The Fractured Globe final paperback covers
Character Traits

Meet Janet McElroy of The Fractured Globe

Janet McElroy is a character of Angela Fish’s mystery, The Fractured Globe. Angela is a fellow author at Darkstroke Books, and her The Fractured Globe is high on my t0-read list, especially after reading this post. Here. I will let Angela take over.

Author image

Author Angela Fish

I’d like to introduce you to Janet McElroy. She is a part-time nurse, manages a charity (thrift) shop and also helps out a few nights a week at a “soup kitchen” for the homeless. She is not one of the two main protagonists but without her, the story would not hold together. She is the aunt of Kay Jones, one of two single mums, who meet when their sons are born on the same day, and whose lives intertwine over twenty-five years. She also befriends Tia, the other mum and it is the involvement with both girls that leads to a number of the misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and conflict throughout the story. It is also because of Janet that the mystery of an abandoned child is solved.

Janet had a shaky start. The novel evolved from a writing prompt at my writers’ circle and became, at first, a simple short story told from one of the sons’ point-of view. It was well-received by the group and it was suggested that I try writing something from the child’s mother’s point-of view. Not the same story, but something which complemented and added to it. That was fine, so I decided to continue and compile a series of about six such stories. Janet was next. However, at that time she had a slightly different role as a social worker, and I found that after a few paragraphs, I had nothing more to say so I abandoned her in favour of someone else. Unfortunately, I lost the plot (literally!) and put it to one side as the children’s books I had also been working on had been accepted for publication.

Some years later I attended a seminar on how to pitch to agents/ publishers and I had the idea to pull apart the short stories and reconnect them as a full novel. It took some time and the characters underwent many changes, especially Janet, who became both catalyst and lynch-pin. There was no real-life inspiration for her — she just grew into the role. As for her name, it just seemed to “fit” her character. She’s a strong woman who knows her own mind, and is quite different from her sister, Ruth, who is Kay’s mother. Janet chose to remain single to develop her career and, while she loves her life, she sometimes wishes she had a family of her own. The work that she does, her support of her sister, Kay, and Tia, highlight her practical and empathetic nature. I think if I met Janet, I’d like her very much!

EXCERPT FROM THE FRACTURED GLOBE

“You remember that girl I told you about, the one we’d seen hanging around the square? Well, she only turned up in a right state outside the shop and collapsed on the pavement. Looked like she’d been knocked about and I think she was miscarrying. The ambulance came right away and they carted her off to A & E. I did think about going with her, but I couldn’t leave Marge to manage the shop. You know what a drama queen she is!”

Ruth finished her tea and put the cup down quietly. “So, what happened?”

Janet grimaced. “I don’t know. I was going to go and see her later, before my shift started, but they’d taken her to St. Jude’s, not Rowan Tree District. When I thought about it, I convinced myself that it wasn’t a good idea to get involved. I might still go, though. What do you think?”

Ruth screwed up her mouth. “That’s up to you, love, but if it was me, I’d probably stay away. More tea?”

The sisters drank a second cup almost in silence, each thinking of Kay and the impact of her disappearance on their lives. Ruth leaned forward and tapped Janet’s hand.

“Before you go, there’s something I want you to see. It’s in the front room.”

They crossed the hallway and Ruth paused for a moment before opening the door and standing back for her sister to enter. Janet blinked as the room was in darkness except for a faint glow in the far corner. She moved towards it, then drew in her breath sharply.

“You still have it.”

She reached out her hand to caress a large snow globe and stood transfixed as a pale blue light flickered over the figure of Jack Frost that sat on a dead tree trunk. Everything inside the globe was made from crystals and as the snow swirled, the whole scene glistened and shimmered. Ruth flicked a switch at the base and Janet shivered as the haunting strains of A Winter Lullaby filled the room. She felt the hairs on her neck stiffen and realised that she was crying. Her! She wasn’t ever the soppy one.

As she gazed into the globe, she remembered how Kay had been afraid of it when she was small and that it had eventually been banished to the spare room cupboard. They’d all laughed at her at first; at her insistence that Jack Frost knew what she was thinking and that he was going to take her away. Now, in the eerie stillness of the room, Janet  thought she understood the little girl’s fears. There was something ethereal about the globe, something unexplainable, yet she felt a more positive energy from it. It took a lot of effort for her to stop looking at it but eventually she turned to Ruth who was crying quietly.

“I couldn’t bear to part with it. I never understood why Kay was so scared of it. When I plugged it in this morning, all I could see was her face in the snow. It just gives me some connection, some hope, you know?”

Janet nodded.

It was when Janet was driving home that she realised her niece’s baby was due any day, and that Ruth hadn’t mentioned it. She kicked herself again.

ANGELA FISH’S BIO

Angela has lived all of her life in Wales and has worked in Medical Research, Electrical Engineering, and Education. She has been an avid reader all her life and began writing at age seven, although did not contemplate publishing until many years later! The Fractured Globeis her first novel. She has previously had four children’s books published, as well as poetry, critical, and academic work.

She has a love of mythology, and myths and legends from around the world, and also finds the psychology of human behaviour fascinating, especially the nature/nurture debate, which is the focus of The Fractured Globe.

Angela loves books and cats, probably in equal measure. She also shamelessly eavesdrops, particularly on public transport, or in queues – for research purposes only, of course.

ANGELA FISH ON SOCIAL MEDIA

web: www.angela-fish.com

www.facebook.com/AngelaFishAuthor

Twitter: @angelaEfish

Insta: AngelaFishAuthor

Amazon Author page: https://tinyurl.com/y6zeyrk2

BOOKS

The Fractured Globe   https://tinyurl.com/y3y3hb7q    

Children’s  — all on Amazon Author page: https://tinyurl.com/y6zeyrk2

Ben and the Spider Gate

Ben and the Spider Prince

Ben and the Spider Lake

The Captain’s Favourite Treasure

 

 

Standard
41cKMnya-2L._SY346_
Character Traits

Character Traits: Meet George Tokay

J Lewis Paper Picture

Author Joseph Lewis

Joseph Lewis is the next author to contribute to my Character Traits Series. Like many of my author friends, I met Joe, as I call him, via social media. A longtime educator, he writes thriller mysteries. I’ve read and learned from all of his books, which have exposed the ugly world of  human trafficking and other badness in our lives. His books also have an interesting connection to the Navajo Nation. So, fittingly the character he shares is George Tokay from his latest novel, Betrayed. Here. I will let Joseph take over. 

George Tokay is a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy raised in the traditional way. He is a member of ‘Azee’tsoh dine’e or The Big Medicine People Clan, which is one of the oldest clans among the Dine’. His grandfather was a Haatalii, a medicine man. The Navajo elders referred to both George and his grandfather as Hosteen Tokay, a term of respect. His grandfather had been training George from an early age to follow in his footsteps, however, his family had been murdered and he was orphaned. A high school counselor, Jeremy Evans, adopted him and George now lives in Wisconsin. George still practices his heritage with reverence and appreciation, speaking his native tongue and wearing his hair long in the traditional style.

George is quiet by nature, reserved, and content to observe and then act accordingly. He is adept at riding horses, tracking, shooting- particularly with a rifle, and with a knife his grandfather gave him at a coming of age ceremony when he was twelve.

He has suffered greatly. Not only with the death of his family, but he carries the scars of killing at least nine men who had come to kill him or members of his adopted family. He is given to visions and dreams where his grandfather speaks to him. Law enforcement, his newly adopted family, and in particular, the FBI listen when he speaks and take his visions seriously.

EXCERPT FROM BETRAYED:

George and Rebecca stopped at the top of the long dirt driveway leading to the Yazzie ranch. From a distance, it looked quiet, almost sleepy. Neither George nor Rebecca knew him, but it was mid-morning and there should have been some activity.

George thought back to his own home a lifetime ago. Robert might be racing around the yard with his sister, Mary. William might be in the barn working with the horses. His mom and grandmother would be hanging laundry or cooking a meal.

However, there was no laundry hanging on the line. There were no kids playing in the yard. There was no smoke coming from the chimney, and there was no fire in the outdoor stove.

Maybe no one was home. Maybe they were in Round Rock at the trading post.

Impatient, Rebecca flapped her reigns and made a clicking noise getting her horse to move forward. George followed at first, but as they neared the ranch, he sped up next to her.

He whispered, “Rebecca, wait. Something is wrong.”

She pulled on the reigns to stop her horse. She turned, stared at him, and whispered, “What?”

George frowned and shook his head. “Stay back.”

Rebecca reached for her rifle and laid it across her lap. George’s rifle was within reach, but he kept his right hand on his knife.

“Hello, the ranch. Mr. and Mrs. Yazzie?” He and Rebecca waited, but no one responded, nor did anyone appear in the doorway.

George was at once patient and impatient. He felt he needed to give the Yazzies time to respond, but he knew something was wrong. His “Navajo thing.”  A sixth sense sort of thing. Many times, his grandfather would speak to him, sometimes appear to him. Always warning, counseling, or guiding him.

One more time George yelled, “Hello the ranch! Mr. and Mrs. Yazzie!”

Nothing.

George dismounted, handed his reigns to Rebecca, took his rifle out of the scabbard and held it like a sentry, his finger above the trigger, not on it.

The smell. He knew the smell. In three short years, he had experienced this same smell. Nothing like it. Stronger in the hot desert air, and not at all pleasant.

He held a hand up to Rebecca, though he didn’t need to. She hadn’t moved.

George knelt down, bowed his head and shut his eyes, and asked whatever chindi might be present for permission to advance. He promised to find out the truth of what he suspected had taken place, and to bring their spirits justice as well as peace.

He opened his eyes, and instinctively searched the ground. He found tire impressions in the dirt, as well as footprints in at least three different sizes. A shell casing- large caliber. Then another, and another. On the left side of the driveway, there were small caliber casings.

Hard to do in cowboy boots, but he tip-toed into the front yard avoiding any footprints he saw. He would mark and take pictures of them later. The closer he got, the pock marks caused by bullet holes became more noticeable. So were the broken windows.

And the smell. Dark, thick, and wet.

George flashed back to his own ranch home and he imagined his grandparents, his mother, his little brother and sister huddled together in the driveway. He pictured his brother William on the slope watching over the sheep. His cousin had described the two scenes to him, and as he did, George knew his cousin had purposely held things back.

He pictured Brian’s home. The mess of blood, bone and tissue that covered the desk and computer in the office. The dark wet stain in the hallway. Though he had never seen what was behind the bedroom door, he knew who was in there and he suspected- correctly, according to Graff- what had happened.

Just like he knew what had taken place inside the Yazzie home as he stood in the doorway. Wanting to go into the house, but not wanting to. Knowing what he would find, and not wanting to find it.

George turned to Rebecca who looked anxious. He shook his head. Rebecca’s response was to grip her rifle tighter.

Cautiously, George took one step inside and held his breath. His second step took him into the kitchen.

Mrs. Yazzie lay on her back on the floor. Blood had pooled on either side of her like angel wings. George touched it and found it tacky, not wet, but not dry. Her death was recent. Further back in the room towards the hallway were a teenage boy and a preteen girl. The boy lay on his stomach with his arms outstretched overhead, the back of his shirt ripped open and bloody. George counted at least four bullet holes, maybe more. A bloody trail led to the girl. Bullet holes had shredded her blouse leaving the back of her shirt bloody. It looked to George as though she had not died right away, but had tried to crawl to safety.

The only person George didn’t see was the old man.

Staying to close to the wall, George moved further down the hallway and peered into the nearest bedroom. Pock-marked walls and shattered glass blown in from a window. George surmised that the shooters moved around the house and fired indiscriminately into the ranch home.

The second and last bedroom appeared in the same condition.

The old man was not in the house, and there weren’t many other places to look for him.

George left the house, held up a hand to Rebecca to stay put. He patted his knife once to reassure himself, and then crept around the side of the house towards the barn. He stayed close to the walls, but had to cross an open area to reach the barn. He took a deep breath, hunched over, and sprinted to its side.

Staying low, George took off his cowboy hat and peered into the barn from a crack between two broken boards. He set his hat on the ground behind him and tiptoed to the doorway. He peered into the barn, first just one eye. Then he stood up and entered.

He wasn’t surprised at what he first saw. However, further back in the corner in a small corral, he saw something he didn’t expect to find.

CONNECT: Here’s Joseph Lewis on social media.

Twitter @jrlewisauthor

www.simplethoughtsfromacomplicatedmindsortof.com

https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author

BOOKS: Here are the links to Joseph Lewis’ books:

Lives Trilogy: https://amzn.to/2QKpwuY

Caught in a Web: https://amzn.to/2GrU51T

Spiral Into Darkness: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L15328K

Standard
IMG_4066
Isabel Long Mystery Series, Working the Beat

Smashin’ and Crashin’

So far, four books have been published in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, and now I’m working on the fifth. I’m not giving away what’s going happen in Working the Beat. Actually, that would be impossible since the story comes to me as I write. Yeah, I’m one of those so-called pansters.

I’m nearly 10,000 words into the novel, so what I can tell you is that so far this book has a demolition derby because Isabel, my protagonist, is at one in the chapter I’m writing — titled Smashin’ and Crashin’. Jack, owner of the Rooster Bar and Grille and Isabel’s love interest, took herIMG_4079 to the one at the Titus Country Fair. He even shut down the bar on a Saturday night. Well, frankly, none of his customers would likely pass up the derby to drink beer and play pool at his place.

Isabel’s never been to a demotion derby, but her interest is piqued because her next case, if she takes it, involves a death that happened at one. She was approached earlier in the day by the dead man’s rather crusty grandmother. Good timing, as Isabel would say. She can go to the scene of the supposed crime and come back the next day to investigate some more.

Jack naturally puts up with her snooping and her questions about the derby cause he’s crazy about her.

Unlike Isabel, I’ve been to a demolition derby at the Cummington Fair and even truck pulls. I had hoped to go to the one at the fair this year, but this pandemic ruined that plan. So, I’ve taken to watching videos of demotion derbies to refresh my memory. There sure are a lot of them, of varying quality. It’s not my sport of choice, but it is for the characters in Working the Beat. Well, maybe not for Isabel, but now, she is more than interested.

So, what’s with the title of this book? For journalists and ex-journalists like Isabel, a beat is the territory a reporter covers. It could be geographic area, say a city or group of towns, or a topic such as cops and courts, higher education, you get the idea. When I was a reporter a long time ago, my beat was the hilltowns of Western Mass. And working one, means staying on top of things, checking in with sources, being curious and available. Isabel did that as a reporter, and now, she does it as a P.I.

Yeah, you can probably tell, I’m liking this book.

PHOTO ABOVE: That’s one I snagged at the Cummington Fair’s demolition derby.

MORE: Thanks to all who downloaded their free copies of Chasing the Case, no. 1, and Killing the Story, no. 4 and the latest, this past weekend. Great to have more readers.

Standard
coleus
Isabel Long Mystery Series, Killing the Story

Finding the Next Cold Case — Plus an Excerpt

Isabel Long, the protagonist in my mystery series, is always on the lookout for a new case to solve. She hasn’t been at it very long. Those who have read the first book will recall she started after a bad year — her husband died and she lost her job as a paper’s editor-in-chief — and decided to use the skills from her journalism days to solve cold cases in the sticks of Western Massachusetts in the U.S.

Her first case involved discovering what happened to a woman who went missing 28 years ago from her small town. That was in Chasing the Case.

In the second, Isabel proves a junkyard dealer was murdered and not too drunk to get out of his house after it caught fire. His daughter approached her in the bar where Isabel worked part-time. That was in Redneck’s Revenge.

For the third, she was hired by a local drug dealer to find out the true circumstances around his brother’s death. He supposedly jumped off a bridge known for suicides, but maybe he was pushed. That was in Checking the Traps.

Joan and Killing the Story

Here I am holding a copy of my new novel Killing the Story after it arrived in the mail.

So what case does Isabel solve in book number four, Killing the Story, which will be out Aug. 26? This one is near and dear to her because it involves the death of a small town newspaper editor. How does she find this one? Isabel and Marie, her 93-year-old mother and her ‘Watson,’ attend the open house for the Pit Stop, a gas station and convenience store in the small hilltown of Caulfield. The new owners are cousins Annette (daughter of the junkyard dealer from case no. 2) and Marsha (alibi for a suspect in case no. 1), who celebrate with a pig roast, cheap beer, and a band called the Country Bumpkins. It’s a lively event, and a fortuitous one because that’s where Isabel finds her next case.

Here let me give you an excerpt. Isabel went to fetch food for the two of them, and when she returns she finds her mother talking with a man.

Ma looks up when she sees my approach. I hand her the plate loaded with pork. The man stands. That’s when I notice the camera hanging by a strap around his neck.

“Isabel, this is Mr. Emerson Crane,” she says. “He’d like to talk with you. He might have a case you’d be interested in pursuing.”

“Really?”

Emerson Crane grabs my free hand in a shake, warm, dry, and not too tight, which I take as a good sign.

“Isabel, I heard you’ve been successful solving a few cold cases in the hilltowns,” he says. “I was telling your mother I’m hoping you’ll take mine.”

Some guy bumps me from behind, and after a “sorry” and a splash of beer on my blouse, I glance around for another free chair.

“Why don’t you grab that chair, Mr. Crane, and we can have a talk,” I say.

“Please call me Emerson. And in case you are wondering, I am named for Ralph Waldo Emerson. My mother was a big fan.”

While the man does as I ask, I note his clothes, a button-down blue shirt with short sleeves and khakis that seem a bit worn. I’m guessing this wouldn’t be a get-rich case although I have to admit after I checked the envelope, I found Gary Beaumont paid me more than I expected, so I’m set for a while. But as Jack often reminds me, I probably make more money tending his bar one night a week than I do chasing criminals.

I wait with the plate on my lap. I’m more interested in hearing the man’s story than eating although I note my mother has already sampled the pork. The woman has a satisfied smile.

I ask my mother, “Murder or money?”

“I’ll let him tell you. I think you’ll be interested in this one. It involves a newspaper.”

Newspaper? Ma knows how to get my attention. As many of you know, I worked for the Daily Star in Hampton for a gazillion years, starting as the hilltown reporter getting paid by the inch to running the damn paper as its managing editor for fifteen years until I lost that job when the Star went corporate. I was ticked off at the time that the new owner had the nerve to say I had to reapply for the position as if I hadn’t been doing a good enough job. Okay, it wasn’t like I was singled out. Everybody had to reapply. And frankly, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. Now, I get to use the skills I had as a journalist working as a private investigator. I still get to be paid to be nosy although so far, not as much. And I sure don’t miss living by deadlines.

Emerson Crane grunts as he drops his body onto his seat. His back is to the crowd.

“Well, Emerson, I’m all ears.”

He nods.

“I own a little weekly paper called The Observer in Dillard. We cover all the towns in our county,” he says. “I actually came to take photos and do a little writeup about the opening, but then I heard you were here.”

It’s coming back to me. The Observer is one of those small-town papers that report the news the bigger papers don’t print or even care about. There aren’t any wire stories with national news. That’s not what people up here are interested in anyways. They can get those stories on the TV or internet. They want to know what’s happening locally like town meetings, game suppers, and the grand reopening of a gas station. I picked up a copy at the Pit Stop and found it admirable that in these troubled times for newspapers this one appears to be chugging along.

“I used to cover events like this when I was a reporter,” I say.

“I’m familiar with your background. I used to follow you in the Star.” His chest rises and falls in a bit of a wheeze as he takes a pause. “My case is about my mother.”

I take a peek at Ma, who has an all-knowing smile on her lips. Dang, she’s got one over on me.

“Your mother,” I say. “Please, tell me more.”

“She died nine years ago. My mother, her name’s Estelle Crane, owned The Observer. Actually, she and her sister, my Aunt Alice, inherited it from their father when they were in their twenties. Aunt Alice took care of the business side. Mom was all about the news. She wanted people to know what was going on in their communities. She used to say the goal of a newspaper is to inform people, so they can make good decisions about their towns.”

I start smiling.

“That was my philosophy when I was in the business.”

Now, Emerson is smiling.

“I started reporting for her when I was a kid in middle school,” he says. “She drilled that into my head.”

“Tell me more.”

“One night after she put the paper to bed, she was walking home. We didn’t live that far from The Observer’s office. It was mid-winter. She was supposed to have slipped on some ice and hit her head on the pavement so hard she died.” His voice cracks. “I was the one who found her. I went to look for her after she didn’t come home.”

Ah, I hear that telling word “supposed.”

“I take it you don’t believe it was an accident.”

His smile is gone. His head bobs in long arcs.

“I did at the time,” he says quietly. “But not anymore.”

I glance behind Emerson. This conversation deserves privacy. Too many people are within earshot, and now, those Country Bumpkins are blasting Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” and fans are hollering their heads off, so it’d be hard to follow what Emerson has to say.

“Why do you think that?”

“I believe it had to do with a story she was chasing.”

I glance at Ma. Her brows flick upward once. I can read what’s on her mind.

“Emerson, I am interested in hearing the details, but this obviously isn’t the place for it. I can barely hear myself talk. How about we meet at your office instead? Name a day that fits your deadlines.”

“How about tomorrow?”

This guy wants to jump on this opportunity. I like that.

“That works. How about eleven?”

We exchange phone numbers, and then Emerson Crane is gone. He removes the reporter’s notebook from his back pocket and takes the pen from behind his ear. He’s back at work.

Ma and I dig into our food.

“I figured the newspaper part would get you,” she says after she swallows.

“As usual, you figured correctly.”

You can order Killing the Story, in Kindle and paperback, on Amazon. Here’s the link: Killing the Story on Amazon

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Vibrant coleus plants I found on my walk around our village.

Standard
IMG_0491
Isabel Long Mystery Series, Killing the Story

They All Add Up

Adding up? I’d say that’s true for words and berries.

First, the words, which in my case totals 78,000 for my new novel, Killing the Story, which will be published Aug. 26, a month from when I am writing this blog. The book is No. 4 in my Isabel Long Mystery Series.

In Killing the Story, I started with the first word, in this case, “we,” and then moved onto the rest of the sentence “buried the old chief today.” I kept it going, one word at a time, until the end.

Of course, nobody writes a perfect book in one fell swoop. I certainly haven’t. So, I went back, saw what I was missing, just like today when I was picking berries.

But before I blog about berries, here’s a trailer I created about Killing the Story. Check it out.

 

Now, about those berries. Today, Hank and I made two harvests: blueberries at a pick-your-own farm near our village and raspberries at our neighbors’ across the street. That’s him in the photo above. (Yes, masks on even there.)

At the farm, we’d choose a row, look for the bushes that had ripened berries and get to work. Sometimes I picked just one blueberry, sometimes a few at a time. And, funny, just like writing, I wasn’t thinking of doing anything else. At the end, we had enough for a pie I baked later, some toIMG_0499 freeze, and some to keep for fresh eating.

Then, we headed across the street. Our neighbors, who already had their fill of their raspberry crop, invited us to take whatever was left. It was obvious the bulk of the crop was gone, but there was certainly enough for Hank and I to collect a generous amount of berries in our colanders.

Here’s what I noticed this time. I would pick between the overgrown rows, thinking I got all of the ripened berries along the way, but when I turned around, I saw more I had missed on the very same row.

Another perspective for certain, sort of like the editing process.

As I wrote before, my editor, Miriam helped me see the things I missed while writing Killing the Story. Yes, there were typos to fix, but I’m thinking about her questions about the plot and characters.

The same thing happened when my publisher sent me a pdf of the book he had laid out. A different format for sure, and, yes, when I looked, I saw small things for him to change.

So, the fruits of our labor, at least at the pick-your-own-farm, were baked into a pie. I also froze a bunch IMG_0506 and kept some for fresh eating.

And in a month, fans of the Isabel Long Mystery Series will get to see the end result when Killing the Story is published on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Here’s the link to pre-order: Killing the Story on Amazon

 

 

Standard