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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

Music to Read By

My new mystery, Redneck’s Revenge, has its own soundtrack. Nothing fancy. Basically, it’s whatever the bands are playing at the local bar, actually two in this novel, the second in the Isabel Long series. I’d say it’s a mix of country, rock, and a bit of blues. Think covers of songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama, Allman Brothers, and just about any country star or band that’s got a danceable beat.

There’s the Rooster Bar and Grille in Conwell, the hilltown where Isabel, a journalist turned amateur sleuth, lives. Then there’s Baxter’s, a biker bar in another fictional hilltown, where she goes to meet people connected to her second case. What’s that one about? A woman hires Isabel — for free mechanical service — to find out what happened to her father, an ornery SOB who owned a garage and junkyard. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house caught fire. His daughter says he was murdered.

Both the Rooster and Baxter’s are country bars and for their towns, the only bar. They attract folk who like to drink, dance, and socialize — and sometimes get into trouble.

In Chasing the Case, the first book in this series, Isabel took a part-time job bartending at the Rooster. When Redneck’s Revenge opens, she’s lost that job and a romance with Jack, the owner, for reasons I won’t divulge here.

Both bars host local bands. Often, they play Fridays at the Rooster, then Saturdays at Baxter’s as if they’re on a hilltown circuit. Some bands are good. Some are not so good. But if they play tunes that get people on the floor, they might get asked back.

Here is an excerpt from Redneck’s Revenge. Isabel is at Baxter’s to do a bit of research for her new case. Isabel’s companions are the woman who hired her, plus the woman’s cousin. A man who was eyeing Isabel earlier that night asks her to dance. By the way, Sam was her late husband.

Oh, why not. I get to my feet and hold out my hand. “Ramblin’ Man” is not one of my favorite dance songs, but it’ll work.

I let my dancing partner take the lead while we make steps around the floor. If I were to rank him, I’d say he was on par with Jack but not as good as Sam. Actually, it’s fun dancing with a perfect stranger.

The song ends, but before the next one begins and I can escape, he leans in to say, “Name’s Dave. What’s yours?”

“Isabel.”

“Never seen you in here before.”

“It’s my first time,” and before he or I can say more, the Country Plowboys are working up Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock.” Now if there was ever a heart-pumper of a song, this is it. Heck, I’m not gonna turn this one down. Dave grabs my hand without asking. He knows what he’s doing, so I just go along, moving back and forth, a twirl here and there. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d spun me over his back, but thankfully, he doesn’t.

At the end, the County Plowboys call it quits for a short break. I thank Dave and before I can leave him behind, he says, “Maybe we can dance some more later.”

I nod and smile. Isabel, what the hell are you up to?

One song has a particular significance in this series: Waylon Jenning’s “Good Hearted Woman.” Jack originally coaxed Isabel onto the dance floor with that one. And although Isabel was amused — the song is about a woman who will put up with anything her bad boy of a guy will do — it becomes a thing between the two of them.

It’s unfortunate I can’t use the lyrics in my novels because of copyright laws. But my hope is that readers remember the tunes and just hum along with the words I wrote.

Redneck’s Revenge’s official launch is Sept. 26. Here’s the link to get your paperback or order a Kindle version: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Buildings along the Buckland side of Shelburne Falls Village, where I live, are reflected in the Deerfield River. Floodwater Brewing Co., soon to be opened by our son, Zack, is located in the building painted yellow along with the one with the porch next to it.

 

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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

Meet Isabel Long P.I.

Isabel Long is the star of my mystery series set in the sticks of Western Massachusetts. Actually, I name the series, which includes Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge, after her. She’s a long-time journalist who tries her hand at being a private investigator and does well by it. But who the heck is she?

First off, when I decided to write a mystery, I wanted a protagonist who is a woman. Rednecks Revenge smallShe wasn’t going to be a sweet, young thing. She was going to be a woman with some good miles on her — what the French call une femme d’un certain age. Isabel has three grown kids and a granddaughter. She’s also a recent widow. As for looks, she’s attractive enough to gain the attention of older men.

And Isabel had a long career as a journalist — starting as a reporter covering the dinky hilltown where she lives to being the managing editor of a newspaper until that ended when it went corporate. When the new owner said everybody had to reapply for their job. Isabel said, “To hell with that.”

Yeah, Isabel is a bit on the sassy side. She doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s also savvy, which made her a good journalist. Now it will come in handy as a private investigator.

Isabel lives in a hilltown in rural Western Massachusetts. She and her late husband, Sam moved there from the city to make a better life for their children. Conwell, population a thousand, is the kind of place where most people know each other for better or worse. Isabel probably knows them even better because her first job as Chasing the Case cover copyreporter was covering it. In fact her first case, featured in Chasing the Case, was also her first big story as a rookie reporter. That involved the disappearance of Adela Collins 28 years earlier.

Other occupational benefits: Keeping an open mind and being able to talk with just about anybody. Oh, yeah, being relentless until she gets her story — or the culprit.

Isabel is also of Portuguese heritage, or as she says, “Yes, Long is my married name. Ferreira is the name I got at birth. I’m a hundred percent Portuguese and proud that I’ve invaded a Yankee stronghold in the hilltowns.”

Isabel’s also ready to reinvent herself — as a private investigator and as a single woman. The second part means after a year of properly grieving her late husband whom she loved, she’s ready for relationship with another man — and she finds it. Her relationship with Jack, owner of the Rooster Bar, has its ups and a big down. But I’m not going to spoil what happens for readers.

So, how much of me is in Isabel? I’d like to say the sassy and savvy part, especially since I wrote these books in first person. I, too, was a journalist who started in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, where I’ve lived twice. But unlike Isabel, I didn’t become a P.I. Instead I write about one, and that’s fine with me.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter in Redneck’s Revenge. Isabel is meeting a licensed P.I. to see if he will take her on as an associate. The cops told her she had to work for one for three years before she could go solo.

I smile and extend my hand to Franklin Pierce. I feel a bit self-conscious my skin is colder and rougher than his. I’m curious why someone would name their kid after one of the worst presidents so far although I can think of a few other contenders. But now isn’t the time to bring up that observation. I need to win this man over. So, what will it be: Franklin or Frank although I seriously doubt Frankie. I play it safe.

“Mr. Pierce, hello.”

“Please call me Lin. And you? Is it Isabel or Izzie? Which do you prefer?”

I shake my head.

“Never Izzie,” I say.

“I’ll remember that.”

“Okay, Lin. How do you spell that?”

“L-I-N.”

Gotcha. I follow him inside. For a man who makes money investigating private cases, this office is a bit of a joke, or maybe he doesn’t make much. Someone could easily move in one of the cheapo dollar stores or a salon where they fix blue hair for old ladies. A cracked vinyl couch is set near the entrance along with a coffee table stacked with magazines I bet aren’t current. The only art on the walls are a print of Norman Rockwell’s “Runaway,” the one in which a cop talks to a boy inside what looks like a diner, and framed newspaper pages that are yellow and faded. We’re moving too fast toward the back of the office for me to read what they say. A desk piled high with papers but no booze bottles or ashtrays, I’m relieved not to see, is semi-hidden by a partition along with two chairs for guests, a file cabinet, and beyond them a door I presume leads to a bathroom. I smell pizza through the walls from the joint next door.

Lin places his cowboy hat on the desktop and throws his long canvas coat over the back of his chair before he sits. He wears a dark suit, a bit frayed in the cuffs. His striped tie has a stain, perhaps coffee or a drop of grease. He shaved this morning. And he’s almost due for a haircut. Yes, my observation skills are getting sharper. I will need them if I continue to investigate cases.

I take Lin’s cue and choose one of the chairs opposite him. He studies me as I unbutton my coat and slide it away. I came dressed for this interview in a blouse and skirt. I pulled my silver hair back into a twist, now that it’s long enough. I haven’t dressed this fancy since I got canned from my job as the managing editor of the Daily Star. Now that I’m not sitting at a desk all day, I’ve lost some weight, a welcome development. My cheekbones are even more pronounced.

“Nice work on the Adela Collins case,” Lin says. “I was impressed. It’s tough to solve a missing person’s case after so many years. How many was it?”

“Twenty-eight.”

He repeats the number.

“Yup, that’s a long time.”

REDNECK’S REVENGE: The second in the Isabel Long mystery series has a formal launch Sept. 26. You can buy paperbacks now and pre-order the Kindle version, which will pop into your device that day. Here’s the link: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

By the way both versions are available for its predecessor Chasing the Case: mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: A sunflower on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Mass., the village where I live.

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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

Who I Decide to Keep

It’s a bit of a puzzle when writing a series to decide which characters to keep and which ones to let go. That’s true for Chasing the Case and its sequel Redneck’s Revenge.

What made it easier is that Isabel Long’s next case takes her to another hilltown — Rednecks Revenge smallthe fictional Caulfield — where another set of characters lives. But I did hold onto some from the first.

Of course, Isabel Long and her mother — her Watson — are keepers. This is the Isabel Long mystery series after all. And most sleuths need a sidekick. Isabel’s is a bit unusual  — her savvy 92-year-old mother, Maria, who lives with her.

What about Jack Smith, the owner of the Rooster Bar, who was Isabel’s love interest from the first? I like Jack. So does Isabel. Let’s just say things have gotten a bit complicated. So has life for his sister, Eleanor. Those who have read the first book will understand. No spoiler alerts here.

Of course, the Old Farts, those nosy old men who gossip about everybody in the backroom of the Conwell General Store, including Isabel, stay. She’s given them endearing nicknames: the Fattest Old Fart, Serious Old Fart, Skinniest Old Fart, Bald Old Fart and Silent Old Fart. They continue to be her source of information and entertainment. The one thing they don’t know is that Isabel calls them by those names.

Fred “El Creepo” Lewis, Jack’s cousin was a figure in Isabel’s first case. Guess what? He’s in her second one.

Then there’s Marsha aka the Floozy. She’s one tough gal whose connection to Isabel’s first case was that she gave one of the suspects an alibi. Now for the second, she hooks Isabel up with her cousin Annette Waters, who hires her to look into the death of her father. The official story is her pop was drunk and passed out when his house caught fire. She doesn’t believe it for a second. Neither does Marsha.

I do keep some of the bands who play at the Rooster Bar, like the Cowlicks and the Lone Sums, which play that danceable and drinkable blend of country, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Of course, Isabel’s second case has a new victim and a new list of suspects. Most are a bit rough around the edges. I had such fun creating them. I’ll be sure to tell you about them in a future post.

A LITTLE BUSINESS: The Kindle version of Redneck’s Revenge is available for pre-order on Amazon. Click on the box and on Sept. 26 it will pop into your device. The cost is $2.99.

Paperback fans can order now — for $10.99. Here’s the link to both: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

And for those who haven’t read the first, both versions of Chasing the Case can be found here: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: A hibiscus plant on display at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, where I live.

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Crooked Cat Books, Isabel Long Series

It’s Called Redneck’s Revenge

Redneck’s Revenge is the name of the second book in the Isabel Long mystery series. And guess what? It’s ready to pre-order for those who prefer to read on Kindle. Just a click and Redneck’s Revenge will be ready to pop into your device September 26. No money up front. How easy is that?

The Kindle version costs $2.99 by the way, which I believe is a good deal.

Here’s the link provided by my publisher, Crooked Cat Books: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

As for those who prefer paperback, that version will be available next month. Don’t worry. I will let you know when that happens.

So what’s Redneck’s Revenge about? After her first case, Isabel Long is in a bit of a funk. Yeah, she solved that 28-year-old missing person’s case, but success has its cost. First her relationship with Jack, the owner of the Rooster Bar, is kaput for reasons those who have read the first book will understand. (I’m not giving away anything here, folks.) Then the cops tell Isabel she must work for a licensed P.I. for three years before she can do it solo.

But Isabel snaps out of it thanks to her 92-year-old mother — her very own Watson. She hooks up with a down-on-his-luck P.I. and better yet, finds a new case.

Annette Waters is convinced her father, Chet, an ornery cuss who owned a junkyard, didn’t die in a fire because he was drunk. Somebody killed him. Her list of suspects includes a rival junkyard owner, drug-dealing brothers, and an ex-husband. As a former journalist and now an amatuer sleuth, Isabel decides it’s too good a story to turn down.

Is Chet’s death a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

Yeah, this was a fun book to write and I will be sharing more over the next few month about the characters, setting, etc. And what about Jack? Let’s just say things get a bit complicated.Chasing the Case cover copy

THE FIRST: Here’s the link for Chasing the Case, the first in the series, which is available in Kindle and paperback: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s the great cover designed by Laurence Patterson, co-publisher of Crooked Cat Books.

 

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Chasing the Case launch party (dragged)
Chasing the Case, Isabel Long Series

Virtual Party, Real Fun

It was my first rodeo, as they say, for a Facebook launch party last Friday for my new mystery Chasing the Case. I had already done a physical reading, but this online event would be a way to reach people who live around the globe and obviously couldn’t attend in person. Yes, a lot is possible on the Web.

I will admit this was new to me, so I was lucky enough to have the camaraderie of my fellow authors at Crooked Cat Books. I popped into their Facebook launches. They were free with their advice such as writing posts and gathering graphics ahead of time, so they can be inserted easily.

I planned my prizes: appearances in a third Isabel Long book plus signed editions of my earlier books. I created a welcome video.

Just have fun, my author friends said. Hmm.

The hardest part was choosing a time given friends live in Europe, the Mideast, Australia, and of course the U.S. So I settled on 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. I planned to keep the discussion up for 24 hours, so people could join in when it was convenient.

The fun actually began before 2 p.m. with authors posting celebratory good wishes. Thank you.

Then 2 p.m. came. First the video and then a contest question. Here it is: “I always have a bar in all of my adult fiction. Chasing the Case has the Rooster. In my novel, The Sweet Spot, it’s the Do-Si-Do. It’s your turn to create a name for a bar. I will use your name as a character in my next Isabel Long mystery. Fair warning: the character could be a suspect.”

I was a little worried because it started slowly. But my son, Zack, weighed in and then my longtime friend, Fred. Then things started rolling.

In all I had six contests, all connected to Chasing the Case.

I was surprised who came to the party — a delightful mix of family (my husband’s cousins who are now my cousins had a strong showing), authors, high school and college friends. Oh, the list goes on.

I returned in the evening to find my author friends from Australia weighing in. I was glad to go back and forth with them.

The contest winners have been notified. To tell you the truth, it was hard. There were some clever people on Facebook that day.

I believe the launch went well. Others said the same. A few who were also rookies to these sort of events said they look forward to the next one. Yes, there will be another Sept. 26 for the next in this series, Redneck’s Revenge. I will let you all know. I hope you can make it.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A portion of the conversation at my Facebook launch party.

GET YOUR OWN COPY: Here’s the link to get your copy of Chasing the Case: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

 

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