Linda will be awarding a $15 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn host.
When people meet me for the first time, I imagine they see a reasonably well-preserved woman of a certain age who they believe has led a traditional, suburban life. And in many respects, they are right. Even so, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. They involve travel, animal husbandry, music, weather, and crime.
In our early-marriage, pre-children days, my husband got a hankering to travel. Money was scarce, but that didn’t dampen his burning desire to see . . . Alaska! It gave him no pause that we lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida at the time. “From sea to shining sea” took on new meaning. We bought a truck with camper, sans bathroom, and set out. Thank goodness it wasn’t Patagonia. Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Canadian Rockies, Calgary, Dawson Creek to Fairbanks to Anchorage and back – the trip took over two months. Did you know that given 24 hours of daylight cabbages grow to the size of weather balloons? Moreover, Alaskan mosquitoes must be the biggest in the world, but I digress. At that time, the Al-Can highway was a two-lane gravel wilderness road – no motels, no grocery stores, no restaurants, no restrooms. Naturally, Canuck’s Revenge set in as soon as the tires hit the gravel. It was a very long seven days from Dawson Creek, BC to the first little Alaskan town. We are still married, but my husband hasn’t mentioned traveling rough again. He values his life.
Although I have been to Alaska, deep snow is something I’ve experienced only once. I got stranded in the north Georgia mountains by a freak snowstorm one spring break, but as for living with it? Nope. Sleet – check. Ice – check. Snow - nada. As a kid, I worried all fall. Everybody knew reindeer needed snow to be able to land on your roof. Didn’t have a chimney for Santa either. Christmas Eve was always a nail biter!
And what did I pine to find under the tree? A horse, of course. When my husband and I decided to breed Quarter Horses as a small side business, I was overjoyed. Horses are one of God’s most noble creations and one of His most needy. Owning a horse is like caring for a toddler. We gave our last two equine children to my first cousin once removed. They were his first. He thought free horses a wonderful gift. He was such an innocent.
My other passion from childhood is choral music. Singing with the Texas Master Chorale brings me great pleasure. We have sung in some wonderful venues including Lincoln Center, San Marco in Venice, and St. Peter’s in the Vatican. Knowing the rules, I did not partake, but at least one of my fellow Protestants took his First (Catholic) Communion that day. Hardily a crime, but I’m glad no one asked him to repeat his catechism.
As for crime, my debut novel, Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel, is filled with it - not exactly your traditional romance. While there are two love stories running throughout the plot, it also includes murder, lynching, moonshine, gambling, prostitution, and of course, gangsters. People, especially men, are somewhat taken aback that I write about such topics. In reality, however, I have had close relationships with real-life gangsters, primarily Crips and Latin Kings. Such is the life of a secondary public school administrator.
Scratch the surface and there’s no telling what you will find, which makes people infinitely fascinating. Don’t you think so?
Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by- one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan's self-righteous vigilantism. Jack's older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.
Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.
Enjoy an excerpt:
June 14, 1930
Jack jammed a finger into each ear and swallowed hard. Any other time, he wouldn’t even notice the stupid sound. The river always sorta slurped just before it pulled stuff underground. His stomach heaved again. Maybe he shouldn’t look either, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the circling current. When the head slipped under the water, the toe end lifted up. Slowly the tarpaulin wrapped body, at least that’s what it sure looked like, went completely vertical. It bobbed around a few times and finally gurgled its way down the sinkhole. Then everything went quiet . . . peaceful . . . crazily normal. Crickets sawed away again. An ole granddaddy bullfrog croaked his lonesomeness into the sultry midnight air.
About the Author:
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, "Let's pretend."
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband, one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl, and one striped yellow cat who knows she’s queen of the house. Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire
Buy link: http://amzn.to/16qq3k5