Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Never grow up, never stop learning, never grow old...

Never grow up.

My mother was fond of saying I'd never grow up. When I was 50, I decided it was time to buy the Mickey Mouse watch I'd always wanted. When it finally died a few years ago, I bought another. Currently I'm in need of another thumb drive on which to back up files from my computer, and I have my eye on one with the Tasmanian Devil logo. The last movie I saw was the final saga of Harry Potter. Never a Christmas goes by that I don't watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the cartoon version) and "Frosty the Snowman" (the one narrated by Jimmy Durante.)This summer I've been reading classics (The Secret Garden, Heidi) to my six-year-old granddaughter and enjoying them as much as she does. I can't wait to get to Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Never stop learning.

This summer I've been learning--slowly and painfully--about formatting for CreateSpace and Kindle. Sometimes I've felt overwhelmed, but I haven't been tempted to give up. Like the Little Engine, "I think I can, I think I can...I know I can!" Rarely a day goes by when I don't find new and fascinating information in the newspaper or online. I fill notebook after notebook with ideas gleaned from people-watching, conversations, pictures, etc.

Never grow old. 

 A classmate is sending out monthly emails reminding us of other classmates' birthdays, particularly those who have reached or are reaching the big seven-oh. I have a couple of years as I started school early and was one of the youngest in my class. I'm not sure what's so special about that particular milestone. One grandfather lived to be 96. It was only in the last year of his life that poor health ended his gadding about.  He consistently referred to people years younger as "that old man". I seem to have inherited his genes and believe that old age in a state of mind. 


But being a "senior citizen" has many advantages (besides discounts at restaurants and theaters). I have no agenda, no inflated idea of what I will achieve. I'm in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything. I've served my time serving my family, and now it's my turn to do as I please. (And I do.) And, oddly enough, the days aren't long enough to do everything I please. I recently started getting up an hour earlier to improve the odds! 

In short, I'm getting older--it's inevitable. But I'll never, never, ever get old.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Penelope doesn't blessed believe in ghosts!

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

To all the Penelopes who, as little girls, read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and dreamed of growing up to solve mysteries.

Did Penelope Corinne Louise Kelley Pembroke read those books? Did she dream of solving mysteries when she grew up? Who knows? All we know is she lived almost 50 years without anything in the least mysterious happening to her, but then Tiny aka Sam walked into her life, and things started popping.

After narrowly escaping disaster a few times in The Bogus Biker, she thinks life will settle down again. Unfortunately, she can't stop thinking about Sam and wondering when--if--he'll turn up again. For all she knows, he may be doing hard time somewhere.

Meanwhile, life must go on, so when her best friend, Mary Lynn Hargrove (the mayor's wife) proposes to turn the town's first school, now an empty shell, into a community center, Penelope says she'll pitch in. That brings Sam out of the woodwork. He advises (warns?) her to back off, but he won't tell her why, so she digs in her heels.

After all, it's only an empty building. Or is it? Where are the voices coming from? And what's in the basement at the bottom of--you've got to be kidding me!--thirteen steps? Her father Jake says when he went to school there, whenever the boiler acted up, everyone joked it was the town's founder and builder of the school, Jeremiah Bowden, making trouble.

But Penelope blessed doesn't believe in ghosts.

Visit Penelope at her home on the web.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Penelope's FREE today and tomorrow!

Book #1 of the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, The Bogus Biker, is free on Amazon tomorrow and Tuesday! 




 When Penelope meets Tiny aka Sam, who's about as much of a biker as she is a belly dancer, life in Amaryllis AR will never be the same.








And Book #2, The Stubborn Schoolhouse Spirit, will be up on Amazon for Kindle and in print on Wednesday, July 31.



When Penelope agrees to help her best friend Mary Lynn Hargrove, the mayor's wife, renovate Amaryllis's first school as a community center, she finds the old building isn't quite as empty as it's supposed to be...and she's definitely not ready for what turns up at the bottom of the thirteen steps leading to the basement boiler room.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Is there a story in Grandma's name?

According to stats, I'm getting tons of view at The Word Place. Thanks to all who've stopped by. However, there were only two entries for the free PDF or print of The Bogus Biker plus a $10 Amazon gift card--and one of those came by email. So--I need to find out if some people are unable to post on this blog. I've checked the settings without finding any problems, but there could be one. Would really appreciate anyone with a problem posting contacting me by email judy at judynickles dot com. I'm going to run this contest a bit longer just in case. (Scroll to previous post for info on contest.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
 This is a re-post from 2009, but I've had some comments/questions on why I chose certain names for the Penelope Pembroke cozy mystery series. Food for thought here. 

Recently I read an interesting writing exercise that asked the writer to come up with a name for himself/herself if he/she was:
  • a flower
  • a color
  • a musical instrument
  • an ice-cream flavor
  • a fabric
  • a city
  • a street or highway
  • a food
Taken all together, the answers could be the start of a new story--character, setting, plot, etc.

My mind drifted to--what else?--genealogy, and I began to consider all the different family names I've run across in 35 years of researching. Many of the names were passed down through generations. It would be interesting to know, however, how they got started.

  • My great-grandfather's name, passed on to his son, my grandfather, was Petillo.
  • Delilah was the name of my maternal great-great-great-grandmother.
  • My paternal great-great-grandmother's name was Oretha.
  • Great-great-grandpop's name was Freeman, obviously someone's last name--but whose?
  • And, of course, there was the usual smattering of not-so-unusual names such as Margaret Elizabeth, Susan, Louisa, Pattie, Nancy, and Mary.
According to my grandfather (Petillo!), his great-grandmother Delilah smoked a corncob pipe and would often ask him to bring her a coal from the fireplace to light it. She married Isaac Newton Leatherwood (I guess we don't have to wonder where Isaac Newton came from!) and their 10 children had pretty ordinary names. I wonder, though, if Margaret Elizabeth would have smoked a corncob pipe!

Do names affect character traits and personality? When you're choosing your characters' names for your latest story, do your choices have anything to do with the kind of person you plan to write about? Can a hero/heroine have a "sweet" name? Do "sweet" names deceive or define?

The antagonists in Grace Livingston Hill's books usually had fitting names. The one I remember clearly is Vashti. She was a piece of work!

Character names are important. They don't necessarily make or break a story, but they lend credibility (or not) to its content. So the next time you're looking for the perfect name, think back to great-great-great-grandma. You just might hit paydirt!

Resources:Behind the Name
Most Popular Names
20,001 Names for Baby by Carol McD. Wallace
Fantasy Name Generator
A Barrel of Names
Prairie Den

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Bogus Biker - Chapter 1

See contest details at end of chapter

CHAPTER ONE
(Friday)

“I know what I heard.” Penelope Pembroke leaned across the table in the kitchen of the Amaryllis Bed and Breakfast, of which she was proprietor, and tapped the woven placemat with a well-manicured, unpolished nail. Blowing away the strand of honey-blonde hair falling across her nose, she readjusted the narrow tortoise-shell glasses perched on the end of that appendage, and leaned closer to her best friend Mary Lynn Hargrove, wife of the town’s longtime mayor. “I’m not senile, you know.”
“No one said you were.” Mary Lynn placated Penelope as she’d done since the first day they’d met in high school some thirty years earlier.
“You implied it.” Penelope reached down for the orange tabby nosing around her sneaker-clad feet and lifted him into her lap. “Abijah heard it, too.”
Mary Lynn rolled her dark eyes
 toward the hairline of close-cropped black curls. “The only thing that blob hears is the sound of the can opener signaling dinner.”
“He’s not a blob.”
“He’s obese. He’s going to keel over one of these days. Death by Feline Feast.”
“Oh, hush up.” Penelope stroked the cat, whose ample hindquarters hung over the edge of her lap. “Anyway, I heard what I heard.” The strand of hair drifted across one lens again, and she blew it away and tucked it firmly behind her ear, which set the long silver and turquoise earring swaying. “They specifically said the word ‘shipment’ and mentioned the Sit-n-Swill.”
“Roger Sitton gets shipments all the time. It’s a bar and grill you know. He doesn’t make moonshine in his bathtub or slaughter his barbecue out back.”
Penelope sat back and shifted the cat to distribute his weight more evenly. “These guys weren’t blessed salesmen, I’m telling you. They were, well, Mafia types.”
Mary Lynn snorted. “Mafioso? Then by all means call the police. Call the FBI. Call out the National Guard or maybe the Marines.”
The smirk on her friend’s face rankled Penelope, but she kept her cool. “I thought about calling Bradley, but he’s worse than you are. He’s convinced I lost it when I divorced his father.”
“He was fifteen then, and it got you a better settlement than if you’d waited on Travis to divorce you.”
“That’s true. I wasn’t so dumb, and I guess he knows that now. He just can’t admit I was right to dump his father, but the man couldn’t keep his blessed pants zipped. I put up with it as long as I could.”
Mary Lynn shook her head. “That’s a dead mule. So tell Brad about the men.”
“Since he got that fancy new title at the police department, he’s not that easy to talk to.”
“CID. Criminal Investigation. Detective Sergeant Bradley Pembroke. You know you’re proud of him, Pen.”
“Just so proud I can’t stand myself.” Penelope’s generous mouth parted in a wide smile. “So’s Daddy. I just wish his grandmother could’ve lived to see what he’s done.”
“Your mother would’ve been proud. So would old Mrs. Pembroke. She was crazy about him as I remember.”
“I think she knew Bradley wasn’t going to turn out like his father.” Penelope frowned. “You’re changing the subject. I know what I heard.”
“Then tell Roger.”
“Roger Sitton has lace on his drawers, for Heaven’s sake. He’d no more be involved in a drug deal than I would.”
“Well, that’s probably true, but he could be involved without knowing it. Anyway, if you’re not going to tell anyone, forget about it.”
“I’m telling you, Mary Lynn.”
“Which is about as useful as telling Abijah.” On cue, the massive feline lifted his head and stretched, then flailed his back legs to keep from sliding to the floor.
Penelope grabbed for him, and he snuggled in again, setting up a rumbling purr her father described as a distant freight train. “Don’t badmouth Abijah. No wonder he doesn’t like you.”
“He doesn’t like anybody but you, and nobody likes him, including me.” Mary Lynn took one last sip of coffee, slung her floppy zebra-striped bag over one shoulder, and ran long fingers through dark hair beginning to show a few streaks of gray. “I’ve got to get going. The new resale shop over in the strip mall is having its grand opening at two o’clock, and I promised Harry I’d be there for the ribbon-cutting. But I have to stop by the Garden Market first.”
“So you aren’t going to give me any advice?” Penelope’s slender body, still the envy of every classmate, wafted up from the chair like smoke from a pipe. When Abijah squirmed in her arms, she set him down. He stalked away and made it into the bay window in only two tries.
“I thought I just did.” Mary Lynn’s eyes ran the length of her friend’s five-foot-five frame. “I hate you, you know. You ate two kolaches to my one, and I probably gained five pounds.”
“You worry about your weight too much. Also, what you gave me wasn’t very good advice.”
“It’s all I have, and I really have to go. Thanks for the coffee and kolache, even though I like the peach ones better.”
“The bakery was out of peach.”
“Another time.” The mayor’s wife pushed open the back screen door and stepped out onto the terrace, the rubber soles of her expensive loafers making no sound on the smooth stones. “See you.”
Penelope gathered up the plates and cups and began to rinse them at the sink.
“Nellie.”
“Yes, Daddy?”
“Got anymore of those kolatsky things?”
“Kolaches. They’re full of sugar, Daddy.”
Jake Kelley emerged from the tiny hall leading to what he called his ‘lair’. It had been the quarters for the live-in housekeeper when he was a child, but after his daughter turned the family home into a bed and breakfast, he’d taken refuge there. “I want one anyway.”
Penelope shrugged. “You know where they are.”
Jake’s tall, lean body floated across the kitchen. The sunlight glinted off his white hair which he wore short enough to be convenient and long enough to be fashionable. He helped himself to the largest pastry left in the box and took a bite. “I really like the peach ones better.”
“They were out.”
“Maybe tomorrow.”
“Maybe.”
“Did those two young fellows leave right after breakfast? Anybody else coming in?”
“Yes and yes.”
“They seemed like nice youngsters.” Jake took down his favorite mug, the one with the hunting dogs on it, and poured himself some coffee.
“They were thirty if they were a day, and I don’t think they were very nice.”
“No? Left a mess upstairs, did they?”
“I haven’t been upstairs. No, I thought they seemed shifty.”
“Shifty?” Jake chuckled as he took his coffee and kolache to the table.
Penelope hesitated. At seventy-five, Jake was sharper than most men half his age, despite a stroke two years ago that had ended his employment as general manager of the Garden Market. He’d come back all the way, but by then the owner said it was past time for him to retire anyway. He hadn’t liked it much then, but in six months he’d liked his freedom a lot. She straightened from putting dishes into the dishwasher. “I overheard them talking about something that didn’t sound right to me.”
“Which was?”
“Something about a shipment at the Sit-n-Swill.”
Jake added sugar from the grapeleaf bowl to his coffee. “Drugs.”
Penelope’s eyebrows went up. “That’s what I thought, too. Mary Lynn didn’t get it.”
“Mary Lynn doesn’t think like you.”
“But you do?”
Jake looked up and grinned. “You’re a chip off the old block, darlin’.”
“Oh, Daddy, you wouldn’t recognize Jack the Ripper if he knocked on the back door and asked to borrow the butcher knife.”
Jake’s shaggy eyebrows came together in a straight line above his slate-blue eyes. “I knew a shoplifter the minute he walked in the market. I could smell him.” He took another bite of the pastry and chewed slowly. “Dry.”
“They were in the day-old bin.”
“Maybe you should call Brad. On second thought, maybe not.”
“My feelings exactly.”
“I’m sure glad you don’t think I’m over the hill, Nellie.”
“You’re not over the hill, Daddy. You’re not even near the top. But you know Bradley.”
“I know my grandson. So what are you going to do?”
Penelope sat down. “Nothing I guess.”
“Nothing, huh.”
“What can I do?”
“I haven’t had one of Roger’s Reubens in a long time.”
Penelope’s mouth twitched. “Neither have I.”
“Well, then, it seems to me after you check in tonight’s guests, you and I should mosey on over to the Sit-n-Swill and have one. And a beer.”
Penelope got up and wiped a few drops of water from the new granite counter top she’d had installed to replace the old-fashioned grouted tile. “I guess it couldn’t hurt.”
“I don’t think so.”
She frowned. “Daddy, do you really believe what I heard, or is this just an excuse for a beer and a Reuben?”
He shrugged.
“And what if something happens while we’re there, and the police come? I’d rather face a firing squad than my own son.”
“Nellie, I always told you not to cross a bridge ‘til you came to it. Besides, Brad wouldn’t arrest us. He’d have to take care of Abijah, and he hates that cat.”
Penelope twisted her mouth, then nodded. “All right, Daddy. We’ll do it.”


Penelope and Jake should have possibly rethought their foray to the  Sit-n-Swill. Find out why.

Contest:  Leave a comment with your favorite line(s) to be entered into a drawing on Friday for a free PDF or print copy of the book (your choice) and a $10 Amazon gift card.

The Bogus Biker 
available for Kindle 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The BIG news is...

The BIG news is...IT'S UP!

Book 1 of the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, The Bogus Biker, is up on Kindle HERE.

 The official launch day won't be until later this week, but if you've been keeping up with my perils and progress in indie publishing here. you deserve to know it's UP and ONLY $1.99 for now.

There WILL be free days, yes indeed, so keep an eye out here, on Twitter, and on the website.

The listing shows a paperback. DO NOT purchase it if you are of the paperback-loving-kind. I have resubmitted the files with a tweak or two, and the new version won't be up until probably Friday. (However, it is available in the new form at the CreateSpace eStore.) It takes 5-7 business days to get the print copy up on Amazon. That's why I'm putting off the official launch until everything is coordinated. I don't mind admitting this was a learning experience for me, so I stumbled around a bit here and there, but now I know what I'm doing and don't anticipate any further problems.

Book 2, The Stubborn Schoolhouse Spirit
will go up in a week to 10 days, also for $1.99, and it will be free for a day also at some point.The other four books will follow at about 10-day intervals. Part of my 'marketing strategy' was to get everything out there before readers forgot the first book entirely!

Reviews are the life-blood of a writer, especially in indie publishing, so I'm shamelessly asking for reviews (honest ones, not necessarily 5-star, though I hope you'll think the book is worth some!). I think the series will 'hook' cozy mystery fans.

So pass the word--and the website link--and follow Penelope through her first adventure and several narrow escapes. Get to know Jake and Mary Lynn and Bradley--and, of course, Abijah the Cat, not to mention the mysterious Sam. They'll all be back along with many more interesting characters in the five books to follow.

  So get that mouse-clicking finger ready and 1-2-3...CLICK!



Friday, July 19, 2013

I, Penelope


 Since everybody's been telling off on me, I suppose it's my turn, so here goes.

My name is Penelope Corinne Louise Kelley Pembroke. I was named for my mother, one of her sisters, and a cousin who died during the German blitz of London during WW II. My mother was a war bride, and she came to Amaryllis in 1946 and settled in with my father Jake Kelley and his family right here in the house where I live now.

I had an idyllic childhood. Then I made a huge mistake--instead of going to college like I should have, I married Travis Pembroke. I don't regret my son Bradley, but that's all I got out of that marriage. I should have gotten out of it a lot sooner, but I believed then--and still do--that marriage is forever. As a divorced Catholic, I knew I couldn't marry again and still receive the sacraments, so I just accepted I'd be alone forever and moved on from there.

Everything's been good--or it was until Sam showed up. Don't ask me who he is. I don't know. Bradley might, but he's not telling me anything.

It's not just that Sam's come close to getting me killed a couple of times...well, maybe I was a little bit responsible, too. It's how he makes me feel, which is guilty with a capital G. He'd have me in bed in a second if I'd let him, and believe me, I've come close.

Meanwhile, my hometown of Amaryllis is changing and not for the better. Bikers, drug-running, feuds, hidden secrets coming out--I don't like any of it.

But I like Sam. I like him too much.

And that's all I have to say about that or anything else. I'm going to tend to the B&;B, mind my own business, take care of Daddy, hope for the best for my son, and not let anybody or anything into my bed except Abijah the cat.

Visit me online here.

And watch for a BIG announcement on Monday!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sam


 Who am I? Whoever you say I am. I'll never tell. At least, not right now.

Do I have a past? Of course, I do. Everyone does. A present? Oh, yeah, that's what keeps me busy. A future? I hope so...a future with Penelope Pembroke.

I call her Nell, a good old-fashioned name for a good old-fashioned girl. Okay, she's a woman, not a girl. A delicious, desirable woman, and I can't get to first base with her. Maybe I don't really want to. Maybe that's one of the things I like about her:  she knows what she believes is right, and she isn't backing down, not even if she wants to. I guess just knowing she wants to is enough.

Jake, her father, is a great guy. Sort of reminds me of my own dad who I don't have anymore. And young Sgt. Brad Pembroke--his mother is rightly proud of him. I wish I'd had a son.

Amaryllis is a small town, but it's not immune to trouble. I guess it was for a while, but the days of not locking doors is over. No place is safe anymore, sad to say. But if I had a home, Amaryllis would do very well indeed.

Oh, I heard Abijah bad-mouthed me yesterday. Brad Pembroke refers to him as 'that devil cat'. He's a nuisance, but Nell loves him. At least she isn't of a  'love-me-love-my-cat' bent. He's a fixture at the B&B, so I just have to tolerate him.

Nell's gotten under my skin--in a good way, of course--but sometimes I find myself thinking of her when I need to be concentrating on other things. In my business, lack of concentration can be deadly. Before I met her, I really didn't care one way of the other, but now...well, now I'd like to stick around. Yeah, I'd like to stick around and see if I can get to first base one of these days. And, eventually, I'd like to have a home run, but it'll be on her terms, not mine. And that's okay, too.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Abijah the Cat



You might've heard that people don't own cats, that it's the other way around. It's true. My person found me when I was just a few days old, starving and freezing under the camellia bush beside the garage. My eyes weren't even open. She brought me inside where it was warm and bottle fed me until I could lap milk.

I didn't really like the idea of her turning the house into a B&B, but she didn't ask me. I've learned to stay out of the way, especially if any of the guests have children. I don't like kids. I don't much like anybody but my person--Penelope Pembroke. And since this Sam guy turned up...well, let's just say he's my least favorite person of all. He shuts doors and shuts me out.

I'm quite fine these days. The vet told my person I needed to lose weight, but she still gives me treats. I'll admit it's getting harder to jump up in the bay window in the kitchen, but I can still do it in a couple of tries.

Where do I sleep? Anywhere I want to, thank you, but usually on Penelope's bed. I've trained her not to wiggle around much.

She has a friend, Mary Lynn, who's always giving me dirty looks and saying she wouldn't let a cat sit at her kitchen table. But recently there was some sort of crisis--I never did figure it out exactly--and my person disappeared. Mary Lynn came in twice a day to feed me and make sure my litter box was clean. She didn't give me treats though. I didn't like that.

Well, it's time for my morning nap, and there's a nice sunshiny spot in the bay window, so I'll be going now. I won't say thanks for stopping by--but be sure to tell everyone just how fine I am. Toodles.

Sgt. Bradley Pembroke, Amaryllis PD

I can't remember when I wasn't interested in law enforcement. I applied with the Amaryllis PD while I was still in college, and as soon as I graduated, Chief Harley Malone hired me and sent me to the police academy. Recently he sent me for more training and put me into the newly-created position of detective. At the time, I didn't think there was much to "detect" in Amaryllis, Arkansas, but as Pawpaw (Jake Kelley) said, ever since Sam showed up, things have been popping around here. And don't ask me who Sam is. I'm not sure myself.

My mother and I moved home to my grandparents' house when I was twelve, and three years later, she and my dad divorced. I was pretty irritated with her at the time, but now that I'm a grown man, I can see she did the right thing--and probably should've done it sooner. He was, well, a ladies' man, and that's being nice about it.

Dad also inherited the family cotton plantation. Pembroke Point has been out there since the first Pembrokes came here in 1839, even before the town of Amaryllis was founded. He always thought I'd take over for him, being the only son and all. I'm interested in the history of the place, but growing cotton wasn't what I wanted to do. It put a distance between us, one I really regret.

Mother--that's Penelope Kelley Pembroke--landed on her feet. She took care of my grandmother until she died and then worked as an ER nurse over in Little Rock until she decided she didn't want to commute anymore. Then she turned the Kelley homeplace into a B&B. Pawpaw retreated to what he calls his hideaway, which was the servants' quarters back in the old days. He's fixed up real cozy with his own sitting room, bedroom, and private bath. He's always on the go with the  Toney Twins. (I sure hope I'm not the one who ends up arresting those two for reckless driving.)

Amaryllis is changing, but it's still a good place to live. I want to stay here and raise a family just like my Mother raised me. I've dated a few women around here, but no bells rang.  But about six months ago, Chief Malone hired Rosabel Deane fresh out of the police academy, and she's...well, let's just say I might be hearing something. Not bells exactly, not yet, but wind chimes maybe.

Meanwhile, I just try to do my job the best I can--and keep Mother out of trouble. She's a handful. But I guess I wouldn't have her any other way.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Mayor's Wife

Pen and I've been best friends since my family moved to Amaryllis just before I started high school. What makes best friends? Who knows? Pen and I don't always agree on everything, but we're always there for each other.

She got a bum deal when she married Travis. I was her maid of honor, of course. That was right before I left for college. She should've come with me instead of marrying him and going to live on that antiquated pre-Civil War plantation. Old Mrs. Pembroke was a good mother-in-law, but she couldn't make up for that philandering son of hers.

Didn't Pen know about Travis? I think she didn't want to know. She never really said so, but I think she'd have backed out of the whole thing if she hadn't felt it would be such a scandal. Yes, small towns still take scandals very seriously. But she got Brad, my godson, out of the deal. And a good divorce settlement when she finay got the guts to leave Travis and go home to her parents when Brad was twelve.

What about me? Well, I went off to college. Vasser, would you believe? My mother was an alum. I majored in English and thought maybe I wanted to teach. I gave Miss Maude Pendleton a bad time in senior English, but she made me love literature all the same. But then I graduated and came home and started going with Harry Hargrove.

Harry was second-string everything in high school, but he finished UA with honors. We had a sort of whirlwind courtship and got married just before he started his second year of law school. I worked as a teaching assistant at the University until he finished. Then we came home to Amaryllis, and Harry hung out his shingle.

My parents moved back East and died within a year of each other. Harry and I wanted kids, but it just didn't happen. We have a good marriage though, not like Travis and Pen. Harry's got too much paunch and not enough hair, and people look at him and think he's not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but they don't know Harry. He knows how to work people--all for the good, of course--and he'd never look at another woman.

When Tobin Textiles pulled the rug out from under the town's economy by leaving almost overnight, Harry single-handedly saved this town with a brilliant plan. He doesn't care whether or not he gets credit for it, but I do.

I'm Mrs. Mayor--and I'm a lucky woman.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Interview with Jake Kelley

                                                                   Photo from Fotolia


JK: Come on in and bring your stuff back to the kitchen. I've got a pot of coffee on, and Nellie--that's my daughter, the one you came to talk about, brought home a box of goodies from Rose's Bakery this morning.

JN:  Actually, Mr. Kelley, I came to talk about you.

JK:  You did? Well, that's nice. Have a seat. And it's Jake. Just Jake.

JN:  Tell me about Jake then.

JK: Where do you want me to start? From the beginning? Well, that's a long time ago, seventy-five years to be exact. I was born right here in this house, upstairs in the front bedroom. Grew up here, graduated from high school in the spring of 1942, and went down the next day and enlisted. Maybe you're too young to remember we were at war then. World War II. All the boys from my class enlisted, all  five of us. Three didn't come back.

JN:  Did you see action during the war?

JK: Did I see action? Son, I was part of the 29th Infantry Division that got dumped on Omaha Beach on D-Day! You know about D-Day? It was a bloody mess, and I don't talk about it. But one good thing came out of the war. I met a girl in London. Wynne. Married her. She was the best. And then there was Nellie--Penelope Corinne Louise, our daughter.

JN: What did you do after the war?

JK:  I went to work at the Garden Market and stayed there until I had a little stroke a few years ago. Then I retired. Or they retired me. Said it was time. I didn't like it much then, but I do now. Nellie opened the B&B when the town had to pull together to save itself after Tobin Textiles pulled out and took so many jobs with it. So she stays busy and out of my hair.

JN:  I guess I do want to know a little about her.

JK:  She's the best, my Nellie. Takes after her mother. We lost Wynne twelve years ago. Twelve years. She was the best, too.

JN:  So the two of you live here together.

JK:  Don't know where else either one of us would live. 'Course, Nellie's always asking if I want to drive out and look at the old folks home...but it's a joke. Told her I wanted a room next to a pretty woman, and she said, "With or without teeth?" Nellie's sharp like that. Good sense of humor.

JN:  I understand you have a grandson.

JK:  Brad. Detective Sergeant Bradley Pembroke, Amaryllis PD. Nellie and I are really proud of him.

JN: What about his father?

JK:  Well, Travis was a better father than he was a husband. He liked the women, if you know what I mean. Nellie got enough of it and came home. Brad turned out better that way, if you ask me, but he saw his father all the time and had a pretty good relationship until he decided he wanted to be a cop instead of a cotton grower. Still, they got along, I guess.

JN:  Your daughter never remarried?

JK:  Nope. A divorced Catholic can't remarry and still receive the sacraments, and the Church is important to both of us. And we get along all right. Nellie stays busy with the B&B and a lot of other stuff, and I like being a man of leisure. Three meals a day, laundry done, room cleaned. Yep, it's a good life.

JN:  Is there anything you wish for?

JK:  No...well, I wish Nellie had someone in her life. I'm not going to be around forever. 'Course, like I said, there's the thing about being divorced...but there's this guy named Sam and ever since he's been around, things have been poppin'.

JN:  Sam? Poppin'?

JK:  That's a story for another day. You recording all this? Hey, I like that little thing-a-ma-bob there...that recorder...might just go looking for one myself. I keep up with the times, you know. That's the secret, son...you get older, but you don't stop living. Nope. You don't stop living, not a single second of a single minute of a single hour of a single day. You remember that.

Tomorrow:  A chat with Penelope's best friend since high school, Mary Lynn Hargrove

Thursday, July 11, 2013

After the perils of publishing...

After the perils of publishing comes the monstrosity of marketing. That's what I've been working on today, though not for the first time.

There are so many possibilities out there. Some are paid, while others are free. All take time and thought.

I've compiled three or four lists, checked off some things, moved others to the status of top priority, and generally have an idea of where I want to go and how to get there. But it's not for the faint of heart. Indeed, writing is the EASY part.

Some of the websites I've looked into require a certain number of reviews and a minimum four-star rating (all on Amazon) before they'll even consider allowing an author to promote--even on a paid venue! Which is just as well. My budget is of the shoestring variety anyway.

However, the opportunities for the "starving artist" are available. It takes time and elbow grease (flexible keyboard strokes?) to find them, and find them I've been doing.

I'm reminded of the old adage, "Let it be a challenge to you."

It is.

Coming soon to Amazon:  The Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series
  • The Bogus Biker
  • The Stubborn Schoolhouse Spirit
  • The Feed Store Floozy
  • The Possum Hollow Hullabaloo
  • The Larcenous Legacy
  • Sam's Last Stand
Visit Penelope and the people of Amaryllis AR on the web.  

Tomorrow I'll start "guest interviewing" the characters. First up:  Penelope's father, Jake Kelley.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

They're cooooooooooooooming...

The first two books of the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series are one step closer to publication. I need to proof them ONE MORE TIME just for my own peace of mind, and then I'll hit "publish". It's a scary proposition, sort of like the first time I hit "send" on a submission query. You sit there and look at the keyboard knowing you want to send it, need to send it, are going to send it--eventually--yet still you hesitate. Why?

The pre-pub feedback I've gotten on Penelope has been good, so I know she'll capture the imagination of anyone out there looking for a good, fast-moving, suspenseful, romantic read. Oh, and clean. Penelope's real all right, as you'll find out, but she's also a woman of strong convictions. The mysterious Sam calls her a 'survivor', and that's true. She knows that 'not to decide is to decide', so she plunges ahead.

I've had fun with the dedication pages for six books. Here's a sneak preview:

Book 1: The Bogus Biker

To all the Penelopes out there who embrace life with joy while holding fast to what they believe.

Book 2:  The Stubborn Schoolhouse Spirit

To all the little girls read Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and dreamed of solving mysteries when they grew up.

Book 3:  The Feed Store Floozy

To all the Penelopes who have ever wondered what really went on within the walls of old, now-deserted buildings in their hometowns and never found out.
 
Book 4:  The Possum Hollow Hullabaloo

To all the Penelopes who do what has to be done and never look back.

Book 5:  The Larcenous Legacy

To all the Penelopes who understand their faith is the one unchanging factor in their lives and who do their imperfect best to live out that faith everyday
 
Book 6:  Sam's Last Stand 

To all the Penelopes who have waited with hope, longing, and patience for their knight in shining armor, keeping faith he would come and stay forever


Each dedication, although I realize they're not always read, hints at the underlying theme of the book. 

SO--they're coming! Stay tuned for the dates the books will be FREE on Amazon. And don't forget to visit Penelope online at The Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series.