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WWK Satuday Bloggers: 8/24 Kait Carson
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.
Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.
Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!
Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.
Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files
Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p
Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.
James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.
Monday, August 19, 2019
It was March 2018, a cold and blustery day in my small town of Alliston, Ontario, Canada, the groundhog getting his forecast for an early spring wrong once again. I sat down at the kitchen table with a cup of cinnamon rooibos tea and the community paper, setting aside the grocery store flyers for later perusal. As I scanned obituaries (yes, I do that) and stories of local politics, restaurant openings, and high school sports accomplishments, one article grabbed my attention:
MAN STILL MISSING 13 YEARS AFTER DISAPPEARANCE
The article went on to report that in 2005, a 24-year-old man had dropped out of college, moved back home, and then, one day, when he was supposed to be out job hunting, left a note for his family on the kitchen counter: he was leaving to find himself. No one has seen or heard from him since.
The photo of the young man accompanying the piece was credited to Ontario Missing Adults. I’d never heard of it, and googled to find out more. What I discovered took my breath away: eighteen pages, 25 entries per page, of missing adults, some dating back as far as 1935. Another 200 entries of Unidentified Adults, remains found, identity unknown.
And this was just for Ontario. Further research showed that in 2017, 78,000+ adults were reported to the RCMP as missing in Canada. And while the majority of cases were solved within a few days, far too many remained unsolved.
I reached out to the founder of the Missing Adults Registry, Lusia Dion. “Dealing with missing adults is a difficult issue,” she told me. “There is no law that prevents an adult from voluntarily picking up and starting a new life somewhere else. The situation is further complicated in cases where there is no clear indication of foul play. It’s a delicate balance between respecting the adult’s privacy, while trying to determine exactly what has happened to them. At the same time, family and friends of the missing person are left to grapple with feelings and situations for which there is no guidebook. I created the Ontario Registry of Missing and Unidentified Adults as a first step in helping those families.”
While the young man featured in the article initially inspired the story behind A Fool’s Journey, the novel is a compilation of many cases fueled by countless hours of scouring the Registry, and the invaluable and compassionate input of Lusia Dion, who has a small role in the book as Lucy Daneluk, founder of the fictional Ontario Registry for Missing and Unidentified Adults.
And now, here’s a bit about the book:
In March 2000, twenty-year old Brandon Colbeck left home to find himself on a self-proclaimed “fool’s journey.” No one—not friends or family—has seen or heard from him since, until a phone call from a man claiming to be Brandon brings everything back to the forefront. Calamity (Callie) Barnstable and her team at Past & Present Investigations have been hired to find out what happened to Brandon, and, if still alive, where he might be. As Callie follows a trail of buried secrets and decades-old deceptions only one thing is certain: whatever the outcome, there is no such thing as closure.
Now available for pre-order, A Fool’s Journey, book 3 in Judy’s Marketville Mystery series, will be released on August 21 in trade paperback at all the usual suspects, and on Kindle.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-fools-journey-judy-penz-sheluk/1132632054
Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery and Marketville Mystery series, and the editor of The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense. Her short stories can be found in several collections. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at judypenzsheluk.com.
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Welcome to our guest, Sherry Harris.
Is the publishing world anything like you thought it would be?
Friday, August 16, 2019
The Fellowship Continues by JRR Tolkien
Thursday, August 15, 2019
1. I enjoy writing mysteries and prefer leaving the CSI end of it to others. I’m interested in the puzzle aspect. The human factor. How my characters relate to one another. Why was a person or persons murdered? How does my sleuth track him or her down and prove his or her guilt?
2. I love writing a mystery from an amateur sleuth’s perspective. Not a homicide detective armed and trained to solve murders, but a so-called “average” citizen with enough intelligence, drive, and curiosity to solve a mystery. Like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, cozy sleuths observe suspects. They ask questions. They eavesdrop. They do research. They befriend the police investigating the murder. In my Haunted Library mystery series written as Allison Brook, Carrie Singleton is the head of Programs and Events of the Clover Ridge Library in Connecticut. Sleuths in my other mystery series are a high school English teacher, a retired CEO, and a college professor who leads a Golden Age of Mystery book club.
3. While I enjoy plotting, my characters are my priority. What makes each of them tick? How do they relate to one another? Why do they behave the way they do? Some of my characters are quirky. Others are likable. They are very real to me. They have to be since they appear in one book after another.
4. I love writing cozies because they’re written in series. I love writing series because with each new book, readers get a chance to learn more about my sleuth and her friends, family, love interests and enemies. My characters evolve and mature. In the Haunted Library series, Carrie Singleton starts out as an unhappy loner who dyes her hair purple and wears Goth-style clothing. Over time she develops friendships, a romantic relationship, and a growing concern for the town where she lives.
5. I ADORE secrets. Many of my characters have secrets that impact their current behavior. Secrets can make a character look guilty when she isn’t. Secrets can drive a character to murder.
6. Cozies are set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else. A cozy’s setting is another character of the story because it affects all the characters. My Haunted Library mystery series takes place in Clover Ridge, CT, a small town with centuries-old homes, restaurants, and shops built around a village green. The library where my sleuth, Carrie Singleton, works is housed in one of these large former residences.
7. Romance winds its way in many cozies. In DEATH OVERDUE, the first book in my Haunted Library series, Carrie finds herself attracting the attention of two very different men.
8. Animals and cozies go hand-in-hand. In DEATH OVERDUE, a stray half-grown cat attaches himself to Carrie and she ends up bringing him to work with her. Smoky Joe proves to be very sociable and becomes the Library Cat. In one book in the series he helps solve a mystery.
9. Cozies are resolved on a happy note. The murderer is caught. Future books in the series give one’s sleuth an opportunity to forge more adventures and solve more mysteries.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
One of my assorted past jobs was in a medium security state prison, where I supervised a work crew
Working day in and day out with a small group of convicted criminals offers an interesting perspective on our law enforcement, courts, corrections and some of the people who get caught up in the system.
As long as I worked for the state, I was careful to follow the regulations surrounding interaction between staff and inmates. Not everyone is. One of my co-workers became pregnant by an inmate, and married him when he was released.
When budget cutbacks and changes in administrative practices gutted most of the programs and services available in the prison, changing the entire atmosphere, I decided to move on. Once I was no longer a state employee, I was free to keep in touch with many of the inmates, primarily by mail. For some, I was their only contact with anyone outside prison.
Having access to inside information on how things worked, from a convict’s point of view, has been a wonderful asset for my writing.
At some point, I promised one guy, Smitty, that I’d pick him up and take him to lunch when he got released from prison. And drive him to whatever program or housing he managed to find.
To tell the truth, I never thought the day would come.
He’d have parole hearings, of course, but who’d ever vote to parole him?
Prisons got more and more overcrowded. Budgets got cut. Public and political opinion on “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” thinking began to change.
Smitty got older and mellowed out. He started working as an observation aide. In that position, he took eight-hour shifts sitting outside the cell of an inmate on suicide watch, checking on him and making a notation every ten minutes. It paid a little over a dollar a shift. He was careful and conscientious.
Finally, he was granted parole on a delayed release.
He didn’t realize it at the time, but another factor probably figured into the decision. He was at a very high risk for liver cancer. If he developed it while he was incarcerated, the prison system would be responsible for providing expensive care, probably including trips to outside facilities. Each trip would take several corrections officers and a vehicle, a considerable expense. And always a security risk.
The eighteen months before his release date were supposed to prepare him for re-entry to society. Transfer to a minimum security/prerelease program. Participate in Narcotics Anonymous. Be assigned to an outside work detail, probably picking up trash along the highway. Finally get a job on work release, preferably somewhere he could save up some money and continue to work after he walked out that gate.
Something went wrong with these plans. Smitty wouldn’t tell me exactly what happened, but he ended up being charged with a disciplinary violation that resulted in an overnight transfer from the prerelease program to a maximum-security prison miles away.
Whatever the violation was, the charges didn’t stick, and there was no re-consideration of his release date. He would be released on schedule.
Since it was a long-term, maximum security facility, re-classifications were held annually. Smitty had one at the pre-release program the night they transferred him, which increased his security level to maximum. He wouldn’t get another one for a year. Well after his scheduled release date.
He would step directly from one of the most restrictive environments in the corrections system to the street. With the clothes on his back and fifty dollars gate money.
One of the few people to whom he could appeal for help was the chaplain. To give the man the credit he’s due, he set Smitty up with a religious re-entry program that would house and support him for six months as he found a job and a place to live.
To stay in the program, he’d have to attend religious services and NA meetings regularly, but the meetings would be required by the terms of his parole, anyhow. As would an ankle monitor and periodic drug tests.
When I arrived to pick him up, at the time the prison’s information officer gave me, Smitty’s release hadn’t been processed yet.
The actual release took place in an auxiliary building across the huge, wind-swept parking lot that separated it from the main prison. He was escorted, handcuffed and shackled, by two corrections officers. Until he had the paperwork signed and approved, he was a maximum-security inmate and would be treated as such.
The officers had jackets, but Smitty was shivering by the time they arrived.
I wasn’t surprised at the delay. If there’s one thing prison inmates have an abundance of, it’s time. Very seldom does anyone have a sense of urgency. I knew I’d just have to wait while he was unshackled and a clerk went through a whole pile of paperwork with him.
Sign away a number of rights. Agree to parole search and detention, which meant no warrant or even reasonable suspicion was needed. Promise to pay the not-inconsiderable costs of drug testing, the ankle monitor and all parole-related expenses. Report to the parole office within 24 hours.
Property returned. The clothes in which he’d been arrested, a pair of shorts & a T-shirt, no longer fit. He hadn’t been wearing shoes.
A few coins, no folding money. A paper clip. A worn wallet with an expired drivers license and a scrap of paper with phone numbers of people he hadn’t heard from in twenty years and probably were no longer in service, at least to anybody he knew.
Aware that he’d be released with one set of clothes, I had been visiting thrift stores for the past few months looking for what he’d need. I also got some basic, easily fixed, food supplies. I went to the car and got him the jacket I’d found.
When he was finally done, both of the officers shook his hand and wished him luck. “Don’t let us see you back here.”
Holding his emotions firmly in check, Smitty slipped on the jacket and followed me out the door.
He marveled as I unlocked the car using my key fob. He had never seen a seatbelt with a shoulder strap, and struggled with that.
As I settled into the driver’s seat, he said, “Let’s get far away from here. Fast.”
I will continue the saga of Smitty’s re-introduction to the world outside prison on my next blog.