Vote early, vote often

I received a nice surprise this weekend when I discovered that Box of Rocks is listed in the top ten best mysteries of 2011 in the Preditors and Editors competition (yes, that’s how it’s spelled). I feel honored that I was nominated. There’s no cash or ticker tape parade for winning, just a nice pat on the back and attaboy!

Here comes that request that you were on the edge of your seats waiting for. I would be grateful if you could take a moment and go to the Critters Workshop website, scroll way down the page, and cast your vote for Box of Rocks. You won’t be put on any mailing lists, or have to join a secret society (although the handshake is pretty cool). Warning: there is a captcha, which involves deciphering squiggly letters to prove that you’re not a machine. It took me two tries and a couple bad words to get it right.

Voting ends tomorrow (no pressure). Thanks in advance to everyone who votes. If you haven’t read the book yet, it’s pretty awesome and has received almost all 5 star reviews from people that don’t even know me, so don’t let that stop you.

Fame or fortune

Two years ago I quit my job before they could fire me. My bosses seemed to have a problem with an employee who couldn’t open a CD wrapper in less than two hours. (In my defense, they use industrial strength plastic and tape that could support a fully-grown walrus.)

Since then, I stubbornly give myself little tests to see if I’ve still got it. Yesterday, after watching a football mascot doing push-ups in the end zone, I decided to try for one push-up. I assumed the position, arms outstretched, back straight, but somehow the brakes on my elbows failed. I don’t remember gravity being so heavy.

Desperate for a source of income that didn’t involve deadlines, push-ups, or CD wrappers, I embarked on my writing career. Unlike my abilities in high finance, I’m an excellent writer. Unfortunately, in my daughter’s words, “Your promotion team sucks!” First off, I taught her not to smass her elders. Secondly, she makes a valid (if somewhat cruel) point.

Just once, I thought, I’d like to see my name in lights. That just goes to show that Christmas wishes can come true. Christmas Eve Day I went to a book signing at Swift Books in Orangeburg for Box of Rocks. The owners and staff were amazing, but the holiday shoppers were preoccupied with stupid stuff like rushing to get home to their families, so they averted their eyes and sprinted past me like a herd of gazelle. One woman, fully laden with gift bags hurtled the mall bench to cross to the opposite side. I bet she could do more than one push-up.

With holiday sales of Kindles, Nooks, and iThis-and-Thats through the roof this year, (and in the interest of getting my daughter off my back) I thought I’d share with you some nice things that people have recently said (without any coercion or money changing hands) about Box of Rocks, which is available for every electronic reader known to man.

Move over Janet Evanovich, Karla Telega’s new book surprises like an ACME anvil! … Box of Rocks is a fast-paced, smartly detailed, and gut-bustingly funny mystery, and I really hope there’s a sequel!

Allizabeth Collins of The Paperback Pursuer

If you love a mystery with a southern drawl, with characters that jump off the page, and dialogue that will  keep you laughing then you’re going to love “Box Of Rocks.”

Brenda of The WV Stitcher

Author Karla Telega does an amazing job with the characters—not just with the personalities she creates but also in how she adeptly intertwines their lives. I was pleasantly surprised by Cher and Maggie. Although they are older women, they come across as very hip and modern. Most readers will think it would be fun to hang out with them.

Leslie Granier for Reader Views

And one of my favorite reviewers:

The book hinges on the quality of its characters, and particularly on the friendship and chemistry between Maggie and Cher, who are its greatest strength … Murder and danger drive the plot along, but she uses a healthy dose of humor along the way.

William Kendall of Speak of the Devil

Thanks to all those who took the time to read and review Box of Rocks. I can think of no better testimonial than the opinions of people who love to read. Thanks also to all of you readers. Your visits here make all the lying blogging worthwhile. I would like to wish you all health and happiness in the New Year.

Now it’s personal

Maggie: Whose asinine idea was this anyway?

Cher: Calm down, darling. I think it could be fun.

Maggie: Says the lady who doesn’t have to shop in the “husky” department of Victoria’s Secret. Ah, hell, let’s get it over with.

Cher: Maybe some introductions would be in order.

Maggie: *sigh* You may know us from Karla Telega’s mystery book, Box of Rocks, although I think Karla took a few liberties in describing us. At no time did I ever yell “shark” at the beach. Although, in my defense, I had been drinking heavily, and that pelican did look like a dorsal fin. I thought I said it rather calmly.

Cher: Ummm, that really didn’t come up in the book.

Maggie: Oh … moving on. Well, Cher and I are what you might call mature.

Cher: I think the politically correct term is Youth Challenged.

Maggie: The point is, at our age, underwear is kind of a delicate topic.

Cher: Quit stalling, darling.

Maggie: *sigh*

1.    What do you call your underwear / undergarments?

Maggie: I just go with panties.

Cher: My naughty things.

Maggie: *snickers*

2.    Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?

Cher: Frequently.

Maggie: Once I dreamt that I was at the gynecologist’s. I looked down and realized that I hadn’t shaved my legs in a couple of months.

3.    What is the worst thing you can think of to make underwear out of?

Maggie: Sandpaper.

Cher: Bubble wrap. Sitting down would be embarrassing.

Maggie: Ooh, good one. Can I change my answer?

4. If you were a pair of panties, what color would you be?

Cher: Black.

 

 

 

Maggie: Beige … Fluffy! Bad doggy!!

 

 

5. Have you ever thrown your underwear at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) would you throw your underwear at, given the opportunity?

Cher: Sammy Davis, Jr. I was six, and Rosie Jenkins dared me to do it.

Maggie: Wasn’t he a friend of your mom’s?

Cher: Yeah. He told mom about it, and I wasn’t allowed to go backstage again for years.

Maggie: That’s harsh. My luck, I’d get arrested if I tried.

6. You’re out of clean underwear. What do you do?

Maggie: Hypothetically, not to say that it’s ever happened, I suppose I’d wear a pair of Ted’s boxers.

Cher: But two weeks ago, you said …

Maggie: Moving on!

7. Are you old enough to remember Underroos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?

Maggie: Honey, I’m old enough to remember rotary dial phones.

Cher: And flour sifters.

Maggie: And penny candy.

Cher: Oof! I need a nap.

8. If you could have any message printed on your underwear, what would it be?

Maggie: Inspected by number two.

Cher: *giggles*

9. How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?

Cher: Well, Karla’s a blogger.

Maggie: I could see her trying to put panties on a goat.

Cher: I see her more as a cow tipper.

Karla: You’re making me look bad.

Maggie: Says the woman who forced us to take this challenge.

Cher: No sympathy. We need to choose some other poor saps to challenge.

Maggie: You really want to put someone else through this?

Cher: I want to get roaring drunk and forget this ever happened.

Maggie: I have a box of cheap white wine in the fridge.

Cher: Sold!

Karla: But you’re supposed to … Damn!

It’s all in the wrist

I used to juggle tennis balls, and I really sucked at it. That’s a metaphor, by the way, but you probably already guessed that. My desk is a fallout zone of receipts, lists, copies of my book, and a plastic Cootie bug (red, with yellow legs).

I accomplished some amazing stuff this week. I arranged a book signing, passed out flyers and posters, and added fluff and poop to my website (a book trailer and a t-shirt, respectively). I still wonder why anyone other than my mother would want a t-shirt with my book on it (see sidebar), but there are always some whackadoodles out there. For those of you taking anti-psychotics, stay tuned for personalized coffee mugs, ball caps, and condoms (ribbed for her pleasure).

My mother-in-law was planning to visit for the week, but now it’s just turned into one day. Under the circumstances, I don’t feel constrained to clean my closets, vacuum the five o’clock shadow of cat hair off the bedspread, or wash and wax the driveway. Can I prioritize, or what?

Warning: blatant self-promotion ahead

The print copy of Box of Rocks is now on Amazon. Bad news, as of this posting, they don’t have it in stock yet, although they’ll probably release it five minutes after I post this. Good news, you can buy a signed copy now. Click here for the the Adoro Books website. You can email me at info@restaurant-e-guide.com for a specific inscription, otherwise you’ll probably get:

Dear <place your name here>

Congratulations on your <bar mitzvah / birthday / anniversary / successful proctology exam>

Just keep it clean folks. Don’t ask me what I’m wearing (oversized t-shirt and bunny slippers).

So that’s how I’ve been spending my time this week. If you have 26 seconds to spare, check out the cool book trailer that my friend made. I’m expecting it to go viral on You Tube any day now.

24 hours and counting

Within the next 24 hours, my first book will be up and available as an ebook on Amazon. The book will especially appeal to those of us who go to the store for a Glade plug-in (Spring Bouquet) and come back with everything but. Only slightly more terrifying than a senior moment is the sure knowledge that your house is now going to smell like unwashed feet.

Box of Rocks is a humorous murder mystery, whose main characters are fifty-somethings, searching for adventure, meaning, and underwear that doesn’t leave a panty line. Aren’t we all? Right now I have an advanced release copy sitting on my desk (so pretty!), and it will be out in paperback within the next couple weeks (sooner than I thought).

Not only will I be able to offer readers an enjoyable story, but I might get to occasionally visit the steak end of the meat counter. There aren’t that many good tripe recipes out there. Unfortunately, authordom is about as good of a get rich quick scheme as creating gift baskets with cactus plants and balloon animals. Try the saguaro/bunny combo.

Want a taste? Please enjoy this brief excerpt from the book.

Extricating the fallen man was a comedy of errors. Apparently the shaft was too narrow for a stretcher. They lowered a man down who rigged a harness around the victim, but as they attempted to raise him, the limp body kept banging into protruding rocks, dumping stones and dirt onto the EMT waiting 20 feet below. With dead weight on the other end, the rope slipped twice from the fingers of the other EMT. “Hey, guys. Could I get a hand over here?”

The space between the fence and lip of the pit was too narrow for more than one man, so they strung the end of the rope over the fence and Jonathan, Mike, and Bobby joined in on the macabre tug of war.

The victim was wearing only thermal underwear. When he finally reached the top, he was flopped over like a rag doll, and his long johns had snagged on several rocks and a protruding tree root, dragging the underwear to pool around his knees. He emerged from the pit with his backside exposed to the sky in an impressive full moon.

 

Box of Rocks

I once had a panic attack while dog sitting for my daughter. It was the inspiration for the following excerpt from my book. To set the scene, my main character, Maggie is meeting with her Therapist.

“You think panic attacks are a personal failure?” Sally asked.

“Don’t you? I close my eyes at night, and they play back in my head. Last night I dreamt about designer dogs again.”

Shortly after she quit her job, Maggie had agreed to housesit for her nephew, Derek for a weekend. Derek was the only one of their family and friends who didn’t realize that he was gay. The clues had always been there. He had an impeccable sense of style when he decorated his condominium in Mount Pleasant. His two Shih Tzus, Dolce and Gabbana, wore designer doggie clothes and had color coordinated rhinestone collars to go with their wardrobes.

Maggie had watched The Dog Whisperer often enough to know that Derek’s male, Gabbana was the dominant one, so she felt extra protective of Dolce during her stay. She was still smarting over the feeling of failing at her job, and felt like she had been on the verge of a panic attack throughout the first night at Derek’s place.

At one point, she snuggled Dolce lovingly against her breast. “Don’t worry little girl. I’ll be your Alpha and protect you from Gabbana.” She was wondering all the while how she was going to pull that miracle out of her butt, when she could barely keep her breathing steady. She was trembling violently as she rubbed the side of her face against Dolce’s little head. If she was hoping for some mutual comfort, she didn’t get it.

Dolce started wiggling to be put down. “I’m trying to protect you, you little mutt,” Maggie whispered. Dolce had responded by snarling and truly fighting her. Maggie was stooping to put her down, when MWAP, Dolce landed a right hook directly in Maggie’s eye as she writhed in her arms. Maggie dropped to her knees and clutched at her eye as Dolce slithered out from under her arm to the floor.

Maggie felt like she was drowning, unable to catch her breath between the sobs and the painful constriction in her chest. She was on her hands and knees, mentally measuring the distance to the phone. Dolce chose this moment to pee on her foot, while Gabbana started humping her leg. She tried to drag herself to the phone, with Dolce weaving back and forth in front of her, barking viciously. Gabbana was still determinedly holding on while pleasuring himself on Maggie’s thigh. Maggie gave up and collapsed on the floor waiting for the panic attack to pass, occasionally shaking her leg to try to dislodge Gabbana.

For the rest of the weekend, every time she came near them Dolce snarled at her and Gabbana tried to make a play for a little romantic ankle action. She couldn’t even get close enough to change them out of their t-shirts printed with the words “Cute little bitch,” and “Cute little son of a bitch.” Since then, foo-foo designer dogs and panic attacks had been indelibly linked in her mind. Even now, she felt her chest tighten thinking about it.

Box of Rocks

You’re invited to enjoy an excerpt from my current work in progress: a comic murder mystery titled ‘Box of Rocks.’

Bear limped back to his truck, still parked down the street from the building. Could he call it, or what? The rungs on the fire escape had long ago rusted through, and his weight was more than the weakened steel could bear. The drop hadn’t been far, but he had landed awkwardly in a pile of plastic bags, which split open upon impact. He had the wind knocked out of him, and as he was finally able to suck in air, he realized how rancid it was. He had counted at least four rats the size of terriers, and one of those had refused to run away. It was unnerving to see the creature’s black button eyes latched onto him, unflinching in the dark. He had felt something squirming under his hands, and shuddered at the thought of maggots making their way into his pants.

He looked down at his pants. Great! There was a rip that went from his knee up to his thigh, then continued up through his leather jacket. Apparently his clothes had caught on a sharp edge of the broken ladder rung. There wasn’t any blood on his leg, but he gave a shudder at the proximity of the tear to his manhood.

He hobbled around to the front of the building, and was alarmed to see one police car after another pulling up all along the street. Worse yet, a news van was double parked next to his truck. As he backpedaled, ducking around the corner, he nearly bumped into a young couple who were hurrying over to see what was going on. They grimaced, and veered off across the street, giving him a wide berth. He could hardly blame them.

“The perfect crime.” he thought.  At least nobody had seen him enter the building, and they tried to politely avoid him as he left. As long as they didn’t photograph his truck, he wasn’t going to need an alibi for this fiasco.

He smelled like rotting cabbage, his ankle was killing him, and he was pretty sure that there was a piece of gum stuck in his hair. God only knew how long he would have to wait there before the news crew left. A woman walking by paused before him, pulled a dollar out of her purse and pressed it into his hand.

“God bless you, honey.”

In one evening Bear had passed from contract killer to beggar.

Chomping at the bit

What makes a writer? For one thing, he wants to have his work read by others. I’ve had a lot of fun reading my friends’ books, and for a long time, I’ve wanted to share a little of my current work in progress. I’ve decided to finally indulge myself with a little clip from my murder mystery, Box of Rocks. I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride. Continue reading