Take what you need

Everything falls

And nothing fits back together.

We stand in the pile, puzzled, hands filled with the broken pieces,

Some of which are not even ours.

The piles spill together, mingling at the edges.

When everything falls, we try to stand,

rake up the piles into something that offers balance.

Sometimes the pieces fit, and click together with a protective certainty;

sometimes they leave holes that offer light.

Take what you need.

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5-start review for ‘Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard?”: ‘One of the best short stories I’ve read’

Found this 5-star review of my quick-hit short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard?”

Thanks for reading the story  and taking the time to post the review.

 

5.0 out of 5 starsOne of the best short stories I’ve read

Bytheweedon January 1, 2018

Intriguing story. The characters were a bit bizarre, but that lent interest to the plot. I particularly liked the ending. I read it a second time to be sure I didn’t miss anything.

 

The story is FREE on Kindle Unlimited, and 99 cents otherwise.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077PDMP9K/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_VMGfAbEDBTVFN

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

Hey, Ma! I’m on the TV

Here is an interview I did for “Breakfast with the Boss” on RVNT-TV in Mount Laurel.  Thanks to Herb Palmer for arranging the interview with Keith Reynolds.

 

https://radiovisionnetwork.sharefile.com/share/view/s162f41ba70f4f6d8

 

We spoke about my newspaper days and writing the Frank Nagler Mysteries.

The Frank Nagler books are available at the following New Jersey libraries:

Brick  (Ocean County Library System) Mountainside; 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; The Palmer (Pa.) Branch of the Easton Public Library; Deptford Free Public Library and Franklin Township Library (Gloucester Co.), New Providence Memorial Library.

 

The Frank Nagler mysteries 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 | Leave a comment

‘Exquisite tension’: A 5-star review of ‘The Weight of Living’

My thanks to writer Reyna Favis for a penetrating 5-star review of the third Frank Nagler Mystery, “The Weight of Living.”

weigjht.goldwinning coverReyna is the author of two fun and involving thrillers about paranormal investigations conducted by the unlikely team of Fia Saunders, Cam Ramsey and his dog Zackie, a psychopomp — a spirit that leads the dead into the afterlife — and reluctant Lucas Tremaine, a TV producer of ghost-hunting shows.

If you are unfamiliar with paranormal writing, her books, “Soul Search” and Soul Scent,” are a good place to start.

 

Reyna’s review can be viewed at  Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2132017627

and Amazon: http://goo.gl/hVQIII

 

The review: “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.”

 

IMG_5189The Frank Nagler mysteries, published by Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa, follow the investigations of Ironton, N.J. detective Frank Nagler.

THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY was published in 2014

deadawardpicA GAME CALLED DEAD followed in 2016, and was named  RUNNER-UP in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book contest.

THE WEIGHT OF LIVING was published in 2017.

dragonflyoficial badgeIt was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

The cover, designed by Anita Dugan-Moore of Imzadi Publishing, was presented a GOLD MEDAL in 2017 by http://www.authorsdb.com, an industry database website.

 

 

The Frank Nagler books are available at the following New Jersey libraries:

Brick  (Ocean County Library System) Mountainside; 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; The Palmer (Pa.) Branch of the Easton Public Library; Deptford Free Public Library and Franklin Township Library (Gloucester Co.), New Providence Memorial Library.

 

The Frank Nagler mysteries 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, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ode to joy

I don’t know what the singers are saying as they jockey the German around, I just get lost in the sound.

They stand heroically, and sway with joyful importance as the swirling strings soar and tympani roll and bassoons pump away.

And I’m not sure it matters that I don’t understand the words.

There is no single way to describe love because if we did we’d stop trying; no absolute way to express joy.

It is what fills us.

And hollows us out in its absence.

It is loss we define precisely, measured to the minute; how it weighs down the spirit, hides within the justifications and how we walked away, yet left wondering.

It is an answerless thing, both ponderous and weightless, contradictions contained, each taking and giving, and in between that space, we live.

Rise.

We stand with feet anchored in muddy boots and heads drifting in aerial clouds, wanting both to be anchored and dreaming.

Rise.

Release and rise.

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Christmas ball

The rain-smeared lights dripped along the dark glass, the reds and greens, blues and yellows running, Annie thought, like angels’ tears; beyond, in the street a few cars huffed at the stop light and then burst away, swallowed by the darkness.

Annie shook her head and shifted the small Christmas tree to the center of the window display and settled the wrapped boxes at the base. Tomorrow the shelter families would come for their annual party.

It always broke her heart to see the little ones. They would smile when they pulled off the wrapping to find a small bear or doll, a little train set, but the sadness would never really leave their eyes, she knew.

They would stroke the arms of their new coat, wiggle their fingers in new gloves and hold out their legs stiffly to admire a new pair of boots.

But Annie knew they would wake tomorrow in the home that was not a home, and it saddened her that she could not do more about that; there is hope in a place to call your own, she thought.

She swept the floor, and with a cup of tea, sat at one of the back tables to rest a moment before hanging the last decorations and lights.

It was her first Christmas away from home.  A new job, a new city, the pieces of her life coming together. That was why she volunteered at the community center. It reminded her of home, when her family would spend the days before the holiday collecting clothing and toys for the church program.

But this was different, the jokes and choral voices a little hollow, swallowed in the grinding of the city sounds; nothing seemed the same. Even listening to a church choir harmonize the familiar carols was not soothing.

Homesickness, she decided. It will pass.

She closed her eyes a moment, seeking solace, seeking a spot where the worry could not enter.

 

****

 

 

She saw his face in the dark glass, dismissing it as a shadow. But then as she concentrated she could see his eyes below the wool cap, the mouth open behind a dark beard.

The room was partly filled with those who had come in for supper.

She smiled and waved one hand for him to come inside, but he didn’t move, so she walked to the door.

“Please come in,” she offered.

He shook his head. “Just passin’, Miss.”

“I don’t ask twice.”

She  sat him at a table and brought a cup of coffee. He cupped the mug in two hands and closed his eyes while he inhaled the aroma and the steam tickled his nose.

“How long have you been out?” Annie asked as she collected his thick but torn winter coat, a scarf, a bulky knit sweater and two pairs of thin gloves.

He squinted and smiled. “Three years. Lost my car. City sold the old warehouse and one day the car was gone.  Had good plates and all, but it got towed.”

He nodded a silent thanks when Annie brought him a bowl of beef stew and three buttered rolls.

She refreshed her tea, and sat opposite him.

“Where will you stay?  I can call…”

“No need, Miss.  There’s places. Thanks for the stew.”

She watched as he wiped  the inside of the bowl with a roll, ate it, and then glanced up at her with a crinkled smile.

“Who are you missing, Miss?”

Annie looked away and then back at him.

“No one,” she said, her voice grabbing, and she covered her lie with a drink of tea.

“I can see him at the corner of your eyes,” he said. “Hanging there like a tear that ain’t yet been shed. Is that hurt for you or him?”

She huffed a small laugh and placed the cup on the table. Discovered she was, and it lightened her soul.

“It might be for both of us. I loved him so, and he loved me, but we never found ourselves on the same page at the same time. We would meet in a crowd, share long gazes, talk a little, but never found the time to, you know, share it.  I knew I loved him, knew it before I even got to know him.”

She hung her head.

“I don’t know. It should have happened, but it didn’t, and I left. Came here. New place, new friends, old ache.” She stared into his dark, ancient eyes and cast out a sad smile.

“It hangs, that loss, don’t it?”

She just nodded, yes.

“There’s always people we leave and people who leave us. Some sting. It’s the way it is. And I’m not saying that you should forget that boy, because for everyone it means something different. The heart is a funny animal, Miss. It keeps things the rest of us want to forget.”

Annie stared into the street and tried to conjure the boy’s face, but only watched the light trickle with the rain.

“How many is your heart keeping?” she asked.

He finished his coffee and leaned his elbows on the table.

“Just one.  She gave me this,” and he reached for his overcoat. He fumbled in the  pocket for a moment and pulled out a wad of white paper and placed in the middle of the table.

It was tissue paper, the kind used to wrap Christmas gifts before they were placed in a box. He slowly pulled at the ends of the sheets of paper, and flattened them on the table, like peeling away some precious covering.

At the center was a glass Christmas ornament, a green ball with streaks of silver glitter clinging in places. A little tin clasp filled the hole at the top of the ball.

The color had faded, rubbed off with handling. 

He picked it up and held it gently in his fingers, admiring it like the most meaningful thing in his life.

“She gave it to me when I was eighteen and just drafted, told me to hang on to it, to remind me of her. She said if I broke it, I’d lose her.” He sighed and shook his head. “I lost her anyway. Her name was on it. Jean. It wore off.”

He slowly wrapped up the ball and then pushed it toward Annie.

“You need to take it, Miss.”

Embarrassed, she said, “No.”

“I’ve been looking for someone to leave it with, and I think you need it more than I do.”

“No, I don’t. It means so much to you.”

“Miss, I’m not gonna be here much longer.  I’ve used up my time.  This is the one thing I have that has meaning. Someone seeing it hanging on your little tree might understand how the years are sometimes hard, but they get better. I could have broken that ball in anger, crushed it, or thrown it away, but what good would that have done? While it could represent pain or loss, you know what it truly represents – that one time when I was blessed to be loved. The heart grows heavy later on, but for one little time, it was filled with light and love.”

Annie sat silently as he climbed back into his sweaters and coats, nodded, and left the building.

She picked up the green glass ball and hung it on a branch. She stepped into the street and looked into the slight rain in both directions. He had disappeared.

In the window the tree with the green glass ball shimmered in the rivulets of rain drops.

He was right. She felt blessed.

 

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‘This is the time of small men:’ The battle at the heart of the Frank Nagler Mysteries

At the heart of the Frank Nagler mysteries is the battle between them that’s got and them that ain’t.

Detective Frank Nagler, and his faithful crew: Lauren Fox, Jimmy Dawson, Leonard, Del Williams and the community center kids, take on this battle. It’s about solving crimes, but also about trying to salve the wounds of the wounded and to fill holes left in hearts, especially Nagler’s.

Perhaps an odd topic for a mystery series, but it provides a vast framework within which to explore evil and redemption.

In “The Swamps of Jersey” the battle is between corrupt politicians who use death as a commodity of their corruption.

In “A Game Called Dead,” it’s the fight between a megalomaniac Internet terrorist bent on revenge and those upon whom he seeks to level his revenge.

In “The Weight of Living,” it’s  a fight of a family to shed light on the terrible secrets that have enslaved them for decades.

The character that best explains this is reporter Jimmy Dawson,

This is from “The Swamps of Jersey”:

“This is a time of small men.

Small thinkers, small doers, men of small ideas, constricted intellects paying tribute to ideas that were small when they originally surfaced and were rejected.

Small men who think that nothing would ever change, small men who have beaten back the margins so that there are only two answers: Yes and No.

Small verbalists who construct sentences that begin and end with the same thought, strings of words so tightly wound that a cry for help couldn’t escape.

Small men who shrink as the problems grow larger.  Small men who are never right because they are also never wrong.

They descended on Ironton a week ago to see what was left behind when the flood passed through.   Yes, it’s bad they said.  Yes, indeed, people are still out of their homes, still living in schools, what a terrible thing.

All we need is some money to get started again, the residents said.  All we can offer is vague promises, the small men said.

The problem, they said, is that you rely too much on the government to do everything for you. You need to be more self-reliant. Do more for yourself. It’ll make you feel better.

You should be like me: I don’t need anything, the small men said.  I have my truck and big screen TV, my three-bedroom house in the suburbs and a lawn tractor the size of a Volkswagen to cut my lawn.

And if someone tries to take it away I have my licensed handgun and will use it to defend my castle.

Where did these small men come from?

We created them, fed them, and encouraged them with our undirected anger. Erected monuments to them because we needed an idol, something flashy to distract us while we sank into a collective stupor.

We became blinded by our own self-satisfaction, and as soon as we did, they had us.

Otherwise every middle class homeowner and job holder would be in the streets when teachers, librarians, clerks, street cleaners, public engineers, accountants, crossing guards and the occupiers of all those little jobs that hold our society together are attacked as greedy, tax-sucking bums.

But they are not attacking me because they’re union, and I’m not.

I’m an insurance adjustor, a car salesperson; I sell pizzas, run a local hardware store, a bodega. I’m a carpenter, a plumber. I’m an independent business owner. You aren’t talking about me.  You’re talking about them.

And everything they do makes my life harder. Or at least I think it does.

And while the little guys fight among themselves for scraps, the small minds who make the rules tilt them in their own favor again and again.

The millionaires being ripped off by the billionaires. And everyone lost their homes. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Cigarettes don’t cause cancer.  I’ve smoked my whole life and I didn’t develop cancer. Here, have one; take my pack. If a nuclear bomb is dropped, hide under your desk. Build a fort; build a shelter.  Stock up on food and water. Buy an arsenal. Teach your kids to shoot.  Build a fence. No one gets in. They’ll never get me.

Hate sustains evil. But I’m not evil; I’m a magician, and you’ll believe anything I say or do.

And so it was.

The magician’s trick in the end is to get the audience to look where he wants us to look while he switches coins. And we’re all suckers for a good magic trick.”

 

The Frank Nagler books are available at the following New Jersey libraries:

Brick  (Ocean County Library System) Mountainside; 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; The Palmer (Pa.) Branch of the Easton Public Library; Deptford Free Public Library and Franklin Township Library (Gloucester Co.), New Providence Memorial Library.

 “A Game Called Dead” was a Runner-up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Book Contest.

“The Weight of Living” was awarded First Place for mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest.

The Frank Nagler mysteries 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 , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Certificate of Excellence in Literature

Got my certificate. A Certificate of Excellence in Literature. (Really? Really.)

It is an honor.

IMG_6739 (2)Thanks to the judges at the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Award contest for recognizing my mystery, “The Weight of Living” with a FIRST PLACE AWARD for Mysteries.

 “Winning any place in the Royal Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a First or Second Place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is tIMG_6717 (2)he sole entry in a category,” explains Linda F. Radke, president of the Dragonfly Book Awards program. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

“The Weight of Living” is the third Frank Nagler Mystery. They are set in Ironton N.J., and tell of the police work of Detective Frank Nagler, who takes on a range of criminals while he battles his own frailties.

This is second award for “The Weight of Living.”

The cover of the 2017 book, created by Anita Dugan-Moore of my publisher. Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa,  was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2017 cover contest sponsored by http://www.authorsdb.com, a website for authors and readers.

OTHER NEWS: My short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard,” a smart and sassy whodunit, was released by Imzadi Publishing. It’s FREE on  Kindle Unlimited and .99 cents otherwise.  The link: https://wp.me/p1mc2c-wY

 

The Frank Nagler Mystery series is: THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY, A GAME CALLED DEAD, AND THE WEIGHT OF LIVING.

 

A GAME CALLED DEAD was a runner-up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book contest.

 

The Frank Nagler books are available at the following New Jersey libraries:

Brick  (Ocean County Library System) Mountainside; 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; The Palmer (Pa.) Branch of the Easton Public Library; Deptford Free Public Library and Franklin Township Library (Gloucester Co.), New Providence Memorial Library.

 

The Frank Nagler mysteries 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 , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Things never said

IMG_1531There is something about the things that were never said

That linger in the hollows of memory, carving silence,

The things we say to ourselves,

Putting dreams to words and wishes.

Somewhere the lonely coldly sit,

And children with distant eyes, hunger,

Lovers, now back-turned, seek solace,

The scars of distrust still raw.

Come, bring peace and silence to a warring world,

Carry water to the parched,

Bread to the starving,

Softness to the wandering and wounded.

Love lasts, words are fleeting

Silence can be filled.

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‘The Weight of Living’ wins First Place in Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

“The Weight of Living” has won FIRST PLACE in the Mystery Category of the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Award contest.

 

I am amazed. Thank you to the judges at Royal Dragonfly.

Congratulations to all the winners. I am honored to be among your number

 

From the organization’s website: “The Royal Dragonfly Book Award contest honors excellence in all types of literature and book marketing, recognizing creativity and hard work for a comprehensive list of genres in 68 categories. Our judges are industry experts with specific knowledge about the categories over which they preside.”

 

“Winning any place in the Royal Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a First or Second Place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda F. Radke, president of the Dragonfly Book Awards program. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

To learn more about the Dragonfly Book Awards, visit www.DragonflyBookAwards.com

“The Weight of Living” is the third Frank Nagler Mystery. They are set in Ironton N.J., and tell of the police work of Detective Frank Nagler, who takes on a range of criminals while he battles his own frailties.

This is second award for “The Weight of Living” this month.

The cover of the 2017 book, created by Anita Dugan-Moore of my publisher. Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa,  was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2017 cover contest sponsored by http://www.authorsdb.com, a website for authors and readers.

OTHER NEWS: My short story, “Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard,” a smart and sassy whodunit, will be released by Imzadi on Nov.24 on Kindle Unlimited. I’ll publish the link as soon as I have it.

 

The Frank Nagler Mystery series is: THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY, A GAME CALLED DEAD, AND THE WEIGHT OF LIVING.

 

A GAME CALLED DEAD was a runner-up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book contest.

 

The Frank Nagler books are available at the following New Jersey libraries:

Brick  (Ocean County Library System) Mountainside; 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; The Palmer (Pa.) Branch of the Easton Public Library; Deptford Free Public Library and Franklin Township Library (Gloucester Co.), New Providence Memorial Library.

 

The Frank Nagler mysteries 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 , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment