Read how Julia Bonatti’s cat came to be at Musings and Ramblings.

black cat

Connie’s touring this month, and today she’s at The Bookwyrm’s Hoard to talk about her protagonist’s city and its cable cars.

Nob Hill, San Francisco (Looking west up California Street, Nob Hill district, San Francisco) - Photo by Dave Glass (, February 14, 2009

Interview with Connie di Marco at Laura Brennan’s Destination Mystery.

Connie’s interview at Mystery Playground.

This post first appeared on Shakespeare’s birthday two years ago at the Great Escapes site.  But I thought it might be fun to repost it and wish another happy birthday to the Bard.

Plays-BindingConsidered the greatest playwright of all time and known for some of the most beautiful romances in literature, Shakespeare certainly knew how to let his dark side out to play. He would have made any thriller writer proud! He managed to kill off countless characters in unique, brutal and gory fashion, and in his time, his most popular plays were the most violent.

Here are a few highlights. (This is not for the faint-hearted.) Get ready for an orgy of poison, stabbing, suicide, bludgeoning, beheading and general rollicking mayhem.


In a jealous rage, Othello smothers his Desdemona. Overcome with guilt when he learns she had been faithful after all, he kills himself with a dagger. But don’t forget Emilia who is stabbed by her husband, Iago, when he learns of her part in the plot against Desdemona and Cassio. Oh, Rodrigo is stabbed to death too.

The body count is rising. Midsomer Parva can’t hold a candle to the seacoast of Bohemia in The Winter’s Tale.  King Leontes orders the death of his wife Hermione and their two children. Antigonus, ordered to take the King’s infant to the beach to be left to die, is dispatched by a bear! A bear? Say what?


Romeo upon hearing of Juliet’s  (untrue) death, drinks the poison at the Capulet crypt When Juliet wakes to find Romeo dead beside her, she ends her own life by stabbing herself with a dagger. Oh, and let’s see, Mercutio, Tybalt, and Paris are stabbed, while Lady Montague dies of a broken heart.

In King Lear, Cornwall and Oswald are stabbed. Gloucester is blinded and dies of shock. Regan is poisoned by her sister, Goneril, after she sets her sights on Goneril’s lover. Cordelia is jailed and hanged in her cell. Finally, Goneril commits suicide when her plots are exposed and Lear dies of grief.


Golden lads and girls all must
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Cymbeline, Act IV, scene 2



For sheer blood and guts Titus Andronicus tops them all. Lavinia is raped by Demetrius and Chiron who then cut out her tongue and cut off her hands. When Titus, her father, learns of the rape, he murders her by breaking her neck and kills the two men. He hangs them upside down to drain their blood and bakes them in a pie which he feeds to their mother. Shades of Sweeney Todd! A veritable feTitusast of gore (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Titus then stabs her in the face before being brought down by Saturninus, who in turn is also stabbed to death. Alarbus’s arms and legs are cut off and he is thrown into the fire, the nurse is stabbed, Tamora dies of indigestion, Mutius and Bassanius are stabbed, Martius and Quintus are beheaded, the clown is hanged and Aaron, is buried up to his neck in the sand and starves to death.

Lady_mcbethMacbeth kills Duncan, King of Scotland, while Duncan sleeps during a visit to Macbeth’s castle. Our protagonist is a busy man, dispatching Macduff’s wife and children, Duncan’s guards, Banquo and Seward. Macduff of course avenges himself by beheading the reckless Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth dies from . . . not really sure, maybe suicide, maybe lack of sleep.

Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it. Macbeth, Act I, scene 4
Hamlet learns from his father’s ghost that he was killed by poison poured into his ear while he slept, causing scabs over his entire body. Hebenon? What is that? Must have been henbane, also known as black nightshade or Jupiter’s bean. Ophelia, driven mad, falls from a tree branch and drowns. Okay, that’s a suicide. Queen Gertrude drinks from the poisoned chalice of wine intended for Hamlet. She dies exclaiming, “The drink, the drink! I am poison’d.”

Hamlet stabs Claudius with the poisoned rapier and then forces him to drink from the poisoned goblet. Polonius, acting as a spy for King Claudius, dies when Hamlet strikes through the curtain and kills the eavesdropper. Before this piece of fluff is over, both Laertes and Hamlet are dead from sword wounds and poison.

ShakespeareWoe, destruction, ruin, and decay;
The worst is death, and death will have his day
Richard II, Act III, scene 2

Happy Birthday, Will.  Thank you for all the thrills!

Is a very special day ~ It’s the anniversary of the 8.3 earthquake that struck the city of San Francisco at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906.

Madness of MercuryJulia Bonatti, San Francisco astrologer and my protagonist in the Zodiac Mysteries, is a native San Franciscan, and since most of the city’s residents hail from other places, being a native is a point of honor.  You’ll learn more about Julia on June 8, 2016 when her first adventure, The Madness of Mercury is released.

Now, Julia’s lived in the city her entire life.  She experienced the Loma Prieta quake that brought down the freeway in Oakland and a section of the Bay Bridge, destroyed a large apartment building in the Marina and caused death, injury and lots of other destruction in and around the city.  She’s certainly not old enough to remember the Big One, the 1906 quake that destroyed the city, but every year, she attends the remembrance ceremony that takes place at Lotta’s Fountain at the corner of Market and Kearny Streets with thousands of other people who gather in remembrance of the dead and in tribute to those who rebuilt the city.

SF_Bay_area_USGSAfter the quake, a conspiracy of disinformation began.  The world was told that fire destroyed the city, not the earthquake.  It was the supposedly true story I heard when I first lived in San Francisco.  And even people who had grown up there believed the lie.  But thanks to historians we now know that to be untrue.  Yes, the city burned, but it was the 8.3 quake that leveled the city before any fires started.  The powers-that-were in the city – business people, politicians, insurance companies, the Southern Pacific Railroad — had to propagate the lie.  They needed investors and money coming in to rebuild and so the truth and the dead were swept under the carpet, or actually into the Bay.  That’s not a lie.

San_Francisco_in_ruins_view_from_Captive_Airship_above_Folsom_1906In past years, survivors of the 8.3 quake were honored but sadly, they are all gone now.  William “Bill” Del Monte, the last survivor, who was three months old in 1906, died in 2013.

On April 18th, at 4:00 a.m., San Franciscans gather at Lotta’s Fountain, a cast iron structure at Market and Kearny Streets.  Lotta’s Fountain stood in 1906 and was the place where people gathered and left messages, searching for loved ones.  The commemoration begins at 4:30 a.m., at 5:00 a.m. the Mayor hangs a wreath and eleven minutes later the countdown to 5:12 a.m. begins.  At 5:12 a.m., the sirens blare, followed by a minute of silence.  Then a sing along of “San Francisco.”

Lotta's FountainIt only takes a tiny corner of
This great big world to make the place we love
My home upon the hill, I find I love you still,
I’ve been away, but now I’m back to tell you…
San Francisco, open your golden gate
You let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one
Saying I’ll wander no more
Other places only make me love you best
Tell me you’re the heart of all the golden west
San Francisco, welcome me home again
I’m coming home to go roaming no more

I may not be attending the ceremony this year, but having survived the 1994 Northridge Quake, I’ll be there in spirit to give thanks, to honor the dead and the courage of those who were able to rebuild this beautiful city by the bay.


Actually, it’s my alter ego’s interview, but you can read it here.

Remember when Pluto was a planet, the ninth from the Sun? I do.

PlutoThat’s why it’s so lamentable that Pluto has been downgraded to a (I really hate to use this word) dwarf planet, even a “plutoid.” I’m shaking my head – a plutoid? Really? Those foolish earthlings at the International Astronomical Union!

SF_Bay_area_USGSSee, Julia Bonatti, my protagonist in the Zodiac Mystery series is a San Francisco astrologer, and she worries about Pluto – a lot. She knows just how important the planet is and she’s rather concerned about this downgrade. Knowing that Pluto rules Scorpio and is the natural ruler of the 8th house, she fears vengeance.

Clyde_W._TombaughPluto was officially discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a Kansas farmer and amateur astronomer. Astrologically, it is associated with nuclear power, the Cold War, and totalitarian states, as well as the birth of psychoanalysis when Freud and Jung began their exploration of the unconscious mind. Carl Jung was an astrologer, by the way. And believe me, a Pluto transit will definitely bring your own shadow to the fore.

New Image Pluto rules detective work and any effort that involves digging under the surface to bring truth to light. It’s a natural for the mystery and thriller world, for astrologers and detectives, and even amateur sleuths like Julia. Given Julia’s current adventure in The Madness of Mercury, and her upcoming ones, she pretty much lives under Pluto’s sway, even if she isn’t a Scorpio. She’s constantly facing mystery and death but astrological clues save the day for her.

Aqr_bodeThe planet (yes, I’m going to call Pluto a planet) is one-sixth the mass of our Moon with an extremely eccentric orbit. It takes 248 years to make a full circuit of the zodiac and spends between 15 and 26 years in each sign!

Now if you know anything at all about astrology, you’ll know that when a Pluto transit hits a sensitive point in your chart, it’s best to hide under the bed and wait oh . . . about a year . . . maybe longer . . . for it to go away. You might cry a lot.  Astrologers have great respect (if not fear) of Pluto. Like Shiva, the destroyer and creator, it tears down what is no longer needed in your life. You probably won’t agree, but resistance is futile. It transforms and makes way for new growth and renewal and it’s often painful! I repeat, you might cry a lot.

Aquarius_zodiac_sign,_Jantar_Mantar,_Jaipur,_India I’m not alone in missing Pluto. A principal investigator with NASA’s mission to Pluto, stated that “the definition stinks . . .” Online petitions have urged the IAU to consider reinstatement and everyday citizens have also rejected the change, claiming they have always known Pluto as a planet and will continue to do so.

The CaliPlutoCharonfornia State Assembly facetiously called the IAU decision a “scientific heresy.” The New Mexico House of Representatives passed a resolution in honor of Tombaugh, its discoverer, who was a longtime resident of that state and declared that Pluto will always be considered a planet while in New Mexican skies. March 13 has been named Pluto Planet Day there. The Illinois Senate passed a similar resolution in 2009 on the basis that Tombaugh was born in Illinois.

I hope you’ll join me in honoring Pluto. It’s not always a friendly planet, but it’s essential to show your respect for the forces of death, decay and transformation.