Venture Galleries http://venturegalleries.com Connecting Readers, Writers, and Books Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:05:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Who helped your writing along the way? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/who-helped-your-writing-along-the-way/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/who-helped-your-writing-along-the-way/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 07:40:16 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68208 REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE DO or how we do it, we’ve always had some help along the way. There was always someone who made a difference. My someone was Myra Adams. She was tough. She was demanding. She was, at the time, the meanest woman... Read more

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REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE DO or how we do it, we’ve always had some help along the way. There was always someone who made a difference.

My someone was Myra Adams.

She was tough. She was demanding. She was, at the time, the meanest woman I’ve ever known.

Myra Adams taught high school English.

She must have been a knockout in her day.

Auburn hair.

High heels.

No hose.

And when she looked at you, it was looking down the barrel of .45 caliber revolver.

Up close.

You could smell the gunpowder.

And you knew she wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger.

In those days, teachers were serious about teaching and even more serious about our learning.

Myra Adams had three rules that were chiseled in stone.

No comma faults.

No comma errors.

No comma blunders.

Of course, she wasn’t too keen on comma splices either.

Make one and she quit reading your daily theme, weekly theme, or semester themes. She scratched a big “F” at the top of your paper, tossed it aside, and went on. If Moses had made a comma fault, comma error, or comma blunder while writing down the Ten Commandments, he would have never come down from the mountain.

I feared her. We all feared her. She held our lives in the palm of her hand, and we knew it.

Even in those days, I knew I wanted to be a writer. There was nothing noble about it. I couldn’t add and subtract and Algebra wanted me to look for X, and I had no idea that X was missing or where it might have gone. I always figured X would come home when it got hungry and never bothered to worry about it.

So I worked hard to be a writer in Myra Adams’ class.

I wrote one-word sentences.

I wrote one-word paragraphs.

If I could figure out how to make a sentence fragmentary and incomplete, I did it. After all, I had seen the big boys do it.

Myra Adams called me into her office one afternoon. In the Pit and the Pendulum, her office was the pit. And she knew how to make the pendulum swing.

She looked at me hard.

My heart looked for cover.

Her face was pinched, her eyes narrow.

“You think you’re a writer,” she said.

I nodded.

“You’re not a writer,” she said.

I nodded again.

“But I like the fact that you’re trying,” she said.

I smiled.

She didn’t.

I quit smiling.

“I’m going to make you a deal,” she said.

I waited.

“I will let you use one-word sentences and one-word paragraphs,” she said. “I will even let you throw in all of those God-awful incomplete sentences. But I want you to put an asterisk at the end of each mistake to let me know that you know it’s wrong, but you did it anyway.”

“I can do that,” I said.

One time that semester I saw Myra Adams smile.

This was the time.

“Thank you,” I said.

The decades have passed, and fortunately I’ve been able to make a living with the written word in newspapers, magazines, and publishing companies. I’ve even had a few books published along the way.

I still use one-word sentences.

I still use one-word paragraphs.

I still write with incomplete sentences.

But Myra Adams hasn’t cared because there has never been a comma fault, comma error, or comma blunder among them.

She taught me the greatest lesson of all.

Short sentences.

No commas.

No problem.

 

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Lie Catchers: Cracking the case is personal. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/lie-catchers-the-mystery-is-personal/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/lie-catchers-the-mystery-is-personal/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:55:11 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68238 OF THE FIFTEEN BOOKS I’ve written, my latest novel, LIE CATCHERS, is the most personal and unique. Having spent thirty-five years with the LAPD and thirty years as a professional writer, I am a sturdy branch on the genealogy tree of police... Read more

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OF THE FIFTEEN BOOKS I’ve written, my latest novel, LIE CATCHERS, is the most personal and unique. Having spent thirty-five years with the LAPD and thirty years as a professional writer, I am a sturdy branch on the genealogy tree of police writers.

Other cop-author branches on the tree include William Caunitz (NYPD), Joseph McNamara (San Jose PD), Sonny Grosso (NYPD), and a plethora of others (for a full list CLICK HERE). The LAPD, however, has always led the way when it comes to police writers, including such luminaries as Dallas Barnes, Kathy Bennett, Gene Roddenberry (yes, that Gene Roddenberry), and almost 100 others (CLICK HERE). LAPD, of course, was also where the heavyweight champ of police writers, Joseph Wambaugh, hung his shoulder holster.

With that kind of professional ancestry, it was pretty much a given I would also do a Wambaugh when it came to writing novels. I have written books in other genres, westerns, an Elvis-is-not–dead novel, soccer mysteries, and boxing noirs, but cop dramas have always constituted the largest part of my output.

Fey Croaker, the heroine of the five book series in which she is featured, is a unique character, but the novels themselves follow the traditional sequence of mystery or police procedurals – there’s a murder, it’s a whodunit, the quirky detective doggedly works to untangle the morass of red herrings and false clues and, eventually, slaps the cuffs on the perpetrator. This is not a bad thing, but I wanted Lie Catchers to be something more. I wanted to take the reader into a world they only thought they knew and turn them on their heads.

During my LAPD career, I spent over twenty-five years investigating sex crimes. For fifteen of those years, I ran the Operations West Bureau–Sexual Assault Detail (OWB-SAD) – a unit of thirty detectives investigating all sex crimes in an area covering twenty-five percent of the city. This extensive jurisdiction included Hollywood Area, where anything that could happen sexually usually did.

Paul Bishop

Paul Bishop

From its formation, OWB-SAD consistently maintained the highest sex crimes clearance rate and number of detective initiated arrests in the city. We were busy, but what made us far more successful than the other sex crimes details in the city was our attention to interrogations.

Every interrogation we did was videotaped, reviewed, and critiqued. We developed many different techniques, both in the box and on the streets. Our byword was the belief the interrogation room wasn’t a place, it was wherever an OWB-SAD detective happened to be – the suspect’s home or workplace, in a car, in a coffee shop, literally anywhere. This was interrogation as it had never been approached before.

For good detectives, it’s not the cases we crack that matter, it’s the ones we don’t that haunt us. I now teach week-long interrogation classes to experienced detectives at wide variety of law enforcement agencies. Invariably, several detectives in the class have an epiphany. They think back to a case where they couldn’t get to the truth and realize they could have done so if they’d had these types of techniques – which are all part of a tactical approach to interrogation.

As a novelist, I finally had my own interrogation epiphany. I realized, I’d never seen or read anything dealing with interrogation in a realistic manner. Books don’t get it right. Movies and TV certainly don’t get it right – not even the real cop shows like 48 Hours.

However, with my background and experiences, I was in a unique position to write an interrogation themed novel and make it as realistic as fiction would allow. Lie Catchers is the result.

I didn’t want Lie Catchers to be just another whodunit murder mystery. I wanted to give the reader an intimate experience – much like the world created between a detective and a suspect in the box. To accomplish that goal, I knew the third person narrative voice I’d used for the Fey Croaker novels would not work. For Lie Catchers, I had to get inside the head of one of the main characters and tell the story in the first person.

LIE

Lie Catchers features two top LAPD interrogators, Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall. Telling the story from Ray Pagan’s perspective just didn’t feel right. One of Pagan’s qualities is the unusual ways in which he approaches situations. This was best experienced from the point of view of another character who would come to understand Pagan along with the reader. This put me, as the writer, inside the head of Calamity Jane Randall – a very good detective, but still a woman who doesn’t truly understand herself. To become a great detective, a great interrogator, she needs Pagan to lead her on the path to self-discovery. However, Pagan also needs Randall – for many reason, which become clear in the narrative, but most of all to save him from himself.

I didn’t want Pagan and Randall simply to be a riff on Holmes and Watson. I wanted their dynamic to be an equal partnership. Randall isn’t just there to assist and marvel at Pagan’s brilliance – a foil used to listen while Pagan explained his cleverness. Randall is her own woman with her own strengths. Yes, sometimes Pagan acts as a mentor, but I wanted there to be an equal number of times when Randall’s actions saved the day. Jane was a leader, not just a follower.

But here was the challenge. As a male, writing in the third person about a female main character like Fey Croaker was one thing. Actually getting inside Jane Randall’s head to tell the story from her perspective as a woman was entirely another.

I had been living with the characters of Pagan and Randall in my brain for quite a while before I started writing Lie Catchers. As I prepared to start tapping out words, I was surprised to find I actually knew more about Jane than I did about Pagan.

Jane was a touch more tentative, a little less self-aware, than Fey Croaker. She was no less of a detective, but her approach was much more stealthy. Fey reacts, charging into situations until she crushed them. Jane quickly assesses situations and responds – achieving her goal with a minimum of shattered glass. Interrogation is all about becoming the person the suspect needs you to be in order to confess. You can’t do that by reacting…You have to be able to respond. Jane’s style complimented the skills she needed to become a great interrogator.

Jane also needed to tell her story, her way. Unless you are a writer, you can’t understand the joy and the amazement of experiencing a fictional character completely taking over your narrative. It is as if they are an entity inside you, knowing all your secrets, each skeleton in your closet. Every day, they force you to sit down at the keyboard and then take charge of your fingers to tap out their story in staccato bursts of channeled energy.

Through this process, Lie Catchers became something more than just a story. It became an experience. All of the interrogation techniques within the pages are as real as I could make them, but the emotions and intensity – the intimacy I wanted to establish between characters and readers – were all sparked by Jane Randall and Ray Pagan.

My name is on the cover of Lie Catchers, but it’s Randall and Pagan’s story. They are your personal guides into the continent of darkness which lies in the soul of the art of interrogation. You couldn’t be in better hands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was twice honored as Detective of the Year. He continues to work privately as a deception expert. His fifteen novels include five in his LAPD Homicide Detective Fey Croaker series. His latest novel, Lie Catchers, begins a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall.

WEBSITE TWITTER FACEBOOK AMAZON LIE CATCHERS

 

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Historic America: What happened in Port Charlotte, Florida? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/historic-america-what-happened-in-port-charlotte-florida/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/historic-america-what-happened-in-port-charlotte-florida/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:45:17 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68202 THE FIRST PEOPLE to call the Port Charlotte area home were the nomadic Paleo-Indians as they chased big game such as woolly mammoth southward during the last ice age around 10,000 BC. Later, The Calusa thrived on the southwest Florida coast... Read more

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Port-Charlotte

THE FIRST PEOPLE to call the Port Charlotte area home were the nomadic Paleo-Indians as they chased big game such as woolly mammoth southward during the last ice age around 10,000 BC.

Later, The Calusa thrived on the southwest Florida coast and numbered over 50,000 when the first Spaniards reached the peninsula in the 16th century. Eventually the Seminole would arrive from points to the north and establish themselves on the peninsula.

In 1819, Florida was ceded by the Spanish and became a U.S. territory, and in 1845 Florida became the 27th state. Aside from some cattle ranches and small farming, the area was mostly uninhabited. This would change when the post-World War II boom opened people’s eyes to the possibility of developing land in Florida.

Gay Ingram

Gay Ingram

In the 1950s, the now defunct General Development Corporation led by the Mackle brothers decided to take advantage of the Florida land boom. Ultimately, Port Charlotte became the most populous community in Charlotte County but remained unincorporated community. With more than 165 miles of waterways and beautiful beaches Port Charlotte is a great place for many water based activities.

Port Charlotte was severely impacted by Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004. The storm’s 145 miles per hour (233 km/h) maximum sustained winds destroyed almost half of the homes in the county.

Port Charlotte is home to the Charlotte Stone Crabs, which is a member of the Florida State League. It is also Home to Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training.

Vincent Hancock, Olympic gold medalist at the 2008 Summer Olympics was born in Port Charlotte.

Midway between Tampa and Naples, Port Charlotte was named one of the Best Places to Retire by Money Magazine. Port Charlotte was named to Forbes’ list of “25 Best Places to Retire in 2015” and listed among the ten best places in the United States to retire for the year 2012 by U.S. News & World Report. With a population near 50,000, Port Charlotte continues its careful growth with a special emphasis on preserving the area’s ecology and fostering an honest home-town feel.

Gay Ingram is the author of Mai Lin.

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American Images: Horns in the Bonnets by J Gerald Crawford http://venturegalleries.com/blog/american-images-horns-in-the-bonnets-by-j-gerald-crawford/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/american-images-horns-in-the-bonnets-by-j-gerald-crawford/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:40:19 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68198 IMAGE OF THE DAY HORNS IN THE BONNETS PHOTOGRAPHER: J GERALD CRAWFORD The Longhorn is legendary in Texas. When the War Between the States ended, the North had all the money but was hungry. The South was penniless, but down in South... Read more

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IMAGE OF THE DAY

HORNS IN THE BONNETS

PHOTOGRAPHER: J GERALD CRAWFORD

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The Longhorn is legendary in Texas.

When the War Between the States ended, the North had all the money but was hungry. The South was penniless, but down in South Texas, millions of longhorn cattle roamed the wild and untamed Brasada.

Cowboys rounded them up and herded them North to the rail yards of Abilene and Dodge City. Food went one way and money went the other.

It’s said that longhorn cattle did more than anything to tie a divided country back together after the war.

The trails north have faded now.

But remnant herds of the longhorns remain.

It’s a better life now.

It’s an easy life, surrounded by bluebonnets and sunshine.

J. Gerald Crawford

J. Gerald Crawford

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Bright Lights and Rubber Hoses: Interrogating Paul Bishop http://venturegalleries.com/blog/bright-lights-and-rubber-hoses-interrogating-paul-bishop/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/bright-lights-and-rubber-hoses-interrogating-paul-bishop/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:40:07 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68177 Paul Bishop: a top cop who became a top author   PAUL BISHOP is one of our most popular and consistent columnists at Venture Galleries. A number of his previous novels have been serialized on Venture Galleries to popular acclaim. His... Read more

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Paul Bishop: a top cop who became a top author

Paul Bishop: a top cop who became a top author

 

PAUL BISHOP is one of our most popular and consistent columnists at Venture Galleries. A number of his previous novels have been serialized on Venture Galleries to popular acclaim. His latest novel, Lie Catchers, has been recently published by Pro Se Productions. Lie Catchers is the first novel in a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall. Paul is a nationally recognized interrogator in his own right, and it’s only fair he take a turn facing the bright lights and rubber hoses…

Lie Catchers is infused with many of your own experiences as an interrogator, but what was the actual inspiration to jump start the series?

As you know, I spent thirty-five years with the LAPD. More than twenty-five of those years were spent investigating sex crimes – fifteen of them running a squad of thirty sex crimes detectives with jurisdiction over twenty-five percent of the city. During that time interrogation became a more and more important part of what we did. By videotaping and critiquing every interrogation we did, it became clear which techniques worked and which didn’t. as a result, our unit consistently had the highest sex crimes clearance rate in the city.

I now teach week-long interrogation classes to experienced detectives at wide variety of law enforcement agencies, including my old stomping ground – the LAPD. Invariably, on Wednesday or Thursday, one of the more experience detectives will approach me because they are angry. However, the great thing is, they aren’t angry with me. They are angry because they didn’t understand the concepts taught in the class sooner. It is not the cases we crack that matter, it’s the ones we don’t crack that haunt us.

Having read voraciously in the mystery field as well as writing a number of cop related novels, I realized I’d never come across a novel that dealt with interrogation in a realistic manner. Books don’t get it right. TV certainly doesn’t get it right.

With the knowledge and experience I had with interrogation, I wanted to write a novel that would be as close to what an interrogator does as fiction would allow. Lie Catchers is the result.

Your character Calamity Jane Randall has a very special gift when it comes to Lie Catching. Without giving too much away how did you come up with her condition?

Jane was a very interesting character for me, particularly since the book is written in the first person from her perspective. I knew going in what her special gift as an interrogator was, but I also knew she didn’t understand her condition or how to use it. While Jane’s gift is very rare – it’s even an uncommon symptom within the condition itself – it is also very real. I had read about it a number of years ago and filed it away in my writer’s treasure box, knowing someday I would find the right place to use it in a book.

Enter, Ray Pagan. He recognizes Jane for what she is. He’s been searching for somebody like her. Ray has his own set of gifts, smoke-and-mirrors as he calls them, but also actually very real. Once I put the two characters together on the page, I felt I had something special as well.

Pagan and Randall use a number of different interrogation techniques in Lie Catchers. How much of what they get up to is fact or fiction?

Fiction often blurs the lines of reality, but everything that goes on in Lie Catchers I’ve either done myself or known somebody who has done it. The issue was real life is often less believable than fiction. I needed to present the techniques in such a way the reader would both understand and accept them.

You’ve recently retired after thirty-five years with the LAPD. What do you miss most about the job?

Working with my crew and cracking cases, putting villains in jail, pursuing the ever elusive truth in any given situation or crime. What I don’t miss is the never ending bureaucracy, second guessing, and mountains of paperwork needed to feed the beast of a big city police department and District Attorney’s office

At the end of Lie Catchers you’ve added some very special bonus material that is worth the price of admission alone. What made you think to add these pages in?

Creating the situations Pagan and Randall deal with in Lie Catchers, made me think about my own first arrest and interrogation. I then realized there was a big difference thirty-five years later when I made my last arrest and interrogation. I sat down one afternoon and the words to describe those two events just flowed out of me. When I was done, I shared the memoir pieces with several family members and friends. Their positive response, made me realize they could be added a bonus to Lie Catchers to give readers something they wouldn’t find in any other novel.

You’ve said Lie Catchers is the start to a new series. What can we expect from Pagan and Randall in the future?

The problem with finishing writing a novel is you have to start all over again. However, I’ve spent so much time in my head with Pagan and Randall they almost seem real to me and I’m anxious to get back to hanging out with them. The sequel, tentatively titled Lie Killers, is already percolating along and I already have a glimmer of an idea for book three.

Thanks to Paul for sitting down and confessing all without the need to skin our knuckles. Be sure to pick up a copy of Lie Catchers and dive into the world of interrogation with Pagan and Randall.

LIE

Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was twice honored as Detective of the Year. He continues to work privately as a deception expert. His fifteen novels include five in his LAPD Homicide Detective Fey Croaker series. His latest novel, Lie Catchers, begins a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall. www.paulbishopbooks.com, Twitter @bishsbeat, Facebook, Amazon

 

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The Mysterious Killer Fog that Struck London. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/the-mysterious-killer-fog-that-struck-london/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/the-mysterious-killer-fog-that-struck-london/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:55:47 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68154 London is blanketed by a deadly combination of fog and smog. Photo: Calliope's Writing Tablet   PERCY MET CECIL on the sidewalk at dusk and they walked across the lane. Percy rapped on the door to the cottage. After a moment the door... Read more

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London is blanketed by a deadly combination of fog and smog. Photo: Calliope's Writing Tablet

London is blanketed by a deadly combination of fog and smog. Photo: Calliope’s Writing Tablet

 

PERCY MET CECIL on the sidewalk at dusk and they walked across the lane. Percy rapped on the door to the cottage. After a moment the door swung open and they saw two sets of peering eyes at chest level.

“Here we are, ladies—coming to keep you company during these horrid events,” Percy announced as he and Cecil entered the door and withdrew the kerchiefs from their noses. They returned the white squares to their pockets.

“My, my, girls, you have made it look all cheery with these many candles,” Cecil said.

“Didn’t know what much else to do. We’ll get by, and do it in style. Come right in,” Tillie urged. “We can listen to our battery radio and maybe we’ll be up for a game of Whist as the evening rolls along.”

“Battery radio? Does that mean I am not going to have to do hand cranking on the radio all night, then?” Cecil cast a sly look toward the two women.”

“No, no, Cecil, I have one of the hand-crankers, but the one we will be listening to has cell batteries,” Tansie, Tillie’s sister answered. “Can we get you fellows a shot of bourbon, or something similar? Please come in and sit down, make yourselves comfortable.”

“Aye, I will take one. Nothing fancy, bourbon and water. I know you probably don’t have any ice so that is fine. Whatever is easy,” Cecil replied.”

“I’ll have the same, if you don’t mind,” Percy chimed in. “Something with medicinal properties for a night like this!”

When they were seated in the drawing room and comfortable, Tansie turned up the radio and they all listened with great interest as the news reports came in.

“We are urging all to stay inside and not go out except for short periods.” The radio blared. “Schools are cancelled tomorrow as a precaution. If you are just now learning what has happened, a high pressure cell has clamped down over London trapping fog and smoke from factory output and automobiles. Electrical power is out in some areas of the city due to a critical line being knocked out during a lorry crash because of poor visibility. It is being repaired at this time. Please be patient. Meteorological experts are confident that conditions will start to improve within the next twenty-four hours, due to blasts of cold air expected to be arriving from the English Channel. Now back to a favorite program here on the BBC…”

Tansie turned the sound down a bit so they could talk.

“Well that’s good to know,” said Cecil. “It looks as if this is not going to be another Killer Fog of London—like the one they had in 1952.”

“Wasn’t that a holy terror?” Percy asked this question, then, continued. “We were still in short pants when that happened. I barely remember it myself. I mostly remember the grown-ups talking and whispering about it.”

“Yes, and these ladies here were still wearing pinafores. In fact, I have seen their pictures in the album wearing them.”

“Yes we were,” Tillie answered. Both women giggled. “I don’t suppose you would like to look at the album again?” She waved her hand to let them all know she was not serious.

Percy and Cecil glanced at one another sheepishly. After a pause, Cecil could not resist talking once again about the London Killer Fog. “It was most bizarre.”

“Downright freaky, if you ask me,” Percy agreed. “Sorry, ol’ chap, do continue. I didn’t mean to interrupt, I truly didn’t—couldn’t help myself.”

“Four thousand people died during that horrid event, and they are fairly certain that the final death toll reached ten to twelve thousand. Isn’t that something?” Cecil added this tidbit.

“Let’s hope it never happens again, Cecil. What was the exact cause?” Tillie asked the question as she carried off his drink for refreshing and returned quickly.

“At first the London skies were crisp and clear on that December fifth morning in 1952. The recent days had been colder than usual and Londoners were using their coal fireplaces and heaters with great abandon. A fog descended over the city and by late afternoon, London’s landmark structures were encased in films of fog. The fog began to take on a yellow tone as massive amounts of soot from chimneys and furnace stacks streamed into the air and mixed with the fog.”

Percy added, “You see, ladies, this peculiar mixture of fog, soot and smoke was trapped over London, bearing down because a high-pressure system in the atmosphere would not budge from the area over London.”

“That’s right, Percy,” Cecil agreed. “It started to smell like rotten eggs as sulfur even made its way into the air. Visibility was nil. People outside could not see their hands in front of their faces. They could not even look down and see their own feet as they walked. Traffic barely moved or came to a complete standstill. Some few drivers left on the roads had to stick their heads out the windows to try to navigate through the thick air. Driving was so impossible that cars and trucks were left abandoned all over London.”

Percy could not resist injecting his own tales of the event. “And people who tried to walk outside often fell down because of an oily black film that began to cover roads and walkways. They gasped and wheezed as they tried to go about in the city. When they finally made it back home and looked in their mirrors they saw black smudges around their noses and mouths.”

“My goodness,” Tansie said. “I have heard plenty of horror stories, but I had no idea it was that bad.”

“It is odd how the real horror fades with time,” Tillie agreed.

“Bloody awful. Because it was so dark and gloomy outside,” Cecil continued, “crime went up. Those nervy enough to go outside were robbed and mugged by opportunistic criminals lurking about in the shadows. These very conditions also made it easy for the criminals to escape quickly. Schools were cancelled because they were afraid the children would get lost walking to the school because they couldn’t see. Sporting events were cancelled because the athletes could not see what they were doing on the fields. Movie theaters shut their doors because the fog inside the theaters prevented viewing the screens.”

“I say ol’ boy,” Percy blurted out with a chuckle. “I heard that Oxford and Cambridge did try to have a competition of some kind during the Killer Fog, and that officials had to call out instructions to them—which direction to run in because they couldn’t see. Run this way! Run over here! Run to your left.”

“I heard something like that myself. For those two institutions I guess they felt the show must go on, no matter what.” Cecil chuckled.

Tillie and Tansie giggled at this ridiculousness themselves, as their red tinted heads bobbed about.

“Birds could not see and crashed into buildings, then fell to the pavement below. They tried to go on with the Smithfield Show. Eleven heifers were lost when they choked to death. To try to prevent more animal deaths at the show the owners soaked grain bags in whisky and made gas masks for the rest of the cattle. A wave of death crept quietly over the city. It seemed so subtle that no one realized the gravity until undertakers ran out of caskets.

“My goodness!” Tillie exclaimed.

Percy explained, “It mainly killed the very young, the very old or those with existing medical problems, but it took a heavy toll.”

“How did it all end? I forgot,” Tansie admitted.

“It took five days for it to end, girls,” Percy said. “A cold wind came in and blew it away. It did have one positive effect.”

“What?” Tansie waited for the answer.

“Parliament passed The Clean Air Act of 1956. They gave citizens grants and incentives to decrease the use of coal and it set up smoke-free zones in the city. This worked wonders, but it was not perfect. There were more Killer Fogs, the worst of those was in 1962 and it killed 750.”

Tansie gasped, then, exclaimed, “Oh good grief, Percy. I had forgotten about that other one entirely!”

“So you see, our famous pea soup can be quite deadly,” Cecil commented as he began to shuffle his deck of cards. “We must have a respect for it.” He started to deal.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Dark Continent Continental.

DarkContinent11

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Using Short Stories to Promote Your Novels http://venturegalleries.com/blog/using-short-stories-to-promote-your-novels/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/using-short-stories-to-promote-your-novels/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:50:01 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68166 SHORT STORIES are excellent promotional tools. You can offer free stories to attract new readers. If they like the short, they'll be hooked and look for more by the same author. Make the story free, and charge for the novel. The story must... Read more

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SHORT STORIES are excellent promotional tools. You can offer free stories to attract new readers. If they like the short, they’ll be hooked and look for more by the same author. Make the story free, and charge for the novel.

The story must appeal to the same readers as the novel. Don’t write children’s stories if you want to promote adult novels. Make the story as similar to the novel as you can. Here are some ideas:

* Same genre. This is important. Paranormal stories promote paranormal novels; horror stories promote horror novels; chicklit stories promote chicklit novels.

* Same mood. If the novel is funny, the story has to be funny too. If the novel is scary, gritty, thought-provoking, tear-jerking or sexy, then the story has to be scary, gritty, thought-provoking, tear-jerking or sexy.

* Same location. Are your novels set in South Carolina or in Hong Kong? Choose the same setting for the story.

* Same period. To promote contemporary novels, you need contemporary stories. If you write historicals, using the same period cuts down on research and has the greatest promotional effect.

* Same characters. Involving the heroine and hero in another story can bring problems, but minor characters are a safe choice. Consider promoting members of the novels’ supporting cast to a starring role in the story.

HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR FREE STORY

* Upload it on your website, to give your visitors interesting content.

* Upload it on someone else’s website, to give their visitors interesting content, and to reach new readers who hadn’t heard of you before.

* Publish it as a free eBook, to attract new readers – the type who wouldn’t spend money on a book by an author they don’t know, but are keen to try new things if they don’t cost anything. If these readers like your free story, they’ll trust that your novel is worth money. (Note: making an e-book free at Amazon requires some jiggling).

* Submit it to magazine or e-zine, if possible one specialising in your genre. Some zines even pay for the use of stories. However, most editors are inundated with submissions, and you may get many rejections before you get an acceptance.

* Submit it to an anthology (a themed collection of short stories by different authors). Anthologies are even better than zines, because they have a longer shelf-life. An e-anthology will be available forever, and a print anthology will continue to circulate in second-hand bookstores. If you place your story in an anthology, it will continue to promote your writing for years. Genre fans love anthologies. They know that a book filled with stories in their favourite genre will contain at least some gems they’ll enjoy. Most anthology readers pick a favourite story or two, and look for more fiction by those authors. The drawback is that most anthology editors are inundated with submissions.

* Use the story as a giveaway. When you give author interviews or write guest blogs, the hosts may ask you to give a prize to a prize draw, or give away free copies of your book, or something like that. This stimulates interest. However, it’s an old marketing adage never to give away the product you want to sell. If you write a guest blog promoting your book, and offer to give away four free copies, then none of the blog readers may buy the book. If they’re interested, they’ll enter the prize draw, and hope to win it for free. By the time the winner is announced, they’ve already forgotten about your book and bought something else.

Consider promoting your book – and giving away free copies of your short story. This way, you get the benefits without the drawbacks.

* Donate it as a competition prize. There are lots of contests for all kinds of things, always looking for donations of prizes. You may want to favour contests which raise funds for charities, so you’re doing a good deed which doesn’t cost you anything. The best contests are the ones which target your typical reader. For example, a horse-painting contest for teenagers is perfect if your write YA fiction with horse-riding heroines.

* Upload it as free reading at Wattpad. People who like the free story may become fans who buy your books. Wattpad has can give your story exposure to a huge potential audience, and works especially well for YA and Paranormal Romance.

* Upload it at various other sites.

When submitting the story to other people for publication, check what rights they require. Some want “first rights” (that is, they want to be the first to publish it), and some want “all rights” (that means, you can’t publish it anywhere else).

 

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When Waking Up Is Hard to Do http://venturegalleries.com/blog/when-waking-up-is-hard-to-do/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/when-waking-up-is-hard-to-do/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:45:16 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68172 https://youtu.be/4cOB7r11R38 WHEN I WAS WORKING FULL-TIME as a school teacher, it always seemed that getting up and going on Tuesday was much harder than it was on Monday.  Maybe it was because the adrenaline required to get everybody to school... Read more

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WHEN I WAS WORKING FULL-TIME as a school teacher, it always seemed that getting up and going on Tuesday was much harder than it was on Monday.  Maybe it was because the adrenaline required to get everybody to school and me back to work had run out by Tuesday?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that tomorrow is the second day of school for many people, and if not, then this is still the first week of school.

This adaptation of the 1975 Neil Sedaka hit, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” is dedicated to all the educators and students out there.  We won’t mention how old you may have to be to know the tune.

Just Google it, okay?

Waking up is hard to do.

Don’t take this bed away from me

And make me get up in misery.

If you do, then I’ll be blue.

‘Cause waking up is hard to do.

Remember when you said goodnight

And you tucked me in for the night?

Can’t think of all that I must do.

Waking up is hard to do.

I say that waking up is hard to do.

Now you know, you know that it’s true.

Don’t say my sleeping has to end.

Instead of waking up I wish that I was turning in again.

I beg of you, don’t make me greet the day.

Can’t we come up with some other way?

Come on, baby, it’s not you.

Waking up is just hard to do!

 

Hang in there, my back-to-school friends. . .only thirty-five weeks to go!  And my apologies to Neil. . .

April Coker is the author of Night Keeper.

Unknown

 

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Monday Sampler: Moon Tears by M. M. Frische http://venturegalleries.com/blog/monday-sampler-moon-tears-by-m-m-frische/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/monday-sampler-moon-tears-by-m-m-frische/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:40:52 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68150 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Moon Tears, a tale of... Read more

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Moon Tears front cover

In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Moon Tears, a tale of war, a tale of loss, a tale of survival, by M. M. Frische.

As one reviewer wrote: The author weaves aviation, adventure, romance and Native American lore to render a charming and page turning tale.

 The Story

1941

War. It’s coming. It takes your father. It takes your mother. Life will never be the same. Not for Lou Davis.

When fog requires Japanese dignitaries to reroute their flight from San Francisco to Claret Lake, fourteen-year-old Lou becomes suspicious about the direction of the war. Two weeks later her dreams of becoming a pilot are ripped away when Pearl Harbor is attacked and an error in the 1940 census results in every male over eighteen being drafted and all the women being forced to work in factories on the coast.

Lou and her asthma are left behind—and in charge. She has a secret crush on the oldest boy left in Claret Lake, but after her parents are ripped away from her, she feels alone and abandoned. Running a town full of unruly kids is worse than a full-blown asthma attack, and the only thing she sees looming on the horizon is the enemy’s plane and a boatload of disaster. How is she supposed to save a whole town when harsh winters descend, food becomes scarce, and the enemy threatens to destroy everything she has fought so hard to protect?

Then Lou remembers the ancient legend…the legend of the moon tears. Staking her town’s survival on lore from the past, she channels her inner Amelia Earhart and takes off toward an unknown future.

Inspired by true events, Moon Tears is a coming-of-age tale—a tale of war, a tale of loss, a tale of survival.

The Sample

M. M. Frische

M. M. Frische

November, 1941

I can’t…breathe. I sputtered between gulps of the nearly frozen water and struggled not to drown. Each stroke in the frigid liquid felt thick and exhausting. Every boisterous breeze prickled my skin. Sometimes I wanted the asthma to win so I could sink into the icy darkness forever. Only the kicking kept me from descending to the lake’s icy depths where denizens of the deep waited to nibble bits of my frozen flesh for breakfast.

“Keep going, Lou,” Papa said from the rowboat beside me, stroking the water rhythmically with his oars. “You’re almost there.”

“I can’t,” I coughed out, stopping to tread water and catch my breath. A rude wave shoved my head, and water plunged into my lungs. Coughs wracked my body. I jerked back as the scales of a fish scraped across my thigh. My stomach muscles ached. But Papa wouldn’t stop rowing.

Even if I had to break ice every morning on the edge of this God-forsaken lake just to get into the water, I had to swim across it. One endless mile. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Doctor’s orders.

Blasted asthma, I thought.

I treaded water as long as I could get away with it. Every inch of my fourteen-year-old body chattered.

“The quicker you swim, the quicker you can get in the boat,” Papa said.

I rolled my eyes and stuck out what must have been a purple tongue.

“Don’t roll those baby blues at me, girl. Now swim.”

Easy for him to say. I began performing the familiar strokes like the ingrained ritual they were. Water sluiced over my head and trickled down into my ears. My arms sliced through the crystal clear water as I imagined I was in the ocean. The warm, salty, undulating ocean. For a moment, I actually began to feel warmer. Just a little bit farther…

I focused on the fog drifting across the waves that promised the shoreline. The water gently rose and fell taking me with it.

A glance over my shoulder rewarded me with the first rays of morning sunlight. The fog began to dissipate as I turned back toward the shoreline. In front of me, Mount Callisto, the valley’s ancient volcano, shimmered and twinkled, betraying the treasures of her slopes.

Time to start the countdown, I thought. Five, four, three, two, one

I gave a final kick and made shore. My wrinkled hands and feet, oversized prunes, dug into the black, silky sand. The cool, dark grains squished between my toes, and I made a beeline for the drier sand, which coated my feet as I trudged up the hill ahead.

“Okay,” said Papa, pulling the boat onto shore. “Run get one.”

As my daily reward for the forced swim, Papa let me collect one diamond. From the lake, the diamonds looked like jewels of the Gods, dancers among the fire. Up close, the gems appeared murky, rough, uncut. They looked nothing like the shiny, perfectly cut stones found in fancy San Francisco stores. Most people walked right by them, mistaking them for glass. But they looked beautiful to me, felt smooth and strong. I ran my finger along each edge, felt every groove, admired their strength and toughness.

“Good job this morning. Let’s head back.” Papa ruffled my wet head and wrapped me in an Indian blanket the tribal chief gave him last winter.

After one more glimpse at forty-two hundred feet of shimmering slopes, I snuggled into the bottom of the boat, away from the wind that rises with the sun. Papa pushed away from shore with one oar, singing a new Bing Crosby tune. It was always Bing Crosby.

“Where the turf meets the surf,” he crooned. “Very funny, Papa.” The croon waned to a hum. All part of the daily routine. The trek back across the lake was much quicker than the way over. The scent of the water ignited my senses instead of filling my lungs. The mist lifted off the lake like an airplane taking to the sky. Birds skirted the heavens above us and welcomed the new day. Nature arose, and life filled the valley.

A distant hum began to overtake the morning calls of mockingbirds, and I heard a break in the rhythm of Papa’s oars. I glanced up to see his steel gray eyes stare in the direction of the hum. A strange bird skimmed the mountain and descended toward the lake. Toward us.

We watched. Papa’s grip on the oars tightened. His bushy brows grew closer, and his eyes shifted into the look he cast at buzzards.

A seaplane rocked and yawed overhead. Tucking the diamond safely into my fist, I shaded my eyes with my other hand to watch the plane. I ducked as the intruder buzzed our boat.

“They’re coming in way too steep and banking all wrong,” I said. I sat up to study the plane. “They need to put their flaps down. And soon.”

I loved planes and would much rather be flying in the morning sky than swimming in morning water. I still remember the first time I saw one of those marvels in the sky. It was a little yellow tandem two-seater and the first plane I ever rode in. I felt like Amelia Earhart. I could close my eyes and feel the wind underneath the wings when that plane lifted off the ground. The local pilots took me for rides when they had extra room and taught me about ailerons, cowlings, carb heat and how to keep those big fabric-and-wood birds up in the sky. The pilot waggling overhead could have definitely used some lessons.

The shadow of the seaplane crossed my face. “What does that red dot mean?” I asked. Papa gripped the oars. His stocky arms rowed faster than usual. “It means it’s time to get to shore.”

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When the Saucers Come Back for the Hopi’s. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/when-the-saucers-come-back-for-the-hopis/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/when-the-saucers-come-back-for-the-hopis/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 07:40:10 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=68137 One of the many ancient carvings that, Hopi's say, depict those who came from the stars.   HE CAME TO THE ANCIENT LAND of his people because of the saucers in the sky. Dan Katchongva had always known this day would come. He... Read more

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One of the many ancient carvings that, Hopi's say, depict those who came from the stars.

One of the many ancient carvings that, Hopi’s say, depict those who came from the stars.

 

HE CAME TO THE ANCIENT LAND of his people because of the saucers in the sky.

Dan Katchongva had always known this day would come.

He didn’t know where.

He didn’t know when.

Now he knew.

Dan Kathongva was a Hopi chieftain, and he had heard the stories handed down, sometimes in whispers, for centuries, and he had never doubted them.

Home was not the earth.

Life was temporary.

He would someday live among the stars.

He didn’t know where.

He didn’t know when.

Now he knew.

He told the newspaper in Prescott, Arizona: “Our people believe other planets are inhabited and that our prayers are heard there. We, the faithful Hopi, have seen the ships and know they are true.”

The Hopi has long had a connection with sky.

The Hopi has long been touched by the people who live among the stars.

They watch the skies.

And they wait.

“It is coming,” the chief said.

“What is coming?”

“The Day of Purification.”

He is stoic.

His face is solemn.

“The prophecies tell us,” he says, “that nature will speak with a mighty breath of wind. It will be the final decisive battle between good and evil. The oceans will join hands and meet the sky. It is the day when all wicked people and wrong-doers will be punished or destroyed.”

He pauses.

He gazes into a calm blue sky.

The sky is calling him, he says.

It’s been calling for a long time.

“The Hopi believes,” he continued, “that those who survive Purification Day will travel to other planets.”

The saucers will come for them.

He will be ready.

He never knew when.

He never knew where.

Now he knows.

The saucers have come again.

The True White Brothers, he said, are coming to take the faithful away.

Have they come for him?

Some listen to Chief Dan Katchongva.

Others scorn him.

Mostly, his words fall on deaf ears.

He walks out of Prescott early one morning.

He heads across sacred lands.

He moves toward sacred mountains.

It is the tall country where the saucers are seen.

His head is held high.

His steps are strong.

The chief does not hesitate.

He walks all day and into the night.

He is one with the darkness.

And Prescott waits for him to return.

Prescott is still waiting.

No one ever saw Dan Katchongva again.

He left no footprints upon the earth.

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