Writes of Passage

Writes of Passage

Writes of Pas­sage

There’s a new book com­ing out from Hen­ery Press on Sep­tem­ber 9. It’s a col­lec­tion of essays from Sis­ters in Crime mem­bers, all designed to por­tray per­son­al sto­ries of authors from mul­ti-pub­lished best­selling to wannabes. The sto­ries span most any expe­ri­ence of a writ­ing jour­ney.  Any writer will find pas­sages of sup­port, laugh­ter, and under­stand­ing. Here’s the Ama­zon page for Writes of Pas­sage. (Should I men­tion I’m one of the 59 con­trib­u­tors?)

Cherish on Pre-Order

Cherish12-1-2013-Front-400Ama­zon has a new pro­gram, pre-orders on e‑books for self-pub­lished authors. I could­n’t miss that with my new book. So Cher­ish is list­ed here. The e‑book will be avail­able on Sep­tem­ber 10. The paper­back page will appear (and be on sale) Sep­tem­ber 1, 2014.

Here’s the blurb: It’s the sopho­more Local His­to­ry ceme­tery vis­it. Sure, it’s almost Hal­loween, but Kay­la has seen that ghost for years. She wants to make the ghost go away, but she should­n’t have touched her hand, because, That’s When Every­thing Changed.

Kay­la finds her­self in 1946 as some­one else, some­one whose name is on an elab­o­rate tomb­stone. Is she Cher­ish, or is Cher­ish her? Is Cher­ish tak­ing her place?

Fact: Cher­ish is ruin­ing her life in two cen­turies. If Kay­la does­n’t find her way home to her own time and her own body, she will die with Cher­ish in a few days.
Ques­tion: Do cell phone texts span the cen­turies? And, if they do, will Kay­la’s friends believe her?

 

Revealing Cherish Cover Today

Today is the big day — the big REVEAL! Cher­ish, a ghost mys­tery for young teens is show­ing its face. (Okay, just the eyes.)Cherish12-1-2013-Front-400

This is real­ly Kay­la’s sto­ry. She’s the 15-year-old Sopho­more who is tired of see­ing things oth­ers don’t see. But when she faces the teenage ghost, it’s Kay­la who dis­ap­pears.

Where did she go? What’s with the year 1946? And why don’t her twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry friends miss her? Who is tak­ing her place? 

Cher­ish (A YA Ghost Mys­tery) will be pub­lished Sep­tem­ber 1, 2014. If you can’t wait until then, read the first two chap­ters here.

Be pre­pared for a spooky read. Remem­ber — Hal­loween is com­ing!

Cover Reveal — Coming

In Sep­tem­ber my YA ghost mys­tery, Cher­ish, will be pub­lished (before allCherish-Pre-reveal cover my grand­kids get too old to be inter­est­ed in Hal­loween sto­ries). I’m doing a cov­er reveal pro­gram on my Goodreads site. I’ll encour­ag­ing per­spec­tive read­ers (of all ages) to list Cher­ish as “want to read” by giv­ing away a two-chap­ter PDF.

Here’s the back-cov­er blurb.

Cher­ish can’t be my name. It does­n’t sound right. But who am I? I should have lis­tened bet­ter in that mini-psych class in mid­dle school. I’ve heard of bi-polar and mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties. I think. Is this the way peo­ple go crazy?”

Kay­la should­n’t have tak­en that strange girl’s hand, because that’s when Every­thing Changed.

And, was­n’t it the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry? What’s with the date, Octo­ber 1946? That can’t be right.”

But, if SHE is Cher­ish, how about the date on that tomb­stone? If she does­n’t find a way back to her own body, and her own time.., Kay­la will DIE in a few days.

Not on the cov­er, the ele­va­tor pitch for this mys­tery: How can Kay­la return to own cen­tu­ry after she finds her­self in 1946 with only her cell phone and a cou­ple of Twinkies?

Ghosts and Hal­loween — sound like a mys­tery you’d like to read?

I’ve heard of moth­er-daugh­ter reads. This is a grand­moth­er-grand­daugh­ter read. I know, as a grand­moth­er, I con­tin­ue to be amazed by every­thing peo­ple do with their cell phones. (And, believe me, I had a lot of younger gen­er­a­tion help while writ­ing about text-mes­sag­ing — a big part of the mys­tery in this book.) Teens will be just as amazed by last cen­tu­ry’s antique social media — the hard-wired tele­phone that isn’t going any­where, or doing much of any­thing.

 

 

 

Under-the-Tree Good

Vin­nie Hansen, the very first guest I’ve had on this blog, is a retired high school Eng­lish teacher who lives in San­ta Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia. From the sto­ry she tells me, it sounds like she and her hus­band, artist Daniel S. Fried­man love to travel—and read.


In my fam­i­ly we have the expres­sion “under-the-tree good.” It refers to a

Vinnie-under treehot South Dako­ta after­noon when my broth­er Frank mixed up some orange Kool-Aid for us, his three younger sib­lings. He put ice cubes in it. We sat in a shady spot in the tree line behind the house and drank the bev­er­age from bright­ly col­ored alu­minum cups. The four of us agreed this was the best Kool-Aid ever. Thus orig­i­nat­ed the stan­dard of under-the-tree good.

How much dif­fer­ence real­ly could there be in one batch of Kool-Aid vs. anoth­er? In truth, a con­flu­ence of elements—heat, shade, kind­ness, ice-cubes—conspired to cre­ate the sen­sa­tion of under-the-tree good.

Exter­nals can also shape our expe­ri­ence with a book. I recent­ly read Cara Black’s Mur­der in the Latin Quar­ter while stay­ing in the Latin Quar­ter. The book became a blue print for a scav­enger hunt. My hus­band and I tracked down 61 rue Buf­fon, the scene of the crime.Vinnie-61 rue Buffon Across the street was the love­ly Jardin des Plantes. With­out the mys­tery, I may not have vis­it­ed, although this gar­den is every bit as beau­ti­ful and wor­thy as Jardin du Lux­em­bourg. But I had to go to the gar­den! Pro­tag­o­nist Aimée Leduc escaped through the grounds on her Ves­pa.Vinnie-Jardin des Plantes2

My hus­band and I walked up into the area where Hem­ing­way lived and Ver­laine wrote his poet­ry. At the Pan­theon where Vic­tor Hugo is interred, I looked about and thought, “This is where the sec­ond mur­der in the book takes place.”Vinnie-Aimée’s Vespa escape

Impor­tant scenes in the mys­tery involve inhab­i­tants of the cat­a­combs that run under Paris. My hus­band and I didn’t descend into these tun­nels. How­ev­er, on Pont de la Con­corde, two men, clear­ly not city work­ers, popped up out of a man­hole and crossed the bridge. I felt as though the book were com­ing alive in front of me! Even though Mur­der in the Latin Quar­ter is set in 1997, it is clear that peo­ple still haunt this under­ground world of Paris.

Even now as I fin­ish the book at home, I fol­low Aimée along the streets of Paris. When she turns onto Rue Cujas, I think, “We were there!”

All this makes read­ing the book an under-the-tree good expe­ri­ence.

My own Car­ol Sabala mys­tery series is set in what author Lau­ra Crum called a “faith­ful­ly ren­dered” San­ta Cruz. San­ta Cruz is a tourist-des­ti­na­tion beach town full of won­der­ful sights. Like Cara Black­’s books, mine are set back in time, but many San­ta Cruz land­marks have not changed. I love the idea of a San­ta Cruz tourist pick­ing up one of my mys­ter­ies, new­ly re-released from mis­te­rio press.

While read­ing Mur­der, Hon­ey, maybe he or she will be inspired to eat a burger—meat or veggie—at Car­po’s. If the per­son is in town for our annu­al Open Stu­dios in Octo­ber, what fun to com­bine the trip with Art, Wine & Bul­lets set dur­ing the art event!

I would love to pro­vide an under-the-tree-good expe­ri­ence.


Vin­nie is in the process of updat­ing her Car­ol Sabala mys­tery series for re-release by mis­te­rio press, while also work­ing on the next install­ment in the series.

Art, Wine and Bul­lets by VINNIE HANSENVinnie cover-ArtWineBulletsEbook

A Car­ol Sabala Mur­der Mys­tery
The stran­gled body of a gallery own­er offers Car­ol an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cement her rep­u­ta­tion as a pri­vate eye. Instead, the inves­ti­ga­tion turns into a night­mare dur­ing which Car­ol unrav­els much more than a mur­der case.

Avail­able through Ama­zon, Barnes & Noble and her pub­lish­er mis­te­rio press.
Vin­nie’s web site

 

More about Amish TV

I live in Lan­cast­er Coun­ty, Penn­syl­va­nia, where the words “Amish” and “TV” don’t belong togeth­er. Many, pos­si­bly most Amish don’t even use elec­tric­i­ty. We are befud­dled about all this “Amish Mafia” stuff. We, espe­cial­ly me, only know about it from our local news­pa­per. In fact, today’s poll shows 80.9 % say “Yes, enough is enough.” But that does­n’t leave near­ly twen­ty per­cent who want to watch it because 13.7 % say, “Hon­est­ly, I don’t watch this stuff and I don’t care either way.”

Okay, I’m get­ting the cart before the horse. What brought this sub­ject up again? A cou­ple of front-page arti­cles in yes­ter­day’s news­pa­per. One tells about anoth­er “real­i­ty” TV show being filmed right now, “Amish Haunt­ing.” The oth­er is the sto­ry of a local film­mak­er who wants to com­bat those offen­sive Amish shows. (Fol­low the links to read their arti­cles.)

The film­mak­er, Mary Haver­stick, calls it Amish-sploita­tion. She won­ders what would hap­pen if some­one should pro­duce such films about anoth­er reli­gion, say, Chris­t­ian, Jew­ish, or Mus­lim. Nope, they would­n’t do that. They pre­fer to attack a reli­gion that does­n’t believe in object­ing to any­thing, or tak­ing any­one to court.

Some­thing I learned—all those shows are cre­at­ed and filmed by a pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny called Hot Snakes Media. Besides “Amish Mafia” and the Haunt­ing men­tioned above, they have pro­duced “Break­ing Amish” and “Return to Amish.” Might sound like they spe­cial­ize in Amish pro­duc­tions, but they also have oth­ers, among them “Elder Skel­ter” and “Naked Sci­ence.” One has to won­der about the bril­liance of the TV audi­ence.

Fly-in Pancake Breakfast

A love­ly June morn­ing, clear and com­fort­ably warm. Sat­ur­day was a per­fect day for our planned out­ing. My hus­band and I drove to Smoke­town Air­port in Penn­syl­va­nia for break­fast. Why? We do it every year when they have the Fly-in, Cruise-in Pan­cake Break­fast. We eat break­fast then stroll around to see the antique auto­mo­biles and air­planes. We vis­it with our friends Jack and Shirley who have helped orga­nize and run the event for years, and any of their chil­dren or grand­chil­dren who might be there. (Three gen­er­a­tions of fly­ers in that bunch.)

This year we did­n’t have any of our grand­chil­dren along to take a Young Eagles air­plane ride. That’s part of the event—a free air­plane ride and a Young Eagles cer­tifi­cate for all chil­dren ages eight through sev­en­teen. A band plays while peo­ple wan­der and watch a para­chuter jump from 3,000 feet. (Our friend Jack pilot­ed the plane.)

All the air­planes and antique autos are spiffed up and gleam­ing. We saw a bright yel­low street rod and anoth­er car from 1927. The air­planes includ­ed a cou­ple of ultra-lights, a home-built ir two, and a 1929 Fairchild 71. It’s one of only sev­en still fly­ing, and it sparkled. It has a long body for extra stor­age and wick­er seats for four or five.

Since we saw the news­pa­per pho­tog­ra­ph­er tak­ing pic­tures, I wait­ed until Sun­day to write this up so I could include a link to the air­port fly-in arti­cle.

I know this blog is my mys­tery, his­to­ry, and spook writ­ings, and this is only his­to­ry with a real stretch. But maybe it’s inspi­ra­tion. Hmm. Do I want to write a mys­tery about a dar­ing Nan­cy Drew type with her vin­tage auto solv­ing crimes?

One thing I do want to add is the link to the inter­view I men­tioned in my last blog post. (It’s now bro­ken.) Now, here’s where to find my Cof­fee Chat with Ally Shields.

A Coffee Chat

I’m vis­it­ing Ally Shields for cof­fee and a chat. She asks me ques­tions while we sip. She wants to know all about my next mystery—a YA ghost sto­ry. And, of course, she wants a new fact added to my bio.

Vis­it Ally Shields blog to read about more than just me. She likes to inter­view writ­ers on the para­nor­mal side. Most inter­est­ing.

Radium Girls

Radi­um girls?” What does that mean, you ask. Think “glow in the dark.” Now cast your mind back to the 1920s. Okay, my mind does­n’t go back that far, and I imag­ine, nei­ther does yours.

Let’s start from the begin­ning. I live in Lan­cast­er Coun­ty, Penn­syl­va­nia, home of Hamil­ton Watch and in the past, anoth­er watch com­pa­ny. A local news­pa­per colum­nist, Jack Brubak­er, has been fol­low­ing radi­um girls. He found sev­er­al, one is 102 year-old Cora Bod­key. When she was four­teen, she worked for Hamil­ton Watch paint­ing radi­um num­bers on watch­es. They used pens instead of brush­es and were warned not to put the pens in their mouths. Even then, in 1926, they knew that many women liked to point their brush­es by mouth and some were get­ting sick. Oth­er than that, they had no clue about radi­um, only that it glowed in the dark.

Even­tu­al­ly, watch com­pa­nies switched to using tri­tium and the gov­ern­ment began to strict­ly reg­u­late its use, although it was less radioac­tive. One woman, who used a brush, remem­bers they test­ed her urine every week, and, although it was always high, noth­ing was ever done about it. Few local­ly knew about any­one being sick, but one remem­bered a woman who died of tongue can­cer.

Radi­um girls were at work in oth­er places before World War I. One always thinks of the world becom­ing more dan­ger­ous. But now, in 2014, we think of a per­son of four­teen as a child, and radi­um as def­i­nite­ly noth­ing to han­dle. Come to think of it, every time I read of the dan­gers of mer­cury poi­son­ing, I remem­ber the time, maybe I was four­teen, when one of us broke a ther­mome­ter. We had a lot of fun rolling those lit­tle gray dots around the floor in semi-liq­uid balls, push­ing them with our fin­gers. Yep, mer­cury.

April Showers-And April Memories

The last day of April, and the rain is pour­ing down. I’m try­ing to remem­ber to sing the words to a song that was pop­u­lar years ago — April Show­ers. I’m try­ing to remem­ber that, accord­ing to the song, show­ers bring May flow­ers, but this isn’t show­ers. It’s a pound-through-the-umbrel­la down­pour.

Okay, instead or look­ing for­ward to those flow­ers, I’m look­ing back to Aprils of past years.

Twen­ty-five years ago the Penn­syl­va­nia Super 7 lot­tery was at a then-record high $115,500,000 jack­pot. Even­tu­al­ly, four­teen win­ners each received $317,524 per year for twen­ty-six years. They have one year more to go. (I don’t remem­ber this sto­ry. I was­n’t into bet­ting on the lot­tery.) I do remem­ber the then-pop­u­lar TV shows: “Alf” “Cheers,” McGyver,” and “Gold­en Girls.”

Fifty years ago the Ford Mus­tang made its debut local­ly, priced at $2,368. After six­ty years in busi­ness, when the 91 year old own­er retired, the Smith­son­ian accept­ed the fix­tures of his phar­ma­cy to cre­ate a “Gay ’90s Apothe­cary” at the muse­um. Movies show­ing local­ly were: “The Hor­ror at Par­ty Beach,” The Curse of the Liv­ing Corpse,” Cleopa­tra,” and “Mus­cle Beach Par­ty,” (at the dri­ve-in with Annette Funi­cel­lo and Frankie Aval­on). I prob­a­bly did­n’t see any of those movies. I was busy with a very young fam­i­ly of small chil­dren, and my hus­band was work­ing three jobs.

Sev­en­ty-five years ago the local library got its very first book­mo­bile. Most of the coun­ty adopt­ed Day­light Sav­ing Time-but one town held out for reg­u­lar time, how­ev­er their banks and busi­ness opened an hour ear­li­er to accom­mo­date their cus­tomers. Pop­u­lar radio shows were “Lum and Abn­er,” “Jack Arm­strong” (the all-Amer­i­can boy‑I do remem­ber that one), “The Lone Ranger,” and “The Green Hor­net.” These were all before I was mar­ried, so this was not my coun­ty. I def­i­nite­ly remem­ber our book­mo­bile com­ing from Belling­ham, Wash­ing­ton, and stop­ping at the bot­tom of the hill, after a thir­ty-mile trip.

Now, I have no per­son­al mem­o­ry of one hun­dred years ago. I’m old, but not that old. How­ev­er, local­ly in mid-April it was Cleanup Week. Thou­sands of peo­ple includ­ing chil­dren paint­ed, scrubbed, white-washed, and swept while wan­der­ing judges toured and award­ed prizes. Anoth­er week some two hun­dred peo­ple attend­ed an after­noon social hon­or­ing Nation­al Ral­ly Day of the Suf­fragettes. The event began with singing “The Bat­tle Hymn of the Repub­lic.” Also dur­ing April, “The Last Days of Pom­peii,” a silent mov­ing pic­ture was being shown — admis­sion price ten cents.