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High School Reunion

Fifty Years Later

Shoot, where did the time go?

Once we were teenagers ready for the next adventure, whether it was college, work, the service or whatever. Like us, the world was a-changing. It was 1968. Vietnam. LBJ then Tricky Dick. The counterculture and all of its trappings. Today’s technology was only found in fiction then.

Fifty years later, a great number of Fairhaven High School’s Class of ’68 reunited this past weekend. Yeah, I was there too.

Many live in the Fairhaven, Massachusetts area. Many came from other states. The IMG_5707award for long-distance traveler definitely goes to Tosh, an exchange student from Japan, who came with his wife.

Sadly, we’ve lost a number of classmates.

People were warm, friendly, and happy to see each other. Lots of hugs. Lots of catching up. Some people were easier to recognize than others. (Name tags at our IMG_5746big party on the second night came in handy.)

The class has held earlier reunions. I made it to the 21st — yeah, we held one that year instead of the 20th.

I will admit I am the type of person who moves on when an adventure is done. But that wasn’t the case for many, who kept in touch or maintained their close friendships still. It was admirable. The best I do is follow them on Facebook although I hope to do better.

On Friday, many of us met at our former high school — a historic building financed in 1905 by town benefactor Henry Huttleston Rogers  — for a flag raising and a performance by an alumni chorus. Sitting in the auditorium, I recalled how creatively inclined many of my fellow students were in some form of the arts. They still are.

Events that weekend included an informal get-together at a classmate’s restaurant, an in-depth tour of the high school, a dinner and dance the second night, and a breakfast on Sunday morning. The committee did a great job putting it all together.

I especially enjoyed seeing the people who meant the most to me in high school and earlier. You know who you are. Alas, there wasn’t enough time to go into depth with them and others, but it was enough to know they are doing well and are still the good people I knew way back when.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: My name tag for the reunion. That’s my yearbook photo and, yes, Medeiros was my original last name.

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Purgatory Cover
Opening scene, Writing

Opening Scene: Purgatory Hotel

Anne-Marie Ormsby, the author of Purgatory Hotel, is the next author to be featured in the Opening Scene series. Yes, the first scene is supposed to grab readers. Anne-Marie puts it this way: “For me it was important to set the scene, what would it feel like to wake up in a frightening, dangerous place with no memory and no way of knowing how to get to somewhere safe.”

Here, Anne-Marie, a Crooked Cat Books author, shares an excerpt and her inspiration for the opener Purgatory Hotel.

First the excerpt:

 “She was about to die and she knew it, as though there was always an awareness that this was how the end felt. In that moment fear left her, and it was like when a gust of wind came and went, the stillness that followed.

Before everything stopped, her life passed before her in a random barrage of images that arrived like photographs slipping past her eyes.”

Now the inspiration:

The story begins at the end of a life, the end of Dakota Crow’s life.

And we begin with the last images that flash through her mind as she is dying – her mother, her father, her sister, and the man she was in love with.

For me, in writing this scene I was trying to think of things that I loved, things I might me 2017see in my own last moments, ‘autumn rain falling on the garden,’ was actually a memory of my own. I remember being a teenager and when it would rain I would sit beside the open back door, breathing in the scent of the wet garden and writing poems. I recall the more beautiful things even if they were insignificant to anyone else.

Dying is the loneliest thing we will ever do – no matter what happens we all know we are going to die – but what matters is what we would remember as beautiful about our lives, what memories would make our passing peaceful and happy – what things would we be most grateful for in the end, whose face would see us through that final moment?

Shortly after this she wakes up, the last images she saw in life, the wet forest, switch places with a new environment – a dirty, decaying Victorian Hotel. She finds herself in a lobby, other unfriendly faces peering at her, instantly feeling unwelcome and lost. But she knows she is dead, she just doesn’t know how or why. And for her this will be the greatest test – reliving her forgotten life in order to remember her crimes and her death in order to repent.

I chose to throw the reader in at the deep end – straight into Purgatory because I wanted the reader’s experience to mirror Dakota’s own. She has no memory of what she has done or what this awful new place is – so the reader learns along with her, travels down the rabbit hole and into the darkness with her.

For me it was important to set the scene, what would it feel like to wake up in a frightening, dangerous place with no memory and no way of knowing how to get to somewhere safe. The sad truth for Dakota is that one thing is certain – there’s one thing she can never change. She’s dead and nothing will bring her back to life.

HOW TO GET YOUR COPY:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Purgatory-Hotel-Anne-Marie-Ormsby/dp/1977649521/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518610216&sr=8-1&keywords=purgatory+hotel

ANNE-MARIE ORMSBY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Good reads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36329433-purgatory-hotel

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Blog: https://pirateburlesque.wordpress.com/

Website: https://www.annemarieormsby.com/

 

 

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Chasing the Case

There’s a Bar on Every Novel

I recently wrote this blog post for Jennifer C. Wilson, who just had her latest Kindred Spirits Westminster Abbey released. I thought it was worth sharing on mine. It includes a fun excerpt from my own recently released novel, Chasing the Case. Enjoy yourself.

One constant is my adult fiction is that each one has a bar. In my new mystery, Chasing the Case, the local watering hole is called the Rooster Bar and Grille. It was Chasing the Case cover copythe Do-Si-Do Bar (that’s a move in square dancing) in my previous novel, The Sweet Spot. There are others.

I will confess I’m not a big drinker — one good craft beer will do it for me — or someone who hangs out in bars. But I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent in them, raising a glass or bottle, and dancing with my husband when there’s a band. I especially like bars where the cliental knows each other, and those are the kinds of bars I have in my novels. For many small rural towns, bars are gathering spots for the locals. Many don’t have them. In my mystery, the town of Conwell only has one — the Rooster — but then again, it only has a thousand people.

Early in Chasing the Case, the protagonist Isabel Long takes her mother, who lives with her, to the Rooster for dinner. Isabel, who has left a long career in journalism, is seeing if she could hack being a private investigator. Her first case involves a woman who disappeared 28 years earlier from Conwell. Isabel ends up getting a part-time job at the Rooster, in part to get up close and personal with many of the people connected with the case.

Jack Smith, the Rooster’s owner, runs a friendly bar, but do something stupid and you’re out for six months. Do it again, and you might be banned forever. There’s music on Friday nights and his sister, Eleanor serves food Thursdays through Sundays. There’s a jukebox and televisions, so customers can watch sports.

Isabel used to go dancing there with her late husband, Sam. That’s another big change for her — being a widow. But she enjoys her new job and being in the middle of things.

In this excerpt, Isabel is working on her first night at the Rooster.

It’s Friday night and I’m behind the bar, fetching Buds for two guys who want a fun night out. They order four because two women wait for them at a table. I flip the caps, toss them in the can at my feet, and slide the cold bottles across the countertop toward them. One of them has the dollar bills curled in his hand. 

“Keep the change,” he says. 

“Thanks. Enjoy yourself.”

 They leave me an extra buck, which appears to be the standard tip for a round. I know Sam always did. I stuff the buck in the tip jar with the rest of the bills.

The Rooster is full. My station is behind the bar. Jack is on the floor, taking dinner orders and carrying the food out as fast as Eleanor can dish it out. She and I only spoke a few words. She grunts when I ask how she’s doing. She grunts, too, after I ask about her dogs. I get the feeling she’s not happy I’m working here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jack, who keeps up a friendly banter whenever he passes. Jack grins and winks. He’s what I’d call a big tease.

I pop caps off beer bottles. The King of Beers reigns supreme at the Rooster. I’ve only had two requests for beer on tap by newcomers, of course, and I was pleased I got them done correctly.

I call home once to see how Ma is doing. She tells me she and the cat are fine. She’s watching an old movie. I say I’ll be home around eleven. I would tell her not to wait up, but that’s not necessary. 

The music started a half-hour ago and the Lone Sums are stinking up the place. I didn’t think you could blow a song like “Sweet Home Alabama,” but these guys are doing just that. Just wait until they try “Free Bird.” Somebody always requests that one, usually one of the young drunks, who’ll shout it from across the room just for the hell of it. 

“These guys play here before?” I ask Jack when he brings a tray of empties behind the bar.

“Nah. I doubt if I’ll bring ’em back,” he says as he drops the bottles into the carton at our feet.

 “They’re pretty bad. But I guess if you drink enough you can dance to almost anything.”

MORE: Like what you read? Then get your own copy at http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A window box outside Nancy L. Dole Books in Shelburne Falls and a couple of books to tempt readers inside the store.

 

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author, Crooked Cat Books

Jennifer C. Wilson: Ghosts Real and Royal

Author Jennifer Wilson has a thing about ghosts, but not your garden-variety ghosts. Think dead British royalty and other historical bigwigs. It’s all part of her Kindred Spirits series, and the latest is Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey. Yes, I have my copy.

Here I’ll let her tell you about it.

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots is getting up to now, or JCW-Kindred-Westminsterwhat happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance!

In the third of the Kindred Spirits series, we visit Westminster Abbey, and I hope you enjoy meeting a new community of ghosts. Mind, with modern travel so easy these days, a few faces we’ve already encountered might just show up too…

About Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

On hallowed ground…

With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.

Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn’t all tempers and tantrums. Poets’ Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.

With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?

The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues within the ancient walls of Westminster Abbey.

Praise for the Kindred Spirits series

“A light hearted, humorous, and at times tender read which you’ll enjoy whether you like history or not.”

“This light-hearted, imaginative read is a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool.”

“A brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.”

About Jennifer C. Wilson

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the northeast reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online.

Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon, along with her self-published timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet? She can be found online at her blog, and on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.

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Chasing the Case, sex

PG-13: Writing about Sex

I wrote this post for author Susan Roebuck’s blog. Eh, I felt it was too much fun not to have it on mine.

Of course, there’s sex in my new mystery, Chasing the Case. It’s a given because I wrote about people and what they do. Sex is a part of that.

But writing about something so personal without being vulgar is a bit tricky. I Chasing the Case cover copybelieve I give enough, so readers can use their imagination.

There are no descriptions of body parts. Nothing is throbbing. The sex scenes aren’t icky or embarrassing.

By the way, my characters are consenting adults who are having a good old time in the sack, and in Chasing the Case, actually mature consenting adults.

This is my third book out. In the first, Peace, Love, and You Know What, a group of hippie friends have a three-day bash. This is the early seventies, so there is nudity, free love, and dirty professors. Lenora, the main character has sex with three guys in two days, including a ménage à trois — her instigation by the way.

My second novel, The Sweet Spot, is a more serious novel. Edie St. Claire has a rather hot and heavy relationship with her married brother-in-law until that ends tragically. Then she has to pay for it when the town turns against her.

Things are a more light-hearted for Isabel Long in Chasing the Case. After all, she tells the story. She’s a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. after she gets canned from the newspaper she was running. She decides to solve a mystery of a woman who went missing in her town of a thousand people 28 years earlier. It was her first big story as a rookie reporter.

It’s also a big change in another way for Isabel. Her husband died and after giving herself a year to grieve, she’s ready to move on. How did she put it? It’s time to do something foolish or at least, have fun.

That’s what she does. And she doesn’t have to look far to find it.

I’m not going to spoil the plot by giving away who Isabel has sex with in Chasing the Case. It had been some time since the man was in a relationship that included sex.

As he warns her on their first night, “I may come awfully fast. It’s been a while.”

Isabel’s response? “That’s okay, I’m a little nervous, too. It’s been a while for me, too.”

She removes the photo of her dead husband to another room. And during their first romp she lights candles on the bureau and nightstand beside the bed. She tells herself: “I believe there’s just enough light for me to be firm and beautiful in his eyes. Maybe.”

I will say there’s a lot of playful banter about sex between Isabel and her lover in this book, but then again she is a bit on the sassy side.

Besides being an amateur P.I., Isabel takes a part-time job tending bar at the local watering hole called the Rooster. Her plan is to get up close and personal with people connected to the mystery.

Here is her observation about the bar’s customers on the night a band is playing. The Rooster is jumping and bumping tonight, and from my vantage point at the bar, I can tell a lot of the customers will be humping later on. Yeah, I’m being a bit crude, but I’ve seen more men and women getting felt up here tonight than by the TSA at the airport in Hartford.”

Finally, one last thing about sex, at least for this post: an anecdote about my 94-year-old mother, an avid reader of romance novels. (She is the inspiration for Isabel’s mother, who is her Watson in this series.)

I will admit a few of my adult kids were uncomfortable about the sex scenes in my first book. So, when I gave my mother a copy, I added this warning, “Mom, there’s a bit of sex in it.”

Here’s what she told me after reading it: “Oh, I’ve read a lot worse than that.”

Really, Mom?

Chasing the Case is available in paperback and Kindle. Thanks for all who have bought and read it. Here’s the link for those who don’t have their copy: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: This was the view last night from the porch of the Blue Rock in Shelburne Falls where we ate dinner. That village is our new home.

 

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