Upcoming: A reading at Hackettstown Public Library

Thanks to the Hackettstown Public Library for the chance to speak about and read from my Frank Nagler Mystery series.

I’ll be at the library at 110 Church Street from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. December 14.

Thanks to Program Coordinator Nicole Dow for setting up this event.

This is the third library event I’ve done in the past couple months and I enjoy them a lot.

And as an aside to all those non-believers who think that the Internet killed print books and the public library. You are so wrong. The buildings are filled with people using the resource. They are more vital and important than ever.

????????????????????????????????????????????? What’s fun for me as an author is the chance to explain all the theories and changes and plans that I used to write the stories. This is especially important since the Nagler books are a progressive series in which the main character, Ironton, N.J. police Detective Frank Nagler, faces life challenges unrelated to the crimes at hand, and the city of Ironton, a former industrial center, tries to overcome its economic doldrums.

One of the issues that affects Nagler is the death of his young wife Martha, who died when they were both in their early 20s. Her death does not appear in either book, but the aftermath is present as Nagler tries to pull out of the emotional cave he has been living in.

In the first book, “The Swamps of Jersey,” he visits the empty home of her parents, the place she lived her last days. And in the sequel, “A Game Called Dead,” (a 2016 Shelf Unbound best Indie Book award winner) Nagler is  challenged by his new love, the wise Lauren Fox,  with how to move on from that grief.

I recently read these passages, about three pages each, back to back, and I was somewhat overwhelmed by the emotions they drew out – And I wrote them!

I had some trouble getting through them without choking up.

I’m not bragging or advertising here, but I hadn’t read either passage in more than six months and forgot what I had been trying to do in each as it pertains to the story cycle has a whole.

DEADCOVER715  deadawardpic There were meant to be emotional and illuminating, and I guess they were.

So, sorry, I’m not patting myself on the back, but suggesting that you read them and see for yourself.

That said, the question is what to do with Frank Nagler and the gang now that the third book in the series, “The Weight of Living,”  is being readied by my publisher Imzadi Publishing for release next spring.

Because of the way “The Weight of Living” ends, I’m going to have to jump right back into the story to answer some questions.

At the same time it was suggested that I go back and look at the beginning years of Frank Nagler – the Charlie Adams’ and Martha  years-  as a prequel to “Swamps.”

I had thought about that, but wondered what to write about since a lot of that material is known. How to make it fresh?

Then, today, while reading a film review, the voice of Jimmy Dawson, the Nagler series newspaper guy, leaked in with a thought: “At the end I wondered how he had survived. And then I thought, maybe he hadn’t.”

So, as they say, we’re off.

 

The third book in the series, “The Weight of Living,” will be published by Imzadi Publishing in early 2017.

The first two Nagler stories are available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

The books are also available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘A Game Called Dead’ named contest winner

“A Game Called Dead,” my second Frank Nagler mystery, has been named a Runner-up in Shelf  Unbound Media’s  2016 Best Indie Book contest. 

Thanks Shelf Unbound!

“A Game Called Dead,” is the sequel to “The Swamps of Jersey,” the first Frank Nagler Mystery.

deadawardpic

Nagler is called to investigate the brutal attack on two women at the local college. It begins a tale of urban terror, much of which seems to be directed at Nagler and his associates.

DEADCOVER715 The story introduces the mysterious terrorist #ARMEGEDDON, who taunts the police from cyberspace.

The title comes from the students’ name for a video game that has taken on a real-world life.

 “The Swamps of Jersey” tells the story Ironton, N.J, Detective Frank Nagler, who must sort out the murder of a young woman, allegations of political corruption, a hint that the city’s famous serial killer may have a copycat, and the disappearance of his girlfriend. The story opens at the end of a weeklong tropical storm that wrecked the distressed city.

The third book in the series, “The Weight of Living,” will be published by Imzadi Publishing in early 2017.

????????????????????????????????????????????? The first two Nagler stories are available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

The books are also available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

 

 

Posted in Fiction, 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’ accepted for publication

I am pleased to say that the third Frank Nagler book, “The Weight of Living,” has been accepted for publication by Imzadi publishing.

No release date has been announced, but clearly it will be in early 2017.

Thanks to the Imzadi group for their support.

Two years ago they took a chance on an unknown writer and published “The Swamps of Jersey.” Two years later followed “The Game Called Dead.”

I have watched the company grow in confidence and expertise in that time. I am pleased to be a part of that progress.?????????????????????????????????????????????

But it’s more  than that… This is three real books! All you guys who think it’s impossible to find supporters for your work, look at this:  Three Books!

“The Weight of Living” was a difficult book to write.  It was a new direction for Ironton, N.J., Detective Frank Nagler.  The characters are among the most troubled and troubling I have written about. It is not an easy book, but it is a good read.  There are surprising heroes among the broken people.

The Nagler stories are not classic thrillers or mysteries. They are atmospheric puzzles. The challenge for me as the author is to create the puzzle pieces and lay out the instructions so the reader can complete the puzzle.

I asked friend and author Devorah Fox (devorahfox.com/) to read the story. She is as good a writer as you will find.  Please look her up. She has a new thriller out, “Detour” and will soon release “The Zen Detective.”

I have read them both.

“Detour” is a fun, read with a funny and wise look into Jewish family life that will resonate with anyone who has attended large family events.

“The Zen Detective” might possibly be the best detective book you read.  Look for it soon.

Here is what Dee said about Weight. (I’m guessing she won’t mind I use it.)”

“You will read it with your mouth hanging open, your brain ensnared and your heartstrings tugged. Simply brilliant.”

I have never had anything I have ever done called “simply brilliant.” (I may need to go back and read it to make sure I sent her the right book.)DEADCOVER715

What is it about?

The plot is a search to find the identity of a young girl who was dropped onto a snowy Ironton street wearing a tank top and shorts.

How does it play out?

Here’s some dialogue between Nagler and reporter Jimmy Dawson. They are at Barry’s the local diner with is a favorite meeting spot:

 

“Jimmy Dawson set the tablet computer aside and finished his eggs. He had written the story, and still didn’t believe it.

“A century-old mine shaft with bones? Discovered while investigating a drug house? Can’t make this stuff up.”

Dawson wiped his mouth with a napkin and leaned over the table toward Frank Nagler.

“Except you did. A drug house?”

Nagler smiled.

“It’s possible. Besides, it’s Jefferson’s statement. The captain did tell us they suspected drug activity there. We had to hold back some information, Jimmy.”

“Like the fact that you’re up there in the first place because they shot at you?”

Nagler smiled slyly.

“Welcome to the cat-and-mouse game. But you know that.  It’s not any more unbelievable than a 1932 suicide made to look like a murder, which might be a clue in a possible case of generational incest fueled by illegal financial dealings. And you’re writing that story.”

 

If you have not read the first two Nagler stories, they can be found here:

The books are also available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

Available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

 

Posted in Fiction, 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:” Jimmy Dawson and the echo of great reporters

One of the main characters in the Frank Nagler series of mysteries is reporter Jimmy Dawson.

While I had a long career in newspaper, Jimmy is not me. He, in fact, came to life a decade before I ever worked for a newspaper, and was an outgrowth of a character in an incomplete novel, “Welcome to Gokey Manor,” written (and abandoned) in my 20s. Although it is still in an envelope beneath my desk, calling out for fresh air.

Dawson has all the characteristics of the great reporters I worked with, all of whom possessed better skills than I, and in whose shadows I worked.

It is important to remember those folks at a time when the so-called industry leaders are killing off what left of the industry.

DEADCOVER715 One of those reporters was Marie Howard,  a bulldog reporter for the Waterville (Maine) Morning Sentinel. She died a few years ago on her farm in Maine. May she rest in peace.

A story that Marie discovered and brought to me as her editor is one of the sources for the next Nagler book, “The Weight of Living,” now awaiting approval from my publisher, Imzadi Publishing.

Briefly:  A local law enforcement official announced one day the guilty pleas of a dozen suspects in what he called a child sex-abuse ring. It was sort of a big deal since at that time in Maine there had been few such cases. 

Marie reported the story and we all moved on.

About a year later, she got a call from one of the investigators in that case telling her that everything the officials had announced was wrong. The case, he alleged, was about a family that had engaged in generational incest, and the victims were young female family members. The source suggested that he had material that would show that the cover-up of this case would reach into the highest levels of county law enforcement.

This source, whom we all knew as an experienced investigator, had retired early and moved out of state once he started asking questions about the case, claiming that he was being harassed, including damage to his vehicle and his home.

Marie and I took the story to our managing editor, Davis Rawson, perhaps the best journalist I have worked with, and he agreed to back our efforts and cautioned we keep the story under wraps.

How good was Rawson?

In one instance  Marie had come back from an interview at the office of the law enforcement official steaming mad. During the interview, which was just she and the official, she heard a cough, and neither she nor him coughed.  Turned out a state official was listening on the phone unannounced.  Rawson picked up a newsroom phone in front of the entire staff and laid into the law enforcement official.

????????????????????????????????????????????? The call had two purposes:  One to chew out the official, but also to warn the reporter who had leaked news of our story to local cops, that we knew about the leak.

There had been hints:  A correspondent from a different county was told by a fire chief she had known for 30 years he was no longer allowed to speak to Morning Sentinel reporters on orders from the county district attorney.

Then, a reporter who was growing pot for his own use, found his house raided by State Police who marched exactly to the closet where his two plants were growing. 

He paid a fine for possession. But the question remained:  How, unless they had been tipped off, did they know exactly where the plants were?

The thought made us all a little paranoid and we all drove home at night very carefully.

In the last incident, and this is the one I use in the book, Marie was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a property-damage car accident after she had pulled her Toyota out of a parking space where it had been jammed in by two large pick-up trucks.

Her defense in court was that this incident was part of a law enforcement conspiracy to get us to back off a story about a police cover-up.

The judge actually agreed, but had to fine Marie $50 because she admitted leaving the scene. The judge then waived the fine.

In the end, the story ran in a deeply edited form because the publisher and the paper’s attorney hacked it to pieces. We thought at the time that the publisher, known to be a friendly drinker, had been threatened by the cops. Sadly we had not even scratched the surface of the investigation and had some hints from cops outside the county that we were on the right track.

The other source I use in “Weight,” is a haunting remark made by the investigator about one of the victims: She was being treated “to recreate her personality.”

 

Here is the scene of Marie’s car escapade that I recreated for Jimmy Dawson:

 

“The front door clattered open, the tiny bell ringing furiously. Standing there was a disheveled Jimmy Dawson.

“Hey, Jimmy, you spend the last few days in your car trunk?” Nagler asked.

Dawson shook his head slowly and closed his eyes. “Try Trenton City Jail.”

Dawson leaned his elbows on the table and cupped his eyes with his palms before scratching his head vigorously.  Bobby brought him a cup of coffee.

“Yeah, Trenton City Jail.” He scratched his nose and ran his tongue over lip dry lips.

“What the hell for?” Nagler asked. “Why didn’t you call me?”

Dawson slurped up some coffee. “They gave me one call, so I called an attorney.”

“Okay. I don’t get it.  Do you have hundreds of speeding tickets or hit a mother and her child while they were crossing the street?”

“Naw,” Dawson said bitterly.  “Remember that day we left Barry’s and my car was boxed in by two large pick-ups?

Nagler shrugged, “Yeah, so?”

“Someone issued a warrant saying I left the scene of a property damage accident that caused thousands of dollars in damage to the two trucks.”

“That’s bullshit. No offense, but your car doesn’t weigh as much as one of the bumpers of one of those trucks.”

“Tell me about it.  I took photos, Frank. There wasn’t a smear of paint or chip of chrome out of place on those trucks.”

“Why three days in jail, and why Trenton?”

“I was in the capital doing some research at the treasury department. They pulled me over for a bad lane change. I know, right? Late Friday, took them a couple hours to shuffle all their paper work. Let me make the call on Saturday when my lawyer was in Philly for a family weekend and he called back late Sunday.”

“Who issued the warrant?”

Dawson just smiled. “Jerrold McCann.” (NOTE: Ironton police commissioner)

Nagler dropped his head back on the top rail of the chair.  How much more screwed could this thing get?”

 

If you have not read the first two Nagler stories, they can be found here:

The books are available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

Available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://http://www.walmart.com

 

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The American Apocalypse, Saturday version

 In order to see the doom we are facing during these trying times one must venture out to find it.

So drive I did along roads crowded with those fleeing with their families for anyplace but here. North and south they drove, west and east, seeking borders to cross before those borders are closed.

Because a wall is a blockage from either side.

And there they were, the desperate Americans, crowding shopping centers and grocery stores. Hoarding winter clothes and the last of the summer  gear at half price; loading the last 24-pack of toilet paper, the final six-pack of paper towels into their four-seat SUV with wi-fi and surround sound; hauling out the last of the three-for-one canned soup, the last loaf of whole wheat bread and the final brick of Velveeta because it will be a long winter once the nation collapses.

And there they were lined up for miles to grab the last parking space at the massive farm where they ran from the howling mobs hauling pumpkins and corn stalks, and bags of the last fresh tomatoes of the season because they know that in  a month, after the debacle, they will be scratching at barren fields, pawing at the cold dirt for that last potato and recalling the Irish potato famine or the  last scene before the intermission of “Gone with the Wind,” when Vivien Leigh declares, “I will never be hungry again!”

And the misery of them huddling at the corner taco stand, waiting in line for an hour, wondering all the while why there are not more, why every corner is not so adorned with the promised taco stands while the population goes hungry texting their anger across the internet with scowling selfies.

And everywhere they crowded the groomed fields to watch their children play sports knowing the games are just practice for military exercises; knowing that only becoming Jennifer Lawrence armed with a bow will provide the measure of safety their off spring will need to survive the collapse.

And oh, the garage sales. The horror. Frightened countrymen selling their possessions for mere pennies, converting their goods to cash because only cash will have meaning after the fall.

So we prepare for the American Apocalypse.  

And then we remember that it’s a Saturday, and that’s what we do in the old US of A on a Saturday in the richest, safest country in the world.

We worry whether that bran muffin is gluten free.

 

 

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‘A Game Called Dead:’ The rape of Student A

Compelling back stories are a part of the Frank Nagler series of mysteries.  In “The Swamps of Jersey” it is the “swamp” of political corruption that leads to murder.

In “A Game Called Dead,” one back story is the laisse-faire approach to allegations of sexual assault, which hamper the police investigation into a campus murder.

Until Student A. This is her confession. Seems fitting today.

 

“It happens when those in authority feel they have all the rights to act, and everyone else only has the right to be acted upon.”

“You may have read a news story about the old lawsuit, and maybe you doubted its veracity,” she began again. “Don’t. It all happened, and perhaps more that eluded the investigators. But I know it was true.” She paused, having planned the impact, having waited for seventeen years, nearly half her life, to declare her identity.

“I am Student A.”

Harriet Waddley-Jones dipped her head, closed her eyes and gripped the sides of the podium. She was shaking, crying, trying to hold her emotions in check but wanting them to soar; wanting the words she had just spoken to grab ahold of the pain and guilt and wrench it from her soul. She wanted to be weightless, but instead was anchored. Free me, she thought. Please free me.

Some in the room gasped; some stood and applauded. Many sat in surprise, stunned a moment before they began to furiously text out the message.  The administrators unfolded their arms, and quietly begging pardon, sidestepped out of the rear door, where Jimmy Dawson caught Harriet’s eye before he pursued them for a comment.

“How does this occur?” Harriet continued.  “It happens when those in authority feel they have all the rights to act, and everyone else only has the right to be acted upon.”

A voice from the back: “Ah, lady, you asked for it. Getting nailed by some top professor probably helped your career.”

“Would you want to be raped, sir?” she shot back. “To be held down while something hard was shoved up your ass?   Or maybe watch as your girlfriend was pinned on a bed and your friends took turns?  Did I ask for that, sir?”

The crowd stirred by her challenge. …

She began again. “I was nineteen, thrilled to have been chosen for a big project in Washington, D.C.  I had never been there before. The Capital, the monuments, museums, the helter-skelter traffic, the excitement and noise and life.  What an experience. And then to be working on a minority voting project with the leading educator in the field. Imagine my excitement.”

She glared at the athlete who had challenged her. Her voice grew stronger.

“Yes, imagine my excitement when my professor came to my room with a bottle of wine and told me it was time to celebrate.  And first we cheered with wine the work and the community response. Then we toasted the program. Then he told me how beautiful I was, and drank to it, and how all the young volunteers were drawn to me because I was such a leader and so beautiful.  Then we drank. A song came on the radio and he pulled me to my feet and said, ‘Dance with me,’ and I said I was tired. And he said, ‘One dance,’ and then held me tightly.”

 Her voice softened with fear and confusion and became childlike, and her eyes filled with pain as if she was shedding the years between and taking on the persona of the woman she was at nineteen.

“And I said, ‘One dance,’ and we swirled around the room, my head dizzy, and he kissed my neck and I said, ‘No,’ and he unzipped my dress and I said, ‘no, no,’ and then it fell to the floor, and then he unhooked my bra and thrust his tongue in my mouth and put one hand between my legs, and then I was naked and he was inside me and I was crying, eyes closed. Then he pulled out, fumbled with his pants, finished the wine from the bottle, threw it on the floor and left me there.”

Waddley-Jones stared at the floor and when she looked up her eyes were fierce and her face hard.

In a voice like a hiss: “Everything I was died at that moment in the dirty little hotel room. Ev-er-y-thing,” cutting the world into four parts.  “But what was worse, everything that I wanted to be also died.  I’ve lived my life as a lie because I could not forget when I signed the agreement with this college when I was twenty that they took away my right to speak. Well, I’m taking it back. Can you give that all back to me, Mister Critic?  All the love I could have given, but didn’t trust enough to give; all the love that others felt for me and I could not receive? Can you give me back all the time I have hated myself, all the hours I felt the shame of that moment like a rash that would not heal? All the time I’ve spend locked in this emotionless box; all those things I have missed?  Can you give them back to me?  Never,” she said bitterly.

 

 

I will be at the Hunterdon County North County Branch Library, 65 Halstead Street, Clinton NJ for a meet and greet from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

 

The books are  available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

 

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

 

Available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A late night with a dying dog

(Some things you have to write)

What were you chasing in your dreams at 3 a.m.?

That groundhog that you willingly dove under the shed to drive away? That cat whose scent you picked up from an inch of water on the patio, the cat I saw scamper from under the table to under my truck, the cat whose trace you detected during the downpour?

Whatever it was for that moment your voice, stilled by age, returned, and we sat on the floor alone together.

The end came.

img_2135 For 17 years it was you who taught my kids caring and love and how to reach beyond their childish hurts to share the things you bought to the family.

If you doubt that, you did not hear my son crying like a baby when he and you sat in the sunny backyard for that last hour, reliving the times and games, comforting you; crying not in self-pity, but because there was no more time.

Or did not drive with my daughter from the college with her heart in her throat to comfort you and say farewell and take that long silent ride to the vets, before driving back to school for classes, knowing that you gave it all in your dogness and enjoyed all the time you had.

Jaxson was their dog, raised by them from a puppy, who herded them in the backyard, chased them up stairs, stole their sandwiches grinning when they placed them on a too-low table, led them on neighborhood escapes and licked their faces in happiness and sorrow.

And even now, after they have moved out of the house, Jaxson was who they sought out when they returned.

So there we sat, buddy, you and me, you dying and me knowing there was nothing I could do except somehow keep you comfortable.

Two days before you had been stumbling cataract blind through the house as usual, following the walls and cabinets to find your food and bed, or to lean against my legs, sleeping long hours, rolling off your bed to awkwardly sit, then tumbling into the kitchen at the sound of cooking, just in case.

Then you knew.

Refused food and water. I gave you one last bath to wash the pee out of your fur, and laid you on your bed, from which you did not – could not—rise.

All I could offer was soft words and a scratch of your nose, the spot between your eyes that brought you Nirvana. We want to rage against the passage of time, demand the things we love remain, but in the end we are Voyager  sailing through the ether, taking snapshots. Here, look.

These bodies are so much weaker than spirits. We aged together Jaxson, limping together in the back yard – me on an aching left foot and you on legs that shrunk from age and some condition, eyes darkened with cataracts.

But then you’d put your nose to the ground and all the scents of the neighborhood critters would telegraph their presence and you would amble off, a slower, smaller version of your puppy self; nose the ground for a short walk that would end  when I would turn you before you got to the alley, cheered by the knowledge that your hunter spirit lived in  that broken frame; cheered by the too-numerous-to-count neighborhood chases with you, nose down, in the lead and me and the kids racing behind, then watching as you’d stop and grin at us before resuming the chase.

Then you’d stop in a few blocks, or a neighbor would call to say you were in their yard, sitting waiting for us. Jaxson the game master.

Cheered as I recalled how on those last minute late night visits to the back yard you’d put your nose in the air and take a 360-survey of the state of the world and I would marvel at that amazing skill and ponder what the air told you.

Cheered as you’d chase the water from the hose, sent by the kids in a streaming arc; how you’d dive into air, sprint across the lawn to catch the drops in your mouth, or with grandson Aeden at the controls fight off the direct spray so not to drown; then springing again into the air, splashing down, sometimes hard, bouncing back, finally to sit, soaking wet and grinning when the game ended.

In the end we think of you not as the old-man dog, but as the dog who caught the rain.

 

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I’ll be at the Hunterdon County Library on Oct. 22 for a meet and greet

I will be at the Hunterdon County North County Branch Library for a meet and greet from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

I’ll be discussing and reading from the first two Frank Nagler books, “The Swamps of Jersey,” published November 2014; and the sequel, “A Game Called Dead,” published in January 2016.

I might also read from the third book, “The Weight of Living.”

Come on by if you’re in the area

Space is limited. Email Program Attendance Request

Phone: 908-730-6135

More Info: http://www.hclibrary.us/pdfs/programs/daigle.pdf

Location Details:

North County Branch Library

65 Halstead Street

Clinton NJ 08809

 

The books are  available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

Available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The ‘Weight’ is over. Third Nagler story done (except for the typos, editing and changes)

I was smiling at 3 a.m. today.

I had just typed the last word in the last paragraph of the third Frank Nagler story, “The Weight of Living.”

So it’s done.

Except for the typos, the edits and rewrites, but all that, in the world of book writing, constitutes done.

DEADCOVER715 And it’s not really a draft, because I write and edit constantly. On my reserve hard drive I have maybe twenty versions, and a dozen more cut outs, stuff that got deleted, reused, or never made it at all.

So, yeah, done.

I was smiling because I knew what the last line of the book would be weeks ago and had to maneuver the story and characters through the traffic jam of plot to get to the point when I could add the last sentence.

The surprise is that the line is not delivered by the character I first imagined would do so, nor in the setting I thought. It works better where it ended up.

What’s the book about?
Finding the identity of a young girl abandoned on an Ironton, N.J. street in the middle of a cold March night. It’s a tale that has Detective Frank Nagler reconnect with an old nun whose family has a dark secret, with deceit, and manipulation. It is about some of the most broken characters I have ever written about. It is about their salvation.

That is why that last line made me smile.  In six words the line offered the redemption that all the broken people were seeking.

Some of you won’t like it, and I’m sorry. It’s not a shoot-‘em-up. It’s not about terrorism or cheating spouses, or gambling or zombies  or aliens — all of which are fine; not set in a flashy location, but instead, an old mill, town trying to survive.

?????????????????????????????????????????????Its plot is closer to “The Swamps of Jersey,” with its ups and downs and numerous possible bad guys, than it is to “A Game Called Dead,” which was a race to the end.

But I like it, a lot. It was the hardest of the three Nagler books to write, but that is the goal, somewhat, to present a challenge to yourself.

That said, I’m going to give Frank and the gang a vacation.  We’ve been palling around for the past four years and I have other projects to take on, and other characters calling for my attention. But I have other Nagler stories to tell.

Maybe it will be Smitty, the baseball hero of “The Summer of the Homerun,” http://wp.me/p1mc2c-7x whose rambling untitled tale opens:

 

 “This story starts with me hanging from a tree branch about forty feet in the air after my successful effort to break the one I was standing on.

It was a successful effort.

We needed the fire wood.

Life is about hanging on to something, and at that particular moment I was glad I had that other branch to hang on to. The ground seems awfully far away.”

 

Or maybe it will be Henderson and Nola Jensen and the curious village of Mount Jensen, Maine in a story now titled, “That time the world visited Mount Jensen, Maine:”

“The Diner was shrugged under the last of the gigantic spruce  trees that once stood like a castle wall around the Inn’s property;  tucked it was into the drooping green barrier,  a spy, like some country boy on the roof of the grocery with binoculars watching the New York girls on the lakeside veranda, laying on their  blankets with their bikini tops unhooked, their tight little asses  tanned against the  white bikini bottoms, waiting for one of them to roll over and for one magic second point a pair of sharp white titties to the sky.  Did they not see us on the roof, Henderson always wondered? Did they not know how exotic they seemed to the collection of teen-aged boys  gathered there, grabbing the glasses out of each others’ hands  and yelling, then  ducking when one of them thought one of New York girls might have looked their  way?  But of course they didn’t see us, Henderson knew.  They arrived with their families in long sedans, stepped from the back seat with  shades and ear buds, phone in hand, tight shorts and cut-off T-shirts and stretched, arching their backs like  a cat, then took three steps and lowered the  shades half way and with an  Oh my God, mother, what are we doing here, glanced up and down  the dusty main street of Mount Jensen, Maine with its five houses, old schoolhouse, unpainted church and a grocery store and decided that the two days at the Inn, before their week at tennis camp, were going to be the worst days of their lives.”

 

If you have not read the first two Nagler stories:

The books are  available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library;  Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown;  Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.

Also at:  Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.

The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/

Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/

For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/

Available at:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

Kobo: https://goo.gl/bgLH6v

NOOK: http://goo.gl/WnQjtr

http://www.walmart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

‘The Weight of Living:’ The story of Sarah Lawton

One of the understories in “The Weight of Living,” the third Frank Nagler mystery, is a connection between a 1932 murder and the current case. Can one case help solve the other?

It is a question reporter Jimmy Dawson ponders:

 

 

Jimmy Dawson read the last words on the computer screen and folded his hands in front of his face as if the shield could block out the horror.  “The life of Sarah Lawton” might have been the most difficult story he had ever written.

The jitter of diner noise flitted around Barry’s. A spoon tinning the side of a coffee cup, a cough mid-sentence, “but then he said…”; the slap of a spatula turning eggs, a plate sliding across the counter top, the thump of the cash drawer closing; “Thanks. You bet. See ya again…” ; the rattle of a paper bag, the metal scrape of the door opening; street noise car engine shouted voice, Hey, Ray!  the roar of a bus at the corner floating on the dusty, gassy vapor, a soft clank as the door caught, then vacuumed away.

“She had the gentlest hands, long fingers; elegant.”

That’s what her mother Jeannette Lawton said as she gazed at her daughter in her casket. She used to dig in the dirt of the back yard for that last potato, scraping her knuckles and being cut by the thorns of the brambles.

She tried to cover with a scarf the tan stain on Sarah’s neck, the now-faded rope burn that the mortician refused to cover with cosmetics because he was judging how the young girl died. “What a horrible thing they did to you, my girl.”

And it was horrible, Dawson thought, amazingly horrible, in fact.

The story unfolded in the diary that Sarah Lawton wrote and in letters her family wrote to the church before she was killed and after; letters seeking solace, venting anger. It dripped from notes written by staff at the Appleton home that were found tucked in the books delivered to Leonard’s store and leaked from the hundreds of photographs Appleton saved. Scene after scene, page after page connected.

Those rich soulless men taking the joy and lives of the girls they decided they owned, using them, discarding them; choosing more.

“July 7. More girls arrived today,” Sarah wrote in her diary. “They delight in the grandness of the place, the marble floors, wide sweeping staircase, soft pillows on chairs and couches. They know not that this is the gate to Hell. They know not that soon their souls and dignity will be stripped away, grist for the pleasure of heartless men who will laugh at your pain, the pain they cause and take such pleasure in delivering. Learn you will soon that no one hears your cries. Learn, too, as have I, that it is best to hide your heart to save it. If you show it, they will devour it.”

It was also a story that raised the most anger, Dawson thought.  The powerful, brazen in their authority making no secret that they thought the lives of the poor workers they employed were nothing, and then proving it by taking their daughters for their own pleasure.

And here we are today, Dawson thought, with circumstances so similar only the names have been changed. See what our money can buy? They proclaim. See what lies I can get you to believe?

Sarah Lawton understood this.

“Aug. 12. What do these fine men tell their families of their repeated absences? Do they not carry the stink of our forced union home with them? Do they not carry some scent of me, of my skin they have kissed and fondled?  But I detect you.  Your flowery bodice spray, the sea mist in your hair that your husband carries on his fingers as he touches my mouth. What do you say when those same fingers touch your tongue and you sense the unmistakable taste of me?”

The details of Sarah’s life filled Dawson’s mind.  Daughter an unknown mother, born into a house of incest, rescued by a poor but loving family; then the factory girl, but soon the sexual captive; finally the hero.

Yes, she brought them down, Dawson thought, at the cost of her life. And yet, here is the dusty tale of her brief life at the center of another more current scandal. Her death perhaps the apex upon which the new mysteries unravel.

But none of would end her sadness or pain, Dawson knew.

“Sept 13. No one hears me. My family is distant and thought I am happily working at Mr. Appleton’s factory, when in truth I was a slave at another type of factory. And now, here again, the sterile joyless farm home. How cruel is this circle of time. My mother once rescued me from this place, took me away from these cold quarters. How saddened she would be to find her here again. The smell of death rises here; such is Mr. Garrettson’s desperation. Nothing he can do would satisfy Mr. Appleton’s demand for revenge. Not even the deaths of the two young girls dispatched last week, killed for not being me. What depths we have reached in this world? There is no one to call to, no god, no savior, no friends to speak for me. This is the darkest day.  They will come for me soon. The stiff rope will encircle my neck and the platform upon which I stand will be kicked away and I shall die. And none will know it.”

He touched the computer screen to close the story. I need to let this wash away.

Who else has ever lived a life like that? he thought.

Calista.

The thought burst into his head.

She and Sarah Lawton are the same woman decades apart. The difference is that Calista is walking around, smoldering with rage and shame. That was the look on her face the day those books from the foundation arrived. The hated past, reborn.

Posted in Fiction, 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