Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crit Partner's New Publication

My crit partner, Billie Louise Jones, is multi-published in many anthologies. She talks about her newest below:

My short story, "Therapy Journal," appears in the Spring Issue of CALLIOPE, issue # 139. The setting is the Dallas Art Museum's Catherine the Great exhibit, a few years back. The theme is taking control. The issue includes a lovely poem, "Second Helping," by Michael Jerry Tupa. They also found an article by Jack London, first published in 1917, "Eight Great Factors of Literary Success." London being London, his list is not like a list a contemporary writer might make.

There are two magazines named Calliope. One is put out by Cricket Pubs for children. This one is the CALLIOPE  which is the official publication of the Writers' Special Interest Group of American MENSA, Ltd. Ordering info is on or at 5975 W. Western Way, PMB 116Y, Tucson  AZ 85713.

Her volume of short stories, Sunbelt Gothic, is available for Kindle at Amazon.   Visit her website of the same name. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Children's Author Pens New Title on Bullying

 As I sat with eyes glued on the boob tube, sipping on my morning brew, my heart sank at the chilling message I was hearing, “Teenager Committed Suicide After Bullying Incident.” Thoughts of the week before filled my head. The same thing happened just a week ago. When is it going to end?
          Pen in hand and cluttered paper on my desk, I started to write once again. I knew I had to hurry and get this book out there. It seems that nobody hears; nobody’s listening. 
          There is a dire need for implementation of federal laws against bullying to protect our children and prevent this kind of thing from happening again. It is becoming all too frequent, and too many young children are dying. We can’t sit idly by as the cry for help falls on deaf ears. We must act together to S.T.O.P. Bullying.

S.T.O.P Bullying is free for Kindle at Amazon TODAY—Wednesday, April 24!

Linda Black is the author of The Adventures of Boots: The Giant Snowball  and A Porpoise for Cara from Willow Moon Publishing. Both are available for Kindle and in print from Amazon and the publisher.

Find Linda on Facebook, Twitter, her blog, and at her website, Linda’s Write Place.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland - Chapter 30 (End)

            Chief Doug Everton motioned the three of us into a corner. He took his handcuffs from the back of his belt and tossed them in Mitch’s direction. “Cuff the two women together.”
            Mitch let the cuffs fall to the floor. “If you’re making an arrest, you do it.”
            “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
            “What is the ‘this way’ we’re talking about?” Candace asked. At the same time, she maneuvered me behind her.
            “I knew it was just a matter of time before you figured things out,” Doug Everton said to her.
            “What are you going to do with us?” I blurted as my knees began to shake again.
            “You should’ve taken your money and gone back to Dallas,” he said. “You’d have been home free.”
            “How are you going to explain three more bodies? Or three more missing persons?” Mitch asked.
            “I’m the police chief. I can explain anything I have to.”
            Watching his face, I thought Mitch’s words bothered him some.
            “Where’s Danny?” I asked.
            “Cooling his heels. He’s all right.”
            “He’s in jail?” I gasped.
            “In a way. The old jail on the square.” He glanced at Candace. “The one you wanted to turn into a historical site and give tours.”
            “That place hasn’t been used in years, since before I was born,” I said to no one in particular. “Danny can’t last in there!”
            “He shouldn’t have gone exploring and gotten himself locked in,” the chief said, smirking.
            “That’s what you’re going to tell people?” Mitch asked.
            The man shrugged. “It’s as good a story as any. I have a story, he has a story. I guess he didn’t tell you all of his.”
            “What do you mean?”
            “He saw me coming out the back door of the hotel ahead of Parker Aiken. At least, I think he did, but I couldn’t take any chances.”
            “You can’t tell people we got ourselves locked in here,” Candace said.
            He smiled a little. “Just Trixie. She couldn’t get out when the fire started.”
            The breath went out of me. Was he really going to burn the building down over my head?
            Mitch used words I hadn’t heard in a few years. “That’s not going to help,” Candace murmured. “So what about us, Mitch and me?”
            “It’s taken care of. Convenient finding all of you here together, though. Saves me some steps.”
            “Why did you kill my father?” Mitch asked.
            “Me? I didn’t kill him. Trixie did.”
            “You know I didn’t!” I stepped out from behind Candace, but she shoved me back. “I didn’t kill anybody!”
            “Parker Aiken killed him, if you must know,” the police chief said. “It had been coming for a long time. Guy Langworth was bad news for this town. Parker did us all a favor.”
            “How’d he get hold of my mother’s gun?” I decided to die knowing all the facts.
            “From Anne. Your mother gave it to her when she was going to divorce Parker a couple of years ago, and he threatened her. They worked out an agreement, but she kept the gun just in case.”
            “Why did he kill Anne?” Candace asked.
            Chief Everton hestitated. “Well, that was an accident. When I went to ask herabout the phone message—I knew it was her voice, not Trixie’s —things got a little heated. I was going to keep her out of the whole mess if she’d give me the information you were going to send to the attorney general. She said she didn’t know anything about it, but she was lying.”
            “She wasn’t lying,” Candace said. “She didn’t know squat about what I was doing.”
            You killed her?” I asked at the same time Candace said, “You were the one who broke into my office? And Trixie’s hotel room?”
            “Parker got Danny to do that.”
            “How?” Mitch asked.
            “Parker can be persuasive.” The hand with the gun came up a little. “Okay, Trixie, into the storeroom.”
            Mitch moved closer to me. “She’s not going anywhere.”
            “You do realize I can take all three of you out in a matter of seconds,” Chief Everton said.
            “Well, you’re going to do it anyway, one way or another,” Candace said. “I’d prefer the firing squad approach as opposed to whatever else you have in mind.”
“I do, too,” I said. “Being roasted to death isn’t my choice of a way to die.”
Mitch slid closer and caught my hand. Turning his face away from the chief, he mouthed, “Count three and hit the floor.”
He didn’t have to tell me twice, but first I hooked a foot between Candace’s legs sg squad approach asss chor another," seconds,"attorney general."her. They worked out an agreement, butossed them to Mi
and took her down with me. I saw Mitch charge the enemy, head down like a billy goat. At the same time, the back door swinging open bit into my shoulder, and I heard Stella Drake say, “Ghost-hunting, Chief Everton?” A key dangled from the fingers of one hand, and in the other she held a military-issue handgun.
            Mitch used the cuffs on Chief Everton while Candace used her cell phone to call the state police. Then she called Rudy James and told him where Danny was. Stella Drake tucked the key and the gun into the pocket of her jumper and stood there looking pleased with herself.
            “I got worried about you, Trixie,” she said. “Mr. White let us keep a key until we could get our display cases moved.” She licked her lips, dry with delayed fear. “And I had one of my ex-husband’s guns he left behind when he moved out.” She looked around. “I think I’ll sit down.”
I walked her toward the stairs and held her arm until she lowered herself onto the second step from the bottom. “How long were you standing out there listening?”
“Long enough.” She closed her eyes. “I’m not cut out for this sort of thing.”
I leaned down to hug her. “You’re amazing.”
“It didn’t make sense that Chief…that the man over there arrested you when you had an alibi and that he wasn’t interested in finding a missing boy, especially one as vulnerable as Danny.” She looked over at Mitch who was holding the chief’s gun on him.
“I wasn’t sure you were as upright as you appeared,” she said to him.
            “I guess I wasn’t either,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
            Mitch grimaced. “I went about this all wrong,” he said. “I should’ve insisted on calling Len Melton the minute Candace told me what she knew.”
            “I still don’t know what you thought I was going to do about it,” I said to her.
            “I don’t know either, but you were the one being charged with murder, so you had to know everything.”
            “I don’t know about that,” I said, “but thanks for the thought—I think.”
            “I told Candace this was a hare-brained scheme, meeting you here like this,” Mitch went on, “but I guess it flushed out the person we needed to find.”
            “It’s my word against yours,” Doug Everton muttered.
            “We’ll see,” Candace said. “With what I have, the state has a pretty good case against you as an accessory to a lot of things—and now we know you killed Anne.”
            He looked away.
            In a few minutes, the place was swarming with state police. We were all separated then to make statements, and I heard the officer who seemed to be in charge tell another one to go pick up Parker Aiken. I felt a sudden sympathy for Perry Aiken even though he seemed bent on seeing me tried and convicted. His mother was dead, and his father would be going away for a long stretch.

One Week Later

            On the day before I left for home in Dallas, we all celebrated a new direction for Dreamland with hamburgers, hotdogs, and ice cream in the Drake sisters’ lush backyard. Danny, recovered from his ordeal and feeling something like the man of the hour—which he was—kept checking to make sure his mother was comfortable on the chaise lounge provided for her and circulated refilling soft drinks and the chip bowl.
            As it turned out, he hadn’t seen Chief Everton at all, and when the man had grabbed him and carted him off to the old jail, he’d been at a loss to know what it was all about. But secure in the knowledge of how much he was cared about, he determined to wait out the experience without panic until it was over. “I knew Rudy would find me,” he said several times.
            The Drake sisters announced they would be reopening their shop as soon as they could get their inventory returned from Little Rock. I told them I’d have Lawrence White draw up a new lease at half the rent which would begin only when they were ready to open.
            Rudy and Dee had their own announcement: they were buying a new house with an attached two-bedroom apartment for Mrs. Jefferson and Danny. Dee wanted to work part-time to help with the initial expenses and had a few leads about good jobs.
            Lindy had been hailed as something of a hero at the courthouse for her part in exposing the corrupt threads woven into the city and county governments. Candace said she’d confine her investigations to Dreamland’s history from now on.
            Galen Ellard had been asked to continue in the mayor’s office until a new election could be held—one which he would likely win hands down. He’d also be overseeing the move back into the old courthouse which, upon a new inspection, revealed no violations that couldn’t be fixed with minor repairs.
            Len Melton brought official word that all charges against me had been summarily dropped—and Perry Aiken had taken a leave of absence from his position as assistant district attorney.
Parker Aiken was still being held without bail for the murder of Guy Langworth.
Doug Everton, no longer chief of police, faced multiple charges including the murder of Anne Aiken.
            Without a word to me, my mother had departed on a month-long cruise. Dad said it was better that way. “You both need the space.”
            “That’s all that’s ever been between us—space,” I replied. “So there’s nothing new.”
            “I don’t have an announcement,” Mitch said when the conversation turned to him. “I’m still just plugging along.” He glanced at me and seemed about to add something but didn’t.
            “I have to go home to Dallas to take care of a few things there,” I said, “but I’ll be back to see about those loft apartments.” I thought of the safe in the ceiling and what might hold. I knew it was there, but no one else did, so if there was anything to find, it would still be there in a few weeks or months when I got back.
            “And you’ll stay with us until you’re settled,” Letha said.
            I smiled. “Where else?”
            Later, Mitch hung around until everyone else had left, then asked me to walk with him to his car. “When will you be back?” he asked.
            “I don’t know, but you have my number.”
            “Right. Trixie, I…”
            I put my hand on his arm. “I’m all right,” I said, “and you’ll get better. I promise.”
            He nodded. “You’d have liked Macy. She’d have liked you.”
            “I wish I’d known her.”
            “Losing her still hurts.”
            “Of course, it does. I think about Ned everyday—but not all day every day the way I used to.”
            “You’ve given me hope.”
            “I’m glad.”
            He took my hands between his. “Okay, Trixie Collier Blake. Be careful driving home tomorrow.”
            “Of course, I will.”
            He stopped at the end of the block and turned around to wave.
            I stood on the curb watching his car until the lights disappeared in the distance.

Thanks to all who have read my little tale. If you enjoyed it, look for Books 2 and 3 coming soon.
Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland
Under the Sil’vry Moon
Come with the Love Light Gleaming

Friday, April 12, 2013

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland - Chapter 29


            Dee answered the phone at her mother’s house. “Nothing,” she said. “Rudy went back to the station and tried to get Chief Everton to list Danny as a missing person, but he said he had bigger fish to fry than a run-away. Rudy’s talking to Sheriff Unger right now, but I don’t know what good it’s going to do.”
            “Oh, Dee, I wish there was something I could do! I’m worried about Danny, too.”
I wondered if Rudy had told her about finding Anne Aiken’s body, but I decided not to mention it. The fewer people who knew the whole story about last night, the better.
            “Our minister’s been here. That helped Mom, and I guess it helped me a little, but I’m so mad, Trixie! Danny’s been kidnapped, and the police chief doesn’t even care!”
            “I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” I said. “You know he didn’t used to be this way.”
            “I remember.”
            “Mitch is coming after lunch, and we’re going to go over to the Quimby Building.”
            “What for?”
            “I’m not sure. Candace King hinted around about some reason why my grandfather left me that building—other than the obvious. I guess I’m going sleuthing.”
            “Be careful, Trixie, both of you. We don’t need any more trouble around here.”
            “We’ll come by later,” I said. “See if you can get some rest.”
            Mitch called at one and told me he’d be late. “It seems my secretary scheduled a meeting for this afternoon and neglected to tell me. But I’ll get there, I promise. Just sit tight.”
            I agreed, but as soon as I’d hung up, I headed for my car and drove to a hardware store where I bought a tape measure. Then I drove to the Quimby Building. Upstairs, I measured the empty space where the candy drawer should have been. It was long and narrow and could be easily shoved in between…between what? I went back downstairs and stood looking around.
            The walls of the main room had been repainted without disturbing the old plaster. I examined the four corners without noticing anything out of place. Then I headed for one of the storerooms where Grandfather had kept office supplies. The shelves were empty now, of course, but something seemed out of place. What else had been in here?
            I prowled the room I’d been in only a few times. Paulette March, Grandfather’s long-time secretary and apparently also his mistress, had frowned on my visits and discouraged Grandfather sending me into the storeroom on made-up errands. But I’d been in here enough to remember the neatly-stacked reams of paper, boxes of file folders, and bins of smaller items like pencils and staples.
            There had been a pencil sharpener screwed to the end of one shelf.  I’d used it a time or two, but it wasn’t there now. As I studied the empty holes in the wood, I tried to focus. Shelves, the pencil sharpener, a stepladder leaning against the wall near the door…but all the shelves could be reached just standing on the floor…so why a stepladder?
            I lifted my eyes to the pressed tin ceiling, and then I remembered: one afternoon school had dismissed early, and when I came through the front door, Mrs. March told me my grandfather was busy and to sit down and wait. I’d ignored her and headed for the storeroom instead, and he was there, standing on the ladder, putting one of the tin panels back into place. He’d smiled down at me and said to go find my candy and that he’d be along.
            I hadn’t asked my grandfather what he was doing, but now I knew. He’d been putting something into a safe hidden in the ceiling…and I had a feeling that the safe was still there. But which panel was it? And where was I going to find something to stand on?
            Trying to decide on my next move, I walked the perimeter of the room, keeping my eyes up. And there it was: the brass pull from the missing drawer fastened somehow to the fifth panel from the back corner of the ceiling.
            “Trixie, what are you doing here?”
            I whirled around at the sound of an all-too-familiar voice. “I could ask you the same thing.”
            Mitch frowned. “I told you I was coming over. I ditched the meeting. It wasn’t important anyway.”
            “How did you get in? I locked the door.”
            His frown deepened. “It wasn’t locked.”
            “I locked it,” I repeated. “And why are you here? You made me promise to wait for you.”
            “I knew you wouldn’t. When I drove by the Drake sisters’ house and didn’t see your car, I knew where you’d be.”
            “I’m leaving,” I said, edging my way toward the door, even though he was blocking it.”
            He shrugged. “Okay. You don’t want to go treasure-hunting?”
            “No, there’s nothing here.”
            “Okay.” He surprised me by moving aside, and I practically ran through the door.
“What’s wrong with you?” he called after me. “You act like you’ve seen a ghost!”
            I grabbed for the knob on the back door and pulled, but it didn’t budge. “You said the door was unlocked!”
            “It was.” He moved closer to me, and I contemplated a dash past him into the front. Was it better to die crashing through the plate glass window onto the street or stay here and wait for him to kill me?
            The sound of footsteps on the stairs interrupted my thoughts, and terror knotted my stomach. He hadn’t come alone. I had no chance whatsoever. I couldn’t see around him, but I heard a woman’s voice. “For heaven’s sake, Mitch, you’re scaring her to death.” Candace King stepped into view.
            I closed my eyes and waited to die.
            “Trixie, open your eyes,” Candace said. “It’s all right.”
            I squinted at her and tried to speak, but my mouth felt full of cotton. Finally I managed to say, “You set me up again, didn’t you?”
            She shook her head. “Mitch should’ve told you Lindy and I were staying with him.”
            My eyes flew open wide. “He…you…you lied to me!” I spat in Mitch’s direction.
            He seemed at a loss for words. I wanted to claw his face.
            Candace shook her head. “After I called you, I finally got hold of Mitch. Lindy and I needed somewhere to hole up, and he invited us to his house.”
            “Hole up? Why? Did you kill his father? Did you kill your own sister?”
            The woman’s face creased with pain. “Anne and I were step-sisters. We didn’t even grow up together. But we got along, and I didn’t kill her.”
            “What about Danny? Do you have him holed up somewhere, too?”
            She sighed. “I wish I did. I have no idea where he is.”
            Suddenly my knees gave way, and I slid down the wall to the floor. Mitch grabbed for me, but I pushed him away. “Don’t touch me!”
            He fell back as if I’d landed a punishing blow.
            “Oh, stop it, both of you,” Candace said. “Look, Trixie, here’s the way things are. I told Mitch I’d slip in here after you both arrived, but you got here first. I’m the one who jimmied the lock on the door and left it open for Mitch. I didn’t want to do anything until he got here.”
            “What are you going to do?”
            “Tell you what I know, and try to figure out where to go from here.”
            “Why don’t you tell the police?”
            “Tell Doug Everton? I think not.”
            “Because he’s penned into a corner,” Mitch said, keeping his distance. “He’s turned a blind eye to too much that’s gone on here in the last year, and now it’s all blown up in his face. He knew the courthouse inspection was a farce. He knew someone was trying to run the Drake sisters out of this building. He knew my father stole the mayoral election.”
            “How do you know all this?” I asked, wanting to believe him.
            “Candace has been collecting evidence on the dirty dealings in this town for a long time. She had the perfect cover—director of the new historical society. She could snoop around, and nobody suspected anything.”
            Candace nodded. “That’s right. And my daughter Lindy passed information from the office she worked in and anywhere else she could  find it.”
            “What were you going to do with what you found out?”
            “Take it to the attorney general’s office,” she said. “There were enough violations to put away a lot of people in this town. But I needed more.”
            “And you used me by giving me all that stuff on my grandfather’s connection to Al Capone.”
            “That’s all it was, but I hoped someone would think it was something else and take the bait. And they did.”
            “But nobody knew I had it,” I said.
            She took a deep breath. “I knew someone was watching me, and I had to find out who.”
            “Did you?”
            “Yes. My step-sister, Anne Aiken.”
            “But you said she didn’t know anything.”
            “Not about the Al Capone thing. But she’d figured out what I was doing.”
            “I don’t understand why you’re telling me all this. What am I supposed to do about it? Besides be a target again?”
            “Let me finish,” Candace went on. “Don’t you want to get up off that dirty floor?”
            I shook my head. “Just finish.”
            “I overheard her making a phone call to Guy Langworth—or leaving a message for him. She pretended to be you. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I went to the Lloyd House to get you out of there.”
            “I’d already gone.”
            “Right. I didn’t know which room you were in, of course, but the desk clerk told me he’d seen you leave half an hour earlier. On my way out, I bumped into Danny. I don’t know why he thought I was your mother.”
            I thought for a moment. “Come to think of it, I’m not sure he even knows my mother. I wonder why…”
            “Well, he doesn’t know me either, but it could be he saw us talking outside the historical society office and made an assumption. Anyway, I knew something bad was going to happen, probably to Guy, and I knew you were going to be framed for it. I went back to the office and called Lindy, and we decided to spend the night at a little cabin I own near the lake. The next morning, when I found out Guy was dead, I called you with every intention of telling you what I knew…and then I backed down.”
            “I’m not sure. I didn’t want to muddy the waters until…” She shook her head. “Then, as I told you, I called Mitch, and we agreed Lindy and I needed to make ourselves scarce until the situation resolved itself.”
            “Until I got arrested!” I scrambled to my feet. “That’s cold!”
            “I didn’t think that would happen, and neither did Mitch. I knew the cell phone was damning evidence, but since you weren’t charged that night, I thought—hoped anyway— it was lost and wouldn’t turn up.”
            “If Danny saw Parker Aiken throw it in the dumpster, does that mean Parker murdered Guy Langworth?”
            “Or he thought Anne did,” Mitch said, breaking his silence.
            “But someone killed Anne, too,” I said.
            “Parker and Anne were estranged,” Candace said. “That much was true. But their finances were very much married to each other. Parker might’ve put Anne up to calling Guy and pretending to be you. I got the idea their so-called business relationship was turning sour even before you came back and refused to sell them this building.”
            “Right now, I don’t care about any of that,” I said. “I’m scared to death for Danny Jefferson. Parker Aiken probably saw him in that alley.”
            A voice came from the main room of the building. “He didn’t, but I did.” A figure stepped out of the shadows. We all saw the gun before we saw the face.