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Knowing When to Say “The End” by Debra H. Goldstein (Click for Comments)

Knowing When to Say “The End” by Debra H. Goldstein

Five days ago, I typed the words “The End” at the conclusion of eighty thousand plus other words I wrote during the past few months. I rejoiced.

Those eighty thousand plus words were probably more like one hundred plus words because on one day, I had twenty thousand words, the next fifteen thousand. The seesaw process of up and down went on a week at a time. Some days I wrote in spurts and actually liked two to five thousand words. Often, the next day when I reread what I’d written, I killed the little darlings. Other days, I completely avoided my computer or sat and stared at it wishing it to demonstrate artificial intelligence and write something for me.

The day after I wrote “The End,” I chilled. I worked on our taxes, got the car washed, went through the coffee drive through window, and while my oven cleaned itself, I watched all the shows I DVR’d for two weeks. It was heaven.

By Friday, the computer called to me. I pulled up the manuscript and again went through it looking for plot holes, spelling and punctuation errors, point of view problems, and repetitiveness. I caught a few of those things, but knew I was too close to my work product. Time to send it off to other eyes. When I hit send, it was out of my hands – temporarily. I went to bed and slept well.

Saturday, I woke refreshed and able to focus on writing blogs, columns, and the beginning of a short story. All of these were things, except one short story I dashed off in three houses because of its submission deadline, that eluded me during the past few weeks while I saw myself getting closer and closer to typing “The End.” By mid-day, I rested. The world was good, and I could do something unrelated to writing.

Sometimes, one needs to close the computer and simply say “The End.”

Guest Blogger: Kathryn Lane – It All Starts With the Subconscious (click to leave or read comments)

It All Starts with the Subconscious by Kathryn Lane

A recurring question I’m asked when I speak at book clubs is whether I plot the entire novel before I start writing. I usually respond by defining the two basic types of writers – detailed plotters or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantstypes. Once I’ve decided to begin a new book and have established the type of novel, such as a suspense thriller, I definitely fall into the seat-of-your-pants-type. I let the characters talk to me and take me along for the adventure. A few steps do happen, though, before the characters scoop me away!

At this point, it all starts with allowing subconscious thoughts to bubble up to my conscious mind. After I allow my brain a rest from a full day of activity, I lie in bed, and on lucky evenings, ideas go off like firecrackers in my conscious mind. From these mental pyrotechnics, I gather concepts and insights my busy day brain cannot possibly bring to light. I keep a notepad on my nightstand to record important concepts.

My next step consists of multi-layered research with copious notetaking. This step goes from on-line investigation and reading a selection of books on related topics to traveling to specific locations I’ve selected for the novel and speaking with people who may be experts on a topic included in the book. Traveling is by far the most fun and at times the most difficult part of the research. It is fun since I choose locations my husband and I want to visit, like northern Spain and southern France, and it is difficult as I usually fall in love with some spot or another making it nearly impossible to leave. Why not rent a cottage and remain there to write the novel? Oh, impossible for various reasons, yet an enticing idea for the future!

There’s another reason my travel research is important – it’s a globalized world. If I place a novel in Barcelona, Spain, the reader must breathe the air, feel the atmosphere, see the sights, and watch the action as if present alongside the protagonist. Too many people have traveled to Barcelona for me to let my descriptions of streets, monuments, neighborhoods, or other details be wrong.

In addition to traveling for research purposes, another reason to travel pops into my mind from an article I read recently – people who engage in activities they love, live longer. Nothing particularly new about that thought, but it came with a twist from a 104-year-old doctor in Tokyo, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara*” who stated: “Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot.” His twist is instead of feeling good to be happy, turn it around: “Be happy and you will feel good.” Travel does precisely that for me – it makes me happy. Travel and writing – that combination makes me even happier!

Getting back to my writing style, by the time I have completed initial travel, performed research, kept copious notes, written descriptions of my main characters, and taken photos of specific spots to be mentioned in the book, I don’t feel the need to plot out the novel – I can see the “big picture” in my mind and I write the story, allowing my characters to lead the way.

*Dr. Hinohara passed away in July 2017 at the age of 105.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Originally from Mexico, Kathryn Lane was a painter in oils but changed to accounting and international finance after she discovered the artistic path led her to a starving artist existence. To cement her ability to earn a living, she became a CPA and a CMA, and worked for a multinational corporation where she traveled extensively for two decades. After jetting to over 90 countries, her travels gave her the opportunity to fulfill another passion – to write fiction.

Kathryn is a graduate of the University of New Mexico. She has been honored with a Montie Award for the Pursuit of Excellence by The Greater Conroe Arts Alliance and two Paul Harris awards from The Rotary Club of The Woodlands for her service to the community. She also serves on the Montgomery County Literary Arts Council and resides in Texas, with her husband, Bob Hurt.

Kathryn Lane is the award-winning author of the Nikki Garcia Thriller Series. Her debut novel, Waking Up in Medellin, has been named:

 Best Fiction Book of the Year 2017 by Killer Nashville
 Best Fiction Adult Suspense 2017 by Killer Nashville
 Silver Medal in Fiction/Thriller – Readers Favorite Book Awards 2017
 RONE Award Finalist 2017 by InD’Tale Magazine

Coyote Zone (October 2017) is the second novel in the Nikki Garcia Thriller Series. A mystery of high stakes danger in a kidnapping and human trafficking story with subplots, such as romance, woven into the story.

Kathryn’s collection of short stories, Backyard Volcano and Other Mysteries of the Heart (April 2017) gives you the fusion between fantasy and reality, punctuated by hints of surrealism, and symbolism with unusual twists and turns – in other words, everyday occurrences in Latin cultures.

Website: www.kathryn-lane.com
Points of Sale

Waking Up in Medellin
o Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1942428944/
o Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/waking-up-in-medellin-kathryn-lane/1123516497?ean=9781683130147
o Pen-L Publishing – http://www.pen-l.com/WakingUpInMedellin.html
o iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/waking-up-in-medellin/id1093054173?mt=11
o Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Waking+Up+in+Medellin
Coyote Zone
o Amazon – www.amazon.com/dp/1683131088
o Pen-L Publishing – www.Pen-L.com/CoyoteZone.html
Backyard Volcano
o Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1943306044/

My Favorite Shirt is Torn by Debra H. Goldstein

My favorite shirt is torn.

The minute the dryer buzzed, I stopped what I was doing and went to retrieve my shirt, so it wouldn’t wrinkle. I pulled it out, shook it, hung it, and saw the pinprick sized hole at the edge of the pocket. Perhaps it was a spot? No, a hole going all the way through the fabric at a location that makes patching or simply wearing it again in public impossible.

What will I do?

I wear that shirt when I don’t feel up to par, when I think the weather is going to be cold, when I write and things aren’t working, or when it is one of those days. It is my comfort shirt. Oversized, blue-green and white plaid, with sleeves that stay rolled up because it has little buttons and tabs to keep them in place, it would never be mistaken as high fashion. My shirt serves only two purposes: it keeps me covered and makes me feel secure.

My writing is like my shirt. I write comfort books and short stories. Readers are meant to feel embraced by the wealth of my words. The language may not be highfaluting, but it always is understandable. Whether the tale is dark or light, it hopefully wraps the reader in a different world.

Time has changed my written works, hopefully for the better. It is an inevitable evolution, comparable to life. I’ll mourn the loss of my shirt, but I’ll buy another. It won’t be the same, but different can still be comfortable.

Guest Blogger: Warren Moore – The Pinocchio Process (click to see comments)

The Pinocchio Process by Warren Moore

I’ve been writing since before I knew how to write – no, really. There are reel-to-reel tapes of a three-year-old me reciting songs and stories. My dad asks, “Did you make that up?” I say I did, and he says, “Pretty weird, kid.”

It really hasn’t changed too much since then. Although my parents aren’t around anymore, I still make up songs and stories, and sometimes, they’re pretty weird. One thing that has changed a bit over the years, however, is that some of them have been published, both traditionally and online. And in fact, that’s happened often enough in the last five years or so that I’m kind of having to reassess some things.

I have a day job: I’m an English professor at a small liberal-arts college in a small town in South Carolina, and I’ve been doing that for almost fifteen years. Make no mistake – that’s how I make my living. But since I started placing stories, and since my novel came out a few years ago, I’ve started thinking of myself a little differently. I’m still an English prof, but I’m coming to realize that I’m something else as well.

I’m a writer.

At this point, you can take a moment to shrug and say, “Well, duh.” But I think some of you may know what I mean. Five years ago, I saw myself as – I was – an English professor who did other things as a hobby – playing drums, writing stories. I still do those things, so what’s different?
Well, the way the world and I see what I do, for one. And examples of that form what I call Pinocchio moments, when I start to realize that I’m a real boy – I mean, a real writer. My stories are published (sometimes) alongside writers like Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Stephen King. I get paid for that work. (And that’s a big one – when someone tells you that they like the stuff you make up so much that they will make you a gift of money for it? That’s an affirmation.) I’ve had stories positively reviewed in USA Today and the New York Times. I’ve appeared on panels at conferences and conventions, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest at a signing at Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop. Perhaps best of all, some of my favorite writers, the folks who inspired me to write, have told me they like my work. I’m a Real Boy, it seems.

But unlike Mr. Collodi’s fictional puppet, there wasn’t a Blue Fairy to effect my transformation. I had been a Real Writer all along, even though I didn’t recognize it for a long time. What caused those Pinocchio moments? The fact that I put the work in, and that I put that work Out There. Once I did that, the world let me know what I might not have been willing to admit. And if you’re writing, you should do that as well. Reach out – let people see that, whatever else you do, you’re also a Real Writer. You may very well have been one all along. Pretty weird, huh?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WARREN MOORE is Professor of English at Newberry College in Newberry, SC. His novel Broken Glass Waltzes was recently republished by Down & Out Books, and his short fiction has appeared in several online venues, magazines, and anthologies, including Dark City Lights (2015), In Sunlight or In Shadow (2016), and Alive in Shape and Color (2017), all edited by Lawrence Block. He blogs as “Professor Mondo” at http://profmondo.wordpress.com, and tweets as @profmondo. His work is available via Amazon and other retailers.

Guest Blogger: Heather Weidner – Plotter or Panster? What’s Your Style? I Think I’m a Binge Writer (click for comments)

Plotter or Pantser? What’s Your Style? I Think I’m a Binge Writer by Heather Weidner

Thank you so much for letting me stop by for a visit on your blog. I love to talk about books and writing.
Writers usually fall into one of two camps, plotters (those who plan, plot, and outline before writing), and pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants). Plotters know the path and the plan to get to the end. Pantsers go where the characters and story takes them.
I am probably a hybrid of the two, though I lean heavily on the plotter side. I plot everywhere. I jot ideas on sticky notes and on scraps of paper. I carry a notebook in my purse for plotting emergencies. I have outlines, character biographies, and color-coded storylines. I keep a chart of all the places and characters. I describe them to the nth degree. This is also helpful if you decide to write a series. That way, my character’s eye color or the color of her kitchen doesn’t change in a later work.
I also use this to take care of my urge to write backstory. I put all the details in this document. Some of the information will never see the light of day, but it keeps me from overloading the story with too much history. Backstory or historical details are better sprinkled in throughout the work.
After my major plotting, I’m ready to start writing. And that’s when the pantser raises its head. I always decide I like a minor character better than another, and sometimes the story takes a tangent. In my first novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes (May 2016), I planned to keep one character around for the series to create some tension. But as it turned out, I liked another character much better, and his role took on a life of its own. So, without spoiling the surprise, character two is around for book two.
After the plotting and the first draft, which my friend Mary Burton calls the “sloppy copy,” I am ready to revise. This phase takes me the longest. I can write pretty quickly once I get started, but it takes me forever to reorder, change, and revise. And what I think is chapter one during the writing stage, never ends up that way in the final, published version.
I try to write every day, but it doesn’t always happen. I work full-time in IT, and sometimes the only thing I wrote in a week were performance evaluations and budget recommendations. Life gets in the way. I’m much happier when I stopped beating myself up about writing and hitting daily word counts. I write when I can. I binge write. I get up at 5:00 AM and write or do my social media promotion before work. I write at lunch. My coworkers tease me when I write in the cafeteria (but they always want to know who dies in the next book). I write a lot on my days off, weekends, and holidays.
You need to decide what works for you and create your style. It is harder to pick up your writing after you’ve been away for a while, but you need to balance your writing with everything else in your life. The best advice that I’ve received throughout the years is to be persistent and keep writing if you want to be published.

Author Biography
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is her second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Pens, Paws, and Claws authors.

Synopsis
Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.

Contact Information
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Pens, Paws, and Claws Blog: http://penspawsandclaws.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherWeidnerAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003

Book Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077CSZ53X
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1310643581
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-tulip-shirt-murders-heather-weidner/1127425899?ean=2940155054696
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-tulip-shirt-murders
Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/363967058/The-Tulip-Shirt-Murders-The-Delanie-Fitzgerald-Mysteries-2
24Symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=2468512
Playster: https://play.playster.com/books/10009780999459812/the-tulip-shirt-murders-heather-weidner
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36591325-the-tulip-shirt-murders?from_search=true

The End of Our Thanksgiving (click for comments)

The End Of Our Thanksgiving by Debra H. Goldstein
Thanksgiving week at the Goldstein’s house is coming to an end. The last child will be flying out tonight. The first one arrived last Tuesday. In between, a total of twelve people and one grand-dog descended on us. As parents, we will miss them and look forward to our next get-together. As curmudgeons, we are delighted to have our house back to ourselves.

Just think, we will be able to sleep until whatever time our body clock wakes us rather than setting an alarm for a dawn airport run or having a four-year-old jumping on our bed to see “are you awake?” while a 55-lb puppy bounds into our room, barely putting on the brakes before crashing into my nightstand to let me know she is awake. We won’t load carloads of people and food to take to our joint first cousin family Thanksgiving nor drag chairs from the formal dining room to squeeze around the kitchen table when we breakout the leftovers a few hours after getting home.

Uneaten food remnants are thrown out, beds changed, dog hair vacuumed up (not to mention paint dried from where the grand-dog scratched the laundry room trim to the point my son-in-law spent hours replacing, sanding, and painting while repairing the damage). Basketballs, footballs, dolls, and books are put away.

The house is quiet and peaceful, but not quite as perfect as the past few days.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS

Guest Blogger Margaret Fenton – Sometimes a Bad Day Turns Into a Good Day, Especially If There’s Gin (click for comments)

Sometimes a Bad Day Turns Into a Good Day, Especially If There’s Gin by Margaret Fenton

2007 was a great year. I went to Killer Nashville in August. I paid a lot of extra dollars and was given the opportunity to pitch my unpublished manuscript to either an agent or a representative from Oceanview Publishing. I chose the agent, a lady from New York whose name I no longer remember. I gave her my carefully prepared statement. I had written a mystery called Little Lamb Lost, about a child welfare social worker who gets to work one day and one of her clients, a boy just under two years old, is dead. The mother is arrested for murder. My protagonist, Claire Conover, was the social worker who was responsible for returning the child to the mother. Mom worked really hard to get her child back and make a good life for them both. Claire makes it her mission to figure out what happened. Sounds great, right?

The agent HATED IT. She berated me for ten minutes about how no one was going to buy a mystery where the victim was a child. Ever. I might as well give up and go home. I left that meeting feeling like my dreams would never come true, and that the two years I had spent on this manuscript were a horrible waste of time. And I had paid quite a bit of money to hear it. I went to the bar.

I ordered the largest gin and tonic the bartender could make. He noted the look on my face and did a great job. I sat in the bar and sipped. And sipped. And sipped. When my friend Don Bruns approached me, I was pretty buzzed. He asked me how the pitch went and I held back tears as I relayed what happened. Don is published by Oceanview, and volunteered to go get the rep from his publisher and let me pitch to her. I agreed and he left and returned with Maryglenn McCombs. I continued sipping.

I don’t remember exactly what I said to Maryglenn. I think it was a version of what I said to the agent, with the added statement that no one wants to read about a dead kid, apparently. She said it sounded interesting and asked to see it. I don’t think I believed her. No, really, send it to me, she said. I agreed, and suddenly the drinking became a celebration.

I mailed the manuscript when I got home and within two months I had a contract, an advance, and a pub date: June 1, 2009. I went on a small tour for the book and had the best time. Somewhere between the publishing of my first novel and my completion of the second novel in the series, Oceanview decided they were only going to publish thrillers. They asked me to make Little Girl Gone a thriller. I tried, but it’s not. It’s an amateur sleuth mystery. I sat on it for over three years, trying to decide what to do. I didn’t want to agent search. Eventually I decided to put it out through Amazon and CreateSpace. I miss having a publisher but like the freedom of making all the decisions. I’m working on the third book in the series, Little White Lies, and I hope it’s going to be out early next year. Thanks for letting me blog here, and I hope all your bad days turn to good days. If not, there’s always gin.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Margaret Fenton, author of Little Girl Gone, grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. Fenton spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist before taking a break to focus on her writing. Her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned. She serves as planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

Juxtaposing “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Where Did the Summer Go?” by Debra H. Goldstein (click for comments)

Juxtaposing “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Where Did the Summer Go?

You know how a song gets caught in your head? Two phrases are ringing in my ears, but I don’t know how or why my brain thinks they go together. Logically, they don’t. There just isn’t an intellectual way to reconcile “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Where did summer go?”

Why I thought of the latter question is easy to understand. We’ve passed the first official day of fall, the temperature has cooled, and leaves are changing colors and falling. If these things didn’t make the point to me, a few shopping trips did. One-minute stores were filled with patriotic July 4th merchandise, the next day they were offering Labor Day specials, and the Halloween stuff was already being pushed aside last week for Thanksgiving cards and turkey decorations. What’s worse, on the internet, besides Black Friday mentions, there already are Christmas countdowns.

“Days of Wine and Roses” doesn’t make as much sense to me. The play and the movie were about a young couple who became alcoholics and their fight for sobriety. Spoiler: one made it, one didn’t, but the open-ending left a slim chance for the future. If I was thinking of apples and honey, I would say my thoughts were influenced by Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement I observed a few weeks ago. Or if it was my anniversary, birthday, or a just because day, I could understand roses (Yellow roses are my favorite, in case you ever need to know). Wine isn’t something that excites or even interests me, so why is this phrase pulsating through my mind?

Maybe it is a combination of my dislike of the change to daylight savings as this is the part of the year where it will get dark sooner and my mood will follow. Perhaps it is because I know we are in the final quarter of the year which means end of the year responsibilities loom – closing committee reports, taxes, and the year itself aging because that means the same for me. Of course, it could be the holiday commercialism that will abound for the next three months.

Then again, it could be that the juxtaposition of these two phrases represent a kind of rebirth. The year ends, but begins anew. Within the confines of family and friends, the holidays represent fun, joy, getting together, and probably partaking of a bit of wine. Days and seasons (not to mention the time to writing deadlines) pass way to quickly, but there is a constant rekindling of hope. The movie was open-ended; our writing and lives are the same.
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Guest Blogger – Leslie Wheeler – Inspired by Edith Wharton and the Berkshires (click for comments)

                Leslie Wheeler

When I moved to the Berkshires many years ago, I was an aspiring writer. So, I naturally sought out other authors who had lived and written there. The author with whom I felt the most kinship and who turned out to be an important influence on a novel I would eventually write was Edith Wharton.

Like Wharton, I built a home in the area—though nowhere near as grand as The Mount, and located in a remote hamlet, instead of fashionable Lenox. As The Mount was to Wharton, my house was my first real home as an adult, and a place where I’ve spent many happy and productive hours, writing, gardening, and entertaining guests like she did.

Also like Wharton, I’ve enjoyed exploring the countryside. Sallying forth on foot or by car, I imagined Wharton touring the Berkshires in her chauffeur-driven motorcar, with Henry James at her side, their “imagination so tantalized by the mystery beyond the next blue hills.”

Like Wharton, I have often been struck by the “somber beauty” of the landscape. This beauty is lyrically described in her two Berkshire novels, Ethan Frome and Summer, and I’ve done my best to convey it in my own novel, Rattlesnake Hill.

Yet, again like Wharton, I’m well aware of the area’s dark side. Wharton found this darkness in the lives of the inhabitants of “villages still bedrowsed in a decaying rural existence,” as she described them in her autobiography, A Backward Glance. And it was these “sad, slow-speaking people living in conditions hardly changed since their forebears held those villages against the Indians” that she wrote about in her Berkshire novels, books whose bleakness puts their author squarely in the tradition of Nathanial Hawthorne and Herman Melville.

Each of the novels was inspired by a horrific, real-life event. In Ethan Frome, it’s a disastrous sledding accident in Lenox. In Summer, it’s the grim tale of a “mountain burial” on Bear Mountain, near Lee, that Wharton heard from the rector of her Lenox church.

In Summer, Bear Mountain is called The Mountain, an evil place that casts an ominous shadow over the surrounding villages. When Wharton’s protagonist, Charity Royall, goes there to witness her mother’s funeral in a squalid shack lit by a single candle, in the company of a motley crew of cursing, quarreling drunkards, she discovers that The Mountain is indeed a frightening place.

In my novel, Rattlesnake Hill replaces The Mountain as the locus of evil. The hill owes its name to the timber rattlesnakes that still haunt its rocky slopes. It’s also home to the Barkers, a wild clan known for their violent tempers, said to stem from the rattlesnake blood in their veins.

At the heart of my novel is a tragic story I heard about a love triangle that ended with the woman’s murder and her lover’s blinding. In Rattlesnake Hill, the tale of these doomed lovers reverberates across the generations until it’s finally repeated, more than a hundred years later, in another triangle that also ends with the woman’s death. When my protagonist, Kathryn Stinson, plunges into a passionate affair with Earl Barker, whose ancestor was involved in the long-ago triangle, and who also figured in the more recent triangle, the story threatens to repeat itself a third time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written three Miranda Lewis “living history” mysteries: Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Murder at Gettysburg, and Murder at Spouters Point. Her latest novel, Rattlesnake Hill, is the first in a new series of Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries, and will be released in February, 2018. Leslie’s mystery short stories have appeared in various anthologies including Day of the Dark, Stories of Eclipse, and the Best New England Crime Stories series, published by Level Best Books, where she was a co-editor/co-publisher for six years. A member of Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime, she is Speakers Bureau Coordinator for the New England Chapter of SinC. Leslie divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she does much of her writing in a house overlooking a pond.

Rattlesnake Hill is available at https://encirclepub.com/product/rattlesnake-hill-by-leslie-wheeler/  or http://bit.ly/2xGNH3G

Las Vegas, Other Tragedies and Humanity (click for comments) by Debra H. Goldstein

Usually, I write my blogs in advance and have them prescheduled to pop up at six in the morning. With Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday, during which we atone for our sins and on which our fate for the next year is sealed, being this past weekend and a number of other things occurring, I wrote part of today’s blog, but never finished it. I was going to sneak it up a few hours late. But then I woke up to the tragic shooting in Las Vegas.

I don’t usually write political blogs nor comment on current events, but the world has gone to hell in a handbag. Whether by the actions of terrorists or lone wolf demented individuals, we no longer live in an Ozzie and Harriett or Leave it to Beaver era. Come to think of it, I never did. I grew up with protests, Vietnam, and the history of Kent State. I also grew up feeling safe to wander the streets of London in early morning to see if char ladies really existed, to run down a street in Boston, to hear a concert in Las Vegas, to dance at a club in Florida, to fly in and out of Paris, and to kiss my children good-bye as they went off to spend terms abroad.

Why?

My heart goes out to those who have been killed or injured in any and all of these instances. The waste of life, the loss of human potential cannot be measured. History teaches us the sins of hatred and violence accomplish nothing except decimating humanity so why are they repeated? I don’t have an answer, but I rile against those who act without thought for others.

We talk of communication, but there is none in these acts. A point is made, but it is lost in the tragedy of the moment. I reach out my hand to all of you for only if we communicate will there be a world and a life for us, our children, our grandchildren, and the generations to come.