Sunday, December 20, 2015

Party Season & Sassy Saturday Post

My!  As if the season could get any busier, my husband and I (Evans & Rogers) just got booked for a party on New Years Day.  It promises to be a lot of fun, and we're both looking forward to it.  We have lots of parties to go to with good friends to see.  Life is good.  God is good.

For my Sassy Saturday friends, here's the latest tidbit to show off of my heroine, Janette West.  This comes from my latest book, Man Trouble.

Excerpt from Man Trouble, chapter two

It was quite chilly outside in the desert night air, but not inside that car. Kiss after long kiss, the windows began to steam up just like my head. Something told me it was time to end the evening before it got any hotter.

“Alan, we’d better go,” I wanted to say, once I could come up for air, but then I was distracted by a breeze down my back. I tried to ignore it until I felt his hands touch my skin where he shouldn’t have been able to. Immediately the fog lifted.

My outfit was a straight skirt that fastened in the back and a simple sweater that buttoned down the back as well. Alan, deft as a pickpocket, had undone them both.

“Stop it!!” I shouted and yanked myself away. “Stop it right now, Alan, and take me home!”

Instead of doing as I asked, he reached for me again with a seductive touch, stroking my skin and pulling me closer. “Look, just relax,” he said softly. “We won’t do anything bad. We’ll just cuddle close for a minute, that’s all.”

What a touch! This guy knew his stuff, and had I been a weaker person, it would have posed a real problem. But I stood firm and kept up my efforts to elude his grasp. “Alan, I mean it. Stop it and take me home!”

Still he would not comply and continued his attempts to make love, pulling me close again as he said,
“Don’t worry, baby. I’ll be good. I promise, I’ll be real good.”

But that didn’t work. Squirming until my hands were in front of me, I pushed against his arms with all my might. And still he wouldn’t give up. Once free from his embrace I didn’t expect him to keep going, but he grabbed me again to hold me tenderly, keeping me from putting my clothes back together and causing them to be even looser.

That was the last straw. This time I got away and jumped back to the far side of the seat. When he came after me again with more love and kisses, I made sure it was the last time.

Alan drove us home slowly with one hand on the steering wheel while the other nursed a bloody nose and a swollen eye; his lip was also cut. I thought of offering to drive once I saw the awful damage my little fists had done, but believed the lesson might be better learned without trying to make things easier.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Writing Fiction: Past vs. Present Day

Many writers enjoy creating stories in a modern setting.  Not me.  Perhaps those who write historic novels and regency romances do so for some of the same reasons that I choose the past for a good story setting.

Somehow it is much easier to create intrigue and cause your characters all sorts of problems without the convenience of modern technology.  No cell phones to make a quick phone call or computers to get information.  Without modern media, communications and other technology, a person can disappear and not be found--intentionally or unintentionally.  All sorts of deeds and misdeeds can be done and not be so quickly, if ever, discovered. 

But also there is a warmth about looking backward to simpler, less complicated times, when the outside world was farther away and not sitting on our desk top.  My mystery/romance series, The War This Side Of Heaven, is set in the late 1960's.  The town is Albuquerque, New Mexico, but like Route 66, the story line winds from Chicago to L.A., especially the second and third books.  This period was the time that still held much of the old charm of the American Southwest.  The Mother Road was still the way to travel, with all sorts of interesting places to stop, including the ones you counted on, like Stucky's.  ABQ is where I saw my first drive-through liquor store, and the little motels on the west end of town had that wonderful look of paint on old adobe.  It had much more charm than the sprawling metropolis of today.

Ah!  Those were the days, especially for the kind of stories I like to write.  Mystery, romance, suspense, adventure, during a time when families sat down together at the dinner table on a daily basis and a highball was often the only drug of choice.  I would be curious to hear from some of you out there who write fiction, to hear your thoughts on Past vs. Present Day for story settings.  Any takers?

The War This Side Of Heaven:

  • Book 1 -- The After School Murders (on Amazon)  Trailer:
  • Book 2 -- Man Trouble (on Amazon) Trailer:
  • Short Story -- Heart of a Man In Love (on Amazon) Trailer:
  • Book 3 -- Killing Old Ghosts (expected release date Summer 2016)


This post is from the first chapter of The After School Murders.  Our heroine, Janette West, has been away for a while and her old friend Margo Townsend is catching her up on things. 

We finished our sandwiches and then went to her room to take a look at the file on Conrad. The one thing Margo kept in impeccable order was her ADG file cabinet. It only took her a second to put Mr. Conrad in my hands.

“I’m impressed, Muggs. Even on paper he looks good. And so much information! I’ve never seen a file this fat that wasn’t Jake Noonan’s.”

“It was a labor of love, believe me. He’s very nice and fairly easy to talk to, believe it or not. On the surface you’ll find that he tends to be rather quiet and even withdrawn at times, but don’t let that fool you. When he’s out of the classroom and relaxed, you’ll see that there really is a personality there and a very pleasant one. It’s all on the Personal Observation sheet.”

“I’m still checking out the Personal Information sheet. And these photos! How many did you take?” I picked up a bulging envelope that held about thirty snapshots and skipped through them. “Haut boy! That’s a nice car.”

“It’s a Jaguar. Custom made, if you can believe that. That’s what the boys tell me.”

“Yeah and I’ve always wanted one of those. Hey, far out! I see what you mean about the apartment. Margo, did he let you take all of these pictures?”

“Well—not exactly.”

“Margo, were you breaking and entering again?”

“No, dear, B & E wasn’t necessary. I went in with a partner. She actually managed to get him out of the apartment while we were there and I worked very fast while they were out. Also, some of the pictures are from the party he had. Still I had to do it without drawing his attention. I’m getting pretty good, ain’t I?”

“Yeah, but don’t let Fletcher find out you’re doing this kind of thing.”

“Aw, what’s he gonna do? Besides, he’s the one that taught me how so I can be a hotshot reporter someday. Thanks to him I got a new camera, too. Makes a big difference.”

Don’t let Margo’s words give you the wrong idea. We teased the man about his nervous habits and sometimes called him by his first name, but everyone in the Guild greatly loved and respected Bill Fletcher. He was a good friend whose wisdom and advice we valued. Without Bill the ADG might not have continued to exist; and it certainly would not be anywhere near the success it had become without the help and guidance he had so freely given.

“You will get me copies of this won’t you, Muggs? I mean the paper. I don’t think I’ll need the photos.”

“Sure. But in a few weeks I want to know your observations on Conrad. I’ve got a feeling about him. I don’t think it’s anything big, you understand, just something out of the ordinary. He’s got me curious.”

“Or maybe he’s got you smitten. Sure, I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

“I am not smitten. He’s out of my league, too, you know. Oh, and that reminds me. There’s another file that goes with his.” She reached into a different drawer and brought out a thin little folder. “This is the one big chink I’ve found in his armor. Remember her?”

“Vicky Marshall. . . . Yeah, I remember her—the campus sex pot. Man! It was the funniest thing when Old Mac got a hold of her.” ‘Old Mac’ was what we called our principal, Mrs. MacGregor. “That dame had to buy a whole new wardrobe just for school. So she’s latched onto Conrad, huh?”

“I’m afraid so. Disgusting, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but men will be men. I mean, just look at her. She’s practically another Jayne Mansfield. But what’s worse than that is he’s dating someone he works with. That’s not very smart.”

“Oh? How so?”

“Well, a serious courtship is one thing because people have empathy for you if there are problems. But if he’s not serious—and who could be serious about her—what happens when you want to call things off? You don’t need scandal on a job you’re interested in keeping. It’s not worth it.”

“I never thought of that. Financially he probably doesn’t need a job, but—”

“There’s something inside him that needs it. And whatever that is, I suspect it’s a part of the mystery we’d like to solve.”

“I’m glad you said ‘we.’ Now the case is yours, since I don’t have him for any classes. Do you want a copy of Marshall’s file, too? I don’t have as much info on her as some of the guys might, but you’re welcome to what I’ve got.”

“Sure, I’ll take it. Why not? If I need more later, I’ll get it then. The boys’ll have plenty.”

“I’ll run them both through the mimeograph the first chance I get. Eventually I’ll get you the updates for your file on Jake the Snake, too. Say, can I get you a drink? I’m gonna have one.”


She disappeared for a moment and came back with glasses and ice. While I took a last look at Mr. Conrad’s file, she poured the wet stuff and put a drink in my hand. The first sip brought my taste buds an interesting sensation. It was my old usual, dark rum and RC Cola on the Rocks. I’d been away so long that I had forgotten what having a drink at Margo’s meant. 


Writers, please take note of my other post for today.  I would love to have your comments there as well.
The War This Side Of Heaven:

  • Book 1 -- The After School Murders (on Amazon)  Trailer:
  • Book 2 -- Man Trouble (on Amazon) Trailer:
  • Short Story -- Heart of a Man In Love (on Amazon) Trailer:
  • Book 3 -- Killing Old Ghosts (expected release date Summer 2016)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Good News & Sassy Saturday Post

On Monday of this past week (Nov. 30th), the Ascot Library here in Los Angeles--a place that was such a pleasant and important part of my childhood--was dedicated to my late sister, Wanda Coleman.  Wanda was a brilliant poet and short story writer and activist who won numerous awards for her work, including an Emmy and a Guggenheim.  Her books are available through the Los Angeles Public Library system, and soon mine will be as well.  The first two books in my series, The War This Side of Heaven, are The After School Murders and Man Trouble, and the librarians have happily said that they will acquire copies and make them available through the Los Angeles Public Library system.

To my delight, lots of people are showing interest in my latest book, Man Trouble.  But I'm planning to branch out and write other stories not related to the series.  I've got some interesting ideas outlined, and I'm getting excited about them as well.  But now, for those who have yet to read my stories, here is another vignette which shows off the heroine of The War This Side of Heaven, Janette West.  Enjoy.

Excerpt from Man Trouble, 
Chapter Three "Christmas Jeer"

Then, as if life wasn’t interesting enough, it waxed more colorful on Wednesday, the 13th.

“Janette,” called a feminine voice. I turned and saw Vicky Marshall out in the hallway, hands on hips and staring at me with an expression strongly suggestive of being put out. The smile on her lips was strained, her head was tilted, and the daggers coming from her big green eyes were almost visible. Her voice was pleasant, however as she said, “Janette, could you come here a minute, please? I’d like to talk to you.”

Oh, God! Now what is it? I could have ignored her, but decided to get whatever it was out of the way. I followed along to her classroom and she closed the door behind us.

“Janette, have you been telling Mr Conrad that he ought not to go out with me?”

“What? No, of course not.”

“Are you sure of that?”

“Yes, I’m sure. We never talk about that sort of thing.”

“Well, I’m sorry but I don’t believe it. And I’m telling you right now that I don’t appreciate the way you’ve interfered in my relationship with him. You come along and then he starts asking me questions about God and what I think about faith and religion; now he’s called things off with us for no good reason. The only thing he had to say was that what we were doing wasn’t right, and that he just didn’t think we should see each other anymore. Now, why else would he say something like that if you hadn’t influenced him?”

Am I hearing things? He said that? That’s tough to believe. For a moment I was too stunned to answer. When I did find my voice I asked, “Are you sure that’s what he said?”

“I most certainly am. I made him repeat it. Then I asked him several times if I had done anything wrong and he said that I hadn’t.”

“What else did he say?”

“He said that if God was real then he needed him on his side and didn’t want to offend him. Now, naturally I asked him if there was somebody else he was interested in, but all he said was that it wouldn’t make any difference one way or the other because it was over with us.”

“Well, I’ll be! I had no idea. Honestly, Miss Marshall, Mr Conrad rarely mentions you or any of his other girlfriends.”

“Other girlfriends?”

“Oh, I just figured he had others. I don’t know for sure. Anyway, I never told him he shouldn’t see you anymore or even suggested it. Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’d better get to class.”

“Not just yet.” She blocked the door until she could finish saying her piece. “Now, since you were the one that messed things up, I want you to have a little talk with Mr Conrad and fix it. Do you understand me?”

Lady, what side of stupid did you get up on this morning? Do you know who you’re talking to? A smile spread across my face and I nearly laughed out loud. “And if I don’t fix it?”

“Then maybe people might find it interesting to know that you’re trying to take my place with Mr Conrad, because I’m beginning to think you are; turning his head with your fancy clothes and that religious talk. Maybe the other woman he’s got is you.”

Now I did laugh openly. “Oh, man! You can’t be serious!” It felt like old times, having a teacher call me on the carpet. My anger didn’t rise up like it used to, though. Actually it was rather amusing, and would have even been flattering had the place she held with Mr Conrad not been such a low one. Finally, since this whole business was making me late to class, I began to get annoyed and decided to bring this conversation to a close. “Miss Marshall, do you have any idea why you still have a job at this school? Maybe you think it’s because you’ve changed the way you dress and stopped all those little games you used to play with the boys, but that’s not the reason. The reason is that certain friends of mine weren’t willing to give you up as a hobby, so they withheld evidence against you. Well, Miss Vicky, I have some of that evidence, and there are others who have collected even more since then. Now, if at any time you feel you would like everybody else to have it, too, then you just try and make good on your threat. Now, please step aside so I can go to class.”

Miss Marshall turned pale and swallowed hard. Then without another word, she moved aside and let me pass.

I wasn’t sure I would mention the incident to Mr C because it would likely upset him far more than it did me. Still, I was dying to know what was going on with him. Was that his real and only reason for dumping her, because it “wasn’t right”? I’d often thought he’d tire of her eventually and find another main squeeze, but this looked like something else. Well, whatever his reason, this news was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. But then I hadn’t made it to my next class yet.