Rise and Fall: A Dinger, PI Short

in bed smoking 2

We had just finished making love and were sharing a smoke when she nudged my shoulder and said, “There’s something I haven’t told you.”

Turning my head, I blew a long stream toward the ceiling. I placed the Chesterfield between her pouty lips and watched the tip glow like a beacon in the shadows. Dawn crept through the curtains of the huge bay window facing the lake. Tentacles of gray light inched across the hardwood floor. In a few minutes they would join us on Monica’s big four-poster bed. There was plenty of room.

She exhaled and drew on the cigarette again. When I kept my silence she adjusted her pillows and scooted up to rest against the headboard. The curves of her full, beautiful breasts were silhouetted against the pale light. “Did you hear me, Dinger?” she said, the cigarette dancing in her lips. “There’s something I haven’t told you. Something very impor—”

Pulling the Chesterfield from between her lips silenced her for the moment. I joined her against the headboard, took a drag, and handed it back. “So, what’s this ‘something’ you haven’t told me?”

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Monica took a final puff and leaned over to the nightstand and crushed out the smoke in the fancy mother-of-pearl ashtray. Its identical twin sat on the matching nightstand by my side of the bed. The damn things were too fancy for my taste. But what the hell, this doll ate her everyday meals on real bone china. I sat admiring the view of the sleek tanned back and the not-so-tanned ass she’d been blessed with—make that—I had been blessed with, for the past three-plus weeks. Monica Archer was one helluva fine package, all tucked, trimmed, and wrapped to perfection.

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Leaning back against the pillows, Monica crossed her arms, spoiling my view, and gave me a quick sidelong glance. “There’s a Mister Archer, Dinger. I know I led you to believe I was single, but I . . . I had my reasons. Believe me, if you’ll just listen to. . . .”

The words sounded distant and hollow, and then faded away completely somewhere . . .  to a past life, maybe, or another world. I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything right then except that I’d been sucker-punched in the gut and all the air had deserted me. I had trusted the dame, trusted her from the time she walked into my office a month ago.

*  *  *

chiffon dress

There was a muffled rapping on the window of my office/domicile door. I offered a half-hearted “Come in,” and the handle turned, the hinges creaked, and a reddish-haired goddess wearing a flowing light blue chiffon dress with white and maroon flowers swirled through the door, into my office, and into my life. “What can I do for you?” I said next, more a stammer as I sat stunned by the auburn-haired beauty who sashayed across the room and sat in one of the two ratty chairs fronting my worn and scarred desk.

She smiled, straightened the hem of her dress over her crossed legs, and laid her small handbag on the desktop. “Mr. Dinger,” she said, snapping open the handbag and retrieving a pack of Lucky Strikes, “I believe I could use your services.”

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I grabbed the fake hand grenade lighter, a mainstay on my desktop since the war, and held the flame out to her. She leaned in with the Lucky centered between a pair of luscious lips and lit up her smoke. “I’m all ears, Mrs.  . . .?”

“Archer,” she said, astutely turning her pretty little neck barely enough to exhale the stream of smoke away from me. “Miss Monica Archer.” She offered a white-gloved hand to seal the introduction.

I took the gloved hand in mine, wondering vaguely with my lower class Southern upbringing what to do with it. “My pleasure, Miss Archer,” I said in return, after giving the hand a gentle squeeze. “Now, how can I be of service?”

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Twenty minutes later, after listening to the spiel pouring through those plump and inviting lips, and those imploring brown eyes, I had the story damn near down pat:

“Mr. Dinger, my cousin Ronald—Ronnie, if you will—has absconded with nearly a quarter-million dollars that belongs to me. Well,” she continued, sniffling and with tears welling in those pretty pecan-colored eyes, “money that belongs to me and my darling young nephew and nieces. I need for you to track Ronnie down and make him agree to give back our money! I don’t know how much you charge, but . . . I’ll be willing to pay you well. As much as I can afford under the circumstances, you understand.” She said this with an impish smile.

It was my second or third case since I’d drifted into Vegas after serving with the Marines during the war, and putting down roots as a struggling private investigator. “Don’t you worry none, Miss Archer. I’ll do my best to get your money back.” And I’d done just that, by hook and by crook. An alluring woman, a jackpot of a promised recovery reward—what the hell more could a young PI just starting out ask for?

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Sure, I had to lay the hammer on cousin Ronnie pretty hard, more than I’d wanted to. But he would live. Most importantly, he’d handed over the bank book Monica had insisted I bring back. And she paid me well. Oh, the cash would come in a few more weeks when she’d gotten all the finalities worked out with the bank. Not to worry, there would be bonuses galore waiting if I played my cards right. Meanwhile, who the hell could argue with the fringe benefits? Living in a castle on Lake Mead. Sleeping with a dame whose body most men can only dream about in their wildest imaginations. Eating first class chow on bone china, three times a day or more if I wanted it. What more could a young turk want?

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But it all turned sour, swirled rancid in my gut, when Monica Archer admitted that “cousin” Ronnie was in fact, Mister Ronald Archer, husband of Monica Jones Archer, the young bride who whored her way out of the slums of Ft. Worth, Texas. The same Miss Monica Archer who had hoped I would go the extra step and snuff out the life of her beloved husband, the same husband who had agreed to give his precocious young bride all the time and space she needed to work out her misgivings of a possibly premature marriage. This was the guy whose nose and jaw I had broken, whose teeth I had knocked down his throat, whose life I had threatened if he ever came near his dear, sweet, innocent “cousin” again.

I finished getting dressed. Monica threw herself at me, begging me to stay, promising that Ronnie would give her the divorce she wanted, and that “we could be together forever, darling.” For the first time in my life I smacked a broad. Monica fell to the floor, clutching her cheek which should show no more than a slight bruise after a few days.

“Dinger!” she shouted as I grabbed my coat and approached the door. “Dinger, we can have it all! Ronnie told me he no longer cares, that he won’t stand in our way!”

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Standing in the doorway I turned and laughed in her spiteful face. And then I mustered up the words and said, “You poor, pitiful bitch.”

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Character Rebellion

by Peter DiChellis

The characters in a couple of my stories are staging an all-out rebellion. Seems they don’t want to rob graves for a living. But the stories are about grave robbing, so somebody’s got to do it!Graveyard

 Brief background: After conducting a bit of research on grave robbing (don’t ask) I imagined several different mystery-suspense possibilities and I’m following through with more than one. Problem is, the characters have decided robbing graves is hard work, so they’re issuing all sorts of rowdy complaints.

 You’d think they might complain about the dastardly image I’ve created for them, but they’re actually more concerned with working conditions, wages, and employee benefits. Perhaps it’s simply a reflection of the times and maybe I’m at fault for entrapping the characters in such a gruesome sweatshop. But I’ll confess I’m considering replacing them with new characters that will stay on the page and not whine so much.

 Anyhoo, in case you’re interested, here are my characters’ top 20 complaints about robbing graves.

 1. Way too much digging.

A night time walk around Haworth with Greg for January's Camera Club.
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 2. I make them bring their own shovels.

 3. No union.

 4. No health plan.

 5. When they’re done digging, they still need to pry the coffin open.

 6. As soon as they get the coffin open, a disgusting smell leaps into their noses.

 7. No pension.

 8. No paid vacation.

 9. It’s night work, in a goddamn graveyard.

 10. The flashlights I give them have weak batteries that die at the worst moment.

 11. The characters complain that everybody they work with tells ghost stories.

 12. They’re afraid if they get caught no amount of explaining will save them.

 13. Dead people look creepy-scary after spending a while under the ground.

 14. I write strange noises into the stories. At night. In a goddamn graveyard.

 15. The characters never find good jewelry because I let relatives take it before the burial.

 16. When the characters find a wristwatch, it’s cheap and busted and stopped keeping time.

 17. Insects. Oh my, God. I put insects everywhere.

 18. No matter what the characters find when they dig up the graves, the pawnbroker doesn’t pay much for it.

 19. If what they find reeks from a dead body, the pawnbroker pays even less.

 20. They say it gets really awkward for them when someone at a party asks, “So . . . what do you do?”

 And how about you? Do characters in the stories you write ever seem to develop wills of their own? Do they sometimes nudge you in a different direction than you originally envisioned for them? Under what circumstances do you replace or completely rewrite a key character?

Peter DiChellis pub. 007 ***

 Peter DiChellis concocts sinister and sometimes comedic tales for anthologies, ezines, and magazines. He is a
member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society and an Active (published author) member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. For more, visit his site Murder and Fries at http://murderandfries.wordpress.com/

 

Where are we?

The best compliment I ever received came from a friend’s next door neighbor. She raced from her house one day, book in hand, and called out, “You gotta read this book.” The book she was waving was my first published book, Zoned for Murder. She went on to tell my how she thought it was a first book by “this writer” and then said, “I really liked it, and you’d swear the story is set in this town.”

I couldn’t help myself, I asked her if she wanted me to autograph it. She took a step backward and gave me that…hum, do you need confinement look, then she said, “Your name isn’t Kait Carson.” I pulled a bookmark from the stash I carry in my handbag, autographed the book, and then took her on a sightseeing tour of familiar locations. She was right. The book was set in our town and the places in our town helped drive the action of the book.

Setting is almost as important as characterization.  Characters don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist against a backdrop and that backdrop becomes a character as well. My stories take place in South Florida. Hurricanes and tropical storms make occasional appearances. Gator gushers flood streets. Heat devils shimmer on roadways. The air always tastes ever so slightly of salt. Homes and stores are tropical in color, in the Keys, they’re built on stilts. In Miami, you can determine the age of a house by its appearance, and sometimes, not always for the better. Streets disappear into a riot of color at certain times of the year when the royal poinciana trees, tabebuia, and orchid trees burst into bloom. In early spring, the air carries the scent of flowering citrus.

Those details all bring the reader into the story. They set the story and characters apart and done well, create a shorthand between reader and story that serves as an anchor for the characters. When I’m reading, I expect the writer to develop a sense of place. When I’m writing, I try to do the same for my readers.

What about you? Do you want to know where the stories you read take place? Does the setting make a difference?

DOWN THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

By D.J. Adamson

**Since many of us have watched the movie The Wizard of Oz more than we have read L. Frank Baum books, I will reference the movie, not the book   Also, don’t miss the contest at the end of this blog.Suppose

Story has structure no matter its genre.  Its elements include:  Setting, Character, Themes, Plot: Conflicts and Climax, and Denouement.  Each of these creates a great story. Learning structure sets the foundation for the enjoyment of the reader, and more importantly, the reader comes away with having been enlightened. No story offers a greater example of this than The Wizard of Oz (W of Oz).

  • Setting:  While many stories provide one setting, location, the W of Oz is brilliant in offering two different settings in one story.  The safe state of Kansas and the amazing, magical land of Oz. Literary elements can be used in the setting. Such as, if a character moves toward the woods or wilderness, the reader is triggered that something bad is going to happen.  Dorothy is sent on a journey on the yellow brick road through the woods and wilderness.
  • Character:  Each character in every story needs a reason for being there and needs to have a problem/motive. W of Oz does this so well:  Dorothy, gratitude; Magician, offering false hope; Strawman, Tinman, and Lion help Dorothy learn; Good and Bad Witches offer good and evil; and the dog, Toto—yes the dog is a character and needs a motive—needs to be rescued, the reason for Dorothy to go to Oz.
  • Themes:  These are most important part of any story.  A story can entertain, but a remembered story is one that says something as well.  It’s why everyone remembers The Wizard of Oz.  In it are themes of Home, Love, Loyalty, Bravery, Sincerity, Journey to Learn, Good vs. Evil, Coming of Age, and Innocence. I am probably leaving themes out.  It’s that good of a story.  The ideas are presented directly and subtly. Dorothy teaches how to take a journey to learn to valuable those things most important in life, home and family.  The Scarecrow offers the brilliance of loyalty. The Tinman demonstrates love doesn’t need a physical heart but comes with friendship. And, of course, the Lion learns, when necessary, he has the courage.
  • Plot—Conflicts:  Every story needs inner and outer conflicts.

Outer Conflict:  This is simple in W of Oz. Dorothy needs to get back to Kansas.

Inner Conflict:  The themes presented by the characters create the inner conflicts.  Dorothy needs to learn – Click, click—There Is No Place Like Home. (We should all put on our ruby red slippers every day and give them a click or two.  We can do it, anytime we want.)

  • Climax—Action.  On her journey to get back to Kansas, Dorothy needs to become aware of the themes, defeat the evil witch and get home.  The killing of the witch is the first climax. Then just as everyone thinks a happy ending is coming, the false hope of the magician (Wizard) is revealed, and Dorothy discovers she had on the ruby slippers, which could have taken her home at any point in the story.
  • Denouement:  The happy ending. Dorothy back in Kansas, missed, and grateful for her home and family.

If a writer has a solid concept of a story’s elements, putting them together is easier in story writing. The first of a story introduces the setting, characters and main protagonist’s problem. The second part provides the steps necessary for the main character to solve their problem and construct the themes. Third part pulls together the conflicts to a climax.  There is no better way to learn how than to read as much as possible, write as many stories as possible, and to watch the Wizard of Oz.

**  Those who comment on this blog and who answer the follow Wizard of Oz questions will be placed in a drawing for an autographed novel by D. J. Adamson and become a character in her next Lillian Dove Mystery, Let Go, set to release 2017

  1. We are the _________________________________.
  2. If I only had a ___________, a ______________, a _____________, a ________________.

DJJ. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy. Suppose, the second in the Lillian series has just been released. She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon. To find her, her blog L’Artiste, or her newsletter that interviews and reviews authors go to http://www.djadamson.com. Make friends with her on Facebook or Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crucified—a Dinger, PI Short

Turkey_Vulture

A solitary vulture sat atop the pole, keeping watch over the coming feast, or so he believed. Above, the other disciples in the flock circled lazily in the white hot August sky. There were eleven of them dipping their wings to take advantage of the thermals they were riding. I guess over the course of a couple thousand years some things don’t change.

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“You recognize him, Dinger?” Cal Kroeger, homicide detective with the Las Vegas PD removed his sweat-stained Fedora and swept a sweaty hand across his sweaty balding head. Kroeger had requested my presence after a couple of teenagers out joyriding in the desert reported the body. Knowing my propensity for rubbing elbows with some of the Strip’s sleazier denizens, Kroeg often called on me to see if I could ID the victim.

I took a breath and eyeballed the corpse again. The skin was black, baked from the outside by the scorching sun and broiled from the inside by putrefaction. Advanced swelling had set in, making the body look more like a grotesque beach float than a once-living human being. Frenzied clouds of insects buzzed around the body, creating an ever-moving shroud. The blackened tongue protruded through the ballooned lips. The eyes were missing; probably an impatient disciple sneaking an hors d’oeuvre before the main course began.

I tested the breeze and circled to the left of the body, keeping my distance. A quick change in the wind had already cost one of Kroeger’s flunkies his lunch. I didn’t care to lose mine. The wind was at my back. Whoever had crucified the victim knew their shit. I’d seen it before on Peleliu during the war. The hands were folded over above the head, and what appeared to be a rusted railroad spike was driven through both wrists. The feet were bound to the pole with a stout hemp rope. I pulled my binoculars from a coat pocket and zeroed in on the blackened right shoulder blade. Focusing in, I made out entwined lovers, a nude man and woman engaged in the thralls of passion. There was no mistake. I had my make.

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Kroeger stamped out a cigarette in the sand beneath the sole of his shoe. “Well, Dinger, what you got?”

“Not a damn thing, Kroeg. That body’s on the verge of busting wide open, and when it does I don’t want to be anywhere within smelling distance of it.” I had lived with rotted corpses, Japs and Marines, for over two months on Okinawa a few years back. You’d think a person would get used to the stench, the maggots crawling everywhere from friend or foe, until the dead obliged the living by disintegrating into a common mush that blended with the mud from the almost constant rains. But the stench never left you, no matter how hard you tried to shut it out.

“So, you got no lead on the . . . victim?”

I checked the wind, turned my head, and took a deep, cleansing breath. “No, Kroeg. I got nothing.”

 *  *  *

 It was a lie, of course. Sure I recognized the bloated body of Benjamin Bigneghetti, former hit man for the Genovese family of New York City. The family’s ties with Vegas had been kept under wraps as well as could be expected. But there was always the lovestruck drunken mobster spilling secrets while entangled in the throes of lust with one of the hundreds of willing showgirls strutting their wares in the resorts along the Strip. “Bennie Big,” as he was popularly known, supposedly lived up to his name as a top gun for the Genovese clan, and also for the weapon he wielded to impress the young and ambitious starlets whose Hollywood’s siren call echoed in their ear. Is it always the fools who are most blessed? But Bennie wasn’t always content with the skirts dishing it out willingly. He had a nasty habit of taking what he wanted, offered or not. Sometimes nasty habits need breaking. Revenge is sweet. You didn’t hear it from me.

Later that night I trekked up to the third floor of the Cactus Flower Apartments building. Stopping in front of Room 308, I lit a Chesterfield, the last one in the pack. I tapped lightly on the door, three followed by two, followed by one. The door’s curtain peeled aside from a corner, followed by the sound of the lock unlatching. It opened a few inches, and a sweet voice whispered, “Dinger?”

“Banzai,” I said, and the door swung open enough to allow me to squeeze inside. A pair of luscious lips greeted mine, accentuated by firm breasts grinding against my chest. After a minute I broke up our reverie.

“Is it finished?” she whispered into my good ear.

“Yeah. The LVPD have got a couple suspects. Nothing that will stick, but you’ll be long gone by then. They got nothing on you, anyway. To them, you don’t even exist.”

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She pulled my face to hers and laid another deep kiss on me. “Come with me, Dinger. We can make a fresh start. Who would ever think of looking for us in Iowa?”

The dame couldn’t imagine how my heart was breaking right then. Her offer swelled inside my chest and set fire to a dozen dreams. Dreams of me and her, living in the old, rambling farmhouse her dad had left her. Peaceful dreams of taking early morning walks, checking on the crops we’d planted a couple months before. Dreams of making love tangled in the sheets atop the feather mattress of the bed we would share.

We made love, and then, in a moment of sanity, I pushed it all away.

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“I’ve gotta beat it, sweetheart. Maybe in a few months, when I get things straightened out, I’ll meet you there. In the meantime, remember this.” I laid the best kiss I could on her sweet, luscious lips.

And then I left, knowing I’d never lay eyes on her again.

An Interview with James M. Jackson

 

Tell us about your new book.

Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree has wife problems, and Lizzie’s not even his wife anymore. Her current husband disappeared on a business trip to Savannah. Was he kidnapped? Dispatched by his hedge fund partners? Or did he run off with another woman? Police assume he’s AWOL, and Lizzie turns to Seamus for help.DR Cover 480x300

Seamus has no desire to be sucked into Lizzie’s drama again, but her angst is also affecting their son, Paddy. Seamus agrees to help discover the truth, a quest that soon involves the entire extended family. Long buried secrets surface and each member must confront the question, “How far can you trust your family?”

Equal parts road trip, who done what, and domestic thriller, book four in the Seamus McCree series takes psychological suspense to a new level. Seamus McCree fans and newcomers alike will delight in this fast-paced novel that leaves no one in the family unchanged and keeps you guessing until the very end.

What inspired you to write it?

I wanted to explore the question of how well we really know other people, especially family members with secrets—and we all have them, don’t we?

When I start a book, I honestly have no idea where it might go. I have an issue or idea I’d like to explore, an inciting incident to kick off the story, and the cast of characters who populate the Seamus McCree series to bring the story to life. I open myself to the possibilities and let the characters take it from there.

How did you get started writing?

I retired early and gave myself six months to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. After working my way through books like Zen and the Art of Making a Living, what came up time and again was a desire to write. I loved reading crime fiction, and so that is what I decided to write.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the writing process?

While I very much enjoy meeting people in person at events, I do not enjoy online marketing and sales activities. I was brought up with that firm Protestant understanding that I should not toot my own horn. A battle rages in me between that internalized belief and the realities of the current publishing business where creating a market is imperative.

How long have you been writing?

I made the decision to become a writer by the end of 2002. My first major publication credit was a nonfiction book One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge. It was published in 2012, nearly a decade after my decision. The Seamus McCree series has included a book a year starting in 2013.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?

If someone had told me it would take ten years before I would be published, I would not have been a bit dismayed because I knew it would take many years of effort to become a good writer. However, I wished I had understood better the marketing requirements of the modern publishing business.

Has that changed the way you write or market your books?

It has not changed the way I choose to write my books. I write the story I want to write and will not chase a market. However, in retrospect, I would have created a nonfiction platform to support the financial crime themes of my novels. That would have provided more in-person sales opportunities. Also, I should have taken much of the money I spent at conferences and instead invested in marketing efforts for the first book in the series.

What do you think makes a good story?

I enjoy book clubs and through them I have learned that there are as many perceptions of which stories are “good” as there are readers. Books I’ve loved, others thought were crap and vice versa. So, I can only speak about what fiction I enjoy. I want to care about at least one character and a problem she must resolve. I don’t want to notice the language. (It may be beautiful or utilitarian, just don’t take me out of the story by noticing it.) I want the world to be believable (even if fantastic!), want the author to keep my interest, and I want a satisfing ending. If I learn something along the way, that’s a nice bonus, but not required.

From that description, you can tell I generally prefer genre rather than “literature.”

How do you incorporate that into your books?

Given I write the Seamus McCree series, I hope people find they care about Seamus. If not, the series is not for them! I prefer a generally spare writing style. If I get flowery or my characters start navel-gazing, it’s time for a rewrite. My approach to keep the reader’s interest is to maintain tension by always having multiple open questions for the reader to worry about. I incorporate real places into my stories because I enjoy reading about places I know. With crime novels, I want the reader to feel justice has (mostly) been served by the end of the story.

Seamus McCree is a wonderful character, you know he was excellent at his former job and he brings the same attention to detail to his role as reluctant sleuth. It takes a bit to get him involved, but when he takes the case, the reader knows he’ll come to the correct, and ethical, conclusion. Is he based on you?

Thanks. I like to think of Seamus as a flawed mensch. I have the flawed part down; I’ll need a reincarnation or two to get the mensch part. Seamus and I have different financial backgrounds but we’re both a bit geeky. He’s younger, stronger, smarter, and richer than I, and he has all of his hair. We do have the same droll sense of humor and share many general interests including the outdoors, birdwatching, music.

Would Seamus like you for a friend? Dish the details here.

This is a question I have never contemplated. My immediate reaction was sure, who wouldn’t like me for a friend? But then I considered how our personalities would work together. We both like to win. A lot. And we are both a bit shy, so someone (probably Paddy) would have to bring us together. We share many interests, but at almost everything, he’s better than I am. The question might become, could I remain friends with someone who outshines me all the time? It would be a growth opportunity for me, so perhaps we’d be friendly rivals rather than bosom-buddy friends.

What advice would you like to give Seamus?

Seamus, you’ll kill yourself (or someone will kill you) if you keep trying to be responsible for righting every wrong in the world. We love you for taking up the battle, but we’ll still love you when you can come to terms with being responsible for your reactions, not other people’s actions.

What advice would he give you?

Get over it, old man. I’m fictional, you’re real, and you’re worried about competing? Fix yourself, Mr. Author and stop worrying about the way I deal with the world.

You’ve been with small press and indie through Amazon Scout. How do they differ?

The major differences are three: For ebooks, Amazon Scout requires sale only through Amazon worldwide. Barking Rain Press (BRP) distributed across all platforms. Amazon Scout does not handle print, which BRP does. Amazon can promote a book and almost guarantee significant sales (not that they do for all books, but they can); BRP doesn’t have the budget or market presence to materially affect book sales.

In most other regards there are more similarities than differences. Both publishers set prices, determine price promotions, provide editing, and are overwhelmed by the amount of work they have.

Tell us about the Amazon Scout process. How does it work, is it worth the effort and nail-biting?

A complete answer is long. I’ve written several blogs answering these questions, and there is excellent information available online from many of the 150+ winners. Some Kindle Scout winners have experienced more success with Amazon than they have ever had before; for others the negatives have so far outweighed the positives. I chose not to go through the Kindle Scout process with Doubtful Relations because I wanted more marketing control to promote the entire series.

If you couldn’t write, what would you do?

I choose to write because I (mostly) enjoy the process. I’m not someone who couldn’t live with himself if he couldn’t write. I’d spend more time in nature with binoculars and camera in hand. I’d spend more time at the bridge tables. I still find time to teach bridge, but I’ve almost given up playing competitive bridge because without constant play I can’t stay sharp and that isn’t fair to my partners or teammates.

Where do you see yourself in five years – this is the time to dream big!

As long as we’re dreaming and not putting probability figures around the outcomes, I’ll tell you my dream. In five years I will be an “overnight” success with my second series (first book published in 2019!).

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Oh hell, I’m boring, but my books aren’t. Read them; forget about me.

Is there a question, or questions you want asked that aren’t covered here? What would yojames-m-jackson (1660x2497)u like us to know, either about Jim Jackson, his writing, his books, or his literary legacy.

This will cover all four things, Jim Jackson, his writing, his books & his literary legacy:

  1. What should I do if I find an error in one of your books?
  2. Please let me know! Whether it’s a typo, homonym hiding in plane site (er, plain sight), grammar mistake, or factual error, I hate them in my books. If I learn what snuck in, I can fix it in the next version. My email is jmj@jamesmjackson.com.

About Doubtful Relations:

Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree has wife problems, and Lizzie’s not even his wife anymore. Her current husband disappeared on a business trip to Savannah. Was he kidnapped? Dispatched by his hedge fund partners? Or did he run off with another woman? Police assume he’s AWOL, and Lizzie turns to Seamus for help.

Seamus has no desire to be sucked into Lizzie’s drama again, but her angst is also affecting their son, Paddy. Seamus agrees to help discover the truth, a quest that soon involves the entire extended family. Long buried secrets surface and each member must confront the question, “How far can you trust your family?”

Equal parts road trip, who done what, and domestic thriller, book four in the Seamus McCree series takes psychological suspense to a new level. Seamus McCree fans and newcomers alike will delight in this fast-paced novel that leaves no one in the family unchanged and keeps you guessing until the very end.

Praise for Doubtful Relations

James M. Jackson has once again proven himself a skilled storyteller with this highly entertaining page turner that takes the reader into the heart and soul of Seamus McCree’s often dysfunctional family. Doubtful Relations is a rollercoaster ride of missing persons, drug cartels, crime lords, shady stock market dealings, car crashes and shoot-em-ups that left me breathless—and not quite knowing who to trust—until the very end. ~ Annette Dashofy, USA Today bestselling author of the two-time Agatha nominated Zoe Chambers mysteries.

“I love Seamus McCree.” ~ Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, Daphne, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark Award winner

James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree mystery series. ANT FARM, BAD POLICY, CABIN FEVER, and DOUBTFUL RELATIONS (8/23/16). Jim also published an acclaimed book on contract bridge, ONE TRICK AT A TIME: How to start winning at bridge, as well as numerous short stories and essays. He is the president of the 600-member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the open spaces of Georgia’s Lowcountry.

You can find more information about Jim (including social media links) and his writing (including purchase links) at his website http://jamesmjackson.com.

 

 

The Evolution of the Cozy Character 

The topic I wanted to write about today was when cozy meets noir. I wasn’t sure where I would go with the topic, but I am a bit on the envious side of Mike Helms’s wonderful noir talent. He is amazing. His stories are so true to the period. Even his slang (which I am very familiar with as my father was fluent in it) is perfect. So, that was my topic. However, it didn’t work out.

Instead, my characters took over and they dictated this blog. Evil things that they are.

Most of you know, I write cozy with an edge. There’s no sex on my pages, little swearing, and none of the blue nature. Damn, hell, and crap are about as cussing as I let my characters get. So, my readers are comfortable visiting with Hayden Kent and her friends, and I don’t intend to change those very essential aspects. Catherine Swope is a little more edgy. After all, she’s an ex-cop, but even she is circumspect in her behavior and her vocabulary. She’s also been on a bit of a hiatus, but that’s going to change sooner rather than later. Seems she’s been up to a lot of stuff while she’s been away, and she’s itching to share.

I’m just wrapping up the first draft of the third book in the Hayden Kent series. At this point in every book, I go back and start revisions before I’m completely finished. That’s when I noticed something. Hayden is no longer the sweet young thing she was in the first two books. She’s more confrontational, sharper edged, and she’s doing more in depth investigation now, but she’s not crossing the line to renegade the way cozy heroines tend to do. She’s coloring more in the jurisdictional lines than before, yet she’s stronger. I admit, I tried to smack her back into pure cozidom, but she refused to go. It’s an interesting transition. The book isn’t dark, it’s still in the lighter cozy framework, but it reads more realistic. I’m enjoying writing it and reading it more.

As with most writers, I do a lot of reading. And much (but not all) of what I read is in my genre. I’m noticing that more and more of the books have this trend toward realism. One that I’m reading now is the Laura DiSilverio’s The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala. I love DiSilverio’s books and I buy them as soon as they are released. In the earlier two books, the Readaholics took over the investigation. Yes, the police were involved, but there was a definite rivalry going on. It made for great reads, of course, but DiSilverio’s writing alone is enough to guarantee a great read. In the current book, the Readaholics are still investigating, but in this book, it’s in partnership not opposition to the police. Is it a cozy? Of course, I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m sure the Readaholics will be responsible for finding the link and developing the crucial clue. So what’s the difference. Realism I think.

Cozy readers have to suspend belief from the very first page. After all, how many civilians consistently stumble over dead bodies, are accused of crimes, or have friends who are the leading suspects in murder investigations. Yep, thought so. Not many. Of those who are unfortunate enough to experience these events first hand, how many take over the investigation and bring home the perpetrator bacon? Even less, in real life at least. What seems to be occurring in some cozy mysteries is an evolution toward realism and to characters behaving more realistically. It’s a nice trend, I think, and it’s providing a healthy variety in the cozy genre providing readers with a slightly different storyline.

What about you readers and writers. Have you noticed the trend? Would you follow characters in a series as they evolve whichever way they change? Do you approve?