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

Collateral damage

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

 

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…”

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

“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

Vote because you have a brain

Vote because you have a brain.

Vote because that act is the one equal right we have.

Vote because people died to secure it.

Vote because you remember that it didn’t matter to you if your neighbor was gay.

Vote because you remember when we had a sense of humor.

Vote because your ancestors came here through the same inept, corrupt, illogical system and were hated for it.

Vote because we are better for their arrival and that the country did not fall into ruin because they came.

Vote because you remember when building schools and roads and bus routes and sewers and water systems was what we expected government to do.

Vote because your parents and grandparents believed in your future.

Vote because you believe in the future of you children.

Vote because you remember that the rich guys have all the money and they ain’t gonna voluntarily share it.

Vote because you remember when private debaucheries or hate were not crafted into public policy.

Vote because you remember when rivers ran green and red with pollution, and when you could not see New York City from New Jersey because of the smog.

Vote because you remember when acid rain killed thousands of lakes across the Northeast.

Vote because you remember how policies were crafted to change that.

Vote because innovation matters.

Vote because visitors go to Utah to gaze at majestic mountains, not oil rigs.

Vote so that the cold your child had two years ago, or the ankle you broke, does not mean you can’t get health care at a reasonable price, if it gets covered at all.

Vote so that if you have a car accident the emergency room can’t turn you away because you don’t have insurance.

Vote because your grandfather landed at Normandy to defeat the Nazis, not praise them.

Vote because your great-grandmother was beaten and went to jail so she could vote.

Vote because your father was sent with his National Guard unit to Mississippi so black citizens could safely vote.

Vote because Eisenhower sent the U.S. Army to Little Rock to open the schools to black kids.

Vote because all that once mattered to you.

Vote because everything we have can vanish in an instant.

Vote because it will happen to you, whether you believe it or not.

 

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Someone must rage

Put down that needle and thread.

You can not sew up the wound that your own bloody hands opened.

You cannot offer prayers of forgiveness with the rage of division in your voice.

Yet someone must rage; the victims are silent.

Tears become torrents, hands wrung red with anguish, beds are empty, children parentless; parents alone.

Someone must rage.

 

There is too much broken glass, too many church doors pock marked with fragments, to many seats at schools empty; too many black helmets, too many empty faces; a world sodden with sadness.

 

There are too many memorials dressed in bunches of plastic-wrapped flowers, too many days of remembrance; too many markers dedicated to the wars were are always fighting that become another roadside attraction served with fresh coffee and local pastry;

Too much glory praised for the wrong reasons.

Too much, too much. Our shoulders sag with weight.

 

And yet, numb you are in your own selfie haze;

Silent you are to the cries;

Drugged to the pain because it is not really yours though you acknowledge it with a sigh; behind virtual reality goggles you cannot smell the blood.

 

In a check list world one more prayer marked off will not stop the carnage.

In our world of one you cannot outrun the damage.

In our world of one, you cannot shake your sorrowful head enough times to root out the evil.

In our world of one, another sad face emoji will not stop your blame.

 

So, come, join.

Someone must rage.

Stand on a rooftop, stand on a street corner, stand on a hill top.

Gather. Ask why.

Leave behind your hateful leaders; for a moment disbelieve.

There is blame enough to share; none are innocent; silence and justification are complicit.

Too often each of us has said what I did you, you have done to me.

Strip away the self-righteousness.

Do not invent new pain; there is pain enough already.

 

Come stand in our shame, stand with bloody shoes.

Stand in the rain and call for all to be cleansed.

Stand and weep for the lost, wail for the forgiveness that will not come until

we acknowledge that we cannot sew up this wound until we drop the bloody knife that opened it.

Howl away the pain, scream in loneliness and despair, push and pull the anger until this incoherent sorrow becomes knowledge, till walls collapse and hearts are healed.

Rage till all that is wrong is vanquished, though the battle and its sorrow are immemorial.

 

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Nagler book four done: ‘The Red Hand’

It’s done. The fourth Frank Nagler Mystery, called “The Red Hand.”

It’s done as much as it can be before going through an editing process and revisions, and all the stuff that follows the suspected completion of a book.

Before I describe the book, I would like to note the real life loss of one of the popular settings in the stories, Barry’s, a restaurant in Dover, N.J.

The real Barry’s was one of numerous businesses destroyed in a terrible fire this week. The fire, apparently fueled  by natural gas, destroyed a block of businesses and apartments in Dover’s historic downtown.

It’s a terrible loss, homes, jobs and futures. Agencies are working hard to help those who suffered these losses.

Barry’s was the kind of place that every downtown needs, fast, loud, filled with stories. As a newspaper reporter working in Dover for eight years, it was a place for a quick lunch and gossip.

It was a perfect model for what the Nagler stories needed as a central meeting place for the main characters.

So, going forward, Barry’s will continue to live in Ironton, N.J., to honor its  legacy, coffee  and Cuban sandwich.

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the three other Nagler mysteries.

Why write a prequel?

The challenge:

I had tried to write this story at least three times and it wandered into other places.

The first time I tried when I was 23 or so, I wrote a version of the story that was called “A Game Called Dead.”

It was story that introduced Detective Frank Nagler, reporter Jimmy Dawson, Nagler’s friend  Leonard, and killer Charlie Adams.

It was a story that needed work.

In an effort to rewrite it, the story changed and became the first actual book in the series, “The Swamps of Jersey.” That story is about politics, theft and murder and Charlie Adams is a reference point.

A second attempt to rewrite the story became the book published as “A Game Called Dead.”

At least I saved the title.

Again, Charlie Adams is a reference point, although he appears in one scene.

Neither of the rewrites told the full story of Adams killing spree that terrorizes Ironton, Nagler’s dogged police work to capture him, and the story of Martha, Nagler’s wife.

The reason it took so long to write “The Red Hand” — almost 18 months — is that the fates of some characters were known through the other stories, and it was a question of how to write a fresh story that did two key things: Answered questions posed in those other stories (and raised by readers), and filled in details of the overall Nagler story in a new way.

The other reason is structural.

The Nagler stories carry a certain mythology in style, tone and structure: A world soured by economic hardship, dirty politics and greed, and a damaged, heart-broken hero willing to take on those challenges.

“The Red Hand” tells of the beginning of that mythology.

I hope readers like it.

Thank you for reading the other books, because without your support, he would not exist.

Look for more details in the future.

 

The Nagler books, published by Imzadi Publishing.

“The Swamps of Jersey” (2014).

An audiobook version of “Swamps” is available at: https://www.audible.com/author/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/B00P5WBOQC

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC

 

 “A Game Called Dead” (2016)

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

“The Weight of Living” (2017)

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.

 

Available at:

 

Paperback and ebook versions are available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

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

How do you slice a tomato with one hand?

How do you slice a tomato with one hand?

Or slice an onion, put on a shirt, take out the trash?

I’m about to find out.

I’m going to soon have surgery on my left shoulder that will result in having to keep it immobilized for multiple weeks. Sort of like being Velcroed to my side while it heals.

So, I’ve been thinking about how make adjustments in my patterns to accommodate for that eventuality. Because during some of the weeks of recovery I will be alone.

Part of the preparation is doing the outside getting-ready-for-winter things that homeowners do, and some of it is rethinking inside stuff.

Making lunch today  I came across and example: How do you open a can using an electric can opener with one hand?  

I’m right-handed, so it comes down to this question: How many times do I use my left hand, and for what?

Part of the answer is for uncountable, unconscious things. The second part is: I’m about to find out.

Some of this stuff is easy: I can  chop and store onions and peppers and other foods that can be temporarily frozen. I can scour the supermarket for canned items that also come in plastic bags that can be opened with a knife, if necessary.

I will be able to drive, once cleared, because my car, like most now days, has  an electronic transmission with an ersatz stick shift, but is basically an automatic.

Shirts will be interesting, and I think I need bigger ones that won’t require a lot of movement.

Belts will be a problem so for a while I’ll be in sweat pants (which I hate).

I know: In this world of modern conveniences, why worry about this stuff?
Because I don’t want to Uberize or GrubHub a temporary situation into an expensive and avoidable additional expense. I can make spaghetti sauce or soup for a couple of bucks and I see no reason to have it delivered for $12 a plate plus tip.

The reason all of this came to mind, beside the fact that the surgery is upcoming, is that I was watching an older man at the car dealer today. He was walking with a cane, and had a slow struggle with an outward-opening door.  About the time a couple  of people, including me, were about to open the door for him, he managed it.

So, while I’ll be inconvenienced by being one-armed for a while, what about those people, for whom a handicap or an infirmity is a permanent condition?

They make adjustments every day, and for most of us, those adjustments go unnoticed.

We think of them when we see a TV ad for wounded warriors or pass a handicapped-only parking space.

And yes, we live in a world of miracle prosthetics, but those are not available to all.

There are people who need real help, and too often we are stupidly cruel; we use an angry-faced emoji to show our displeasure when we see such acts on the Internet.

In a time when anger has become our national pastime, why don’t we think outside ourselves, feel beyond our own needs?

People hurt.

Sometimes it’s obvious.

But mostly it’s not.

Opening a door for an old man with a cane doesn’t cost anything.

 

 

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