Venture Galleries http://venturegalleries.com Connecting Readers, Writers, and Books Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:36:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I’d rather live in a black and white world. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/id-rather-live-in-a-black-and-white-world/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/id-rather-live-in-a-black-and-white-world/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:40:00 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66979 No story packs as much heartwarming suspense as It's A Wonderful Life. It was paranormal when we didn't know what paranormal was. I LIKE black and white movies. No special effects. No gimmicks. No gore for the sake of gore. No shock... Read more

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No story packs as much heartwarming suspense as It's A Wonderful Life. It was paranormal when we didn't know what paranormal was.

No story packs as much heartwarming suspense as It’s A Wonderful Life. It was paranormal when we didn’t know what paranormal was.

I LIKE black and white movies.

No special effects.

No gimmicks.

No gore for the sake of gore.

No shock for the sake of shock.

They are real.

They are honest.

They are character driven.

I like black and white books for the same reasons.

The plots make sense.

The suspense takes your breath away.

So does a good romance.

The humor is laugh out loud funny.

The characters are believable.

You root for the hero.

But you know he can be a heel.

He’s salty.

He’s gruff.

He’s wound tight and ready to fight.

He loves the pretty ladies.

He leaves them.

Some lady might catch him.

Some lady might keep him.

Don’t hold your breath.

He could have easily been the villain.

However, he simply came to a crossroad in life and, by chance or happenstance, turned the right way.

You hate the villain.

But he’s so charming.

He will offer a lady an umbrella in the rain.

He will buy the little waif on the street a candy bar.

He will stop and fix the flat of some damsel in distress.

But he can pull the trigger and kill a man without flinching and with no regrets.

You want him caught.

You want him convicted.

You want him behind bars.

But I feel sad when he’s hauled away in shackles and cuffs.

He’s bad but life made him that way.

He could have been the hero.

He just came to a crossroad in life and turned the wrong way.

I read too many books and see too many movies these days that rely too much on a gimmick of some kind.

The plot is weak?

Have a sex scene.

Erotica is better.

The story slows down?

Blow something up.

Have a car chase.

No.

Tear up as many cars as you can.

Characters dull?

Turn one into a zombie.

Or a vampire.

Or maybe a werewolf.

The suspense is boring?

Bring on a ghost.

Or a time traveler.

Someone from outer space.

Anything that goes bump in the night.

Can’t think of a clever punch line?

Use a four-letter word, preferably one that begins with F.

No.

Use a whole string of them.

Hammer them into the story like nails in a coffin.

The devices all work, and a lot of great writers are using them while turning out a lot of great books.

I admire the authors.

I cheer for them.

We showcase their novels.

But, frankly, I would rather crawl inside the minds of good characters and follow them along no matter where they want to go.

Finely drawn characters become family.

I care about them.

I worry about them.

I lose sleep over their problems.

But I do remember the characters long after the names of the books or movies have been forgotten.

I say goodbye.

And I miss them when they’re gone.

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of Secrets of the Dead. It was written with a black and white imagination.

Secrets of the Dead Cover Final 1

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Cry U.N.C.L.E. One More Time http://venturegalleries.com/blog/cry-u-n-c-l-e-one-more-time/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/cry-u-n-c-l-e-one-more-time/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:55:07 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66968 I'VE WRITTEN BEFORE about the profound influence The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show has had on my life – specifically in my choice of careers as both an L.A.P.D. cop (had to work somewhere with initials) and as a writer. Currently, we... Read more

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I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE about the profound influence The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television show has had on my life – specifically in my choice of careers as both an L.A.P.D. cop (had to work somewhere with initials) and as a writer. Currently, we are a little more than two weeks away from the August 14th premiere of a rebooted, re-imagined, major Warner Bros. feature film based on the original television series, which first aired on NBC fifty years ago.

The film is not a remake, so I am not going to spend more than a paragraph on the segment of fans of the original series who have curmudgeonly decided, sight unseen, that the new movie is a travesty and an insult to the memories of their childhood. They are upset because the film is not a carbon copy of the original series, does not (most probably) include the original U.N.C.L.E. theme music, and stars current actors who are not clones of Robert Vaughn and David McCallum (the original stars of the series). To those fans I can only say, “Get a life.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see (on an IMAX screen opening night) what director Guy Ritchie has done with the original material. From the looks of the thrilling (yes, thrilling) extended trailer released at the recent – packed – U.N.C.L.E. panel at Comic-Con, Ritchie and stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer have captured lightening in a bottle. Those things that set the original series apart from other spy shows and Bond imitators are all in place – the sixties Cold War setting, the light touch of humor, and the actual characters (as opposed to just the names) of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (respectively Cavill and Hammer).

ASight unseen, I’m stoked. But let’s back up a sentence or two. Did I say a packed Comic-Con U.N.C.L.E. panel? There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write, but it’s an excellent measure of how U.N.C.L.E. has once again captured the public imagination. I’m more used to mentioning The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and receiving blank stares from the current generation – “Dude, you must be really old. I have no idea what you are talking about.” I dare not mention the first season was in black & white.

Suddenly all that has changed and U.N.C.L.E. is back on the radar. Almost every pop culture and entertainment magazine has featured extended, positive coverage of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film. Young, popular, YouTube bloggers are doing retrospectives on the series to bring everyone up to date while expressing anticipation for the new film. There are billboard ads and U.N.C.L.E. one-sheets pasted and posted everywhere. There are press parties in Rome, premiere parties in England, and the stars of the film are on red carpets everywhere promoting the film as well as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and every other form of social networking large or small. Heck, there is even new U.N.C.L.E. merchandising – the first in forever – in the form of branded plastic soda cups from Carl’s Jr. And don’t even look at the prices the original U.N.C.L.E. toys, games, guns, gum cards, books and comics are garnering on e-Bay.

For me, the biggest indication the movie is going to play strong, is Warner Bros. decision to move the film from its original release date in January 2015 – the traditional dumping spot for films the studios think are going to tank – to a prime August spot at the end of the blockbuster season. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. even scared the studio behind that other successful ‘60s series reboot, Mission Impossible, into moving the release date of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation forward to two weeks earlier than the U.N.C.L.E. release. Now, that’s a great sign those in the know are taking The Man From U.N.C.L.E. seriously.

For the sake of full disclosure, it should be noted this isn’t the first Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film release. During the height of the original show’s popularity there were eight U.N.C.L.E. feature films released. Six simply comprised two-part episodes of the actual show edited together with added footage to spice things up (One Spy Too Many, One of Our Spies Is Missing, The Spy in the Green Hat, The Karate Killers, The Helicopter Spies and How to Steal the World). The two other films, I believed, were expanded versions of original episodes release to international markets (To Trap A Spy and The Spy With My Face).

These cobbled together movies made a lot of money both domestically and overseas for the U.N.C.L.E. franchise and added immeasurably to the world-wide tidal wave of U.N.C.L.E. fever. In 1983, there was even a made-for-TV movie, Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ~ The Fifteen Years Later Affair, complete with the original actors. However, this new U.N.C.L.E. film is the first truly big screen adaptation of the material.

I really liked what new U.N.C.L.E. director Guy Ritchie did with the venerable character of Sherlock Holmes in the two films starring Robert Downey Jr. Again they were not remakes, but re-imaginings, bringing Holmes to a whole new generation of fans and paving the way for the popular current television series Sherlock and Elementary. I’m expecting no less from Ritchie’s take on U.N.C.L.E.

Am I setting myself up for disappointment? The curmudgeons certainly think so as they point again and again to previous disasterous attempts to bring popular television series from the same era to the big screen. I agree the movies based on I Spy, The Wild Wild West, Starsky & Hutch, and The Avengers (the real Avengers not those costumed clowns) were pretty much unwatchable. But Mission Impossible has won through and my money is on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. doing the same.

If not, I’ve had a blast enjoying the build-up and have delighted in seeing a new wave of potential U.N.C.L.E. fans cresting at just the right time.

Open Channel D …

Paul Bishop is the author of Lie Catchers.

LIE

 

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Historic America: What happened in Missoula, Montana http://venturegalleries.com/blog/historic-america-what-happened-in-missoula-montana/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/historic-america-what-happened-in-missoula-montana/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:45:26 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66975 Missoula, Montana, is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluences with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers. It is often described as the "Hub of Five Valleys." From the 1700s until European settlements began a hundred years later,... Read more

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Missoula, Montana, is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluences with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers. It is often described as the “Hub of Five Valleys.” From the 1700s until European settlements began a hundred years later, the land was primarily used by populations of the Salish, Kootenai, Pend d’Oreille, Blackfeet, and Shoshone tribes. The narrow valley at Missoula’s eastern entrance was so strewn with human bones from repeated ambushes that French fur trappers would later refer to this area as “Porte d’ Enfer,” translated as “Hell’s Gate.” Hell Gate would remain the name of the area until it was renamed “Missoula” in 1866.

Western exploration to the area began with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which stopped twice just south of Missoula. In 1860 Hell Gate Village was established just west of present-day Missoula by Christopher P. Higgins and Frank Worden as a trading post. The desire for a more convenient water supply to power a lumber and flour mill led to the movement of the settlement to its modern location in 1864.

Gay Ingram

Gay Ingram

The name “Missoula” came from the Salish name for the Clark Fork River, “nmesuletkw”, which roughly translates as “place of frozen water” and possibly refers to the ancient Glacial Lake Missoula once located in the valley.

Fort Missoula was established in 1877 to help protect further arriving settlers. The Northern Pacific Railway arrived in 1883, and the Town of Missoula was chartered the same year. Missoula’s location as the railway’s division point and repair shops provided hundreds of jobs. Ten years later, Missoula was chosen as the location of the state’s first university, the University of Montana.

In 1908, Missoula became the district, and later a regional, headquarters for the United States Forest Service, which also began training smokejumpers in 1942.

The Bonner mill, partly owned by both the Northern Pacific and Copper King Marcus Daly grew to become the largest producer of lumber in the northwest. Missoula’s lumber industry would remain the mainstay of the area’s economy for the next hundred years. In 1979, still almost 40% of the county’s labor income came from the wood and paper products sector.

Norman Maclean chronicles his life in early 20th-century Missoula in his novel, A River Runs Through It which is full of references to Missoula’s natural surroundings.

Since its beginnings in 2006, the River City Roots Festival has demonstrated itself as Missoula’s signature celebration of city and now attracts more than 10,000 individuals

Since opening in 1895, the University of Montana has had a major impact on the development of Missoula’s economy. Today, education and healthcare are Missoula’s leading industries with the University of Montana and the city’s two hospitals acting as three of the largest employers.

Gay Ingram is the author of Mai Lin.

8008147

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Authors Showcase: Rampage by Alan Brenham http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-rampage-by-alan-brenham/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-rampage-by-alan-brenham/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:40:39 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66943   The Book: Rampage The Author: Alan Brenham The Story: The stakes soar, both professionally and personally, for Austin PD Detective Jason Scarsdale as he finds himself in a race against time to hunt down a vicious gang hell-bent... Read more

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Gang members in a dark alley

The Book: Rampage

The Author: Alan Brenham

The Story: The stakes soar, both professionally and personally, for Austin PD Detective Jason Scarsdale as he finds himself in a race against time to hunt down a vicious gang hell-bent on murder.

Realizing that his new partner, the attractive divorcee Tatum Harper, could be trouble in more ways than one, he tries to run her out of Homicide. Will their partnership destroy his romantic relationship with long-time girlfriend Dani Mueller?

Will they both survive the harrowing face-off with the increasingly unhinged gang leader?

About Alan Brenham:

Alan Brenham

Alan Brenham

Alan Brenham is the pen name of Alan Behr, a Texas criminal law attorney and former law enforcement officer.

His first crime novel, Price of Justice, won several awards including best in police/crime fiction. A second novel, Cornered, was released by Black Opal Books on Amazon on July 13, 2014 in print format. A third novel, titled Rampage, is expected to be released on July 4, 2015. He’s writing his fourth and fifth novels, with more to come.

He was born in upstate New York, in the small Catskill Mountains town of Delhi. He worked as a Texas law enforcement officer for over seventeen years and as a criminal prosecutor and later criminal defense attorney for over twenty-five years. Today he lives in the Austin, Texas, area with his wife, Lillian.

Review by Susan Keefe:

Set in Austin, Texas, this story begins with Justin Wayne Cooper a.k.a. Mad Dog, repaying a debt by destroying a grave in the Heavenly Garden Memorial Park. Waiting in the car are Rastaman, and Runt. Fresh out of prison Mad Dog is on a mission to right some wrongs done to Snake, his cellmate. Impressed by his prison tales and hardness, the other two have become willing accomplices. At first it’s all a game, a good laugh, an opportunity to get some ready cash, but then the stakes get higher, and when the killings begin, they suddenly realise how Justin got his nickname…

In Alan Brenham’s first book, Price of Justice, we met widower, Detective Jason Scarsdale, his daughter Shannon and Dani Mueller. After the events in that book ex Austin PD Crime Analyst Dani moved back home to her family in Garmisch, Germany. However, three years on, Jason and Dani still have a very strong transcontinental relationship, and very soon Shannon and Jason are due to visit Dani and celebrate Shannon’s birthday at the same time.

However the holiday isn’t here yet and arriving at work, Jason, who has transferred back to Homicide from the Sex Crimes division, is called into his superior’s office and informed by Sargent Kipfer, that he has a new partner, a very attractive divorcee called Tatum Harper.

Soon a reluctant Jason, and his new chatty and very keen partner are trying to discover who the reckless killers are, and what links the crimes together. Whilst in the background, Jason’s relationship with Dani has taken a strange turn which gives the story an intriguing subplot.

Despite the clues and evidence coming together, nothing will stick, the death toll is rising. Who is the mysterious MD?

If you like reading crime thrillers then you will love Rampage. They say write about what you know and this action-packed plot has been very cleverly written, and has the great attention to detail I have come to expect from Alan Brenham. With his lifetimes experience as a Texas law enforcement officer, criminal prosecutor and defense attorney, the author’s in-depth knowledge, and understanding in these fields enables him to take his lucky readers on an unforgettable journey into the dark criminal underworld, its chilling inhabitants and the people who protect us from them.

Review by Grady Harp:

Alan Behr, a criminal law attorney and former police officer in Austin, Texas, takes on the moniker Alan Brenham for his second career as a writer. His debut novel, PRIDE OF JUSTICE was a certified winner with awards bestowed. His second novel CORNERED bested the initial entry and now he offers RAMPAGE – more action and finer polish than those first two jewels.

Working in both criminal prosecution and defense (as well as an on the ground police officer) gives him a special insight to write novels about crime and the intricacies – both positive and negative – of the criminal justice system. It also allows him scrutiny of the `good cop/bad cop’ conundrum that steps beyond the writings of most other authors less exposed to the realities of our justice system. Couple these facts his natural bent for writing and the result is another novel of great distinction.

This time around we meet another Brenham detective – Jason Scarsdale – and from Alan’s synopsis we get the gist of the tale: ‘The stakes soar, both professionally and personally, for Austin PD Detective Jason Scarsdale as he finds himself in a race against time to hunt down a vicious gang hell-bent on murder. Realizing that his new partner, the attractive divorcee Tatum Harper, could be trouble in more ways than one, he tries to run her out of Homicide. Will their partnership destroy his romantic relationship with long-time girlfriend Dani Mueller? Will they both survive the harrowing face-off with the increasingly unhinged gang leader.’

Alan knows that thrillers must grab you from the first page if they are to keep your sense of inquisitiveness, and so he plunges us in with the following: ‘It was after ten that night when the Dodge sedan stopped next to the curb. Two shadowy figures eyeballed the single-story home and the blue Toyota SUV parked in the driveway. Light shined through slats in the blinds of an enormous picture window about five feet from the front door. To the right of the door were two side-by-side windows, both lit up. “Are you sure this is his house? It looks different at night,” the driver said. “Damn right, I’m sure.” The passenger laid the rifle barrel on the edge of the window. “So now what?” “We wait until the son of a bitch walks in front of that window.” The passenger shifted in the seat to get a clear field of fire right at the window. “Then boom. One dead cop.”

And that is merely page one of a novel with so many surprises and twists and turns that the reader grows into a detective’s mind mold.

Brenham’s mastery of works and sense of tension and the realities of being a detective and finding ways to piece together a thriller while having his hero under the microscope of the criminals with life ending intentions is second to none. He is a master at molding these criminal tales and likely (and hopefully) there are more coming down the line. For those who love police/crime novels this is one of the best, and it certainly suggests that Alan Brenham has found his niche.

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Tuesday Sampler: Army of Worn Soles by Scott Bury http://venturegalleries.com/blog/tuesday-sampler-army-of-worn-soles-by-scott-bury/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/tuesday-sampler-army-of-worn-soles-by-scott-bury/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:35:36 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66938 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. Tuesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Army of Worn Soles by... Read more

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Army of Worn Soles - FULL RESOLUTION

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. Tuesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Army of Worn Soles by Scott Bury. If you’re looking for an award winning historical memoir of World War II, this is the novel you don’t want to miss. As one reviewer said: The story is gripping and emotional. So well written that it will make you suffer and cry with Maurice, and also laugh with him and celebrate when the story requires it.

Army of Worn Soles was a semi-finalist in the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards.

The Story

A Canadian is drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, just in time to be thrown against Nazi Germany’s invasion in Operation Barbarossa.

Caught in the vise of the Nazi and Communist forces, Maurice Bury concentrates on keeping his men alive as they retreat across Ukraine from the German juggernaut.

Now the question is: will they escape from the hell of the POW camp before they starve to death?

The First Chapter

Scott BuryKharkiv, October 1941

Maurice put the bottle on the ground beside him and took off his uniform shirt. He spread it on the smoothest piece of ground he could find, then laid the bottle near the officer’s insignia on the collar and pushed down. He rolled the bottle over tattered, light-brown material until the lice cracked under the glass. Back and forth, twice, three times. He felt a dull satisfaction at his first pathetic victory in more than half a year.

Crunch, crunch.

The effort was exhausting. His stomach ached and his throat burned with thirst.

He slumped back until he leaned against the barracks. Men in grey uniforms stood or walked across the cobbled courtyard of the ancient castle. One came toward him, a slim man with light brown hair and hazel eyes. He stopped in front of Maurice and leaned down.

“Maurice? Is it you?”

Breathing required effort. So did looking up. Maurice had not eaten in days, but he still trusted his sight. He knew the man with the light-brown hair and hazel eyes, even in a Wehrmacht uniform.

“Maurice?” the young man said again. “What are you doing here?”

He couldn’t swallow. His mouth held no moisture. “Dying. I’m starving to death.” Maurice closed his eyes and hung his head.

Bohdan crouched beside him. “You got drafted?”

Maurice made the effort to look up at his old friend. “The Red Army made me a lieutenant. What the hell are you doing here and in a German uniform, Bohdan?”

“The Germans kicked the Russians out, something we couldn’t do. Why shouldn’t I join the winning side? And it’s ‘Daniel’ now, not Bohdan.” He looked around to make sure no one noticed him, a Wehrmacht officer, talking to a prisoner of war. “I’m glad you survived, that you were captured instead of killed. The Germans killed a lot of Red soldiers.”

“I know. I was there.”

Bohdan looked around again. “How did you get here?”

“Like you said, we were captured, the whole army, outside Kharkiv. They brought us here.”

Bohdan shook his head. “Are you all right? I’ll see if I can bring you anything, but I have to be careful.”

Maurice looked into his friend’s eyes. “Get me out of here.”

“Set a prisoner free? Are you crazy?”

“Bohdan—sorry, Daniel, you’re my best friend. Or you were. If I ever meant anything to you, get me out.”

Daniel—Bohdan, looked left and right again. “I cannot let Red soldiers go,” he whispered.

Maurice took a dry breath. His strength was almost gone. “You’re an officer in a victorious army. You have the power. You can get me out, me and my boys.

Daniel shook his head and stood. “Stalin’s going to surrender within six months, and then all the prisoners will be freed. Hitler has promised freedom for all nations. We’ll all be free. Ukraine will be free.”

Maurice looked at the ground between his splayed legs. He could no longer lift his head. “I can’t wait six months. I can’t wait two days. If you wait, you’ll find a corpse. We’ll all be dead. You have to get us out now.”

Daniel hesitated. He looked around the camp again, but no one paid attention. “So the Reds made you an officer, did they? Where are your men? All dead?”

Somewhere, Maurice found the strength to stand up again. He staggered to the barracks door, went in and called his odalenye, the unit he commanded. “Step over here, boys.”

Daniel followed Maurice inside, and Maurice wondered if Daniel wasn’t breaking some regulation by entering prisoners’ quarters unaccompanied by at least one guard.

Daniel scanned the room, taking in the defeated, injured and starving men. No one threatened him. They did not even move. Maurice realized when they saw Daniel, they saw their captor.

Daniel stepped out of the barracks and waited outside the door. “I’ll see what I can do, Maurice. But you’re on the wrong fucking side.”

Maurice picked up the bottle and returned to crushing the lice out of his uniform shirt. It was the only thing he could do to reduce his misery.

He thought about the last time he had seen Bohdan, before he became Daniel.

It was in the gymnasium, the pre-university school in Peremyshl. What used to be Poland. What a long, strange, twisted path my life has followed.

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Why am I writing mysteries, and is it really a mystery? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/why-am-i-writing-mysteries-and-is-it-really-a-mystery/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/why-am-i-writing-mysteries-and-is-it-really-a-mystery/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 07:40:11 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66923 THE MUSE wasn’t particularly interested in my problem. But then, he seldom was. I was writing. He was sleeping. I was killing the bad guys. He was killing time. I was trying to finish the last chapter. The Muse already knew... Read more

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Film-Noir-3

THE MUSE wasn’t particularly interested in my problem. But then, he seldom was.

I was writing.

He was sleeping.

I was killing the bad guys.

He was killing time.

I was trying to finish the last chapter.

The Muse already knew how it ended.

He just hadn’t told me.

I pushed away from the Mac and motioned for him to come sit on my shoulder.

He preferred the easy chair.

The Muse didn’t do much whispering anymore.

“I’ve got a mystery,” I said.

“I have one, too,” he said.

“What is yours?” I asked.

“The only mystery I have,” the Muse said,” is why you spend so much time writing.”

I stared into the early morning darkness of my backyard and thought it over.

What he said made a lot of sense.

I shrugged.

“Then I guess I have two mysteries,” I said.

“Which one do you want to work on first?” he asked.

“The first one.”

“Which is?”

“I like to write mysteries.”

“It’s a somewhat honorable profession.”

“But I don’t think I’m writing mysteries,” I said.

“They’re not hard,” he said. “You write about a dastardly crime and let the sleuth, detective, shamus, or private eye spend the next two hundred pages trying to find out who did it.”

“That’s one of the problems,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“I don’t have a sleuth, detective, shamus, or private eye in the novel.”

“Who do you have?” the Muse asked.

“He’s a man who may or may not have worked for the government,” I said, “He was involved in the early-day experiments of mind control with electric shocks, and they keep erasing his mind.”

“Is he a tough guy?

“Tough enough.”

“He’ll do,” the Muse said.

“That brings me to my next problem,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“There may be a dastardly crime committed,” I said, “but everybody knows who did it. Who did it is not a secret.”

“So you don’t have a whodunit?”

“I don’t.”

The Muse paused and leaned back in the big easy chair. “Do your readers know how he did it?” he asked.

“They do.”

“Do they know why he did it?”

I nodded.

The Muse thought some more, then asked, “What is the most important and captivating ingredient in your novel?” he asked.

“The time period,” I said.

“When does it take place?”

“The late 1930s and 1940s,” I said. “A mad man is running loose in Europe. America is at war. There are rumors that some fools are developing an Atomic bomb that may be capable of burning the whole planet, but who will get it first – The Russians, Hitler, or the United States? It’s the beginning of the Cold War before anyone knew it was cold.”

The Muse nodded.

“Then that’s your answer,” he said.

“What is?” I asked.

“You don’t write whodunits,” he said.

“I don’t.”

He grinned.

“No,” he said. “You write whendunits.”

“Is there such a thing?”

He shrugged. “There is now,” he said.

He felt better about it than I did.

I still had a chapter to write.

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of Secrets of the Dead.

Secrets of the Dead Cover Final 1

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The actor who mysteriously never left the stage http://venturegalleries.com/blog/the-actor-who-mysteriously-never-left-the-stage/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/the-actor-who-mysteriously-never-left-the-stage/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:55:36 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66910 William Terriss in the role of Romeo. THE INSANELY JEALOUS, odd, and sneaky man waited with his knife at the stage door. He rocked unsteady on his feet but his aim was effective. As an elegantly costumed man approached, the odd man lunged out... Read more

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William Terris in the role of Romeo.

William Terriss in the role of Romeo.

THE INSANELY JEALOUS, odd, and sneaky man waited with his knife at the stage door. He rocked unsteady on his feet but his aim was effective. As an elegantly costumed man approached, the odd man lunged out and stabbed him in the chest several times. The wounded man collapsed and was soon being held in the arms of a beautiful lady also in vibrant costuming. “I shall come back,” he was heard to whisper before dying.

Such was the grim death of William Terriss. Terriss was a brilliant British actor whose presence inspired adoration of patrons and critics alike. He was a master of his craft and he could come off as unbelievably handsome when properly made-up and costumed for the heroic roles he played. He drew large crowds, and at times even ventured into comedy. He had died on December 16, 1897 in the arms of his glamorous, confused, and bereft leading lady. His death caused a pall over the theatre.

Richard Prince, the knife-wielder, was an alcoholic and envious bit player. If someone examined the back story of this tragic event, they would learn that William Terriss had been exceedingly kind to Richard Prince over the years, securing parts for the down-and-out actor, setting up a benevolent fund for him, loaning him money from time to time. The murder was perhaps a bizarre case of life imitating art to the Nth degree. Richard Prince was put on trial for the murder and sent to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum where he later died. British actors were appalled by the light sentence he received.

The story doesn’t end there. William Terriss did return, as promised in his dying words. He haunted the Adelphi Theatre for decades. One could hear eerie rapping noises in his old dressing room. Ethereal lights appeared with no explanation. His apparition has been seen many times in the Covent Garden Tube Station at Charing Cross. He is easy to recognize in his top hat, frock coat and carrying a walking stick. When passersby try to engage him in conversation he disappears into thin air. The living William Terriss often waited in that very spot for the late train home.

This is almost exactly the way the marvelous story-teller, Chappy Mackenzie explained the William Terriss murder to his friends at the regular meeting of the Hampshire Haunting and Paranormal Enlightenment Society.

“Ooooo! Should we not go on a field trip to haunted London theatres, Chappy? I should fancy something such as that.” Pansy Renwick threw out this idea verbally, but everyone in the group was thinking it.

“I would certainly be up for it,” Chappy replied. “There are several haunted theatres that deserve our attention.”

“I agree as well. Perhaps we could enlist the help of some of our friends in getting into some restricted areas. I think it can be done,” Timothy Holmes added.

“Lets make a list of places to see and then we can find out who among us may know people that can help in those areas,” Pansy suggested. “We must include the Haymarket. Many have seen the ghost of John Buckstone, house manager there. Famous actress, Margaret Rutherford is one who saw him repeatedly.”

“Ah, Miss Marple, herself,” Chappy mused. “Also at the Haymarket was the strange case of the apparition that used to stand behind actors performing on stage. The stage manager has almost dropped the curtain at times to get the intruder off the stage, when he disappears on his own. There was the ‘man in grey,’ who haunted the upper circle of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.”

“And at the Albery Theatre, which used to be the New Theatre, there are reports of hauntings by Sir Charles Wyndham, the original owner,” Patrick Martin added.

“Yes!” Pansy exclaimed, then, added, “And at the Old Vic there have been sightings of a woman wringing her hands and acting the part of Lady Macbeth. It is too, too eerie.”

“I have drawn up a tentative itinerary,” Chappy announced later, as he placed a paper forward for others in the group to view and approve.

“Aha! Good one ol’ boy,” Patrick Martin noted aloud. “You have us using the tube several times via the Covent Garden Station. Surely William Terriss will also be waiting there when we do.”

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of The Scavenger’s Song.

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California Drought: The Stuff of Great Noir Fiction http://venturegalleries.com/blog/california-drought-the-stuff-of-great-noir-fiction/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/california-drought-the-stuff-of-great-noir-fiction/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:50:24 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66916 Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, one of the best known movies about California's fight for water CALIFORNIA IS TRYING TO SURVIVE its worst drought in recorded history. Northern California residents, I am one, think secession from southern... Read more

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Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, one of the best known movies about California's fight for water

Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, one of the best known movies about California’s fight for water

CALIFORNIA IS TRYING TO SURVIVE its worst drought in recorded history. Northern California residents, I am one, think secession from southern California when water becomes the topic. Writers and cinephiles think Chinatown. The neo noir film was based on true events. Hollis Mulwray whose murder precipitated many grisly events, the least of which the slitting of Jake Gittes’ nose, was inspired by William Mulholland who was the chief engineer of what was once called The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He was the engineer who designed and oversaw the Los Angeles Aqueduct which brought water from Owens Valley to LA.

Eventually this suck of water dried out the Owens Valley but not without a fight. Check out California Water Wars. See why the word secession creeps into our thoughts. The St. Francis dam was built to store and regulate the water, but it broke, resulting in a murderous flood. Six hundred people died. This number is second in terms of the number deaths behind the 1906 earthquake. The dam was considered the worst American civil engineering disaster of the twentieth century. It ruined Mulholland, though he did get a very famous road named after him, and there were two noir movies based loosely on his life.

The story of water and Mulholland have all the ingredients for scintillating noir fiction. Greed, desperation, the strength of a man’s reputation, and of course, the all-time reigning champs, money and power. Noir is always the best when it its roots are planted in reality, when real crimes and real people motivated or pushed to the wall. Writers mix up the real with the imagined, creating a femme fatale or a female cloaked in intrigue and the intrepid, but stupendously flawed investigator. The reader can’t helped be sucked in; sorry for the water sound. Why? Because of the true element. Whether it be water, money, love, or power, we find our lives intersecting with the story.

Purified, the neo noir novel I wrote, has the nonfiction elements of race, gender, and a horrifying tradition practiced on real women worldwide. These themes are interwoven in the whodunit race to stop the killer. As we look up to the sky and dance for rain, it seems like inspiration for writers of murder is in the very dry air.

Elizabeth Sullivan is the author of Purified.

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Authors Showcase: Fur Ball Fever by Maureen Fisher http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-fur-ball-fever-by-maureen-fisher/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/authors-showcase-fur-ball-fever-by-maureen-fisher/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:40:53 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66905 The Book: Fur Ball Fever The Author: Maureen Fisher The Story: An impulsive pet spa owner who loses her client's prize pooch ... After a lifetime of impetuous mistakes, Jersey Shore pet spa owner Grace Donnelly outdoes herself when a... Read more

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The Book: Fur Ball Fever

The Author: Maureen Fisher

The Story: An impulsive pet spa owner who loses her client’s prize pooch …

After a lifetime of impetuous mistakes, Jersey Shore pet spa owner Grace Donnelly outdoes herself when a client’s prize poodle, a shoo-in to win the annual Fur Ball, goes AWOL while in her custody. With money, careers, and lives in jeopardy, Grace is not afraid to strap on the leather to go undercover in a fetish club looking for clues. Too bad her helpers consist of an aging hippie aunt, a renegade schnauzer, a drag queen, and a dominatrix or two. Worst of all, the only man truly qualified to help is her former flame, the most domineering male on the eastern seaboard.

A smokin’ hot bodyguard with his own agenda …

Texas-born security specialist Nick Jackson faces his worst nightmare when Grace’s amateur investigation nearly blows his covert operation. Unless he nails the con-artist who scammed his home-town’s seniors and whacked a witness, his homicidal granddaddy will take justice into his own liver-spotted hands. To salvage his case, his sanity, and his ex-lover’s velvety skin, Nick joins forces with the sassy crusader who rubs him the wrong way–and so many right ways too.

Together, they weather an explosion of murder, mayhem, and mystery …

Action bounces from the upscale Shore community of Saltwater Estates to a beach harboring washed-up corpses, a fancy yacht no honest preacher could possibly afford, and the bawdiest nightclub in Atlantic City. Hazards multiply like bunnies, culminating in fun, danger, romance … and a Fur Ball extravaganza the locals will never forget.

About Maureen Fisher:

Maureen Fisher

Maureen Fisher

I write sassy romance novels containing a slice of adventure and enough steamy sex to drive those who dare read them racing for a cold shower. Nothing makes me happier than taking readers into another world, a world full of romance, adventure, humor, fun, and excitement.

Born in Scotland, I emigrated to Canada at the tender age of seven. Years later as a University of Toronto graduate, I convinced the federal government to hire a Fine Arts specialist as a computer programmer. After three years of bits, bytes, and dumps (probably not what you’re thinking), I graduated again, this time to full-time homemaker and mom, raising two wonderful sons. Plunging back into the business world, my second husband and I started a management consulting company. This marriage survived because my husband and I pledged never to work on the same project again. Ever.

After a century in the consulting world, I grew weary of wearing snappy power suits, squeezing into panty hose, and fighting rush hour traffic. I made a life-changing decision. I wanted to write books. Not dry, boring, technical treatises, but fresh, funny romantic suspense novels. How hard could it be? Thousands of authors did it every year.

Always an over-achiever, I quit my day job, attended a one-week seminar on writing a novel, read a couple of how-to books, joined the Ottawa chapter of RWA, and plunged right in. Learning can be a humbling experience, but I persevered. I slaved. I revised. I learned. After twenty-five rejections, countless workshops, six-re-writes, and two first-prize wins, my efforts finally paid off with the sale of my first book.

My husband and I live in Ottawa where I volunteer for an addiction family program, play bridge, bicycle, hike, square dance, read (naturally), and slave over my computer to improve my writing skills.

Review by Maggie:

I laughed out loud and so will you! This romantic comedy has a hero I adore. I love the way he talks and he looks like one of those men on the underwear boxes.

I understood his reluctance to fall under the spell of this sassy heroine, who dares do anything, with or without him, which leads them into perilous waters. Perhaps this is not the place to confess my water fetish, but Nick looks great wet! Five stars all the way!

Review by Cheryl Green:

Grace Donnelly needs help from former boyfriend Nick Jackson. He is the security director of Saltwater Estates and she needs to look at the surveillance tape from last night. It is a matter of life and death. Miss Coco Chanel is missing… not the fashion icon, but the winner of last year’s Fur Ball. Miss Coco is a poodle that Grace is watching while her 90 year old owner is visiting her brother. Grace has only 6 days to find the dog before the next Fur Ball. It also seems that the second and third place dogs are missing too. Nick tells Grace to forget about it and not bother Milt at the security kiosk either.

Of course Grace does as she pleases. With the help of her pot smoking Auntie Beth, they devise a plan to watch the footage from the night before. That involves having Milt eat Auntie Beth’s “special brownies”. Hiding a large sleeping man still has me in stitches. Grace better be very careful or she could end up deep in dog poo.

Things to ponder: Will Nick get proof of the wrong doings of Reverend Oliver Hathaway? Will the dogs be found? When will Nick and Grace realize they are perfect together?

What a fun read. It is laugh out loud funny. The author has created a wacky cast of characters that are woven through the plot and keep you turning those pages. There are plenty of suspects to keep you trying to figure out whodunit. I hope the author is busy plotting and writing the next book. I can’t wait to see what Grace will get up to next. So if you like your mystery with some cute pooches, then you should be reading Fur Ball Fever.

 

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Monday Sampler: Expect Trouble by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth http://venturegalleries.com/blog/monday-sampler-expect-trouble-by-joann-smith-ainsworth/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/monday-sampler-expect-trouble-by-joann-smith-ainsworth/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 06:35:13 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=66896 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 features Expect Trouble by JoAnn Smith... Read more

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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 features Expect Trouble by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth.  If you’re looking for an award-winning paranormal romantic thriller, this is the book you want to read. As one reviewer said: Expect Trouble is an intense, fast moving and filled with twists and turns and just when you think you have it figured out, there is more sabotage, espionage and conspiracies…

Expect Trouble was a semi-finalist in the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards contest.

The Story

Opening herself to ridicule by revealing she’s clairvoyant is the last thing U.S. WAVES Lieutenant Livvy wants, but when Uncle Sam needs her skill to track Nazi spies, she jumps in with both feet.

The First Chapter

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

Philadelphia, PA, 1943

U.S. WAVES Lieutenant Olivia “Livvy” Delacourt abhorred being late. “It’s my new superior officer who is waiting.”

Tension pressured the nape of her neck. Armed with one week of driver’s training, she gripped the Super Deluxe ‘42 Ford’s steering wheel like she was doing battle with Old Man Winter himself. March had come in like a lion to a country enveloped in a world war and gave no hint of going out like a lamb. A relentless wind whipped up dirty snow from Germantown Avenue’s icy cobblestones to mix with moist flurries that stuck to the windshield. Ice coated the tree branches and hid on snow-blanketed sidewalks. Clutching the steering wheel, Livvy sent a prayer heavenward that she’d get this metal behemoth and herself safely to her new headquarters.

This morning—without warning—the Navy Department jerked her from a challenging assignment in Cryptology, transcribing enemy phone conversations, and reassigned her—of all things—as driver to a naval commander overseeing the formation of the top secret Joint U.S. and Allied Intelligence Project. Livvy hoped there’d be something “intelligent” about her assignment. She preferred working her brain, not her foot on a pedal.

Clank, clank, clank. The snow chains attacked the metal fenders, making her head ache. She scrunched up her eyes and wrinkled her forehead in concentration. She was looking for an estate with a wrought iron gate and a Pennsylvania flagstone fence around its five acres of land.

There.

She guided the heavy ‘42 Ford through the opened gate and onto the unplowed driveway stretching toward the three-story mansion known as Hamilton House. At one time, her family could have afforded a place like this—before the Crash of ‘29.

No smoke rose from the chimneys. No lights beckoned. The grounds under a blanket of snow and ice looked abandoned.

What a welcome.

Livvy followed the tire ruts made by a single car with a lower belly that had scraped off the top layer of snow. When the tracks veered off toward the garages, Livvy stayed on the main drive. She pulled to a stop next to broad steps leading to the multi-columned porch of her new—and impressive—headquarters. She took the car out of gear, set the brake and turned off the engine.

Before pulling on her navy blue wool gloves, Livvy glanced at her wristwatch and her stomach tightened. Fifteen minutes late. She’d get chewed out. Oh, well, there was nothing she could do about that.

An expected blast of bitterly cold air hit her when she stepped out into ankle-deep snow. She leaned into driven snow to mount the steps to the front door. From the corner of her eye, she saw that her bobbed, brunette hair—where it escaped from under her cover—had curled tightly from the damp. Her glasses and wool overcoat had acquired a dusting of snow while crossing the driveway.

Bedraggled. What a first impression.

Inhaling a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and pushed the doorbell. No sound. She pushed the bell again. Nothing.

“I’ll have to get that fixed.”

She knocked loudly.

The door opened with an alacrity that startled her. The rigidity of the uniformed man towering above her made her feel she should click her rubber-booted heels. She tried to see his face, but snowflakes got in her eyes. She blinked and saluted. “Lieutenant Delacourt reporting for duty, sir.”

A disembodied voice growled from the darkened doorway. “You’re late!”

Livvy’s jaw dropped. She recognized that voice, one she hadn’t heard in almost ten years. The voice belonged to her colossal high school crush—Barrington Drew, III—Trey to his friends. Sadly, she wasn’t one of them.

In all the morning’s haste—saying good-byes, moving her things out of her desk in Cryptology and packing her belongings in the barracks—she’d never asked about her new commander. Besides, a war was on. She was trained to accept without question whomever the Navy threw at her and to do her duty as required. Who would’ve guessed the new boss would turn out to be her teenage heartthrob?

Her heart pounded with the remembered agony of unrequited feelings for the handsome and wealthy senior—youthful daydreams not based on reality. It wasn’t as if he’d spare a glance for a plump, impoverished and bespectacled freshman when he was already dating Livvy’s first cousin, the ultra glamorous Gwen.

Peeping through snowy lashes, she could see that the thin-as-a-rail high school playboy had added muscle. Wavy black hair—now cut military style above the ears—framed a wide forehead and laughing eyes that, in the past, seemed continually amused. Right now they didn’t look amused.

“Wait here while I get my overcoat.” He turned abruptly and walked away.

Livvy flushed beet red, humiliated. True, she’d lost some weight since her teen years and a uniform might act as a disguise, but come on. There should be some glimmer of recognition. She’d barely regained her emotional balance when he reappeared with a briefcase clutched tightly in his gloved hand.

“Let’s get going or I’ll be late.”

Trey brushed past her and out the still-opened front door. He rushed down snow-covered steps, leaving it to his lieutenant to close and lock the door. Locking it against what, she didn’t know. The place looked barren of furnishings. She pushed at the bridge of her horn-rimmed glasses to settle them more comfortably on her nose before pulling the mansion door shut and listening until the lock clicked into place.

Darn. She’d expected more courtesy from a man of Trey’s social standing. Then she gave herself a mental slap. Commonplace courtesies weren’t part of a wartime society. Courtesy was extended by rank, not gender or social standing. Her duties as a lowly WAVES lieutenant included opening doors for the male officers, not vice versa.

When she turned around, Trey was already climbing into the back of the sedan, which was layered with snowflakes. She’d need to be quicker in the future. He slammed the door closed before she could make her way down the slippery steps.

Since her former heartthrob hadn’t recognized her, she wondered how to act. After opening the driver’s side door, she lingered overly long. She heard, “What are you waiting for, Lieutenant? You’re letting the warm air out.”

Good grief. Just like her mother.

“We need to get going or I’ll be late for my first assignment.”

She could sympathize with that problem.

Livvy climbed behind the wheel, thankful the Ford still held the heat generated on the trip to Hamilton House. She turned the key, depressed the clutch, got the car into first gear and inched down the snowy driveway toward the street. There were no tire tracks for her to follow on the way out.

“Where to, sir?”

“We’re headed for NAMU.”

“Where?”

“The Naval Aircraft Modification Unit north of Philadelphia in Warminster. It’s the former Brewster Aircraft Factory.”

Livvy had her map out and ready on the front seat. She stopped the car at the gate to study the map.

“Never mind that.” His tone was curt. “I have my own map. I’ll give directions.”

She pursed her lips. How long would he continue to snap at her?

She heard Trey unlock his leather briefcase. In the rearview mirror, she watched as he spread a map across his lap and put a finger on their position.

“Left or right?”

“Right. Keep your eyes on the road. I’ll watch for street signs.”

She pulled out onto Germantown Avenue and headed back toward Johnson Street in the direction she’d come.

Livvy glanced in the rearview mirror. Trey wore a disgruntled expression as if she were the source of every setback he’d ever experienced. Great. Make her more nervous than she already was, why didn’t he?

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