Nate Romanowski has been found
despite his best efforts in staying off the grid. It is October in the Upper North
Platte River Valley when the quiet is broken by armed new arrivals at the ranch
owned by Dr.
Center Point Large Print Edition
Bucholz. The ranch is large and has provided sanctuary to Nate as
he recovers from recent events and hiding from law enforcement. Brian Tyrell
and Keith Volk lead a team of special operators that have arrived to make an
offer Nate can’t refuse. In exchange for clearing his criminal record they want
him to assist them in an operation.
They call themselves “The Wolverines”
and are part of a shadowy government within the government. They claim to be in
all areas of the government and at all levels. Supposedly they all are united
to defend America from the ruling political elite that is only interested in
gaining power. All Nate knows for sure is that they are Feds of some type and
have him in a box. They want him to go to Wyoming’s legendary “Red
Desert” and meet a man known as Muhammad Ibraaheem who may have been radicalized before
coming back to Wyoming. Known as “Ibby” he may be part of recent thefts in the
area as well as increasing chatter out of the Middle East about a planned
terror attack in the mountain west. Like Nate, Ibby is a falconer, so Tyrell
and Volk figure Nate can use that as a cover to meet the man and check him out.
While they know a lot about Nate, Tyrell
and Volk know nothing about falconry or being a falconer. They don’t care
either. That is Nate’s problem. They insist Nate is going to meet Ibby and
check him out. He will cooperate, investigate, and give them detailed
information on the target and his activities. Otherwise, they will make sure he
winds up in a federal correctional facility to end his days and will take
action against anyone Nate cares about. Nate has no choices.
He isn’t the only one. Game Warden
Joe Pickett has plenty going on before having a mandatory meeting with soon to
be ex-governor Spencer Rulon. The governor, well known not to be a fan of the
federal government or any of their representatives, recently got a call from
Dr. Bucholz reporting the actions of federal agents on his land and how he and
his family were treated. In addition to telling Warden Joe Pickett about what
happened to his friend, Nate Romanowski, Rulon wants to know what in the heck
is going on with the four federal agents who had the nerve to act like they owned
to place and treated his constituents with contempt. Rulon wants Pickett to use
a recent bear attack as his cover story and go to the Red Desert and find out
what is going on.
Shifting in viewpoint between Nate, Joe
Pickett, and several other characters, Off The Grid: A Joe Pickett Novel by
C. J. Box eventually brings two primary storylines and a couple of secondary
ones together in a very enjoyable read. No new character developments are at
work here as the characters were fleshed out long ago. Instead, as expected in
this series, characters continue to evolve and change as they gradually get
older and are impacted by various events. Some of those events in recent books
are mentioned here though the primary focus is on the current events.
As always in a tale by C. J. Box,
the author’s love of the Wyoming landscape comes through loud and clear. Off
The Grid: A Joe Pickett Novel is another very good read in a long
series of very good reads.
At The Writer’s
Almanac, Garrison Keillor once again reads from Ginger
Murchison’s a scrap of linen, a bone.
Today it’s the poem entitled “River.” Click the link and have a listen.This follows the readings Garrison Keillor
did in April of “Roller Coaster” and in May of “The East Berliner, 1989” from the book. You can find links
to all three readings on the author’s page athttp://writersalmanac.org/poem_author/ginger-murchison/
Another new FFB review from Barry today. Make sure you check out the full list over
on Todd's blog after you read Barry’s work below.
THE TWISTED ONES (1959) by Vin Packer
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
The Twisted Ones comprises three separate stories about youths driven to extremes by
personal and familial issues.
Sixteen-year-old Brock Brown,
a student at the high school in the town of Sykes, New York, is a handsome
young man who “dressed meticulously, with a rigid sense of style that he had
formulated over the years.” His mother Edith, whose maiden name was Brock,
whose family was among the town’s upper crust, and who never wanted children,
died when he was seven. His forty-two-year-old father remarried a woman named Clara
who is only twelve years older than Brock, and who tries to encourage her loner
stepson to participate in normal teenage activities: e.g., to ask Carrie Bates,
whom he frequently talks about, to the prom. Brock, who has never had a date,
vehemently refuses, contending that Carrie is “fast” and that being with her
“‘could get me in a whole big crazy pack of trouble if I didn’t know right from
wrong.’” One who thinks of and describes himself as “boy cat, all shook up,”
Brock’s rigidity extends beyond superficial style to an off-kilter sense of
what is right and wrong, legal and illegal, moral and immoral—with catastrophic
Charles Berrey is eight years
old and has an I.Q. of 165. “The unexpected fruit of Howard and Evelyn Berry’s
middle age, [he is going to] make his third appearance on Cash-Answer, the most
popular quiz show on television.” Evelyn Berrey is a loving, doting mother. Howard
“Duke” Berrey is an ex-Marine who still works out regularly and who sells
sporting goods for a living. Conflicted about his son’s success, he appreciates
Charles’s ability to win huge sums of money while simultaneously disliking the
way people regard him as an aberration. A physically and verbally abusive type,
he constantly berates his son about his vocabulary and often talks to him like
a drill instructor to a Marine in training. He argues with, and sometimes
strikes, his wife. When he orders his son to “spoof” his boss, Paul Carter, the
president of the sporting goods company, he inadvertently ignites a flame in Charles,
who devours books on a multitude of subjects “like a hungry tomcat devoured
mice.” One of the myths he’s read about is a favorite from Polynesia. It drives
him to the commission of an act that forever changes lives—his, his parents’,
and the lives of some of the residents in his hometown of Reddton, New Jersey.
Whittier lives in Auburn, Vermont with his mother above their antique shop,
Whittier’s Wheel, “as archaic and old-fangled in its appearance as the
attitudes and opinions of its proprietress, Miss Ella.” Impregnated by the
husband who subsequently abandoned her, she gave her son his father’s first name
and her own maiden surname. At her request the town jeweler, Mr. Danker, has
become something of a surrogate father to Reggie with regard to certain matters—e.g.,
the facts of life—although the young man feels uncomfortable around him. (It
becomes clear to the reader that Mr. Danker has designs on Reggie of his own.) A
stutterer, Reggie has always been shy around people his own age but is nonetheless
someone who finds it easier to talk to women than to men. When he becomes
involved with eighteen-year-old Laura Lee, who works as a maid at a local
junior college, his internal conflict about pleasing her, pleasing his overly
protective and possessive mother, and wanting a better life than he’s so far
had, results in drastic actions.
A short, absorbing,
fast-moving novel, its title and the publisher’s teaser suggest that The Twisted Ones are only Brock Brown,
Charles Berrey, and Reginald Whittier. In fact, their parents and some other
adult authority figures are equally deserving of that description.
Although I’ve known of Vin
Packer (real name Marijane Meaker) for decades, this is the first of her books
I’ve read. I hope to read others, which is also a way of saying I highly recommend
Winner of the 2007 Derringer
Award for the best flash fiction story of 2006, Barry Ergang’s fiction, poetry
and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic.
His recent e-books, a story for children called The Boy Who Ate Rainbows and a science-fiction parody, The Vole Eater, are available at Amazon and Smashwords. Criminalities: Three Short Crime Stories and
an Essay is available for free at Smashwords.
After a morning when the machine did not work and we had to be rescheduled to the afternoon, Sandi has finally had her first radiation treatment. She reports the bed of the machine is not padded and therefore caused her quite a lot of pain. Another issues is that there are panels that rotate in very close to the patient making her claustrophobic. Considering that I am the one with big time claustrophobia issues, the fact it bothered her that way really says something. All in all she absolutely hated the session and is not a happy camper.
While she was in the chamber I met with the financial counselor. For now, all they want was signatures on various releases so they can bill and work on payment issues.
welcome back Jeanne of the Bristol Public library with a few thoughts regarding
author names. I have noticed the same thing. Before we get to her post, let me
digress for just a moment. If my digression bugs you, skip on down the page. It
is my blog so I can blab if I want to.
the years my Mom has talked about the fact she did not know any Kevins so her
and Dad went with that. Of course, by the time I got to public school there was
a sea of Kevins. It seemed like every class had at least two boys carrying the
Kevin mantle of responsibility. Every employer I ever worked for had at least
two—myself and somebody else. On one job there were three of us. Management was
not amused when we linked hands during a staff meeting and chanted, “By
the power invested in we Kevins we shall make it so!" Of course, I was the one
hauled into the office and talked to about my attitude after the meeting because,
as one manager put it, “You’re the strange one.” I don’t know…maybe throwing in
the Thundercats yell at the end was too much.
now on to Jeanne….
in a Name?
I noticed some years ago that I was making
assumptions about people from their names in the obituary pages.Zachary?Probably a young person, no older than 30.Ruby? I’d guess at least 80.Donna?Probably between 60 and 45.I was
right often enough that I still do it today.I think I first noticed trends when I was in Children’s Services back in
the 80s.It seemed that every other
little girl was named either Heather or Amber. In my high school the number of
Brendas, Glendas, and Lindas was staggering, but apparently the “—nda” fad is
Some names go in and out of fashion, while others
are timeless:James, Elizabeth, Sara,
Thomas, or Emily may be for an eight year old or an eighty year old.A prominent military person used to result in
many namesakes: I’ve met a number of elderly men named “Winfield Scott.” “Lafayette” was a popular name in my mother’s
family and a British friend was appalled to find out I had cousins named
Napoleon. Most of the gem names for
women have gone out of style (Ruby, Opal, Garnet—though the latter is as likely
to be for a man as a women) although Pearl is making a slight comeback.The same goes for the flower names:Pansy, Daisy, Viola, Violet, but Rose hangs
on. State names have also gone by the wayside: Virginia, Georgia, Missouri,
Texas, Carolina, and Nevada. Dakota is popular, but that may be from the Native
American tribe rather than the states. Sherry has lost popularity but I still
Note: By coincidence, today in the library’s book
club, a member was reading Agatha Christie’s Pale Horse.She was enjoying it, but she said she was
distracted by all the “old” names:she
was envisioning the characters as being much older than they were supposed to
be in the book. I checked, and saw that there were female characters named
Pamela, Rhoda, and Eileen, all of which have lost most of their popularity but
would have still been stylish when the book came out in 1961.
At my workplace we laugh because while the staff is
relatively small in number there are a lot of the same names repeated.We now have only one Nancy, but for a while
we had four; we have three Susans/Susies; two Christys; two Brendas; two Rebeccas; two Amys, with
another person nicknamed Amy; and until recently, two Megans.When I first joined the staff, confusion often
reigned.I was Jeanne, but we also had a
Jean, a Jeannie, a Janie, and a Gina.It
took a lot of careful questioning to figure out who was being asked for
sometimes. We joked that we weren’t going to hire anyone else who had a
matching name because it was just too confusing.
Which sort of leads into what inspired this post:
authors with the same first names who write in the same genre.Years ago, I was asked to find a Christian
author named Lori.Confidently, I led
the patron to books by Lori Copeland.The patron said no, that wasn’t the right author.This was before the internet, so I couldn’t
google the info and the patron couldn’t remember anything else about the
author.By chance when shelving, I came
across books by Lori Wick.
Since then I’ve noticed several other genres have
multiple well-known authors with the same first name who are all actively
writing.Here are my favorites:
Thriller-type mysteries:Look for men named Brad. They haven’t
cornered the market, but they own a good chunk of it!
Fantasy?Look for a Terry!
mystery authors, non-cozy?Look for
Lisa, Linda, or Karin.
Please welcome author Kate Flora
to the blog today….
Building, and the Call of Story
years ago, I bought a computer, sat down at a desk, and started writing a
mystery. That led to another, and another, and another, as I got hooked on the
writing process. Along the way, during the ten years I spent in the unpublished
writer’s corner, trying to write in the company of the boy who never slept and
the one who was an escape artist, I ended up with several trial books in the
drawer, learned to be a
better writer, and developed the alligator-tough skin a
writer needs to survive rejection. I found a character I loved in my Thea Kozak
“strong woman” series. I acquired an agent and a three-book hard/soft deal and
thought I’d gone to the show.
living every writer’s dream. A book a year. Nine months of writing. Three
months of promotion. I would have been happy if that had gone on forever. But
that was not to be. Publishing is a game of numbers and mine, alas, convinced
my publisher to drop the series. One year I had two new books out—a series book
and a stand-alone suspense and the next series book in the pipeline—the next
year, I was the writer formerly known as Kate Flora or Katharine Clark,
wondering what to do next.
before we worried about branding and platform building. This was back when
writers thought mostly about storytelling. When I was dumped, as so many of us
are, I pondered my options. Go back to practicing law, fade away from utter
despair (even the alligator-tough can despair), or find something new to write.
This period taught me the value of taking chances. Getting dumped led to a
publishing collaboration with Susan Oleksiw and Skye Alexander, producing
yearly anthologies of crime stories by New England writers as Level Best Books.
Getting dumped made me realize that interviewing cops for my series had made me
fascinated by the police officers’ lives, and to a new series of police
procedurals, my award-winning Joe Burgess series set in Portland, Maine.
time, I had no idea where that would take me. Writing cops meant spending time
with cops. R.A.D. classes, citizens’ police academy, ride-alongs, and
developing contacts who could answer questions. Writing cops also meant
reciprocal relationships with police officers who were interested in writing. I
coached writing; they answered questions. Until the day one of my contacts had
a murder investigation he wanted to write about, and my coaching role became a
collaboration on a true crime. The result was the Edgar-nominated book, Finding
Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine.
does all this have to do with platform building and branding? Well, the advice
we’re given these days is to pick an area—thriller, suspense, police
procedurals, traditional mystery, or true crime—and focus on that to create a
personal brand. As a writer, I believe in going where the story is. That means
I still write the occasional Thea Kozak mystery when a story idea fits that
series, and love revisiting Joe Burgess to see what he and my fictional
Portland cops are up to. It also means that when my public safety contacts have
stories to tell, and need a collaborator, I say yes. This means that I’m
straddling the line between fiction and
non-fiction. It means that if I have a
brand—it’s crime and cops and telling the stories behind the headlines.
someone were to ask, “What do you write?” I’d have to answer: mysteries,
including strong, amateur, female PI and police procedurals. Suspense novels.
Short stories. True crime. And most recently, memoir. And not MY memoir. Yes, I
can hear the branding police and the diligent digital carpenters who are
building my platform say in disbelief, “Memoir? What were you thinking?”
Because story calls up. The deputy police chief who wanted to write about a
case led me to the Maine warden service, whose search and rescue expertise and
trained cadaver dogs and handlers found the body in Finding Amy. Then the
wardens sent me up to Miramichi, New Brunswick, where they’d gone to Canada to
help find a second hidden body. That became the Agatha and Anthony nominated Death
Dealer. Then one of the wardens on both those searches called up, said
he’d recently retired, everyone said he told great stories but had no idea how
to make them into a book, and asked if I could help. And even though it
confused my brand even further, I said yes.
result? Roger Guay’s memoir, A Good Man with a Dog: A Game Warden’s 25
Years in the Maine Woods.
Entry Island by Peter May won the Deanston Scottish Crime Novel of the year back in 2014. Today, Kaye George brings us a review of the book ….
Entry Island by Peter May
much more like a foreign country than usual in this polyglot setting. Amid the
French-speaking Magdalen Islands (Madeleine in French), lies English-speaking
Entry Island, settled in part by Scots who came during the potato famine years
in the 1800s.
starts slowly, but builds gradually—two stories actually. The modern day
narrative sends English speaker, Sime Mackenzie, whose Scottish/Gaelic family
refused to leave Quebec when it went all French, to investigate a murder on
Entry Island. The rest of the team are French speakers. He is ill at ease with
them, but Thomas Blanc, with whom he works most closely, is friendly. One
member of the team is his ex, Marie-Ange, a vitriolic, bitter woman who makes
As soon as
Sime sees the woman who is accused of murdering her husband, he feels he knows
her. In spite of overwhelming opinion against her, he fights to find a shred of
evidence that she didn’t kill her husband. Sime is suffering from chronic insomnia,
but has waking dreams that put him into the tales from his ancestor’s diaries
that were read to him by his grandmother when he was a child. The insomnia gets
so bad that it threatens to impair his judgement and to get him ousted from his
job as he retreats deeper and deeper into the past, imagining that he actually
is his ancestor, and that the accused woman is his ancestor’s long-lost love as
this story runs alternating with the other one.
This is a
tale of two islands, two mysteries, and two places and times. A tale of misfits
isolated within their own cultures, and a tale of cultures battling each other,
both in the 1800s and today.
Writer, Reviewer, Editor, Professional Chair and Table Controller
Those interested in discussing editing and other writing projects can contact me at kevinrtipple at verizon.net
Donations Very Desperately Needed!!!!
Sandi's cancer fight continues. If you can help and would prefer to donate directly, please contact TEXAS ONCOLOGY in SUITE 220 of Building D at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas and arrange your direct donation in Sandi's name with Debra, the financial counselor. We thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and support as the battle continues.