Monday, March 31, 2014

Murder Comes Ashore - Julie Anne Lindsey

by Julie Anne Lindsey

Big thanks to the Stiletto Gang for allowing me to stop over and share a snip of my new release with you. I hope the excerpt makes you smile. If it does, and you’d like to read more of my newest release, Murder by the Seaside, leave a comment for the Julie or the Gang.
Giveaway: One commenter will be chosen at random to receive books one and two in the series. (Hey, I hate started a series in the middle. You need both, right? Of course you do!) 

Enjoy the teaser from my fun new Carina Press cozy series!

Murder Comes Ashore

"Look.” I smacked Sebastian’s arm.

Sebastian turned to look and I darted past him. His footfalls kept pace with mine, allowing me to maintain the lead when he could easily have passed me. I waded into the grasses, waving my arms overhead to keep the gulls at bay.

"Told you I could help.” In a moment of gloating, I lost sight of the evidence. A seagull honked and dove at me. I jumped back on instinct and fell into the sand. A wilted reed of grass rammed up my nose and I screamed. Sneezing bug eggs and cooties, I scrambled to my feet and chased the offending bird across the sand. Two more birds joined him in the air and attacked. Whatever they all wanted, it was flesh colored and I wanted it too.

Sebastian shoved two fingers in his lips and whistled. Fargas jogged toward me, a look of shock on his face. Yeah, yeah. How’d I get here? I pointed to the sky. “They’ve got something.

The birds circled in the air, stretching the thing in their beaks and flapping with vigor.

"Should I shoot them?” Fargas called to Sebastian.

A mob of birders appeared from the trees like magic. “No!”

“What the hell?” Sebastian frowned.

“They were probably here all night looking for owls or something.” I rolled my eyes.
Fargas unholstered his side arm and the birders started closing in, cell phones at arm’s length, digitally capturing the chaos.

"Do not shoot that bird!” A wild scream broke out above the other voices. A woman in hip waders and a dirty shirt charged Fargas.

I tossed shells at the birds circling overhead. “I can’t hit them!” Frustration burst from my chest in a growl. “Stop!” I screamed at the birds.

Fargas toppled into the sand beside me, crushed beneath the rampaging woman. Her giant binoculars bounced off his forehead and he went limp.

“Aw, hell.” Sebastian groaned. He scooped a handful of rocks from the sand and pulled his arm back.

A shower of feathers burst above me and a bird fell from the sky. The others squawked complaints, but headed out to sea. I ran for the grounded bird and yanked the skin from his beak. He flapped his wings and waddled in a daze across the sand.

“You monster! You hit that bird with a rock! Murderer!” The woman climbed off Fargas and headed for Sebastian, who dropped his remaining rocks in favor of cuffs and badge. She raised her fists and Sebastian spun her around, cuffing her and reciting her rights.

I flipped the fleshy prize in my hands, struggling to make sense of what the birds had worked so hard to keep. I tugged and squeezed the thing, looking past the damage done from multiple bird beaks. Realization dawned. My tummy lurched.

“Ahh!” The scream that ripped loose from my chest was Oscar-worthy. I dropped the thing and ran in a tiny circle, unsure which way to go for bleach and a fast hand-removal surgery. I rubbed my palms over the seat of my pants until they hurt.
Sebastian finished reading Waders her rights.

A line of EMTs-turned-beachcombers surrounded Fargas. One checked his vitals. One followed the waddling bird and radioed the park ranger for assistance. We had two head injuries, six EMTs and no ambulance. I marched in big, knee-to-my-chest steps, trying not to think of the thing I would never forget. Ever. Ever. Ever.

I covered my eyes with one hand. The one without lifelong cooties. With the other hand, I pointed to the item saved from the seagulls. “The victim is not a woman!”
Murder Comes Ashore

Patience Price is just settling into her new life as resident counselor on Chincoteague Island when things take a sudden turn for the worse. A collection of body parts have washed up on shore and suddenly nothing feels safe on the quaint island.

Patience instinctively turns to current crush and FBI special agent Sebastian for help, but former flame Adrian is also on the case, hoping that solving the grisly crime will land him a win in the upcoming mayoral election.

When the body count rises and Patience's parents are brought in as suspects, Patience is spurred to begin her own investigation. It's not long before she starts receiving terrifying threats from the killer, and though she's determined to clear her family's name, it seems the closer Patience gets to finding answers, the closer she comes to being the killer's next victim.



 About Julie:
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.

Murder Comes Ashore is a sequel in her new mystery series, Patience Price, Counselor at Large, from Carina Press.

Note: Cover Art 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Learn About Julie at:

The road to social media before it became social media

June 1995
That’s the year I joined AOL and discovered the AMC bulletin board, where the talks were about our favorite Daytime soap opera, All My Children. Pretty soon, we started getting personal showing concerns for our fellow friends and as a result, the Personal Posters board was born and thus the group became AMC PPers.

A month later, a group of 22 AOL AMC Personal Posters and friends traveled by trains, planes, automobiles and the subway from Florida, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and Brooklyn to meet for the first time in New York City for an AMC PPer reunion.

The highlight of this reunion was a tour of All My Children's studio. There we met the cast, saw them tape a segment and later had an autograph session where we were able to talk with the cast as well. While we were there, there was an ABC photographer and a reporter from Soap Opera Digest. We all got a copy of the show's script and an advance issue of Soap Opera Digest. Later in the year, our visit to the All My Children studio was published in Soap Opera Digest along with the group photo. Click HERE to see article. In 1996, we had a second reunion in NYC and this time we took a tour of the editorial offices of Soap Opera Digest.

That would be the first of many PPer reunions/trips we embarked. We traveled to Chicago (1996), Richmond (1996), New England (1996), New York City (1996), Vermont (1996), Chicago (1997), Washington DC (1997), South Beach (1998), Caribbean Cruise (1998), Boston (1998), Virginia Beach (1998), Los Angeles (1998), Orange CT (1998), Seattle (1999), Seattle (2000), Chicago (2000), Virginia Beach (2000), San Francisco (2000) and Las Vegas (2006). All in all, we had a blast hanging out with each other.

Then the AOL bubble burst with many changes to their platform and finally they removed the bulletin boards and AOL was no longer our social media.

September 2003
I discovered blogs; author blogs, which led to socializing on friend’s blog. I also had my own personal blog where I talked about life in general, my participation in activities and events. At one point, I read or interacted with 100+ blogs learning all I could about an author’s work and also got snippets of their daily lives. Blogs are still around but not as proliferate as they once were. That changed when MySpace and Facebook entered the social media arena.

July 2008
I started a new blog using Wordpress to keep a journal of the books I read. I enjoyed talking about my books and that is when I learned “review” etiquette—don’t give too much detail about a book. In the beginning I was rating the books, but not I choose not to because it’s my opinion and no one else’s.

That’s the year I joined Facebook. And this time we can virtually have one-on-one conversations with our favorite authors. It was heavenly to read their status and learn about their latest book from them as opposed to a page on their website. It was also there that I discovered that I could help authors get the word out on their books. That is where a chat with an author propelled me to attend my first Malice Domestic Convention.

Guess what? Some of the AMC PPers were on FB and lo and behold the Classic PPers were reborned.

May 2009
Twitter – 140 characters – need to have constant eyes to follow all the tweets and retweets. It's good if you know how to write captions to get your message across.  I use it mainly to plug my blog postings for my “A Day in the Life” feature. My first tweet was  "learning how to "compute" using SPSS and I got it"

August 2011
The feature “A Day in the Life” first appeared on dru’s book musing. I always wanted to know what a protagonist's day was like and just that snippet gives you some insight into the character and the book. I’m having so much fun reading all that the characters have to say and I

August 2012
Joined Goodreads – was using it a lot and then there were some discord among the other users, so I just took a break from it.

Other Social Media
Google + - didn’t like it.
Pinterest – got bored

So to Fran, Ida, Blanche, Liz, Risa, Jamie, Laura, Irene, Cheryl, Hilary, Anne-Marie, Karen, Ann, Marci, Julie, Gretchen, Peggy, Beverly, Beth, Cori, Jill, Amy, and anyone else I left out, thanks for being my foray into social media.

A special thanks to Blanche H. for her suggestion for this topic.

So how did you arrive at your social media outlet?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Comparing the Thoughts of Three Mardi Gras Murder Short Story Authors

The different ways authors work is intriguing and educational.  While reading the thirteen stories included in Mardi Gras Murder, a short story anthology published by Mystery and Horror LLC, I wondered if the other authors had approached their crime themed stories as I did when writing Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! To answer my questions, I contacted Harriette Sackler – Queen of the King Cakes and Sarah Glenn – Red Beans and Ricin.

1.  Tell me a plot teaser about your Mardi Gras Murder story:

Harriette:  Queen of the King Cakes is about a young woman who is determined to fulfill her dream of achieving success in an area she is most passionate about.   However, one decision changes the course of her life.

Sarah:  In Red Beans and Ricin, private eye Lana Fisher’s red beans take the blame when the guests at a Cajun potluck fall ill.  When the hostess dies, Lana must clear her name.

Debra:  Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! focuses on the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Tribe parades and traditions.  This story of redemption is set post Katrina.
Harriette Sackler

2.  How did you get the idea and come to write your short story?

Harriette:  I find that somehow, my stories just come to me.  Some of them are based on observations or incidents that have stuck in my mind over time.  This story actually revolves around a woman who lived on our block when I was a little girl and the wonderful times I spent with my grandmother who shared a passion similar to my protagonist.

Sarah:  I started with the notion of Fat Wednesday, because I belonged to a group that celebrated it for the same reasons J.  When I mentioned setting a mystery during Mardi Gras to a friend, he said, “Red beans and ricin?” which was just perfect.

Debra:  I saw an open call for short stories for a Mardi Gras anthology.  Not knowing much about Mardi Gras events, I started researching different parades. When I found historical info about how the offspring of slaves and Indians created alternate parade activities, my imagination ran wild – especially in light of the aftermath of Katrina.

3.  Did you need to do research for the story?

Harriette:  Yes.  I did research for this story.  I read about the history of King Cakes, the geography of New Orleans, and the Louisiana penal system.

Sarah:  Yes.  I was afraid that the FBI or some such would investigate my online searches, but I would have to get in line.  There are a number of Breaking Bad fan sites now that reference ricin.  I also wrote Luci Zahray, the Poison Lady, about possible methods of introducing the ricin.  Gwen Mayo helped me with the method I finally chose.  Won’t divulge that part, since it’s a spoiler.

Debra H. Goldstein
Debra:  I read everything I could find on Mardi Gras Indian tribe parades, the routes they use, and the special way the tribes communicate so that I could make my story realistic.  Because I have not spent much time in New Orleans, I contacted two friends who are natives to find out about schools, streets, parishes, and other physical landmarks so my setting would be accurate.

Our stories are very different.  Two of us use a prompt or research idea to stimulate our imagination while things flow for the third writer, but no matter how we approach our writing, we utilize research skills and personal memories.  The attention we give to details brings our stories alive for readers.  The result, in this case, is the Mardi Gras Murder anthology that offers something for everyone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Harriette Sackler serves as Grants Chair of the Malice Domestic Board of Directors. She is a past Agatha Award nominee for Best Short Story for “Mother Love,” Chesapeake Crimes II. “Fishing for Justice,” appeared in the Sisters in Crime-Guppies anthology, Fishnets.  “Devil’s Night,” can be found in All Hallows’ Evil,” a Mystery and Horror, LLC anthology.  “Thanksgiving with a Turkey,” appeared in a Shaker of Margaritas: a Bad Hair Day; and “The Factory,” was published in Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder.

Harriette is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime-Chesapeake Chapter, and the Guppies. She lives in the D.C. suburbs with her husband and their three pups and spends a great deal of time as Vice President of her labor of love: House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary. She is a proud mom and grandmother.  Visit Harriette at: .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah Glenn  has a degree in journalism. She spent a few years as a grad student in Classical Languages. She generally writes in the mystery and horror genres. Gwen Mayo and Sarah started Mystery and Horror LLC in 2011, after each had a novel published by another publisher.  Sarah's most recent non-MAHLLC publication was in Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks, an anthology from the Speed City chapter of Sisters in Crime. She co-wrote The Odds Are Always Uneven with Gwen Mayo, featuring characters from a novel they are writing together.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Debra H. Goldstein is the author of 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan's campus in the 1970's.  Harlequin Worldwide Mystery will be featuring Maze in Blue as an April 2014 book of the month. In addition to the recently published Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! in Mardi Gras Murder, Debra's Early Frost short story will be included in the April 2014 Birmingham Arts Journal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Group Disaster or Group Gold?

by Bethany Maines

One of my latest writing projects is writing a joint project with my writers group of three friends. I’ve met several people who have done co-writing (the Stiletto Gang’s very own Evelyn David, for instance), but as far as I can tell a group novel is either extremely rare or just not done.  As my group of friends struggled our way through the initial phases of just how we were going to do this thing, I could definitely see why it was so rare.  It’s hard.  We all have different interests, different levels of time available, and different views of how work should progress.

My initial instinct was to treat the whole thing rather like one of my work projects.  So the first thing I did in this oh, so creative of projects was to create a spreadsheet.  I assigned jobs, estimated hours, traced what I thought was a likely work-flow, and estimated costs.  Some of the group were much relieved by this gridded representation of a future novel.  One of us was horrified.  It was if I had taken her writing butterfly and shoved a pin through it.  The idea of scheduling and circumscribing writing and creativity into neat little boxes was repugnant to her.  Not to mention the fact that it meant that one of her friends would now be her “boss” – telling her when to get pages done and nagging her during what she thought of as her escape.  And then we started emailing each other about our concerns (most of us don’t live next to each other) and it got even worse.  How could four people who are relatively competent at the written word communicate so badly?   I’m still not sure, but we managed it.  But things rebounded once we talked in person or on the phone.  It’s amazing the amount of difference that vocal inflections and facial expressions make.

So, here we are, on the verge of starting our project – we’re still friends and we think we have a system and a plot mapped out.  Now comes the interesting part – the writing.  I’ll keep you posted as to how this experiment goes!  With any luck we can churn out a compelling mystery and still like each other at the end.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Award Nominations

It’s the time of year that award nominations start sprouting for books published in 2013. All kinds of awards. And every single time one is announced, nominees say the same thing: “It’s an honor simply to be nominated with this group of high caliber authors.”
Now, we all know that each of them wants to win that award, so why do they mess around saying something that everyone else has said a million times? Because it’s the truth.

I just learned that my second Skeet Bannion mystery, Every Broken Trust, is a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. This is a prestigious literary award, and of course, I want to win it. Just as we all want to win those awards we get nominated and become finalists for. But the other finalists are such fine writers that I can say with equal truth, “It’s an honor simply to be nominated with this group of high caliber authors.”

Last year, my first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, was a finalist for the same award and came in third. This was, of course, a disappointment in one way, but not in others. The books which took first and second place were such fine books that I couldn’t be upset. When a book that’s much weaker wins over yours, that hurts, but as usually happens, when it’s a very strong, beautifully wrought book, you can only feel happy and honored to have been considered to be in the same company.

So to all the award nominees and finalists out there, those who have already heard and those who’ll be notified in the coming weeks and months, congratulations! You’re all winners, simply for being in the small group of finalists or nominees. No matter who finally takes home the medal or teapot or statue, you’ve all done that marvelous thing—written an excellent book the worth of which was recognized by experts in the field or your peers or however your award is set up. Enjoy yourself, feel good about it, and whether you win or not, go home and get started on the next book.

Because in the final hour that’s what we all are, not award winners, nominees, or finalists, but writers. That’s the important part of us, and that next book is calling seductively to us, making promises that we know we’ll never be able to bring completely to fruition, but the real joy is in the trying.

REPLIES TO COMMENTS (since Blogger still won't let me comment):

Reine, thank you so much. You have been such a staunch fan and advocate of the Skeet books, and I really appreciate that!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day Light Savings Time, Love it or Hate It?

It is very weird getting up at my usual time of 4:15 a.m. or so. (I know, you question is why do I do that? I got in the habit when I had my care home for developmentally disabled women and never got out of it. This gives me plenty of time to do my Bible study, answer emails, check-in with Facebook, before I settle down to writing or whatever plan I have for the day.)

Why is it weird? When I sit down at my computer in my office and look out the window the sky is black. And it stays that way until around 6 or so when it begins to lighten to a pewter color. Right now, at 6:55 a.m., it's a pale blue with a mass of gray-blue clouds over the mountains, and scattered gray clouds elsewhere.

Everyone I know is thrilled it stays so light in the evening, but for me it often means that it's still light when I'm climbing into bed. Well, when you're old like me and you've been up since 4:15, 7:30 often seems like a good time to crawl into the sack. I might read or watch some TV--but I never stay awake long.

So do I love it or hate it? Frankly, I'm neutral. What I really feel is that there is not enough time in the day to do all the things I want to get done. Changing the time makes no difference to my day, I just adjust--something I'm good at.

I am getting eager for my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Murder in the Worst Degree, to become available. I write that series under the name of F. M. Meredith.

And I'm scrambling to get a lot done because I'm off to Monterey and Left Coast Crime tomorrow. That's one of the big perks, as far as I'm concerned, of being a mystery writer. Besides being in Monterey, I'll get to see many of my writer and reader friends, attend some super panels and interviews, and my RBPD publisher is having a get-together of all her authors who are attending.

Any spare moments I'm devoting to my work-in-progress, the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

What about you, do you love or hate day light savings time, or are you neutral?

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Coming really, really soon!

Monday, March 17, 2014

What did you give up for Lent?

Do you participate in the Lent practice of giving up something? I’m not Catholic, but my denomination followed this practice. My first year, I remember giving up Coke. I’m a real Coke addict. (The drink, not the drug.) I was at work, and had just taken a sip of my ritual mid-afternoon treat when I remembered my promise.

I couldn’t believe I’d slipped so fast. First day and I’m a failure.

Yes, I am literal in my interpretations. No grey, just black or white. And that’s something I’m trying to correct in my personal life as well as my writing.

When I first started submitting, if the guidelines said A. I gave them A. If the guidelines were vague, I’d ask questions until I understood the process and what they were looking for. After being in the game for almost five years now, I’m a bit more relaxed in my interpretations. I’ve heard from countless agents and editors they want a good story well told. And if they list off what they’re looking for, they might miss out on a manuscript that will blow them away.

Having faith in your work will move you forward. Knowing that you’ve written the best book you can at the time, should be enough. If all you do is polish, you’ll never be told no. You’ll also never get constructive feedback from the people who could have bought your book.

Last year when I was negotiating my contract with my editor (I don’t have an agent), I fell into that black or white mentality. Kicking myself during the long weekend after asking for a change in the options clause, I drove myself and my friend crazy with second guessing.

This is probably the reason agents earn their 15%.

As the hours passed without a response, I’d gone from confident in my request to convinced I’d phrased the email wrong and had offended her.

When Monday came and the editor agreed to my request, I was over the moon. I’d almost given up faith.
So this year, I’m giving up sugar. I may be a basket case by the time this blog posts. I’m sure I’ll fail at least once. But I know I’ll get back up and try again.

And that’s all that matters.

What are you giving up for Lent?

Mission to Murder is up for pre-order (coming July 31st) so I thought I'd share the cover. Don't you just want to go inside and see what's on sale?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Murder with Ganache Triggers Memories of Our Daughter's Wedding

A few months ago, my husband and I lived through the insanity (with love) of our daughter getting married. The strategic planning and balancing of family, friends, and vendors was worse than plotting a novel. When I recently read Murder with Ganache:  A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdete (aka Roberta Isleib), I was reminded by its combination of mystery, romance, family conflict, food and recipes of just how smoothly our wedding weekend went. I found the book to be fun, witty and with just the right amount of clues to keep me guessing to the end.

In Murder with Ganache, Haley Snow, the food critic for Key Zest magazine, is juggling meeting her writing deadlines for restaurant reviews, doughnut and sticky bun tastings, and an article on the Hemingway cats while handling all of the details, include baking 200 cupcakes, for her best friend’s wedding.  Haley’s plate overflows when family drama and murder is added to it.

The summary blurb notes that Haley’s “parents come barreling down on the island like a category 3 hurricane and on the first night in town her stepbrother, Roby, disappears into the spring break party scene in Key West.  When Haley hears that two teenagers have stolen a jet ski, she sets aside her oven mitts and goes in search of Rory.  She finds him, barely conscious, but his female companion isn’t so lucky.  Now Haley has to let the cupcakes cool and assemble the sprinkles of clues to clear her stepbrother’s name – before someone else gets iced.”

Murder with Ganache is an enjoyable read and a well-constructed mystery that also manages to embrace family.  In addition, the book brings the quirkiness of Key West to life by including details such as the Hemingway House’s cats and the famous Courthouse Deli Bench (the bench has its own Facebook page).
Much as I enjoyed the memories that Murder with Ganache brought back, I’m really happy that our wedding weekend was comparably tame.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of twelve mysteries.  Murder with Ganache is the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Haley Snow. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Debra H. Goldstein is the author of 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan's campus in the 1970's.  It has been selected as a Harlequin Worldwide Mystery book of the month for May 2014.  Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! is one of thirteen short stories in the newly released Mardi Gras Murder anthology.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


by Maria Geraci

Every once in a while, a book comes along that not only engages me as a reader, but inspires me as a writer. I have to admit that I first read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander well before I ever thought of becoming a writer. My husband gave me the book as a Christmas present some 20 some years ago. Being an avid reader, I devoured it in days (it's a big book!) and instantly fell in love with the characters. Most especially the character of Jamie Fraser, a mid 18th century Scottish warrior torn between his love of country and his love for a time traveling modern 20th century woman.

If you've read Outlander, then you know what I'm talking about. Jamie is one of the most complex, interesting, and deliciously wonderful characters you'll ever read. He's smart, funny, heroic and strangely enough real. Yes, he has flaws. He's not perfect. And yet, he is.

The novel Outlander is just the beginning of a wonderful series that's not completed (part of me hopes it never will be!). To my delight and the delight of hundreds of thousands of fans world-wide, the novel had been turned into a mini-series on Starz. Soon (this May!) we can turn on our TVs and see the adventures of Jamie and Claire and a world that up to now, we've only been able to see in our imaginations.

If you follow Diana Gabaldon's FB page (and if you're a writer, you should. She offers some fabulous writing tips) then you'll know that Starz recently put up a "pocket Jamie." Or basically, a paper doll version of the actor playing Jamie Fraser. And yes, I did print and cut one out. It's taped to my desk lamp where I sit and write. For inspiration, mind you.

Rather lovely, don't you think? If you're interested, you can go here for your own Pocket Jamie!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stories—Tell Me Yours

By Kay Kendall

I write historical murder mysteries, and my chosen time period is the turbulent era of the 1960s. My work in progress is set in 1969, entitled Rainy Day Women. This time my amateur sleuth, Austin Starr, gets drawn into a murder investigation when her best friend, Larissa Klimenko, is suspected of killing a leader in the women’s liberation movement. The action takes place in those notoriously rain drenched cities of Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Like my debut book, Desolation Row, this second one takes its name from the title of a famous Bob Dylan song. Dylan’s oeuvre is so vast and so comprehensive that I can find almost anything I need to illustrate among his song titles. Luckily for me, titles of creative works are not covered by copy write law. When members of the boomer generation see the titles of my mysteries, almost all of them will know that the books will either take place in the sixties—or at minimum evoke them.

If you are reading this, you may scoff when I say that what I write is historical fiction. It’s not that long ago, you may think. Why, perhaps you yourself lived during that time. That cannot be history.

But, no, it is history. That time is dead and gone. Five decades gone.

Last week I spoke to classes at a community college in Alabama. Only about two in one hundred students had heard the name of Bob Dylan. Moreover, none of them knew why the United States was drawn into fighting a war in Vietnam. And none of them had ever heard of the “domino theory.”

Yep, stick a fork in the sixties. They are done.

One reason I choose to write about that time period is to describe its importance to those who know nothing about it. Reading fiction is an easy way to learn about history.

The other reason is to commemorate and revivify a part of American history that has had far reaching effects. Societal upheaval was so intense in the 1960s that the aftershocks still are felt today. We have only to watch TV news to see the rage called forth by the changing, broadening roles of women to realize that these ideas are not yet settled.

While Desolation Row looks at the consequences of the Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, and personal outcomes from military Rainy Day Women, I explore the hopes for female improvement held by early members of the women’s liberation movement.

Participating in that movement was one of the most important intellectual endeavors I ever undertook. The magnitude of changes that the movement made in me cannot be underestimated. In my daily life, I speak occasionally about this, but I seldom hear others do so.

I know that there are other women whose lives were changed as mine was. I would love to hear your stories.

In my first book I used one real military tale from World War II. I felt it was almost a sacred experience that I didn’t want to disrespect by making up events…although I certainly fictionalized them enough so that no one can tell whose stories they were.

Similarly, in my new book, Rainy Day Women I would like to include a few real memories from real women who participated in women’s liberation groups.

Whatever you’ve got to share, I am eager to listen. Rest assured, I will not incorporate your words into my writing without asking your permission. I hope you will let me hear from you. 

Kay and her bunny Dusty

Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she wants to do for the 1960s what novelist Alan Furst does for Europe in the 1930s during Hitler's rise to power--write atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age.

Discover more about her at

20 Something

by Bethany Maines

One of my friends recently complained that during an after work outing some twenty-something co-workers wanted to go to a popular (aka crowded bar) and once there had wanted to leave again (for another popular bar) because someone’s crush was present, but it was all an “awkward love triangle!” Having had just about enough of that nonsense, my friend co-opted the group and went to a less crowded bar where everyone could hear each other AND sit down at the same time. Her conclusion?  “Man, is it nice to no longer be in my twenties!” 

The thought made me laugh because I could not agree more, but I do remember the angst of turning 29 and realizing that all marketing was no longer going to be aimed at me!  If movies, music, and all popular culture is no longer aimed at me how can I possibly validate my self-worth?  Oh wait, that’s right; I was never that cool to begin with.  This was probably strongly correlated to the high premium I placed on sleep.  If I wasn’t going to get at least 8 hours of sleep then the night-club we were going to had better dang well be AWESOME, or it just wasn’t worth it. 

On the other hand, it does make writing younger characters problematical. How do I realistically write a twenty-something when I find all that gadding about just a little bit silly?  Yes, that’s how old I am – I use the word “gad”.  Well of course, I could try using my imagination (What? A writer using their imagination? P’shaw!).  Aging does make me worry about the authentic feel of characters I never used to worry about.  Actually, aging makes me worry about plenty of things that I never used to worry about.  Like, drinking out of a hose; when I was 10 we did this all the time.  It never used to cross my mind that it could have something wrong with it.  But maybe the ignorance of youth is double-edged sword.  Perhaps I will later get hose cancer and perhaps the twenty-something characters I wrote in my twenties weren’t all that great.  Or perhaps I should just stop worrying and write with the same gusto that I did in the twenties, trusting that it will all work out, and then go drink out of the hose, because really it’s the same water that goes into my kitchen faucet, and the hoses under the sink are made of rubber too and honestly it’s not going to matter any more or less than the donut I might be having for dessert.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Mom. Hurry.

By Marjorie Brody

"Hi, sis. I'm in the hospital with Mom," my brother said when I answered my cell phone. "I think she’s having a heart attack." 

"Which hospital?"

He tells me. 

"I'm at a book festival about three hours away. I'll grab my things and be there as soon as I can." 


I ask my colleague to pack my books. She does without question. Guess she could hear the urgency in my pointedly calm voice. I call our son's wife. She's a physician and has contacts at the hospital. She can find out what's happening. 

Voice mail picks up. 

I leave a message: "Hi, hon. This is Mom. Call me when you can." She not going to get an emergency message from me via voice mail. 

I call my husband. Tell him to get to the hospital. Find out what's happening. He's only 20 minutes from Mom. He would have gone without my telling him to--he and Mom have a mother-son relationship. Mom never was one to have children-in-law--but in stressful situations I tend to take charge. I use the restroom, not wanting to have to stop along the way. 

"Make my apologies to the Festival Director," I tell my colleague. We had specifically been asked not to leave until the festival was over. I hoist my box of books, promotional material, and handbag and hurry to my car. I'm jockeying the box against my torso with one arm, my right shoulder raised high so my handbag won't slip off as I feel for car keys buried deep inside. I kick myself for not taking the keys out before I left the building. I cover that reprimand with relief, opening the trunk with the push of a button before my hand even surfaces. I drop the box in the trunk. Close its door with too much force. 

My logical mind goes through a check list. Assess the fuel level to make sure I don't run out. Set the GPS so I don't get lost. Look twice before backing up--wouldn't help to hit a pedestrian.

The GPS tells me it can't connect at the moment, to try again later. I refuse to panic. I drive in the direction I think will take me home. (I traveled to the festival from a book club event in a different part of the state and so won't be able to retrace my route.) 

Mom attended that book club yesterday, by special invitation of a board member. She'd been so proud of me, my presentation, and the reception I received. She and I had lunch together before I drove off for the festival, and she drove home. 

"Call me when you arrive," she said, and I did. Was that going to be our last exchange? 

Mom and I occasionally spoke of her death. She wanted me to know where her legal papers were, wanted me know that when the time came, she'd be ready. Mostly, she wanted me to be emotionally prepared. So sure, I've thought of her passing, in a fleeting kind of way, but to have to face the reality of losing her? My Mom's invincible, right? 

She learned to scuba dive at seventy years old. Climbed stone walls to look into the cave dwellings of Native Americans at seventy-five. Went up in a hot air balloon for her eightieth birthday. She even scheduled a tandem sky diving jump for her eighty-fifth birthday, but the doctor forbid her to do it. "Your bones are too fragile," he told her. 

My mom? Fragile? 

Sure she can cook and bake, sew and knit and embroider. But she can also fix appliances and plumbing. She can take a car apart and put it back together again—although now she can’t lift the heavy pieces. At eighty-eight years old, Mom is healthy and sharp. When I have computer problems, it's Mom to the rescue. 

She can't die. 

She has great grandchildren's graduations and weddings to attend. 

She can't die. 

I'm not ready for her to die. 

I glance down at the speedometer. I'm topping the speed limit. I watch for cops, refrain from letting my right foot sink lower. A ticket can't delay my arrival. Nor an accident. 

I call my brothers who live on a different coast (I have bluetooth and their phone numbers are programmed into my car phone.) The first brother already has information. He gives me a list of Mom's symptoms, tells me what happened prior to her going to the hospital. I call my other brother. He's on vacation in another distant state. I give him the information I now have. The tension in both their voices ride with me in the car. 

The GPS comes to life. I've got to pass our other daughter's house on the way to the hospital. I call her. I would have called her, anyway. She's extremely close to her grandmother. "I feel socked in the gut, Mom," she says. She's tearful and scared and wants to be with her grandmother. 

She reflects my own thoughts. My mind isn't thinking about what would happen if Mom does die, but about how Mom will feel if this is the end and I’m not with her. More honestly, how I'll feel if I'm not with her. I want to be with her.

Our doctor daughter calls. I tell her what’s happening. She speaks with the admitting physician and calls me back, asks me health questions about Mom.

Traffic is a bear near the major cities. Slows to a crawl. Phone calls are overlapping. I have to disconnect from one person to answer another, call back, get interrupted again. The highway stretches like pulled taffy, getting longer and longer. I think about taking a detour, but then I won’t pass our daughter’s house, and she’s making arrangements for her children so she can leave with me as soon as I pull up to her house. The sun begins to slide toward the horizon. The highway conspires to keep me from reaching my destination. The gas gauge dips lower than comfortable. I can't tell how long the traffic snarl will last. I make a quick stop to feed the tank. 

The receptionist in the ER tells my daughter and me which room Mom is in and buzzes us though the door. Mom is lying in bed, dressed in her street clothes, an IV in her arm, holding a conversation with my husband, who is sitting on a nearby chair. She looks . . . not bad. 

She’s glad to see us, and apologizes for making me leave the festival. I kiss her and confess, "I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else." I spend the night on a recliner of sorts in Mom's room. Get only a couple of hours sleep. The next day tests continue: MRI, EKG, more blood work, ultrasound, echo cardiogram. I'm in constant contact with my out-of-state brothers. They have special concerns because Mom doesn't complain about her health, so when she says, “I need to go to the hospital,” it means something is seriously wrong. 

The results come back. 

No heart attack. No stroke. No TIA. No real explanation for what happened to her or why she had all those symptoms. More test will follow as an outpatient. Mom’s released from the hospital the next evening. Two days later, she spends 14 hours helping a friend at the polls assisting voters. 

Mom knows I love her and knows I have no doubt she loves me. That's something I'll always hold within me, whether she's alive or not. But I'm really grateful, I mean, really, really grateful, I can do more than hold that love in my heart. I can show it to Mom for as long as we have left. 

Let me hear from you. 

Marjorie Brody is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short stories appear in literary magazines and the Short Story America Anthology, Vols. I, II and III. Her debut psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, delves into the secrets that emerge following a sexual assault at a high school dance and features a remarkable teen who risks everything to expose the truth. TWISTED is available in digital and print. Marjorie invites you to visit her at