2009-05-06T17:09:22.494-07:00Here is the first chapter of the new Jack Liffey novel, Palos Verdes Blue by John Shannon.ONEThe Wrong CurrencyA small boy stood in front of the pickup holding a plastic machine gun that flashed its red transparent barrel as it clacked away gruesomely. Die, motherfucker, the boy mouthed clearly at Jack Liffey through the windshield, bracing his short little legs for the imaginary recoil, like some TV he-man of death. Then he ran off, squealing. The mock-attack didn't upset him. Because of his job, he dealt regularly with the excesses of childhood.What did unsettle him was returning to the neighborhood where he'd lived long ago, had actually owned a house. He guessed it was some root phenomenon of consciousness stirring. Inside himself, he sensed a whisking up of inner confusion about who he really was. For instance, Joe Wells, who'd lived in the ranch house directly across the street--now repainted a nameless beigy earth-tone--would never have let anyone park a boat on the block, let alone right in front of his own home. He'd have gone ballistic, called the cops, probably even torched it late at night.Meanwhile, on this side of the street, the Shelling house was just plain gone, now denuded land ready for something new. A scrape, in the realtors' lingo. Even though this area of Redondo was over the crest and inland from any ocean view, values still had risen astronomically. Down the block there was already one three-story McMansion. You couldn't take your eyes off the poor botched structure, lost between two incompatible waves of banal suburban longing--stylistically somewhere between Taos and Normandy. Parabolic window in front, pseudo-vegas jutting out above, diamond-shaped medieval mullions on the upper windows and a red tile roof so steep it would just have to go on waiting vainly a very long time for the snows. The thing was beyond critique, like a madman's tiny fanatical runes on a cramped sheet of paper.And where his then-best friend, Dale Nichols, had once parked a well-loved MG-TD, a young man with Buddy Holly glasses could be seen spraying water on a new concrete driveway. Was he expecting it to grow? The neighborhood had become a checkerboard of astonishing tax deductions, he thought. Every one of them nudging a million dollars from one side or the other--probably even Kathy's. "His."At least his ex-wife's simple frame bungalow was unchanged, except for the creep of entropy. It obviously needed paint and a reroof, but it still looked comfortable. Once his dark tower of retreat . . . but no more.Kathy had left a message on his machine across town in East L.A., where he lived now with Gloria, a Latina cop. Her words conveyed an ambiguous SOS, and he had to assume it was about their daughter, Maeve. Maeve had just had an abortion after beating herself up for weeks about making the decision. He was in fact relieved that she'd done it, though he'd never let on to her which way he would have voted. She was just finishing up at Redondo High, and she'd already been admitted to three colleges, and what parent wants to see a child turn her back on all that to pin diapers on the kid of a 30-year-old gangbanger who'd briefly infatuated her and then dumped her?Kathy peered out the front window and noticed him, so he had to pretend he'd just driven up, yanking again on the parking brake and waving casually to her. She did not look happy. She looked instead like someone who'd been kicked as a puppy and had slowly grown ill-tempered.I will endure, he thought.She opened the door for him as if he'd never been away and he smelled it right away. Frying fish sticks, probably the cheapest generic brand, Captain Pegleg or something similar. It was her secret food vice that she ate whenever she was alone or in need of comfort, dunked bite by bite into sweet tartar sauce. By deduction, it meant Maeve was away or locked in her bedroom. I guess I really am a detective, he thought."How could she already be in trouble?" he asked after their perfunctory greet[...]
2009-01-19T22:33:26.522-08:00Well, once in three weeks is not bad for me, I guess.
2008-07-08T18:30:11.965-07:00Hey everyone. I know that I haven't posted here in a long time because I have been busy with Powder Burn Flash and Darkest Before the Dawn fiction sites.
2008-04-01T20:30:51.785-07:00ONEDecent FolkSpin around, he thought, then open your eyes. Maybe the actors have changed, the flats depict a different scene, the props are newer, older, more chic. Context is everything. You learned your lines but you may now be Hamlet declaiming to Falstaff in a pub. Mother Courage talking to Willy Loman.It was just a moment of alienation, really. He had them, even when he was with his daughter who tended to keep him grounded. Maybe it was the spectacle.Powerful underwater lamps lit the steep-tumbling whitewater of the Kaweah River right below the restaurant and he could tell that a bit later on, when the last sunlight was gone, the inner-lit rapids would be a magnificent if weirdly artificial display. Now in the dusk you could still look north and make out the broken terrain of the Sierra foothills. The western slope was a gradual meandery rise to the really high peaks that were out of sight, a lot less impressive than the abrupt wall of the eastern cascade that he loved."Those hills out there," Maeve said, nursing her Shirley Temple or whatever they called it these days. He didn't play at pseudo cocktails himself, just asked for a ginger ale. "They look like white elephants."Uh-oh, Jack Liffey thought. That was straight from the famously oblique Hemingway story where the dread word abortion was never mentioned. Maeve was back on task."I get it. But I'm not pushing you, hon," he said."I know," she said glumly. "You've never even stated a preference, though I know what it is."Right then they would have been settled into a campground amid giant sequoias, having this nice father-daughter chat around a campfire, except some fatuous guru, unknown to both of them, had declared this weekend and Sequoia National Park the very date and site of a multiple harmonic convergence, whatever the hell that was, and every aging hippie on earth had flocked in to claim the camping spots and then to chant and dance and practice some fairly unmentionable behaviors. Jack Liffey and his daughter had retreated to the town of Three Rivers at the park entrance only to find that booked up, too."Have some Anis del Toro," Jack Liffey said. "It tastes like licorice. Everything tastes like licorice." That was from the story, too. At one point in his life he had nearly worshipped Hemingway, but like most men he had eventually backed away from all that hard-edge male sentimentality, that steeping in laconic strength, Gary Cooper on steroids."No fair," she said. "I didn't really want to talk about Hemingway.""Okay. We can talk about the baby if you want.""Baby? I'm only six weeks gone.""Fetus then. It sounds so clinical. I just--"The waiter came up to interrupt as waiters always did, this one slim and handsome and about 18, and Jack Liffey could see that Maeve was truly in a distracted state because she didn't even stare at the boy. She'd really been in love with the feckless gangbanger who'd got her pregnant, and Jack Liffey kept reminding himself that a teenager's first loves and losses were every bit as dire and consequential as his own tenth loves, maybe more so. And the pregnancy quadrupled it all."How do you make these horrible decisions?" she said. "I know I should go ahead and have . . . the operation, but it's going to wipe me out emotionally. I know it will. I'm always going to wonder what the kid would have been like. Or be like. I sound like I've decided but I haven't."A hundred platitudes crowded his brain and he managed not to let any of them out. "Have you talked to your mom about it?"She gave him a dismissive look with her face bunched up like a prune. "She wants to kill Beto. With a thumbtack so it would take a really long time. You know exactly what she'd say.""Did she tell you about hers?" he asked.Maeve looked thunderstruck. He wasn't sure he'd ever seen her jaw drop open quite like that, though she was a volatile young woman."Oops.""Are you s[...]
2008-03-14T15:31:45.558-07:001They could hear it coming, a plane approaching from the west. It flew low; first over the beach, its dark silhouette trailing across the white sand, then past the high dunes, and then past the windsock at the end of the runway. They could hear when it finally touched down.Someone said it was the mail plane back from the Gulf run. They were mostly older turboprops that called the airport home: Fokkers, DC-7’s and Brazilian Bandeirantes. The airport was primitive. It sat alone on the desert near Cabo San Lucas. Nothing much to the place but a few dismal hangers, the stained tarmac, and men who knew a lot about planes and flying them.Jimmy Hidalgo, the owner of one of the cargo companies, had been saying that the runway at San Javier, where the doctor and his friends were going, was tricky. It was too short, he ex-plained. You had to drop in very quickly as soon as you cleared the mountain.“And on the way out it’s worse; you have to clear the date grove,” he said. He glanced at his son, who was talking to the German girl, Marita, who’d come with the doctor and Alfredo from Mexico City for the weekend.Dr. Collin Reeves looked at the old DC-5 on the tarmac. His father flew and owned a plane, so the doctor had grown up with talk of airplanes and difficult landings. The plane that was to take them to San Javier was far too old to still be in service. He understood now why the man at their hotel in Cabo San Lucas had suggested driving to San Javier, rather than risk flying in.They were drinking coffee in the hangar and watching the dawn break outside, suddenly, the way it does in the desert. The cargo boys had arrived for work, and the place seemed more like an airport now.The owner told them that he’d bought his DC-5 from a Dutch mining company two years before in Ecuador. According to Hidalgo, it had been built in 1935 and seen action with the Marines at Guadalcanal—“and been shot at by Japanese gentlemen that didn’t like her.” Hidalgo had found her abandoned in an Amazon boom town where, he said, everyone was digging for gold, covered in muck, and drunk. He’d always wanted a DC-5, and bought her from the Dutch owners, who were using her for parts.He loved the plane, he told them. “Sometimes you love things you shouldn’t love, doctor,” Hidalgo said. “But that’s life. I’ve spent more restoring her than she’ll ever make me.” Collin’s friend Alfredo, a painter, said that had to be the definition of love, and they all laughed.A mail pilot stopped by the hangar to report that visibility was poor over the coast between Loreto and Cabo. The doctor listened as the two professionals talked about the weather. Hidalgo bit his lip. He nodded twice when he heard the word “fog,” his expression serious. Before he left, the mail pilot turned to the doctor and said that conditions were actually pretty good for the end of March, when things could be quite bumpy.The pilot gave them a fey smile, as if he understood something Collin didn’t. Then he wished them all buena suerte and rode his bicycle back across the tarmac, the morning sunlight making the airport’s old hangars seem somehow beautiful and ugly at the same time.Collin had asked why Hidalgo wasn’t flying them. Hidalgo explained that he wasn’t allowed to fly because he’d had a bad crash up at San Quintin in a Fokker 27 the year before. His right leg and foot had been badly burnt before he was pulled from the wreck. He’d been lucky to survive it, he said.“So when you take off at San Javier, the date palms end right up under you, doctor—just a few feet under you. You could pick the fruit as you go by! The trick is to clear the date palms.”Collin understood that it was probably dangerous to take off from San Javier, and that Hidalgo missed doing it.“Are you a pilot, doctor? You seem to know something about it.”[...]
2008-02-28T13:42:19.667-08:00I'm pleased to day to be participating in a virtual book tour for F.M. Meredith. The Smell of Death has just been recently released and for the month of February there has been a virtual book tour going on to spread to the word of this wonderful novel. After reading my review take a few minutes to see the other stops along the way. Here is the link to Pump Up Your Book Promotions.Smell of DeathF.M. MeredithTigress Press, LLCISBN 10: 0-9793857-5-XISBN 13: 978-0-9793857-5-9US. Price: $13.95 Book Description:A missing child, strange burglaries, and the inexplicable murder of a mother and her daughter disrupt the peaceful beach community of Rocky Bluff, CA. Officer Stacey Wilbur, first on the scene for both murders, assists Detective Doug Milligan with the investigations and finds herself breaking her long-standing rule to never date anyone who works for the Rocky Bluff P.D.Smell of Death is the fourth book in the Rocky Bluff PD series. The novel contains all the elements of great crime story and includes a realistic portrayal of Stacey Wilbur, a young mother, who is widowed and devoted to her job as a police officer with the force. There are three investigations running through the book, the deaths of Darlene Brantley and her mother, a missing toddler and the search for the Barefoot Burglars. Throughout the story Meredith does a fine job off exploring the private lives of the characters and adds a layer of realism to what motivates the police to do their job and how they deal with the pain and guilt of their work. In doing so, the reader gets caught up in the story and feels the emotions also.There is a nice balance in the book as Meredith allows Wilbur to explore the idea of breaking her long standing rule regarding dating someone on the force. As Wilbur and Detective Doug Mulligan work closely on a few cases it is easy to understand how a temptation at romance can begin. In allow Wilbur to have a taste of romance and deal with her past, the death of her husband, it nicely balances some of the unpleasantness of the crimes that she is involved in solving.In addition to the romantic nuances that are present, Meredith also does a nice job with exploring the depth of guilt in Felix Zachary. Zachary shot and killed an unarmed suspect and this has cost him his change at a promotion in the department. But, this is not all that it has cost him as Zachary has to deal with the internal emotional turmoil of what this event means to him.Smell of Death is a nice police procedural and adds a nice element of romance to soften some the horrors of the crimes that are solved in the book. Meredith demonstrates her ability to write well defined characters and to deftly handle multiple subplots in this novel. This is one book worth checking out.This virtual book tour is brought to you by:[...]
2008-01-29T11:56:13.307-08:00Today I'm joining over 300 other bloggers in celebrating the release of Patry's book THE LIAR'S DIARY.
2007-12-13T10:22:36.579-08:00I hope everyone is starting to enjoy the holiday season and find some time to relax with family and friends.
2007-12-03T18:31:44.027-08:00Earlier today I tried to upload pictures from Saturday's book signing. Blogger I guess lost those pictures and then found them.
2007-12-03T11:48:41.544-08:00Here are some pixs from the signing of the group anthology signing at the Mystery Bookstore last Saturday.
2007-12-03T09:33:15.239-08:00Pardon the interruption......but this site seems to have some problems.......
2007-11-25T15:58:35.619-08:00Well the skies are all black again today in my neighborhood and the smell of smoke has creeped into the house.
2007-11-24T17:32:44.861-08:00Yep, just when I thought I was going to have a peaceful weekend, more fires in the surrounding hills.
2007-11-23T08:56:55.044-08:00ipI'm up over 35,000 words of gibberish in the hollowing NaNoWriMo month contest. Alas, there is still the weekend and I'm thinking maybe I'll just add in some of the grant wording that I'm currently writing that is due on December 3. Nah, that would be cheating, but it would get me over the 50,000 word minimum easily. The current grant is 22 pages long and is in the editing mode at this point.
2007-11-18T09:04:59.985-08:00Yes, you heard that right. According to Anthony Neil Smith's MySpace blog, PLOTS will return in 2008 as a quarterly. Hell, let the man tell you himself...directly from his blog...
2007-11-17T18:29:13.114-08:00I'm taking a break from my marathon writing day to try and write something for this blog.
2007-11-12T22:12:36.957-08:00for an important message.......
2007-09-18T21:17:26.993-07:00Well I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. On the most excellent Rap Sheet , Jeff Pierce has offically announced that do my inactivity that I may be "in some housekeeping" on his blogroll. While I can't blame Jeff for doing this, there are many worthwhile site that can be added to this worthy list.
2007-06-06T11:53:57.727-07:00Robert Gregory Browne and Brett Battles are venturing into the podcast world. They've started a series of talks about writing, which, in the near future, will also include interviews with other authors and publishing industry professionals. Their first podcast on writing characters is now up. You can find it here: