie just smiled and nodded. What she thought, however, was that retirement isn’t for sissies.

Brought to you by The Home Country Hour podcast. Check it out at
Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, Home Country, and is the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

I made the mistake of watching national news the other day and was reminded why I am much better off not paying attention to all that.

Did you hear about Cynthia Robinson, the Florida woman who sued R.J. Reynolds because her husband died from smoking-related illness? The jury gave her $23.6 billion in punitive damages. That's billions, folks, and an additional $16.8 million in compensatory damages. Robinson  had been part of a previous class-action suit against R.J. Reynolds that was settled in 2006, but that $145 billion verdict had been overturned on appeal. In a television interview, Robinson said, "We have finally gotten justice."

Justice? I'll let you decide for yourselves, but I think it is beyond absurd. More at the Huffington Post

On a much nicer note, my two weeks of drama camp ended with our performances over the weekend. We had sell-out audiences for both shows, and what great energy that creates for the players. They did an amazing job, and I am always so thrilled to work with the kids and the camp leaders.

Here are just a few more pictures from the show and the camp.

This wonderful poster was designed by one of our board members, Jim Willis.

These lovely pictures of the lions were taken by Bob Williams Photography and used with permission.
The drama camp, along with all the other activities that go on at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts, is put on by volunteers. We do pay professional music and theatre people, but the rest is done by the wonderful people in this place I call home. I am so thankful for all the people who stepped up to make this a huge success.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday's Odds and Ends

One thing I've learned this week, don't get sick half way through the summer drama camp. One of the other camp leaders said wouldn't it be wonderful if we could schedule being sick. "Let's see, I'm not doing anything from August first through the seventh. How about the flu then?"

Actually, I didn't have the flu, but I had a serious infection which took forever to respond to meds. Hopefully, I will be ready for the weekend when we open "Phineas Peabody's Magical Musical Circus," which the kids wrote and produced with the assistance of a few of us adults and teen helpers.

Anyway, the awesome camp leaders took over and this may be the best show we've had from the summer drama camp. I wonder if there is a message there? LOL

Here is a picture of one of the girls who has been at the camp for three years now. She is a terrific piano player, as well as being great on stage, and she is so much fun to work with.

Next up are some pictures of the chalk art the kids did on the sidewalk leading to the door of the art center, inviting everyone to "Come to the Circus." They did some great posters, too, as well as designs for the camp shirt and playbill cover. Drama camp stirs all kinds of creativity.

This last picture is from a planning session as one of the camp leaders and some teen helpers worked with the kids to brainstorm some of the story. The teen helpers have been through drama camp several times, and they have all continued to be active in the troupe of young players. I love working with the kids. And the lady on the left, Hayley, was one of the very first kids that I had in a show the second or third year I started volunteering at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. What a thrill to have her back as an adult, teaching the kids and directing the show along with Jennifer Zimmerman and George Gagliardi.

L-R: Hayley Morris, Kaitlyn Sullivan, Hunter Williams, Kennedie Williams, Thomas Hulme
While I go off to finish the last details for the show, I'll leave you with some fun from Pickles

Opal is in the kitchen opening drawers and calls out, "Earl! Have you seen Roscoe's toothpaste?"

Earl is in the living room and calls back, "Roscoe's toothpaste?"

Opal comes into the living room, holding a little doggie toothbrush. "Yes. You know. The special beef-flavored toothpaste I bought for him."

Earl answers, "Nope."

Opal looks at the plate on Earl's lap. "Wait just a minute...! What're you eating on those crackers?!"

He doesn't answer, and she walks off shaking her head. "Oh, for pete's sake. I can't believe you."

Earl says, "What? I was hungry."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don't Take Gardening Tips From Herb

Slim Randles is here again as Wednesday's Guest. I am still busy with the Kidzz on Stage Drama Camp, and I am so glad that Slim is willing to be my guest and keep you entertained while I am basically absent from the cyber world. In honor of Herb, I thought we could all start out with a glass of papaya juice. Enjoy....
Like a doctor removing something important, Herb Collins gently peeled the wrapper back from the root ball and tenderly placed the baby tree in the hole. Then he stood and walked around it to see which way he should align it. Actually, looks pretty good just the way it is.

So he took his bucket of mixed sand and compost and began sprinkling it down onto the roots and then packing it in gently with his fist.

Every few minutes he’d stop and read the directions again. When he ordered the tree, the nurseryman had written back “Are you sure?” Well, that made ol’ Herb laugh. Yes, he was sure. He’s always sure this time of year.

He was still chuckling to himself when Janice Thomas walked along the sidewalk.

“Hi Herb,” said the high school art teacher. “What is it this year?”

“Papaya, Janice. Nice healthy one, don’t you think?”

Janice took a close look at the little dark green tree.


“Isn’t that a tropical tree?”

“Sure is,” he said, tucking more dirt around the roots. “I have to read the instructions carefully to get this right.”

Janice thought carefully before speaking. “Papayas sure taste good, Herb.”

“Sure do. Wouldn’t it be nice if this lives long enough to produce fruit?”

“But you’re not expecting …”

“Of course not. The first nippy day in autumn will turn this little guy belly up.”

He looked up and smiled at Janice’s consternation.

“You know that banana tree almost made it to Christmas last year. That was my best so far. We’ll see how this little guy makes out.”

Each year Herb plants something in the front yard that has no chance at all of being there the following spring. He’s done it for years. It gives the neighborhood something to look at and talk about, and it’s fun.

“You know, Herb, if you’re looking for fruit, a cherry tree will produce …”

 “I’m not looking for fruit, Janice,” he said, gently. “I’m looking for glory. Glory!”

He laughed. “Where’s the glory in planting something that will grow here? Anyone can do that. But a papaya? Ha! There’s glory in that.”

Brought to you by The Home Country Hour podcast. Check it out at  

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Day of Music

There is something so wonderful about music. It touches our souls, lifts our spirits and tells wonderful stories. Last Friday I had the pleasure of sharing an evening of live music with a large crowd who gathered at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts to hear the singing duo, Albert & Gage . A great time was had by all. They are amazing singers, and what Chris Gage can do on keyboard and guitar just blew me away. They'd been to the WCA before, but I'd always missed them for one reason or another. I'm so glad I didn't miss them this time.

One of the songs they performed was "Dakota Lulaby", and I couldn't help but think of all the great times I had up in South Dakota with my dear friend, Jan, and her family. It is beautiful country up there, and when you sit down with a farmer and talk about the land and the crops and the critters, there is such a gentle peacefulness about it all.  God, however you perceive him or her, is very present there.

So this is for my friend Jan and everyone else who loves the wide open country.

The second week of the Summer Drama Camp starts this morning, and the show is really coming together. The campers - all 27 of them - were busy last week writing songs with the talented George Gagliardi and scenes with the other camp leaders, Jennifer Zimmerman and Hayley Morris. This week we will focus on putting the whole production together with costumes, set, and props. Then we will have performances on July 19 and 20. This is the ninth year we have done the camp, and it just gets better and better.

I was looking around for a video of George Gagliardi on YouTube, and found this video of Amy Adams taken at Crossroads Music Company several years ago. ( I get easily distracted. LOL) Wow, we sure have had some talented people on the stages in Winnsboro, including Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves.I enjoyed this song so much, I decided to post it.

Finally, I found a song by George that he had written some years ago and adapted for last year's drama camp show The Kingdom of Macademia

And one more song from George. This next one shows the scope of his talent a bit better than the other one.

I hope you enjoy the day of music. I had fun putting this all together.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Hump Day Fun

Even though I don't plan to blog often in the next few weeks, I did want to let my friend Slim Randles come by as Wednesday's Guest and entertain us. He hangs around with some interesting characters, and I'm so glad he shares the fun with us. So pull up a stool, grab a cuppa, and enjoy.

Delbert’s at it again. You know Delbert McLain, our local chamber of commerce? He’s the guy who wants to bring lots of people here so the place isn’t quite as nice as it is now.

Well, ol’ Delbert zipped into the Mule Barn truck stop the other day, plopped down at the empty Round Table, and motioned for those of us at the philosophy counter to join him.  We did.

“Boys,” he said, when we were seated and sipping, “I want to bounce an idea off you and see how it goes.”

He almost whispered, “Two words … knife sharpening!”

“Sure,” said Dud, pulling a diamond steel from a holster on his belt. “I’ll sharpen it for you, Delbert.”

“No, I don’t mean I need a knife sharpened,” he said, “I mean … a knife-sharpening contest. Actually, a knife-sharpening fiesta!”

His face beamed, he spread his arms, his hands palms up toward Heaven as the sheer Divine magnitude of the idea settled in. Doc reached for another sugar packet.

“Just think of it, guys,” Delbert said, “A veritable bevy of blade bevellers descending on our community, spending money in our restaurants, buying the latest in knife gear from the hardware store, filling the rooms at the motel.”

He looked around. Steve’s coffee made him cough. Doc chuckled into his hand. Dud put his diamond steel away.

“Sounds like a sharp idea to me, Del,” said Doc. “I like the way you came right to the point.”

“An edgy proposition,” Dud said, “but one that whets the appetite.”

Steve recovered from his coughing fit. “You could hold it out in the pasture and call it ‘Hone on the Range.’”

Delbert ignored the groaning and smiled. “That’s it, boys. Think on it. Let’s come up with some good angles.”

And Doc said, “I hear 10 to 15 degrees is best for a really sharp blade.”

Cracker packets flew.
Brought to you by Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to WritingAnd if you enjoyed this post, you might want to hop over to The Blood Red Pencil, where Slim has another bit of nons... er, fun for us. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Birthday America

In addition to being a national holiday, the Fourth of July is my birthday. For years I thought all the fireworks and picnics and parades were just for me, and, boy, did I feel important. Then I found out that 99.99 percent of the American public was celebrating Independence Day, and just my family cared about my birthday.

When I matured, just last year, I got over the disappointment and was thrilled to share my birthday with America. I get tingly all over when I hear "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy." Sometimes I even sing it at the top of my lungs, which makes my kids want to run and hide.

As with so many other events since September, this is another one without my husband, and it has been hard to think about having fun without him. But life does go on. That is what we try to get our minds and hearts around when we are grieving. So the kids are coming to party with me, and we will do some things differently this year. That way maybe we won't all miss him so much.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

What Burlesques Shows and Mystery Writers Have in Common

Please help me welcome Dorothy Johnston as today's Wednesday's Guest. She is a mystery author who lives and works in Australia - one of the places I would really love to visit - and she is here to tell us a bit about some of the research she has done for her series, which concluded with The Fourth Season. I have only read the last book in the series and reviewed it last Sunday, but I will be checking out the others. I really liked the literary feel to her style of writing. 

 In researching what to offer as refreshments, I discovered that Aussies like a beer in the heat of the summer as do we here in Texas. So grab a local beer from the Ironbark Brewery and enjoy...

Hi, Dorothy here. First I want to thank Maryann for hosting me here on her blog, as well as for the
wonderful review on Sunday.

My mystery quartet is set in Canberra, Australia’s national capital, and, while I enjoyed researching the final book, The Fourth Season, the most fun I had was with the third book, Eden, which has as its setting Canberra’s sex industry.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), in which Canberra is situated, was a pioneer in de-criminalising prostitution in Australia. The other pioneer was Victoria, but the ACT’s laws were more progressive and far-reaching, and the sale of sexual services has been legal there since the 1980s.

In Canberra, prostitution is zoned ‘light industrial’, which means that it’s legal in the light industrial zones of Fyshwick, Hume and Mitchell and illegal everywhere else. I sometimes think that is a kind of comment on the fact that, politics aside, Canberra has no heavy industry. At dusk on a Friday, when the used car yards and furniture shops of Fyshwick are closing up, the brothels come into their own.

One establishment, so discreet during the day that you would never notice it, is called Parliament House.
Parliament House Fyshwick is built above a sandwich bar and bottle shop, but at night the name becomes a great neon circle in the darkness. At sunset, customers, and potential customers, begin to gather. They buy six packs. They’ve parked their Monaros, and their utes and semi-trailers and they stand around them, cans and bottles in their hands, kidding one another while they work up enough courage to walk through Parliament House’s door. I very much enjoyed lurking around watching them!

Another busy time is Sunday morning, the husband’s excuse being, ‘I’m just off to take this load of rubbish to the tip, dear’. And the empty utes, with a branch or two of prunings left in the bottom of the tray, are once again lined up outside the brothel, no neon lights this time.

One of Canberra's best known brothels used to be Club Goldfinger. It was situated on top of a discount tyre place in Mitchell. A large billboard at the front showed a beautiful young woman all dressed in gold holding onto the Parliament House flagmast. She stood there as proudly as our local statue of liberty. Underneath her, in big black letters, was an advertisement for the tyre place, which said: four new tyres plus alignment $49.50, lube $39.95.

Roland Barthes, the French philosopher, likens the reader of detective novels to ‘a schoolboy at a burlesque show; he is so aroused by his desire to see the stripper's genitals that he is tempted to rush the stage in order to help her strip faster.' The flirtation process is mimicked to great effect in the detective plot. Suspense, flirtation, concealment and disclosure follow one another, and a large part of the pleasure of concealment lies in knowing that what is concealed will ultimately be revealed.

However, and this is another insight I gained from my research, the mysteries of revelation can turn out to be greater, and more perplexing, than the mysteries of concealment.
Dorothy Johnston is an award-winning Australian author of literary and crime novels, and short stories. She is known for her interest in the subject of prostitution. Her first novel, 'Tunnel Vision' is set in a Melbourne massage parlour and she has returned to the subject in recent years, notably in her novels, 'The House at Number 10' and 'Eden' - the third book in her Sandra Mahoney mystery series - and in her short story collection, 'Eight Pieces On Prostitution'. She lived in Canberra, Australia's national capital for thirty years, and she has written widely about that experience as well.