Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Happy (?) New Year


(This was posted on Writers Who Kill January 5th, repeated here today because, well, it seemed like a good idea.) (Hey, if there can be a 12 days of Christmas, there can be a few extra of New Year's. That's what I think.)

If you want to get a whole lot of responses online, just post that you’re sick and feeling lousy. I did that recently and was astonished at how many other people seem to have the same lingering malady that I’ve had for most of December. I’m writing this the end of December and am not really feeling very much better. (I’m seeing the doctor again in a few days, though.) ((See my update at the end, please!))

However, my horoscope the day I’m writing this, December 31st, gives me hope.




Priorities and fantasies. Hm, this assumes they’re wildly different. But bringing them together sounds like a good thing, right?

One priority is to get healthy. Another is to meet my upcoming deadlines. Maybe my priority is to get things published and my fantasy is to sell a million of each short story and novel. Yes, bringing them together would be a very good thing! Especially since I have a new series starting in March and have high hopes, even fantasy aspirations.

Since I started this essay with the health thing, I should relate it to my writing.

That’s easy. It’s all material! I haven’t used this awful malady (coughing, runny nose, no energy) yet, but you can bet I will. My characters do end up suffering whatever I’ve recently gone through, somehow.

I had a horrible cold when I wrote the short story “Handbaskets, Drawers, and a Killer Cold” so my main character, a Chicago cop, did too. I felt so awful when I wrote it, but I think I put a lot of realism into it because it was nominated for Best Short Story Agatha Award that year (2009).



Another time I stubbed my toe. Actually, I broke it and it gave me all kinds of problems. So my character, stubbed her toe, too, and it gave her lots of problems.

The cold theme came up again for a character. She had my cold, of course. This was Chase Oliver in the third Fat Cat book, FAT CAT TAKES THE CAKE. I was able to play it for comedy this time, rather than misery, as in the above short story. Everyone she knew let her know exactly what she should do for her malady, and some of the advice conflicted. (That’s actually based on my experiences, too.)

Anyway, I HOPE everyone who has been suffering through this month-long upper respiratory yuck is soon (or already) fine and that 2020 will prove to be a much better year for all of us.

[[I'll update here to say that the very bad December stuff is going away and I'm feeling MUCH healthier.]]

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

New Year, New Series!


This blog appeared on Killer Characters (Where the characters do the talking...) 1.4.2020

by Tally Holt, owner of Tally’s Olde Tyme Sweets in Fredericksburg, TX
from the Vintage Sweets series, upcoming in March


I’m feeling lucky, starting a new year in my very own shop. I wouldn’t be here if my friend Yolanda Bella hadn’t urged me to move here and rent the space next door to her place, Bella’s Baskets. I’ve hired a good crew, I think, to help me sell my vintage sweets.

It was a stroke of serendipity that my grandmother arranged to have her recipe box sent to me after her death. For one thing, going through those index cards in the old metal box brought back sweet memories of the precious woman who had helped raise me. She had come from New Jersey to Texas and always retained a fondness for the old place. When I tried a couple of the recipes, the smells and textures almost brought her back to life in my kitchen.

I wasted no time selling my bakery in Austin and setting up a vintage sweet shop, using her recipes for my basic products. I think I’ll ring in the New Year with the Irish Cream Truffle Fudge.



My author, Kaye George, wants you to know that my first adventure is on preorder at https://www.amazon.com/Revenge-Sweet-Vintage-Sweets-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07TS1KJ4T/

But, better yet, you can enter a Goodreads Giveaway that our generous publisher, Lyrical Press, has set up, to WIN a free copy. It goes until January 17th. Good luck!!



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

My First Bouchercon!



This was posted on Writers Who Kill earlier, but I want to put it here, too. It was a big event for me.

[***NOTE: I have a story in an anthology which is just out! I'll be gone part of the day today, but will check in here as soon as I'm home.]

I went to my first ever Bouchercon this month, and a couple of days of last month (10/30-11/3). It wasn’t a month long, but kind of seemed like it!

WEDNESDAY
I flew there on Wednesday and checked into my hotel, the Hyatt Regency Reunion Tower. Although I lived in Dallas for nearly 20 years and have been to Reunion Tower at least once, I don’t remember the hotel and the entire city looked unfamiliar. They’ve built—and are building—so many new skyscrapers since I left well over 15 years ago.







I’ll admit the conference was bewildering to me. I never did find a good map and used this one from the huge tome I got when I checked in Wednesday. There was no map in the schedule I carried around. It felt like I walked a thousand miles!




THURSDAY

I had breakfast Thursday morning with a good friend from Dallas, Sarah Weiss.

My panel, on self-publishing, was that morning at 9:30, but I don’t have any pictures of it.




I do have pix of two other panels I attended that day, both short story panels. I didn’t sell any books at the conference since I couldn’t get them into the bookstore until after my panel and my signing, due to miscommunication between the hotel and the conference, I was told. That was quite disappointing.





Becki Willis, Sandy Steen, Mary Sojak, Mad Hildebrandt, Angela Zeman, Bess Carnan, Rhonda Gilliland, Paul Benson




Barb Goffman, R.T. Lawton, Mysti Berry, James Lincoln Warren, Michael Bracken, John Floyd




There was a Guppy gathering later in the day (I neglected to get photos) and Denise Tiller and I ended up at the bar together.

FRIDAY

Friday started with the Sisters in Crime breakfast. There were some pictures there—this one of Ramona’s Facebook Sprint group, but I didn’t make the Guppy picture, unfortunately.




Annette Dashofy, Me, Liz Milliron, Cheryl Hollon, Dru Ann Love, Millie Naylor Hast (her picture)

I attended the awarding of the Bill Crider Awards, since I was a judge for those. It was great to see Joseph S. Walker win the award, since he also had an excellent story in my own anthology in 2017.



Me and Joseph Walker above. The short story awards people below, Paula Benson, an important man whose name I forgot, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Gigi Pandian (speaking), and Kevin Tipple




Here’s a link to Paula Benson’s post on the Crider Awards.

Alan Orloff took the Derringer for Best Short Story. Here he is, on the right, with Brian Silverman, nominee for Best Novelette, and another writer whose name I can’t remember.



Derringer finalists

Derringer winners

Sandra Murphy and Nancy West joined me at the bar that night.



Cheryl Hollon and I went to the Denim Party, which included some BBQ, but very little line dancing and the bar closed very early. It included a surprise live auction, but no one knew what the items were so the bidding wasn’t brisk.

SATURDAY
I took shots of the daytime view from my room and the two panels I attended, Deep in the Heart of Texas at 11:00, and Anthony nominees at 4:00.












Deep in the Heart of Texas: Scott Montgomery, Daniel J. Hale, Harry Hunsicker, Nancy G. West, William Dylan Powell, Teresa Trent





Anthony Best Short Stories nominees: (M) Angela Crider Neary, Barb Goffman, S. A. Cosby (winner), Art Taylor, Holly West

Anthony Winners are here.

I attended the Diamond Party Saturday night and it turned out to be a dinner, much to our surprise.








I was in a picture with members of the WWK blog, but haven’t gotten a copy of it. Don’t remember when that was taken.

SUNDAY
I headed out and drove to Austin to spend the rest of that week at my son’s house. Got home on the 8th, exhausted!

There were some great highlights! One was signing my story in COOKED TO DEATH for Rhonda Gilliland, hanging around with all the other people mentioned above, and just being with so many writers. The Kensington signing was fun, too, even though I don’t have a book out with them yet. Can’t wait until that event at Malice. Needless to say, I had a wonderful time at Bouchercon, but was confused for most of it!

Here’s one final comment on the drama of the whole thing. On the way there, a guy had a heart attack on our plane! On the way back, my luggage didn’t get home with me. I got it the next day, but was panicking!

Monday, October 28, 2019

My October Newsletter


October 28, 2019



Thank you to all my subscribers! I appreciate you so much!

WHAT’S NEW

**The anthology, A MURDER OF CROWS, came out earlier this month. It not only includes my own story, “Grist for the Mill,” is contains an introduction by the editor, Sandra Murphy that begins with this sentence:
“It’s all Kaye George’s fault.”
It really is, too! You’ll have to take a peek, and maybe buy the e-book or paperback while you’re there.



In fact, here’s a link to an interview of Sandra by Jacqueline Seewald.


**Do you remember my Cressa Carraway Musical Mystery series that got orphaned when the publisher went out of business earlier this year? The same place that published that above anthology has taken it on! I promised a third book to round out the over-arching plot that wasn’t quite finished at the end of the second book. They will get new titles and new covers from Darkhouse Books. I’m very excited that this series will be revived!


**I’m on a Darkhouse Books roll right now! Another anthology is coming out very soon, MID-CENTURY MURDERS and will include my story “Life and Death on the Road,” based on the true story of when my little brother ran away and joined the carnival.


WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON

--You may remember that I got a hip replacement in August. I’m well on the road to recovery, as far as decreased pain and increased function. Only problem is, my back still hurts like the dickens! My cousin’s wife had all her back pain go away when she got a knee replaced and I hoped I would get similar results. But, no luck. So that’s the next body part to work on.


WHAT I’M DOING
--Yes, still trying to finish up INTO THE SWEET HEREAFTER, the third Vintage Sweets cozy. But right now, packing for Bouchercon in Dallas! This will be my first Bouchercon. For some reason, I’ve never been to one and I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m on a self-publishing panel on Thursday (Halloween!) at 9:30. I have several meetups planned with other writers there, plus my former co-workers from when I lived in Dallas. I’m taking a little more time to drive to Austin to see my son’s family and people I know from the time I lived in Austin.


WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT

Bouchercon, Oct 31-Nov 3, in Dallas, where I lived for nearly 20 years.

Left Coast Crime in San Diego, where I have cousins I haven’t seen in too long. March 12-15.


Malice Domestic, of course, very soon after LCC. May 1-3 in the DC area where I have more family—my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons.


WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING
Charging my laptop and organizing files I want to access while I’m away. And packing. And putting holds on the mail and paper. And getting the cab and the rental car set up. Probably some more things that I’ll forget entirely.


RECENT WEB APPEARANCES
Blogs: Killer Characters and Writers Who Kill, and, less often, Travels With Kaye.



MY STANDING SHORT STORY OFFER
If you don’t have this yet and would like the audio MP3 file of my story “Rescue, 2005,” based on pet rescues in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Ninth Ward, please let me know by reply or email. You can access another audio story, “Driving out of Dumas,” on my webpage.


CONNECTIONS
Here’s where you can connect with me if you haven’t already:
Authors Guild of Tennessee: https://authorsguildoftn.org/


PUBLIC FACEBOOK GROUPS:
Nose for Trouble Facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/NoseForTrouble/
Prehistory Writers and Readers Campfire: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1466936593554809/
Smoking Guns E TN chapter of Sisters in Crime: https://www.facebook.com/groups/391058174841953/

Thanks so much for subscribing!

Kaye

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Not Another Fork!




I’ve reported forks in the road during my Travels quite a few times now, and I encountered another one this last week. It’s either a bump or a fork—too soon to tell. 


On the surface, it doesn’t look like a good thing, but it may turn out well. One of my publishers, Barking Rain Press, has gone belly up. This has happened to a lot of my writing friends, but never before to me. Yes, Berkley Prime Crime is out of business, but the whole publisher isn’t gone, just that branch—the branch that published me (as Janet Cantrell), of course.
 
This time, though, it’s like those other closings where the writers are left dazed and bewildered. Okay, dazed and confused—might as well say it. There are some authors with BRP who published their first books there. Some who had one in the pipeline and have been waiting for the release through weeks of delay. Some are heartbroken and at least one has vowed to give up mystery writing.

This closing leaves a lot of debris in the road for most of us. I’m trying to pick up the pieces the best way I can. The books that are orphaned are my Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries, EINE KLEINE MURDER and REQUIEM IN RED.

I’m seeing this as an opportunity for a fresh start for these books. I’ve been delaying the third in this intended trilogy (at least), so this is a chance to get some things straightened out and move forward with Cressa. I would like to possibly use the titles I proposed originally, and new covers should brighten up the books. If my agent succeeds in getting a publisher for them, I’ll look forward to fresh edits, too. Heck, I’ll look forward to all of those things, even if I self-publish them. And this is the spur I need to get that third book written.

It could turn out okay for me. I sincerely hope it turns out at least okay for many of my fellow BRP orphans.

all photos from morguefile.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Something New for Me!


I got an invitation out of the blue this week and I’m eager to tell you about it. Another new road for me.



E. B. Davis, a mystery writer I’ve known for some time, asked if I would like to fill an upcoming vacancy at the excellent blog, Writers Who Kill. I thought it about it long and hard for about two minutes.

I’ve followed this blog for a long time and know at least a little about all the bloggers, and am good friends with most of them.

James M. Jackson, author of the Seamus McCree mysteries, is stepping down to do other writerly things, so I’m filling his spot, which is every other Sunday.

I’m still blogging once a month at Killer Characters, wherethe characters do the talking. And I’ll keep up with Travels with Kaye. My intention here has always been to blog once a week, but I admit I’ve been lax lately, so maybe not quite once a week. In fact, maybe every other week. That sounds about right.

Most of the blogger pictures at the side of the new place contain lethal weapons, so I dug out mine from a Writers Police Academy. I believe it’s the only picture of me with an actual lethal weapon. I could totally fire it and I would totally shoot nowhere near the target. I’m a terrible shot.

I’m looking forward to joining the group there! I hope some of you reading this will follow me over and check out the other writers there, too.

new road photo by johnlindsay at morguefile.com

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

I LOVE JUNE




June has been a good month for me. Looking through my short story publications, I realize that a lot of them were published in June. I’d like to pull this one up and post it here for you. It came out in the June 9th issue of “King’s River Life Magazine” in 2012. It’s billed as a mystery/horror story. I think it’s pretty funny.

My own little Jeeves, dearly departed


I’ll give you a bit of background. I’m a HUGE Roomba fan. My son bought me my first one quite a few years ago. By 2012, its battery had died a sad death. It turned out that replacing the rechargeable battery would be nearly as expensive as buying a new one, and other parts, mostly the plastic ones, were getting worn. I ended up buying a new one, but before that, had a weird dream. The Roomba was dead, but would occasionally come to life. It was a little scary! This story came of that.

(Oh yes, I got married in June too. We spent a little over 50 years together, so that turned out to be a good move.)

It’s still at this link, http://kingsriverlife.com/06/09/the-takeover-an-original-mysteryhorror-short-story/, but I’ll also stick it here. (The picture is by me of my own Jeeves. His replacement is named R2, for Roomba #2)

The Takeover: An Original Mystery/Horror Short Story
IN THE JUNE 9 ISSUE
FROM THE 2012 ARTICLES,
ANDFANTASY & FANGS,
ANDMYSTERYRAT'S MAZE SECTIONS
by Kaye George
The Takeover by mystery author Kaye George has never before been published.

When Jeeves quit after working only twenty minutes of vacuuming one sunshiny spring morning, I didn’t think it was that big a deal. Maybe he hadn’t gotten fully charged at his comfy docking station. I picked the dear little thing up and placed him carefully back at his home. His tiny orange heart started beating, telling me he was happily charging. All was well with the world. I was so glad I had a Roomba.

The next day he started out across the kitchen floor as usual. He made those endearing beep-beep-beep backing-up noises that made him sound like a piece of toy construction equipment. But this time he cleaned a few feet of the floor, then stopped, crying, “Uh oh!”

“What’s the matter, my darling Jeeves?” I asked. “Is something wrong with your charger?”

On my hands and knees, I could see the charger was plugged solidly into the outlet and his belly. I got up and went to my home office to look online for answers. I found a few workarounds and fiddled with him and his battery for awhile, but nothing worked. I was stumped. Was he dying? I decided to let him charge overnight again.

The following morning he wasn’t in the corner where he belonged. He was next to the kitchen table, sitting quietly on a section of newspaper I’d left on the floor beside my chair. When I’d read the paper late the night before, I’d been dismayed to read that another zombie uprising was expected. The last one hadn’t happened very close by, two states away, but this next one was expected in a nearby town. The graves there had shown signs of upheaval. The uprisings were increasing in frequency, according to the article. On the stroke of midnight, a cemetery would erupt, zombies would emerge from the ruptured graves, sit up, and struggle to their feet to wreak havoc on the nearest humans. The papers displayed images of the carnage almost every day.

I didn’t like reading about an infestation so close, but I hadn’t been able to avoid the headlines, or the talk in the line at the grocery store. Not only were formerly human zombies taking over small towns, farmhouses, and abandoned shopping malls, a food processor in Chicago had leaped off the counter and pureed a cat, a beloved household pet. The bereaved owner called it a zombie food processor. Strange things were going on.

Lifting Jeeves gently, I snatched the newspaper and crumpled it into the wastebasket.

Jeeves said “Uh oh,” when I picked him up. It was one of his standard programmed noises–for when he was stuck. But he refused to vacuum. Again. I was getting fed up with the little bugger. I went into my office and got online again to see how much a newer model would cost. Maybe I could afford another one. Jeeves seemed to be dying. I supposed I should mourn his loss. He’d been such a fine cleaner. The price of a new battery was almost as much as a new machine. My kitchen floor, and the others in the house, too, were getting dirtier by the day.

The next day, I paged through the paper, averting my eyes from the lurid pictures of the zombie carnage. After breakfast I threw the paper on the floor, as usual, to remind myself to take it to the recycle bin on my next trip to the garage, and got to work in my office at my editing job. When I left the office for a break mid-morning, Jeeves was on top of the newspaper again. Was he reading the damn thing?

I grabbed him, maybe somewhat roughly, and got a mild shock. I shoved him back onto his docking station, determined to take him to the trash tomorrow when I ran my Friday errands. A low rumble emanated from him. It wasn’t a sound I’d ever before heard from his programmed innards. For some reason, it made the hair on the back of my neck prickle. I shook my head at my silly apprehension and closed the door between the office and the kitchen to work that afternoon.

As I sat at the kitchen table at dinner time, I heard the ominous, dull growling noise again. I inclined my head toward Jeeves. There could be no mistake. It was coming from him. Maybe I should rename him Spot or something. If he were human, or even if he were a dog or cat–at least an animate object–I might think he was expressing anger, hostility. Maybe dismay at his dysfunctional state. I shook off a shiver.

I told myself it must be one of the sounds he’s programmed with to show something’s wrong.
 For a few moments I continued eating. When I felt a sucking sensation on my bare toes under the table, I looked down. Jeeves was working away, vacuuming my feet. He’d drawn blood from my left big toe. I slammed him onto the charger and weighed him down with my large dictionary.

I took my plate into the den and turned the TV volume up to mask the disturbing grumbles in the kitchen.
That night, a soft whirring noise awakened me from a restless sleep. My first thought was that the ceiling fan needed oiling. Then I felt it. Something tugged on my hair. It pulled. Harder and harder. I switched on my bedside lamp and tried to sit up, but couldn’t. Jeeves was eating my hair, pulling it out by the roots. I stuffed a pillow on top of him and jerked my head away.

More hair ripped out. Blood dripped onto my sheets.

I trapped him between two pillows to avoid shock.
 Using that morning’s paper, I succeeded in wrapping him and carrying him to the trash container, which I wheeled to the end of the driveway so the automated garbage truck could forklift it and dump it into its hopper tomorrow.

It felt good to get rid of that unsatisfactory piece of hardware. I took a deep breath, relieved. Maybe I would look for an old fashioned vacuum. Most of them must be pushed, but some uprights are self-propelled. I’d shop around.

When I returned from my mid-morning errands the next day, I wheeled the empty trash bin back to the side of the garage and went inside. The growling sound greeted me and Jeeves sat just inside the doorway. It was as if he were waiting for me.

Was there no way to get rid of him? Had he climbed out of the trash barrel? I needed to get him out of here, permanently.

A few steps into the kitchen he darted at my feet and I tripped and went down, my feet smarting from his sting even through my tennis shoes. He reversed and came back at me. I managed to scramble to my feet and jump onto a kitchen chair. He butted against it, but didn’t dislodge me.
Atop the chair, I seemed to be safe from being shocked and vacuumed, but I couldn’t stay there forever.
What to do? I had to get him out of the house. I realized I was breathing heavily and my thumping heartbeat was competing with his low, menacing rumbles.

This would not do. I would not be cornered in my own home by a piece of machinery. I wiped damp palms on my jeans and calmed myself. Putting all my effort into making a tremendous leap, I got past Jeeves and raced to the linen cupboard. Grabbed a large tablecloth and threw it over him. Wrapped it around him, ignoring his muffled cries, which sounded more like pleading now than threats.

I managed to get the horrid thing into my car trunk without a shock. I drove straight to the dump, listening to thumping and groaning from the trunk.

At the entrance, I got out and approached the man in the gatehouse. I hadn’t thought what I would say. How could I tell him I had a rogue Roomba in the trunk?

He greeted me with a cheery smile and I thought fast.

“There’s an appliance in my trunk that I need to get rid of.”

“I’ll get it for ya,” he said, walking to the back of the car.

“Be careful. I’ve been getting shocks from it.”

He paused at the closed trunk. “It’s not one of those vacuum do-hickies, is it?”

Startled that he had guessed, I admitted it was.

“We’ve gotten a few of those in the last couple days.” He grabbed a long handled shovel and took it and a wheelbarrow to the rear of my car. “I should be able to get him this way.”

“How did you know–” I almost asked how he knew Jeeves was a male, but that would sound too ridiculous.

“How do you know how to handle it?”

“After a couple shocks, I figured it out.”

I popped the trunk and he maneuvered Jeeves into the wheelbarrow, then threw a piece of thick cloth over him. “I’ll take it from here,” he said.

I drove off, relieved to be rid of the pest.
 That night I went to bed, secure in the knowledge that my house was rid of the alien, metal enemy.

The next morning, my friend Anna came over for coffee, as she usually did on Saturdays. After some chat about local library funding, the lack thereof, and the deplorable deaths in the neighboring town from the zombie infestation, she glanced at the empty docking station.

“Did your Roomba quit working?” she asked.

“Yes, he just died. I think it might have been the battery,” I lied. “But a new battery is so expensive.”

“That’s weird. Mine died, too, on Thursday. And my mother’s quit working Friday.”

“What did you do?”

She looked away. “We had to get rid of them.”

“Did yours, well, attack you?” I had to know. If this was a widespread defect, the company should be told.

She leaned toward me and lowered her voice, as if a Roomba were nearby and might overhear. “Yes. They both shocked us. Mother fell and we had to take her to the emergency room for the burns. She’ll be okay, but it was upsetting to her. What with her heart and all.”

“I took Jeeves to the dump,” I said.

“Jeeves?”

I reddened, realized I had revealed my pet name for him. “Yes, that was his name.”

“Joe threw mine in the lake,” Anna said, referring to her husband. “And mother’s, too. They didn’t have names.”

“At least we’re rid of them.”

We finished our coffee with some gossip about the new couple in the middle of the block and the way their dog barked so much during the day, then Anna left. I spent the rest of Saturday checking vacuum prices online and eventually ordered one, to be delivered in a week.

Clouds gathered all day Sunday and by nighttime a gentle rain was falling. It was lovely to fall asleep to the regular patter of raindrops on the roof, feeling safe.

Monday morning the sun burst through the clouds when I opened the door to fetch the newspaper from the lawn. I shook it out and started to read the headline, but thought I heard thunder. I looked up to see if the rain was starting again. But the sound was coming from lower, from the ground.

I looked down to see a line of Roombas between me and my front door. They smelled like rotten food and some trailed streamers of gray trash behind them. One winked his glowing top light at me and I thought I recognized Jeeves.

They growled and surged toward me, sparks flying from their evil innards. As I fell, the paper flew from my hands, but I caught the words “Zombie Roombas” in the headlines.