Sunday, January 31, 2016

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY of NESHOTO JUNCTION HOMICIDE




Click to Enter Goodreads Giveaway
Goodreads Giveaway
of
Neshoto Junction Homicide

Within the first hours of a planned fishing trip, Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau's vacation turns deadly. Unearthing a killer may depend on her unbridled curiosity, and her ability to stay alive.

Book 4 in the Pepper Bibeau mystery series, and a stand-alone novel set in scenic Wisconsin, released on January 17, 2016.

BEFORE I STARTED WRITING the first draft of Neshoto Junction Homicide, I had completed the preliminary research to get a feel for the story. In this case, the research was all fun. The story is set in a fictitious county modeled after my hometown, which is located at the junction of two healthy rivers that flow into Lake Michigan. The surrounding area is beautiful with open country and pine forests. Its history includes settlements of Native Americans and the Wisconsin Glacier that formed lakes, rivers, and even Niagara Falls.

My experience with family genealogical research has been beneficial in my research for my novels. Because locating ancestors can require good detective work, I've found that the process also helps with detailing mystery plotlines.
 

From the back cover of Neshoto Junction Homicide:
During the first hours of a planned fishing trip, Insurance Investigator Pepper Bibeau’s vacation turns deadly.
Pepper's head is spinning over a marriage proposal from the father of her 14-year-old son. A last-minute assignment to investigate questionable medical claims on two preteen girls adds to the tension. Before she can relax, someone shoves her into a storm-swollen river to conceal a body. With a young girl's life at stake, Pepper must uncover an unlikely connection between an abandoned rifle and a litany of environmental complaints.
 
The local sheriff offers little support, obvious in his opinion of females in the work force. Without his help, Pepper gathers clues to solve the mystery behind this series of troubling events. Unearthing the killer depends on her unbridled curiosity, and her ability to stay alive.

If you like a good mystery, click on the Goodreads Giveaway link for a chance to win a trade book copy of Neshoto Junction Homicide. Click on this link: http://bit.ly/1PIdJlr to sign up for a chance to win one of three copies of Neshoto Junction Homicide.


Also available now at Amazon in ebook format:
 
 
Goodreads Giveaway for Neshoto Junction Homicide
 
 

SWEET SIXTEEN Poem #16 #Reminiscing


16
Sweet Sixteen
 

What can you do in
a small industrial town,
with the Rivoli
and Outdoor Theater
both shut down? 

You can ice skate, roller
blade, and fish for small-mouth bass;
bike; swim; golf nine holes.
Try your luck at bowling
after mass. 

Ski on water, walk on
land, play badminton or
croquet. There’s trampoline
and tumbling on high school
Phy Ed day. 

Throw for your life in
baseball; run for your life in
track; and when it comes
to Archery, try mimicking
Cupid’s knack.


Did you count, to make sure I didn’t stop at fifteen?

 
Author at a young age
practicing Cupid's knack

I was born in this poem’s "small industrial town." The Outdoor Theater was located near the city limits, down a side road off Memorial Drive. Mom and Dad would pack up all four kids in the back seat, and we’d head to the “Outdoor” on Saturday night. Because I was so little, they would lay me on the shelf behind the back seat with my blanket and I would sleep through most of the shows. 

The Rivoli was on Main Street, next to the candy store. I’d purchase a foot long barber-pole candy cane before each movie that lasted through the end credits. Reel-to-reel movies were mostly jungle and cowboy themes. 

First the Outdoor, then the Rivoli shut down when the economy was unable to support such luxury for an industrial society. But it was a sports town. Everyone was active back then. There were no iPhones or e-Readers or Nintendo to occupy our time. 

Of course, Nitschke’s bowling alley on Main Street was more a hang-out for us than a place to actually bowl. Ray, a relative of the owners, was a well-known Green Bay Packers football player in the days of Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi. We always knew the latest football news, and on game days other sports paled in comparison.
 
Football was and is big in Wisconsin
but this photograph was taken in . . .
Honolulu! Football is big here, too.
 
 

Friday, January 29, 2016

KILL SWITCH by Steve N Lee #Thriller #FridayReads



Kill Switch is the first in a series of thrillers by author Steve N Lee. While reading the opening chapters, I was reminded of Stieg Larsson’s dragon girl, Lisbeth Salander; and Uma Thurman’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies. The author displays an active knowledge of martial arts’ techniques, which his protagonist, Tess, skillfully demonstrates at strategic intervals throughout the novel, Kill Switch.

Two things that most interest me about the author’s writing is the planning he put into the through line, or continuing story line, of his series; and the marketing process he developed to bring his work to the attention of interested readers. 

The Angel of Darkness series consists of seven novels. In Kill Switch, Tess is introduced as an expert martial artist who, after many years of exiled training in the far East, is returning to her homeland to exact vengeance for an unrevealed wrong. She is sidetracked in Poland when a 70-something Romanian woman approaches her with a story about her missing daughter, Catalina, who may be in grave danger. Tess immerses herself in the task of finding Catalina. In the process of learning what happened to the woman’s missing daughter, Tess lays inoperable many an antagonist’s henchman who crosses her path. 

Along the way, Tess formulates her true lifetime goals, the basis for the Angel of Darkness series. 
 

Next up for review (#20 & #21 of 71) is:
Honolulu by Alan Brennert
&
Hawai‘i’s Story by Hawai‘i’s Queen Liliuokalani

 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

DAY DREAMS: A POEM

15
Day Dreams
 

 
Hand-knit mohair sweater
Still a treasure,
though an outgrown style. 

Sugar-coated jelly slices
Stuck between the teeth,
don’t smile. 

Oral fireworks of
Nehi Orange-Ade
on a first date. 

Teen memories bear weight,
Adults cannot carry,
and nothing can replace. 

Relive,
pretend,
embellish. 

You are but once sweet sixteen.


When I wrote this poem, my mind was on all things orange. As a pre-teen, I loved the color orange. Indulged, I had orange tweed carpeting and orange curtains in my bedroom. I liked orange food: orange Jell-O; orange push-ups; those orange jelly slices coated with sugar; orange sherbet ice cream. 

Mom knit an orange mohair sweater for me, which I treasured. I still have the sweater. It is in storage, though, so I can’t take a picture to show you. The collar is ribbed, about four inches wide. That sweater definitely gave me confidence! 

I also loved orange soda pop: first Nehi orange-ade, then Orange Crush. 

Memories of such simple pleasures can become overpowering. In my youth, I took so much for granted, never imagining the sacrifice of others or fully considering the love involved in fulfilling the wishes of children. As a result, these memories are best left for only infrequent visits. Slowly unwrapped and examined, then rewrapped with fresh white tissue paper and returned to storage. 

Over time and aging, the edges wear smooth. Thoughts develop a patina to shield one from the burden and weight of memory. Then, after the heavy burden of young perception is completely lifted, the mature mind can revisit and more fully appreciate what was. The soft feel of mohair is vivid; thoughts of sugary-sweet orange slices don’t hurt the teeth; fizzing sounds have fingers searching for a bottle of pop. 

We are but once sixteen. We can be forever young.

 

 

Friday, January 22, 2016

AS ABOVE, SO BELOW A Novel of Peter Bruegel by Rudy Rucker

If you have read Girl with a Pearl Earring and enjoyed the references to Vermeer’s paintings, you will likely enjoy reading Rudy Rucker’s imagined tale of artist Peter Bruegel’s progress with his many paintings. The story ends before his two sons, Little Peter and Jan, took up the brush. 

Each of Rucker’s chapters is headed with the title and photograph of a Bruegel painting. The journey begins in the French-Italian Alps and Rome, but quickly moves to Belgium, mainly in Antwerp and Brussels. 

Life in the middle 1500s was not easy, what with the Inquisition breathing down your neck or lopping off your head at the neck. But even with an uneasy certainty that someone you knew would soon be hung or headless, life went on in soap opera fashion. Family life, friendships, feuds and patched relationships abound with humor and tragedy mingled together in a fascinating narrative. 

Throughout, Bruegel’s dry humor and joie de vivre shine a bright central light on the tale and move the story forward. A comment that especially struck me was: 

“That was the thing about art:
your fingers spilled the secrets of your soul
before you knew them yourself.” 

Another comment that remains vivid in my mind is presented after Peter Bruegel witnesses an everyday scene in a street filled with descriptive characters and everyday occurrences: 

“—life was endlessly rich and endlessly various,
and it could take a man eight years simply to paint
one single moment of one single day.” 

This intimate look at Bruegel’s Beekeepers, Beggars, and Birdsnesters is well worth reading. 
 

Next up for review is:
Kill Switch by Steve N Lee
 
 
 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

BRIGHTEST STAR Poem for Another New Beginning


14
Brightest Star
 

With bloated hopes, you share
ideas. Each word a chosen
pearl. On velvet air,
great thoughts pour
forth. Your mind a dervish
whirl. Can greatness be so far
behind, with wisdom such
as this? Step back
enjoy
oh, wizened one, a most creative
bliss. One day, you say, a smile
in play, awards will all
be won. Your confidence wrapped
up in silk,
Blue Ribbon dreams are
Fun.
 
 

For months, I bombarded friends and relatives with my excitement over winning a blue ribbon. The prized ribbon was for a speech I wrote and recited before my Toastmasters’ group. My fear of speaking in front of an audience wasn’t caused by my inability to do so but by the belief I had nothing of importance to say. 

Even after I decided it was high time I became a better speaker, my next speech fell flat. I was unable to project the sincerity of my beliefs, with good reason. I had worthwhile ideas to share, but I didn’t have the confidence to express those ideas with conviction. 

Then I wrote a speech that focused on what consumes my life: writing. It was a good speech. I practiced the words while dreaming of winning a blue ribbon. The day I gave the speech, I had the confidence needed to deserve a blue ribbon. 

Yes, having blue ribbon dreams can be fun. Especially if the dream leads to action that moves you toward your goal. Take a moment to imagine yourself in a successful role, draped with confidence. Once you lock in that vision of success, can greatness be so far behind? 

This type of dreaming isn’t the same as living in a fantasy world. Dreaming of success is a first step, not a destination. 

Dream it, realize it, then enjoy it.


 

Friday, January 15, 2016

THE JANSON EQUATION by Douglas Corleone #FridayReads

The Janson Equation tackles the “what if” of a contrived war between North and South Korea, set off by a faction in the USA. Sort of ripped from the headlines of today’s current events.

The Janson Equation
by
Douglas Corleone
North Korea adamantly aims to become a super nuclear power. For a hermit country, the madness equates to an internet hacker believing he/she has the ability to bring down the infrastructure of the world with one well-placed virus. 

Wait. . .considering our self-inflicted dependence on electronics, the world as we know it could drastically change in the push of a button. Whoever is behind the plot to ignite a second Korean war has set in motion events that would change the face of the earth in Southeast Asia, and politics around the world. 

Corleone’s strong knowledge of history and world events keeps this thriller moving at a rapid pace and held my attention throughout. When Mr. Corleone spoke at the 2015 Hawaii Book and Music Festival, he mentioned that his name is billed on the cover after that of the Jason Bourne creator, Robert Ludlum. While I am a decades’ old fan of Mr. Ludlum’s high-concept thrillers, I told Doug the main reason I planned to read The Janson Equation was because he wrote it. I came away from the reading more informed, and definitely entertained.
 
 
Other novels by Douglas Corleone:
 
Kevin Corvelli Mystery Series (set in Hawai'i)
The Simon Fisk Novels (International thrillers)
 
 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A MAGICAL ADVENTURE Poem for Another New Beginning

13
A Magical Adventure


Gramma Anna shuffles the deck
for another round of five-card Rummy.
I am four years old.
The crystal candy dish visible
In the glass-front dining room hutch
holds round white mints with xxx on top.
My mouth waters at the thought of
those sugary xxx marks on my tongue,
melting. 

Deep purple plums, tangy
in their under-ripe bitterness.
At age six, a secret treasure mined
From Gramma Julia’s garden.
Kitchen fragrance,
Dough rising beneath a clean
flour-sack towel.
Fillings of poppyseed, raspberry, and prune
crowned with sweet whipped cream. 

Childhood
in retrospect
outshines the brightest star.
 


Barbra Streisand sang it best: “These are a few of my favorite things!” The time spent alone with my grandmothers was sparse. I was the fourth child born in my family, and have many cousins older than me. My memories lean toward culinary events. 

As kids, we weren’t so conscious of what we ate. We were neither spoiled nor deprived. Breakfast, dinner, and supper were all full meals, served “on time” every day. “Deprived” to us meant end-of-the-month baked cabbage sprinkled with caraway seeds as the meal’s vegetable. Mom loved making it because the recipe was simple and vegetables from her garden stretched the food budget. Thanks to Dad, dessert was a staple of every meal. 

Visits with my grandmothers, Anna on my mother’s side, Julia on my dad’s side, are recalled in the context of food. Both baked excellent pies, cakes, breads, and biscuits. Their candy dishes were always full. Holiday favorites for me: gravy and riced mashed potatoes. 

Nothing outshines my memories of both Grams’ kolaches: baking in the oven; cooling on the kitchen table; the colorful fillings, finger-tasting the freshly whipped cream. Food didn’t make the memories, it was how they served the food: with unconditional love.
 
Nothing outshines memories
 

 

Friday, January 8, 2016

John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series: #FridayReads

When Rules of Prey first hit the book stores, I was living in Minnesota and worked for the police department in a small town. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport police procedural series, with his sharp writing and consistently entertaining stories, hooked me deep. Then, in 2007, he switched to a new protagonist, Virgil Flowers. Not yet ready to leave Davenport behind or to concentrate on a new main character, I didn’t immediately follow. 

Four paragraphs into Dark of the Moon, first in the Virgil Flowers series, I was hooked again. In turn, I read Dark of the Moon, Heat Lightning, Rough Country, and Bad Blood. Each is a break-neck fast read. And because of Sandford’s consistency, it made sense to review all four books together.
 
 
Dark of the Moon
The question 30-something Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers must answer is, “Who is killing all those small town old folks, and why?” The suspects are many, all are likely, and the possible motives aren’t unique. But Sandford’s fast-paced writing style and vividly written scenes make reading in long spurts easy and entertaining. All of his characters are fully fleshed out, leaving little question about who’s who. The only sorting required is between the fairly “good” guys and gals and those proved guilty.
 
 
Heat Lightning
When a man is shot and a lemon is found shoved in his mouth, the assumption is the killing is gang-related. More victims with the same M.O. pile up before Virgil Flowers starts to get a handle on the situation. Meanwhile, we learn of atrocities perpetrated during the Vietnam conflict are coming back to bite someone. This novel has plenty of action mixed with background story about the Vietnam era, all of it interesting. I’m noticing lots of t-shirt modeling by Detective Flowers. As readers have come to expect from John Sandford, this novel displays the depth of his extensive knowledge in all topics and locations included in the story.
 
 
Rough Country
The third novel in the Virgil Flowers series is filled with excellent examples of colorful description worthy of a how-to guide in creative writing. John Sandford's attention to detail never falters. And every character, whether likeable or not, is well-developed.
 
 
Bad Blood
After reading the first three novels in John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series, I took a break. His thrillers always leave the reader wanting more but fearing the next novel will disappoint. But the only thing disappointing about BAD BLOOD was that it ended. In this book of the series especially, I felt a distinct comparison to Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens. Be aware that Sandford doesn’t write with an eye to the female population or to the feminine side of men. It appears he has come full circle on the issue of equality and taken a stand: Don’t like what he writes - then don’t read it. His writing remains solid. A writer can still learn a lot from reading John Sandford’s novels.
 
 
 Next up for review is:
The Janson Equation by Douglas Corleone

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#IWSG A New Perspective for 2016


It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group blog posting. IWSG was created by the awesome ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can find a list of all the other members of the group here


His awesome co-hosts for the January 6, 2016 posting of the IWSG are:
L.G. Keltner, Denise Covey, Sheri Larsen, J.Q. Rose, Chemist Ken,
  Be sure to visit the
Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website!!!



Aloha, and Happy New Year! My New Year’s blog post, A New Perspective, expressed a goal to begin seeing the world from a new perspective. I wanted to start looking at all aspects of my life in a new light. The idea was not fully formed, though, something I realized in the next few days.
Nothing I’d encountered during my daily routine had created an impression. Had I noticed any interesting faces on the bus? Were people smiling, children humming? What colors stood out in a routine scene? I had continued to focus inward, contemplating the intangible rather than absorbing the real world around me.
Seeing the world from a new perspective is a necessity for a writer. I knew it was time to make a conscious effort to put my idea to the test. The first opportunity arose as I walked down a side street, heading home from Starbucks. A bush along the sidewalk displayed a profusion of pink hibiscus blossoms.
I’ve taken pictures of various-colored hibiscus over the past year, but none displayed the solid confidence of this pink bloom. With only green leaves as a framing backdrop, and without frills or contrasting color, it needed only its natural beauty to attract attention. This flower in my path gave me the opportunity to examine my own talents from a new perspective.
As a writer, I needn’t depend on bells and whistles to shine. I can attract attention to my work by using my life experiences as a framing backdrop. I will allow my thoughts to flow more naturally from within. Then the beauty of well-phrased words will reflect the confidence of a solid pink hibiscus.

 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

ELIXIR: My dreams of youth . . .


12

Elixir 


My dreams of youth
recall an endless ride. 

Freedom to travel the fields
and back roads, racing
across shadows tossed to earth
by pines and ancient oak. 

The sun, a steady companion,
often present, always eager
to return when showers end.
Wind, both friend and foe. 

Youth, the elixir that turns
a long stretch of summer
into a magical adventure.

 


Oh, to relive the magical moments of youth. As with fresh water, I also took my childhood freedom of choice for granted. The most structured or confining part of my early years was the class room with its narrow desks, closed windows, and smothering blackboard. 

Otherwise, I was free to do as I pleased, spending early evenings and week-ends involved in unorganized activities such as baseball, archery, swinging (ah, the freedom!), biking, lawn croquet, and lazy days of swimming at the beach down by Neshotah Park. Thinking back, oh my goodness, such fun we had with simple games like ball-and-jacks, hopscotch, and paddleball. 

A black-and-white photograph, long stored away in some cedar chest or attic, has always stuck in my mind. At a very young age, my siblings and I are running through the sprinkler on the side lawn. This was at the first house we knew as home. Later, Dad built another house, and another, and another, until home didn’t feel so much like home. But this house of my early days has always held a place in my heart. 

The sprinkler in this remembered photograph was shaped like a ring. It shot water high into the air, in all directions of a circle. What fun to skip, splash, and charge through the spray on warm summer days, knowing the sun would always shine brightly, and supper would always be ready for us at five o’clock sharp.
 

 

Friday, January 1, 2016

A NEW PERSPECTIVE for 2016

Each New Year, resolutions float around like orphan plastic bags blowing in the wind. Some catch a down-wind and crash to earth. Others sail away to places unknown, never to be heard from again. A few resolutions stick close, tempting and pestering their maker. With luck, a strong trade wind will pick up and carry them away – very soon. One or two resolutions are usually worth keeping, though. Those should be nurtured, pampered, molded...well, you get the idea. 


Nana I Ke Kumu statue on grounds of Honolulu Hale
 
One of my brand new resolutions - I often carry over old ones from year to year - is to gain a new perspective on life. Not only in the arena of personal affairs, but a new awareness in all aspects of my life. The idea itself isn’t new. So I also wanted to develop a new perspective on gaining a new perspective! 
Hopefully my idea will be of benefit to others, also. 

 
'Iolani Palace
 
On December 20, 2015, I took the kama‘aina (local) free tour of ‘Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu. (Regardless the cost, it is well worth your time to see the beautiful architecture and period furniture on display in the palace, and to hear the history behind the unique monarchy of Hawai‘i.) When the tour ended, I spent some time in the palace basement where a display of 19th century photographs shares space with the royal kitchen . . . and water closets of the era. 
 
fa├žade of Kawaiaha'o Church
After viewing the Honolulu Hale’s annual wreath competition and the grounds around Kawaiaha‘o Church, I rested on a bench facing the Nana I Ke Kumu statue. That’s when the thought surfaced about how to develop a new perspective on gaining a new perspective. I could photograph sights I’ve looked at for decades here in the Islands, but in a way that gave me a new perspective on what I was actually seeing. 

detail of Nani I Ke Kumu
The photographs above reveal how I’ve always looked at these sights. When I took pictures from different angles, different perspectives, I discovered a whole new world of thought and purpose. In the weeks and months to come, I plan to photograph more sights with this idea in mind. My goal is to become more aware of my surroundings and to live life more fully. 

Again, my idea isn’t unique. For me, though, the concept is refreshing. It is a way to more fully appreciate my world of today. I will no longer look to the future for what might one day be; or even less productive: look back and try to figure ways to change what once was. I will begin to appreciate what is right before my eyes, truly seeing it . . . from a new perspective. 

May we all learn to live today, today;
and enjoy life:
from a new perspective. 

Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou - Happy New Year