31
Oct

Halloween Story - The Magic Spell

Until my father’s death, my family lived on a profitable little farm in Killarney, Ireland. Mother would never discuss the nature of his demise or the enchanted manner in which a magic spell had changed me from a boy into a small cat. Even as a cat, she loved me as a son. As time passed, Mother grew frail and I grew into a fine fluffy black cat and a fine reputation as a hunter…

One day Mother called me to her bedside. “Tabkins, Tonite is Halloween, and I can no longer provide our bread and cheese. You must restore our good fortune tonite, or surely we will both perish.” And, so, she recounted the Halloween tale of trickery and enchantment, deviltry and a magic spell.

Some years ago, our farm possessed six orange trees, three cows and a potato patch. A wicked green leprechaun from a nearby mountain-top, coveted, our land, but father repeatedly rebuffed his guiles. So, with trickery and  a magic spell, the evil creature caused him to fall into the river. Then, with a magic wand, he changed me from a comely youth into a black cat. Though the world profited by the addition of an exceedingly good-looking cat, my father drowned. The leprechaun then cast a spell that prevented our six cows from giving milk. The orange trees ceased to bear fruit and the potato patch gave only scant potatoes.

“You must find the leprechaun,” Mother said, “and retrieve the magic wand. Perhaps it will restore you to a human lad and our land into a profitable farm.” The tears in her eyes wrenched my heart, and yet I trembled in horror at the thought of facing the evil creature.

She lifted her frail hand. “Make your way to yonder mountain. High on the top beside a river, you’ll find a cave where the wicked leprechaun dwells,” she said. “Perhaps you can trick him into revealing where he hides his magic wand and can retrieve it. Go, now, Tabkins. Our future lies in your paws.”

Knowing that setting a leprechaun against a small cat, no matter how exceedingly good-looking, my feline cunning would be sorely tested if I was to fool the evil leprechaun and live to tell the tale. With every step toward the leprechaun’s cave, I considered how I might dupe the leprechaun into stealing his magic wand.

“Halt. Who goes there?” The wicked leprechaun called from beneath the log that spanned the river. “Answer, Cat, or I’ll turn you to stone.”

Panic seized my heart. An idea popped into my furry head. “I’m just a harmless pussy-cat out for a stroll. My, what a lovely river you have here, Sir Leprechaun.” (I’ve been told a little honey-talk is always good to sooth a malevolent spirit.) I sashayed across the log, humming, Katie From Killarney, and bowed low. “My name is Tabkins. Pray tell, what might your name be, kind sir?”

The leprechaun’s eyes narrowed. “My name is Merichandrick. What do you seek?”

“Perhaps a spot of tea? I’m weary from my travels.” With a twitch of my whiskers, I looked wistfully toward the cave, conveying abject vulnerability and friendship.

“Come on in, then, and I’ll light the fire,” said he, his green mouth atwitch. I feared he had an ulterior motive.

I followed him, wary of any plan he might have to toss me into his stew pot. I scanned the cave, keeping one eye on my host.

The imp pointed toward his fire. “Sit over there.”

“Oh, what a lovely bird,” I posited, sidling closer to a green and red parrot, hanging from a golden hook. Where was he hiding that blasted magic wand? In a chair near the back of the cave, lay a pot of gold and something long and thin poked from beneath a red blanket. Aha!

The little man turned. “Will you be after spending the night?” A wicked glint gleamed in his eye.

“If I’m so invited,” says I with a yawn, patting my paw against my mouth, “Let us drink our tea and I’ll curl up for the night just yonder on your lovely red blanket.”

He shook his mop of green curls. “Not there,” he shrieked. “Best you should sleep closer to the fire. where it's warmer.”

“As you wish, and I thank you kindly for the hospitality,” says I. Oho! Once the little man sleeps, I’ll snatch the magic wand from beneath the blanket and skedaddle, thinks I.

My host poured two mugs of tea and shoved one toward me. Expecting a trick, I sneezed, and as he reached for a handkerchief, I switched the mugs. Indeed, the mug he intended for me was drugged. Soon after the evil goblin drank, he fell into a stupor. Without further ado, I grabbed the magic wand, printed with the magic words on its side, and raced back down the mountain.

Back at the farm, Mother waved the wand and spoke the magic words. I was instantly changed back to a young man, even more exceedingly handsome than before. Soon, the cows gave milk, the orange trees bore fruit, and this spring, we had a bumper crop of potatoes.

We hear that the leprechaun still lives on the mountain with his parrot, but now that he has lost his magic wand, and his complexion has turned a sallow yellow, he is embarrassed, and rarely leaves his cave.

If our future fortune should fail, the cows dry up again, or the potato crop falters, the wicked yellow leprechaun still has a pot full of gold, and.... I know where he lives.

 

22
Sep

WWII Facts Become Part of Desperate Doings Story

Elaine’s latest cozy mystery novel, Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings takes place in No. CA during WWII as Agnes Odboddy faces rationing, fear of enemy invasion, and food shortages. In addition, she is discouraged about her inability to locate a zoo to take Shere Khan, the displaced carnival tiger she rescued from her last adventure, Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger.

When she falls from a tree and suffers a head injury, her usual eccentric notions increase. But when she adamantly accuses the local doctor of stealing a well-known War Artist’s painting, and The Lord’s Shepherd lithograph from the church, folks wonder if her head injury is responsible for increasingly irrational behavior, or is it dementia? For a raucous adventure with an absurdly funny elderly sleuth, you can’t miss with Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings.

Selected situations in Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings are based on true events and circumstances. Agnes and I have somewhat altered dates and certain locations for the purpose of her involvement in these events. The characters, Bernard Plockhorst and Edward Reep, are real.

The following events, circumstances, and characters are found in the storyline as Agnes deals with the unnerving events following her fall from the apple tree.

ZOO EUTHANAZIA   During WWII, many USA zoos closed due to personnel shortages but mostly due to the lack of an adequate food supply needed to sustain the animals. Poor nutrition led to the death of many large animals and many more were euthanized due to the inability to properly care for and feed them. In no circumstance would an existing zoo take on a displaced carnival tiger. In such a case, the animal would likely have been euthanized. Shere Khan’s plight in this novel, is therefore, based in fact.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD PAINTING   Bernhard Plockhorst is most famous for the painting of The Good Shepherd shown with a staff in one hand and a lamb in the other. He also painted the famous picture of the guardian angel watching over two children as they traversed along a dangerous cliff. His image of the face of Christ is the most accepted rendering of Christ’s likeness in the Christian Church. Plockhorst was from Germany, famous during the latter part of the 1800. Copies of his paintings are in practically every Christian church and many USA homes.

EDWARD REEP, a California resident and water-color artist, became a photographer and combat artist for the United States Army during WWII. Widely publicized in newspapers and magazines, Reep’s poignant war-time depictions made him popular with the public before and after the war. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to help finance his pursuit of art due to his outstanding contributions to war art

JAPANESE SUBMARINES  In 1942, Japanese submarines were occasionally sighted along the western coastline from Oregon to the Aleutians. Along with several other incidents, they successfully shelled a lighthouse near Vancouver Island, WA, and torpedoed and shelled a freighter off Cape Flattery, WA. The freighter was towed to safety with no loss of life. Though a factual event, the date and location of this event was altered somewhat in our story for purposes of involving Agnes and fictionalizing the event.

For a raucous adventure with an absurdly funny elderly sleuth, you can’t miss with Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings.

Available at Amazon: E-book. Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings is just $3.99. https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt   For an autographed and discounted paperback, contact Elaine directly at Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com

The four-book series is listed below with url to Amazon.

http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv    Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot

http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb    Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier

http://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx   Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger

https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt     Mrs. Odboddy’s Desperate Doings

11
Jul

Excerpt: Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey's Diary

This is a scene from my cozy cat mystery novel, Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, where Kimberlee goes to Austria in search of a lost treasure in gold coins.  I visited Austria in 1987 and experienced some unusual occurrences. In this story, I was able to have Kimberlee experience these and other unusual events in this otherwise fictional story. The experiences described in this scene in Salzburg are from my own experience. The watercolor described is in my hallway still, a reminder of this wonderful day.

****

As Kimberlee passed through the countryside and the forests, the terrain varied and the road rose and fell. Around every corner, another picture post card vista appeared. With no particular agenda, she stopped frequently to take a photograph.

In some green meadows, the only sound was the tinkling of shiny brass bells, hanging from the collars of a flock of sheep or a small group of black and white cows. In other places, the gentle terrain rose up into a fine mist clinging to the hillside. Hidden in the distant mist, tinkling bells confirmed grazing animals, unaware that their bells could produce such a stirring in the heart of an unseen tourist passing on a nearby road.

The vineyards on the hills and meadows became fewer as Kimberlee approached Salzburg, an ancient city where Mozart first played his harpsicord and wrote melodies. Hundreds of years later, people still know his name and enjoy his music.

Near the center of town, she parked the car and began to walk. Ancient ivy-covered buildings with sagging tile roofs covered the courtyards along the sidewalk. Church spires peaked out above red tile rooftops of nearby houses. She passed a church with dates carved into the walls reading 1200-1400. How incredible! One church was said to be 1000 years old!

Violin music drew her toward the town square where a street musician stood on the steps of an ancient church, playing Ave Maria. Pigeons flew overhead from rooftop to rooftop, appearing to be as mesmerized by the music as the cluster of tourists gathered on the steps.

Kimberlee paused to listen as the haunting melody echoed around the square. It touched her heart as it carried her away from this world and back into another time. It was easy to imagine the cobbled streets filled with horse-drawn carts carrying a princess and her ladies in waiting, or a knight in shining armor, after a joust with a dragon.

The musician drew his bow across the strings and as he lowered his hand, the final note hung in the air. The tourists stood spellbound and silent. And then the spell was broken and the more generous visitors tossed money into the violin case at his feet.

Kimberlee opened her purse. “That was absolutely lovely! Thank you.” She put money into his case and wandered on.

She ran to catch a tram climbing to the top of the hill where a medieval castle overlooked the city, a cold and barren place with steps everywhere. The rooms were filled with armor, ancient guns, javelins, chains and torture devices. From the balconies, looking down on the valley was like peeking into the pages of a storybook. Rainy mists on the distant mountains beckoned hikers upward into the cold crisp air. Off to the left, rivers, towers, cathedrals, graveyards, and church spires. Off to the right, cobble-stone streets with horse-drawn carriages, sidewalk cafes, musicians, and archways, where street vendors hawked their wares on the street corners.

Returning to the city below, Kimberlee came upon a street artist sitting with his back against the wall, his easel and backpack by his side. The picture drying on his easel was a watercolor of the nearby ancient church steps where the musician had just played his stirring aria. Unable to resist the desire to memorialize the moment, she purchased the picture. She planned to have it framed and hang it near her bedroom, a constant reminder of the musician and his poignant melody.

What a magical city! After a good meal and a very strong cup of coffee, Kimberlee returned to her car. She must locate a pension where she might spend the night. Tomorrow, she would continue to follow the clues from the WWII soldier’s diary, in hopes that they might lead to the gold coins, still hidden so many years later.

****

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey's Diary is available at Amazon (e-book) for $3.99.  Contact me directly for an autographed paperback version. ($15.00 - Free shipping within in USA)

 

14
Jun

Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings - Excerpt - Chpt. One

Agnes climbed out of bed and tiptoed down the hall, careful not to wake Katherine and Maddie. She stepped into the kitchen and glanced out the kitchen window. The sun was just rising, casting a glow over the garden and turning the blossoms on the apple tree a pale shade of pink. She sighed, once again assured that God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world. At least in her part of the world... The war still raged across Europe, affecting the lives of neighbors and friends with tragic news of loved ones, but today promised to be another safe and sunny day in Newbury, without immediate threat of danger in their hometown.

Agnes lit a match, held it under the stove burner, and slowly turned on the gas knob. A circle of blue flames circled the burners. Agnes filled the tea kettle and set it on the stove. She carefully measured exactly six tablespoons of coffee into the top of her coffee pot. Coffee was still a precious commodity, not only still in short supply but needing a ration coupon to buy. One shouldn’t waste a speck of coffee, even as restrictions were lifted and a bit more product available these days. When only one pound every six weeks per adult was rationed, she was ready to storm the War Department offices.

A sound outside in the front yard drew her to the front room. She pulled back the curtain and peered out the window. “What the Sam Hill?” Her heart seized at the sight of two men leaning over the lawn signs in her front lawn. One held a can of paint and the other used a brush to deface her campaign poster, touting her candidacy for Newburg City Council.

Determined to make short work of them, Agnes grabbed a broom, rushed to the front door, threw it open, and stomped onto the porch. “Get the heck off my lawn, you rapscallions, before I have the law on you. What do you think you’re doing?”

The men grabbed their paint supplies and headed for a Hudson, idling at the curb. Agnes took the front steps two at a time and raced across the lawn. She smacked the broom on the Hudson’s trunk as it pulled away from the curb. “And stay gone!” She turned toward the campaign sign. Red paint dripped off the cardboard onto the grass. She gasped as she viewed a bright red mustache marring her upper lip, and across the silver chopsticks sticking akimbo from her grey bun. The glare in her eyes defined her determination to fill the empty seat left by the recent arrest of the previous city council chairman.

The front door opened and Katherine peeked out. “What’s wrong, Grandma? We heard you yelling. What are you doing out here in your nightgown?” Katherine stepped onto the porch. “Get inside this minute. You’ll catch your death of cold.”

“Some son of a biscuit-eater just painted a mustache on my campaign sign.” Agnes waved her broom in the direction of the car screeching around the corner.

“Well, they’re gone now. You can’t be out here in your ‘altogether.’ What will the neighbors think?” Indeed, the curtains were drawn back in the house next door, and Agnes’s friend, Mavis, peeked out, her grey head covered in pink curlers. Agnes waved, lifted her broom to salute her, and marched back into the house.

*****To read the remainder of the novel, go to Amazon to buy...

https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt

(Amazon e-book  $3.99) Contact me for an autographed paperback $15.00 - free shipping

26
May

Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings

The fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure is finally available in e-book at Amazon ($3.99) and in paperback from me ($15.00 free shipping). As Mrs.  O continues to fight WWII from the home front, she continues to be search for a home for the displaced carnival tiger. She decides to take her burden to the Lord. From Chapter Six…

“Lord, it’s me, Agnes Agatha Odboddy. Yes, I know you must be pretty disappointed with me most days, but I do my best, Lord, really, I do. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m in another jam. It’s not about me this time, it’s for Shere Khan. Surely, You approve of my efforts to save him, because it’s a worthwhile mission. I know you’re busy with the war and all, so I’ll get straight to the point. I need a caregiver for the tiger right away, and I need a permanent home for–”

Bing… Bong… The doorbell? Agnes’s head came up as she turned toward the bedroom door. She bowed her head again. “Someone’s at the door, Lord, so I need to go, but I’ll be back as soon as I can. I’d appreciate it, Lord, if You could ponder on a solution while I’m gone. Uh…Amen!”

Agnes hurried to the front door and flung it open. She put her fist to her mouth. “Oh, my stars. You! I can’t believe it. What are you doing here?” She grabbed the visitor’s arm, pulled him into the living room and thrust him onto the sofa. “Did you come on your own or did God send you?”

Her visitor raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “Well, I…I guess it was my idea.”

Now, in the past, due to her inability to keep her mouth shut and her nose out of things that were none of her business, Agnes often found herself in a pickle. As a result, she would get on her knees and bargain with the Lord for deliverance. More often than not, thanks to the benevolence of the Almighty, her conundrum would reach a satisfactory solution. But, never in her history of misadventures had He answered her prayer before she even got to the ‘Amen,’ proving that He’d seen the problem coming and was already several steps ahead in solving it.

There on her sofa sat Charles, the young man from Albuquerque she met last summer, who risked his life and freedom to help her. Thanks to Charles, when she was unexpectedly waylaid, he provided an unconventional method of travel to Little Rock, where she was able to reconnect with Katherine and complete her journey to Washington, D.C., to visit the president. (Mrs. Odboddy And Then There Was a Tiger)

Now, some months later, imagine her surprise to find Charles at her door. Surely, God sent him to Newbury to help save the tiger.

One problem solved, but many more ahead. Hope you’ll all enjoy this new exciting and humorous adventure.

Contact me at   Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com  to order an autographed paperback novel. 

https://tinyurl.com/5xah4cnt    for an Amazon e-book ($3.99)

 

 

28
Apr

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer - An Excerpt

Re-read my 2015 novel again this week and was surprised what a wonderful story it was. Here is a short (edited) excerpt from Brett and Kimberlee's ride across the Texas prairie. Hope you purchase the book.

Heavy clouds formed overhead as Kimberlee’s mare plodded behind Juan with Brett as they rode single file through the underbrush into the valley. Kimberlee caught her breath as she reached the grassy meadow and the wild horses came into view. A streak of lightning crackled across the sky and distant thunder rumbled.

Quantum reared, and took off at a gallop, his black mane whipping as he led his mares away.

Brett gave his mount a kick and sprinted past Kimberlee and Juan. Kimberlee’s horse lunged after him. Kimberlee gripped the body of the horse with her knees. The wind beat at her face. Her heart thumped in time with the thundering hooves. Brett raced beside her, creating a cloud of dust and wind and noise. Adrenaline mingled with terror as she reveled in the exhilaration.

Her body throbbed with each stride of the beast’s surging muscles, driving through her legs. The breath in her throat burned as her mare rode neck to neck with Brett. His horse’s mane whipped against her hands, stinging like fire. Never had she felt so close to death and yet… so alive.

She turned and stared into the horse’s giant brown eye, the dark and the light of it looking like land and water on a distant planet floating through the universe. Her heart soared as she became one with the wind and the grass and the dirt and the noise, overcome with abounding joy. She swallowed a sob, as the ecstasy of the moment washed over her and she wished it would never end. Quantum’s herd pulled away and seemed to disappear in a cloud of dust. Kimberlee’s mare skidded to a halt beside Brett.

Juan pounded up behind them and pulled his horse to a halt. “What’s the big idea?” His face was as dark as the clouds overhead. “You both could have been killed!” Lightning streaked and thunder rumbled.

Wow! That was great. I’ve never had such a thrill.” Brett beat his hat against his leather chaps. Still panting from the exertion, Kimberlee could only nod. Her body tingled, unable to express what she felt.

“We need to get moving. These summer storms can be vicious. We don’t want to be caught out here on the prairie.” Juan turned his horse back toward the ranch. As great drops of rain pelted down, Kimberlee sniffed and tasted the scent of it. Little puffs of dust bounced in the dry earth. The smell of damp earth would forever remind her of this wonderful afternoon.

An unexplained lump rose up in her throat. The exhilaration of following Quantum’s herd filled her heart to overflowing. She couldn’t gulp down her sobs. Rain mingled with tears streaming down her face.

Brett slid off his horse and handed the reins to Juan. “What is it, honey?” He pulled her from the saddle and wrapped her in his arms.

“It was all so wonderful. The wind, the lightning... I… I’ve never felt anything like that before. I needed to be a part of it, to become one with all this. I needed to remember that God is in control and we are powerless to change what happens around us. I don’t know how to explain it.” Tears trickled down her face.

Brett dabbed her cheeks with his handkerchief. “I understand. I−”

Kimberlee pulled her head back. “No. You don’t. I don’t understand it myself. We were riding and the thunder and lightning… It was like, all at once I understood.”

“Tell me, honey. Understood what?”

“With all that’s happened here on the ranch, I didn’t think I could go on. I was losing control, losing… me. I didn’t think I could bear it.”

Kimberlee looked out across the meadow where the rain poured onto the dry earth, and then back at Brett. “Now I understand. It’s not important, none of it. What’s important is you and me, our family.” She waved her hand. “The land… and this. Quantum and his herd. They’re important and the lightning and the thunder. She smiled. “I’m ready now. Let’s go home.”

A streak of lightning slashed across the sky and distant thunder crashed as the storm moved further across the plains. As suddenly as it started, the rain stopped and the sun came out.

The bushes sparkled with clustered rain droplets, catching the sun and glistening like diamonds. The hills jutted up from the prairie floor like mounds of cookie dough. A brilliant rainbow of red, yellow, green and blue circled the top of the canyon. And, there again was the contrariness of the prairie, intense and challenging one minute, and God’s beautiful garden the next.

I can send you an autographed paperback for $15.00 (free shipping).  Email: Elaine.Faber @mindcandymysteries.com or Amazon e-book is just $3.99

3
Apr

Interview with Mildred Haggenbottom, Mrs. Odboddy's Best Friend

Elaine’s novel, Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot a hysterical WWII fiction novel of suspicion and spies.  Agnes fights WWII from the home front, while seeing conspiracies and Nazi spies around every corner. When Mrs. Roosevelt unexpectedly comes to town to attend a funeral, Agnes is called upon to prove she is, indeed, a hometown patriot.

Interview begins:

I’m Mildred Haggenbottom, Agnes’s best friend, and share the adventures with Agnes in Elaine Faber’s first WWII novel, Mrs.  Odboddy–Hometown Patriot.

Agnes and I have been friends for over twenty-five years. She’s the cat’s meow…as the young people say. How we met…? Let me see.

It was in 1918, during WWI. Agnes and I were United States’ undercover agents, assigned a top secret operation in Paris. We spent three days hiding in a bombed-out building with our handler, Godfrey Baumgarten. Believe me, after 72 hours in a life or death situation, you end up either hating someone’s guts or friends for life. Godfrey and Agnes got quite close…too close, if you ask me… Missing from our lives for 25 years, he showed up in Newbury last week, looking for a million dollars in missing Hawaiian money and wanting to reignite his ‘friendship’ with Agnes. I don’t think she’s trying very hard to keep him at arm’s length, if you know what I mean.

After Paris, Agnes changed. She’s been paranoid, eccentric, and fanatically patriotic ever since. She’s determined to root out injustice, regardless of the consequences. I could hardly believe what she plans to do about the black market ration book scam she thinks she discovered, and when the watch tower burned down at the ocean, she says she can’t explain it because it’s Top Secret. Talk is that she burned it down, herself.

Let’s just say, Agnes tends to see conspiracies and spies under every rock. She believes Nazi spies have infiltrated Newbury. She drives Police Chief Waddlemucker crazy with her notions. She’s usually wrong, but her heart is in the right place.

Agnes lives with her granddaughter, Katherine, who works at the Curls to Dye For Beauty Salon. She does the hair and make-up for the Whistlemeyer mortuary. That certainly turned into quite an adventure, but you’ll have to read the book for the details. Spoiler alert, you know.

Fair warning to the Nazi spies out there. If you really are skulking around Newbury, planning nefarious deeds, I suggest you peddle your papers elsewhere, because if Agnes stumbles onto you, between her and Chief Waddlemucker, your name is toast!

Elaine’s novels include Black Cat’s Legacy; Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer,  Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, and Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot, Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was A Tiger,-and lastly, The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain, all available at Amazon - $3.99 for e-book. Or, you can write to Elaine and for $15, she'll send you an autographed paperback copy, (free shipping).

28
Feb

How Characters can Highjack A Story

 

I’m never surprised what my characters highjack the story. I follow their lead until the scene plays out. When this happens, sometimes it takes the story in surprising directions. It is most unnerving and sometimes I have to ask, “How do I get him out of this predicament?” Of course, that’s often when the mischievous character decides to take a vacation and leaves me trying to resolve how to get the character out of the muddle they just created.

My parents used to tell me that as a toddler, I buried my toys in the sand and my dad had to dig around and try to find them. Aha! The proverbial lightbulb flashed over my head! What if years ago, a toddler buried something that wasn’t found until now it it becomes the clue to solving a murder today?

With that concept in mind, I started writing my first novel. I thought it would be a story about a divorcee who wants to solve her father’s cold-case murder, and something she buried as a baby would reappear and be relevant to solving the murder. Quite without intending it to happen, a tuxedo cat (Thumper) jumped into the tale, took over, and became the main character as he used his ancestor’s memories to help her solve the case. Black Cat’s Legacy was born. This led to Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, and Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary. (Available at Amazon in paperback and e-book)

Some people ask, “What do you do when you have writer’s block?” When this happens to me, I ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” I conjure up several alternatives, pick one and run with it.

Here’s an example: Let’s imagine I want to write a mystery. The main character is a private detective who I eventually plan to get involved in a murder case. The story starts with my main character innocently frying bacon one Saturday morning. What happens next? What’s the worst thing that can happen? The skillet catches fire.

She pulls the fire extinguisher off the wall. What’s the worst thing that can happen? The extinguisher is empty!

She grabs her cell phone to call the fire department. What happens next? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Dead battery!

She runs, screaming, to the front door. “Help! Fire, fire! Help!” She flings open the door.

A handsome neighbor appears and puts out the fire; 275 pages later they have fallen in love, the killer never appears, and eventually our characters ride off into the sunset… A love story…Well, you get the picture.

The characters in this illustration just ran away from me. I had planned this scene to be about a mystery, with a kitchen fire, and intended to have the killer sneak up behind the lady at the stove, but the characters had another idea and a handsome neighbor appears, instead. My 30-second characters took control and turned my illustration upside down into a love story.

When I write, I’m never totally in control. I’m sort of along for the ride.

8
Feb

The Valentine's Day Chocolate Kiss

This is a repeat post, but always a good one when Valentine's Day is near.

We quarreled this morning. I threw his favorite blue cup across the room. It shattered when it hit the hearth. I screamed “I hate you!” and ran out the door. I kicked the tires on my car.

I was angry all morning. Every time the phone rang, I was sure he was calling to apologize. Why didn’t he call? I wouldn’t call him. He was wrong, right?

The afternoon dragged by. It’s 5:00 P.M., and I’m leaving the office. … The traffic is terrible and I’m anxious to get home. It’s not that I’m going to apologize. It was his fault that we quarreled, but it’s too tiring to stay mad. I want everything to be okay between us again.

The cars creep along the freeway and I check my watch.

He should be home by now, waiting for me, listening to music, probably drinking a glass of red wine. I’m sure he bought me flowers for Valentine's Day. I can’t wait to see what kind he chose.

It started to rain and the leaves swirl across the highway, gathering on the edge of my front window. The windshield wipers swish. They seem to say, “hate-shoo, hate-shoo, hate-shoo.”  I remember how I said those words and tears sting my eyes. I didn’t mean it. I reach for the cell phone in my purse and touch instead, a melted chocolate candy kiss. I lick the chocolate off my fingers and smile, remembering the night, not so long ago and his words, “This kiss signifies my love.”

Now I'm ready to tell him 'I’m sorry', even if he was wrong. I want his arms around me. I want his lips to caress my throat. I want us to be together.

I don’t see his car.  It must be in the garage. I know he heard me pull in the driveway, and even now, I can almost see him rushing to the door with a glass of wine and the flowers. In a minute, he will kiss me and whisper, “I’m sorry…”

I turn the handle on the front door. Why is it locked? I turn my key in the door and call his name. The room is empty. There are no Valentine flowers. Where can he be?

A gust of wind rushes in, slamming the door behind me. My eyes are drawn to a chocolate candy kiss as it rolls off the table. A single sheet of paper flutters for a moment, then settles to the floor...

****

Hope your Valentine's Day has a better ending. Don't let the day begin or end without saying, "I love you."   Elaine Faber

 

25
Jan

Cont. Chapter One - Mrs. Odboddy's Desperate Doings

See previous post, dated January, 2022, for the beginning of Chapter One. In summary, Agnes was rescuing her Siamese cat, from the apple tree when she fell... and....

Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.

****

The story continues....

A voice called her name from far away. “Mrs. Odboddy. Can you hear me?”

Ow.” Her cheek smarted. Had someone slapped her? Another slap? Near dead, and now being attacked? What was the world coming to when an old woman couldn’t fall from an apple tree and die in peace? Agnes opened her eyes. Ling-Ling leaped from branch to branch and dropped lightly beside her hip. “Meow!

Her head lolled back against the tree. Now she comes down, after I risked my life to…  Several faces hovered over her. Godfrey’s face and two others.  Fireman? Why?

Katherine knelt beside Godfrey and took her hand. “Grandma. Are you alright?” She turned toward the men in heavy overcoats. “Did she break anything?”

“Hard to say, ma’am.” Barnaby Merryweather, the gray-headed volunteer fireman, touched the lump on the back of Agnes’s head. “She has some scratches and a sizable bump on the back of her head. Her doctor should check her over to be sure. She took a pretty good whack. Agnes? Do you know what day it is? Who’s the President?”

Ow!” Agnes swatted at the fireman’s hand. “Of course. It’s April 26, 1944, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is the President. Now, help me into the house.” Her hand dropped onto Ling-Ling’s back as she nuzzled under her arm. “I see the wretched cat managed to rescue herself.”

“If you’d asked my opinion before you risked your fool life, I would’ve told you she’d come down when she was darned good and ready, Grandma.”

“I called Godfrey. When he didn’t come, I thought I could get her down, myself.”

“Just see how well that turned out,” Katherine patted her grandmother’s cheek. “You could’ve killed yourself.”

“It takes more than a bump to kill an old bird like me.” Agnes touched the lump on her head and twisted her neck from side to side. “Ow.

“Give me a hand, Barnaby,” Godfrey said. One could always count on volunteer fireman,Barnaby Merryweather, a volunteer fireman, whether for a kitchen fire or a cat up a tree. Godfrey put his arm under Agnes’s shoulder. “Can you stand, sweetkins?”

“I think so. You’re right. I should have called the fire department in the first place.”

Barnaby and Godfrey helped Agnes into the house where they lowered her onto the sofa. Barnaby’s son, Benjamin, followed Katherine inside.

“Now I mean it, Agnes. Your doctor needs to check that bump,” Barnaby said. “It looks like it’s swelling up more.”

“Agnes knows what’s best for her, Dad. Maybe she doesn’t want to see the doctor.” Benjamin said. “It’s not your decision, old man.”

Barnaby scowled. “Thanks, Son! Where did you get your medical degree?”

“Just sayin’ she knows how she feels better’n you,” Benjamin snapped.

Barnaby, a long-term citizen of Newbury, had recently handed Merryweather Shoe Repair  over to Benjamin. Word was, they argued about replacing the heel on a shoe almost as much as how to run the volunteer fire department.

Agnes rolled her eyes at the two Merryweather men. “Stop bickering. I’ll contact the doctor later, if my head still hurts.”

Barnaby pulled the straps on his hat. ”Next time your cat goes for a climb, Agnes, stay out of the tree!” He and Benjamin turned and stomped out the front door.

Agnes glanced between Katherine and Godfrey. “Why were they here in the first place? I didn’t call them.”

Godfrey ducked his head. “I told you before, plum blossom. We needed their ladder to rescue the cat. Then, by gum, you fell smack at my feet. We should call the doctor. You never know about a head injury.”

Humph! Head injury, my Aunt Fanny. It’s just a little bump. Katherine? Can you fix me a cup of tea and bring me a headache powder?” Agnes stared at Katherine. Her mouth pulled into a frown. “Why on earth are you wearing that ridiculous hat?”

Katherine’s hands went to her head. “Hat? I’m not wearing a hat.” She glanced at Godfrey, then back to Agnes.

“My dear!” Godfrey patted Agnes’s hand. “You must lie down. I’ll get  an ice pack for your head.” He hurried toward the kitchen, paused at the door, and looked back. “I’m calling the doctor.”

“Whatever for? I told you I’ll be just fine… Katherine, would you be a dear and bring me a headache powder? My head hurts like the dickens.” Agnes swiped angrily at tears on her cheeks.

“Agnes, my sweet,” Godfrey said, his cheeks as pale as cottage cheese. “You already asked Katherine…" He sighed. "Never mind. I’ll get you that cup of tea.”

*****

. The three Mrs. Odboddy mystery/adventures are available on Amazon (ebook) for $3.99.

Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, and Mrs. Odboddy And Then there was a Tiger

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt.

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