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Checking the Traps, Isabel Long Mystery Series

Checking the Traps: How It Begins

In case you missed the Feb. 5 announcement, fans of my Isabel Long Mystery Series are able to pre-order the third book, Checking the Traps. Click on a box in Amazon, and March 22, the book will pop into your Kindle or other device. (Paperback fans: an announcement will happen soon.) Here’s the link for both: mybook.to/checkingthetraps 

First, a heart-felt thanks to anyone who pre-ordered the Checking the Traps. Now, let me interest those who haven’t with this blurb:

Isabel Long is banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer, who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his half-brother, Cary Moore, didn’t jump off a bridge known as a suicide spot. Somebody pushed him. 

Cary was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.

The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his half-brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.

As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it ‘checking the traps.’ She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

Yes, despite her injuries, the gutsy Isabel and her mother is ready for another cold case. Those who read the first two books will have met many of the characters in this one like Annette, Marsha, Old Farts (those snoopy men in the store’s backroom), and of course, Jack.  I loved being around them so much, I couldn’t let them go. But I have new ones, such as Cyrus Nilsson, a fictional famous poet who is a bit of a snake, plus other people Isabel meets for this case.

And now I will give you a peek at how the book begins. The chapter is called the One-Armed Bartender.

It’s Friday night at the Rooster Bar and Grille, and I’m behind the bar taking care of business with my one good arm. The other is in a sling. A broken collarbone and a few badly bruised ribs are souvenirs from my second case, that and the satisfaction I nailed the bastard who ran my car off the road. I’m right-handed, and luckily, my injuries are on my left side, so it’s a piece of cake, really, snapping the caps off Buds with the opener mounted on the back of the counter. I only need one arm to reach for beers in the cooler and drop empties into the carton below. I’m not able to deliver food or clean tables, but then again, I have a very understanding boss. You remember Jack Smith, don’t you?

Besides, my getup is a conversation starter here at the town of Conwell’s only drinking establishment. The Rooster’s True Blue Regulars, of course, are all aware of what happened two weeks ago, but being nosy New Englanders, they prod me for details. They can’t get enough of the story. I gladly accommodate them. They’re friendly guys and good tippers.

“Isabel, how fast were you goin’ when Pete hit the back of your mother’s car?” one guy asks when I hand him his beer.

“Last I looked it was eighty.”

“Damn. On that road? You and Barbie were lucky you didn’t get yourselves killed.”

Uh, that might have been Pete Woodrell’s intention when he tailed us in his pickup. His wife, Barbie, was terrified and screaming beside me in the front seat. I didn’t blame her. I felt like screaming, too, but I had to pay attention to the road.

Hold on a minute. I have a line of customers stacking up. The dinner crowd has come and gone, or come and stayed if they’re making a night of it. The kitchen is closed, and I hear Carole, the cook, cleaning inside. The Back Door Men, tonight’s band, are hauling their instruments and speakers through the side door. There’s a full house tonight, which makes Jack, who owns the joint, one happy man.

 Being the start of April, the snowmobiles are gone because the snow is pretty much gone. We are in the thick of mud season, at least on the back roads, so the Rooster’s floor is getting awfully gritty. That’s okay. The Rooster is almost a shack in the woods, no frills, except for the large-screen TVs for sports games mostly, the jukebox, and thankfully, a clean women’s room. Jack told me he’s getting ready to spruce up the bar’s interior with some fresh paint and a new toilet in the men’s room. He couldn’t recall the last time the Rooster was painted, oh, maybe when he first bought the place. As for the men’s room toilet, it’s probably an original.

“What’ll it be tonight, Luke?” I ask the guy in front of me as if I don’t know what he’ll order.

“Make it a Bud.”

I reach inside the cooler.

“You sure? We do have a fine selection of beers on tap.”

He smiles to himself as he reaches into his back pocket for his wallet. Most folks here pay cash for their drinks and meals although Jack started taking credit cards years ago.

“You think the murder charges will stick?” he asks.

I smile to myself, too.

“I sure as hell hope so.”

 

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Isabel Long Series, Redneck's Revenge

When One Book Isn’t Enough

Sometimes I love my characters too much for them to have only one book. That’s the case of Isabel Long and many of the characters in my mystery series. The first, Chasing the Case, was released this past spring. The official launch for Redneck’s Revenge, the second, was Sept. 26. And the third, Checking the Traps, will be ready for readers next year.

And I plan to continue this series.

Actually, this isn’t the only series I’ve written. My first is a middle-grade series featuring a family of jinn (genies). In the first, they hide out in a traveling carnival’s show, where they put their magical powers to good use. They live in a small town next, then on a ranch in the Southwest. I am halfway through the fourth, where they live in a town with retired circus performers.

Alas, as of this writing none of the books have been published.

But I loved the Jinn family — the last name they use — and the mischievous twins, Jute and Fina, so much that I wanted to plunk them into different situations. I should backtrack here a bit and say they managed to escape from their evil master, so they are supposed to keep a low profile. Tell that to the kids.

My other is the Los Primos/The Cousins series. This bilingual series for kids features two cousins, their grandfather, and magical realism. The first, The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico, was self-published. I am planning to release the next two, which have been completed, very soon.

Funny, I was at a reading Saturday, when a reader strongly suggested I write a sequel to my novel, The Sweet Spot. She wanted to know what happened to the characters after that ended. So do I.

But back to the Isabel Long series… mysteries lend themselves well to it. Each book features a cold case Isabel takes. So far, a family member approaches Isabel to find out what happened to a loved one.

I carry some of the characters over from one book to the other. Others I leave behind. I create new ones.

I also use different settings for the crimes she is supposed to solve.

The trick is to give continuity while not giving away too much of the previous book or books.

In Redneck’s Revenge, I catch readers up in the first chapter when she meets Franklin “Lin” Pierce, a private investigator. She has found out that legally she needs to work for a licensed P.I. for three years before going solo. Lin, whose best days as a P.I. behind him, is more interested in Isabel’s first case.

Here’s an excerpt.

Isabel Long. The man’s greeting was more of a statement than a question, but then again, Franklin Pierce is expecting me. He’s a private investigator and I need his services. It’s not what you think. I don’t have a case for him to solve. I want him to hire me for three years, so I can be a bona fide P.I. We are meeting at his office, which is just a narrow storefront between a Cumby’s – that’s Cumberland Farms to those who don’t live in New England – and a pizza joint. The sign on the window says:

FRANKLIN PIERCE

LICENSED P.I.

FRAUD, DIVORCES, LOST PEOPLE.

Franklin Pierce is on the pudgy side, pushing seventy or more, maybe, with glasses and a double chin that hangs loose like a turkey’s wattle. He’s got to be about five-foot-two or shorter because I tower over him. Get this. He’s wearing a cowboy hat and a long canvas coat as if he’s a cattleman out West. But when he opens his mouth, he’s pure Yankee with those missing Rs and added Rs, plus a twang that says his folks have lived in this part of the world, that is, Western Massachusetts, since the white folks found it and the people who lived here before them.

He clutches a set of keys as I make my approach to the front door. Naturally, I was ten minutes early, my M.O., and waited in the car with my mother before he arrived. Yes, Maria Ferreira, my ninety-two-year-old mother, soon to be my ninety-three-year-old mother April 2, is with me. But when Ma saw Cumby’s, she hightailed it out of my car. She says she’ll go to the pizza joint afterward to get something to drink. She could have stayed home, but it’s February, and like the rest of us, she’s got a bit of cabin fever from the seemingly endless winter that began in October.

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.

HOW TO BUY IT: Well, if you want to read more, you are going to have to buy it either in Kindle or paperback form. Here’s the link: mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

And if you haven’t read the first, I strongly recommend you do: mybook.to/chasingthecase

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s the interior of the Field Memorial Library in tiny Conway, Mass., population 1,900. Marshal Field, founder of the department store, had it built as a memorial to his parents.

ONE LAST THING: Thanks to Nancy Jardine for hosting this post originally on her blog https://nancyjardine.blogspot.com/

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Real Book Virtual Party
Launch party, Redneck's Revenge

Real Book, Virtual Party

Redneck’s Revenge, the next book in my Isabel Long mystery series, gets its official launch Sept. 26. That calls for a celebration. Yes, once again, I will have a launch party on Facebook.

Those who participated in the one May 18 for the first, Chasing the Case, had a lot of fun — honest, that’s what they told me — being a part of the discussion and contests. I know I did, going back and forth with people who dropped in. Here’s a post about that: https://www.joanlivingston.net/isabel-long-series/virtual-party-real-fun/

The party starts 2 p.m. in the eastern time zone in the U.S. But I will leave everything up for 24 hours for friends living in other parts of the world and those who have a boss looking over their shoulder. I will pop in as well.

This is a public event. The more the merrier. Here is the link to say you are interested or plan to go: Redneck’s Revenge Facebook launch party

But back to those contests: I will be giving away signed editions of Chasing the Case, plus a couple of lucky winners will have their names used in the fourth Isabel Long book I will start after I finish the third — Checking the Traps. (The names of few winners from May’s party appear in Checking the Traps.)

Don’t worry if you haven’t done this before. It’s easy to catch on. It’s not really different than commenting on regular Facebook posts. And I will be giving info and reminders as we get closer.

To put you in the mood, here is the synopsis of Redneck’s Revenge:

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

 Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

 The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

NOW A LITTLE BUSINESS: The Kindle version of Redneck’s Revenge is available to pre-order for $2.99 on Amazon. It will pop into your device Sept. 26. Paperback fans and those who can’t wait can order the book for $10.99. Here is the link: http://mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

Haven’t read the first? Here’s the link to Chasing the Case on Amazon: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

ANOTHER THING: There is absolutely plenty of room for everyone. Don’t be shy.

 

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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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