Authors have two kinds of dedication. There’s that stick-to-it-iveness required to write a story and stay with it from inspiration to the end. Then, there are the dedications we authors choose to give our books — on the page, the third and right after the one with the copyright info. It’s our way of saying thanks to the people who have been supportive or inspirational and often both.
In the past, I’ve dedicated my published books to my husband, Hank and family members, plus friends, Teresa Dovalpage and Fred Fullerton, writers who have been big supporters.
For Working the Beat, I chose Steve and Diane Magargal, as you can see by the photo above. The Margargals are the former owners of Liston’s Bar and Grill in Worthington — a hilltown in Western Massachusetts where I lived 25 years before moving to New Mexico.
Liston’s was a friendly place where Hank and I used to go Friday nights to dance and imbibe. Last year, Steve and Diane sold the bar they had owned for 21 years to a group, who tore it down with the intention of rebuilding and reopening Liston’s, which first opened in 1933.
The Isabel Long Mystery Series features the Rooster Bar and Grille, along with other bars, like Baxter’s and Red’s Corner Lounge. (Actually all of my adult fiction has a bar. I’ll be doing a post about that.) But while what happens at the Rooster is strictly fiction, I recognize that going to Liston’s — as well as another now long-gone Worthington bar, the Drummer’s Club, and working as a bartender at a restaurant that replaced it for a while — was great research and a whole lot of fun. The Margagals were great hosts.
As I’ve said numerous times, I take what I know and have my way with it. Just to be clear to people I may know from Worthington who guess otherwise: everything and everybody in my books are made up, including the owner and patrons of the Rooster. Honest to you-know-what.
But in dedicating Working the Beat to Steve and Diane, I wanted to recognize all of those great nights out and for providing inspiration. Thank you very much.
AN EXCERPT FROM WORKING THE BEAT
In the book’s first chapter, Isabel and Jack, who owns the Rooster, are playing cards. It’s a dead night at the bar since most everybody is at the Titus Country Fair for truck pull night. For those unfamiliar with the series, Isabel Long is the book’s narrator.
Jack shuffles the cards.
“Ready to get beat again?” he jokes.
But before I can answer, I hear two women laughing at the front door, two voices I would recognize anywhere. Cousins Marsha Dunlop and Annette Waters, aka the Floozy and Tough Cookie, are yakking it up.
“Where in the hell is everybody?” Marsha yells.
“At the Titus Country Fair, where else.” Jack puts down the deck. “Can I get you ladies somethin’ to drink?”
“Ladies? He sure got us wrong.” She waves her hand. “We’re all set for now. We just came by to see Isabel.”
The two of them move closer, one on either side of me. Both are wearing summer country casual, that is, tank tops and jeans, although Annette’s is a lot tighter than her cousin’s. She’s obviously on the prowl tonight. My keen sense of smell detects they’ve already imbibed in a few beers or something stronger, and maybe a few tokes of weed. Marsha’s bushy mane of hair tickles my shoulder.
“Me? What for?”
“You goin’ to the fair tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’m taking my mother in the afternoon.” I glance at Jack when he coughs. “And then, I’m going with Jack to the demolition derby. Gotta see you in action, Annette. Heard you’re quite the driver.”
The two women make snorting laughs. Annette will be driving a car she and her son, Abe, fixed up. From what I’ve been told, this is the fifth year the Titus Country Fair has held a demolition derby, which the fair’s board decided correctly would pump up attendance. As Annette told my mother and me when we were at her garage not that long ago, she’s competed in the last two years, the first year on a dare. She was the first woman to compete in the derby. Now, there are a few other like-minded females who enter, although she claims they aren’t up to her driving skills. Her team’s name? Wild Woman. It could be Wild Women since Marsha helps on the sidelines, and yeah, they certainly fit that nickname. But both liked the name Wild Woman better. Ma and I saw the car, painted black with shocking pink lettering on the trunk: “Rough Waters Garage and Junkyard” and “Dear Old Dad Chet Waters.” It definitely looks like something a wild woman would drive.
“Just be careful,” my mother told her.
“Don’t you worry about me, Maria. I’ll just smash whatever car gets in my way,” she responded with a cackle. “This is my third year. I’ve figured things out.”
Now, inside the Rooster, Annette gives my arm a playful punch.
“What’s up?” I ask her.
“Glad to hear you and your mother will be at the fair in the afternoon. Make sure you go to the exhibit hall at around two. You won’t be disappointed.”
“Did you grow something?”
“Sure did, but nothin’ I could show at the fair. This is somethin’ else. Just come. Okay?”
This is unlike Annette to be so coy, but I’ll go along with it. My mother and I’ve grown fond of her ever since I took on her case to prove that her father, Chet wasn’t too drunk to get out of his shack of a house when it caught fire, that someone had it in for him. It was my second, and it brought me in touch with a rather rough crowd, country style, including the Beaumont brothers, Gary and Larry, notorious drug dealers who still manage to get away with it. But like the Floozy and Tough Cookie, I grew to like the brothers when I got to know them better for my third and fourth cases.
But this isn’t the time to linger. Annette’s expecting an answer.
“My mother and I can do that. We’ll see you there. Promise.”
“Good. Hey, we’re heading to the fair now. Horse pull night.”
“Didn’t know you were such a fan,” I say. “I thought machinery was more your style.”
“She’s too much,” Marsha says as she gives her cousin a chop to the arm.
The Tough Cookie is all grins, which is a refreshing change from her usual scowl, well, except when she’s on the hunt for a man here at the Rooster or some other drinking establishment. Annette’s got her hair pulled into a nice ponytail and she’s wearing earrings, small gold hoops. She sure smells a lot nicer than her cousin. Now, I get it. She’s hot on one of the guys at the horse pull.
“So, who’s the guy you’re rooting for tonight?” I ask.
Ouch, now it’s my turn for a slap to the arm. I’m glad I’m out of that cast.
“You sure got me all figured out, Isabel,” Annette says with a snort.
The Tough Cookie mentions the name of a Semi-Regular Rooster who has a working farm one town over in Penfield. As I recall, he has a side business installing septic systems.
“Isn’t he married?”
“Was. Anyways don’t forget about tomorrow.”
LINK TO BUY WORKING THE BEAT:
Working the Beat has a Jan. 27 release. Here’s the link: mybook.to/workingthebeat