Friday, December 30, 2016

Assignment: Murder

As any one knows when you begin a book, any book, you have to consider everything that happens in the book--even if it is fantasy--if the things that happen are plausible.

In a murder mystery you've gotta go the extra mile. It's pretty much why I avoided writing mysteries, even though those are my favorite books (along with John Grisham, I enjoy Sue Grrafton, Tami Hoag, and a few others--including the "Murder She Wrote" books by Donald Bain), to read. And it's why I put a mystery in every book I've ever written.

Here are my notes from 9-4-16 on my thoughts on how to have a person appear to have hung himself (suicide). But it's really murder.

Oh, and if you intend on reading the second novel this is a spoiler alert.

...I was having trouble with how the man would be hung in his office. I mean where could the rope (or whatever used) would be hung from? It has to be solid [enough to hold a man's weight]

Side note: {Changed to a bathroom]

Then I thought about a woman who hung herself in the women's john from the frame over the door. 
So, I may have to rewrite this. {which I did]

inside women's john, see upright cross section
sorry this is a poor picture
Above is picture of the very stall in which a  woman hung herself (true story, happened over a year ago) at NIU student center. I learned about it through a friend who is a janitor there. I was actually in the bathroom when this woman was setting up to do herself in. I saw she had a chair in there, and unfortunately I was in a hurry to get back down to my bus to keep it on time, so I didn't think too much about it, just thought it weird she had a chair in there.

Back to Notes:
So, okay, I've named this character Blake [I've named him Ellwood Blake], who walks into the men's lavatory & finds this teacher hung himself ... {here I've had him take a picture, but later on I decide he is recording himself on his cell phone working on a novel he's writing for a class, and he takes a whole video of the body bottom to top, which Lainey later views and comes to the conclusion he didn't commit suicide}

My notes continue from here, but I've changed everything, so I won't include them here. 

However, I've taken pictures of various parts of the Student Center, if only to help me create--in my head--how this small college would look like inside, and certain Modus operandi as well.

Above is a hallway with a number of doors, it's a moderately long hallway and turns right at the end and continues.

Here is a small classroom.

Obviously, this bathroom had to be off in a remote part of the college. I put it down in a subbasement where no one ever goes, except maybe the janitor on occasion. Beyond the hallway are the locker rooms for sports teams.

By the way, the murders all happen off the page. My murder mysteries are "cozy" type where the more grisly or ghastly scenes are kept off screen, as it were. It's a YA type of book, and I wanted that any age could read it.

To continue with the murder:

Background: The teacher's wife,Carol Taylor, was in charge of the bursar's office (of small college), and finds that funds are way low from what she knew them to be when a large check has bounced. She is fired by the president, Mr. Smith, claiming she was the one embezzling. Her husband is Chad Taylor, English teacher, teaches creative writing class in which Lainey Quilholt is student.

The next day, after Carol's dismissal, Smith goes to the Taylor's home, hoping to get them together, but unfortunately only the wife is there. He gains entry, smoothly saying he's thought things over and wants to apologize. But when she's let him in under these pretenses, he shoots her--but not after learning that Mr. Taylor has gone to the school early. Thus he has to figure out how to kill him. But he can't use a gun. It would make too much noise, and to make it look like suicide, he'd have to shoot him in the head. No. he figures out a different way.

Luring Mr.Taylor away from his office to come and talk to him in his office gets him into the elevator. Cleverly, he's got the cart (below) inside the elevator, ready. He'd make some excuse like "Janitor must have left it here." He somehow gets behind Mr. Taylor and strangles him with a bit of cord. (I have not figured out where this has come from as yet.)

Once Taylor has been snuffed out, he angles his body onto this cart, presses G for Ground Floor, and rolls the man's body to the men's john, and hangs him up in the stall to make it look like suicide.

Mr. Smith is a very obese man, but is able to carry this murder out easily enough, I think. 

I've gotten past page 50, and the two murders--at this point it's considered a murder/suicide by police--have been discovered, using the whole embezzling thing is motive behind Mr Taylor killing his wife, and hanging himself. But Lainey will find clues, pester Sheriff John Weeks (who has since first book has married her aunt), to look further into this, especially since a number of anomalies and discrepancies have surfaced. Lainey will already know who has murdered them, but has to figure out why, and how he got away with it, and then trap him into confessing.

How far do you go to figure out the legitimacy of the things you write? Or how, physically, they could be done? Do you find places, things, objects and take pictures to help you create your story?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In Writing Cave

Hey, guys. I'm in my writing cave. I won't be doing much on social media, so if you've even noticed I'm not around, that's why.

Thought I'd give you some funny headlines today. Really, some of these editors should think about what they use for headlines before it goes to print. So, here you go. Have a laugh on them!









Weren't these fun?
Hope you all have a good week.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ludwig!

"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets."

You probably think this came from some well known writer.
It didn't. I'll let you guess.
Time's up. Ludwig van Beethoven.

I have to tell you first off, today I finished my first ever murder mystery. Sent it off to my publisher, and work on the next one has been put on the front burner. Without the music of this master, I don't think my afternoons would be quite so enjoyable! Keeping me pushing on to get it done. Thanks, Ludwig!

Obsession is a funny thing. I find myself obsessed about something, or someone famous. If I find them, or it, particularly fascinating, I have to look at every aspect about them. Their history, and whatever they've accomplished.

I've always loved classical music. I guess it comes from when I was small and too fussy to go to bed, my father would carry me around the dining room with the record player going--Mozart playing in the background. So, it goes to figure I have this deep connection with classical music. I was a strange teenager, listening to Beethoven's symphonies--all 9 of them--on the record player. Not that I didn't get into the Beatles when they came along.

Beethoven more than any other composer grips me. No matter what he has written. I'd like to just go on and on about him here, but it would probably bore most of you. And, even if you are at this point uninterested, you should at least listen to some of his music, beyond the ones you know. He wrote so much! Some of it impossible to even attempt by an amateur pianist.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Born December 16th 1770
Died 1827
Beethoven, as most know, is a German composer, born in Bonn. His grandfather was also named Ludwig and was a court musician. His father was more of a drunk than anything who often beat his son during piano and violin lessons. Hopes were that the child, Ludwig would carry on the family name and that he would become another Mozart. But where Mozart was a child prodigy, Beethoven became a virtuoso. For Mozart, creating music as a mere child was, well, child's play. If you ever listen to either composer, you can see the difference. At least I can.

Many of Beethoven's compositions on the piano are so well known you can't be in this world and not know the beautiful Moonlight Sonata, or Fur Elies. I taught myself on piano (not well) how to play both of these from sheet music. The second movements are not easy by any means. But Beethoven was driven.
Remember the quote from above? Beethoven said that about his craft. He taught others how to play the piano. He composed volumes of music. He was both a classicist and a romanticist, but transcends both -- "his compositions are the expression of one of the most powerful musical personalities of all time.

To me the power of his works are found more in The Pathetique Sonata Op. 13. and then there is The Sonata No. 21  I love watching David Barenboim play these pieces. You can find more, much more!

Of course everyone knows the famous 5th and 9th Symphonies. But he wrote so much more, as you've seen above.

The first symphony was considered "the last symphony of the passing era rather than the 1st of the new". He hadn't yet had the impulse to break loose of the old style. But when he did, oh boy! He did it with passion and majesty.

Eroica his #3 symphony shows where his music stepped away from the norm. Eroica means "hero". But it wasn't the original title He had originally written it for Bonaparte. He had thought Napoleon Bonaparte would honor his promises and give people in France democracy and all they wanted. Well, it isn't the first time a leader lied just to get to power. When Beethoven heard that Bonaparte had made himself emperor, Beethoven destroyed the title page. That's how it came to be known as Eroica. The powerful first movement sounds like a battle. It's amazing what one can do with music. The second movement was said to nearly bring people to tears because it sounds like a funeral procession. Over all, the piece was quite the most exhaustive piece anyone would ever have hoped to perform, pushing the instruments of the time to the point of, well, unable to bear up to the whole thing.

Here is a BBC movie about Beethoven presenting it to the prince, his patron. Beethoven's Eroica. I thought it was well done, and shows you the instruments they used back then, and even a little glimpse in to the romance he was striving for with a woman of nobility and why she couldn't, or wouldn't commit to him. Beethoven never married, but not for the lack of trying. His famous love letters composed to an unknown woman shows his romantic side.

 Even at the point of finishing this third symphony, Beethoven was going deaf. Nearly no one knew this. He didn't want anyone to know. He didn't want to be treated differently, thus people though he was moody, or down right rude. His doctors told him there was no cure. He told them he would "take fate by the throat." No wonder many of his pieces were loud. By the time he'd finished the 9th Symphony he was completely deaf and didn't hear the audience's response to it and his players had to tell him to turn around to see the overwhelming response.

Back to Symphony No. 3. It was also much longer than anything anyone had ever written, much longer than a Hayden, and he is shown sitting in at the rehearsal of #3 in the movie.

As I've said I could go on and on about Beethoven. Let me leave you with the Triple Concierto y Fantasia Coral with Yo-Yo Ma, Perlman and Barenboim. The Coral is similar to the 9th Symphony Coral, only not quite with all the gusto and beauty.

Overall, Beethoven championed liberty in his music, and it is noticeable.

If you listen to any classical station, switch it on today. You might find they are playing music of this fascinating composer.

Happy 246th Birthday,
Ludwig van Beethoven!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It's the best I can do at the moment

I'm happily in my writing cave working on #2 murder mystery - "Invitation to Kill". (My first one has been renamed "Party to a Murder".)

Funny how at the beginning of a new book I've only got ideas that may, or may not turn into anything worth while. There's always that certain fear of simply starting the book. Toying with scenes and characters in my mind, turning them over, trying to see which way to go with them. Once I feel certain that my brain cells have fired well enough over this, I open a document and begin to work.

Anyway, I'd had the beginning of this one written out in my notes. Definitely rough, and still things would change, certain aspects and details, but I put it into the new document, happy to commit to this. And since then I've worked on that scene, adding or changing something. That's fine. I think every writer has to have instinct on how to proceed, how they want to write. After so many years, one gets the hang of it. There are some writers who wouldn't think of going through their work until they've got the whole thing finished. I can't do that. I have to meddle with it until it suits me, until everyone and so forth is in line with the way I want it.

I go by the adage that "no one can teach you how to write." I've seen and heard this echoed throughout my writing life.

There's another saying which I just heard only yesterday--in all places on a "Murder She Wrote" show. Not so surprising, since JB Fletcher is a writer and she connects with writers all the time.

It is title of today's post. "It's the best I can do at the moment". Somewhere someone had to have said this to a class, to him/herself. Anyway, it's good and I'm borrowing it for now. Mainly because it's so true for a writer. We don't become over-night successes (some of us never become really successful), but you work hard at writing, at making it better today than it was yesterday. You are doing the best you can do at the moment of inspiration, or when you go in to correct. Hopefully you are better than you were a year ago, five or ten years ago. You keep getting better, but at the moment you are as good as you can be.

It also occured to me that writing is like movement. Like walking or jogging. Sometimes you can only take baby steps, because you're unsure. But that's okay. Being unsure is all part of being a writer. And that's where this saying comes in handy. You have to give it your best shot and say to yourself, "This is the best I can do at the moment".

And once you get beyond your fears, you're walking (writing) at a good gate. My husband goes for a brisk one hour walk every morning--prefers before sunrise. I, meanwhile, do my yoga. We're different in what we need to do in order to get our hearts pumping. I like walks, sure, but my knees can't take the punishment of a brisk walk in the park.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is everyone is different. We all have our way of getting through a manuscript. Whatever you are comfortable with, do it, or find it. I like to make notes in the evening while drinking a light wine and in between reading a John Grisham--or whatever--novel.

The next day, I look  at the notes, already thinking about how to approach the object of the scene ahead, or have a character figured out and can add that to the notes. It's a process of notes, mulling, and then writing it all out, and then later on, my editing, adding or taking stuff out. If I can get even a little bit down, just a thousand words, or maybe only 300, I'm okay with it. I'm not a marathon runner, and so I'm not pushing myself beyond my abilities.

I'm doing the best I can at the moment.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Autumn Sounds, and thoughts

I'm sitting here, after dinner, my window is open, and across the road are the farmers--a huge tractor and a semi with an open trailer. Into it the trailer the tractor dumps harvested corn, and it sounds nearly like small pebbles going in, hitting against the metal.

These are sounds of autumn I remember growing up with. Something I know I missed when I lived in town. I did not like living in town where I couldn't see a sun rise or sun set. The farmers--you know they do feed the world!--are busy now. Trying to get in the harvest. There's a lot to get done, as yet!

And me. My harvest is still a work in progress.

I'm pages--PAGES! away from finishing "Crypt of Death" (formerly known as Vampire/Dhampire Legacy). 

This book has been a marathon. Actually it's been more like a triathlon from hell. Only, not so much hell as pure work. I've touched on the history of this book once or twice before, so I won't go into that here. Coming up with the ending of any book can be exasperating, unless you know in advance what you want to do. In this one. No. I had some ideas, which were trashed many times. I've rewritten the thing so much that it's sort of like taking old clothes and making new ones out of them, and trying to hide the wear and tear and patches. That will be my hocus pocus on this, and if I succeed, then, well, that's just half of it.

So, I've worked along these past few days, knowing the ending was right over the next hump. I worked slowly, made notes for the next scenes, wrote them, and halted, and had to think about how to end this thing. There's probably something in a seasoned writer where they know they'd better stop where they are and think about it. Which is what I do. I don't want to keep on writing and see that it's all crap the next day. Not that I don't go over my previous day's work and rewrite. But I don't like scrapping what I've written, unless it definitely has to go.

Speaking of which, I did scrap about 10 pages in the earlier part of the book, because I felt it went nowhere, and what was covered could be covered in less pages. Plus, I know no one will miss it. I'll have to go through the whole thing again when I've come back to this. Possibly when snow is flying.

At the moment, this 500 page monster is my supernatural thriller which I have to bring to a satisfying close, and as I sat reading a novel with a glass of wine earlier this evening, I made more notes as to what had to happen in Crypt. I already knew who and what days ago, it was the how, and at what point these things take place that was thumbing its nose at me. But, I think I've got it to where I can finally write the ending, and put it to bed for a few months. I don't plan on pushing it on to my publisher until next year, so I've got plenty of time.

Ah. The farm equipment has moved further out into the field, and the semi, which was loaded down has gone back to the grain bins to unload it. He'll be back. I've a feeling I'll be hearing them well into the night, here. Nice, comforting thought of things coming to a close, getting something which was hard work, now taking shape and you know will be done.

Good night, and sleep well, my friends!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Finally... A Bookstore!

Hello, my gentle readers, I join you today with good news! Two weeks ago a bookstore opened up in a nearby town (DeKalb, IL), and they are much MUCH better than those bigger snooty stores--we shall not name them.

My husband, Dennis, and I went in to see it the other day after lunch. It's a very nice place, has everything you'd want, and yet it isn't too big or overwhelming. 

Here is link to their facebook page, and there is a nice little slide show of their offerings.

While I was perusing the shelves for my favorite authors (I've many, but they are mostly in mysteries and fantasy, but also I found Grisham, as well), Dennis was looking around, wanting to buy a brand new atlas (which he did find). And someone came up to him asking him if he needed help in finding anything. I could barely hear this from several rows away while trying to decide on one of the Murder She Wrote books or one of the books in the alphabet series by Sue Grafton (I went with Murder She Wrote: "The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher").

I meandered over as Dennis and the gentleman stepped with him. We shook hands over introductions. Dennis is basically my manager and will speak to anyone about me and my books. I let him do that because I'm somewhat shy and don't like to brag about myself a lot. But I do in times when it's needed.

Anyway, we spoke about getting my books into the store. Found out they don't order the books, but I can bring them in and they sell on consignment. Well, golly gee! This is like when I was in the crafting business. He said getting my books into the store will give people a chance to see and buy them, and as a sort of advertisement to a future book signing. The consignment is a 60% - 40% split. He told me that I would have to determine if it would be a good enough profit for me.

Well, I have been in touch with my publisher, Miika, and he thought I could make "a nice little profit" off them.

I'm working on figuring out which ones and how many. I thought small amounts at first. I don't want to overwhelm them with all 6 of my books--Spell of the Black Unicorn being the only non-Sabrina Strong one. I thought maybe two of the first books in series and see how it goes.

I've also posted about it, asking if anyone in my area, who can get to the bookstore in DeKalb, wants/needs one of my books, could tell me, and I'd order and get it into the store for them (and maybe a few more to make sure).

So, this is the news. My last best news was the new cover for my first book. I think it came out really well, and I can see it sitting on a shelf in a new bookstore soon!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Dear World;

I'm reaching a milestone. In age and in writing.

I'm never sure if I should count those early years, I was just messing around, at first, and took a creative writing course in high school (you know the one where when I told my English teacher who taught it that I wanted to become a writer/author, and she said I should find something else since my spelling and grammar was so bad).

That was 1972. Which makes 44 years I've been messing around with words. As I've said, my first attempts were mostly childish poems (I still have them), and some really silly stories that became a marathon of words, since I had no idea how to plot, and that there was a "beginning, middle, and ending".

I often thought myself on some sort of stage, and I was an actor in a play. So much has happened to me in those years. I've touched on a few here. But like everyone, I've got baggage up the ying-yang. Some of it has managed to just go away (divorces and deaths tend to do that), but my main thing has been, throughout, WRITING.

I wrote through the worst of times, when my father passed--before and after--back in 1999. Oddly enough, I was writing the book I'm currently on (and re-writing still). This book has been with me since almost the beginning. And for the sake of writing and taking it seriously, and having my first piece published by ByLine in 1983, we'll say for argument's sake, I've been writing this same story since then, on and off (mostly off), since then. It was very different back then. The whole thing was a totally different take on vampires, and a young teenage girl becoming infatuated with an older man. (that was one of those baggage things I mentioned earlier, which I used, and have used in my stories from time to time.) And her father who becomes concerned because this man keeps odd hours, owns the old mansion nearby, etc. And, of course, this older man is a vampire.

In a way the basic story didn't actually change, but I've reworked it, many times, rewrote the hell out of it, went back and forth a number of times on what to do where. At one point it was actually so long, no one wanted it (800 pages). I believe that was the 1999 version.

In 2013, I dragged this story out again--I needed a bulldozer to move it around. I was determined this story would get published some day if it killed me doing it. I took all the pages from various versions, I know I had more than 1,000 pages strewn on the floor, bed, an 8 foot table, and worked for a month or so trying to put it into some sort of order. After which I chopped, rewrote, rewrote, and chopped again.

But, since I was so busy with the Sabrina Strong series (and trying to find a new publisher), I couldn't do too much with it at that time. But, I had time to write the story anew. However, I didn't put an ending on it. As it stands, I'm working along in it and will finish it at some point in September (unless I have an unseen delay).

But for now, everything is okay. I just don't usually have much time after my job, what with doing all sorts of things when I get home. But the weekends are mine.

Speaking of which I'm having another UN-Birthday!
I'm gonna need a bigger cake than this to get all the candles on it. However, I'm happy, healthy, and all is well over here at the old Afton Homestead.

Have a good weekend all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In Bed With the Devil--or Almost

Hi, all, I thought I'd share this quote from Steve Martin: 
"I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper."
Steve Martin

Let me take you back in time. It was 1983, I was a struggling writer and was working on something I called "Vampire Legacy". It might have been called something else at one time, but this would be the working title ... for the next umpteen years. I was looking for some way to get published. It was my dream. Has been all my adult life.

I was in contact with a writer who said he had a writing circle he taught. We'll call him John. This was in Dubuque, Iowa, and a 3 hour drive from where I lived. I was a novice. Green as can be, trying to "break" into published author. I had been writing to him (back then, we didn't have the Internet, and you wrote letters or called) (on a land-line phone). You with me so far? Good.

I told him I couldn't be expected to drive out to Dubuque every day (3 times a week) to attend this writer's circle, but I did want to attend. I knew rubbing elbows with other writers/authors would be the only way to learn anything. So, John arranged it for me to stay in his house--it was an old house, of the Victorian age, or there about. Painted charcoal gray with white trim. It had a gable on one side which reminded me a little of the "Amityville" house. There was a number of stained glass, too. The house itself was situated on a hill, and let me tell you it might have been a few rooms short of a mansion (which requires 33 rooms), but it was pretty damned big. 2 and 1/2 baths, a small kitchen, with John's office situated in behind this and a laundry room.

I did pay rent to him. Come to find out John had a wife and 3 grown children still living there--his son was still in high school, his two daughters had jobs. The wife worked in an insurance place. I understood that John once was an agent of said office at one time, but chose to become a professional writer. And he had a New York agent. He did get a horror book published, and it was what I would call a more-or-less rip off of The Exorcist.

I had told him what I was working on dealt with vampires, and this intrigued him.

Anyway, I sat in on not one, not two, but three different writing circles. Each one one echelon higher than the next. In the highest degree, the third group, had those who were either better writers, or had books published. One had just gotten her romance book picked up by Zebra. Yeah. I was excited to be included in this bunch of authors. We'll call her Deb. She came into our circle one night in a rabbit fir coat, new glasses, and smoked these little black cigarettes. Her advance must have been pretty good.

I said I was green, in more ways than one. First of all, I'd been divorced for about 8 years, at this point. To say I was hopeful in getting something larger than a mere article published  (I'd been published in ByLine) a few times, no big deal. But at this point in time I wasn't so desperate I'd sell my soul. Or anything else.

John had read my first chapter and told me "Pretty good, some of the mechanics need help, but that's something to worry about down the line." Or something to that effect.

I had a room upstairs adjacent to the room his two daughters shared. Funny story, there was one of those "secret" doors that you could go through my closet to their room (visa versa). One night the girls had been out late. And there I was in a hard single bed hearing her come through that secret door and proceeded to lay down beside me. I had the feeling this might have been her room, or something, at one point.

Her sister went and got her mother, mother quietly urged daughter #2 out of my bed and bedroom, and I lay pretending to sleep through the whole thing.

Anyway, we all laughed it off in the morning. Ha-ha.

Everyone would be gone during the day to their jobs, and that left me and John in this big house. We sometimes did "brain storming" where we'd talk about what I was working on. I had some problems in plotting. To begin with, I really didn't know what I was doing. And, instead of any real help in this, he tells me to change the name of one of my characters.

It wasn't long before I was tired of being there. Sure, at first the family was nice, and his wife sweet, and could cook, but after a while, even as bad as I wanted to be away from home, I was homesick. I did go home every weekend, and returned for three days to Dubuque.

It was February. I was fighting off a cold. I got up and went downstairs for something to eat. John asked to join me. Sure, I say, although I was really sick of his smoking either a cigar or cigarette. He talks about himself a lot, and sometimes his thoughts about life, marriage and sex. This morning was no different. He was telling me that sex and love wasn't the same thing. I said I agreed with that, but in the back of my mind I had had this growing sense of unease about him putting the moves on me. There I was, alone with him while his wife was away at work, and he was talking about sex. Not only that I'd been getting these little hints that Deb and John have been having, or are having an affair. Call it woman's intuition. I just had a feeling there might have been some sort of agreement, since they were both married, and she was always bringing up the fact (in our writer's meetings) she wanted to get her husband out of the meat packing plant soon. She was working on the second book in her romance series. I'll add that she was an excellent writer, and I did envy her writing abilities.

So, today he talked about affairs, and he actually told me about a woman whom he worked with he'd had an affair with. He kept on saying "It didn't mean anything. It was just sex."

Of course, he was setting the stage, maybe hinting at the fact that we could have a fling. Sex. Means nothing to him. Here I was dealing with a relationship that was going nowhere and I'd been divorced (because my first husband had slept around).

And then, when I didn't expect it, he'd cornered me and kissed me. Nothing passionate, just a peck on the lips.

At this point he asks me to join him "upstairs". I told him I didn't do such things, for one.
He asked me later on if I was mad at him. I said no. This was the first time anything like this had happened to me. In these situations I never know what to do, what to say--at least then. Now I'd tell them to go take a flying leap.
He tried to kiss me again and I said no and hurried up to my room.

I think he was a bit nervous about my saying something. Crap. I should have blackmailed him, but it would have been my word against his. And in reviewing this, and the other events surrounding my stay at John's house, I could only wonder if I had gone to bed with him, would I have wound up with an agent, and maybe eventually a publishing contract like Deb? I sort of doubt it, but who's to say?

Ah, well. Life goes on. I'm sure John, and probably Deb are long gone (dead) by now. I was in my twenties, they were much older than myself.

At least I never gave up on my writing. This manuscript has gone through a multitude of rewrites. And my frustration with what happened in Dubuque (there's a lot more to the story, but I'm saving that back), had me quit writing for a while, as I didn't know if I should have trusted someone who kept saying Stephen King couldn't write.

As of this writing, "Vampire Legacy" has a new title, and new life. It won't be ready until next year, some time, but I'm excited about it. I WILL finally see this book published!

What do you think? One I borrowed from a JB Fletcher novel title--which are all fictitious, of course.

"The Crypt of Death" 
"Crypt of the Dead"

I'm playing with it. I'd rewritten this puppy in 1999-2000. Tried to sell it to an agent, and at the time it was 800 pages long. It really needed to be chopped in half, and I did so for one agent who had seemed somewhat interested. Long story short, no one picked it up. Boohoo.

I worked on major, MAJOR rewrites in 2013. But other works had me busy at this point, so, I went on and concentrated on those. Once again, this book got stored away again.

Now, I'm working through this manuscript. Seeing where it fails, what I should do with it, and keep the word "vampire" out of the title. I'm thinking it would make a horror/suspense novel, if I worked out the kinks. And I've already made some changes and pulled a chapter out of the beginning. Not wanting the vampires to be shown in this too soon. I want readers to learn along with my detective, and another character what's going on in this town.

Well, that's my story of what happened in Dubuque, and my manuscript "Vampire Legacy" so long ago. I guess you could say this book has a story behind it all its own. I still wonder what would have happened had I went to bed with John. Just so you know, I was NOT attracted to him at all. At one time I thought about writing about it in some version and selling it to a rag (changing names, of course). I think I'll just keep it as a memoir project at some point down the line.

Have a good week, fellow writers!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Getting Organized... Riiiight

I'm sitting here at the computer writing this amid a flotsam of newspaper articles, which I've collected in the past several years. I've brought down one of my craft tables because of the over-flow, and need to do something with these clippings. There's everything from Harry Potter news of its rise in popularity, to the end of the series and movies (I am a big fan), to just different articles on anything that caught my eye. Some of it I remember, and some of it I don't. A number of things have gone into the trash where it belongs.

I've complained about having some place to put things, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I'm waiting for my royalty check in order to buy something to help the over-flow. But in the meantime, I'm trying to organize my crap.

Upstairs I've consolidated all my yarn into 3 bins--well, one is delegated to keeping the unfinished projects, so that one doesn't count.

The two bins I've emptied of yarn will become the place I will keep my journals. These are in notebooks--regular sized school notebooks, and the smaller ones, like Gregg stenos. I've kept writing a journal since 1973 (wish I'd kept one in high school, it would have been good to remember the stupid things that happened back then). But, in all I have 4 bins--you know the colored ones you see in stores. I'm trying to keep them to the 10 gallon size. Anything bigger would be insanely heavy.

At any rate, I'm in the middle of this, at the moment, having put an ending on my murder mystery. And, as usual, I've got ideas for the next one. One character I'll be introducing is inspired by someone I knew, but I'm changing him enough to at least be more likable, more intelegent, but still somewhat of a braggart and story-teller. Well, he's going to be a writer in Lainey's college writing class, and I'm seeing him as someone who commands attention, not only with his mouth, but he's a very large guy. He'll be a fan/writer of fantasy--which makes sense to me.

Well, you'll excuse me. I've got to work on my mess here in my office. Have a good week!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Running in Circles

Too many projects, I guess.

Have been working on certain re-writes of the mystery novel. It doesn't surprise me that I'm going back and forth like this. It's sort of normal for me and first tries a something (like books).

At first, and for months, I couldn't decide who was my murderer. I mean, I had someone, then decided it was too easy. Everyone would guess who it was. That would be your "red herring". So, I went through a number of people/characters in the book. No. No. No... but maybe this one.

And the clues. I came up with another clue just the other day, because it's another piece of jewelry, other than the necklace that's clutched in the dead woman's hand. It's something she wore--oh, yeah, have to write this in.

Ooops, don't want to give away too much.

I began this book last year. Had to take about half the year off from writing, last summer, before I felt like writing anything. Just go through those times when I need to recharge, and not writing anything much helps.

I've also been working on other things. Trying to make my facebook pages look more professional. You know you can add a button to sell your book to a page you have? Or anything, even your website. I've been working on this with all my pages. It's time consuming.

Also, I'm redoing my "Baby Boomer at Large" blogsite. I've just revamped it. This is a very clean, paired down version in blogger. I sort of like it. You have the article you've written w/o all the other junk getting in the way. I just wrote about the healthful benefits of elderberry. However, I think I didn't mention that you can buy this juice, or the dried berries from healthfood markets. Be aware that it is very expensive. Our HyVee store has a whole health market, and they've jacked the prices up on everything there. Elderberry juice was once $18, and I think they've jacked it up out of my reach, thus I'm making my own this year. I'll be drying the berries and storing them for use, as they are growing everywhere, not just on our property, but in the park as well. If you've never heard about how elderberries boosts your immune system, and how people have discovered it for abating flu and colds, you might want to check out this story, and the links about it. I'll be working on more posts at Baby Boomer at Large a little more often. I've been wanting to write about healthful foods and herbs for a long time. I think it's about time I worked on it, and have found the best way/place to do it.

That's about it for today. Have a good week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

One Month, and One Day...

of freedom, that is.

My husband reminded me yesterday I'd been off work for a month.
It feels longer. Odd how that would be, but it's still great!

I hurt my knee last week (and really, it doesn't surprise me), so I've been taking it easy. Other than painting the wooden steps to the porch--had to paint a primer, as it was raw wood, and next I'll give it a coat of paint. All in due time.

Since the mosquitoes came out, the woodsy garden is taking care of its own as of late. Other than spraying something on vegetation so that deer won't eat it, I haven't been back there much. I've concentrated on the other gardens. One up by the house. I had to get in the last of the annuals. That's about when I felt the twinge in my knee. I've upped my doses of Glucosamine Chondroitin complex--I'd dropped my dose to 2 pill per day, but decided maybe that wasn't such a good idea, since my knee was beginning to complain. This helps with the soft cartilage in knees so that you can move freely (and not have to use a frigging walker!!). I began taking this many years ago. All I know is it works for me. If I hadn't discovered it, who knows what would have happened. Since I'm not a fan of doctors operating unnecessarily on me (my sister had knee surgery, last year, and it took her a year to recuperate, and she'd gained weight because of all the sitting). I'd recommend it to anyone with painful knees. There's my plug for the day.

Other than that, I have been working on my works in progress.

Today we'll examine Murder on the Mississippi. I'm still debating whether to keep it Murder ON the Mississippi, or maybe AT, since the murder happens in a nearby park, not exactly on the river, but near it. Would anyone care?

Well, I've got this one character, I just love him. His name is Ed Lamont. He's an elderly gentleman who happens to resemble Mark Twain enough he does a show on his own riverboat--which is currently in repairing state. Ed is great uncle to Lainey--my MC. She calls him "Uncle Ed", as he doesn't want to be reminded how old he is. Which is fine with her. A lot of folks in town think he's a bit loopy, because he may, from time to time go into his Mark Twain bit. Always wearing the clothes, has the bushy mustache and white hair that circles his head like a cloud.

Lainey is a bit confused by the way people have claimed their dislike for the girl from her class who was murdered. In this scene, Ed--Uncle Ed--helps her categorize her friends and acquaintances.

Morning,” I said as he took my hand and gave it the usual kiss on the back.
Mind if I join you?” he asked.
Not at all. Take a load off,” I said, motioning to the rest of the bench.
He did with a windy gush as he sat.
Did'ja go to church?” he asked.
Nope,” I said.
I guess I'm not the only sinner in town, eh?” We both laughed. He patted my arm with his amusement. I gazed up at him. Pursing his lips, he whipped out that slim cigar, posed himself at the end of the bench, the other hand grasping the lapel of his coat. I knew he was going to go into a Mark Twain quote or two.
There has been only one Christian. They caught him and crucified him—early.” He leaned toward me on the end of that, to make it seem significant. I caught it easily enough. A Christian would turn red in the face and bombast him. My lips curled, despite myself. In a way I had to agree.
Faith,” he went on in his eloquent and rich voice, “is believing something you know ain't true.”
Did he really say that?” I asked, astonished.
Oh, yes.” Lamont tucked the unlit cigar between the first and second finger and crossed his knees, eyes settled on me. “You look upset, my child. What is it? Talk to me.”
I smiled. Out of all the people I knew, Uncle Ed was the kindest, most honest and most intelligent man I knew. I was astonished that I was actually related to him. At times I told him things—shared things with him—I simply couldn't share with my aunt, or even my girlfriends. Ours was a unique friendship, a bond that was based on the fact we understood and agreed with each other more times than not. I remember touring his house with my aunt, and saw all the art, beautiful and colorful paintings of flowers and landscapes that looked as though someone had taken a picture, that's how good the artist was. In many nooks and crannies there were hand-thrown clay pieces in unusual shapes and colors. I'd learned his wife had been the artist. Whatever she touched, she turned into a piece of art. She actually did shows in all the major cities. I could tell he missed his wife, Elaine, calling her “El” for short.
He leaned toward me slightly, “Are you upset about that young lady's death? What was her name again?” Thick brows that I swear were long enough to be curled, bunched together.
Arline,” I said. “And actually, I'm not upset about her death, as much as I am about how people around town felt about her.”
He sat back, cigar perched in his hand as an elbow leaned on the chair's arm. “I see. And what do all these fine people of this fine town think, or say about his poor, dead young lady?”
They pretty much hated her. My friends—” I broke off and shook my head and for a moment had to gather my thoughts. My uncle patiently waited for me to go on. “One is pretty much indifferent, the other definitely hated her.” I made a little frustrated gasp. “Today I'm wondering why I'm even friends with them,” I said, despondently. This had been another spiraling thought in my head last night. I confused about my feelings. I felt guilty for being angry at them, but because they were my friends, I felt I should stick up for them. But I just couldn't help it. I didn't see it their way.
I see.”
I don't know how to—oh, what's the word I need?” I squinted out across Front Street where an old fashioned-looking street lamp on the corner stood next to the Decadence shop, which had all sorts of hand-made deviant chocolates and fudge, reminding me I needed a hunk of fudge desperately. Decorative brickwork, with more ginkgo trees, looking as though they sprouted from the bricks naturally, decorated our main thoroughfare. The overall effect gave it a nice aesthetic and orderly look, and hinted at its heyday in the early to mid-1800's. Old brick buildings hunched together on the other side of the old street. Beyond these buildings, the mighty Mississippi shown like a broad silver ribbon. Directly across from me was Aunt Bea's Fanciful Emporium with everything you didn't need, but once you saw it, you had to buy it. The dark green awnings and flags out front fluttered in the breeze. Behind the buildings, a train slowly rumbled into view, then made a couple of short bursts on the horn. We waited until the noise from the train's engine and horn went by.
You mean categorize?” he asked, getting back to our discussion.
Well, yeah.”
He nodded, looking out across the street as I had. “Well, I'll tell you mine. Maybe you'll be able to figure out where your friends fit.” I sat forward, and poised my pen on the page, just in case I felt what he said was brilliant—which it could very well be. Since I'd known him these past two years, I'd always wanted to record his words. So, today I would.
There are those I love—” he looked at me with a twinkle in his eyes “—among which, of course, are you and your aunt.” He patted my hand. I wrote down the word LOVE. Then I added a 'D' so it was 'loved'.
Then there are acquaintances—people I like, and I speak to on a regular bases.”
Then, there are those I tolerate.”
I wrote ACQUAINTANCES on the next line and below that TOLERABLE.
And then there are those I avoid at all cost.”
I paused trying to find the antonym for “tolerate”. He leaned over and said, “Try insufferable.”
I laughed as I wrote that one down.
What you do is put all the people you know under those headings.” He nodded toward my notebook. “Whatever heading your friends come under, only you can know. It's a fine line with friendships. But again, you can be friends with a bear, but you don't want to be around when he's hungry.”
I laughed again. “So, those you tolerate, do you like them at all?”
That would depend. I like my mail lady. She's the in the tolerable column.” His voice went growly on the last few words as he made a sour face. “Barely tolerable,” he amended.
She yammers too much, for one. And also,” he leaned and lowered his voice, “thinks I'd be a good catch, if you know what I mean.”
Ah. So you merely tolerate her.”
Yes.” He nodded, slotting the tip of the cigar between his lips. “And avoid her when I can.” He shook his head with a chuckle.
And the ones who are insufferable, do you hate them?”
Hate is a strong word, Lainey. I choose not to use it, if I can.” He pondered his next words for a moment. “However there are certain people in public office I genuinely despise. And maybe, if some of them died of natural causes, I wouldn't loose a wink of sleep.” He smiled as though he were thinking of the very ones at that moment. “But in this life you will find that you will come across certain people who don't care for you, and likewise, you care naught for them. It's just human nature. And while the feelings are mutual, it wouldn't be a stretch to say I genuinely despise someone, but I wouldn't want to wish them ill. Do you understand, Lainey, my dear?”
Yes. I think I do.”
It's just easier for me to categorize the people in my life, so I know what side of the street to walk on, which shops to avoid, and who I don't want making me a meal at a local diner, if you know what I mean. Does it help?”
I think so.” I looked at my list. I tried to decide where to put a few people. AJ I barely tolerated. Arline, I didn't know, but I had nothing against her, so I decided she was an acquaintance. Someone I knew, but had no feelings one way or another about. I began labeling a few others. Under LOVE, there were only a few people. Uncle Ed would be one, along with my aunt, of course. But I couldn't really put my friends under that heading. At the moment, I was hovering over placing Wendy under “Tolerate” at the moment. I really didn't understand her emotions over Arline. Possibly it was the overreacting teenage hormones at work here. Or, perhaps, she merely hadn't matured as much as I had. Or, it was something more organic.
The last of the clicking train cars disappeared from view, and the warm, humid air fluttered flags and awnings a little harder, making a noise behind us. Birdsong in the tree above us gave way to a few cars that shushed by.
The sheriff arrested AJ Beaumont, last night,” I announced, and waited for his reaction.
Beaumont?” He paused and thought a moment. “That name rings a bell.”
His father's a lawyer.”
Ah!” he barked. “That overbearing curmudgeon? His father was a—well, I won't say it in front of you. But his son?”
Yes. He graduated with me, just this past June.”
He nodded. “So, it's believed he killed this young lady?”
A piece of jewelry was found in her hand. They think it belonged to him. I saw him wearing it—or one just like it.”
Incriminating evidence.” He nodded.
I doodled on a new page, and then found myself writing the words, incriminating evidence, necklace/jewelry. And a big question mark. Lamont watched me.
What else is bothering you, Lainey, my dear?”
The reason.”
The reason?”
I mean motive. Why he killed her. If he did.”
Ah, yes. Presumed guilty until proven otherwise.”
I just wish I could get into Arline's apartment before it's cleared out.”
I shrugged. “I might be able to find something the police missed.”
An excellent idea. Where does she live?”
The Chandelier.”
I know Madeline Couch, the owner-manager,” he said.
An acquaintance?” I smiled.
He smiled back. “Yes, a good acquaintance. I could give her a call. Tell her you'd like to come out there and look around.”
That would be great!” I said. “But I'd have to tell Sheriff Weeks, first, and have his approval.”
Then call him. Tell him.”
I twisted my mouth with indecision. “He'll just think I'm meddling in police business.”
Lainey, you've a gift,” he said patting my hand. “You have great instincts for a young lady. I do believe you've an old soul. And your power of observation is better than most flat-footed policemen.”
You're embarrassing me.” I chuckled. It wasn't the first time I'd been told I had an old soul. But someone had actually noticed I had the power of observation, and good instincts. Maybe I should have him speak to my aunt.
When would you be going out there?” he asked, a small fold-out cell phone in hand. It was odd seeing a man who so resembling a famous early-twentieth century writer holding a twenty-first century electronic gadget.
Probably tomorrow, since we're closed.”
He made the connection, and while he spoke to the woman on the other end—making small talk—my aunt drove up in her blue Toyota. I hopped up and stepped over to the curb, knowing she'd need help. Poe was first to jump out of the front seat and into my arms. I petted him with a kiss to the top of the head. Loved.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


I am the most disorganized person. Okay, maybe not, but I'm right up there. A whirlwind is more organized than I am, and that's what my desk looks like constantly.

In the attempt to keep important things I need at my fingertips, I've put important passwords on my sidebar. I've put these things on note cards, too, but you think I can find anything? Take my Health Care account. I have lost my password for that. Don't even try to go and change it, you can't.

Then I got an email from the Social Security telling me to view my statement for the year. This year I have to apply for social security, in August, but I need to do this before my birthday. Probably at end of June. I figured I had my password somewhere. I didn't worry until this morning when I wend to look for it. I went through everything, my sidebar with the little notepads are--nope. My many note cards in a bin. Nope. In my date book in the notes area. Nope.

I've given up. I know I've visited the site, and had these things. Well, at leas I do have my social security #, I thought, and hit their site and what do you know? They have HOURS in which they respond to things.

Well fudge!

Ever have one of those mornings when all you touch goes haywire? That's my morning, so far. Think I'll go suck my thumb.

I've been working on another one of my blogs, "Got Vampire?", cleaning it up. Still working on that. I've had to go in and change all my book covers, and take out a number of things. This blog once belonged to Carole Gill, and she invited me to join her, and we were both on this blog together. Then, she went another way, but told me I could do whatever I wanted with the blog. I haven't been keeping up on it for a while, so when I went and looked at it the other day, I realized it needed overhauling. That's what I did yesterday. Almost there. Still need to work on a few things, take some things out. Make it simpler, not as crowded. I still have things to do. It takes a lot of work to keep up a blog. I've got too many, I'll admit.

Let me know what you think and get back to me.

Have a good Memorial Day Weekend (those of you in the US), otherwise have a good weekend!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Light At The End of The Tunnel

This is finals week for NIU. As some of you who've visited me here know I drive a transit for a company that serves the college. Months ago, my husband and I determined I'd be able to take the summer off. We'd pay off the truck--and did!--just this past weekend. No more seeing the inside of Fifth/Third Bank. No more writing out a check for over $400 every month. We could survive on Dennis' pay check, for the three glorious months I'd be off. Especially, since he'd had a nice raise in his pay this spring.

I haven't had a full summer off in ages! This is going to be great! Usually, in order to get ready to leave for work by a little after 6:00am, we'd have to rise at 4am. Now, we'll be getting up at around 5am. Dennis' job is basically out his door, so he likes to get going on the mower, or do other things and have an early quitting time.

Me? I'll keep myself busy--somehow (hah!) I've gotten a handle on my woodland garden, in the first section. I've got to transplant a number of plants that need dividing, and there's other big projects I want to do.

Writing, I'm not going to push myself, but that will come as there'll be plenty of rainy days, or later when it's too hot/muggy for me to work outside.

So, I've got 4 more days to drive, and I'm chomping at the bit, so to speak.