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.


“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:




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

New Providence Book Festival, Sept. 22

For a few hours on Sunday, Sept. 22, New Providence will be the literary capital of Central Jersey when third annual New Providence Book Festival takes over the Salt Box Museum site.

The festival will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum at 1350 Springfield Ave.

There will be mysteries, and memoirs and how-to-books; ghosts, and kids’ books and local histories.

The authors will also read from their works and discuss writing during the day.

Featured writers are: Bert Abbazia, J.R. Bale, Linda Barth, Michael Stephen Daigle, Reyna Favis, Vivian Fransen, Kerry Gans, Kristina Garlick, Laura Kaighn, Elissa Matthews, Bob Mayers, Lisa Romeo, Jenn Stroud Rossmann and David Watts.

Posted in 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, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t want to remember

I don’t want to remember 9/11.

I don’t want to remember Sandy Hook, or El Paso or Dayton or Orlando, Charlotte, Cupertino, Las Vegas or the Texas bell tower.

I don’t want to remember Beirut, Flight 103, Pearl Harbor.

I don’t want to remember The Trail of Tears or kids in cages.

Or Mattawan.

Or Uganda or the hundreds of the senseless slaughters that appear with a Google search.

I don’t want to carry any more the faces and cries of the families, the empty chair at dinner table, the empty bed rooms; don’t want to imagine filling the silence of a damaged heart.

Remembering doesn’t change anything.

We remember 9/11 with the caveat: “Never Again.”

But it happens again.

Because we still hate, still covet land and power and domination.

The scale of death and destruction might vary, but it happens again.

Are the deaths at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93 less important than the kids and teachers at Sandy Hook?

It happens again because we don’t really want to change. We want revenge and our leaders seek ways to institutionalize it because it empowers them as they take advantage of the grief of families torn apart by their inaction.

I don’t want to have to remember 9/11.

I want it to fade in my remaining days to one more day in the wash of human events when wrong was done.

What I want to remember is that we taught ourselves how to stop it.

I don’t want to be in Boston after one more event and have my grandson, as did my son after 9/11, look up at the glass face of a skyscraper and say, “I don’t want to go up there because they fly planes into buildings.”

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Max meets Emma: WIP, ‘The year the world came to Mount Jensen, Maine.’

She slouched into her clothes like the cloth was air.

The open neck of her oversized t-shirt slipped from bare shoulder to bare shoulder like water spilling over shore rocks, each wave gentle and cleansing.

She was leaning over the open top of the ancient Coke cooler – my father had thought the old red metal box with “Coca-Cola” in white script on the side, was more authentic for a small old town like Mount Jensen than a modern soda vending machine, and thought it was even more authentic once he removed the sliding glass top after kids had jammed it closed so many times the glass cracked. He filled the machine with blocks of clear ice and dumped in bottles and cans of soda that settled and swirled into frigid water that was so cold your arm froze searching for a root beer. It was worth it. The soda washed down your throat in a pure, cold rush, more sensation than flavor, a chilled freezing thing that surged through your body and pushed the heat from your fingers and arms and legs and toes until you stood shivering, transformed from a hot, sweaty kid fresh from the playing fields to an ice-sucking statue, ice frozen to your mouth, tongue thick and immobile and you’d give your right arm for another hit.

I watched her from the edge of the grocery roof while I was surveying the gray, dying town. I always wondered how all the buildings had seemed at the same time to evolve and shed their colored skins that once painted the landscape to reveal the pale bones of age. Wondered why everything seemed so sad.

She was not colorless, and as I learned, refused to be sad.

“Bad things,” she would say later, “Sorrowful things, stuff that hurts — throw them away, strip away all the things that weigh you down until you stand in the naked joy of your sweet soul.”

Yellow pants, a purple shirt and a flowing red scarf; her hair was an unnatural orange.

I couldn’t help it.

I yelled to her, “Hey, whatcha doing?”

She looked up to my voice.

“Stealing a soda. What are you doing?”

“Watching you.”

“You gonna turn me in?”
“Doubt it. Snag me a root beer and I’ll be right down.”

She just smiled back.

I clambered down the fire escape on the right side of the building jumping over steps, landing with a loose, echoey bang on the metal platforms, spinning, jumping lower, till I hit the ground with a dusty thump and stumbled to the edge of the building. She stood still in the golden sun, as exotic and strange as an angel, the likes of which Mount Jensen had never seen, her face round and serene, the breeze shifting her flowing clothes and her eyes as green as ice.

I came around the corner and just stopped.

“What?” she asked grinning when she saw me.

“Who are you?” My voice had an amazed edge that even surprised me. Who was she?
“I’m Emma Jensen. My mother is the notorious Nola Jensen. Here’s your root beer,” and she tossed the can to me. “You might have heard of her.”

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, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In two places at once

This weekend I’ll be in two places at once.

How is that possible?

OK. In theory.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be at Belvidere N.J. Victorian Days, a celebration of the history and style of this charming town.

Fellow author J.R. Bale  will also be  there. Look for us on Author’s Alley.

The event consumes the town center, and is centered at Garrett D. Wall Park.

On Saturday (Sept. 7) the event runs from  9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday (Sept. 8)  from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I’ll be discussing and signing copies of my Frank Nagler Mysteries:

“The Swamps of Jersey” (2014); “A Game Called Dead” (2016); “The Weight of Living” (2017); and “The Red Hand” (2019).

The award-winning Frank Nagler series follows the story of Ironton N.J. Detective Frank Nagler as he solves crimes and tries to sort out his troubled life.

“I like creating messy mysteries with lots of moving parts and layers of story. It lets my detective hero Frank Nagler lead the reader through the twists and turns.”

While I’m physically in Belvidere this weekend, I’ll be on a podcast  interview with author Linda Thompson on The Author’s Show all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday discussing the award winning THE WEIGHT OF LIVING.

“The Weight of Living” was awarded FIRST PLACE for Mysteries in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Contest; was named a NOTABLE 100 Book in the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest; was named a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Independent Press Awards; a DISTINGUISHED FAVORITE in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest; and a FINALIST the 2019 Book Excellence Awards.


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



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

Waking to Wolferman’s

The box was a fitting symbol: Dull brown, rectangular, corners glued and stapled. The cover tight, preserving.

The card said, “So sorry” and brought a momentary sigh and flow of tears.

A baker’s dozen of Wolferman’s quality goods to eat away grief.

What offers more relief: A plain Old Fashioned 1910 English Muffin, or a cinnamon roll? Belgian waffles drenched in Pure Maine Maple syrup, or a spoonful of Tart Cherry Preserves spread over a Honey Wheat English Muffin?

Does a soul pass more gently following a salute with a slice of Apple Loaf Cake or

French toast made with slabs of Old Fashioned English Muffin Bread?




The hill is small by such standards: A hundred-foot rise over a quarter-mile. A gentle turn then another smaller rise to a long, flat straight-away.

After two years of aches and pains, surgeries and doubts, would the hill be too great a challenge?

What would cry out first: The ankle with a damaged Achilles, the wrenched knee? Would the ghost of tendonitis rise from a foot joint? Would the legs weakened by inactivity falter?

How many steps tread away the pain of parting?

How many steps loosen the uncertain grip of sadness and the dark dread of ending?




What’s left is space.

We fill it with what’s at hand.

Love can be recalled, unhappiness expelled.

The hill can be conquered. Foot pain be damned.

The Wolferman’s eaten.

Darkness becomes light.

Posted in 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, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camp quiet 7am great pond Belgrade Maine

camp quiet…easterly brought winter hint…faded to southerly and wet heat …a pair of eagles feeding…sun cracking gray dawn holding its breath

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‘A substantial book’

A new review: Great Detective Book

The Red Hand by Michael Stephen Daigle is a gritty, raw, and enticing murder mystery that features the rookie detective Frank Nagler. This is a prequel to several other books in the series and really lays out what kind of person Nagler is. This is a great stand alone book, but you should certainly avail yourself of the other books in the series as well. We follow the story of a serial killer in a run down New Jersey town, one filled with desperation but also hope. 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 comments:

“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.”

“At first I thought the story seemed quite simple, but there is a lot more depth to it than I had first anticipated. A fine detective novel, quick read and very enjoyable.

“This was a Frank Nagler novel at its best. A real page turner. I recommend it to everyone, especially murder mystery fans.

“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 author presents a riveting story of a serial killer unlike any other in a depressed New Jersey town that seeks a rebirth. Not only is there the well-written story of the case itself, but also how a young detective handles deeply-personal and professional crises at the same time. Michael Stephen Daigle weaves these strands into an excellent work about Frank Nagler, a detective who loves his hometown in spite of everything, and whose devotion to his young wife and duty never waver. He is a very sympathetic character, and readers will want to be with him for every step of the way.”

“As a reader, I like to know what a character is thinking. Michael Daigle gave me all I wanted. The thought processes, the doubts, the anticipation, the exhilaration of a solved case. It’s all there.”

Thanks to all who read and enjoyed the story and took the time to review it. 





Also here’s a link to the trailer created by Anita Dugan-Moore of Cyber-Bytz.com for my publisher:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ_SROHO88c

an audiobook version of THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY is here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BT8WHM3/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

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