Saying thanks when hard work paid off

The hardest part of writing at times is knowing too much.

In the case of THE RED HAND, the Frank Nagler Mystery series prequel, that was surely the case. I had written three books about Frank Nagler, Ironton. N.J., and set out to write the fourth.

I had a choice – Go forward, or go back and examine the story from the beginning.

I went back, deciding answering questions about the past would help the series move forward.

That’s went it got hard.

I knew too much about Frank and the town and the story that needed to be told.

And it showed up in the writing, which was flat, predictable and boring.

There is this: If as a writer you are bored with what you are putting on paper, the reader will be, too.

So, I started over by beginning the story in the middle.

It worked.

It gave me as the writer and Frank Nagler as the detective, puzzles to solve.

The result was a book that readers said they like and it captured some awards. (Three of the four Frank Nagler books have received awards. But you’re not supposed to brag about that, because I’m just telling stories. Think of it as marketing.)

Awards are icing on the cake, especially when they come from contests that are judged blindly. Entry in to them is also a way of expanding the audience.

Unexpected, was this line from a review from Kirkus Reviews: “A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”  (Full review: THE RED HAND.)

Really? “One of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives. 

Pick me up off the floor.

Gonna tape that to the computer screen for those days when writing is like pulling teeth without Novocain.

Thank you, Kirkus, and to all the reviewers and readers.

THE RED HAND STORY: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

 

THE RED HAND, was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 New York City Big Book Awards contest .

 

Awarded Second Place for Mysteries in the 2019 Dragonfly Book Awards, by Story Monsters LLC.

 

And named a Notable 100 Indie Book in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest.

 

Also graphic designer Anita Dugan-Moore of Cyber-Bytz.com for Imzadi Publishing, was presented a Bronze Medal for the cover by authorsdb.com. It was her third such award for Frank Nagler covers. I’m am so lucky to have her designing the book covers.

 

 

Available at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Also, Kobo and Walmart.com.

 

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kirkus Review of THE RED HAND: ‘One of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.’

It’s been quite a week for THE RED HAND. A couple of awards, and an unexpectedly strong review from Kirkus Reviews. I’m humbled and thrilled. Thanks to all.

 

From the Kirkus Review: “This dense, engrossing prequel illuminates why Frank embraces Ironton before economic decline and corruption totally savaged the town. Ironton is a character that Daigle (The Frank Nagler Mysteries: An Anthology, 2018, etc.) brings to atmospheric life in his work: “The sun had squeezed out of the mud the greasy mix of rotten plants, moldy, sweating trash, motor oil that had leaked from dismembered, rusted cars parts, and the musk of dead animals, and then compacted it.”

The author’s pacing is immaculate in this gruesome thriller, as he ratchets up the tension as each additional body is found. He also captures a portrait of a

once-thriving community in chaos as fear sweeps through Ironton. While the fledgling detective often finds himself adrift while investigating the case, Frank’s moral compass never wavers, even when the town and its officials are ready to lynch an unlikely suspect. This makes him almost a lone voice in the wilderness but his gut proves right in the end. What results is a taut look back at the birth of a memorable character.

A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”

 

The full Kirkus Review is found at this link: THE RED HAND.

 

 

THE RED HAND, was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 New York City Big Book Awards contest .

The book was also awarded SECOND PLACE for Mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, by Story Monsters LLC.

This is the third book in the series to honored with an award. My thanks to the contest sponsors, judges and my publisher, Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa, OK.

 

THE RED HAND: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is cast newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

 

Available at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Also, Kobo and Walmart.com.

 

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

‘The Red Hand’ named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 NYC Big Book Awards

THE RED HAND, my fourth Frank Nagler Mystery, was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 New York City Big Book Awards contest .

This is the third book in the series to honored with an award. My thanks to the contest sponsors, judges and my publisher, Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa, OK.

From Gabrielle Olczak, awards sponsor: “Once again, in 2019, the New York City Big Book Award achieved worldwide participation.  Entries remained impressive.  Book submissions streamed in from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.  Cities across the globe such as Bangkok, Cape Town, London, Los Angeles, Nagaski and New York were represented in the 2019 entries.  Winners were recognized globally from Australia, Cambodia, Canada, England and the United States of America. The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters.  Selected New York City Big Book Award Winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.

“We are happy to highlight these books, recognize their excellence, and share their achievements.” said Olczak.

For more information, please visit: www.nycbigbookaward.com.  To view the list of winners, visit https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2019winners; and find Distinguished Favorites listed here: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2019distinguishedfavorites.

 

 

THE RED HAND: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ_SROHO88c

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

 

RED HAND reviews:

 

“This book was awesome! A powerful crime-mystery novel that had me absolutely terrified! If I don’t get the chills when reading a crime-mystery novel, I don’t enjoy it, but this book went above and beyond the chill factor! I was totally in love with Frank Nagler, he is an awesome guy committed to his wife and his hometown. Nagler takes these killings personally and does everything in his power to get the evil serial killer off the streets.”

 

“Michael Daigle does not disappoint in this stand-alone prequel. A brilliant storyline and excellent and believable characterization make it well-worth reading. The conversations keep the story flowing at a fast pace. If you enjoy tales of a detective who wins against corrupt politicians, terrorists, and criminals, you will love The Red Hand.”

 

“What surprised me most about this book was how involved with the story I became, despite knowing the outcome after having read the previous books. That speaks volumes about the quality of the writing. If you enjoy stories about hard-boiled detectives who triumph over a corrupt system, this book is for you.”

 

“The writing is substantial, the characters are all interesting and well described, and the plot itself is fascinating. Truly a story about overcoming and trying to survive against overwhelming forces like corruption, terror, and more, this is a substantial book that will keep your attention from the beginning until the end. Daigle writes with a confident tone, one which handles the subject matter with expertise and finesse. Highly recommend.”

 

Other award-winning Frank Nagler Mysteries

 

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

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 Big NYC Book Contest.

2019: Named a Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards.

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The flag of his father

“It was a confession, a release of some life-long burden, words left there for all to see, cast into the wind, set free; I wondered as I read it if the son’s soul felt lighter as he walked away.”

 

The dried leaves cracked like rim ice under our boots. The scritch and scratch of metal rakes cracked open the early morning.

This was the last of the old cemeteries on our list, the last to be cleaned up.

That was probably because it was so remote, off a small dirt road, off another small, back road, surrounded by a collapsing field stone wall, and shielded by a stand of half-dead trees.

We never use the word “forgotten.”

They are drawn on an old map, if you go back far enough. A thin cross inside a box, unnamed; sometime later skipped over, deleted, the box and cross replaced by hand-drawn trees.

Maybe the original road was moved.

Or maybe, like this resting place, about two-hundred feet square, it was full. Records said the last burial took place there in 1973.

But still they came, the families, loved ones.

Green plastic pots, wrapped in red, white and blue ribbons held dead flowers from a Memorial Day or Veterans Day past; in places a single small red rose, left perhaps on an important day, an anniversary, a birthday, still held its color among the brown, dead blooms, and blackened stems.

Rakers stopped to remark on the dates and names on some of the oldest markers. 1796. 1865-1867. The children taken young by disease. Young women gone after childbirth. Boys gone to war. Then, Jonathan Weaver, 1823 to 1919. Father, husband, soldier. When did your family stop coming, Jonathan Weaver? Are there none left?

The flag got my attention, resting on a marker that only had one name: Eagleton.

It had been carefully placed inside a familiar, memorial triangular box, the sign that it had  once been draped over the coffin of a military member, then folded, pulled tight at every fold with respect by the honor guard and handed graveside to a grieving family member.

The box was new, not weathered, a recent addition.

Inside a sealed, clear plastic envelope was a handwritten, single-page letter.

I only moved it because it had slipped out from behind the flag box.

I only began to read the letter because envelope had been mud-stained, apparently during some rain storm.

I brushed away the caked mud with my gloved thumb.

“Dear Dad, I’m giving this back to you,” the letter began. “I don’t know that else to do with it.”

I wanted to stop reading, feeling like an intruder, but it seemed more than just a letter written by a son to his military father. It was a confession, a release of some life-long burden, words left there for all to see, cast into the wind, set free; I wondered as I read it if the son’s soul felt lighter as he walked away.

“I’ve seen the photographs of your service, felt the pride they declare. I’ve seen the smiling, young cadet, hair-windblown riding a ship in the open ocean, seen the warm homecoming. I’ve attended the parades, heard the bands and the speeches and the cheering, felt the smiling patriotism.

But in all that, I never saw you.

It was someone else’s life.

I have learned over time that war survivors are reluctant to talk about the hardship, battles and death.

But you locked it away more deeply than most, I suspect; you wouldn’t even explain the details of random photos when asked, as if we, your children, did not deserve an answer.

As I grew older and did some research, I found that except for a few months at sea, your military career was as much a grand adventure as it was a time of treachery.

Certainly there were times of fun and humor and camaraderie that would have been joyful to recall as you spun them into tall tales.

But you kept them to yourself.

What I learned from your life was isolation, distance and a sense of sadness.

Why did you not trust us? Why did you push us away?

I can tell others of your adventures as seen in the photographs, hear the exclaimed surprise of the listeners as the stories unfold, and respond, yes, to the questions of my pride in your accomplishments.

But they are as distant to my life as a foreign star. I want to claim your life and story as my own, wave it like a rich banner in the centuries-old trek of our family, but I need to stop.

There are times when I feel you in myself, beyond a look on my face, or in a hand gesture. It is the great sense of loneliness of your life. It rises when I fail to act, fail to express love and satisfaction or fall to a brooding darkness. It was in your eyes behind the smiles of all those photos.

That is what you left me; I will not carry any further the burden of your silence.

So, I leave this flag here. It is as tightly wrapped as your soul.

It’s the best I can do for you.

Love, your son.”

I brushed away a few stray leaves and replaced the envelope under the triangular box, the silence of this place descending.

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The kid kicking stones and the old man and the rope

The kid kicked the stones along the shady dirt path.

It seemed like the thing to do.

Sometimes he kicked them toward a tree, sometimes toward a puddle, sometimes just straight down the road to see how far he could kick one.

After a while he gathered a handful of stones, and after sorting out the too-small ones, chucked the others at dead trees to hear the satisfying “thunk,” or into the deep overgrowth just to see if he could hear them land; occasionally a squirrel would jump from a log to a tree after the kid had thrown a stone near it and wave its furry tail in protest and chatter out a scold.

As the kid came to a curve in the path he spotted an old man sitting on a stump along the side. He was a twirling a rope.

The man wore a straw hat, a black shirt and pants torn at the cuffs. His heavy beard obscured his face.

The kid stopped at the edge of the curve.

Once it was a lazy circle above his head, just a few flicks of his wrist. Another time he tossed a loop toward a boulder across the road only to tug the end of the rope back before it hooked onto the rock.

He would toss it out toward the middle of the road and make it hang and twirl in thin air.

Finally he tossed a loop toward the kid, who hesitated, and then picked it up.

“Whatcha gonna do with it?” the old man asked in a voice as deep as shadows.

The kid kicked at the rope loop at his feet.

“Don’t know. Rope something, I guess,” the kid said, and then wished he hadn’t because it seemed like a really obvious and dumb answer. “What are you doing with it?
The old man pulled the rope back, looping it over his elbow and hand.

“With this?” He held out the rope at arms length and issued a soft, dark laugh.

“Whatever I want.”

The kid leaned against a tree. “What’s that mean?”

“Maybe try to catch something with it, like a memory. Maybe I throw it out there just to see who will pick it up, because a rope is not always about holding, but sometimes about reaching. Lay this on the ground and a lot of people will touch it, leaving a little piece of themselves behind.”

He admired the rope, twisted and tight, a few strings unraveled.

“This rope is my life, about all our lives. What we dream and grieve, what we love and hate, what we’ve overcome and lost. It’s about our ideas, about the jokes we tell, the curses we utter; about those who we need and want, and those who have deserted us. It’s about all the big and little things we know and can’t imagine. It can be as big as all the tomorrows, or as small as the single pain whose ache won’t fade. It has two ends. It pulls in two directions. You make that choice.”

The old man tossed the rope toward the kid’s feet and the loop hooked on a tree branch.

“So want are you gonna do with it?”

The kid stepped over to the branch and tugged on the rope. It didn’t come off with the first yank, so he jumped on a nearby boulder and gently lifted the loop from the branch.

“Maybe…” he turned back to the old man, who was gone. The kid listened for footsteps in the overgrowth, but just heard the chatter of birds and squirrels.

“Maybe,” the kid said smiling, “I’ll just catch a dream.”

 

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Ironton, N.J., like Easton, Pa. undergoes changes. Come to the Easton Book Festival Friday to Sunday

One of the key “characters” in the Frank Nagler Mysteries is the city of Ironton, N.J. The old mill town has seen ups and downs, corrupt politicians and bad business deals. The changes are both background and motivation for Ironton native Detective Frank Nagler to solve crimes.

But it also has characters like Leonard, a blind man who has been Nagler’s friend for years, since Nagler rescued Leonard from the streets when he was a kid. (You have to read the latest book in the series, THE RED HAND, to learn that story.)

So I present this sample from the third Nager book the multi-award winning THE WEIGHT OF LIVING, as a testament to this weekend’s EASTON (Pa.) BOOK FESTIVAL.

Easton has seen a renaissance of its downtown that has included numerous food and cultural festivals. The Book Festival is the latest, featuring over 200 writers at 22 venues from Friday to Sunday (Oct. 25 to 27.)

Information about the event, with a list of venues can be found at: https://eastonbookfestival.com.

I will be among the authors displaying our books from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the First United Church of Christ, 27 North Third St..

I will be reading from the latest Frank Nagler Mystery, THE RED HAND, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Three Birds Coffeehouse, 226 Bushkill Street.

 

In this sample, an old mill that as bought by Leonard is examined and the possibilities for use explored. This is a mill that could be located in Easton or any old city seeking a new life.

.

“The shells of old buildings flanked Leonard’s bookstore like ghosts with gray eyes, silent shades, voices stilled. Dawson filed the thought away for another story.

“Ready?” asked Delvin Williams.

“You bet,” said Dominque.

Del unlocked the front door to the former Gold Wave Manufacturing Co. – the name hid behind the dust on the frosted glass window pane that filled the upper half of the door – and shook the reluctant door open.

“Look at all this stuff,” exclaimed Dominique, the youthful crew chief. “They just left it here.”

His boss, Delvin Williams, just smiled. “Just didn’t need it. The mill closed down, the workers took their tools and what else they could carry, the secretaries took their belongings, and maybe the desk flowers, and the boss just locked the doors.”

“And they left silence,” Dawson said. “Silence nailed behind plywood frames. What was said in that third-floor meeting room when the plant’s production was planned; what whispered gossip slyly swirled among the office staff?”

“Hey, Jimmy, what’s in these old cabinets?” Dom asked, pulling out a handful of old paper files.

Dawson looked over his shoulder. Ledgers, corporate histories on faded green lined paper, precise columns of numbers, unreadable notes in the margins.

“Look at this stuff. Looks like a financial history,” Dawson exclaimed. “With enough of these we could see the creation, success, and failure of this old plant, see its mathematical rise and fall.”

The reporter shifted over to a dusty window that overlooked a broad, empty space that might have been an office and thought, we could just not hear the joyful success or the harsh voices that debated its fate, see the anguish when that last decision was made, the order given. The voices live in the dust.

“This needs to be saved,” Del said. “Have some guys box this stuff up. Maybe the historical society would want it.”

“Got it, man,” Dom replied. “This is the place, you know. I think my granddad worked here and a couple of uncles. This is the place….”

Then with his head bobbing, one foot tapping and his hands knocking out syncopation, Dom began:

“This is the place, the place of the mas-ter.

This is the place, the place that mat-tered.

Tired fingers moldin’, sweaty brows leanin’

Turnin’ rock into iron and iron into bread.

 

This is the place where we all gathered

This is the place where the tide is turnin’

The ghosts be talkin’ and we be listenin’

Raisin’ the dead, knowin’ the iron and the bread….”

Then Dom stopped and shrugged.

“Work on it later.”

Del just smiled and grabbed the boy’s shoulder. “Cool, man.”

Dom just nodded. “We can make something of this old wreck.”

“I think you already have.”

Del, Dom and Dawson turned to face the open door, where Leonard and Calista Knox stood grinning.

“I knew this old place had rhythm,” she said.

“It’s more than that,” Leonard said. “It’s a soul. I used to hear it. I’d lie awake at night. Imagine the pounding of metal presses, the grinding of a sander and wheels, the shouts of workers. Feel the hiss as the iron was quenched, the clatter of the loading on trucks, the whine of the rail whistle as a load was hauled away.”

“Them old sounds ain’t goin’ way,” Del said. “They livin’ in the walls, and I believe they just talked to our young man here.”

“Know what I hear?” Calista asked. “I hear the voices of poets rising to replace the industrial crunch; to be or not to be, Lear’s anguish, Ahab’s wail and Pooh’s laughter. All those voices leaking out of the walls.”

After a moment, the group laughed and Leonard said, “Big dreams here,” and nodding to Del and Dom, “and a lot of work to do.”

Del just smiled. “Yeah, Lenny.”

 

Information on all the Frank Nagler mysteries can be found at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097?

 

 

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

Easton, Pa. Book Festival, Oct. 25 to 27

The first-ever Easton Book Festival is scheduled for Oct. 25 to 27 in the Pennsylvania city along the Delaware River.

In a city that over the past decade  has seen its downtown revitalization assisted by a growing number of food  and cultural based festivals,  adding the Book Fest is an audacious step.

Congrats to Andy Laties of the Book and Puppet Co. of Easton for pulling the event together.

Over 200 authors will be on hand to present and share their stories, read from works and discuss the writing process at 22 venues.

Information about the event, with a list of venues can be found at: https://eastonbookfestival.com.

I am honored to take part in this ground-breaking event.

I will be among the authors displaying our books from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the First United Church of Christ, 27 North Third St..

I will be reading from the latest Frank Nagler Mystery, THE RED HAND, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Three Birds Coffeehouse, 226 Bushkill Street.

One review of THE RED HAND:

“This is the first book of Michael Daigle’s that I have read, and I was absolutely drawn-in from the beginning. The main character Frank Nagler is a naive young detective in New Jersey, who finds himself thrown into the dirty and violent under-belly of the city, when he is assigned a case that involves a lot of dead bodies! The story surrounding the killings is well thought out and unpredictable. I really like that Frank is a guy you can relate to, and he has an honesty and emotional-pull, I wasn’t just following the case, I was seeing his personal life and traumas unfold along the way. His job is not easy by any means, and the bloody violence and crimes he has witnessed begin to take their toll. I’m curious to know more, and find out what happens next, I’ll be reading the other books in this series for sure.

 

 

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WIP: Mount Jensen: Max and Emma on the raft

It’s about the edge of things, all this is.

“Hey, listen to this,” Max whispered, trying not break the dark beautiful silence of the moonless, starry night.

Emma rolled to her side and propped her head upon an elbowed fist. She liked it when Max read to her things he had found; it was his way of telling her who he was, layer by layer.

“What is it?” she asked, in an equal whisper.

“It’s from an old hymnal I found in the grocery cellar. It’s from 1886. It’s like the dedication. It’s signed by, I think, the ink was washed out, Edgar, maybe Edward, Merrill, Deacon Something Merrill. Never heard of him. Goes like this: ‘It’s about the edge of things, all this is. The place where roads end and the silence of all that begins. The place we stand stripped of our civilization with only our souls as companions, only our hearts as guides. Come, stand. Breathe. See and be.’”

Max took a breath. “Beautiful, huh?” Then another breath. “What do you think it means?”

Emma touched his face.

“Wow, don’t know. If he was at the end of his life he might have been describing death and his presumed ascension into heaven or whatever.”

She rolled onto her back to started into the sky, her eyes following the arc of a jet plane miles overhead. “Maybe it’s a dedication to the church, as a parting gift. A deacon might do that and write a little life lesson in the front.”

“I don’t know,” Max said. “This seems more personal.”

She smiled in the dark. “It’s about being in love,” she said lightly. “In the mountain towns where we lived for a while, men would give hymnals to their intended bride on their engagement as a sign of their commitment. Hard to cheat when you signed your name in the church hymnal.”

“Maybe. But if this was a declaration of love and commitment within the church wouldn’t he have said something about God and faith?”

“Oooh, maybe,” she chuckled. “Maybe the deacon was sending a love note to his women friend disguised as a solemn statement of faith. What’s he say? …. ‘stripped of civilization with only our souls as companions..?’ What if that was not metaphoric, but code. Meet me at the end of the road in the woods. Bring a blanket. Oh, Maxie.”

He sat up facing her and crossed his legs.
“Why are you so cynical?”

She, too, sat up and faced him. “I’m not cynical. I just want to believe. I think the good deacon was writing about a moment of truth, spiritual truth, romantic truth, whatever. Maybe he looked out over this lake, or into the night sky and was overcome with the smallness of his life, or felt his soul open to a new truth and gave himself to a thing that was greater he was. Maybe right here in Mount Jensen he faced that dark night of the soul and that dedication was his declaration of freedom what from ever haunted him.”

For a moment neither spoke. The raft swayed gently as water lapped against the drums that were the raft’s floatation system; a pair of loons chilled the darkness with their trilling cries.

She reached over and pushed him back. He unfolded his legs and laid down and turned as Emma put the back of her head on his flat belly. He stroked her hair.

Max focused on the single, swift light of a satellite crossing the endless, inky sky, sliding between the stars and over the blinking lights of a jet, maybe military patrolling the Eastern Seaboard, or a commercial jetliner following the ancient mariners route across the North Atlantic, past the tip of Newfoundland, over the icy reaches of the North Atlantic, the Lindbergh path, where the echoes of Viking songs spill across the waves, and the skeleton of the Titanic rests, a rusting grave; then along the coast of Ireland, the icy gray sea giving way to green lands, and maybe to Paris and light. Places he had never been, might never see but filled his imagination and dreams.

“Ever been?” His voice slipped into the stillness and opened a sliver in the darkness.

“No.” She didn’t need to ask where. “I used to sit on a hillside pasture an old hay wagon and just watch the lights pass over head. I got good at timing them. Ninety minutes or so. Some crossed east to west. Some north to south. I could spot the space station and wondered if I waved they’d see me.” She laughed. “Silly, huh?”

“Wanna go?”

“Not where the jets go, but where the rockets go. To the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Pluto, Andromeda. To start something new.” She reached for his hand and placed it under her shirt on her belly. “Wanna come?”

He laughed. “Why not?”

They settled into a silence and watched the sky as the raft rocked gently and the loons went crazy in the dark.

“Why 1886?” Max asked.

“What?”

“I wonder what happen in Mount Jensen or to Deacon Merrill in 1886 that was so terrible or momentous that he felt compelled to write that dedication. ‘It’s the edge of things, all this is.’ Sounds like conflict or disaster. A big fire. Maybe an outbreak of disease.”

She reached up and touched his face. “Now that you mention it, it does sound like a warning. What’d he say, ‘the silence of all that begins?’ What silence?”

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The Weight of Living:’ A stunning and engrossing meditation of grief and survival

My interview on The Author’s Show podcast will run for three days from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29.

The discussion focuses on the creation of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery, THE WEIGHT OF LIVING.

 

Link to the Podcast: https://wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow3.html?fbclid=IwAR0zHjdLh62XomD8Cjo63SzuoCMognhi-dvKIDcE9I5Ab-ITZ2Egr3wo59o

 

Other interviews:

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

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

 

Here’s a couple quick reviews:

“THE WEIGHT OF LIVING by Michael Stephen Daigle balances its thriller tenets with solid characters, razor-sharp dialogue, and a breathless plot that careens from one realistic scenario to another. The narrative is a stunning and engrossing meditation of grief and survival that examines the insular world of Ironton, New Jersey whose past is clouded by everything from a devastating flood, to the near extinction of viable business opportunities to slimy politicians.

Frank Nagler, an investigator with the local police department has seen it all. His latest foray to the dark underbelly of Ironton involves a young girl discovered standing shoeless in a dumpster clad only in a tank top and shorts. The weather is freezing and the girl isn’t talking, either because she is unable to or chooses not to.

The tale unfolds as several characters ranging from our stalwart protagonist to an array of complex characters who each adds insight and ultimate resolution into the intricate and deeply troubling mystery.

Daigle has provides an engrossing portrait of a town and its residents that examines the pain inflicted by long buried secrets as he couples these with tension and a pensive sadness that hooks the reader and never lets up.”

 

“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 and tells a story of such depravity and evil that there will be times when you pause your reading and you’ll want to wash your hands. But it’s in this juxtaposition of the dark and light that the exquisite tension of the story builds, the decency and strength of the Nagler character is revealed and the sordid mystery of the little girl left filthy and neglected in a dumpster unfolds. This book is recommended reading if you’re looking for an inventive plot and boldly drawn characters.”

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 Big NYC Book Contest.

2019: Finalist, The Book Excellence Awards.

Here’s a link to purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071CXW1JW/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3

 

Also newly published is THE RED HAND, Book Four in the Nagler series.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ_SROHO88c

And purchase information: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

 

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, 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

You, at dawn

Dawn should awaken not with silence, but shouts;

not with dread, but hope;

you should be standing hair wet and shoulders dripping, face turned to the sun rising over the trees, feeling its warmth creep across your cheeks,

breath shallow then deepening, a sigh to a cry,

confusion lost, and for a moment fulfilled;

the chill of night gone,

the sunlight absorbed.

There should be a smile, a wink, a whispered yes,

I am, you should say,

I am.

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Michael Stephen Daigle, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Leave a comment