Desperate times here as we are way past due on everything including the phone bill and the power bill. There are prescriptions that urgently need to be refilled. We have to pay our renters insurance (failure to do so gets one evicted immediately) and pay our car insurance.
In short, we are in a world of trouble. Our rent is due on the 1st and we will be paying late again on the third and using everything in our Social Security Disability payments and a little more in the bank to cover that. But, we have no way to pay the other bills due.
If you can help and want to please consider making a donation over at the PayPal widget over on the left side of the blog. I hate begging for your help, but we really truly need it. Anything helps.... if you can.
A set of two towels is $6.50 which includes a $1.00 fee to cover shipping. One towel is $4.00 and that includes the same $1.00 fee to cover shipping. At this time she has twelve towels (six sets) for sale. Payment may be made through the PayPal widget on the left side of the blog.
Sold on a first come first served basis. She does not have more fabric to make additional ones so when they are gone.... they are gone.
Back in September 2007,
I told you about Stuff To Die For by
Don Bruns. I thought it could easily be the start of a very good series. It
was. Like any good series, you really need to start with this one. Make sure
you check out the full list of reading suggestions over at Patti’s blog.
James Lessor and Skip Moore have been friends since childhood. James has always
been scheming on ways for the two to make a fortune in business and Skip has
followed along into each venture. Some schemes had gotten them into trouble,
some hadn’t, but none of them had really worked. The latest plan James has
hatched has them going into the moving business. “Have Truck Will Haul” says
their new business card and according to James, who has purchased the Chevy one
ton box truck by using the monies he recently inherited, this idea will lead to
a financial hauling empire. Not only should he have used the monies to pay on
his student loans, Skip also thinks that James should have noticed the fact
that the truck drinks oil like it is water. James is obvious secure in his
belief that the only way to make real money is to spend the money he has and
this time, he is going to spend it on his hauling stuff business idea.
Skip’s girlfriend, Emily isn’t thrilled with James or how he manages to lure
her mid twenties boyfriend into one dream after another as Skip sort of drifts
through life. Sure, he sells a security system now and then on commission, but
he really isn’t going anywhere and she believes he could do so much more. One
possibility is that Skip could go work for her Dad’s construction firm but Skip
knows, for a number of reasons that all aren’t under his control, why that idea
would never work.
As it soon happens Emily leads the guys to their first client, Jackie Fuentes.
A wealthy and sexy woman living behind the gates of a nearby exclusive
community, she needs some stuff hauled away as quickly as possible and is
willing to pay well. Her husband Rick has taken off with a far younger woman
and she wants his things out of her house.
It should be a simple job for a few hours of work. It would have been a simple
job if James, while backing up the truck at the storage facility, hadn’t hit
the building. If, the load which includes mail for Rick, hadn't shifted and
spilled. If they hadn’t noticed the fact that one of the envelopes was leaking.
Or, if having noticed it was leaking, tossed it back with the rest of the mail
and had never opened it.
But, they did notice and did decide to open the envelope. From there, things go
from bad to worse at breakneck speed. James and Skip find themselves getting
deeper in a mess with every move they make while agents of the CIA, Cubans bent
on arms smuggling, and a host of other shady characters with multiple
motivations, keep among other things, shooting at them. All that and Emily really
needs to talk to James about the future of their relationship.
Part humor, part mystery, part thriller and definitely all suspenseful, this
novel takes off and just keeps going barely letting the reader catch a breath
on the way. Author Don Bruns brings all the characters vividly to life and
yanks readers directly into the maelstrom that is their chaotic world. What
could easily have gone the way of caricature and been the typical buddy style
novel instead is a very good tension filled read packed with twists and turns
guaranteed to keep readers guessing to the very end. The result is excellent
stuff on every level and hopes that this just might be the start of a new
Scott does not drive as we have no funds to pay our overdue bills or utility cutoff notices, let alone buy insurance and driving lessons for him, so I spent much of the afternoon in an office tower lobby in North Dallas near the hospital, while he took his GRE for graduate school. He graduates in December and wants to go back to UTD for his Masters in Criminal Justice starting in January. The program "recommends" a score of 300 or higher to be considered for entrance.
Because the majority of the test is computer taken he already knows that his combined verbal and math score was ...... 302. There are two essays that humans must read and score for a total of six points. So, when everything is all said and done he will have a GRE of 305 or a little more.
Then it is up to the committee to determine if they will let him into one of the coveted slots.
A large chunk of it was at the local office of the Texas Department of Public Safety. My license to drive expires next month on my birthday so this year I had to physically go in and could not renew online. After standing by leaning against the building with my cane for about 30 minutes in the long line outside, I had
worked my way close enough to the entrance that the the DPS Officer working the door saw me and the cane. While I absolutely did not want to bypass anyone, he insisted and took me to the front of the line.
After bypassing about sixty folks, some of whom were clearly ticked off and said so, I was put with a clerk who took care of me. She, along with the DPS Officer, were incredibly nice and were a huge help. I am very much appreciative of how they helped me today.
After that I went to the local branch library and with no waiting at all, voted. So, my civic duty is done. I am also very glad, especially with how bad I hurt now, that we do not have the long polling lines I am seeing on television from various sites in the local area.
of the Bookblog of the Bristol Public Library is back today with another interesting guest post…
Legend is Born
Back around 1999, I had a young man come up and ask
for information about South Holston Dam. I figured it was for a school report, so we
went back to the Genealogy/Local History room and I pulled books on TVA.He gave them barely a glance.He wanted, he said, the real books about South
Holston.Puzzled, I asked him to be more
specific.“You know,“ he said, “the
ancient legends.” I must have continued to look blank, because he
finally clarified in a whisper.“About
Comprehension dawned.As you’ll see momentarily, that is a pun.
In 1991, a paperback book came out entitled Dawn
of the Vampire by William Hill which caused a minor sensation in the area
because it was set in this area—specifically, around South Holston.The book used the fact that during the
construction of the various dams and lakes in the system, a number of small
communities were relocated.The original
sites ended up submerged.Mr. Hill had
heard about the underwater towns from some friends while visiting the area and
immediately decided to change the setting of his work-in-progress vampire novel
to South Holston to take advantage of that creepy history.
“Ah,” I said, “you want the novel.”
“No, it’s a true story.I want the real legends that he based the
book on.My grandma told me about them
when I was just a little boy.”
I did the math.Yep, he would have been about nine or ten when the book came out so to
him they were old legends. That young
man was just the first of many to inquire about the “old legends.” The problem was that prior to Dawn of the
Vampire, there weren’t any legends about vampires.TVA construction on what became South Holston
began in 1942 and was completed in 1950, so any legends in connection to the
submerged towns would have had to have been twentieth century vintage, and we
had seen none among the collections of ghost stories from the region. Even a
letter from the author confirming that he just made it all up fails to convince
some of our more enthusiastic vampire hunters.They leave still firmly believing that somewhere there are ancient tomes
detailing vampire activity and the library is just part of the cover-up.
But at least we don’t have the problems of
Burkittsville, MD, setting of the “The Blair Witch.” After the movie came out,
they had hordes of people searching for the real story behind the events of the
movie.Believe me, I felt for those
love a good ghost story, especially local ones.However, sometimes it isn’t a good idea to probe too deeply—not because
of supernatural retribution but because of disappointment.A few years back some enterprising students
took on the legend of a ghost named Vera who was said to haunt a local
college.Vera had been an unhappy
student who committed suicide there.The
investigation led to Texas, where an elderly woman was quite surprised to find
out she was supposedly haunting her old school.
I’m just going to listen to the stories, believe or
not, and enjoy them for what they are.
Please welcome Larry
W. Chavis, Vice-President of The Short Mystery Fiction Society, with his first
review here on the blog. My hope is Larry will do many more…
Just the mention of the city name, New Orleans, conjures up
a kaleidoscope of scenes: the stately St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square,
dim and smoky bars where jazz musicians jam, phoenix-like resilience of a
people rising up from Katrina's devastation, hushed whispers of secret voodoo
practices, bayous rioting with life but familiar with death. What better place
to hold the 2016 World Mystery Convention, aka Bouchercon, and what better
theme for a companion anthology than Blood on the Bayou?"
As is the custom with Bouchercon, this anthology was released in conjunction
with the convention, and its proceeds all go to charity, this year the New
Orleans Public Library. Some of the finest writers of short mystery/crime
fiction working today contributed their stories to this anthology that explores
the myriad settings and characters that can be conjured in the Big Easy and the
Louisiana bayou country. O'Neil De Noux, himself a former NOPD detective, gives
us "The Blind Lagoon Misadventure," in which a savvy detective looks
outside the box to identify a most unusual killer. In "ebgdea,"
Scottish author G. J. Brown traces the tragic consequences of a sister's death
across the years. An escaped convict meets karma in John Floyd's "The Blue
Delta," while in "The Boggy Bayou Caper" by Terrie Fairley
Moran, a scorned lover seeks revenge on a singer with a gaudy guitar.
In addition, stories by Eric Beetner, Sheila Connolly, Alison Gaylin, R. T.
Lawton, David Morrell, Gary Phillips, Elaine Viets, and eleven more make this
anthology a showcase of good writing and satisfying reading. And, as noted,
it's for a good cause, too.
(Note: My copy was purchased at Bouchercon 2016, New Orleans, LA.)
Deciding at the advanced age of 44 to earn a physics degree
to complement his theological degree, Larry enrolled in the University of
Southern Mississippi, where he spent three exciting, if exacting, years,
accomplishing his goal with honors. Upon graduation, he entered the public
education system, teaching physics, trigonometry, and calculus. Semi-retired
now (although still teaching two classes), he has a bit more time to work on
writing. Larry has had stories published in "Crime
and Suspense Ezine," "Kings River Life Magazine," and the
anthology, Ten for Ten, edited by Tony Burton. Larry lives in
south-central Mississippi with his wife of 38 years and a severely spoiled
Shih-tsu named Sammie.
Not only was everything running nearly two hours behind at the doctor today, when we got out my Mom had a situation and needed us to go over and help. Now that all is good with her we are finally home.
The news on Sandi was/is stunningly good. Near as they can tell from the PET Scan the spinal tumor has shrunk about 50 percent. They can't tell exactly because there is still some sort of heat signature at the site and that makes it hard to image and measure. This could be caused by the radiation still leaving her body. It could be caused by the tumor trying to, basically, come back to life. They just don't know.
Not only is the spinal tumor smaller, there are not any other tumors. Except for the spinal tumor, she is free of cancer everywhere else! This means, while she is not considered in remission, she is as close to that designation as possible.
Blood work was also astoundingly good across the board. Not only are her numbers stable, they are trending upward month to month. in fact, today she had nearly normal blood work.
So, the current plan is to have her do an MRI sometime in the next two weeks. This will be done to accurately image and measure the exact size of the tumor.
For the next three months, starting on November 17, she will go in once a month to flush her port and do blood work as well as visit with the doctor. This is just to make sure that she stays stable.
At some point in late January or early February they will MRI her again and image and measure the tumor size. The hope is that it by the then the tumor will either have shrunk some more or not changed at all in size. There is a possibility that the tumor is dead and can not compact further. If that has happened the belief is that the tumor pictures should be the same then as well as what they get now.
All this is a very long way of saying that what has happened far exceeds anything that anybody thought was remotely possible. Everyone involved is stunned by the results. We are thrilled beyond belief and just blown away by this news.
By the time this post appears, we will be on the way to Texas Oncology at Medical City Dallas Hospital. Sandi has an appointment to do blood work, have her port flushed, and see the doctor. Today, we are supposed to get the results of the PET Scan.
Sandi's cancer fight is an elaborate game of whack a mole. She has tumor sites everywhere from head to toe. So, they do things and some tumors shrink and others grow. Then, things change and the original growers go away and new ones pop up.
Best case scenario is that the spinal tumor that was
radiated all of July has shrunk and the others in various places
have not grown very much. In that case, they may or may not
restart chemo today.
Worst case scenario is the radiation did not work AND other sites
have also exploded in growth. They would restart chemo with that
too though it most likely would be a more experimental type of
Her chemo options are increasingly limited as her body build up a
tolerance and then the chemo stops working.
So, we just don't know. We both are worried and upset though she
handles all this far better than I do.
Between all that and the financial stress as everything is past
due and we are facing cutoff of power and such in a week or so the
stress around here is pretty damn grim.
So, if you have a moment this morning, please keep a good thought in mind for us. Thank you.
in January 2011, I first told you just how good INHUMAN CONDITION by Kate Thornton was and that you should read
it. I am telling you again today. Make sure you also check out the full list of
reading suggestions over at Todd Mason's blog. It is Friday, but you have work to do.
Sometimes the blurb on the book
encapsulates the book in an excellent way. From the back cover of the recently
released collection, INHUMAN CONDITION written by Kate Thornton,
comes this explanation:
“Human beings tend to fear the things
they don’t know, and that is often sensible, given the lurking dangers that
confronted our distant ancestors. But sometimes we need to examine carefully
the things we think we know: the pet shop owner in town, the teenage girl who
lives next door, or the nice man who walks his dog each evening in our
neighborhood. The stories in this collection will drive that point home, and
perhaps give you reason to re-define the word “'inhuman.'”
As well as define “human.” With a
subtitle of Tales of Mystery and Imagination these twenty-one
tales set on earth and in space, frequently push at boundaries defining what it
means to be human. Frequently the tales are a bit disturbing, not in terms of
graphic depictions, but in the meaning of what has happened or will happen
thanks to the final twist at the end illuminating the dark working of a
character's twisted mind. In nature, the concept of “camouflage” keeps both the
hunted and hunter alive in the constant struggle to eat or not to be eaten.
That same concept, passed down in the hardwired code of humanity from our
distant ancestors is alive and well in these times. Make no mistake—this book
is about the hunters hiding in plain sight among us and the prey they seek for
a variety of purposes.
The anchor story in the collection is
the very good tale, “Nightwatch: Cardenio” (pages 83-154). Using characters and
other story elements originally created by Jeff Williams and with his
permission as noted, the tale takes the Nightwatch team deep into the Amazon. A
research site does not just vanish off the face of the earth in Brazil. But, it
has happened and the research site is gone without a trace. It is now to the
team to figure out what happened and why in this adventure tale.
Author Kate Thornton creates a sort of whiplash effect for the reader several
times in this collection and this is a case in point. After the above noted
adventure tale deep in the Amazonian jungle, she follows it with “Cell Phone
Call” starting on page 155. In five short pages, the author makes parental
nightmares all too real and leaves readers, at least those of us with kids,
thinking twice about using our cell phones in public.
That story is followed by “Vinnie's
Cargo” and readers are back to adventure and suspense. In this one, there are
shuttle runs between the Moon and Mars in the unspecified future. Despite the
rules and regulations, where there are humans involved there will always be
some who attempt to move contraband and make some ill-gotten gains. Usually,
nothing good can come of some attempts and that may, or may not, be the case
And so it goes through the entire book
that contains both previously published and credited work and new. Author Kate
Thornton consistently delivers through the entire book as each and every single
story is a good one. That rarely happens. Whether it is late in the
collection with the very disturbing mystery “The Eyes Never Change” or the strangely
amusing science fiction tale “One of the Family” or any other, the read is
constantly good and full of rich details in settings, characters, and
Not only is Kate Thornton to be
congratulated, so too is the publisher. Denouement Press is an imprint of
Wolfmont LLC owned and operated by Tony Burton. Known as a publisher of
anthologies and cozy style mysteries, this is a new venture for the publisher
and reflects the kind of book that might not have been published by Wolfmont
One hopes this is not the last
collection released by Kate Thornton. Simply put, INHUMAN CONDITION:
Tales of Mystery and Imagination is a very good book and one well worth your time and money.
October 1964 and for
Marjorie Trumaine the unthinkable has happened. No, her beloved Hank is still
alive, paralyzed, and holding his own. He still wishes that he had died in the
shotgun accident, but she is thankful he is still around. Despite the brutal
events in See Also Murder, life on her farm in rural North Dakota has
continued and she is managing to hold things together. The Knudsen boys,
Peter and Jaeger, continue to be a huge help to her, but they can’t make the
rains come. Rain is the lifeblood of any farm and Marjorie needs it to rain.
Indexing helps pay the bills, but that job can’t totally support the farm.
powers to hold things together are tenuous at best and do not extend to the
town library. Calla Eltmore, librarian resource when Marjorie has a question as
well as a longtime friend, has been found dead at her desk in the Dickinson
library. Marjorie is devastated by the news and can’t believe it. Not only the
fact that she is dead, but the police seem to think it was by suicide.
Despite voicing her misgivings,
she can’t seem to get anyone else to listen to her. Even when she spots a clear
clue that the police should have figure out.
The death of Calla is
one of several storylines at work in this complicated and very engrossing
read by author Larry D. Sweazy. Building on the character of Marjorie
Trumaine as well as several other ones, a complicated mystery read full of rich
details is constructed. Readers are again exposed to the difficulties of rural
farm life in the early 60s in North Dakota, Marjorie’s duties as an indexer, living
in a place where everyone knows your business day and night, and numerous other
themes and angles in this complicated mystery. See Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine
mystery building on the first book and is a very worthy second book in this
intense mystery series.
Highly recommended, as
is the first book, See
Also Murder. Because those events are referenced in this read, it
is also recommended that readers new to this series start with the first book.
Published in 2015 by
All Due Respect Books, Crooked Roads: Crime Stories by Alec
Cizak features fifteen previously published short stories. Published in print
and online the tales reflect flawed characters, crimes of various types, and situations
where there are no easy answers.
“The Space Between”
starts readers off with a very short tale about the relationship, as well as
the lack of one, between the cashier and the customer. She spoke in clichés,
but for the narrator, his life is also full of clichés.
The guy known as “Bump”
had never seen somebody die until Kristos put the shotgun deep into Hector’s
mouth and pulled the trigger. Now it is supposed to be Bump’s turn to kill in
“Columbus Day.” All that was supposed to happen was the three of them, if you
counted in Sophia who is about as crazy as Kristos, were to bust into a cook
house, grab the latest batch, and go back home to watch The Vikings on Monday Night
Football. At least, that had been the plan just a couple of hours ago.
Dad always said to
never underestimate just how stupid some folks can be and then proved it
himself. Living in a trailer park, Neptune Park, isn’t that great. He knows his
girlfriend’s dad, Mr. Vaughn, is not happy at all that he is intimate with his
daughter, Missy. Sure, she might be working out her issues, but Dwayne likes
her a lot and knows the score in “No Hard Feelings.”
It is January and the
rains have come to Wilshire Boulevard. For Rex Burris, who relies on the
generosity of others, the rains are a bad thing because folks don’t give when
it rains. In “American Chivalry” Rex has a plan for the Korean wives on the 20 bus
if he can get enough space change to get on the bus in the first place.
The short Mexican is
in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though he doesn’t know it yet as “Dumb
Shit” begins. Donny and his friend, Smitty, lost their roofing jobs to Mexican
workers that worked far cheaper for the contractor, Jimbo Pincer. Donny is mad
at everyone in the world. It never is a good thing when Donny is mad.
She’s alone, drinking,
and has a .32 in her purse. She also has a story to tell in “Spare Change.”
Bud Gorski has a wife
he can’t make happy and a night job at Liberty Steel that does not pay
enough. The strike has not helped things at all. Ron feels bad for him in
“Sate Road 53” though he does not feel bad enough to stop seeing Bud’s wife,
Stan Dillon does not
normally go for blondes and then she walked into the bar. As a cop, he knows a
hooker when he sees one. In “Patience,” the hooker of the same name has a
friend, Finesse, and a place, if he is willing. Off duty and male, he is
definitely willing to go with her to the Ramada on Wilshire.
The two guys that are
friends of Katy’s dad showed up wearing ski masks. They gave her a blindfold
and put her in their car. She wanted to see Billy get his in “Katy Too.”
“My Kind Of Town” features
Jenna and Tom who have a plan for their future. Tom’s wife Maggie is not part
of that plan. Neither is his gas station.
Enrique Paz has been
trailing the guy on foot for a while now in “A Matter Of Time.” Paz was
supposed to be meeting a couple of white guys from West Hollywood to sell them
some meth before this guy earned his attention. The fact went he into a church
isn’t going to save him.
Debbie had seemed
fine when she left after having drugs and sex with Ethan though she did not
tell him where she was going. In “Methamphetamine And A Shotgun” Ethan has decided
to go outside and see the day. He has also decided it is a good idea to take
She needs a payphone
and that has proved to be a bit of a problem in “Little People.” She could use
her cellphone, but that would create a record. A record of the call could link
her to the guy in the trunk of her silver Lexus.
Harold showed up early
at Nicole’s place in “A Moral Majority.” He has a problem and a sin to confess.
If the congregation finds out, they won’t be happy. He needs advice and a
solution to a terrible problem he has created.
“The Ralphs At Third
And Vermont” used to exist before the riots. It burned. What happened to
Charlie, who used to carry folks groceries, is the point of this tale that
shifts back and forth in time.
The tales in Crooked
Roads: Crime Stories are all good ones. These previously published
stories feature a range of characters, emotions, and situations that create a
dark atmosphere full of vengeance and violence. Nothing is simple in these
tales whether it is the plan for survival, the reason for the situation, or the
actions by anyone involved. Published by All Due Respect Books, the short
stories contained in Crooked Roads: Crime Stories by Alec
Cizak live up the title and then some. In a number of cases, the road is
not just crooked, but pulverized into sharp channels that rip your soul.
I learned earlier today by way of Bill Crider's blog that Ed Gorman died yesterday.
I never had the privilege of meeting the man. Most of our contact was by way of the occasional email which started shortly before Sandi underwent her stem cell transplant. While she was in Florida going through it and just after she came back he called me to share his own experiences and to buck up her morale as well as my own. Those calls and emails meant more to us than he will ever know.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Carol, his family, and friends who knew him far better than we did. He is truly missed.
Late summer and Paradise, Massachusetts has been pretty
calm. The biggest issue has been some petty vandalism. For Police Chief Jesse
Stone the break from anything significant has been good as he is a bit preoccupied
with his personal life. On the plus side, there is Diana who is becoming
increasingly important to him and the feeling seems to be mutual. He is also
working on his sobriety and making a definite effort to resist the deeply
ingrained ritual of drinking.
On the negative side, Jesse is coming to the realization that
his diamond skills are diminishing. Age does that to all ball players and there
comes a time when the player can no longer compete at the level he or she set
for herself long ago. There is also the fact that Jenn is getting married again
and has invited him to her wedding to Hale Hunsicker down in Dallas. The
wedding is set for October and after a lot of thought about their past Jesse has
decided to tell her he won’t be there.
His plan to skip the wedding begins to change when Vinnie
Morris contacts him about the sudden death of Gino Fish. The mobster supposedly
killed his current male secretary and then himself. That is what the Boston police
believe and they are not about to listen to anything Vinnie has to say. Vinnie
does not believe that Gino would have done either act despite the fact that all
the evidence seems to indicate that is exactly what happened. He wants Jesse to
look into it and is calling due the favor Jesse promised Gino awhile back for his
help on a case.
Jesse agrees to look into the situation. He soon realizes that
the serial killer they know as “Mr. Peepers” is back and seeking vengeance. He
plans to kill everyone on his payback list while playing an elaborate mid game
with them. It isn’t enough to just kill those he holds responsible. He wants to
hurt them first by killing those they care about. For Jesse, that means Diana
as well as Jenn down in Dallas are at high risk.
Shifting in character point of view as well as by location,
the chase for Mr. Peepers goes from New England, to Dallas, and back again.
Readers know from nearly the start as they spend time with the killer why
things are happening the way they do. As a result, this is not a mystery read,
but a thriller style read where the hunt is on for the bad guy before he can
kill again and again.
Debt To Pay is also a turning point novel for several of the
characters including Jesse. Even if one had not read the recent interview with
author Reed Farrel Coleman, it is clear that some things are being wrapped up
to start Jesse on a new course. By the end of the read, it is clear that
nothing will ever be the same.
As one expects there will be complaints from some that this
novel does not read exactly like it would if Robert B. Parker was still doing
them. It does not. It comes very close and does so while creating a highly
entertaining read that continues the series.
Hardcover Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon (HarperCollins, 1992) is the first in the police procedural mystery series with Guido Brun...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.