Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

2019 is just around the corner. 

How strange it is to write that line. 

I can vividly remember the anticipation of the year 2000 and all the scares about the Y2K bug that would bring the world to a screeching halt. Fortunately, that situation never amounted to much of anything.

So here we go again. A new year. A new beginning. 

I’ve never been one to make resolutions. Too easy to get caught up in the idea and then get discouraged if I can’t sustain it for the full year.  It’s better to set short term goals and try to achieve those, like writing one scene or five pages each week. If I can do that, there’s a good chance another novel will be close to completion.

2019 will see the release of “Your Turn to Die”, the second Jefferson Chene mystery.   That’s slated to be available in early February.  Because she is such a remarkable character, and a stubborn redhead, Jamie Richmond makes an appearance in this book as well, one of the supporting characters helping Chene investigate a murder.

So Happy New Year. Here’s hoping 2019 is filled with laughter and love, shared with family and friends, both old and new.  Along with new adventures and above all else…


Here’s a scene from “Vanishing Act” that takes place on New Year’s Eve.  Jamie and Malone are leaving the new year celebrations with her best friend Linda and her surprise escort, Vince, an old friend of Jamie's.

“Splendid,” Vince said. “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am ready to kick off my dancing shoes.”

    Linda smiled sweetly at him. “And I thought you’d like to go for a starlit stroll around the neighborhood.”

    “That’s what we have this lovely limousine for.” Vince reached up toward the ceiling and touched a button. A section of the roof slid back, revealing a clear Plexiglas panel. The snow squalls from earlier in the evening had passed. We could all see the stars above, little diamonds glittering in the jet-black sky.    

    Malone activated a button on the console and gentle mood music filled the passenger cabin. I recognized Diana Krall and Tony Bennett singing a duet.

    “You don’t miss a trick, do you?” I said.

    “No, ma’am. I don’t leave much to chance.” He leaned down and kissed me, gently pressing his lips to mine. It was so easy for me to get lost in Malone’s kisses. I don’t think we came up for air until I felt the limo begin to slow down.

    I glanced out the window, expecting to see Linda’s neighborhood coming into view. Instead, I recognized my own little house, with Malone’s Cherokee parked in the driveway. The car glided to a stop at the curb. The driver was already moving toward the back doors.

    “Malone, tell Terrence this was supposed to be the last stop,” I said.

    “Hush, Jamie. It’s time to say good night.”

    I was confused. I looked across the seats at Vince and Linda. Her face was glowing. She leaned across and hugged me, her eyes very bright.

    “Happy New Year, Jamie. I love you.”

    Not willing to trust my brain, I echoed her sentiment and kissed her cheek. Perplexed, I watched her repeat the message as she kissed Malone chastely on the lips. Vince and Malone clasped hands as Malone exited the car. Vince kissed my cheek and bade me a Happy New Year once again.

    I watched Malone press an envelope into Terrence’s hand. He thanked him for the wonderful service, firmly took me by the elbow, and guided me up the walk to our house. I was still having difficulty wrapping my head around the situation. Suddenly I realized what might be going to happen next.

    “We should have taken Linda home first.”

    “Hush, Jamie.” He unlocked the door and ushered me inside.

    “But, Malone, it just doesn’t seem right. She and Vince…”

    “…are consenting adults. And what they do in the privacy of her home, or his, or in the back of that limousine, is none of our business.”

    I was thunderstruck. Malone unbuttoned my woolen winter coat, then turned me around and eased it off my shoulders. I was still standing there dazed while he hung our coats in the closet and turned back to me.

    “Jamie,” he said softly.


    “I am a very patient man. But I’ve been waiting all evening to find out exactly what is underneath that gorgeous gown.”


    “…no buts, Jamie. It’s time for you and me to properly welcome in the New Year.”

    I couldn’t possibly formulate an argument as he literally swept me off my feet. I kicked off my shoes and wrapped my arms around Malone’s neck. He had one arm behind my knees, the other around my back. Yet somehow he still managed to find the tiny zipper that held my little black dress together.

    As I succumbed to Malone’s attentions, one final image of Linda and Vince passionately kissing at midnight flashed through my mind. What had I put into motion?

Here's a great tune by Spencer Davis that popped up on the airwaves this week. Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

One More Time

In the blink of an eye it will be Christmas. So here is my fourth holiday related tale. When my sons were young, we used to painstakingly wrap their presents and place them beneath the tree. We even went so far as to use different paper for packages that came from Santa, versus those from the parents.  Yes, the boys paid attention to such details.

One year, when Travis was about 9 and Cameron was around 6, we decided to jazz things up a little. In the past the kids would come downstairs and with a flurry of activity that lasted about two minutes, every present was opened, the floor littered with bits of paper and ribbons and the epic let-down set in.  At that point, my darling wife would put orange Danishes in the oven and fire up the coffee pot.

So that year, we agreed to take one big present for each boy and hide it somewhere in the house. Then, while the pastries were baking, the kids would go on a treasure hunt, following goofy clues. One clue would lead to another. Eventually they found the last present.  This bit of nonsense helped extend the gift exchange, long enough for the pastries to be done.

What started out as a gag turned into an annual event. The boys loved the treasure hunt and kept asking for more clues.  Travis one year even asked me to make them rhyme. I can’t recall if that worked, but hiding a present and sending them around the house became one of our traditions.  

What’s yours?

Here’s a favorite Christmas song from Mariah Carey, with a little help from some friends.

On behalf of Jamie, Chene, Malone, Pappy and the rest of my characters, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the holidays be filled with laughter and love, shared with family and friends, both old and new. Let there be stories and music, peace and prosperity for us all.

And mark your calendars for February 6!  That's the date "Your Turn to Die" the second Jefferson Chene mystery, is slated for release!


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Another Holiday Tale

The other night my darling wife and I took a drive to see some of the outdoor displays.  I’ve never been a fan of the inflated Santa Claus or various characters that are about nowadays like Mickey Mouse, Minions, and Snowmen, to name a few. It’s the festive lights that always appeal to me. As we cruised slowly through different neighborhoods, a memory came to mind.

Years ago we lived next door to Greg and Denise.  Greg was an engineer and took great pride in his efforts to light up his yard. He even went so far as to draw up a diagram of the exterior, indicating where every tree and shrub was and exactly which strand of lights fit in. 

One evening I came home from work to find Greg on the front sidewalk, admiring his handiwork.  When facing the houses, the left corner of his lot was adjacent to the right corner of mine. There was no fence or barrier.  Greg and I chatted for a minute and he made some kind remarks about my own light display.  Until he pointed at the cherry tree on the right corner of my lot.

“You need lights there,” Greg said.

“Yeah, but there’s no power near that spot.”

He clapped me on the shoulder. “You’ll figure it out.” Then he went inside for dinner. This wasn’t the first time he’d encouraged me to light that tree.  Then I realized that it was about ten feet from the last shrub in front of his house to my cherry tree. A quick check confirmed that the plug at the end of his strand was available.  Could it be that easy?

Hey, he was the one who wanted lights in the cherry tree!

The next day I put a couple of strands into the tree branches, ran a short cord to the edge of his property and plugged it in.

A few nights later I came home from work to find Greg once again on the sidewalk, admiring his scenery. He was shaking his head as I approached.

“Nice to see some lights in that one,” he said, gesturing at the cherry tree. “But it’s the craziest thing. That one goes on about half an hour before the rest of yours.”

“Guess I’d better reset the timer.”

There was no mention made of me tapping into his electricity. He laughed, slapped me on the shoulder and headed inside.

There are times when events from real life are just too good to pass up when working on a story.  I’ve done it on occasion and there are at least two segments in “Your Turn to Die” that actually happened. It will be up to the readers to figure those out when it’s released. 

Here’s an excerpt from “Why 319?” that is based on a real conversation.  In this scene Chene and Megan are searching a crime scene for clues that may help lead to the killer. 

The kitchen was a mess. Blood smears covered the floor where Myers had been gunned down simultaneously by me and Laura. The walls were splattered too. We stood in the doorway and surveyed the room.

Megan clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “Why is it we always end up in a place like this when I’m wearing a new pair of boots?”

I glanced down at her feet. These were bright red ones, with a rounded toe and a short heel. It was difficult to determine how far up her leg the boot went.

“How the hell can you run in something like that?”

“I’m a woman. I can adapt to any situation and do it with style.”

With a disgusted smirk, I turned my attention back to the room. There was a cheap table pushed against the wall, an old drop-leaf thing that had seen better days in the 1960s. Two padded vinyl chairs flanked it. There was the usual kitchen clutter, salt and pepper shakers, a sugar bowl, and a small bottle propped against the wall. There was also a stack of magazines and mail scattered across the surface. I pointed those out to Megan. She picked her way across the room, taking great pains in where she placed her feet.

I focused on the cupboards above the sink and counter. There was a jumble of mismatched glasses and plates, along with souvenir coffee mugs from various casinos and restaurants. It was obvious Myers didn’t care much about the furnishings of his kitchen. I was about to close the last cupboard when something caught my eye. Up near the very top of the door, close to the hinge, was a small round hole. The hinge was too high up for me to see it clearly.

“Find anything good?” I asked Megan.

“A couple of old newspapers, the kind filled with coupons. His bills for the internet service and cable, along with his cell phone bill. There is a magazine about weapons that looks like he bought it somewhere.”

“Hand me one of those chairs.”

Her eyes flicked to the open cupboard. Megan grabbed the closest chair, then swung it to where I could take it from her without disrupting the mess on the floor.

“This guy was a slob. He couldn’t even put shelf paper in the cupboards,” Megan said with disgust.

“Men don’t bother with shelf paper.”

“Yet another piece of evidence that proves women are superior.”

“Can you see anything odd from there?” I stepped onto the chair.

“Just the usual stack of dishes.”

I took a good look inside the cabinet. Mounted high up against the back wall was a small video camera. It was aimed so that when the cupboard door was closed, it would be able to film through the hole by the hinge. My guess was that it would easily take in the occupants of the little table. If the camera had a wide angle lens, it might capture everything within the kitchen. 

Holiday tunes are everywhere. Here's a rendition of Santa Baby that's a little bit different.