Working on the paperback

I’m using CreateSpace to do the paperback version of Premium Mixed Nuts. As part of the review process, they show you a 3-D picture of your book. Pretty cool.

Anyway, I’m almost done. I think.

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My Anthology is now on Amazon

Did it! Premium Mixed Nuts – An Anthology is now available on Amazon. And, for those who like to shop elsewhere, this Books2Read link will take you to other vendors who have it. (The Angus & Robertson icon that looks like a “B” doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but Playster has it. Technology!)

Now I’m working on getting the paperback put together. Hopefully, that won’t be too hard.

And, for something else to do, I’m reworking Pandora, too.

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One Step Closer

NOLA Nights is finished. Now I’m trying to get my head around e-publishing. Amazon has an easy-peasy way, but it ties you into them exclusively. Draft2Digital lets you go through a bunch of vendors, including Amazon. More research and thought required.

Meanwhile, here’s the cover I’m thinking of:

! Premium Mixed Nuts and Back Matter 11-27-2017

Draft2Digital says they also will provide a paperback-ready file that can be used for hard-copy publishing with CreateSpace and other print-on-demand venues.

Sometimes I think the writing was the easy part.

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Deleted Scenes

Sometimes, to make a story work, you have to cut something you like. In movies, those things ended on the cutting room floor, and nobody ever saw them. Then came DVD’s, and gluttons for punishment could revel in 21-seconds of previously unseen footage. That gave me an idea. Deleted scenes from stories! (Please hold your applause for after the presentation.)

So, here’s an attempt at providing what may be a new feature. Enjoy. And please pass the popcorn.

Deleted scene from Willie ‘n’ Me.

Kansas was nothin’ but work, month after month. I got in the habit of writing Miss Ida now an’ then to let her know how things was goin’, and she’d write back real nice, talkin’ about the flowers and such there in Little Rock. It felt sorta like home to read her notes. A couple times, she said she’d heard from Willie an’ that she sounded real happy. Two years and two hotels later I’d had enough of Kansas City. I sent Mr. Pruitt a thank-you note, bought a horse and wagon, and struck out westward on my own.

I kinda followed the railroad, and after a couple weeks, found myself in Dodge City. It was a busy place then, and I wound up startin’ a little woodwright shop of my own. Between buildin’ saloons an’ such for some local business-types, and makin’ coffins for others that whooped it up a little too much after th’ cattle drives, I was doin’ pretty well.

In ’83, I thought I was gonna have to give up on a new waterin’ hole I was buildin’ near the railroad depot. It seems a bunch of bar room owners, including my customer, had caused a certain Mr. Short to abandon his business interests and leave town against his will. Well, it wasn’t long before the local newspaper was printin’ stories about how he’d asked some out-of-town friends to arrange the demise of them that had run him out. I didn’t pay no attention to the fuss until one day when I was workin’ on the saloon. This stranger walked in, lookin’ like twenty miles of bad road—an’ smellin’ like a pile of dead muskrats.

He hacked up a wad of tobacco on my new floor. “You Harshaw?”

I counted his two missing fingers and three well-worn colts. “No sir. Can I help you with anything?”

He just frowned, looked around real slow, then moseyed out.

When he was gone, young Vester Lewis, a local boy who was helpin’ me says, “Didja know who that wuz?”

“No. Who was he?”

He got all nervous and fidgety. “That there wuz ol’ Three-Fingered Dave. He’s big trouble fer sure.”

“Got nuthin’ to do with me,” I says.

“Well, fer sure he’s here about ol’ Mr. Short’s troubles, an’ if’n he or his pal Six-Toed Pete murders Mr. Harshaw, then we gonna be out’n a job here.”

I wondered if havin’ random numbers of body parts leads to a life of crime.

“Maybe we oughta finish up here for now, and start buildin’ up our stock of coffins.”

The next day, a buckboard rolled past my little shop. The sorrowful-faced stranger drivin’ it had a big shotgun across his lap. A couple cases of dynamite poked half out’ve a tarp in back. I figured young Vester was onto somethin’ for sure.

I was puttin’ a real nice shine on seven new pine boxes when some government big-shot from Topeka showed up to smooth things out. A couple days later, Mr. Short was back in business and all them folks who showed up lookin’ so ominous just kinda drifted away, actin’ as pious as parsons. Fortunately, I was able to use all those pretty, polished-up pine boards for the saloon’s bar and the like. When the building was done, Mr. Harshaw decided a drygoods store would be better idea. A little extra work gave him the shelves he needed, and we both slept good. He opened for business in July.

Then I got the telegram from Miss Ida.

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Pandora

“Pandora doesn’t live here anymore.” That’s what the hand-written note said, and I couldn’t blame her. The door it was tacked to, and the wall on both sides, looked like they’d been hit by a flamethrower.

The seconds piled up following my third knock. I began to think no one else lived there either. The whole last month had gone like this, and my rent was overdue because of it. But the guy here had called me.

I counted to ten as I stared at the blackened front door of the old house at Six Plum Drop Circle. A fresh plywood patch clung where one of its raised panels should’ve been, and three heavily charred spots showed around it. It took me several moments to realize the door had once been red. It had suffered from such heat that only a small area at the bottom had escaped damage.

I turned to go, but halted at the sight of the solitary elm tree in the front yard. A three foot, round tunnel had been bored neatly through its dense foliage, branches and all. Blue sky and part of a neighbor’s roof showed within the gap. A few singed leaves clung to the edges of the opening.

“What do you want?” Rasped a timeworn voice.

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Bookmaking

The mystery is complete! It’s titled Fatal Harmony now. Next up, I want to put the finished stories into a book. So far I’ve come up with a few titles and covers for the anthology.

mixed-blue mixed-nuts-street 8-american-tales-flag3

Revision is the name of the game in this sport. Writing is just the start, then comes rewriting, re-rewriting, and more rewriting. Thanks to my Bride, Clarice, and our critique group, I’ve done the first couple. Now I’m planning to send the whole thing out to some advance readers. Then I’ll see how many more iterations remain to be done.

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It’s a Mystery

 

town-signI hate classical music, so fortunately for me the concert was cut short halfway through the William Tell Overture—sadly, so was the conductor’s life.

I hurried toward the stage and flashed my badge. “Detective Ryan Harding. Everyone please remain calm and be seated.” Maybe ten people sat back down. Of the rest, half never paused as they fled the hall. The others, all band parents, stampeded to remove their kids.

I called the station. “It’s Harding. I need an ambulance and backup at the high school auditorium.”

Marcus Cooper had no pulse. The cause of death was pretty clear. An arrow was firmly planted in his forehead.

“Scratch the ambulance. Send the M.E. instead, please.”

By the time I ran backstage the shooter had vanished.

On stage few minutes later, I completely failed to corral the kids of the orchestra. One clarinetist’s sweaty, hulking mother threatened to break my face if I didn’t get out of her way. As she dragged off her wailing daughter, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I ducked, assuming another parental assault was coming from behind. I was wrong.

Quinnie Swope had short-cropped sable hair, bright brown eyes, a taste for Mozart and Rossini, and, unaccountably, for me. I’d asked her out to dinner. She’d invited me to the concert.

“You’d rather do this than listen to the recital, wouldn’t you?”

“Um, I need to—”

“Don’t worry. I’ll catch a ride home with the Turners. Call me tomorrow?”

“Sure thing. I’m sorry.”

She nodded toward the body. “I’m sorry for Marcus’ wife.”

“Yeah. I’ll go see her as soon as things are under control here.”

We found a worn hunting bow backstage. An apple sat nearby with another arrow in it.

The medical examiner was new. She walked toward me as her assistant started taking pictures. “Detective Harding? I’m Doctor Anna Park. I don’t believe we’ve met.” Her straight black, jaw-length hair framed Asian features.

I shook her hand. “Welcome to Harmony, Doctor.”

She sighed. “Not very harmonious tonight, I see. What do we know?”

As far as I can tell, Mr. Cooper was shot from stage-left, during the William Tell Overture. That arrow, along with a second one stuck in an apple backstage, makes me think the shooter was familiar with tonight’s program.

After an hour of tagging and bagging evidence, I sent the school’s security camera tapes to the station and left for Cooper’s home—which happened to be the house I’d grown up in. I got out of the car and walked to the door. No one answered my knock.

Around to the side, Dad’s tree was dying. It wasn’t actually his tree any more. He’d sold the place to the Coopers and moved to Costa Rica ten years earlier. Didn’t matter. He’d planted it the day I was born, and it had always been a scraggly embarrassment to his garden club. Something scrabbled through its fallen leaves into the darkness beyond. Probably a squirrel. A big one.

I crept into the back yard.

Lights blazed as I rounded the patio. “Dratted motion detector.” It’d only ever worked when it wanted to. Tonight it was in the mood. A startled frog leapt from the diving board into the weeds.

Something disturbed the smooth surface of the pool. I stepped closer for a better look.  Helen Cooper had never looked good in red.

I dialed 9-1-1. Low battery. Exactly the two words I didn’t want to see right now. Obligingly, they disappeared and the phone died in my hand.

A loud crack sounded behind me and a bullet hit the fence.

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