A Ballad for Sallie by Judy Alter

sallieJudy Alter is a prolific writer of non-fiction, westerns and mysteries. I recently was fortunate enough to win a copy of her well written, extremely authentic western, A Ballad for Sallie.

The novel tells the story of orphan children who were growing up on their own until the widow Sallie McNutt came to town and changed their lives. I’ll let feisty orphan Lizzie tell you what it felt like to be one of the orphans when she fears that another orphan might be reduced to tears when he talks about his dead mother. And yet, Lizzie knows that July, a younger orphan, has not yet hardened to the point of never showing empathy.

“I hoped there hadn’t been any tears, because crying was something no Acre brat did. July was too young to make such fine distinctions, though, and she looked solemnly at him, then went quietly over and put her hand on his arm.”

I think these two beautifully written sentences show so much of the life and the times.

And since it is Tuesday, I will also share two sentences that I wrote recently. These are from Death Branches Out my second novel in the Read ‘Em and Eat series.

“He was dressed in his usual Florida work clothes, khakis and a golf shirt, this one was light green and I thought it made his brown eyes appear more hazel. He ran one hand over his sandy hair, a habit he’d had for as long as I’d known him, and then held out his i-Phone for all to see.”

And you?? What have you been reading or writing of late? Do you have two sentences you wish to share? We await with bated breath.



Yukio Mishima

By Shirou Aoyama Wikipedia I

Yukio Mishima  Shirou Aoyama

A soft Tuesday night rain. You can almost hear it, and see it. They may not be his exact words as I remember them, but they’re close enough.

Reading Yukio Mishima, considered one of the most influential Japanese authors of the 20th Century, was a learning experience for me as a writer. It was worth putting aside his extreme right-wing politics. His exquisite writing revealed the ambiance of certain moments, his descriptions went beyond the obvious beauty of the physical to include darkness.

To demonstrate, here is his opening paragraph of The Temple of Dawn, the third book of his highly respected tetralogy:

‘It was the rainy season in Bangkok. The air was saturated with a continuous fine drizzle, and often drops of rain would dance in a brilliant ray of sunlight. Rifts of blue were always visible here and there; and even when clouds clustered most thickly round the sun, the sky at their circumference was dazzlingly blue. Before an approaching squall, it would turn ominously dark and threatening. A foreboding shade would shroud the predominantly green, low-roofed city dotted with palms.”

Would you like to share a sentence or two that you are working on?


Tuesday Twosome: The Candidate’s Daughter

512HVyYOVmL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_In The Candidate’s Daughter,  a crime thriller by Catherine Lea, a young woman, Kelsey Money, who’s part of a gang that’s kidnapped a six-year old Down’s Syndrome child– the daughter of Senator Richard and Elizabeth McClaine–finds herself facing a crisis of conscience. It was supposed to be simple crime: grab the kid, get the money and send the kid back home.

Now, Kelsey’s not so sure that her boyfriend, Matt and his brother Lionel, are down with the plan and questions what they’re really going to do. Here are a few sentences from the story:

“Okay, this is the deal. We give ’em the day. But that’s it. Saturday noon, we’re gone. Gimme a sheet of paper.”

“But then we’ll take her home, right?” said Kelsey.

Matt just gave her a look.

Here are a few from my wip:

Something was wrong. The man with grandma was George, but it couldn’t be. He was dead, wasn’t he?

How about you? What are you working on?

Visit me at www.cathistoler.com. Look for excerpts of my new novel, KEEPING SECRETS, my novella, NICK OF TIME, and my latest news and events.

Two Sentence Tuesday: How’re We Doing?

Best-Laid-PlansSo no matter how much I think I’m getting ahead, I’m still behind, as evidenced by this post’s earlier appearance as a mere placeholder–bad author, bad!

So how ARE we all doing? Well, for me, it turned out that the help at the day job I’ve desperately needed for months and months has finally come, with more on the way next week. First response: YAY! However, the double-edged sword of that means training NOW. I don’t mind doing it at all, and if it goes well, it will free me up more later, but at the moment, it means spending much more time getting tasks done so new people learn the whys and wherefores to become independent themselves. And next week will be the uber-doozy of it. Therefore, I haven’t gotten as much done in Feb as I’d strategized at all, because I just can’t make this month a “virtual sabbatical” with new co-workers who deserve attention. Not my timing, but the universe laughs at plans. Does that mean I’ve gotten nothing done? Hardly! I don’t have to give up just because I’m slowing down! My 41,000 word count needed is now down to 38,000, so that’s progress, and here are two from that WIP:

Beyond the threshold he guarded was a door cracked open to the outside. Flashing across Melanie’s mind was the thought of fleeing.

Two I read this week include these, which I’ll keep tantalizingly vague, but bonus points to those of you who can guess which of the Women of Mystery’s manuscripts it is. ( Boy, do we have a ton of new and upcoming releases around here! I’ll be talking more about this one later, so the suspense won’t be intolerable.)

Maybe that was why he wasn’t enjoying a respite from crime. The calm felt ominous.

Hmmmm…. Let us know what two sentences you read or wrote (or just planned to read or write) this week!

Tuesday Twosome: Kyle J. Knapp poetry

ossuaryLast June a talented young poet named Kyle J. Knapp died in a house fire. His uncle, Beat to a Pulp publisher, David Cranmer had published Kyle’s fist volume of poems Pluvial Gardens about a year before Kyle’s unfortunate death. This past September Beat to a Pulp dedicated the September Eighth issue to three of Kyle’s lovely poems.

Here at Women of Mystery I also wrote a small tribute to the posthumously published collection of poems entitled Celebrations in the Ossuary.

Today I present the opening lines of the title poem from Ossuary:

If I were celebrated The Local Poet

I would no longer reply to vague threats

For harrowing a neighbor’s cold roses

In the middle of the night.

You may have heard that David is putting together an anthology of stories written on reflections of prompts from Kyle’s dream journal. I am honored to have been invited  to submit a story. The dream snippet that I selected is “the laconic dust,” which I took as a reference to Emily Dickinson’s poem that begins “Dust is the only Secret.”

Here are two sentences from the story I have written to honor Kyle:

My father had the sense to thank Granny for taking me in. My mother took it as her God-given birthright that her mother would hide the mess I’d made.

So that’s what I have. And you? What have you read? What have you written?


Tuesday Twosome: Medieval Mystery

41vEtuKgORL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_In THE SERPENT’S TALE, a mystery by Ariana Franklin we encounter murder most foul and a heroine most unique.

Adelia Aguilar, a woman, a doctor and a Jew, adept in the science of death, may be literature’s first female medical examiner. Fiercely independent, she’s been requested by King Henry II to investigate the death of his mistress, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Adelia, kept in England by Henry longs to return to her home in Salerno, and its School of Medicine, which defied the church by allowing women to study there. Complicating matters further, is the fact that Adelia now has a child, fathered by Bishop Rowley Picot, the king’s trusted advisor.

In this, the second book in the series, we encounter Adelia as she’s trying to deliver a baby for the first time.

“Push Ma,” said the fetus’s eldest sister helpfully from the sidelines.

“Don’t you be telling her that.” Adelia said in East Anglian. “Her can’t push til the times comes.” At this stage, the poor woman had little control over the matter.

And, neither do I, she thought in desperation. I don’t know what to do.

It only gets worse for Adelia from there, but much better for the reader and we follow the ins and outs of politics and murder in Henry’s court.

As for me, here are a few sentences from my work in progress, BAR NONE A MURDER ON THE ROCKS MYSTERY. It’s a little bit of the back story of my main character, Jude Dillane, bar & lounge owner, as she’s confronting the demons from her past and reliving the last argument she had with her little brother over some soda he’d splashed on her favorite tee shirt.

My mom kept saying she’d wash it and don’t be upset, but I ignored her and just kept crying. Finally they boarded and were raising the sail. Mom called to me again. “C’mon, Jude. It was just a joke. Come with us.”

I shook my head no. “I hate him. I hate him.” I yelled over and over again. I turned and stared at Aiden like I could burn a hole right through him. “I hope you die.” I screamed with everything I had left in me. My words hit home and I could see his face crumple as he grabbed onto mom. Good, I thought as I turned on my heel and stalked off for the long walk home.

How about you? How about you? What have you been working on?

Visit me at www.cathistoler.com. Look for excerpts of my new novel, KEEPING SECRETS and on my novella, NICK OF TIME, and my latest news and events.


The Wrong Girl Tuesday Twosome

wrong-girl-225Welcome to Twofer Tuesday! In a recent post I talked about my winning streak as I followed other authors from blogs to Goodreads to Facebook and entered giveaways celebrating wonderful new books.

You may recall that one of the books I won is The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan. I must tell you that I found the book to be both gripping and thought provoking. It belongs on everyone’s TBR list.  Here is a bit to whet your appetite.

At the behest of a former colleague, Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland is investigating a long ago adoption, while Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a murder. Very quickly they find that their investigations lead them both into the intricacies of an overburdened foster care system and a scandal ridden adoption agency. To help you feel the enormity of the problems at hand, here are a few sentences from The Wrong Girl:

That empty cradle. Bugged the hell out of him. Dr. Sibbach insisted she’d been given no paperwork about a third child. Insisted there were only two kids. But that didn’t add up.”

Chilling, right?

My current work in progress is a short story that deals with another aspect of the foster care/adoption system. It takes place in the early 1960s. Here’s a glimpse:

“When we got to my grandmother’s farm, they dumped me and my sparse luggage in Granny’s sitting room. My mother sat on a chair in the kitchen and wailed her grievances about how I’d gone wrong as if we were all discovering for the first time why the trip had been made.”

And you? Have you gotten anything written lately? If so, please share a snippet in the comments as we are a very curious group.


Two Sentence Tuesday: Hubba Hubba for Our Cover Girl!

AHMM-Cover-November-2013-Terrie-Farley-MoranIt’s true that Women of Mystery have previously had their names on book covers (may there be many, many more of those), but this is a magazine cover I’m talking about. And not just any magazine, but one of the preeminent publications for short crime fiction anywhere. Take a gander at the current cover (Nov. 2013 issue) of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and tell me if you notice anyone fabulous!! (spoiler: it’s Terrie Farley Moran!)

From her story “Knowledge is Deadly” (combining academia, aeronautics, and murder), come these 2 sentences I particularly enjoyed:


Chippy sputtered through the sound system, “I give you Dr. Winston Pomeroy,” followed by the desperate clapping of people who’d feared Chippy would never stop talking… We shuffled off to the elevator with Monique wailing and everyone trying to soothe her as if she was a new widow, not a convenience date for an awards banquet.

This issue is available online right now for Nook or Kindle, and I’ve always had good luck getting hard copies at Barnes and Noble. (Though if you’re not going for something else already, it can be a good idea to phone ahead and make sure the issue’s been shelved.)

I don’t have 2 new sentences of my own this week, which is not good. In a normal 7-day stretch, I create thousands of words of new content, but those don’t get my fiction works-in-progress completed. However, I’ve been on a clean-up bent (overhauling my life into accurate sets of to-dos) for almost a month, while also trying to keep up with the everyday onslaught, and I think I’m finally getting somewhere. I can tell because I don’t wake every morning with the panicked feeling of imminently letting someone down. With my extensive new lists (note: make sure working on my own writing appears in CAPS), I’ve been keeping my head down and trying dutifully to execute, remembering that The Intractable, Relentless Listmaker only wants what’s best for me.

Please share 2 sentences with what you’re up to in your reading and writing life!

Tuesday Twosome

TheHitI’m reading David Baldacci’s latest, The Hit. It’s entertaining because it’s about the government using one of their trained assassins to go after another of their trained assassins that has gone rogue.

That has to be aggravating. Will Robie was the best of the best as a hit man. Jessie Reel is equally as good and equally as dangerous. But has she gone rogue just for the fun of killing? Maybe everything is not as it seems, which is always a good premise for a mystery novel.

Went to a great workshop about descriptions on Saturday and thought I might share a couple of them today.

From The Hit:

The car was parked outside of a grill pub across from a bank. It was late, the darkness deep and broken only by the exterior light of the building.

From my current WIP:

It was three o’clock in the morning, but the big table in Sarah’s dining room was filled with people and food. They had all come from their homes without question, each bringing a dish of Southern “comfort” food—homemade bread and blackberry jam, cinnamon rolls, sliced ham, peaches from Sarah’s canning cellar and fresh blackberry cobbler was being reheated in the oven.

Seeing everything that’s going on in a couple of sentences builds a picture that keeps the reader’s attention.

What are you working on this week? Share two sentences with us.

Tuesday Twosome

I spent last week with my grandsons. We three did some compromising–rap music coming from my car for me and sticking to Mom’s rule of no Cokes with dinner for them. It was a good time.

REDWe watched several movies and we all enjoy “RED,” with its stellar cast of veteran actors. I love this movie because it had seniors kicking some serious butt and the boys enjoyed the antics of the John Malcovich character with his armory and hidden weapons.

It was good to share one of my favorite movies with them and have them enjoy it so much. We’ve also shared the Harry Potter books and movies. Like the boys, I love those and we’ve even talked about a lot of life lessons we found among the wonderful adventures of Harry Potter.

HPotterHere’s one of my favorite quotes from Harry Potter and I hope my grandsons take it to heart:

Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.

Here are two sentences from my current work:

“I don’t understand why everyone else is just ignoring this threat.” Brenna walked to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water. “For centuries Connelly witches have just walked into the volcano without looking back, and I’m not going to do that.”

Working on something that’s inspiring you? Share it with us!