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Liz Hartley

0 In Liz Writes

Blog Changes

There’s gonna be some changes made…


…to all of you who signed up to follow my sporadic blog. I can’t tell you how much your support means to me. However, I’ve decided with the hours I have in the day, I have to choose between writing a newsletter and writing the blog. And while I may continue to blog sporadically, I am going to put my non-book-writing time into the newsletter.

Second, a request…

I hope that, if you haven’t done so already, you will sign up for my monthly newsletter, where I’ll continue keep you posted on all that I’m up to an everything going on in Eden Beach and everything going on along Route 66 with Kat and Tish.

You can subscribe by clicking on the image above and filling out the form, clicking on the pop up when it slides in from the right (if you haven’t already), or in the block below my image over there on the right.

And lastly, thank you again!

4 In Liz Writes/ The Route 66 Steal

Road Trip Summer Reading: The Illinois Caper

It was supposed to be a simple heist. But it became The Illinois Caper!

Tish O’Donnell and Kat Merevec just want a little payback when Tish’s philandering husband, Fitz, announces he’s leaving her and firing Kat. But their late-night heist gives the more than they bargained for. Now, in between some Mother Road sightseeing, they’re on the run from the police, a murderous fence, and a couple of Route 66 vintage car groupies who keep popping up everywhere.

Hitch a ride in the backseat of Tish’s 1957, yellow and white two-tone Buick convertible, as the two women negotiate the twists and turns of Route 66 while forging an uneasy partnership-in-crime.

Looking for a fast, light read to pack on your summer road trip?

The Illinois Caper is what you’re looking for!

The Illinois Caper is available NOW on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo readers, and at iBooks.

Prefer the sound of rustling pages? You can support your local independent bookseller by having them special order a copy for you. Or, online, buy from where sales benefit independent bookstores. Amazon, too, offers a paper version.

8 In The Route 66 Steal/ Women's Fiction

E-Book Giveaway! The Illinois Caper

Help celebrate Women’s Fiction Day June 8, 2023

Leave a comment below, and four lucky winners will get a free copy of The Illinois Caper, book one in the new series, The Route 66 Steal!

Hit the greatest Highway of them all: The Mother Road, Route 66!

Kat and Tish are two middle-aged women looking for a little payback. Now they’re on the road in their 1957 Buick convertible, the trunk loaded with hot diamonds, dubious cash, and glittering gold. They’re heading to a new life in California, but the question is, will they live long enough to get there!

Read an excerpt of The Illinois Caper:

The door hit the frame so hard it bounced back, slamming into the wall. The glass in their wedding photo shattered as it crashed to the floor.

Tish O’Donnell grabbed the rebounding door, slammed it again, and threw the deadbolt.

“Don’t come sniveling back, either!” she shouted at the still-shuddering wood.

He would of course. His name was on the mortgage.

And he’d bring her.

She spun around and caught a glimpse of herself in the hall mirror: pale skin blotched with anger, dark brown eyes blazing in a soft, round face. Her gray-shot red hair, piled high, was askew.

Like Rochester’s mad wife in Jane Eyre, she thought. She’d loved that book as a girl, but she’d always seen herself as strong, competent Jane, not this…this wild-eyed creature that stared at her from the mirror’s depths.

“Urrrgh!” she growled in rage. Her fists clenched with the urge to hit something.

Heedless of the crunching glass underfoot, Tish stormed back through the foyer toward the kitchen, kicking an enameled, cast-iron saucepan out of the way.

“Shit! Shoot!” she shouted, correcting quickly and hopping as pain shot up her foot. “I’ll kill you, you ba…”

She hesitated fractionally, but no word that would not result in penance suggested itself.

“You…schmuck!” she yelled at the walls. As if God didn’t understand Yiddish. She limped into the kitchen, turned a chair upright, sat down, and pulled off her shoe to massage her insulted toes.

Yiddish or not, it still meant more Hail Marys. Father Andrew didn’t allow cursing, even in a situation like this. He didn’t overlook it if it was in Yiddish, either. She’d tried that argument before.

The image of a divine frown couldn’t stop the stream of profanities going through her mind, though. God would just have to understand.

Fear of celestial disapproval wasn’t slowing Fitz down, she thought bitterly. Oh, no. It didn’t stop him from saying the “d” word.

Not after thirty-five years, she fumed, rubbing her stockinged foot. Not after thirty-five long, hard years, three kids, and constant humiliation. You’re not leaving me with nothing. Not now. Just because you think you’re “in love” with your current piece of…flesh.

“Not for that scheming…” The “b” word hovered on her lips, but the last hour had already given her too much to confess.

“…trollop,” was what she settled for.

Kat Merevec. With her tight ass and her big, pointy tits and her purple hair. It had to be her, though she’d always thought Kat was smarter than that. Though why Kat should be any different, Tish didn’t know. Fitz had screwed every store manager they’d had for the last thirty-five years.

Almost all. Ted had been the exception.

He’d slept with them all—and others besides.

But he’d never left her to marry any of them.

“You wait until her boobs head south, you miserable…loser!” she shouted at the door down the hall. “See how much you ‘love’ her then. See how much she ‘loves’ you when you’re broke and selling bead bracelets from a ratty blanket in Fountain Square. Because believe me, you two-timing mongrel, when I’m done with you, you’ll have to start over again. Fancy doing that at your age?”

It should have been my business, not his, she thought bitterly. But her father had given it to Fitz on their wedding day. Because Fitz was the man. Men had heads for business, he’d said, not girls.


She’d been hurt. Outraged. Furious. Her father, chuckling, had just patted her on the cheek and left it to Fitz to sooth and assure her.

“It’s ours, sweetie. Together. It’s our business.” Or home. Or retirement. It was always “ours.”

Except, of course, that everything was in his name.

Even their cars were in his name.

Except, of course, for that gas hog, the only thing her father had given her. Fitz had started saying it reminded him of her. “It’s got a front end and back end as big as yours,” he’d laugh. When she’d glower, he’d just pat her bottom and say, “Honey, I’m teasing. You know I love all of you.”

Har. Har. 

Yet despite it all, despite the loss of the business, despite the cheating Fitz had done over the years, she’d stuck it out. She’d believed him when he said it was all theirs. She’d needed to believe him, because without belief, she had nothing.

But Tish didn’t believe any more.

Her mind began ticking over as her white-hot anger cooled to cherry red. 

When I’m done with you, she thought.

Who was she kidding? How could she hurt him?

She’d get screwed in a divorce. She knew it. All her friends had gotten screwed. Why should she be any different?

The first time Tish had discovered Fitz’s infidelity, they’d only been married a few months. Tish hadn’t even turned twenty. Her mother had shrugged it off. All men ran around, she said. Tish was married. Make the best of it.

The priest said divorce wasn’t possible. Marriage was forever. He’d speak to Fitz. Think of the children to come.

So, Tish thought of the children, and she made the best of it. She worked in the store that should have been hers. Closed her eyes when Fitz cheated.

Eventually she convinced herself that other women were nuts for leaving when their husbands had affairs. Everyone knew that women lived longer than men. It would all be yours if you just waited them out.

That thought, and making herself a very expensive piece of jewelry every time Fitz found a ‘new love,’ had helped ease the pain.

But now…this.

Not on your pitiful, useless life, Fitzpatrick O’Donnell. You are not divorcing Mary Patrice Geraghty Ryan.  

Not without a fight.

When I’m done with you, she thought again.

And paused…as a terrible idea crossed her mind.

A terrible, beautiful, brilliant idea.

Tish’s lips curled in a smile that would have scared Fitz’s socks off if he’d been there to see it.

She stood up, shoved her throbbing foot back into her shoe, grabbed her keys and purse, and headed for the garage.

When I’m done with you, she thought with relish, you can have the damned house and the damned store.

And I’ll make Father Andrew’s hair stand on end.

6 In Caper Series/ The Route 66 Steal

My New Book, The Illinois Caper, is HERE!

Kat and Tish are finally on the Road!

While it’s taken longer than planned–blame the broken wrist!–in The Illinois Caper, book one of The Route 66 Steal, Kat and Tish are finally on the Mother Road, Route 66, and heading to California.

In The Illinois Caper, Kat Merevec and Tish O’Donell, “middle aged and mostly respectable,” steal a fortune, fight over underwear, dust off talents long-forgotten, learn just how fast they can cover a half mile on foot, and forge a tentative friendship.

Back in Evanston, ratfink Fitz O’Donell is trying to get himself out of the mess he’s made–and only digging in deeper.

How will this all work out?

The Illinois Caper is available NOW on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo readers, and at iBooks.

Prefer the sound of rustling pages? You can support your local independent bookseller by having them special order a copy for you. Or, online, buy from where sales benefit independent bookstores. Amazon, too, offers a paper version.

7 In Liz Travels: Route 66

On the Road Too Long

We’ve been on the road waaay too long. Time to get home.

I left home on May 26. Dash joined me in Chicago on June 4. Rosie (the Camry) has logged almost 6000 miles in the meantime. We’ve negotiated heat, humidity, rainstorms, closed roads, detours, fast food, and annoyed countless locals with sudden roadside stops. Dash and I have remained friends. (A miracle!) But it’s time to stop pushing our luck and return to reality, yard work, and regular meals.

So we’re headed home. We want to thank you for coming along on the journey. We hope you’ve had fun.

Love, Liz (and Dash)

3 In Liz Travels: Route 66

Route 66 Eating

When you’re on the road, everyone wants to know about the food. Not sure why, but there it is. So this is for the cuisine curious. (Neither Dash nor I tend to photograph our meals, so sorry…)

Southern Cooking

Much of the Route lies through the southern part of the US, and Southern cooking has traditionally been breaded and/or fried, or dressed in gravy, at least in my experience. When a large part of the day is spent behind the wheel, the heaviness of these meals can be unappealing, so for the most part, we avoided them. Even Dash, who was sorely tempted by biscuits and gravy and chicken-fried steak.

Trunk Meals

We ate our fair share of sandwiches and hamburgers. I posted images of our fast food day. Occasionally we ate breakfast out. Most often we started our day simply with something in the hotel room or B&B. We often ended just as simply with a grocery store salad (when we could find them) or cheese and crackers (which Dash referred to as “bread and water”) and our libation of choice. We carried a cooler in the back seat and that saved us on evenings when when we were just too tired to think about going back out to eat.

The Winners

Sometimes, though, we had winners. The fish tacos at La Luna in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago were amazing our first night.

The breakfast at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, was swoon-worthy. I had sensational waffles of multiple grains–none of which were wheat: blue corn, quinoa, amaranth and another one or two I’ve forgotten. The were light and delicious with fruit, syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. Dash had the Huevos Rancheros and hasn’t stopped talking about them. The fried potatoes that came with her eggs must have dived into the fry pot happily. Neither of us have ever had a french fry type potato that was anything near as good as these. Between the two of us, we ate them all because it would have been a sin to leave even one behind. It was a shame we weren’t staying in Albuquerque longer so we could sample everything on the menu. That chef knows his/her way around food. It was probably the best and most memorable meal of the trip.

We had excellent salads at the Pink House (the Belvidere Mansion) in Claremore, Oklahoma, but that had as much to do with the company of the PEO women there as the food. In Santa Fe, at our PEO party, Ann’s baked beans and Laura’s cinnamon sugar-dusted tortilla chips with fruit salsa were unforgettable.

And in Lodi, California, we were delighted to stumble on Pietro’s Trattoria, for a wonderful, farm to fork, Italian dinner, with a local pinot grigio, and a helpful, pleasant knowledgeable staff. Happy people we were. (The clever boots among you will note that Lodi is not on Route 66. True, but this is about the food we ate on the road.)

The Most Fun

Meals are not only about the food, they are about the people you spend time with–even if those people are those serving you. In Seligman, Arizona, we ate dinner at the Roadkill Cafe, (Motto: You kill it, we grill it.) with meals selections like The Chicken that Almost Crossed the Road, Smear of Deer, Smidgeon of Pigeon, Out of Luck Duck, Awesome Possum, Curbside Kitty, Creamed Quail on Toast, Where’s the Chicken, Flat Cats, Rigor Mortis Tortoise, Dead Meat Treat, Armadillo on the Half Shell, One-eyed Dog in the Fog, Vulture Vittles, and Funky Skunk.

But then we went down the street to the SnowCap Drive-In for ice cream. This is a classic drive-in for burgers, shakes, and soft serve ice cream. But what makes it so special is the great pleasure the owner takes in his jokes. Order a sundae? Do you want a male or female? With nuts or without? Do you want a small or a large? When you tell him, he pulls out two cups, one the size of the pill cups at a hospital and the other a more standard size sundae cup. Do you want a half spoon (he holds up a sample) or a whole spoon? When you say, a whole one, he holds up one with a hole in it. And it goes on. He’s told these a thousand times, but he seem to truly enjoy it when his guests laugh at his silliness.

The Ultimate Loser

The worst meal of the trip–and we had some mediocre food–was the White Castle hamburger. I don’t remember these being this bad when I was a kid or our family wouldn’t have eaten as many as we did. Dash called it mystery meat. A clever presentation couldn’t hide a very poor meal.

That’s the food review for this edition of the Route 66 blog. Bon appetit!


2 In Liz Travels: Route 66

“Wild” Life on Route 66

Everything is larger than life on Route 66, from its outsized place in our cultural memory, to the huge “muffler men.”

But there are oversized and joyfully colored critters on the road, too. Some advertise, some are a cities’ whimsical welcomes, and some simply adorn the roadside in front yards. Of course, we have to stop to record them. Or I do anyway. Dash watches the rearview mirror to be sure I don’t get killed in the process.


P.S. A reminder. The images above usually don’t show up on phones. You have to either enable the images for your device, or click on the link to my website. On a phone, swipe the image to bring up the next one. On a tablet or computer, use the arrows on the left and right margins to see additional images.

3 In Liz Travels: Route 66

Ghosts of Route 66

There is still quite a bit of the classic Route 66 to see, and I’ve been sharing some of it–the giant statues used to attract attention and advertise a business, the iconic restaurants and motels, and old buildings from the Route’s busiest days.

But the Route is haunted, too. By ghost towns, shells of service stations and diners, and fragments of the road itself, many more than I’d anticipated. They show up in the country far from any town, they show up on the fringes of cities, and they show up in the cities themselves. They are a faded memory, but they show us what the road once looked like.


P.S. A reminder. The images above usually don’t show up on phones. You have to either enable the images for your device, or click on the link to my website. On a phone, swipe the image to bring up the next one. On a tablet or computer, use the arrows on the left and right margins to see additional images.

1 In Liz Travels: Route 66

Burma Shave–Wisdom on Route 66

Shave and a Haircut

The one thing I remember about driving Route 66 the first time–a long time ago–was the delight of finding Burma Shave signs in an otherwise empty landscape. Burma Shave, for those who don’t remember, was a shaving cream. One way they advertised was by posting along the roadsides a series of five signs, each with part of a clever rhyming poem that had to do with driving or with shaving. The last sign always said “Burma Shave.”

We’ve been thrilled to find a few of them along the road. They aren’t the originals. The last originals, according to the wisdom of Google, are in the Smithsonian. But these new ones have been posted by Route 66 enthusiasts to renew the feeling of the road. We came across several series of signs today on the road into Seligman, AZ. Here are some we’ve found:

Guys whose eyes/ Are in their backs/ Get halos crossing/ Railroad tracks/ Burma Shave

If hugging on highways/ Is your sport/ Trade in your car/ For a davenport/ Burma Shave

Don’t pass cars/ On curves or hills/ If cops don’t get you/ Morticians will/ Burma Shave

Don’t stick your elbow/ Out too far/ It might go home/ In another car/ Burma Shave

The wolf is shaved/ So neat and trim/ Red Riding Hood/ Is chasing him/ Burma Shave

He tried to cross/ As fast train neared/ Death didn’t draft him/ He volunteered/ Burma Shave

The one who drives when/ He’s been drinking/ Depends on you/ To do his thinking/ Burma Shave

T’would be more fun/ To go by air/ If we could put/ These signs up there/ Burma Shave

And our personal favorite (though I’m not sure it’s one of the originals):

Going east/ Or going west/ Route 66/ Does it best/ Burma Shave


PS: A reminder. The images above usually don’t show up on phones. You have to either enable the images for your device, or click on the link to my website. On a phone, swipe the image to bring up the next one. On a tablet or computer, use the arrows on the left and right margins to see additional images.

1 In Liz Travels: Route 66

Route 66 at Night

Neon was a big deal at the height of Route 66, and the Route was once ablaze with fanciful signs after dark. Colorful, flashing, cascading–neon drew night-time drives like moths to flame.

But neon is a thing of the past and, according to a friend who does a lot of sign work, something of a lost art. I expect that means they are expensive to fix or replace. So many of the neon signs of Route 66 don’t shine at night any more, or are so broken that they’re impossible to read.

But we’ve found a few–when we’ve found the energy to venture out after dark.


P.S. A reminder. The images above usually don’t show up on phones. You have to either enable the images for your device, or click on the link to my website. On a phone, swipe the image to bring up the next one. On a tablet or computer, use the arrows on the left and right margins to see additional images.