Cleo Lampos – Dust Between the Stitches

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This week I’m welcoming back my friend, and fellow member of the Oak Lawn Writer’s Group, author, Cleo Lampos.

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Cleo Lampos is a retired school teacher with a love for history. After researching the Dust Bowl era for several years, she wrote the historical fiction, Dust Between the Stitches. An avid quilter and member of a quilting club in her hometown of Oak Lawn, Illinois, the history of quilt patterns is interwoven in this book. Lampos enjoys writing magazine articles as well as the six novels to her credit. Using her Master’s Degree in Special Education from St. Xavier University and 26 years of teaching, three of these novels are part of a series, The Teachers of Diamond Project School.  Lampos is part of a community garden in her area, and helps her husband with an urban homestead on the South Side of Chicago. With great enjoyment, Lampos shares her knowledge of history with adult education classes at local community colleges and book clubs.

Cleo’s latest novel is, Dust Between the Stitches

Vibrant Addy Meyer wants nothing more than to teach children in the one-room school near her grandpa’s beet farm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. But the 1930’s swirl with complications for this first-year teacher in rural Colorado. Between the Black Blizzards, the Board of Education, and the bank president, she is overwhelmed.

Addy falls in love with the orphans her grandfather adopted, and with her own students, but vows to guard her heart against the handsome drag line operator, Jess, with his suspicious past. Using her late grandmother’s patterns, Addy creates a quilt made from remnants and acquired swatches of feed sacks.

As the economy and impending foreclosure combine to destroy Addy and her grandfather’s futures, how can these scrapped lives ever be stitched into something coherent? From hurting and gritty people, Addy finds help and justice for her family.

Despair, dust and drought weave together with community to create the fabric of the Dust Bowl in muted earth tones punctuated by vivid threads of hope.

Here is an excerpt:

Addy glanced down at the crumpled paper in her hand and pressed it crinkly smooth against the gray wind-blown boards of the porch railing. Squinting her eyes against the blazing sun, she slid her moccasins through the fine dirt, raising tiny dust clouds around her ankles. She followed the scraggly path leading to the garden where she spotted Grandpa hoeing weeds between the rows of green beans. A wiry, thin gent with a shock of gray hair under his straw hat, Grandpa still maintained muscle mass in his biceps. His grip on the hoe remained firm and his attack on the weeds was sure.

                Passing a scarecrow created from frayed garments, Addy chuckled to herself. A remnant from Kansas. Grandma always had a scarecrow, even here in Colorado.  At the thought of her grandma, a pain stabbed her middle just like the way it did on the day she heard of grandma’s swift heart attack and death. One more loss, in a long chain of losses linked together. But she’d stop this one. She shook the paper as she gripped it tighter in her fist.

                “Hey, there, Addy. I spotted you comin’. Mighty warm for September, ain’t it?” Grandpa straightened. “What’s that in your hand?”

                “I think you have an idea. It’s from the bank in town.” She breathed in the air laced with fine rock residue, air that dehydrated one’s body and withered one’s soul.

                He reached for the letter. “Probably addressed to me. Yep. Says George right here in the heading, not Addy. You takin’ over my mail now?” Smiling, he leaned on his hoe, but the tone in his voice conveyed a serious edge.

                “Okay, chew me out for opening it. That letter says you have to come up with the back taxes for the bank will foreclose on you. Two thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money.” Addy waved the paper in front of his eyes. “Look.”

                “I know what it says. They’s been sending those to a bunch of us farmers and ranchers around here. Don’t mean too much. They can’t take all of our homesteads, now, can they?”

                Addy winced. “You know they can. They took my parents’ house and nearly the whole block we lived on back in Topeka. Yes, the bank will buy up every bit of the land you worked on all these years. It’s 1938 and the banks have just about foreclosed on the whole United States.”

                “Why, I’ve known the bank president since Martha and me settled here ten years ago. He’s my friend.” Grandpa pulled off his straw hat and wiped his brow with a handkerchief.

                “Don’t matter a bit, Grandpa. Banks have no hearts. But, I won’t let them take this land from you. I’ll find a way. Wait and see.” She pointed to a number at the bottom of the paper. “Two thousand dollars arrears. How could you get so far behind?” Addy paused to draw in her breath. “No more losses. I can’t lose one more thing. Not this farm.” Gritting her teeth in irritation, she seethed. She’d only been here for a week and now all this difficulty to face. Plus a new job.

                “Just one dust storm after another. Dried up every crop I put in. Thinned out the herd so we hardly have enough cattle to sell to keep current. Jess Dettmann got me plantin’ sugar beets for a cash crop. He dug the irrigation ditches with his dragline as his room and board.” Grandpa cupped his hand over his eyes and gazed at acres of straight rows of beets that stretched out across the sandy soil. “We’ll see how much the crop is worth this fall.” He plopped the straw hat back over his thick gray hair.

                “Yes. I just met this Jess person. Funny, you never talked about him. Gold digger, if you ask me.”

                Grandpa paused, staring at her. “Didn’t ask you.” With that, he picked up his hoe and sliced the stem off a prickly weed.

                Addy pressed her lips together so she wouldn’t say something she regretted. Shuffling back to the weathered house, she decided to water the raised bed garden. She pumped water into a galvanized watering can. Grandpa’s homestead was unusual for the area in the fact that he had a well in addition to a creek running on his property. In this decade of drought, it made all the difference between making it or losing everything. Every drop of liquid meant life. Addy carried the precious water to the thirsty plants until her arms ached and the agitation drained from her body.

                Website  www.cleolampos.com

Dust Between the Stitches is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Between-Stitches-Cleo-Lampos-ebook/dp/B01L94G7C0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1480204041&sr=1-1&keywords=Dust+Between+the+Stitches+by+Cleo+Lampos

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Cleo and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Maggie King – Murder at the Moonshine Inn

This week, I’m hosting author, Maggie King.

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Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including the recently-released Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She contributed the stories “A Not So Genteel Murder” and “Reunion at Shockoe Slip” to the Virginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Where Do I Get My Mysterious Ideas?

Where do I get my ideas? That’s the #1 question I get from readers. The short answer: everywhere. But I never stop at the short answer. Frequently ideas are a collage of memories and characters from my life (or someone else’s life) to which I add a hefty measure of my fertile imagination, resulting in a Picasso-esque creation.

My idea for Murder at the Moonshine Inn came from two sources that I melded into one tale. When my husband retired and took up genealogy, he discovered many new-to-him relatives. He contacted them and they remain in touch to this day. Only one relative refused to acknowledge him, suspecting that he wanted money.

A family I knew in California inspired the second source. This family was shocked when the patriarch, a wealthy widower, remarried a much younger woman who lived life in the fast lane. As a novelty, she often hung out at a redneck bar. He was attracted to her beauty and youth. She was attracted to his lovely money. They both got what they wanted. But was it what they expected? And was it enough?

What inspired Murder at the Book Group, #1 in my Hazel Rose Book Group series? Book groups, naturally. Book groups have a special dynamic and the members can be fascinating to observe. In this story, I explore the decisions we might make as we stand at a crossroads in our lives. I’m intrigued by choices and how so many of us don’t consider the full range of consequences of our decisions and actions.

For “A Not So Genteel Murder” in the Virginia is for Mysteries anthology, I needed a Virginia landmark and I picked Richmond’s venerable Kent-Valentine House, headquarters for the Garden Club of Virginia. But the tale of betrayal, loss, and the power of family ties that I set there was solely based on my imagination, not an outside source.

“Reunion in Shockoe Slip” is a what-if story that I contributed to the Virginia is for Mysteries Vol. 2 anthology. Nancy and Roger were lovers thirty years before and meet again at a book signing in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Slip. Many of us have someone in our past who we’d just as soon leave in the past. But what if we see the person again after much time has gone by? Maybe we share pictures of our grandkids, pets, or milestone anniversary. Or, maybe things go very, very wrong.

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Website: http://www.maggieking.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieKingAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieKingAuthr

Buy link: http://amzn.to/2dtozWa

Maggie and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Marja McGraw – Having a Great Crime – Wish Your Were Here

This week, I’m welcoming back one of my favorite authors, Marja McGraw.

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Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law, state transportation, and for a city building department. She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, and Washington. She wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half. Marja writes two mystery series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, which are light reading with a touch of humor. She also occasionally writes stories that aren’t part of a series. Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! She now lives in Washington, where life is good.

Cold Cases vs. New Cases

Crime and criminals are as old as the inhabited world. It’s a fact of life. Consequently, in addition to daily troubles, there are old unsolved cases, most of which will probably never have their answers come to light.

In the Sandi Webster series, the protagonist is a young female private investigator. She and her husband/partner, Pete, handle current situations on a regular basis. However, once in a while, someone brings an old case to their attention.

I enjoy creating cold cases, partly because the mystery of the unsolved case takes place in another time. My characters don’t have to deal with death on an up close and personal level in those particular situations. They may have to deal with someone who’s involved with the crime in one way or another, but they’re not on the scene during the original crime. Yes, they can be placed in a dangerous situation, but that’s not something they expect when working on a cold case.

Such is the case with “Having a Great Crime – Wish You Were Here,” A Sandi Webster Mystery. It’s light reading with a little humor and deals with, as it turns out, more than one vintage crime.

Having a Great Crime – Wish You Were Here.

1936 – In the small farming community of Battle Ground, Washington, a scream is heard and actress Bonnie Singleton is found dead. With no evidence or suspects, the crime goes down in history as an unsolved murder. The only one who knows the truth is Bonnie Singleton, and her voice has been silenced.

That is, until many years later when Sandi Webster-Goldberg and her husband, Pete, go on a belated honeymoon to a new Bed and Breakfast in the small community.

Plenty of surprises await the couple when the proprietor of the B&B asks for their help. She doesn’t want her business to be known as the local haunted house.

Have Sandi and Pete ever been able to turn down a challenge? The request to find the truth has been made and once again they’re reluctantly on a cold case.

Excerpt from Chapter Two (Discussion with Bea, the owner of the Bed & Breakfast):

I reigned in my frustration and set my plans for relaxation aside. Maybe we could work some fun time into our honeymoon. I mean, it could happen.

“Why do you want me to look into this murder?” I hoped she had a good reason.

She did, and it had to do with her proposed livelihood. “This was a notorious murder. You may have heard of it. The victim was a famous actress, and this house was her getaway spot. You must have heard of the Bonnie Singleton murder, right? Um, unfortunately her death was what really made her famous.”

Pete nodded.

It rang a bell with me, but not a very loud one. “Bonnie Singleton? Wasn’t she an actress back in the 1930s?” I watch a lot of old movies and I was sure I’d seen her in at least one of them.

“Yes, and she was known for being sultry and a red hot babe. She was kind of like Jean Harlow or Mae West, or an early Marilyn Monroe.”

Okay, that description made me laugh. Aunt Bea talking about red hot babes?

“So what’s the issue?” Pete set his empty glass on the table.

Bea sat up straighter. “There are those who want to stay here just in case she haunts the house, which she doesn’t. There are others who don’t want to stay here because of the murder. I know there was a murder at your mother’s B&B, but it wasn’t in newspapers all over the country. They’ve even done specials on television about Bonnie’s unsolved murder.”

Ah, there it was. The murder had never been solved. She thought I could figure it out.

She held her hands out, palms up. “Your mother told me stories about you solving cold cases. I’m hoping you’ll do the same for me. I don’t want ghost hunters roaming around the house. I’d like to have guests who come here to unwind and enjoy life – to have fun.”

Pete nodded. “I can understand that.”

“How was she killed?” It was coming back to me slowly. I’d heard the story, but I didn’t remember any of the details.

“She was beaten and stabbed. The story goes that the beating should have killed her – that the stabbing was almost an afterthought.” Bea rubbed her arms, the thought chilling her. “There weren’t too many suspects. Most of them could account for their whereabouts when she died. Others didn’t like her, but didn’t seem to have a motive. And there wasn’t much in the way of evidence. They never found the murder weapon.”

“Do you have anything that might give us some clues?” I asked.

“There are plenty of newspaper articles, and the police must have an old file. I’m sure they’d let you look at it since the crime happened so long ago.

“There was a woman in town who was a little girl when all of this happened. At the time, she and her family lived across the road in a small house, but the house was torn down years ago. She and her brother used to play out here and she made friends with Bonnie. She remembered a little about people who visited the house. She said she remembered the actress as being warm and friendly, and funny. Sadly, she also remembered hearing screams the night of the murder. She passed away a couple of years ago.”

“Did she see anything that night?” Pete crossed his arms across his chest and leaned back, legs stretched out in front of him, looking comfortable. He was once a cop, and he learned to try to put people at ease when possible so they’d talk more.

“You know? I never asked her. I’m sure the police must have, though.”

We’d certainly need more to go on than what Bea had told us so far. “Do you know if the police found any letters? Pictures? Anything that might help?”

“Honestly, there wasn’t actually a police department here until the city was incorporated in the 1950s. From what I understand, it was all farms around here in the old days. I think there were some marshals at that time. You’d have to check. I don’t even know if there are still police records from that time period.” She smiled. “It was a small place and Main Street was pretty much the whole town. Other than that, it was all farms.”

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Website:          http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

Blog:               http://marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

Buy Books:     https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_8?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=marja+mcgraw&sprefix=marja+mc%2Caps%2C1957&crid=1GP76N21NKK1T

Thank you, Evelyn for having me in today.

You’re welcome, Marja. It’s always a pleasure.

Marja and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Denise Rogers – Murderous Emeralds

This week I’m hosting author, Denise Rogers.

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Denise Rodgers spent the first twenty-eight years of her life working in the family jewelry business in Metro Detroit, followed by another more than twenty-something years running a home-based advertising company that catered to (you guessed it!) jewelers around the country. At the same time, she wrote and published two poetry books and a website of funny children’s poetry. Many of her poems have also been published in anthologies and textbooks around the globe. Rodgers’ most recent work, a funny murder mystery series featuring woman sleuth Bella Blumer, takes place in a jewelry store in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. Book one and two are Deadly Diamonds and Murderous Emeralds. A third Jeweltown Murder Mystery cozy, Poison Pearl, is scheduled for early 2018.

While Denise share many traits with her main character, Bella Blumer, this book is in no way autobiographical. She lives in Metro Detroit—near, but not in Royal Oak—with her husband and two small dogs. She has two wonderful grown sons, two beautiful daughter-in-laws, and four amazing grandchildren, all under the age of three!

Cozy Mystery Author Reveals Secret of Life

Years ago, I read an article in Psychology Today that gave the secret of life. Okay, if not the secret of life, the secret of happiness, which is no secret at all. The gist of it was: those who enjoy what they have are happier than those who pine over what’s missing in their lives. It’s so simple it makes you feel like Homer Simpson: Duh-oh!

Because this is the month of Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of appreciating what I have in my life—I thought I’d make a list of things I’m grateful for—in the narrow world of my mystery books.

  1. I’m grateful for my writer’s tools. Like many writers, I’m particular about pen and paper. I like to write in thick, 9.5 x 6.5”, five-subject notebooks, preferably with a firm cardboard backer. I absolutely love gel pens, as well as my pricier fountain pen. And don’t get me started on my MacBook Air (on which I’m writing right now). I love the soft keyboard and the size of the screen, as well as my quick access to the Internet, unless I’m too distractible on a given day, in which case I turn it off.
  1. I’m grateful for my fictional characters. This might sound odd, but it’s so true. It all started with Bella Blumer, the main character of my growing Jeweltown mystery series. They talk about a writer’s voice. Well, I didn’t find my voice, I found Bella’s. Once she started talking about her “lying, cheating, skunk of an ex-husband” in Deadly Diamonds, I knew I had to write to find out what happened to her. And I didn’t even meet Max Fosner (her defense attorney and possible love interest) until I was well into the first book! Now, I love Max. I feel like I know him. And his kids. And Bella’s kids. And on and on. When I’m really into writing, I don’t think. Instead, I actually listen to how these different people/characters talk, because you know we all tend to talk a little differently from one another. And these differences in speech make a big difference when you’re reading a book.
  1. I’m grateful for the way I feel when I’m writing regularly. I feel whole. I feel centered. I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing on this earth. I know I’m not saving lives, but somehow it just feels right. Instead of meditating, I write. I’m sure if you measured my alpha waves, it would show a meditative state while writing.
  1. I’m grateful for the new world of online marketing and publishing. In the old days, which I remember well, you’d do all the work to write and polish your manuscript, and then the real work would begin…contacting agents and editors. At that time, I was writing poetry. It was so hard to get noticed that I didn’t even try writing fiction in earnest till the summer of 2010. That was when I took on a new non-creative job, financial management. Because of this job, I allowed myself to write a mystery novel, even if I had no idea what I was going to do with it, once completed. At that time, I was okay with the open-endedness. I was that burnt out on sending manuscripts to publishers.

Since the online publishing revolution, you can write and edit your work, contract for a cover, get the book formatted, and voila! You’re in the online marketplace. Of course, that’s when the work of marketing your book begins. But from what I’ve read, most authors, even those published by big name New York companies, also have to market their own books. So, thank you, Amazon! And Barnes & Noble. And Kobo. And iTunes.  And CreateSpace, and on and on! I’m grateful for the opportunity to put my words and characters out there. Bella likes the limelight, believe me!

  1. I’m grateful for all the wonderful mystery books out there. Our fifth-grade teachers were right! Good readers make good writers. It doesn’t hurt that I love reading anyway, and would do it for the sheer pleasure of it. However, as a writer, I sometimes step back from the action in a book to see what I’m enjoying, or what I’m not. Every book has a lesson for the active reader/writer.
  1. I’m grateful for my readers! Check out the reviews on my first two books on Amazon—Deadly Diamonds, and Murderous Emeralds. Thankfully, I’ve many more readers than reviews. I’m very thankful for every book sold, and for every person who is inspired to take the time to actually write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I love hearing from readers on Facebook, or via email! So please feel free to write!

This list was easy to compile. I invite you, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to compile your own grateful list.  The truth is, when we concentrate on those things that bring us joy, we tend to notice the joyful things in our lives. The opposite is also true. f you spend a lot of time complaining, even to yourself, you’ll tend to notice more of those annoying things out there. So, get into the spirit of Thanksgiving! Be thankful. Be grateful. Make a list. It might even make you happy!

Murderous Emeralds

It’s fall in Royal Oak, Michigan, just two miles north of the infamous Eight Mile Road, and jewelry designer Bella Blumer is ready to live the good life and leave the drama of last summer behind her. But the good life is not quite ready for Bella. In addition to jumping head first into another murder investigation to help a long-time friend, Bella has to deal with her fabulous boyfriend who wants to marry her—even if the thought of marriage makes her more than slightly nauseous. Add to that the fact that her newly sullen daughter is ignoring her, and her dragon-lady of a stepsister is in town and making life miserable for Bella’s not-so-lovable mother. When the murder investigation reveals one sordid secret after another, Bella has to scramble to find the murderer to save both her friend…and herself.

Excerpt from Murderous Emeralds

As soon as I saw Ollie Gleason walk into our store I knew there was going to be trouble.  He came up to the front counter, a furtive look about him as he spoke to my son, Vic. They were over by the emerald section of our display cases, so at least he wasn’t looking for a diamond again. All hell broke loose the last time he did that.  Call it a sixth sense, but I was pretty sure he wasn’t shopping for his wife and I didn’t like that. I tend to be strongly on the side of the wife in these situations, mostly because lying-cheating scumbags really get on my nerves, if you know what I mean.

I stared at the counter, pretty sure no one would notice me all tucked away in my jewelry studio, off to the side behind my glass door.  The first thing you notice about Ollie is his ridiculous toupee. Ridiculous because he owns the Chevy-Cadillac dealership on Main Street in Royal Oak, so you know he can afford better. He wears a business suit most of the time because he probably thinks the straight lines of the suit cover his fifty-six year-old overweight and misshapen body. It’s a fact that the top half of his body and the bottom just don’t line up. It’s not a good look, but I doubt that there’s much he can do about it short of major surgery or exercise, neither of which is an obvious option.

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Deadly Diamonds: Jeweltown Mystery Book 1

https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Diamonds-Jeweltown-Mystery-Book/dp/0970838220/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1478206606&sr=8-2&keywords=deadly+diamonds

Murderous Emeralds: Jeweltown Mystery Book 2

https://www.amazon.com/Murderous-Emeralds-Jeweltown-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01BUGTC2E/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Facebook:: https://www.facebook.com/denise.rodgers.739

Twitter: @DeniseRmystery

Website: http://www.deniserodgersbooks.com/

Denise and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Kay Kendall – Rainy Day Women

This week, I’m hosting author, Kay Kendall.

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Kay Kendall is an award-winning author of two historical mysteries. Her second book, RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015), won for best mystery and best book at Killer Nashville in August 2016. It is the second in her Austin Starr mystery series, published by Stairway Press. The first was DESOLATION ROW (2013).

History intrigues me. I love reading about how women’s lives have changed throughout history and adore costume dramas in movies and on television. Imagining how my life would have been, for example, as a pioneer wife in south Texas (where I live now) fascinates me.

So, after reading historical fiction for ages and studying lots of history in school, I now write mysteries set in the past. Even if you disliked your own history classes, I try to entertain you as I offer a bit of history as background to my murder plots. If you are caught up in the search for a killer and also grasp a little about the past and how it all led to where we are today, then I am delighted.

Besides, I like to focus on human emotions and motives rather than technical gadgetry to prove who committed a crime. That inclination forces me back to writing about the days before CSI existed. That means that I had no choice but to write historically.

Finally, stories set during wars are ever-popular, and I felt drawn to write about a war period I myself remember, the Vietnam War. The upheaval of the 1960s is still a controversial subject. My first mystery, Desolation Row, introduced my amateur sleuth who is confused by that decade’s rapid social and political change. Heroine Austin Starr is a new bride whose husband is jailed for killing another anti-war activist. She is forced by circumstances to prove his innocence. No one else believes in him, least of all the police.

Austin Starr’s second case is detailed in Rainy Day Women. Her best friend joins a women’s liberation group and becomes the prime suspect when the group’s charismatic leader is killed. The reader goes along with Austin when she visits her first meeting of the feminist group and experiences her surprise at what she finds. This movement has come to be called second wave feminism. The subject is shockingly fresh and topical now. Women’s struggle for equality is all over the news, and many argue it is still not achieved, despite many advances.

Even the titles of the Austin Starr books are suddenly more relevant. That great troubadour is again making headlines now. Will he or won’t he be in Stockholm to receive his Nobel Prize for Literature, come December? Austin Starr would be a grandmother by now, and I am sure she’d be keen to find out the answer to this mystery. She is a fan of Bob Dylan, providing the inspiration for using titles of his songs for my books. Rainy Day Women hints at that mystery’s plot. The murders take place in soggy Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle, Washington, plus the victims are all women’s liberation activists. This is my favorite title. It fits so perfectly.

I hope Rainy Day Women will not only entertain you—but also inform about women’s lives back in the day. The similarities and differences just might surprise you.

Rainy Day Women

Kay Kendall’s Rainy Day Women is the second book in the Austin Starr Mystery series. In 1969, during the week of the Manson murders and Woodstock, the intrepid amateur sleuth, infant in tow, flies across the continent to support a friend suspected of murdering women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Then her former CIA trainer warns that an old enemy has contracted a hit on her. Her anxious husband demands that she give up her quest and fly back to him. How much should Austin risk when tracking the killer puts her and her baby’s life in danger?

Excerpt from chapter five of, Rainy Day Women

On Wednesday afternoon I stood in our tiny living room, surveying the few belongings we’d acquired. The furniture was used and scruffy, but Indian cotton throws added color. Snapshots of Wyatt sat on bookcases made of bricks and boards. Books and papers spilled out of them, and more books were stacked around the room. This felt like home. It was our home. This was the first time I’d be leaving it.

My bags were packed, and soon baby Wy and I would be flying west. The lyrics from Peter, Paul and Mary’s record circled in my head—except, unlike in their tale, I knew I’d be back again soon.

Long distance plane travel had never fazed me. In fact, I loved it. If I started Wy out early, maybe the four-hour flight from Toronto to Vancouver would set him up to be a great little traveler. Then we’d share many more trips with him—on happier occasions. I crossed my fingers.

The early sun filtered through the venetian blinds and lit all the places that I’d not dusted in months. I was fortunate David wasn’t like my friends’ husbands. They didn’t tolerate slovenliness in their wives. My mother’s voice barged into my head, shoved the folksingers aside, and announced, “I trained you better than this, Austin.”

Damn it all, for almost two years I’d lived thousands of miles away from her, and still, still, Mother provided the soundtrack in my brain. She never praised, only admonished. I wished I could turn her off like I could our hi-fi. A shake of my head helped me refocus on the coming trip, but I knew she’d pop up again soon.

David had taken the luggage downstairs to our Volkswagen van, and now his footsteps came clomping down the hall toward our apartment. I plucked Wy from his playpen and shuffled over to open the door for David.

“All set?” he said.

“Right.” I held Wyatt against my shoulder and moved into David’s arms to be held in them one last time before leaving.

“I’m so lucky you’re my husband. Have I ever told you how much I love you?”

A tear ran down my cheek. He wiped it away.

“Not in the last ten minutes.” He kissed Wy on the forehead and me on the lips. Wy took the opportunity to burp.

Spit-up stained my fresh blouse. Shoot.

“Can you hold him please? I’ll clean this off, and then we’d better go.” I handed Wy to David and marched into the kitchen for a wet cloth.

Fifteen minutes later we were driving along the Gardiner Expressway toward Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Wyatt gurgled happily on my lap, strapped into his plastic carrier. I held him tightly. The seat belt wasn’t long enough to stretch across two of us, let alone the carrier. He played with my hand for a few moments before the car’s motion lulled him to sleep.

I reached out and patted David’s arm, feeling like the luckiest girl in, well, at least Toronto. Remorse and guilt nibbled at the edges of my heart because I was about to leave this dear man. At the same time, my heart rejoiced at the coming adventure. The sound of Peter, Paul and Mary singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” swam in my head. Only an act of willpower kept me from humming along.

I hoped the tune I’d sing on my return would be upbeat. Something like “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone would do nicely.

With my free hand I switched on the radio. John Lennon’s wail of “Don’t Let Me Down” stabbed into my stomach and twisted the knife. I shot a sideways glance at David.

At the same time he shifted his eyes from the road to look at me. “You won’t, will you?”

“No, no, I won’t let you down, honey.” I punched the radio buttons, looking for a happier song for my send-off. That Beatles song was a guilt trip. The knife twisted another turn in my gut. Swell, a perfect metaphor for my flight out to help Larissa—guilt trip.

. . . And the story continues.

 

rainydaywomen

Buy links for Rainy Day Women:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rainy-Day-Women-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00W2X5SCS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1476660796&sr=1-1&keywords=rainy+day+women

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rainy-day-women-kay-kendall/1122022299?ean=9781941071175

Website URL: http://AustinStarr.com

Blog URL: http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/2016/09/let-good-times-roll.html < http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/> I blog every third Wednesday of each month.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KayKendallAuthor/  & https://www.facebook.com/kendall.kl

Twitter: @kaylee_kendall

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaykendallmysteries

Kay and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Kathryn J. Bain – Take Her Breath Away

This week, I’m hosting author, Kathryn J. Bain

kathrynbain

Kathryn J. Bain is an award-winning author of Christian, mystery, and suspense, including the Lincolnville Mystery series and KT Morgan short suspense series.

Ms. Bain has garnered several awards, including two Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Awards and a First Place Royal Palm Literary Award for Inspirational Fiction.

A past President of Florida Sisters in Crime and Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors, Kathryn enjoys doing talks and teaching about writing.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida near her daughters and granddaughter. Kathryn has also been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law.

The Unrealism of Christian Fiction

As a Christian author, I hear all the time from readers that they feel Inspirational fiction is unreal. Readers feel when it comes to violence and curse words, because people use them, that Christian fiction falls short.

In some instances, I agree, so I thought it’d be a good idea to break down some of the complaints readers do have.

Readers are correct – Christian authors don’t use curse words. But there are ways we work around that. In Take Her Breath Away, instead of cussing, I use “he released a slew of curse words,” and things along that line. You can also say things like “What he called my Momma at that point wasn’t very nice.” You don’t have to use the word to get the point across. And in fact, it can be better writing to come up with something different. Too many authors these days rely on the “f” word instead of their imagination.

Another complaint is that every character is too nice. That does occur a lot in Christian books. You can usually tell the bad guy because he’s not a Christian whereas the hero and heroine are. I try to make my people real. There are good Christians, and there are people who claim to be Christian who are evil. The same with non-believers. I believe some authors are afraid to write about Christians who sin because they might see themselves a bit deeper than they care to.

In Take Her Breath Away, my couple is trying to repair their marriage after Ty, my hero, had a one-night stand. He’s a Christian man who made a mistake and is now paying for it with the possibility of losing his wife. That’s real life.

Readers also complain that Christian fiction is too sweet with very little violence. Right now, the popular genres in Christian fiction are Amish and Historical. However, edgy Christian is moving up.

Christian fiction doesn’t use a lot of violence, however, we do use suspense. Lately, too many authors confuse shock with suspense. They go into great detail of the violent act with very little lead in. Two big names in the edgy Christian market are NY Times Bestselling Authors Terry Blackstock and Ted Dekker. Blackstock deals with things such as drug abuse and child trafficking, while Dekker writes serial killer books. I tend to write more toward the edgy realm also.

The final complaint is the lack of realism in Christian books. True, but couldn’t the same argument be made of other books, including romance? Most have the hero and heroine disliking each other from the start, yet within one week, and a wild night of sex, they’ve fallen in love.

But, the point of fiction is to escape. Romance readers want men who are sexier than the one they have at home. Christian readers are no different. We just want them to be either Christian or heading in that direction.

We read fiction to delve into a world different than our own. Christian readers have the same worries and concerns as anyone else. We read fiction for escapism also. The only difference is we want Biblical scripture in our books.

Take Her Breath Away

Rayleene Davenport’s world turns upside down when she learns of her husband’s one-night stand. They eventually separate, but when she receives a call that he’s been shot, she rushes to him. After discovering someone placed a hit on him, she decides to help him recuperate in Lincolnville, Georgia. Can she rebuild the trust lost before a killer ends their reunion for good?

One mistake has grown into a nightmare for Ty Davenport. He’s on the verge of losing the one person he loves most in the world, his wife, Rayleene. During his recuperation, they start to grow closer again, however, a killer in the shadows comes out of hiding. And Ty soon discovers Rayleene is hiding a painful secret that can do more to destroy their marriage than any killer’s weapon.

Here is an excerpt from, Take Her Breath Away.

1

The rancid smell of garbage coated the Atlanta, Georgia air to the point Ty Davenport could almost taste the spoiled lettuce at his feet.

He was getting too old for this.

He stood between the dumpster and the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, the Glock secured in the waistband of his jeans. Every nerve in his body told him this deal might blow up in his face. Lack of a Kevlar vest didn’t help, but Hector Jones didn’t deal with people who wore them for fear of coming up against a cop.

The black Lexus IS 250 pulled up. Three men inside. Hector got out of the backseat. His two comrades followed his lead, one got out from the driver’s side, the other from the front passenger door. Under all their jackets, clearly, they had Kevlar vests.

What the… Ty’s stomach knotted. Too late to change things now without looking suspicious.

The old dilapidated buildings in the warehouse district gave no sense of security. Revitalization was occurring blocks away. Of course, no one worked construction on a Sunday.

His eyes darted in every direction. He scanned his surroundings. The best escape route would be out the alley on the bike. Potholes slowed most cars. Too bad the same couldn’t be said of bullets.

He mentally shook the thought from his mind.

Instead, he turned his focus to the new guy, Michael Ware, stooped down at the corner of the building. His job was to make sure no one, like some poor homeless guy looking for a place to sleep, came along and screwed up the case.

Hector’s two comrades waited next to the Lexus. All three scrawny drug dealers looked as though they were still in their early twenties. Nothing stood out about two of the three men to get them noticed in a crowd. But the driver had a scar down the length of his left cheek.

Who’d he tick off to get such a reminder? No one brandished any weapons, but each man knew the others were armed. The nature of the drug world. Guns and death. “So, you got the money?” Hector asked.

“You got the stuff?” Ty pushed back a couple strands of hair that had come loose from the camo bandana on his head. He looked at Michael, whose bald head nodded the go-ahead. “I got it.” Hector jerked his head in the direction of the car.

“Is it the good stuff?” Ty asked.

“Test it if you’d like.” Hector pulled a small plastic bag of white powder from his pocket. “Just a sample of what’s in the others.” Ty reached for a vial of an acid compound in his shirt pocket. He inserted a tiny spoon into the bag given to him. Then he scooped a sample of the powder and shook it into the solution. From the purple color, definitely an opiate.

“Well?” The drug dealer’s smile showed perfect white movie-star teeth.

A flock of geese squawked overhead, heading home for the evening. They all looked up. Once the birds had passed, Ty reached over and flipped open one of the saddlebags on his bike. The bulky manila envelope got stuck for a second, so he had to force it out. Hector turned to the scar-faced guy who pulled out a shopping bag from the back seat and walked over to them. The guy held the bag in a gloved hand, a sneer on his face. Ty took the package and handed over the envelope. Heroin for one hundred grand.
“Nice doing business with you.” Hector walked back and slid into the backseat of his Lexus. “Let me know when —”

Bang. Pain exploded down Ty’s leg. He hit the ground before the second shot got off. From the sound, a rifle.

The Lexis spun a circle, spraying gravel and debris. Ty slid around the dumpster away from the gunshots. He looked over at Michael who held his position a few feet away behind the water barrier. He shook his head, and then glanced around, waiting.

Clink. A bullet bounced off the dumpster where Ty had been standing.

Who? What the…? Where was backup? Too many questions with no answers.

Sirens sounded. Loud voices followed footsteps. DEA agent Ignacio Howard stuck his head around the corner of the building. He looked in all directions. After a second, he rushed over. He pulled out a knife from his pocket and cut open Ty’s jeans.

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My Review

Ty and Rayleene, a couple whose marital life has been shattered by infidelity, are living apart. But when Ty’s job as an undercover DEA agent gets him shot, Rayleene rushes to his side to help him heal. Together, they solve the mystery of why someone has put a hit out on him, and work hard to get their marriage back to where it once was. While it’s an important part of the story, there is so much more to this romance, mystery/ thriller. It grabs you right from the first page, and makes the book hard to put down. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it. I know I did.

Buy links for Take Her Breath Away

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Take-Breath-Away-Lincolnville-Mystery/dp/1537331884/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476046602&sr=1-1&keywords=take+her+breath+away+bain

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/take-her-breath-away-kathryn-j-bain/1124480960?ean=9781537331881

Website URL: www.kathrynjbain.com

Blog URL: www.kathrynjbain.com

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/Kathryn-J-Bain-248456325239552/

Kathryn and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Marilyn Meredith – Seldom Traveled

Today, I’m hosting one of my favorite mystery authors, Marilyn Meredith.

Me and Hap in church.

 

Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains. She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

WISHING MY FRIENDS AND I AGED AS SLOWLY AND AS EASILY AS MY CHARACTERS

In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, Tempe and her family have aged, but at a much slower pace than we do in real life. When the series began, Tempe was in her early thirties with a teenaged son, Blair. I’ve never mentioned her husband Hutch’s age, but he’s only a bit older than Tempe.

Blair has now completed college, works as a fireman for the Los Osos Fire Department, and he married in Not as it Seems.

Though Tempe and Hutch have experienced some rocky places in their marriage, neither has faced any major illnesses or accidents.

Not so with my friends and relatives or myself. In fact, I’ve reached the age where I’ve lost some dear friends, and others have experienced major family and health problems. I’m blessed to still have my husband and four of my five children, but we’ve gone through a lot together.

On the plus side, hubby and I still have each other after many years of marriage, and we’ve been able to enjoy not only many grandchildren, but also great-grandkids.

Because I love writing about Tempe and her family, I’m glad the aging process for her has been slow. She’s still young enough and healthy enough to do her job as a deputy. In fact in this latest tale, besides being mentally challenged by trying to solve a murder, she is also physically challenged several times.

I’m thankful I’m still healthy enough to keep writing about Tempe and her adventures, even if I have aged at the normal pace.

Marilyn

Seldom Traveled

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

Seldom Traveled Front Cover

http://fictionforyou.com

http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

New Contest:

Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

Follow me over to http://drusbookmusing.com/ tomorrow.

 Buy Directly from the publisher in all different formats:

http://mundania.com/book.php?title=Seldom+Traveled

 

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Katherine Prairie – Thirst

This week, I’m hosting author, Katherine Prairie.

Katherine Prairie v2

Katherine, a geologist and IT specialist, stepped away from the international petroleum industry to follow her passion for writing. An avid traveller with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat.

She is an award-winning presenter and the author of the thriller THIRST.

I often say that I like to work in the gray area between black and white, the fuzzy zone where the clear choice between right and wrong is less than clear. My thriller Thirst is peppered with situations that challenge my protagonist Alex Graham and my villain alike. But as I swirled my brush against my watercolour paints to find the perfect shade for my colouring book cat, I started thinking about this differently.

If you dip your watercolour brush in pure indigo blue, the result is intense colour. Add water and almost every shade from dark blue to the faintest tint of blue is possible. Mix in a second colour and everything changes, and if you combine too many colours, it becomes muddy.

Motives and personality traits are much the same. A single strong motive is like indigo blue – intense, dark and deep. But water dilutes the motive, allowing you to create a spectrum, with each shade delivering different behaviour and decisions. Consider greed, which in its most intense form can result in armed robbery, and in its more watered down form might drive a person to eat a whole cheesecake. Both actions are driven by the same intense desire, but one is far more dark than the other.

Add a second trait, a second motive, like fear and the colour changes, opening up even more possible choices. A man, desperate to feed his family might resort to robbery, yet someone with strong greed might fear prison enough to not commit the crime at all – it depends on which emotion or motive is strongest.

When enough traits come together, the colours mix and become murky, making it difficult to determine the dominant motive. But isn’t that what real life is like? There are times when fear is the only thing we feel, and we recoil or change direction immediately. Step off a curb and have a horn honk at you, and most of us will turn back. But I’ve seen men and women stop and stare-down the car, thumping their fist on the hood, angrily shouting at the driver. For them, anger and righteousness come through the strongest in that moment.

I work up detailed character profiles for every major character in my thrillers. Upbringing, religious beliefs, childhood friends, hobbies, closely held secrets –basically everything that might make a person “tick”.  As I write, the profile changes and becomes richer, as though I’m adding other colours to create a complex personality, and more water to push behaviour and motive further along the spectrum.

Sometimes my characters surprise me. Even though I believe their personality and motives will drive them to act in a certain way, they resist. It’s because there’s something about the portrait I’ve built that suggests that in that split-second, the character would take a different path. And when that happens, it’s magic.

The advantage of letting your characters drive plot is that they can take you places you hadn’t considered. After all, as authors we too have our own colours. We’re playing out an imaginary story, but there will always be an aspect of our personality within. When a story is too-closely plotted out at the beginning before work has begun, there’s no room for this kind of exploration. It’s like a paint-by-number landscape where each tiny piece of canvas is destined to be filled by a specific colour. Yet if you take away the numbering and let yourself freely decide on each colour, the work can be magnificent.

There are authors who can take away the outlines completely, working with a blank canvas that allows them complete flexibility as they work. That too can be dangerous because unless you have a clear picture in mind, you can end up with an abstract piece of art. While such work can be beautiful, it is often open to personal interpretation, something that isn’t always successful in a novel where your words and plot must guide your reader to visualize the story.

So I’m stepping out from the gray area, to stand firmly in the full spectrum of colour in all its shades. I’ve probably been there all along considering that black and white are often seen as opposite ends of the colour band. But somehow knowing that I have more colours to work with than shades of gray has changed how I think about my characters. My geologist, Alex Graham will never be the same!

Excerpt from the start of the Thirst.

  Alex Graham knew when to be afraid.

Her pulse quickened at the distant low-pitched whistle that warned of yet another rising wind gust far above her tent. She held her breath and listened for the sound to die off, for the wind to settle. But a mournful howl signaled the wind’s plunge over the jagged granite peaks into the narrow valley she called home.

Eyes tightly shut, she clenched her sleeping bag tight beneath her chin. Massive boughs shook as the high-speed downdraft lashed at towering evergreens that lined the lower reaches of the steep rock face. The rattle of thousands of aspen leaves whipped into frenzied movement betrayed the wind’s push across the valley floor.

It wouldn’t be long now.

Thirst cover

www.katherineprairie.com

www.facebook.com/katherine.prairie

www.twitter.com/authorprairie

Buy links for Thirst:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thirst-Katherine-Prairie-ebook/dp/B019RC0YQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468433630&sr=8-1&keywords=thirst+prairie

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thirst-katherine-prairie/1123763867?ean=9780994937704

Katherine and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a message.

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Christa Nardi – Murder In The Theater

Today I’m hosting mystery author, Christa Nardi

ChristaHeadshot1

MURDER IN THE THEATER 

by Christa Nardi

The drama program has never been so dramatic.

It’d be the season to be jolly if only someone hadn’t set the stage for murder. When a student is arrested for the crime, Professor Sheridan Hendley is cast in the role of amateur sleuth. Tensions run high, friendships are strained, and the college administration is beginning to panic. As the plot thickens Sheridan is yet again drawn deeper into danger. Will she find the truth before the final curtain call?

Cold Creek Series Book 4, Murder in the Theater by Christa Nardi, is another great cozy mystery.

 

AMAZON  Books in the Cold Creek Series
MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE
MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM
MURDER AT THE GRILL
MURDER IN THE THEATER

For more information on the Cold Creek Series:  

http://christanardi.blogspot.com/p/cold-creek-series.html

https://www.facebook.com/ColdCreekSeries/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Excerpt from Chapter 4 MURDER IN THE THEATER

Soon the sounds of Phantom of the Opera wafted into the kitchen. By the time dinner was ready and on the table, I found Brett asleep on the couch with Charlie curled up on his lap. Charlie immediately jumped up when she saw me causing Brett to stir.

“Dinner?” He rubbed his hand over his face and sat forward. He looked like he hadn’t slept while he was in Altavista.

I smiled and reached out my hand. “Ready and waiting.”

I knew better than to ask about the case and didn’t want to share Max’s theory in case it put Brett on the spot. That limited topics for conversation. I had just broached the topic of Thanksgiving again when the doorbell rang.

“Expecting anybody?”

I shook my head and went to the door. Charlie beat me to the door and Brett followed behind me. I looked through the peephole and commented, “It’s Marty.”

I noted Brett’s jaw working but didn’t understand the sudden tension. I opened the door.

“Hi Marty. Come on in. What’s up? Are you okay?”

Marty looked a mess. An attorney, Marty Cohn most often dressed for court even when walking on the college campus. A suit, dress shirt, and tie, all perfectly pressed comprised his standard uniform. Tonight, though, his shirt was half untucked and both his shirt and pants looked like he’d slept in them. His jacket was nowhere in sight. His eyes were heavy and bloodshot – a perfect match to Brett’s. If I didn’t know Marty better, I’d have wondered if he had been on a bender.

Marty didn’t answer. He glared at Brett who stared back at him. Charlie picked up on the tension and emitted a low growl. As if on cue, the crescendo from the Phantom played. The animosity between them was palpable but I didn’t understand it. I felt helpless to diffuse the situation.

“Someone want to fill me in?”

“You want to tell her, DETECTIVE? Or should I?” Marty shouted, his face flushed and his hands clenched. Charlie growled again and I spoke softly to her to calm her. I shifted my gaze to Brett with trepidation.

“Leave her out of this Marty. She has nothing to do with it. You have to know I didn’t take any pleasure in this process. It would have gone down the same.”

“If it has nothing to do with me, then why is he here?”

I looked from Brett to Marty and back again. Marty didn’t answer and he didn’t move a muscle. It was déja vu from when I worked in a residential treatment center with teenage boys facing off over some perceived slight.

“Nobody wants to talk? Then how about we all sit down. Marty, we were eating dinner, can I fix you a plate? Get you something to drink?”

He fizzled out and slithered into the armchair, rubbing his hands over the stubble on his face. Another first. In the six months I’d known Marty, he’d never needed a shave.

Brett turned and went back into the kitchen. I followed. I looked at him with raised eyebrows silently asking him what was going on. He shook his head ever so slightly and got down another plate. Between us, we got the food and wine for all of us out to where Marty still sat, head in hands.

Brett handed Marty a glass of wine. “Here, you need this.”

Marty looked up, opened his mouth but no words came out. He took the glass of wine and then the plate and utensils I handed him. Brett and I sat on the couch with our plates, our glasses of wine nearby. Charlie sat at attention between Marty and Brett in guard mode.

I kept shifting my gaze from one man to the other for some hint as we ate. Nobody said a word and the tension remained. Marty picked at his food initially, then cleaned his plate without even looking up. I wondered when he had last eaten.

When all the plates were clean, I asked if anyone wanted more. Both men shook their heads in silence. I picked up the plates and took them to the kitchen. The sound score from Phantom was the only sound other than my heels clicking on the kitchen tile.

I rejoined the men. Neither said a word. I looked to Brett as he seemed more in control and asked again, “Could someone fill me in please?”

“What have you heard about the case in Altavista today, Sher?”

I glanced at Marty, not sure where this was going.

“The last I heard was someone had been brought in for questioning and an arrest was expected. That was early this afternoon. I haven’t checked since and didn’t catch the news tonight.”

“Isaac Waxman was arrested for the murder of William Thompson. Waxman is Marty’s nephew.”

My jaw dropped as I shifted my attention to Marty. I glanced back to Brett once the realization sunk in.

“Were you the arresting officer?”

Brett exhaled and pulled his hands through his curly hair, a sure sign he was stressed.

“I assisted in the investigation and was present when he was initially questioned and when he was arrested. For all intents and purposes, this is still local jurisdiction. The Altavista Police Chief officially made the arrest. Waxman is scheduled for arraignment in two days.”

He hesitated before he added, “One other thing, Sher. Isaac is a sophomore at Cold Creek College. He’s in Fine Arts.”

Brett held my gaze and I felt the tension rise as my eyes opened wider. Marty still didn’t say anything and his head was back in his hands. We sat there for a few more minutes in silence.

Please feel free to leave a comment. Christa and I would love to hear from you, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win some great prizes.

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Gerrie Ferris Finger – American Nights

Today I’m welcoming back author, Gerrie Ferris Finger.

Gerrie for newspaper

Gerrie Ferris Finger won The Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Minotaur Best First Traditional Novel for THE END GAME, published by St. Martin’s on April 27, 2010. The second in the series, THE LAST TEMPTATION, was released July 2012 from Five Star. Five Star also released the third in the series, THE DEVIL LAUGHED, in 2013.

Gerrie grew up in Missouri then went South to write for The Atlanta Constitution. She traveled the Tobacco Roads of Georgia and Alabama and the narrow, historic streets of New Orleans. She wrote about Natchez, Mississippi’s unique history, Florida’s diverse population, and the Outer Banks struggle to keep light houses from toppling into the sea. Visits to Cape Hatteras resulted in her historical paranormal, THE GHOST SHIP.

WHISPERING, a romance, is set on one of Georgia’s barrier islands.

Three books in the Laura Kate O’Connell Plantation Series were set in southwest Georgia’s plantation region. They are: WHEN SERPENTS DIE, HONORED DAUGHTERS and WAGON DOGS.

MERCILESS is the first in her novella series. HEARTLESS is the second.

How Fiction Explores Personal and Moral Questions.

I’ve been thinking about how fiction explores personal and moral questions. In other words the characters’ character. Critics, reviewers and readers quickly pick up on lack of character development. And are quick to tell us so.

If protagonists don’t show pluck and have a set of morals, readers will put aside the story before it begins to bore completely. Sometimes it’s easier and more fun to create antagonists to play bad guy in order to foil the convictions and actions of the heroes and heroines. This back and forth throughout the plot keeps a reader turning pages. The little showdowns and then the denouement showing convictions in action, creates tension—in real life and in its fictional counterpart.

Lack of personal character is evident often at page one because the characters themselves lay on the page like paper dolls. (This is also likely by “telling” not “showing” the characters in thought and in action, but I digress). By page ten there had better be some backbone in the protags. Giving them great names and listing their hair and eye color is all good, but from the jump they need attitudes and opinions shown in their interactions. Take a by-the-book judge who comes up against a delinquent teenager boy that makes him reminisce for his dead son. When personal positions come up against an opposing dilemma, what’s the character to do? The judge can stick to his mind-set, or he can cave and live with the outcome played out in the fictional plot. Where there’s the hope of redemption, there’s also the reality of regret.

In an old story, “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, Sylvia, a young girl, is devoted to birds and animals. Then she meets and falls for a male ornithologist. She has to make an ethical decision about her beliefs and loyalties when the young man wants to kill and stuff the rare bird. Jewett resolves the conflict beautifully.

Genre will influence the attitudes your characters have and the actions they take. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense explore fairness and fists. Even plots are devised around justice for the good. The very idea of certain plots present moral dilemmas. Some people find serial killer plots personally repugnant. I don’t necessarily care to be in a killer’s head. We know his monstrous deeds by the resolve of those fighters-against-evil who go after him/her.

In other plots, murder changes everyone’s attitudes. In Val McDermid’s, A Place of Execution, certain judgments enacted impact the morals of all other characters—cops, citizens, etc.—kept hidden for thirty-five years. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, on the other hand, has no problem handling miscreants. His code is to wipe them out wherever and whenever he meets them. We like Jack Reacher for his inflexible moral posture.

Love, romance and relationship stories contain themes of loyalty and betrayal. Is it right and moral to tell the truth and possibly ruin your relationship? What if the would-be groom goes out on his last night free and meets up with a girl friend of both he and his fiancé? They have a one-night stand which leaves him feeling guilty. Should he tell his bride the truth because they’ve vowed never to keep secrets from one another? Or not, and hope the girlfriend keeps her mouth shut for the rest of their lives? Or a tale of two lovers: the woman wants a child, but the man does not. She’s pregnant.

Fantasy, myth and science fiction explore issues of consciousness, humanity and self-awareness. Is the environment ours to do with as we please? Should animals, computers, trees have the  same rights as humans? Do we, in fact, have free will? A vampire swears he will not bite an adolescent, but one girl wants to become a vampire and live forever. He’d like her to be with him forever, but vampire life isn’t always that great.

Whatever the plot, make your characters interact within their personal and moral codes.

Gerrie Ferris Finger

AmericanNights

AMERICAN NIGHTS – 6th in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake thriller series.

Saudi Arabian prince Husam al Saliba hires Moriah Dru, a PI specializing in
tracing missing children, to find his missing wife, NASA scientist Reeve
Cresley, and daughter, Shahrazad (Shara). The prince strikes Dru as charming but
not believable, and his tale of falling in love with Reeve, turning his back on
his kingdom for the woman he loves, and his king’s disapproval of him marrying
sounds like a fairy tale. After all the prince is known to be a great
storyteller and is partial to reciting tales from the Arabian Nights. The
investigation has just begun when Reeve’s parents, Lowell and Donna Cresley, who
did not seem suitably disturbed that Reeve and Shara are missing, are killed.
Dru soon discovers that nobody in this tale is what they seem. Then she finds
out all have something dreadful to hide.

The villains always know where they stand with Dru and Lake.

www.gerrieferrisfinger.com
Email: gfinger@mindspring.com
Blog: www.gerrieferrisfinger.blogspot.com
www.crimewritersblog.blogspot.com

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