Was it murder--or something serious?
Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Untitled Story Snippet - #1

I was taking the self-assessment quiz in Kate White’s Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead But Gutsy Girls Do when the office door behind me flew open.  I thrust the book in my desk drawer and sat up straight as though I were in yoga class—or it was the first day on the job, which God knows, it was not.
            “Sorry we can’t be of more help, sir,” Mr. Abbott said briskly.
“I appreciate your time.”  The old man’s voice quavered.  He was not our typical client. The typical client of Abbott Investigations was some corporate CEO-type trying to catch some underpaid employee stealing, or some yuppie trying to nail his/her spouse for cheating.  The client—I glanced at my ink blotter (covered with my checking account figures and my answers on the self-assessment quiz)—by the name of Mr. Lorac was about seventy and kind of frail looking with parchment colored skin and wispy white hair that reminded me of a chick fresh out of the egg.  He was some kind of college professor—or had been. I couldn’t believe he was still trudging the ivory halls at his age, but who can say. The way things were going I was liable to still be sitting at this desk wearing this head set at his age.
“Have a nice day,” Mr.  Abbott said curtly.  Yep, in California even the PIs wish you a nice day—and chances are, if you require our services, you could do with a nice day.
The old guy opened his mouth, but Mr.  Abbott had already stepped back and closed the door quietly but firmly.
He sighed, a dry sad sound like the breeze blowing a little dead leaf along the pavement.  “I guess I’ve done all I can do,” he said.
I couldn’t help it, I gave him a sympathetic smile.  “That’s all you can do,” I said. 
He smiled back and, to my dismay, wandered over to the counter behind which I sat, apparently gearing up for a chat.  I reached towards the keyboard to pretend I was very busy with incoming calls, but…he looked so dejected…and he smelled like soap and pipe tobacco, which reminded me of my own grandpa.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jeffrey Farnol

Having grown up reading Georgette Heyer (literally -- I found an early junior high journal the other day where I listed her as my favorite author!) it was only natural that I would eventually discover Jeffrey Farnol. In fact, I read a couple of his novels early on, but I found him less witty than Heyer and a bit more overwrought.

I think I'm more patient now. Or maybe the fact that George MacDonald Fraser rated him so highly has allowed me to view Farnol more objectively. God knows there's no one more intolerant than the young and inexperienced reader.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why, Where Am I?

It's a very strange feeling to try and resume an authorial persona you've essentially discarded and moved away from. That was my feeling this last week as I began sorting through an email box I hadn't touched in nearly three years (heck, I barely look at my regular email anymore either) and began setting up social networks.

I never actually intended to abandon "Diana Killian." Or did I? I tired of the cozy mystery thing very early on. Not the books themselves...well, be honest. Yes. The books themselves for the most part, though there are still wonderful writers here and very amusing stories of chefs and wine tasters and ordinary moms who fall into extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances like...murder.

My writing had gone in such a different direction--I direction I found more meaningful as well as challenging.

But what I am sorry about is losing contact with readers and with losing contact with so many of my writing friends. It's like moving to a new school in a different state. No matter how fond you are of everyone, your life has changed and there really isn't any going back.

Yet here I am. I'm back. Why?

 Frankly, because that other writing world has proved too narrow, too insular...and because it is my nature to move on. I believe I'm starting to tug at the roots and look for the next thing to write about -- the writing being the only constant in my literary travels.

But it is an odd, almost entertaining thing to be a rock star in one corner of the publishing universe, and to be virtually invisible in another. I'm frankly enjoying it, enjoying operating in relative solitude. I can say just about anything at this point, and no one will hear. I'm building my Diana Killian writing career from something very close to scratch. I left all my blogs, abandoned my discussion lists, heck, I didn't even open email for nearly three years.

 The touching thing is that people continued to write me during that time. Touching and horrifying because of course the intention was never to ignore these readers and others--I think I sort of felt like a child does, that when I left the room, the room ended. :-D

So anyway, I'm back. I'm not ready to full participate again, yet, and I don't know where my writing will lead me this time,but I'm enjoying the journey--as I always enjoy my writing journeys.

And I hope eventually a few of you will join me on that journey. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

licensd thru shutterstock
The Vinegar Man

The crazy old Vinegar Man is dead! He never had missed a day before!
Somebody went to his tumble-down shed by the Haunted House and forced the door.

There in the litter of his pungent pans,
the murky mess of his mixing place
Deep, sticky spiders and empty cans
with the same old frown on his sour old face.

Vinegar - Vinegar - Vinegar Man!
Face - us - and - chase - us - and - catch - if -you - can!
Pepper for a tongue! Pickle for a nose!

Stick a pin in him and vinegar flows!
Glare -at-us- swear -at-us- catch - if - you-can!
Ketchup - and - chow - chow - and -Vinegar -Man!

Nothing but recipes and worthless junk;
greasy old records of paid and due
But down in the depths of a battered trunk,
a queer, quaint Valentine torn in two?

Red hearts and arrows and silver lace,
and a prim, dim, ladylike script that said
"With dearest love, from Ellen to Ned!"

Steal - us - and - peel - us - and - drown - us -in - brine!
He pickles his heart in a valentine!
Vinegar for blood! Pepper for his tongue!
Stick a pin in him and
...once he was young!

Glare -at-us- swear -at-us- catch - if - you - can!
"With dearest love" to the Vinegar Man!

Dingy little books of profit and loss
(died about Saturday, so they say),
And a queer, quaint valentine torn across . . .

torn, but it never was thrown away!
"With dearest love from Ellen to Ned"

"Old Pepper Tongue! Pickles his heart in brine!"
The Vinegar Man is a long time dead:

he died when he tore his valentine.

by Ruth Comfort Mitchell