Monday, June 26, 2017

Mystery Monday: Polybius

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

Anyone who grew up in the 80s knows how exciting it was to go to an arcade and play video games. Even if you had a gaming console in your home, it was nothing like the experience you had here:

But in 1981, a new video game arrived in arcades. Or did it? Some say the story is an urban legend, while others insist it was real. There is supposedly a picture of the game, though, which was called Polybius:

Polybius allegedly made its first appearance in Portland, Oregon. As the legend tells it, soon after arriving, interest in this particular video game soared, with children lining up to play. Men in suits occasionally stopped by to gather gameplay records from the game.

This led to the theory that the video game was a project of the government, designed specifically to brainwash the youth of America. That version of the story even landed the game a brief appearance on the popular TV show The Simpsons:

What happened to Polybius? Soon after being placed, some children supposedly began having seizures while playing. The game was removed soon after.

Three children did get sick after visiting an arcade within the same week in the Portland area, although it wasn't connected to this game. Some believe that is what kicked off the legend.

Interestingly, the legend has led to a series of imitation video games. Today you can play Polybius.

A group tried to earn enough money on Kickstarter to make a film about the legend, but they never reached their goal. Chances are, someday we'll see a documentary on the subject.

Do you think Polybius was a real game?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Best Books of July

Since it's the last Friday of the month, it's time to tell you all about the great books I read this month.

If you like dogs, you

I couldn't wait to read this next book. I've read enough Phyllis Bourne books now to know she never disappoints. Her latest book is a sequel to a book I reviewed here not all that long ago. And the cover is just as eye-catching as the first book in the series!

* Between a Honeymoon and a Hot Mess *

What is the best book you read this month?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mystery Monday: Asha Degree

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

On a night when the moon gazed down like an evil eye, the young prince appeared in Jemmy's chamber.
"Boy! Tumble out of bed. I need a manservant."
Jemmy saw that the prince was wearing a black cloak and carrying a wicker basket the size of a sea chest. "What you up to now! Walkin' in your royal sleep, are you!" 
 "I'm running away."
--The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleischman

The above excerpt is from a Newbery-winning book read in many elementary schools. In the story, a bored prince asks a young boy to run away with him to be his manservant. Asha Degree's fourth-grade class was reading this book just before she mysteriously left her home in the early morning hours on February 14, 2000. She was nine years old.

Asha Jaquilla Degree lived in Shelby, North Carolina with two very protective parents. They carefully focused their family life on church, school, and their extended family. On February 13, after spending time at church and with relatives, Asha and her brother went to bed around 8 p.m. They shared a room.

At approximately 12:30 a.m., Asha's father returned home from work. He checked in on the two children and confirmed they were both in bed. At around 2:30 a.m., he checked on them again and they were both still in bed.

Soon after, Asha's brother says he heard her bed squeak. He assumed she was just changing positions and went back to sleep. But at 5:45 a.m., their mom got up to wake them and found Asha's bed was empty. She was nowhere to be found.

Later, witnesses reported seeing Asha walking on Highway 18 wearing a white T-shirt and white pants. Another driver reported seeing her at 4 a.m. and found it odd someone so young would be walking a heavy downpour. He turned his car around but she ran into the woods and was never seen again.

After an extensive search, some signs of Asha were found in a shed near a local business not far from where she'd been spotted running into the woods. Searchers found candy wrappers, a pencil, a marker, and a hair bow shaped like Mickey Mouse. All were identified as Asha's.

In August 2001, Asha's book bag was found 26 miles north of the town where she lived. It contained several sets of clothes, including her basketball uniform, as well as some photos of her family. It is believed that she packed the bag herself and snuck out of the house in the rain that morning...but why?

Why would a nine-year-old girl leave a house on her own? Was she acting out what she'd read in The Whipping Boy? Or did someone convince her to leave and meet them that morning?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Happy Friday!

I don't normally blog on Fridays, but this is a special day. Two awesome bloggers reviewed my book this week. First up is talented novelist and elementary school master teacher Jacqui Murray. Click here (or on the picture below) to check it out!

Also, another talented author, Beverly Stowe McClure, gave Piper some love on Wednesday. Go check out her review.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Too Old for Long Hair?

All my life, I've heard there's an age limit for long hair. At first it was 35...

Then it was 40...

45 surely is way too old for long hair...

Surely 50 means it's time for a drastic haircut.

Okay, then...60?

(I'd go older, but not many actresses survive past 65 in the business.)

I've asked my past two hairstylists what the age limit for long hair is. Both were over 40--one was over 50. Both had long hair. The answer? As long as it looks good, rock that look! Unfortunately, past a certain age, long hair can look stringy instead of full like this:

One article has good news for me. Apparently, if you have a full face (as I ALWAYS have), you can pull off long hair for much longer, with the right layering and styling (and maybe some hair color). Long hair pulls down the face, which is perfect if your face is round. If it's narrow, you could end up looking like this:

Granted, after a certain age, I'll probably go closer to shoulder length, but short hair won't work on me with my round face. What do you think about middle-aged/older women and long hair? Is there a mandatory age for chopping it all off?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Introducing A Dog Like Daisy by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb

Joining a new writer's group can be tough, especially when you logged your newbie years in a completely different genre. But Kristin O'Donnell Tubb was always warm and welcoming. So I've been eagerly awaiting the release of her latest book because I can't wait to support her by buying my copy. Well...also...DOG!!! Check out her cover and scroll down to read all about her new book.


Max meets A Dog Called Homeless in this sweet and poignant middle grade novel told from the humorous, thoughtful perspective of a rescued pit bull as she trains to be a service dog for an injured veteran and his family.

Daisy has only ten weeks to prove her usefulness or else be sent back to the pound. Yet if she goes back, who will protect Colonel Victor from his PTSD attacks? Or save the littler human, Micah, from those infernal ear muzzles he calls earphones? What if no one ever adopts her again?

Determined to become the elite protector the colonel needs, Daisy vows to ace the service dog test. She’ll accept the ridiculous leash and learn to sit, heel, shake, even do your business, Daisy when told to. But Daisy must first learn how to face her own fears from the past or risk losing the family she’s so desperate to guard—again.

Buy Links:

Amazon | B&N


Kristin O'Donnell Tubb is the author of several books for young readers, including A Dog Like Daisy, John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy (written as E. F. Abbott), The 13th Sign, Selling Hope, and Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different. She’s also written many activity books featuring well-loved characters such as Scooby-Doo, Bugs Bunny, the Powerpuff Girls, and Strawberry Shortcake. Kristin lives near Nashville, Tennessee, with her bouncy-loud family. Just like her two dogs, she can be bribed with cheese. You can visit her online at

Author Links:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Mystery Monday: Mary Morris

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

On October 12, 2000, Mary Lou Morris said goodbye to her husband and left for work. She was never seen again.

Mary Lou Morris

When her husband couldn't reach her throughout the day, he became concerned. Later that day, after learning she never showed up for work, he reported her missing. It was around that time that a body was found incinerated in a car. Later, the name of the victim was released: Mary Morris.

Just three days later, the body of another Mary Morris was found in a car nearby. The second Mary had been shot in the head.

Although the first Mary had little drama in her life, the second Mary, Mary McGinnis Morris, had plenty to spare. She was having marital problems, as well as dealing with a disgruntled employee at work. Soon before her death, she saw that the fired employee had written "Death to Mary" on his desk calendar. She'd begun carrying a gun to protect herself.

Image Credit:

To this day, police have been unable to officially link the two murders. But they happened in Houston, where millions of people live. What are the odds that two women named Mary Morris would be murdered within days of each other in the same small geographical area?

They look it possible a professional killed the wrong Mary? Then when the killer realized the mistake, they went back to fix the situation?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

IWSG: Winners Never Quit

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you haven't yet, join in. You'll be glad you did!

Each month we have a question. This month's question is:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

When I was in my 20s, I got the bright idea to write a novel. Young and full of confidence, I started writing and when I finished, I put that sucker in the mail. No critique group, no writing workshops--I just sent it to a publishing house.

If you've been writing for a while, you know what that means. I learned my lessons the hard way. As I learned, the rejections poured in. I refused to give up until one day I did.

Or did I? During the time I wasn't trying to get published, I never stopped writing. I posted a blog on MySpace, which led to another blog and another. Before I knew it, I was getting thousands of views a day. My blog was up there in rankings with people you've actually heard of before.

During that time, I realized the value of doing what you love. And having people read your words. I came to terms with the fact that even if I never got a book published, I would be happy just to write and have people read my words.

When I did start writing novels again, I was better than ever. It took me only a couple of years to find an agent. I had years of workshops, blogging, novel writing, reading, and growing behind me. Did that make a difference? I'd say so.

Plenty of writers give up. Those who don't eventually succeed. I think the key is, whatever you do, don't ever stop writing. When it comes down to it, it's just you and your keyboard and the words on the page. Everything else is out of your control.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Mystery Monday: Maria Ridulph

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

Today's mystery takes us back to a time when kids could freely play outside. No strange men lurked nearby to bring harm to them. Everything was safe in 1957.

Or was it?

Maria Ridulph was the 7-year-old daughter of a factory worker and a stay-at-home mom. Her best friend was 8-year-old Kathy Sigman, who lived on the same street as Maria.

Maria (left) and Kathy. Image credit: CBS News

After dinner on December 3, 1957, Maria and Kathy went outside to play in the snow. They were playing a game when a tall, slender man approached and introduced himself as Johnny. After mentioning he was married, he offered to give them piggyback rides.

After her piggyback ride, Maria ran back to her house to get a doll to show him. She returned and Kathy left to get a pair of mittens. When Kathy returned, Maria and the man were both gone. Her doll was found nearby, but Maria was never seen alive again.

Sadly, nearly five months later, Maria's remains were discovered in a wooded area 100 miles away. The initial autopsy couldn't determine a cause of death due to the decomposition of the body, but 50 years later, a forensic expert determined she'd been stabbed multiple times in the throat.

That newer autopsy was part of a reopening of the case in 2008, after a deathbed confession from Jack McCullough's mother. McCullough was a military veteran and former police officer who was 18 years old at the time of Maria's disappearance.

In 2012, a judge (without a jury) convicted McCullough of the case. At the time it made news as the oldest known cold case to ever be solved. Unfortunately, the conviction didn't hold up. McCullough was proven to be 40 miles away from the scene the night of Maria's disappearance. The conviction was overturned in 2016.

There was one other primary suspect in the case, but he died in 1992. William Henry Redmond was a former truck driver and carnival worker who was also a suspect in the high-profile unsolved disappearance of Beverly Potts. Beverly disappeared in 1951.

In fact, Redmond is suspected to have been a serial killer during that time, with his job as a carnie giving him access to young girls in each of the towns he visited.

Do you think Maria Ridulph's disappearance will ever be solved?