Monday, May 22, 2017

AUTHOR, NANCY QUINN



Nancy Quinn is my guest author this week who has an eclectic and interesting background. She is not only an author, but also an internationally known wildlife artist. She has always had a love of animals and nature and has worked as a conservation law enforcement officer and volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation center where she brings birds and reptiles into schools to educate children of all ages.


What inspired you to write your first book?  

I found the support and interest of people who wanted to hear about our rather atypical life, inspiring.  Friends and family seemed to enjoy my perspective on our unusual adventures and often suggested I write a book. I didn’t think I could write; I already had a career as a wildlife artist, but the idea of becoming an author appealed to me.  Since all of my dreams and goals have been well out of my comfort zone, the more I thought about it, the more willing I was to step out of it again and give it my best effort.     

What books have most influenced your life?  

I think most every book I have ever read has influenced me on some level, either positively or negatively.  My love of reading and my favorite authors did inspire me to want to someday be included among them. I adore the James Herriot series and Nancy Drew mysteries, which I still read with my daughters.  Being from a law enforcement and investigation background, I enjoy solving a good mystery, and am always on the lookout for a new one.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

My editor will tell you it is the mechanics of punctuation!  I tend to focus on the clarity and structure of my ideas when I am writing.  Being and artist, I want to paint a picture with words, so I am intent on creating a visual image in my initial drafts.  After I have finished making what I have seen in my mind flow onto the keyboard, I have to go back and edit the words and punctuation very carefully.  Otherwise, the reader may become lost trying to follow my train of thought.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

I still like to sit in my favorite chair by the window and use a spiral notebook to make an outline and hand written notes to refer to when writing my manuscripts.  I know it isn’t as efficient as using the computer, but since I sit in front of a monitor all day, I look forward to any chance to gather my thoughts and write with a gel pen while gazing upon the mountain peaks from my picture window. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?  

I would have to say the amount of time it takes for the book to reach production.  Once the book is written, it requires months to properly edit and reedit it, and to find photos or art to compliment the manuscript.  Then one must choose a cover design, look at formatting and presentation, and a host of other decisions that are needed before it goes to print and is available on the book store shelves.  And then, there is marketing…

What do you think makes a good story? 

It requires a subject that has general appeal, good continuity, and engaging details that bring the reader along and make them feel part of the experience in the story.  I believe these qualities apply to both fiction and non-fiction as well.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?  

My ideas come from our true life experiences, so I sift through our life and decide which ones would most entertain and inspire readers. 

What book are you introducing to us today?  

Go West, Young Woman! is the true story of the first five years of my family’s modern day pioneer adventure.  Honestly, have you ever found a cougar on your swing set or a moose in your driveway?  We were a military family.  When my husband retired, we left Washington, D.C., to live what we thought would be a “calmer” existence in rural Montana.  We were surprised at just how unprepared we were for the challenges ahead, both comical and adventurous.  The humor of our early encounters with cattle and local customs only masked more ominous confrontations we would share with predators and the natural elements.  I like to think we discovered the true meaning of the “code of the West,” a concept we believe has not entirely vanished from the American way of life.  I am currently writing the sequel, which will cover approximately the next five years of our story.

How did you come up with the title?  It’s the title of the first chapter in the book and encompasses the whole premise of the story.  My publisher, Hellgate Press, suggested we use it as the title of the book.  I thought it was a great idea because it invokes a feeling of adventure, hope, and a new start in life.  Along with occasional humor, these are the themes in every vignette in the book, which is how I composed it – as a series of often connected short stories tied together chronologically to maintain continuity.  This is my nod to the influences of James Herriot and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from reading your book?

I hope they remember it was fun and uplifting; that my book is about hope and perseverance, with the idea that living a personal dream is achievable, whatever it may be. 

Please share an excerpt from the book.  


"It looks like a modern-day covered wagon,” I quipped as I examined the heavy blue tarp that covered the back of our new pickup truck, a gunmetal grey Ford F250. Underneath, were stacked my husband’s tools, along with other basic necessities we would need for our new life in Montana. They filled the eight-foot bed, and overflowed into the U-Haul trailer his mother had managed to secure for us. It was the last one available in the tri-state area, and thanks to her dogged efforts, we acquired it, instead of one of the thousands of graduating seniors who were disgorging this same week from nearby Florida State University.

As we hurried about, checking the lashings one last time before we departed, I scanned the scene. It was a bright and beautiful spring day, and the sun glinting off of the metal body contrasted sharply with the shimmering tarp. Colorful as it was, I tried to imagine it was not unlike the prairie schooners of the pioneer stories I loved reading in my childhood. The idea that I too was moving west was like a dream finally come true. But it had started as a nightmare...


My thanks to Ms. Quinn for sharing about herself as an author and her journey in publishing her first book. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I know she would love to hear from you.




Monday, May 15, 2017

INTERVIEW OF AUTHOR, TED COHEN



Theodore Jerome Cohen is an award-winning author who has published more than ten novels—all but one of them mystery/thrillers—and two short-story anthologies. He also writes Young Adult (YA) novels under the pen name “Alyssa Devine” as well as illustrated children's storybooks in his Stories for the Early Years series. He is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators and will have an article on marketing a forthcoming issue of the society's journal, BULLETIN.
During the course of his 45-year career he worked as an engineer, scientist, CBS Radio Station News Service (RSNS) commentator, private investigator, and Antarctic explorer. What he’s been able to do with his background is to mix fiction with reality in ways that even his family and friends have been unable to unravel!




What inspired you to write your first book of fiction?
I’ve been writing my entire adult life, though the books, papers, essays, and interviews I produced—which number in the hundreds—were in a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines. It wasn’t until we moved to Langhorne, PA, and I neared retirement from my consultancy that I even considered the possibility of writing fiction. Then, it all happened by chance.

What happened?
Well, a good friend and professor at Temple University, Dr. Michael Sirover, self-published a book on surviving cancer—admittedly not fiction. But, I was so impressed by the fact he had written and published a book that I said to myself: I can do that! And so, I did.

Which book was that?
It was an autobiography, of sorts. As they say: “Write what you know,” and where better to start than with your life. In my case, I wrote about my life as a violinist. My father always wanted me to be a concert violinist, but alas, it was not to be. I told the story in Full Circle: A Dream Denied, A Vision Fulfilled. As P.D. James said: “All fiction is largely autobiographical, and much autobiography is, of course, fiction.”

So, you took some liberties?
[laughs] Oh, yes, while I do play the violin and for six years played with the Bryn Athyn (PA) orchestra—one of the oldest community orchestras in the nation—I never played as well as I did in my novel. And I had a lot of fun writing that book, too, because it gave me the opportunity to relive portions of my childhood I had loved but forgotten.

But clearly, that was only the beginning. How did you get from there to The Antarctic Murders Trilogy?
Well—and as anyone who’s ever published a book can tell you—once you’ve held your first book, it’s Katy bar the door. I decided then and there the dive into another book, and what better place to start but my travels to Antarctica in 1961-62. While there, I had written a short story I had intended to submit to one literary magazine or another when I returned Stateside, but the manuscript was lost somewhere in South America. I remembered the gist of the story, however, and incorporated it in Book 1 of the Trilogy, Frozen in Time. Much of this novel Is based on my trip to, and work on, the Frozen Continent. And that post-modern novel would have stood alone except for the fact my younger daughter, Stephanie, hounded me regarding what happened to some of the characters.

And so, you just had to write Books 2 and 3.
Absolutely, though Unfinished Business (Book 2) and End Game (Book 3) are pure fiction. By the way, for those who love music, the ending of End Game hinges critically on the timing of the movements during a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Why not have a little fun while we’re at it?!

And then came the Det. Louis Martelli, NYPD, series of mystery/thrillers, correct?
Yes, and the first—Death by Wall Street—seemed like a natural to write. I had uncovered significant corruption in the FDA’s review of a revolutionary treatment for prostate cancer in 2007 while assisting Mark Mitchell, a former Wall Street Journal editor, in investigating what happened. The agreement was he would keep my name off his piece (earlier, he had been beaten for what he had written in another exposé) while I was free to tell the story in fiction. And so I did. The novel was the first of what turned out to be a six-book series of mystery/thrillers, all ripped from the headlines or in some way tied to real life.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?
That’s a difficult question to answer, given my reading interests are all over the map. But I will tell you my early interest in fiction in general and short stories in particular derived from reading Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery in college as a freshman. That is something I never will forget. James Michener, too, had an impact on me, principally his books Hawaii and, even more so, Caravans. We’re fortunate to have the Michener Museum just 30 minutes to the west, in Doylestown, where you can walk through his reconstructed office.

But those are not mysteries, which seems to be where you have focused, at least early on.
I know. What can I say? As I said, my interests go in a thousand directions.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I’m glad you didn’t ask my wife that question! She’d probably say it’s my total impatience with the editing process. There, I’m probably not alone! Actually, and you’ll have to tell me if this qualifies: I have never used an outline. I write intuitively. What usually happens is, I wake up one morning with an idea or see something in the newspaper, as happened some years ago on vacation when, upon reading about the housing collapse of 2009, I sat down and wrote House of Cards. Then, I sit down and let the story and the characters take me where the story leads. Sometimes, I’m surprised by what ‘they’ say and where we end up. Seriously. When I get into one of those ‘spells,’ I can lay down 3000 to 5000 words a day. I’ve written some of my novels in two weeks. Then, there’s always the dreaded editing process!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s not the writing that I find so challenging as much as I am challenged by the marketing of my books. With almost a million books published in the United States each year, the real question for independent writers is: how can I make my voice heard about the ‘noise?’ Now, believe me, there are legions of people out there who would be happy to take your money and ‘help’ you with marketing your books. Early on, I used a New York City-based marketing assistant who came highly recommended. She produced nothing! The threat of a lawsuit resolved the situation quickly, but it only points up the fact that independent authors have to be careful who they trust.

Given the above, what are some of the things independent writers should definitely do to help themselves.
Well, there are some very basic things you need to do to at least get your name out there. At the very least, you need a Website! Then, on Amazon, be sure to take advantage of their Author Central and Look Inside offerings. No one should be without these. Also, secure a few professional reviews for your books. I have used houses such as Kirkus, Feathered Quill, Reader Views, Readers’ Favorite, and Pacific Book Review. There are others. You can’t post the entire review on Amazon, but you can post excerpts. As well, you can use excerpts from these reviews on the backs or jackets of your books. Get on Goodreads and populate your author page. If you’re into Facebook, post there. Twitter, too, though I have not found Twitter to be a viable means by which to advertise books. Join the gang on Navigating Indieworld, including their board on Goodreads. There are other things you can do, of course, but these represent the bare minimum.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
If I were in college today, looking to begin career in literature or journalism, I’d select a school with a premier English department, faculty members who have published in the area or genre I find interesting, and latch on to a major professor who not only can hone your skills but teach you the ‘secret handshake’ needed to enter the world of published authors. In reading the biographies of authors with agents, I am struck over and over again by the number I see who have Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. This is especially true of authors you find in such literary magazines as Big Muddy, Glitter Train, and Ninth Letter, and so forth. Being published in these magazines is almost a rite of passage for many budding authors, and the MFA is their ‘union card.' I’ve also read that many agents read these magazines in the hope of spotting new talent early without having to go through the agony of diving into their ‘slush pile.’

Have you had any success with literary magazines?
Minimal, though it’s been an interesting exercise. After four failed attempts to find an agent and enough rejection e-mails to paper the loft, I decided to see if submitting short stories to the literary magazines mentioned above and others might not garner some interest among agents or at least give me something to point to in my query letters. Alas, there was No Joy in Mudville, save for one story, “Unforgiven,” which won an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters’ September, 2015, competition. Given that Glimmer Train receives 40,000 submissions each year, I’ll take it!

Would you share an excerpt from this story?
Sure…

He gently, almost reverently, brushed the dust from the frame with the fingers of his right hand. “Those were great guys, Son. See the fellow on the left—he poked a finger on the glass—that’s Stanley Cohn, a wise-cracking Jewish kid from the Bronx. Boy, no matter how bad things got, he could always make us laugh. Kept us in stiches, all right, especially when he spoke with a Yiddish accent. Next to him is your dad, who was Roman Catholic, of course. He and I always attended Sunday Mass together. To his left is Walt Sutton. He was a devout Baptist from Dallas. And that’s me on the other end, an old Irish Catholic from Boston. Rank didn’t matter. Nor did religion or background. We were like brothers. We were never out of each other’s sight.” He paused and slumped in his chair, the picture frame falling to his lap. “Stanley was killed two days after this picture was taken when we were ambushed just to the south, in Carentan. Walt died in the Battle of the Bulge. Your dad held him in his arms as he passed. A medic tried to stem the bleeding, but his wounds were massive. it was late December, 1944. At Bastogne. We were attached, then to the 101st Airborne Division.The worst fighting I ever saw.” Cassidy shook his head as if even now he still could not believe it. “And to think Walt almost made it through the war. Your father never was the same after that. It was like the light went out of his eyes . . ..” His voice trailed off and his focus drained.


What did you do next?
Well, I was so buoyed by the Glimmer Train result that I lashed together all the stories I had written in 2015, and in early December, pulled from consideration those that had not yet been rejected and created my first short-story anthology, The Road Less Taken: A Collection of Unusual Short Stories (Book 1). I did the same thing in 2016 . . . waited until December, pulled any stories for which I hadn’t heard an acceptance or a rejection, and in January, 2017, published Book 2.

And how are these books doing?
Well, I ran a bit of a twofer at the end of April on Ereader News Today (ENT), my go-to marketing site. The Kindle edition of Book 2 was their Book Of The Day on April 24, 2017. It was discounted to 99 cents. I also discounted Book 1 at the same time. Both were made available for a week at that price. Now, the nice thing about Amazon is that if you have books in a series, they will create a Webpage dedicated to your series. This was the case for the two short-story anthologies, and so, when a potential reader clicked on Book 2’s Amazon page, he could not help but see that Book 1 also was on sale. Between the two books, I sold 300 copies that week, with Book 2 rising to an overall rank of #2,349 Paid in Kindle Store while reaching #5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Short Stories.

But you’ve also been writing children’s and YA books. Right?
Yes, my YA mystery/thriller, The Hypnotist, written under the pen name ‘Alyssa Devine,’ is in the Core Genre (Mystery) Reading Program at the local high school, where I guest lecture on mystery writing. And just this year, I’ve published my new children’s series, Stories for the Early Years. So far, the series comprises three illustrated storybooks in verse for K-3: Pepe [the penguin] Builds a Nest (about bullying); Rufus Finds a Home (about empathy); and Fuzzy Wuzzy (about listening to Mama!).

Who illustrated these books?
I did, but I’ll leave it to your readers to figure out how it was accomplished. Suffice it to say I had some help from my magical computer software.

So, where to now?
Good question. Besides the never-ending need to market my books, I’ve had calls to produce Spanish and French editions of Pepe Builds a Next. Apparently, the need for children’s books on bullying is great, regardless of the language, and several parents have approached me about the latter two editions. The Spanish edition, in paperback, should be available by the time this interview is published.

Thanks, Ted, for a most interesting look at your work.







Monday, May 8, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW, JOY YORK




I am pleased to welcome author, Joy York this week. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her first book "The Bloody Shoe Affair" is described as daring and thrilling. Please give her a warm welcome, leave a comment, or ask her a question. Your name will be entered in a drawing to win an ebook or paperback...winner's choice.




      What inspired you to write your first book?

When my son was young, he was obsessed with story-telling and reading books. We would sit on the staircase in the foyer, his favorite place to imagine adventures, and I would make up fantastic stories. One day he asked me if we could write a story together, and we did a few short stories. As he got a bit older, I realized there weren’t many middle grade books, so I wrote one for him. I have never published it.

      What books have most influenced your life?

Most people assume I was a big Nancy Drew fan, because I write a YA detective novels. Actually, I have never read the books, nor have I read The Hardy Boys.  I wasn’t that interested in books until I graduated from college. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien was probably one of the most influential books I have read, because it showed me you could write stories as far as your imagination could take you with no limits. The intricacy of his world was amazing. I was totally engrossed and hated turning the last page. It inspired me to take a second look at all of the classics I’d been forced to read in school, like To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  My perspective was so different and I enjoyed every one. Then I read Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, and I was hooked on detective novels and mysteries of all kinds. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie has also influenced my life because it has helped me gain insight and understanding of people, and how their life experiences affect their perceptions and motivations. You have to understand people and their frame of reference in order to make your characters believable.

      Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I recently read We Are Liars by E. Lockhart. It is a YA book, but would appeal to adults as well. It is raw and pungent, and written in a style I’ve never seen before. It is a haunting and insightful story and noting like I expected.

      Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I wanted to write stories for my son to amuse and delight. It evolved from there. I love the creative process of taking a single idea and bringing it to life in an engaging and entertaining story.

      Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Lately one of my biggest problems has been shutting off my brain after I shutdown my laptop. When the story keeps writing itself in my head, and I don’t always have time to put it down!  A great line will hit me while I’m driving, and I hope I won’t forget it. The really difficult thing for me is copy editing. I can read the mistakes of others, but I read right over my own, because I know what I was saying. I have learned I need to have a professional do it for me. I’m actually looking for one now for my sequel.

      Do you have any advice for other writers?
 Make sure you get a professional copy editor that has a proved track record. I had to pay a second editor to fix errors the first editor missed. A very costly mistake. I have also read many books that list editor credits, and the mistakes are terrible. Obviously not everyone that says they can edit is a professional.

      What book are you introducing to us today?

The Bloody Shoe Affair: A daring and thrilling adventure with the jailer’s daughter

In this mystery set in 1968, Christi, a shy and awkward teenager, never expected to get sucked into helping her cousin, Lily, the “double-dare-you” daughter of the county jailer,  try to solve the grizzliest murder the town of Roselyn, Mississippi, had ever seen. Then again, Christi had been entangled in her misadventures before. So a whirlwind week of spying, lying, crawling through tunnels and sneaking into the jail should have come as no surprise to Christi.

Lily, a vivacious prankster, loves adventure. It’s not hard to find when you live in a house connected to the jail. Christi, a city girl, is self-conscious and afraid of everything. Still, she’s drawn to the excitement and adventure that Lily always seems to provide. Christi arrives for a visit in time to help her cousin discover what happened the night Lily observed a county deputy drop a pair of women’s bloody shoes from a bag. After a chance meeting with the accused, they learn new information that sheds doubt on his guilt. Seeking justice, Lily sets a plan in motion that takes them on an adventure of risk and surprising twists. They not only discover unexpected truths about the case, but about themselves as well. 

      How did you come up with the title?

Although this story and the characters are fictitious, it was modeled after a real relationship I had with my cousin, Julia. She truly was the county jailer’s daughter in rural Cullman County, Alabama. She was as beautiful and vivacious as Lily, and I was as skinny, shy, and awkward as Christi. The large family dynamic in my book was also modeled after my mother’s loving family from rural Alabama. Julia grew up playing in the jail, and when I visited, I was the unwilling and petrified accomplice to her schemes.

When we would go into the basement of the jail to visit the only woman trustee living in the jail (her mini apartment had been converted from a jail cell and was located in the basement which was full of empty old jail that were no longer use. My cousin Julia would tell me there were woman’s pointy dress shoes covered with bloody in the evidence room down there. Sometimes at night her ghost would scream down the hall, looking for her bloody shoes. It scared me to death! So later in life, I took those wonderful and terrifying memories of my visits to the jail and the murdered woman looking for her bloody shoes, and made up a story to explain the woman’s shoes in the evidence room. There is genuine love and heart in this book. I wrote what I knew and what I loved.

       Tell us what you like about the main characters of the book.

This book isn’t just a detective story, its also a coming of age story about two teenager girls and their confusing emotions. The pressure teenagers feel to be popular, attractive, and “fit in” are universal, regardless of the era we live in. Even the so called “popular” kids struggle with their own angst and insecurities. Many times when you take away the structured educational and social settings and let them interact in small, casual groups, kids are often just kids who find it easier to relate and find common ground. This story follows the loving relationship of two cousins, one popular and out-going and the other shy and awkward, as they learn to appreciate their differences and to understand their personal struggles are more similar than either realized.

      Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I have learned lots of technical writing skills and learned from first time publishing mistakes. You can have a wonderful story, but if it isn’t professionally presented, it won’t get the readership you would like. It’s hard enough to market your book when it’s perfect. Take the time to do it correctly, whether you are sending it to an agent, a publishing house, or you are publishing it yourself.

This book has also made me realize that writing is my passion, and I wanted to do it fulltime. So I am now Joy York Books. I just finished my sequel, The Jailer’s Daughter’s Revenge, and I’m working on an adult detective romance.

      What is the main thing you hope readers remember from the story?

My first goal is to entertain with an exciting and engaging story, so I hope that is memorable. The book was written for a young adult audience, but the variety of themes should appeal to adult audiences as well. The time period, 1968, takes many of us Baby Boomers back to a youthful and what some would call a more simple time. I hope they would remember getting drawn into a fun adventure with real characters that they can relate to. I have had several reviews where readers have said that they felt like they were sucked into the story, living along-side the characters and taking part in the scene. That is what I would hope other readers can feel…engaged and entertained.

     
Please share an excerpt from the book.

“Anyway, about two o’clock in the morning, I heard cars drive into the parking lot. I couldn’t stay here any longer. I had to do something, so I got this neat idea. I crawled out of my window onto the balcony. You know that old tree on the parking lot side of the house? Well, I can climb from the balcony to a limb on that tree. I’ve done it before when I wanted to spy on people, mostly when I was little. It’s easy to hide in the leaves and branches without being seen. I can see the whole parking lot real good from that tree--well, most of it, except the leaves block the cars closest to the jail.
“I saw about six deputy cars parked in the lot. All the deputies walked toward one of the cruisers closest to me. I couldn’t have gotten any luckier, because I had an excellent view of that car. They couldn’t see me since it was real dark, and they apparently had other things on their minds. They all stood at the back of the car, putting on white rubber gloves. One deputy, Orson Cougar, opened the trunk and pulled out a couple of black plastic garbage bags. The other men grabbed bags of all shapes and sizes. Next thing I knew, one of the men dropped a brown paper shopping bag. You’ll never guess what fell out!”
“What?” I dreaded the answer.
“Bloody shoes! Can you believe it?  Dark colored ladies’ pointy dress flats with blood all over them. I almost fell out of the tree!”
“You’re kidding! Wait a minute. How could you possibly see bloody shoes on the ground in a dimly lit parking lot, hanging from a tree? I think your imagination has gotten the best of you.”
“I’m sure that’s what I saw, and besides, they were standing right under the parking lot lamp. Those shoes were covered with dark, red blood. As soon as the shoes hit the ground, one of the men told him to pick them up quick. I bet that whole trunk was filled with bloody clothes and stuff. I just know it! Now I have to know what happened. It’s driving me nuts. Maybe there’s a serial killer out there or something really terrible like that.”
As if this place didn’t scare me enough, now there could be a murderer on the loose. This was the kind of stuff that I was really better off not knowing. Maybe I should’ve stayed with my family out in the country.
 “Do you think Uncle Bill has another bat?” I was serious.
“No, I’ve got the only one, but I’ll take care of both of us. I just happen to know where the keys to the deputies’ gun lock-up are…. even though Daddy keeps trying to change the location. He’s so predictable. He knows I always figure out whatever he tries to hide from me. You’d think he’d finally give up, but it’s kind of our little game.”
“No guns, Lily!”
“You’re such a chicken. They wouldn’t miss one little gun. You never know when it might come in handy.”
“No way! You wouldn’t know what to do with one if you had it.”
“Sure I would. Daddy takes Mama and me out on Daddy Joe and Mama Lou’s farm to let us practice. When Mama asked him why it was so important for us to learn to shoot, he said, ‘just in case.’ I’m getting pretty good at hitting the cans,” Lily said proudly.
“My daddy let me shoot his rifle when he took me rabbit hunting one time. It knocked me backwards on my butt. That was enough for me. No guns!”
“All right, we’ll pass on the guns for now. What about a knife? There are lots of butcher kni….
“Stop it! You’re scaring me. No guns. No knives! Let’s just stick to the bat. That way, if you mistake me for the killer, I’ll only have a lump, not a bullet hole or a stab wound!”
“Don’t be silly. A killer would be much taller than you. I couldn’t make that mistake.”
 “Very funny.”  I’m never sure when Lily’s kidding. She likes to get me going.  She could be serious about the gun and knife. Better not to think about it.
“I just had a great idea. I know one way we can find out what happened. We can check the evidence room in the basement of the jail. I bet that’s where the bloody shoes are stashed. They keep all of the evidence there from crimes that were committed in this county. There’s some pretty cool stuff in there.”
“What kind of cool stuff?”
“Let me think.” She rolled her eyes up to the ceiling and scratched her chin to exaggerate her thinking process. I’m sure she had all of the items memorized by heart. “There are several illegal sawed-off shotguns. I know they came from moonshine busts that Daddy’s been involved with apprehending. There’s a file cabinet with loads of bad checks and stolen papers. I’m not sure what all that stuff’s about…too complicated. There’re some clothes from an old rape case that have been there for years. The evidence tag’s so old the dates are smudged. There’s some neat stereo equipment that was stolen from Ralph’s TV and Electronic Warehouse. Just bunches of stuff like that. The older stuff’s tagged with just a date and a case number. There was a trial a couple of years back where a piece of evidence came up missing. It turned up a month later in the evidence room after the judge was forced to dismiss the case due to a lack of evidence. Someone had put the wrong case number on it, so it was missed. Now they put lots more detail on the tags so that won’t happen again.”
“What did the man do?”
“It was a gas station holdup, armed robbery. The man disappeared as soon as he got turned loose…. Guess he was afraid they’d change their minds.”
“Why didn’t they arrest him when they found the evidence?”
“He was long gone. Daddy said he probably moved out of state and changed his name.  Deputy Rudy Sikes was the one who goofed up the evidence tag. He almost lost his job. I think he got a warning or something like that. Daddy said the sheriff realized it was a mistake, a big one. It’s pretty serious to have to let a felon go free. Luckily, no one got shot in the robbery, just the Moon Pie display.”
This is one of the reasons I like to visit with Lily. Her great stories and her opportunities to use words like “apprehend” and “felon” make my life seem pretty dull. Where else could I go to feel like I stepped into a detective TV show? This is exciting stuff… scary, but exciting.



Thank you, Joy for sharing about yourself and your book.

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