If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th. In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Who's the Traffic Planner? & Other Snippets from the Holidays


We’re now halfway through January, and the joys and frustrations of the holiday season are behind us. Although it’s only been a few weeks, I am beginning to see the humor in some of the more exasperating things that happened.

I hate airports. My first job, as a teenager, was in Hangar 14 of JFK Airport in New York. The traffic was horrendous, and the roads looped around in spirals, with a myriad of signs pointing off in all directions. To this day, airport traffic threatens to give me panic attacks.
And I need to go...

One of my daughters was flying into Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. for the holidays. Obviously, I had to pick her up.

DC rush hour traffic can be intense. I asked her to try to avoid both morning and afternoon rush hours, if she possibly could. So she scheduled a 6:40 PM arrival. That, of course, meant she did land just as rush hour was ending, but it also meant I had to drive through it to get to the airport. And since I have a fair distance to go, I encountered an additional, smaller, but no less nerve-shattering, rush hour in Frederick, MD.

Once past Frederick, the traffic thinned as I drove west through a rural area. I ended up behind an empty logging truck that drove for 30 miles with the left turn indicator light blinking. Amazing how annoying that can be. The cab had huge windows, with the setting sun shining through, and I had a good view of the driver. He kept leaning so far over to the right that I was afraid he was going to fall and let go of the steering wheel. He also seemed to lack familiarity with the truck’s gears. Every time we had to slow down or stop, he’d send the truck through a series of jerks, and he stalled coming out of a traffic circle. Of course, I was stuck in the circle behind him.

Part of the road down by the airport is toll--probably why they call it the Dulles Toll Road. A fairly outrageous toll. Last time, they charged me ten dollars and change, although I looked it up on the internet and have come to the conclusion that was the wrong amount. But what can you do when the toll taker insists that's what it is?

At least there was a toll taker! This time, the booths were unmanned. I had cash in the cup holder next to me, enough to pay whatever amount they said I owed, but the only choices I had were EZ Pass or credit card.

Unlike many people I know, I do have a credit card. Whether I had it with me was open to question, and I definitely would have to dredge for it. I pulled over on the shoulder and looked frantically through my stuff. I did have one, so I could go through the gate, but I have to wonder how many people are caught with this. And what do you do if you don't have a credit card?

I picked up my daughter. On the way home, we stopped for a nice, relaxing dinner. I tried not to think about getting her back to the airport for the flight home.
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Gifts for adult children are often a problem. I gave one of my daughters a new pair of pants. She loved them—a tight stretchy fabric with pockets and a zipper that fit perfectly. Unlike me, she has a figure worthy of a close fit, and she’s gone from home for long days, with college classes and work, so comfort is important.

The first time she wore them, she was on the city bus, going to a full day of classes and then straight to work for five hours. The bus was not crowded, and she sat on one of the bench seats facing the aisle, put her backpack next to her, and stretched her legs out a bit.

She noticed that one of the pants legs was caught up or something—it was a good four inches above the other. Shifting in her seat, she tried to straighten out the pants. When that didn’t work, she stood up and tugged on them.

At that point, she came to the realization that one pants leg actually was four inches shorter than the other one.

As she said, what kind of manufacturer could let that slip past quality control? How could they expect anyone to buy something like that? I pointed out to her that, in fact, some fool had not only bought them, but given them as a gift.

In the frenzy of late November and December, I wasn’t able to keep up with my usual schedule of writing. (Although in the last few months, with doctors’ appointments, family emergencies, etc, I have to ask myself if I actually have a usual schedule of writing anymore.) But I didn’t totally neglect it.

I worked on a quirky short story. It was more theme-oriented than most of my work, based on a dire warning given by older people of a certain socio-economic station to youngsters: "Stay out of the system."

Once you are in the corrections system cycle, even as a juvenile, it's tough to get out, and everything in life is much harder. Recidivism is expected, and in many ways it's almost built into the system. Those sally ports in jails and prisons can turn into revolving doors, where a minor slip-up, or sometimes just circumstances, can lead to a hopeless "life on the installment plan." The story featured the endless downward spiral of one paroled felon who was trying to make a life for himself outside prison. Without much success.

When I read over my final version, I was pleased with it. I thought the entire thing demonstrated the relentless cycle in which many people become trapped. On pins and needles as I always am when I submit a piece, I sent it off

I got a very quick and very kind rejection, with the comment from the editor that they couldn't use the story because it had no closure.

Since that was what I was aiming for, I guess I should chalk one up for achieving my goal. For what good it did.

Do you have frustrations that, in retrospect, you can find amusing?



15 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Life is not fair to those less advantaged. I despair that the society we live in will change in that regard.

~ Jim

Carla Damron said...

Your point about the "system" is well made. I was talking with a colleague yesterday and both of us had had clients who were stuck in county jail for months and months over minor infractions--they just got lost in the system.

Warren Bull said...

The difference between amusement and frustration is
1) who it happened to and 2) the passage of time.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I find that a lot of people have no understanding of the way the actual justice system works in this country--or doesn't work, especially for people without easy access to money for lawyers, fines, etc. You might think about revising your story as a creative nonfiction piece with added research and stats, so that your fictional character is merely a way of bringing all that info to life. You might be able to have it published that way without having to write the obligatory and false happy ending.

Shari Randall said...

I can't imagine being more frustrated - being told that your book needs closure when you know that the reality is no closure....Write it the way you want to, KM!

E. B. Davis said...

Amusing? I'm not sure about that, KM. I know the roads you traveled very well so I can imagine what you went through. Really--get an EZ Pass aka--Smart Tag. You can use them up and down the East coast and save a lot of time. When we drive to NC, there's a toll road south of Norfolk through Chesapeake. I zip through with my EZ Pass. You can use them north of the DC area, too!

My frustration is trying to fit my schedule around my kids. There's nothing for it but go with the flow. No elaborate holidays, it's hard enough just to get everyone together in the same time and place.

KM Rockwood said...

Jim, I fear you are right.

KM Rockwood said...

Carla, I knew one guy who was rude to the clerk of the court. Somehow his sentence got reported to Dept. of Corrections as 45 years, rather than 4.5 years. Quite a difference, in everything from security level to mandatory release date. And it took most of the 4.5 years to obtain a copy of the transcript and get a counselor to pay enough attention to start the process to get it corrected.

He said he'd learned not to shoot his mouth off at people. You never know when it will come back to bite you.

KM Rockwood said...

Warren, many things that seem totally humorless can become amusing as time goes on. Especially if they happened to someone else.

One of the most amusing stories in my extended family is about the time a guest managed to set the Thanksgiving dinner table on fire. Although my sister, the hostess, never did see the humor in it.

KM Rockwood said...

Linda, I'm sure you're right that it could form the basis for a solid non-fiction piece. But I think it would take someone with a different (better?) skill set than mine to make it accurate and readable.

KM Rockwood said...

Shari, what I considered to be the central point of the story apparently wasn't obvious enough to the editor. And, of course, he's got a responsibility to present the best material he can find. I'll probably try to submit it somewhere else, but I appreciate him giving me some comments to think about.

KM Rockwood said...

E.B, maybe I have to re-evaluate an EZ Pass. Last time I checked them out, there was a minimum fee that had to be charged each month or you had a service charge. For absolutely nothing. And I have heard some horror stories, the worst one being someone whose credit card was renewed, as they are every few years, and she didn't realize that meant her old one was not valid and she had to change it with EZ Pass. She ended up with several hundred dollars in fines for using an invalid credit card.

The rest of the EZ Pass territory I head into (PA & NJ Turnpikes, bridges in the NYC area) have reasonable, if slower, alternatives.

Gloria Alden said...


KM, I agree with those comments about the justice system and how it works. It's one of the things I love about your Jesse Damon series. You bring that to life for those of us who haven't had personal experience.

As for the EZ Pass, it's very helpful for my daughter, who lives in the San Francisco area, but would be of little use to me since I rarely use the turnpike.

LD Masterson said...

The criminal court system and the toll booth issue have one thing in common - our society has replaced common sense with red tape and we are choking on it.

Sarah Henning said...

I get super frustrated at fictional portrayals of how the media works. Almost nothing is ever right!