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The Sweet Spot

Let me tell you about The Sweet Spot

I published The Sweet Spot 18 months ago. I did it on my own — a long story there. And for three days, Dec. 7-9, you can buy the Kindle version for 99c/99p because I want more people to read it. (More below.) If I say so myself, it’s a damn good book about what can happen in a small town when somebody makes a big mistake.

It’s the first book I published that’s set in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts where I now live. scan TSSAnd its characters, starting with Edie St. Claire and her rough-sawn family, have stayed with me like old friends, even the ones that are not so nice.

Let me share a post I wrote about Edie. Here goes.

Real people have real feelings. And since the characters of my new novel The Sweet Spot are real to me, I believe it applies to them.

Actually, the novel is filled with emotion. Love. Joy. Humor. Grief. And then there’s the ugly stuff. Jealousy. Anger. Hate. Oh, there’s more than that certainly.

But let me focus on Edie St. Claire, the novel’s main character. She’s a young widow who still grieves for her husband, Gil, who was killed in Vietnam eight years earlier. (The novel is set in 1978.) I don’t blame her. He was a sweetheart of a guy. I should know. I created him.

They were high school sweethearts who married young. Gil was taken by Edie’s fun-loving spirit. She adored his tenderness. They would have had a wonderful future together, except he pulled a low number during the 1969 lottery and had to go to war.

I’ve never been a widow. But the blessed part about being a writer and a person with a creative mind is that I can imagine it.

When The Sweet Spot starts, Edie raises their young daughter by herself. She does her best, whether it’s helping her crusty old father who runs the town dump or her fiery aunt who live next door. Still, she knows how to have a good time, whether its playing softball — the camaraderie and banter among her teammates are a lot of fun — or hanging out at the local watering hole, the Do-Si-Do Bar. These are simply ways for her to escape her grief.

Then, there is her affair with her married brother-in-law, Walker. The man could never replace his brother although he sure keeps trying.

I can’t give away the rest of the book, but things turn out badly for Edie and Walker.

Now Edie must deal with different emotions like shame, hatred, and pride. How does she handle them? Let’s say I’m rooting for her.

BUY MY BOOK: Well, unless you know somebody who has a copy, you need to buy my book to be able to read it. Those who read Kindle have an advantage for three days. The Sweet Spot is also available in paperback. Here’s the link to Amazon: The_Sweet_Spot

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Isabel Long Mystery Series

Writing about Strong Women

When I decided to write a mystery series, I wanted strong women characters. They wouldn’t be damsels in distress but women who knew what they wanted and went after it. Topping the list, of course, is Isabel Long, the protagonist of the series, which began with Chasing the Case. The sequels are Redneck’s Revenge, plus Checking the Traps, which will be out early next year.

Isabel is a former journalist turned amateur sleuth when she lost her job as managing editor of a newspaper. Isabel is not a sweet, young thing. She’s got some miles on her. She’s smart, sassy and doesn’t doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also a good listener with a big heart, which makes it easy to connect with people, especially since she encounters a rather rough crowd in Redneck’s Revenge and Checking the Traps.

A recent widow, Isabel is also done grieving and ready for a relationship with a man.

Then there’s her 92-year-old mother, Maria Ferreira, who lives with her. Ma is a big reader. Mysteries and spicy romance novels are her big thing. She’s also a great ‘Watson’ for Isabel, giving her ideas to ponder and even going on interviews.

Redneck’s Revenge has two other characters who don’t take crap from anybody. Isabel hits it off with them despite their different backgrounds.

Marsha, who Isabel and her mother nicknamed the Floozy, is a character in the first book. She was an alibi for one of the suspects. In the second book, she introduces Isabel to her cousin, Annette, who hires her.

Annette, aka the Tough Cookie, runs a garage and junkyard that used to belong to her SOB of a father. She wants Isabel to find out how her father died. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house burned down. Annette says he was murdered.

By the way, I so enjoyed writing about Marsha and Annette, they appear in Checking the Traps.

Other women in Redneck’s Revenge: a woman police chief and the co-owner of a gas station, who eventually finds her inner strength.

Here’s an excerpt. Isabel goes to Baxter’s, a biker bar with the cousins for her case. By the way, the Rooster is the bar in Isabel’s town where the band played the previous night.

As we head toward the front entrance, I hear music, something by the group Alabama, bouncing through the walls. Beer signs flash through the windows. Ahead of me, Marsha marches inside as if she owns the damn place. She stops short of the dance floor, nods, and then points toward the far end. Annette already has a table. Some guy is talking in her ear while he stares at the cleavage rising about her low-cut sweater. She paws at him as she laughs.

Marsha turns toward me.

“My cousin’s a slut, what can I tell ya?”

“She looks like she’s just having a good time.”

“Same difference.” Marsha slaps my arm and points at the band. “Well, well, look who’s playin’. It’s the Country Plowboys. You didn’t miss ’em after all.”

When the song ends, Marsha and I make our way across the thinning dance floor. Annette, aka the Tough Cookie, gives the guy she’s with a friendly push and says, “You gotta get lost now. Maybe later.”

The guy, in the usual country attire of flannel, canvas, and denim, checks us out, but he clearly isn’t interested. We take our seats. Marsha whistles sharply through her teeth to get the waitress’s attention.

I lean forward.

“I’ll get this round,” I say.

“All right,” the Floozy says.

I glance around the barroom. It’s three times the size of the Rooster, with a long bar on one side and an actual stage. Tables border the dance floor on three sides. It’s dark inside except for the wide-screen TVs lit over the three shelves of booze behind the bar. The clientele is on the rustic side, which I expect and enjoy. Frankly, as a reporter and a denizen of the hilltowns, I found the natives often more interesting than the white-collar folks who commuted to the city.

That’s when I notice the beer cans. Everybody who doesn’t have a mixed drink has a can of Bud or whatever. The woman who took our order is carrying a tray of them.

“No beer in bottles here?” I ask my companions.

“Nah, it’s safer with cans,” the Floozy says. “Even the glasses are plastic. I’d say that was being real smart with this crowd.”

I hand the bills to the waitress.

“Keep the change,” I say, remembering the buck-a-round-rule at the Rooster.

The cousins are gabbing about the men, which ones are decent looking and who’s available for a roll in the sack. They appear to like men with hair and a steady job, which is a sound idea, or as Annette puts it, “I don’t want some guy spongin’ off of me. Did that. Won’t do it again.” They also don’t like guys with big beer bellies or steady girlfriends and wives. No sloppy seconds, the Tough Cookie says.

“What about you?” Annette asks with a grin. “See anybody here you might be interested in?”

MORE: This piece appeared in author Susan Barnard’s blog earlier this fall, but I believe it was worth a spot here. Here is a link to her blog.

WHERE TO GET MY BOOKS IN KINDLE AND PAPERBACK ON AMAZON: Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: On the bridge over the Deerfield River in Shelburne Falls village in Western Mass., where I live. Yes, winter will be sticking around for a while.

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Author Interview, Opening scene

Opening Scene: Agricola’s Bane

Nancy Jardine is the next author to be featured in the Opening Scene series. Agricola’s Bane, the fourth in her Celtic Fervour Series, takes place in A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain. How does she start this novel? I’m going to let Nancy tell you herself.

Agricola’s Bane, the fourth book of my Celtic Fervour Series, opens in the 625x1000aftermath of a disastrous battle fought at Beinn na Ciche (end of Book 3) between the Celtic warriors of Northern Britannia and the legions of the Ancient Roman Empire. The Roman aggressors, under the command of General Agricola, have set up temporary encampments and Roman patrols are scouring the countryside in search of survivors of the battle. In turn, my Garrigill clan have taken refuge after the battle in the roundhouse village of a Caledon chief, Lulach of Ceann Druimin, but Lulach’s territory has to be patrolled to ensure the Romans don’t attack them unawares.

Enya of Garrigill is doing surveillance duty in nearby Glenlaff Woods. At only fourteen summers, Enya has already bloodied her long knife at the Battle of Beinn na Ciche and itches to dispatch more Roman soldiers to the otherworld. She’s on patrol with Feargus of Monymusk, a warrior only a little older, and someone she has recently been introduced to. Nith of Tarras is twenty and has been like a foster brother to Enya for many months during a long trek they made northwards which ended up at the battle site – though her feelings for Nith have become less-sisterly and more of a mature love, as time progresses. Chief Lulach’s son Colm is the fourth patrol member and the one who is attacked by Roman auxiliaries making Enya’s blade flash yet again!

My reasons for beginning Book 4 in this way were to introduce members of the next generation of the Garrigill warrior clan as main characters. Since Book 1 is set in A.D. 71, when Enya is a baby, and Book 3 has moved on to the end of A.D 84, I needed to give some of the second generation a chance in the limelight. Enya’s uncles, who are the main characters of Books 1-3 are still in the new story, as are her parents, but they now take on minor roles. My Celtic Fervour Series is not quite a family saga but, I believe, some readers might read it that way. And though Book 4 has General Agricola as one of my main characters, my series is essentially about what happens to the members of my Celtic clan when they become refugees, their only recourse from being oppressed and Romanised by the dominance of the Roman Empire.

AN EXCERPT:

Arddhu? I fear you are not a happy god.”

Enya’s disgruntled whisper might be unworthy thinking, but the local forest god seemed to favour no one.

A deep chill, accompanied by a squally wind, had descended after dawn causing a last cascade of colourful leaf-drop to glide down from the birches. The burnished butterfly-flutters might have been appealing had the day been a fair one but Arddhu demonstrated his anger at the bloody deeds of the warriors in his precious territory.

“Ouu…ouu…ouu…ouu…”

Down the slope from where she took cover, the thundering of capercaillie alarm in the undergrowth of the forest was followed by the strident tapping of a woodpecker.

“Tchik…tchik…”

The double woodpecker call repeated itself.

Two of them!

Her insides fluttered as she pressed her back closer to the damp tree trunk, her teeth clenched tight together to suppress the urge to rant. Her eyes pressed so wide she feared they might pop out of their sockets. After pulling the edges of her bratt tighter across her freezing cheeks for more protection, she sneaked her head round to peer down the hill.

They had not been the truest of capercaillie or woodpecker calls. Colm of Ceann Druimin and Nith of Tarras, members of her scouting patrol, had issued their warnings. Two Roman soldiers were in the vicinity. She had not encountered any of the Roman invaders since the disastrous battle fought at Beinn na Ciche, but she sincerely hoped the otherworld was ready and waiting for the ones she aimed to dispatch there.

ABOUT THE BOOK:  

Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledon warriors and the mighty Legions of the Rome. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been taken captive by the soldiers of General Agricola?

General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.

The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure. Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.

A member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours. She regularly child minds them, those days being cherished and laughter filled.

NANCY JARDINE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website:www.nancyjardineauthor.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com 

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 ORDER AGRICOLA’S BANE HERE: mybook.to/ABsherenow

 

 

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Isabel Long Mystery Series

Portuguese Forever

I am a hundred percent Portuguese and proud of it. My grandparents came over on the boat, as they say, from the Madeira and Azores islands. The same is true for Isabel Long, the protagonist of my mystery series, including the latest, Redneck’s Revenge. She’s proud of her heritage as well.

Isabel was born with the last name Ferreira but took Long when she married. I used Ferreira because that’s my mother’s family name. (My father’s family name is Medeiros.)

Let me tell you a little bit about her. Isabel was a long-time journalist who lost her job as a newspaper’s managing editor when it went corporate. With time on her hands, she decided to solve a missing person’s case — her first big story as a rookie reporter. The case also happened in the tiny hilltown where Isabel lives in rural Western Massachusetts. Also, Isabel was also coming off a bad year that included the death of her husband. She was ready to reinvent herself.

Her mother, Maria Ferreira also moved in with her. Here, I’ll let Isabel tell you about it.

Ma moved in with me last year because she was tired of living alone. I was alone, too, after my Sam died. Our three kids, Ruth, Matt, and Alex, are out of the house although they don’t live too far from me. It’s worked out well with Ma. She’s a fun companion. Who would have thought when I was younger and wilder? She’s a good cook, and like the fine Portuguese woman she is, she keeps me in kale soup, a staple of our people. Yes, Long is my married name. Ferreira is the name I got at birth. I’m a hundred percent Portagee and proud that I’ve invaded a Yankee stronghold in the hilltowns.

Yes, kale soup or Caldo Verde is a staple in their household, as it is mine, at least in the cold weather months. I love other dishes when I can get them, usually when I visit my hometown.

As a child I grew up in Southeastern Massachusetts, where many Portuguese immigrants settled. They found work on the fishing boats and in the case of my mother’s parents, the textile mills. It was a huge adjustment from the rural lives they once led “back home” although both sets of grandparents kept animals and large gardens to support their families. I have fond memories of the time I spent with them.

Let me tell you about my grandmother, Angela Ferreira. She was the youngest of a large family in Madeira. Her older sister worked for a wealthy family who wanted a companion for their daughter, so my grandmother went to live with them. Every day she carried the girl’s books to school and waited in the back of the room until they went home to play. One day the teacher caught her trying to read. She got permission for my grandmother to go to school.

When my grandmother was sixteen, she and her sister went by boat to the U.S., a trip that included a huge storm in which people were swept out to sea. I admire my grandmother’s bravery.

My childhood was a mixture of celebrating our heritage, especially at local feasts, still going strong in the New Bedford area, to being as American as possible.

I will admit there is a lot of me in Isabel Long. She’s sassy and savvy. She doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s got a good heart and cares. Plus she has that arsenal of skills she acquired as a journalist.

All of this comes in handy for her second case, in Redneck’s Revenge. A woman hires her to find out how her father, an ornery so-and-so, died. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house caught fire. She says he was murdered.

But before she can take any case, Isabel has some business to attend to after the cops tell her there are legal requirements if she wants to be a P.I. She’s also a bit ungrounded after solving her first case — for personal and professional reasons. Here’s an excerpt.

Mostly, I moped.

Ma noticed it, too.

“When are you going to find something to do?” she asked me one day.

“What do you mean?”

“Like when you solved that mystery.”

“You heard what the state cop said about getting a license,” I reminded her. “I need to find a licensed P.I. to take me on.”

“What’s stopping you?”

Ma had a point. I have a hard head and an iron will. I suppose I’m generalizing when I say it’s because I’m a full-blooded Portagee. But I’m descended from people who went all over the world in tiny wooden ships. My grandparents came over from the Madeira and Azores islands in them.

Yes, try stopping us.

MORE ABOUT THIS POST: I wrote this post for author Sue Roebuck’s blog and decided to share it here. Sue, who is a fellow Crooked Cat Books author, lives in Portugal.

HOW TO GET MY BOOKS: Here, I’ll make it easy for you. mybook.to/chasingthecase mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

ABOUT THAT PHOTO ABOVE: That’s me at age 6, dressed as St. Teresa of Avila to march in the parade of Our Lady of Angels feast in my hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. I am posing in my parents’ backyard.

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6Ws, Author Interview

6 Ws with Author Angela Wren

Angela Wren is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this 6Ws series. Her new book, Montbel, is the third in her Jacques Forêt Mystery Series, which is set in France .

Why does she write? She says she enjoys creating a world thatCoverArt doesn’t really exist.  “And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!”

Here are her responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Angela Wren?

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an actor and director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing creatively, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

What does she write?

Cosy crime novels, mostly.  But, my short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

When does she write?

Whenever I have a moment.  I spend most of my week at the theatre but that leaves me Sunday to Tuesday to do everything else — including writing — to keep household running.

How does she write?

From keyboard straight onto the electronic page.  Working in a very pressured environment taught me to be very business oriented and efficient with my time.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write — usually when I’m doing really mundane tasks such as the ironing or cleaning the bathroom, or whatever.  This means that when I sit at my keyboard I know exactly what I want to say and my fingers just scramble across the keys to get the words down.

Where does she write?

The smallest bedroom in my house is my office and library.  I have loads of books all over the house but the largest number of them are in my office along with all my notes for stories etc.  My desk faces the window and I can look out on the garden when I pause for a moment.

Why does she write?

Because I love it. To me it’s great fun to be able to create a world that does not really exist and to people that world with interesting, and sometimes evil, characters.  And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!

More on Montbel:

A clear-cut case?

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacque’s papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Available now to pre-order in e-format and print from Amazon and published by Crooked Cat Books

Her works:

Messandrierre (Jacques Forêt #1)

Merle (Jacques Forêt #2)

Montbel (Jacques Forêt #3)

Anthologies :

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings

Original Writing from Ireland’s Own 2011

Angela Wren on social media:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author: Angela Wren

 

 

 

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