New format for ‘The Frank Nagler Anthology’

I am glad to announce new formats for the Frank Nagler Anthology, a collection of the first three Frank Nagler Mysteries. Thanks for my publisher, Imzadi Publishing. 

It was first issued as a hardcover, but is now available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle ebook.

Here are the link:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Frank+Nagler+Mysteries%3A+An+Anthology

 

What’s in this anthology:

“The Swamps of Jersey,” (2014).

 

“Beautiful writing with a dark plot: murder and dirty politics in a down and out city in New Jersey. Detective Frank Nagler, native son of this city, is a worn down, gritty character with a deeply buried sensitive side.”

“Characters are immediately human, complex and draw the reader into the decaying city they call home. The author has a way with infusing the prose with metaphors and similes that bring a scene to life and work on several levels. If you enjoy literary mysteries with well-crafted plots, this book is for you.”

 

 “A Game Called Dead,” (2016) was named a Runner-Up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Indie Book Contest.

 

“What a great story! Not the typical mystery since there were pretty obvious hints from the beginning. The characters were well developed and the book created an emotional connection too.”

 

“Set in the down-but-not-out city of Ironton, New Jersey, this rather hard-boiled cop story also examines the topics of violence on college campuses and nepotism within city departments. This is the second in the Frank Nagler series and shows the growth of the writer; it’s an enjoyable novel with a good ending.”

 

 “The Weight of Living” (2017) was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards, and a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest.

The fourth Nagler book, a prequel called “The Red Hand,” should be available in the Spring 2019.

 

“The Weight of Living didn’t disappoint. It presents a mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. The crime involves stones that many influential people would like to see unturned, stones that have kept secrets buried for generations. Despite grave opposition and at personal cost, Nagler, driven by his moral code, compassion, and commitment to help the helpless, keeps digging until his and his worthy cohorts have uncovered the truth.”

 

“Daigle hits his stride in this third Frank Nagler Mystery. The characters are strong and convincing, and the plot is unpredictable, with sudden twists that take even a careful reader by surprise. The setting is dark, unsettling and gritty, a northern NJ city caught up in the aftermath of decades-long political corruption and financial hardships. Detective Frank Nagler is the last honest man in this city, the white knight who defends the weak and downtrodden. Of the three books in the series, this is the one that pulls out all the stops …  (it’s through) this juxtaposition of the dark and light that the exquisite tension of the story builds.”

 

As a bonus, included is the fun, quirky short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard,” which a reviewer called, “One of the best short stories I’ve read.”

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘The Weight of Living’ free for five days

Here’s a chance to jump into the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series.

For the next five days, Jan 10 to 14, the third  Frank Nagler Mystery, “The Weight of Living,” will be available as a free download on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00P5WBOQC.

Thanks to my publisher, Imzadi Publishing, for the promotion.

Please download a copy, (IT’S FREE) and if you do, please leave a review. Each one helps. Thank you in advance.

 

“The Weight of Living:” A young girl is found in a grocery store Dumpster on a cold March night wearing just shorts and a tank top. She does not speak to either Detective Frank Nagler, the social worker called to the scene, or later to a nun, who is an old friend of Nagler’s.

What appears to be a routine search for the girl’s family turns into a generational hell that drags Nagler into an examination of a decades old death of a young girl, and the multi-state crime enterprise of the shadow ringmaster, named “Tank” by Nagler.

The deeper Nagler looks, the more he and his companions are endangered, until the shocking climax that leaves Nagler questioning his actions to both solve the crimes and heal his damaged soul.

The story is entangled, deeply involving and holds an emotional grip.

 

“The Weight of Living” (2017) was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards, and a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest.

 

A reviewer noted the exquisite tension between good and evil. Character Del Williams says, “You see how deep the poison goes, how strong is the  wrong in what they doin’ and your soul cries out for justice and you just wanna bring ‘em down.”

 

Kirkus Review said: “Daigle has done an admirable job of portraying the evolutions of Frank (Nagler) and the hometown that he loves and protects. An involving thriller with a memorable protagonist.”

 

The Nagler books:

 “The Swamps of Jersey” (2014) is a broad and wide story about political corruption and murder.

Nagler is called out on stormy night to investigate the report of a dead woman in the Old Iron Bog. It is the first in a chain of events that set the hard-luck city of Ironton, N.J. on edge. Besides the possible murder, the city was flooded when a week-long storm settled in and wrecked homes, businesses, and streets, and Nagler is trying to make sense of a series of letters that claim to expose theft of city funds, except they are so incomplete he wonders if it is really so.

Then there is Lauren Fox, a woman sent to Ironton to jump-start economic development. She and Nagler are attracted to one another and begin to become serious just before she leaves town without an explanation. Nagler was an emotional recluse following the death of his wife years before. They had been childhood sweethearts, and her death crushed Nagler.

“The Swamps of Jersey” is available as an audio book at:

https://www.amazon.com/The-Swamps-of-Jersey/dp/B07BT8WHM3/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

and at iTunes.com.

The book was read and produced by Lee Alan, a 35-year professional voice actor, artist, writer, composer, producer and published author.

According to his website, he is a Peabody Award Nominee, winner of 14 Silver Microphone Awards and a former ABC Radio and Television performer, program executive.

His site: http://www.leealancreative.com/.

 

The story of Frank Nagler picks up two years after “Swamps”  in “A Game Called Dead” (2016)

 

Ironton, N.J., is still a city struggling with its economic and rebuilding troubles, but new heroes emerge. Meanwhile a break-in at the local college leaves two women badly beaten, and one later dies. Following a series of criminal acts in the city, claimed by mystery man #ARMAGEDDON, including several that damage the book store owned by Leonard, Nagler’s friend, the story takes on a sinister twist.  The title comes from the students’ name for a video game that has taken on a real-world life. They call it “A Game Called Dead.”

The story is tense and propulsive.

“A Game Called Dead,” (2016) was named a Runner-Up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Indie Book Contest.

 

 

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two interviews. Thanks

I’ve had the privilege of being interviewed on two blog sites in the  past week.

 

Thanks to Claire Jennison and Kris Wampler for including me.

Here’s the links:

 

https://penningandplanning.com/2019/01/04/authors-40-series-michael-daigle/

 

https://kriswampler.com/2018/12/29/michael-stephen-daigle/  

For more information visit: https://www.authorbookings.com/members/michael-daigle

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One last Christmas pilgrimage

The kid in the ski cap pulled off the jumper cables and shook his head.

“It’s dead, man. Sorry.”

The old man slumped behind the steering wheel. “One more try?”

A cloud of frost filled the kid’s face and he let out one long breath. He glanced around. The parking lot at the highway rest stop was nearly empty. Christmas morning, don’t ya know, he thought.

“Okay, let me rev my car for a minute. Maybe that will kick up a charge.

After he reconnected the cables the kid leaned into his Mazda and with his right foot, pressed the accelerator. The car was warm and the kid shook off the cold as the heat rose through the open door.

“Okay, try it.”

The old man turned the key. A click or two, but no juice. He tried again. Nothing.

The kid reached over and unhooked the cables

“Sorry, man,” the kid said as he shut the hood to the Mazda. “Ya got Triple A?”

The old man stared at the dead engine to his 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL. One head light was offline because of an accident. The tires were bald and the engine sputtered on bad spark plugs.

“Hey, look son. Thanks.”

The kid sighed. “Where are you going? Maybe I could get you closer, then you could call someone.”

The old man smiled. “Where you headed?”
“North.”
“Thanks, kid, I’m heading west.”

They shook hands. “Merry Christmas,” the old man said.

“You, too. Sorry about the car.”

The kid slipped into the front seat, shut the door, nodded and backed the car away.

The old man shut the Ford’s hood and patted the metal.

He had driven what seemed like a million miles in that car. All over the country. Highway, backroads. What a car. Big block V-8 convertible, dual exhaust. Brought smiles in parking lots.  A rocket on the road. Top-down trips left him sunburned and stiff-haired. And for some months, his home.

And now like him, past its time.

He shook off the hollowness and scrounged for a piece of paper so he could leave a note on the dash. He just wrote his name and the town where he was headed. It wasn’t his home, but was a destination. Maybe they’d understand.

He gathered his backpack and the package, paused a second, then put the car key in the ignition and closed the door.

The yellow-gold parking lot lights fought off the early morning sunlight starting to squeeze through a gap in the leaden sky; snow would follow.

Inside, he bought a cup of coffee and sat near the window as the weight of it all crashed.

The warmth of the room set his nose to running and wiped it on his sleeve.  Outside, the sparkling of the first few snowflakes glittered the air.

He topped off the coffee and left, standing for a moment as undecided as the day, wanting hope and cheer, but offering gloom.

He watched the steaming big rigs angled into parking spots. Maybe there’s a ride, he thought, then backed off begging.

But he had to get to her.

A voice behind him asked, “Need a ride, man?”

He turned to see a middle-aged guy in a red Mack Truck cap and black vest. “I saw you trying to start that car. Dead huh?”

“Yeah. Have to leave it.” The old man shrugged. “Heading west?”

The driver smiled. “I’ve got to be in Buffalo by six. If I stay ahead of the snow I’ll make it.”

“Thanks. You don’t mind?”

“Can’t leave you here, friend. Did you eat?”

The old man shrugged  no.

“I’ll grab us something to go,” the driver said.

The old man crawled into the extended cab and stretched out.
“Crash if you need to,” the driver said. “I’ll wake you up when we get to your stop.”

The old man rolled in and out of sleep; in between CB chatter, the trucker sang along to the music that softly dulled the highway sounds.

He had left her. Job change, fired. Pulled back into himself to move on,  but she hung on at the edge of his memory, her eyes dark and soft, both inviting and sad, her lips tender and body exciting.

He had loved her but never told her. It’s like that. That whirlwind of loss and regret, pride and defense that slips into stubbornness, and then a sour absence.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and shook himself awake.

“We’re here.”

Then old man rubbed the steam off the window and glanced into the street.

What?  “You didn’t need…”

“Yeah, I did,” the driver said. “No traffic, so I’m an hour ahead. Drop this load and be home for dinner.”

Standing in the cold street, the old man nodded one last thanks.

“Thanks.”

“No worry, friend. We’re all travelers.  We all have a pilgrimage to make. Peace, man.” And he mounted the cab and drove away.

The roses he had left before had browned and stiffened. Dead petals littered the ground; he brushed them away, and then pushed away the grey snow and oak leaves that attached themselves.

He had finally found her and for a moment that brief reunion had brought them both joy.  But there had been too much time between.

He had stood in the back of the church and watched her weeping family bewail her life taken too soon. He had followed the procession, but watched the service from the street, too shamed by his absence to participate. He didn’t want to explain who  he was or why he was there, still wrapped in his uncertainty.

He came alone, later, just at the edge of darkness.

And then came back again every year.

He placed the fresh roses on the grave and the laminated letter and ran his fingers over the letters of her name. One last time. He smiled sourly. All the things I never said. For all those years, and he knew it was never enough.

That’s what her smile said, what her voice said. It was not your fault, she had told him that last time. I knew where you were, but never reached out. Running we were, in different directions, coming back to each other, but it took too long. No one is to blame.

He coughed and felt as the pain in his lungs grabbed his heart. Weeks, they said.  

Running still, he thought. One last turn.

 

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Limited edition hardcover Frank Nagler Anthology available online at Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com) has issued the hardcover copy of the Frank Nagler Anthology, containing the first three Frank Nagler Mysteries, and a short story bonus.

Coming soon will be a paperback edition and an ebook version. Detail to follow.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nagler-mysteries-michael-stephen-daigle/1129938809?ean=9781944653125

What is in this anthology:

The award-winning Frank Nagler Mysteries.

A reader from Deptford, N.J., who said she read the books one after the other without a break,  wrote:  “Excellent writing! It grabs you attention and holds you. You’re right up there with Stephen King. Thank you for your writing gift.” (Thank you!)

These books are set in a fictional Morris County, N.J., town called Ironton, which has along history of iron manufacturing.

Frank Nagler, the cop/hero is a native of the town, whose father was an ironworker and his grandfather was an iron miner.

The stories use as a backdrop the rich iron mining history of the region, and refer to many actual spots in the area. The rise and fall of the industry is part of the setting of the stories. That history includes the Morris Canal and the industrialization of the region.

Detective Frank Nagler is a broken-hearted, depressed cop who is determined to solve serious crimes and find a way to heal

 

 

“The Swamps of Jersey” (2014) is about political corruption and murder, and I attempted to write it in real time, that is to say, reflecting some of the activities that mark our present lives that carry some universal meaning, but use them in a story that is broad and wide, and with luck, filled with the lives of characters struggling to make sense of troubled times. The central character is Frank Nagler, a cop, whose troubled heart is ever present.

Nagler is called out on stormy night to investigate the report of a dead woman in the Old Iron Bog. It is the first event in a chain of events that set the hard-luck city of Ironton, N.J. on edge. Besides the possible murder, the city was flooded when a week-long storm settled in and wrecked homes, businesses, and streets, and Nagler is trying to make sense of a series of letters that claim to expose theft of city funds, except they are so incomplete he wonders if it is really so.

Then there is Lauren Fox, a woman sent to Ironton to jump-start economic development. She and Nagler are attracted to one another and begin to become serious when she leaves town without an explanation. Nagler was an emotional recluse following the death of his wife years before. They had been childhood sweethearts, and her death crushed Nagler.

 

The story of Frank Nagler picks up two years after “Swamps”  in “A Game Called Dead” (2016)

A GAME CALLED DEAD was named a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest.

 

Ironton, N.J., is still a city struggling with its economic and rebuilding troubles, but new heroes emerge. Meanwhile a break-in at the local college leaves two women badly beaten, and one later dies. Following a series of criminal acts in the city, including several that damage the book store owned by Leonard, Nagler’s friend, the story takes on a sinister twist.  The title comes from the students’ name for a video game that has taken on a real-world life. They call it “A Game Called Dead.”

The story is tense and propulsive.

 

“The Weight of Living” (2017) brings Frank Nagler face-to-face with a soulless, manipulative killer whose crimes stretch back decades.

THE WEIGHT OF LIVING IS A MULTIPLE AWARD WINNER:

2017: First Place in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

2018: Named a Notable 100 Book in the Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest

2018: Named a Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Awards contest.

2018: Named a Distinguished Favorite in the BYC Big Book Award Contest.

 

Kirkus Reviews said: “Daigle’s narrative is well-paced, and it leads to a melancholy, but satisfying conclusion. An involving thriller with a memorable protagonist.”

 

The full review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/michael-stephen-daigle/weight-living/

 

A young girl is found in a grocery store Dumpster on a cold March night wearing just shorts and a tank top. She does not speak to either Detective Frank Nagler, the social worker called to the scene, or later to a nun, who is an old friend of Nagler’s.

What appears to be a routine search for the girl’s family turns into a generational hell that drags Nagler into an examination of a decades old death of a young girl, and the multi-state crime enterprise of the shadow ringmaster.

The deeper Nagler looks, the more he and his companions are endangered, until the shocking climax that leaves Nagler questioning his actions to both solve the crimes and heal his damaged soul.

The story is entangled, deeply involving and holds an emotional grip.

As a bonus, we included the smart, funny, surprising short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard?”

It was just another summer political fund-raiser, until it wasn’t.

The books may be purchased individually in paperback and ebook versions at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

An audio book version of “The Swamps of Jersey,” read and produced by  Lee Alan, is available at: Amazon. com and at https://www.audible.com/author/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/B00P5WBOQC

 

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why writing a first draft is like performing stand-up with hecklers

“She…”

Who’s that?

What?

Who’s she?

The woman in the story. I don’t know. I haven’t named her yet.

How are we supposed to like her if she hasn’t got a name?

How do you know you’re supposed to like her? Maybe she’s a thief.

Is she going to be a thief?

Possibly. Maybe I want to save that detail as a surprise to the reader.

Readers don’t like surprises.

Um, “Marylyn…”

That’s a weird spelling.

“Alright. “Marilyn…”

No. Too Marilyn Monroe-ish.

What?

You’ll need a male character who looks like Clark Gable.

I’m not writing a 1950s black-and-white movie.

Nice hyphens.

Look, I’ll call her George or Bill. It disguises her sexuality.

Oh, how au currant.

Could I just write something?!

Sure. Go head. We’ll wait.

Alright. “She banged her head…”

Name!

“George banged her head on the locked front door glass when she realized she had left her keys on the counter near the sink. She could see the bundle of keys through the glass.”

Why is the front door glass locked?

What?

That’s what you said… “the locked front door glass.”

“George banged her head on the locked front door when she saw the keys inside on the counter near the kitchen sink.”

How did she see the keys. You took out the window.

It’s a small window. “She slipped off her shoes…”

What kind of shoes?

High heels.

What color?

Red.

How red?

“Her two-thousand dollar Italian high heels the color of the deepest roses of summer…”

They could be yellow roses …

“The color of deepest red roses of summer…”

Seems excessive.

It’s actually pointless. This is probably a mystery, not “Waiting for Godot,” and her shoes are just foot coverings, so I could just say at this point they were red, not symbols of a deeply damaged world dripping in the blood of a thousand generations.

Touchy.

May I continue?  “George knew that the window above the sink would be open.

She walked around the house. The damp, newly mown grass cooled her feet but  left them covered with clippings. The chair that was usually placed in the shaded corner of the house was missing. She found instead a small stump of a tree that had been cut down the previous summer….

 

Okay?

I’m still here.

 

Oh, good. I’m excited.

“She slung her purse over her shoulder and dragged the stump to the window. It wobbled as she stood on it. She slipped the screen up to uncover the open window, then with her hands on the inside window sill she hoisted herself half way into the space. Her open blouse caught the handle of the mechanical window opener and she found herself half in the window and far enough off the stump that she could not boost herself up any more. She reached back for the long strap of her purse and dragged it off her arm. When she tried to throw it into the kitchen the strap grabbed the single tall sink faucet and turned on the water, the purse itself lodging against the handle of the spray hose. With water splashing her face, she wrenched her shoulders through the window ripping her blouse. The force of her effort propelled her toward the sink, but her hands were wet and she slipped forward to the floor, where she found herself face to face with the body of a man who had been stabbed to death.”

Does that cover it?”

Was the water hot or cold?

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The magic of glass

 

Annie glanced at the dashboard clock and sighed.

Christmas shoppers, a couple semis and SUVs cutting in line had jammed the intersection again.

The state highway was the line of demarcation. South of it, the four-lane local road was lined with shopping centers, fuel sellers, chain restaurants and buildings of brick and steel that celebrated the successes of American commerce.

To the north, the local road became a narrow two-lane passage lined with angle parking and the old village huddled in its centuries-old disguise, facades zoned to a turn-of-the-century patina, single story shops that recalled imagined horse carriages, women with parasols and hoops dresses, men in dark suits and, from a modern view, a sense of Hallmark peace and harmony that calmed the seething, disruptive souls who found solace in penny candy, an old-style ice cream shop and hand-made jewelry.

She had often shopped the small, friendly stores during the holiday season, the warmth infused with the aroma of cocoa, cinnamon, peppermint candy and floral sprays; tiny train whistles, sleigh bells and random Santa laughs filled gaps in the silence. It was a push-back against commercialization of the season, she told herself, taking a stand for local business owners and skilled artisans whose goods they displayed.

But in recent years the shopping trek had taken on a dull familiarity, coupled with traffic jams. “If I wanted to sit in traffic…” she thought but lost the idea when she was cut off by a small truck.

The shops seemed staged, the goods less authentic, the mood less cheerful.

But maybe that alone was not just her judgement: Even as the fire department draped red and green banners across the streets and Victorian light poles were dressed in sparkling garland, she noticed a few more “Closed” signs, a couple more “Going Out of Business Sale” signs and dark spaces with windows covered with brown paper.

Come on, cheer up, she argued with her own cynicism, as she sipped coffee in the half-filled diner.  Maybe it was too early in the season.  Everyone does everything this time of the year at the last minute. Why would this year be different?

 

The traffic tangled again as a pick-up truck tried to make a left turn into an unyielding line of cars. The driver of a southbound sedan had left a space for the turning truck, but a northbound driver refused to slide forward enough to allow the truck to complete the turn and cars on three streets ground to a halt. Half-a-block away, choosing to wait out the mess before crossing the street, she heard the faint shouts of the drivers and the occasional honking horns.

Maybe it’s too much to overcome, she thought as she crossed the street. It had been a year with an angry edge, perhaps too angry so that even the periodically phony cheer of the holidays could not soften it.

Season of goodwill, my eye, she thought. Oh, stop it, she chided herself; quit judging. You really don’t want anyone to look too closely at you, do you?

For the first time in years she was alone for the holiday season.

Oh, family was still nearby, though a couple older members had died.

Colleagues changed jobs and friends relocated to other states, shifting as politics and global economies squeezed even local circumstances.

But she had marched on, sewing one small thread daily to close her wounded heart, pushing aside doubt and worry that kept her awake nights, filling herself with the encouragement she heard, yet sometimes dismissed.

I can set my goals, and can meet the challenges, she would tell herself, even as she wondered if that was enough.

Usually those thoughts vanished when she stepped into her favorite holiday shop, Marie’s Magic World of Glass. This year, I need this more than ever.

The store invited the outside world in with windows filled with ornaments and decorations, swirling glass wrapped in silver, pendants strung from gold, and on the window sills, music and jewelry boxes, and tiny cases that seemed to glow with light from within.

A passer-by gazing at the window saw rainbows floating on the shelves beyond the glass and in reflection their own slightly blurry face sparkled with reds and yellows and blues and purples released as the light passing through glass fractured; inside the store it was like standing inside one of those boxes, the air and walls glittering with swirling colored spots and smears as sunlight and spotlights shattered through the suspended pieces that slowly danced in the heated air.

She would come into the shop and smile, close her eyes and feel the motion and energy of the transformation of light from heat to color, her worries burned away.

Marie, grey haired, but ageless, small and bent at the shoulders, would be sitting behind the workbench, glasses perched far down her nose, stringing tiny glass beads on stiff cloth strings.

“What does it do, all this glass?” Annie asked.

Marie tipped her head back so her glasses slid back to the bridge of her nose and said, “It breaks light into something we can see like how pain and loss breaks love into something we feel.”

“That’s not very magical, Marie,” Annie replied, laughing. “Who would want to only feel love when it’s broken?”

“Ah, Annie, you must ask yourself that question,” Marie said. “It’s why your face is dark today, the weight of that loss settling behind your eyes.” The old woman took Annie’s hand.  “The magic of glass is that it lets us see what’s ahead when we gaze through it, colored though it maybe be, yet it lets us reflect on ourselves in the moment just before it passes.”

 

In her car, Annie arranged the packages on the passenger seat and then opened her checkbook to mark in the ledger the check she had written to Marie’s store.

She smiled; she had forgotten the date. Marie’s didn’t accept credit cards, and Annie had not written a check in weeks.

She had paused over the check and asked Marie for the date.

Annie stared through the windshield to view the darkening street. On the inside of the window glass, a blurry image of her face stared back at her, gray and undefined. She gazed into her uncertain eyes: “It’s the day after the solstice,” Marie had said. “The day the light returns. Oh, just a few seconds at a time at first, But then in days, minutes. In a week the morning is brighter.”

Annie unwrapped one of the triangular glass ornaments she had purchased and held it up. The inside of the car glowed with amber light.

The magic of glass, Annie thought. It lets you see the future and the past at the same time. The light could not return fast enough.

 

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sgt. Pepper and the old man’s dreams

Stephen closed his eyes and smiled as the music from the radio rose with a chaotic, atonal beauty, a mash of notes clashing, swirling strings dragging along the brash brass, the sound a whirlwind, an anxious tempest that ended in the majestic affirmative piano crash at the end of “Sgt. Pepper.”

“Wow,” he said softly, pleased. “That was something.”

As the DJ introduced the next song, Stephen heard the low moan coming from Mr. Walters.

“No, no, no, no,” the soft, growling voice said. “No, no, no.”

Stephen glanced up from the kitchen table where he sat with his head cradled by  folded arms and saw the old man’s face balled up like a fist, eyes tightly closed, brows drawn in terror, mouth sucked in and his hands covering his ears. He rocked forward and back, slowly at first, then quicker, “No. No, no.” Then he coiled into as much of a ball as his wheelchair allowed and moaned.

“Mr. Walters?” Stephen asked. “Are you okay?”

When the old man failed to respond, Stephen pushed back his chair and crossed to the wheelchair.  Stephen’s hands were shaking. Mrs. Walters would know what to do, he thought. She had told him sometimes her husband remembers things from his past.

The old man moaned again, as lonely a sound as Stephen had ever heard.

He knelt and touched the old man’s clenched hands.

“Mr. Walters. It’s okay. It’s Stephen.  Mrs. Walters will be home soon.” He patted the old man’s spotted hands; they were so white, the skin nearly translucent, the veins blue among the wrinkles. “Mr. Walters.”

Stephen dropped to his knees and with a tissue, wiped away the clear liquid dripping from the old man’s nose. He gently guided the old man to sit upright again.

Sitting up, his face relaxed and the old man opened his eyes, blinking hard, then staring, eyes hollow, unfocused, then worried.

“Manny,” he whispered. “Manny, you made it.”

“Mr. Walters?” Stephen asked, confused. “I’m Stephen.”

The old man touched Stephen’s shoulder.
“Did we get that 88?”

Then he wiped his face with his hand, and Stephen saw that he seemed to have regained the present.

“Who are you?”

Stephen stood up, “I’m Stephen. I rent… I rent a room upstairs.”

Mr. Walters stared suspiciously, then leaned back, accepting the information. “Yeah. Okay. Where’s my wife?”

“She’s shopping,” Stephen stammered. “Groceries.  She’s supposed to be back soon.”

A smiled crossed the old man’s face.

“Hope she brings back that good bread.” He licked his lips. “We had it in France. Hard crusted, slathered in butter. Given to us by the prettiest French girls.  They winked, kissed our cheeks and bent over to flash their beautiful French tits in our faces. No shame, Just beautiful girls and some of our guys in hay barns…”

The tale wandered off and Stephen smiled.  Mr. Walters had done this before. Started  talking about something, usually his bank and how he arranged loans for families, built subdivisions, and it was then that Stephen learned he had built the house his family had rented for a couple years out at the edge of Fulton on the Volney townline; behind the house were  grass covered piles of dirt and hidden cellar holes left when the construction had stopped for some reason.

“Them 88s.” the old man started up again. “The sound.  Screeeeee, then wham!” Then again. “Screee, screee, then wham. Then the tanks, that awful grinding, clanking metal sound as the ground shook, shooting through the hedgerows, smashing the undergrowth…”

Stephen watched as the old man’s face again coiled in fear and then in anger.

“Some of them girls didn’t make it. Gang raped and shot in the head. We found them outside their homes. We wanted to bury them but the Captain said, no. We’d be targets, and they were just collateral damage.”

He stopped, and seemed to sleep.

“You ever fight?” the old man asked, suspiciously. “Lotta guys didn’t make it. Left them there, took their dog tags. Like them French girls. Kids with dreams. I used to dream about her, this girl. Skinny, but beautiful. Soft mouth and hands. We’d neck in the woods by the swimming pond. I’d think about her when we were on that troop ship heading to England. I’d want her to be there so I could fold her into my slicker and feel her warm body and maybe slip my hand down her pants and she’d unzip me and jerk me off … but it was all a dream. Nothing ever happened between us and I shipped out and all I saw on that damn ship was the dark Atlantic, wondering where the Nazi subs were.”

Mr. Walters glanced up and his eyes sharpened.

“Don’t go to war, kid. Nothing changes and you come home with bad dreams that you’ll take to your grave.”

He leaned back, silent, but his face was contorted, and tears leaked from his eyes. He snored.

Stephen wondered when Mrs. Walters would be home.  This was part of his arrangement: He had to sit with Mr. Walters while she ran her errands. Usually the old man slept. He had just grown old, she said. So Stephen served him warm tea,  cleaned crumbs off his chin and, holding his nose, wiped the old man’s ass. Stephen was uncertain what would happen next. He had six months to go before he graduated from high school. His family was gone and he had stayed. When he thought about it, he was glad he had found this room and this old couple. It wasn’t home, but it was warm and Mrs. Walters never said a word when Stephen stole her fresh baked cookies.

Mr. Walters grumbled awake.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Stephen…Stephen. I rent…”

“Okay, right. Sam…”

“No, Stephen…”

“Where’s my wife?”

“Shopping.”

“I hope she remembers that bread…”

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‘A Game Called Dead’ cover a winner. Congratulations, Anita!

Just got word: The cover  for “A Game Called Dead,” the second Frank Nagler Mystery, created by Anita Dugan-Moore was presented a Bronze Medal in the 2018 Cover Contest  by http://www.authorsdb.com.

 This is the second award Anita has won in the contest. In 2017, she was awarded a Gold Medal for her cover of “The Weight of Living,” the third Frank Nagler Mystery.

See her work at http://www.cyber-bytz.com.

 

 

Coming soon, an anthology of the first three Frank Nagler books in hardcover, softcover and ebook formats.  More details as the publication date is set.

In other news, “The Weight of Loiving” was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2018 NYC Big Book Awards:.

A note from the organizers of the New York City Big Book Awards:

“In 2018, we had true worldwide participation.  Book submissions were impressive this year as we collected from six continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America; cities such as Buenos Aires, Cairo, London, Moscow, New York; and across the U.S.  We are so proud to announce the winners and favorites in our annual NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD.  Great book content can be found anywhere on the globe, whether created from an individual author or a major publishing house or regardless what continent we find it.  We are happy to highlight these books and share their achievements,”  said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.

For more information, please visit:  and to see the list of winners, visit the website https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2018winners and the Distinguished Favorites listed here: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2018distinguishedfavorites.

I am a member of AuthorsBookings.com and listed in Contemporary Authors, a database of 112,000 artists and authors.

The Nagler Mysteries:

 

“The Swamps of Jersey,” 2014.

“A Game Called Dead,” 2016, was named a RUNNER-UP in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Indie Book Contest.

“The Weight of Living,” 2018, was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards; and a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 NYC Big Book Awards.

Coming soon: “The Red Hand.”

The Nagler books are available online at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Weight of Living” named Distinguished Favorite in NYC Big Book Award contest

“The Weight of Living,” the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery,  has been named a Distinguished Favorite in New York City Big Book Award contest.

Thank you the New York City Big Book Award judges.

This is the fourth award in 2017-18 for this book.

“The Weight of Living” (2017) is the third book in the series. It is complex, thrilling and moving.

The story: A young girl is found in a grocery store Dumpster on a cold March night wearing just shorts and a tank top. She does not speak to either Detective Frank Nagler, the social worker called to the scene, or later to a nun, who is an old friend of Nagler’s.

What appears to be a routine search for the girl’s family turns into a generational hell that drags Nagler into an examination of a decades old death of a another young girl, and the multi-state crime enterprise of the shadowy ringmaster.

The deeper Nagler looks, the more he and his companions are endangered, until the shocking climax that leaves Nagler questioning his actions to both solve the crimes and heal his damaged soul.

 

Of “Weight,” Kirkus Reviews said: “Daigle has done an admirable job portraying the evolutions of Frank and the city he loves and protects. Daigle’s narrative is well paced, allowing the reader to piece together the clues along with Frank., and it all leads to a melancholy, but satisfying conclusion. An involving thriller with a memorable protagonist.”

NOTE: Coming soon, an anthology of the first three Frank Nagler books in hardcover, softcover and ebook formats.  More details as the publication date is set.

A note from the organizers of the New York City Big Book Awards:

“In 2018, we had true worldwide participation.  Book submissions were impressive this year as we collected from six continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America; cities such as Buenos Aires, Cairo, London, Moscow, New York; and across the U.S.  We are so proud to announce the winners and favorites in our annual NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD.  Great book content can be found anywhere on the globe, whether created from an individual author or a major publishing house or regardless what continent we find it.  We are happy to highlight these books and share their achievements,”  said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.

For more information, please visit:  and to see the list of winners, visit the website https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2018winners and the Distinguished Favorites listed here: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2018distinguishedfavorites.

I am a member of AuthorsBookings.com and listed in Contemporary Authors, a database of 112,000 artists and authors.

The Nagler Mysteries:

 

“The Swamps of Jersey,” 2014.

“A Game Called Dead,” 2016, was named a RUNNER-UP in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Indie Book Contest.

“The Weight of Living,” 2018, was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards.

Coming soon: “The Red Hand.”

The Nagler books are available online at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments