Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Congratulations to Derek J. Canyon for winning November's contest.  When the poll closed last night Derek was tied with Robb Grinderstaff for the lead, so I extended the contest another 15 hours to determine the winner.  It was a tough battle, though. Robb is a terrific writer and it's obvious he's got the talent to compete on any level of competition.  Did I just sound like a football analyst?  Sorry. Congrats to Robb and Derek for the fun ride.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Below are the four finalists for November's contest.  All four were diverse, yet powerful in their imagery.  I'll be switching it up next month by posting scenes from Indie or lesser-known authors who have books available to purchase.
Now take your time to read these strong scenes and vote for your favorite on the poll to the right.  The winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card and jealous glares from their fellow writers.

A- Robb Grindstaff

I took the baby from Daniel. She was red and smelled like smoke, but she was crying full throttle so she could breathe okay. At the end of the long gravel driveway, boys and girls from age five to twelve cried and huddled together. We had to go to them.

Flames danced out all the windows on the top floor. The loft was engulfed. The roof over the master bedroom end of the house buckled and the fire poked skyward. I reached for Daniel’s hand.

“I tried,” Daniel sobbed. “I couldn’t get to them. I got the baby, but Ma and Pa wouldn’t wake up and I had to get out. I tried to go back but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”

I pulled him with me to the end of the drive. We had to do a head count. Including Daniel, the baby and me, thirteen of us waited for the fire trucks and the police and the neighbors.

Thirteen of us waited for official word that our foster parents didn’t make it out. Thirteen of us waited for Child Protective Services to take us somewhere else.

B- Shannon Lee

She reached under the table and brought out a rusted pipe. The movement was so fast, Janet plunged the pipe into the man’s chest. She shattered ribs and tore through his lung. Never had I heard such a pitch escape the lips of a mortal man. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to turn away. Janet withdrew the pipe and blew through the clean end of it, forcing out the organ and tissue that was lodged. She was quick to place it back into the mortal’s chest. The blood began to flow out as Janet led the mortal to the table. Anchored into it’s sides was a hallowed out meat grinder, a forceful shove brought the metal pipe into the grinder’s entrance. I was ill to see blood and chunks of flesh gush, until an even flow of blood began. Mugs were placed, under the grinder to catch the drippings.

His hands were the first to lose strength, as they turned pale, his face slowly drained of color as his pleading eyes begged me to help him. I nearly did, until he stopped breathing. His corpse remained on the table as drinks were placed. Janet took hold of hers and drank. “Sorry about the pulp”

C- Derek J. Canyon

Thring bends down and snarls at me. I see his rotten teeth, sticking out

like tombstones in his mouth. Apparently, the genetic engineers who
designed him cut some corners on dental. He licks his lips.

"I'm talkin' to you, pissbag."

It's time to put this guy in his place. I'm the resident psycho and
ice-cold killer in this bin, and I don't want anyone else getting their
noses into my routine.

"You're blocking my sun, boy," I say softly.

Despite his technological ancestry, the racial slight has the desired
effect. His face contorts in anger as he grabs my shirt and lifts me with
ease to a standing position, the muscles on his arms rippling in barely
controlled tension.

"I'm gonna kill you!" This guy's real original. His breath is stale and
musty, like a puff of air escaping from a just-opened coffin.

I look around. The other cons watch closely, waiting to see what will
happen. Well, I won't keep them in suspense. As the psycho, there is only
one thing for me to do.

D- Joyce Yarrow
The walls, covered with graffiti, scream in undecipherable defiance. The window gate is open, and I climb onto the fire escape, gulping in fresh air, clutching the railing. Below me, treetops in the back yard sway in the slight breeze, oblivious to the violence perpetrated above them. On the platform, a canvas beach chair and a towel hint at better days. A glint of metal in the corner catches my eye. Pulling a pencil from my purse, I use it to retrieve the chain, which is attached to a miniature replica of the Empire State Building and a small key. I insert the key into the padlock on the outside of the window gate and it turns with a smooth click. I know I should leave this evidence where it is, but on impulse, I place the key chain in my pocket. How easily years of training can go down the drain.

I force myself to re-enter the bedroom, knowing I have only this one chance to investigate before the police secure the scene. I'm calmer than I'd expect, but all my experiences tracking deadbeat dads and scam artists haven't prepared me for the ugliness of violent death. This is my first murder victim, my first corpse.


Friday, November 19, 2010


I was recently interviewed for David Wisehart's blog, Kindle Author, and he questioned me about the research I'd done for my novel, "A Touch of Deceit."  In the book a Sicilian FBI agent recruits his Mafia cousin to help him track a terrorist.  Well of course I mentioned how I interviewed FBI agents and local law enforcement to get a good idea of how the bureau worked.  But for the Mafia part I had to think--what research had I really done?

Then it occurred to me.  I'm Sicilian.  My father was Sicilian.  He also owned a candy store in Brooklyn where the Mafia would run numbers.  It was more like a Luncheonette with a counter for soda and sandwiches.  When I was sixteen I began working weekends by myself.  Well, of course, I was young, so my dad's Sicilian friends offered to keep an eye on me while I was working alone.  Guys with names like Max and Tony would stop in frequently during the shift and make small talk.  We became very friendly.  We talked baseball, their kids, everything.  They would buy coffee and overtip me.  Eventually we set up a signal with the bar across the street where the Mafia guys would hang out.  If I turned off the neon ice cream sign in the window it meant someone suspicious was in the store.

Late one night just before closing a kid around twenty-one came in, sat at the counter and ordered a Cherry Cola.  He sat there sipping it like it was hot tea.  Then he looked around and asked me questions like ‘where’s my help’ and ‘how much money does a place like this keep in the register?’ So I clicked off the ice cream sign and within two minutes five Sicilians came in and surrounded the kid. They never touched him, but he practically ran out the door and I never saw him again. These guys were very loyal people and treated me like royalty.

I told that story in my interview with David Wisehart and when I finished, I asked, "Does that count as research?"  Something tells me I learned more from my youth with the Mafia then I ever did over the phone with an FBI agent.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


There are times when a writer, like me, will have those far away eyes. You know what I mean, one minute you’re having a conversation with a writer, then they seem to check out for a few minutes. Where do they go? I’ll tell you. They’re tying up that latest plot twist. They’re trying to remember what you call that ramp you walk down to enter a plane. They’re figuring out how their protaganist is going to get out of the latest jam they put him in. It’s always in the back of a writer’s mind. It’s all part of the process. You could spend a lifetime trying to explain it. If you’re a close friend or family member this will happen more frequently. Why? Because they feel more comfortable doing it with you than an acquaintance which could cause some uncomfortable moments.

Be understanding when this happens. The writer can’t help it, their brain is wired to manufacture scenes in their mind before it reaches their keyboard and if they wait until they're sitting in front of the computer to get it done, it’ll take a decade to finish a chapter. So they wander. They take that excess time we have each day to unwind and turn it into a productive business meeting. Consider it a conference call for the imagination.

So the next time you’re driving in a car with a writer and notice them staring out the window. Don’t be surprised when you ask them what they’re doing and they turn to you and say, “I’m working.”