Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Latest in Hostess Gifts

Today Linda Prather posted her interview of me. She asked some tough questions. I revealed too much.
But as a hostess gift, she gave me a middle initial. It's an "E."  This might become fashionable... giving middle initials as thank-you presents for interviews. I wonder what it stands for?

Linda Prather interviews Barbara Silkstone

Hmn... wonder why she did it?

Great new post by Consuelo Baehr on A Moose Walked into a Bar

Greetings!  One of my new favorite authors just posted a fun story on our co-blog:
A Moose Walked into a Bar.

If you haven't visited the blog yet, please do. I have the pleasure of co-blogging with
LC Evans (Linda)  ~ We Interrupt This Date and The Witness Wore Blood Bay
Karen Cantwell  ~ Take the Monkeys and Run

Follow this link to get to the Moose: A Moose Walked into a Bar

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

                                     ~ Thursday March 4

When I get home I shall write a book about this place...
if I ever do get home,” said Alice.

8:00 a.m.  The next morning we were preparing to go into London when Nigel asked, “What will it take for you to be free of that awful Archer fellow?”
 “Nothing short of getting a buyer for his Lizard Links fiasco. It's a half-started golf course property out in the Everglades. Leslie insists I sell it for him.”
“I think I might have heard of it.”
“How?” I asked.
“Umm... don't recall.” Nigel wandered off into the bedroom seemingly lost in thought.
I flossed my teeth as I walked the short distance from the bathroom to the bedroom. Before I could question Nigel further, I heard a squeak like metal against metal. I looked to the front door. The mail slot, a brass plate about three feet from the ground, was open. Two piercing gray eyes followed my movements. I froze. What the devil?
“Elizabeth, is that you?” I asked the mail slot.
And the mail slot answered me, “I see you there, Alice. I see you flossing your teeth.”
I might be having a nervous breakdown, I was overdue. “Elizabeth, what are you doing?”
“Open the door, Alice. I won’t hurt you,” the mail slot responded.
I leaped into the bedroom where Nigel was standing paler than milk.
“I’ll let her in. Let’s get this over with,” he whispered.
“No. I don’t want a scene. Plus, dear heart, I think she may be dangerous. She’s unbalanced or haven’t you noticed?” I whispered.
I inched the bedroom door closed. “Shall we outwait her? She’s got to be uncomfortable crouching down to reach the slot. She’ll leave soon or we could call the police?”
Nigel lay down on the bed. “Don’t do that, darling. It could send her completely off her onion. I would like to know how she got in.  I will take this up with the building manager.”
“You do that,” I said, once again feeling trapped in a British farce.
I took out a copy of People magazine and worked my way through the latest celebrity adventures while the mail slot continued to call to me.
“Nigel, it’s been half an hour and she’s still there.”
Just then as if on cue, the mail slot started to bang. Bang, bang, bang. Elizabeth apparently decided this would be more annoying. It was.
“Let’s let her in and get it over with,” I said.
 “No. I’ve never seen her act this way. It may not be safe. Let’s wait a bit longer.” His eyes were as big as the bags under them.
Two minutes later the banging stopped.
We peeked out the window and watched Elizabeth make her way to a little red Volkswagen.
“That car looks familiar. It was in Paris. Oops. She spotted us,” I said.
Elizabeth yelled back at our window. “I see you there, Nigel. With that American woman. I see you behind those middle class lace curtains. Lace curtains. How pathetic.” She jumped into her beetle and pulled under the window. “I’ll be back.” she yelled, waving her fist in the air.

9:00 a.m.  “Ready to go to London?” Nigel asked as he tied the scarf under my chin. I stood on tip-toe and kissed him on his cheek.
We peeked out the mail slot, the coast was clear. He turned the locks and opened the front door. There at our feet sat a clock. It was a fairly ordinary mantle clock about ten inches high and twenty-four inches long.
I jumped back. “Is it a bomb?”
“I don’t think so, but stand back, darling,” he said quite matter-of-factly.
“Call the police,” I said, not accustomed to having clocks turn up on my doorstep unannounced.
“We can handle this, love. Fill the tub with water. Hurry.”
I did as I was told. “Must be one of those British things,” I muttered as the tub filled.
Nigel gingerly lifted the clock into the tub and submersed it. The clock bubbled to its demise.
We stood there watching. “It’s definitely not the right time,” I said to Nigel trying to be as nonchalant as I could be.
“That’s true, Love,” he said. He cocked his head as he studied the clock in the tub. “I believe I know this clock.”
“Good. I’d hate to think it was a strange clock we just drowned.”
“Darling, I believe this is a clock I had stored in Elizabeth’s attic.” He lifted the clock out of the water. “Well, we’ve killed enough time. Let’s go.”
Nigel put the clock in a plastic trash bag and knotted the end. We took it with us when we exited his flat. He pulled his door shut and double locked it. “How did that woman get in here?”
We dumped the dead clock in the community trash and headed to London. I watched the road signs zip by. They all meant distance between us and Elizabeth.

1:30 p.m.  Nigel had a business meeting at the Hyde Park Hotel which gave me time to shop. I wandered around Harrods and bought a pretty little black dress at Harvey Nicols. I picked up nifty pumps at Charles Jourdan to replace the ones I lost in the Seine. Mission accomplished, I crossed Brompton and Knightsbridge to the Hyde Park Hotel. I was an hour early to meet my man.
I entered the lounge and spotted Nigel huddled over a table with a seedy looking man in a brown pinstripe suit, purple shirt and iridescent red tie. The stranger’s hair was dusted with what looked like talcum powder and his complexion was doughy.
“Petal, I’m surprised to see you so soon. Let me introduce you to Algernon Green.” He motioned to me as he spoke, “Algy, this is Alice Harte. She’s my guest from Miami.”
“Hello, Petal. Aren’t you a pretty little thing? What a lovely outfit.” Algy Green bowed releasing a poof of powder. He looked spooked, his nose wrinkled and his eyes narrowed. I had seen that look before. It was the women-have-no-business-in-business look.
“My name is not petal, and I am not little,” I said.
I looked down at the table as Nigel flipped their papers over. A familiar looking red file slipped out of the pile. Both men appeared uncomfortable as I settled into a chair. “You can call me Ms. Harte.”
“Well, Miss Harte, Nigel and I are discussing a big, confidential business deal. One that would only bore you.”
“Alice, please give me a few minutes more with Algernon. It’s a complicated deal we are working on.”
“Nigel, can I speak to you for a second?”
We stepped into the entryway and I squared off with my Brit.
“That red file you have on the table there, is that my Lizard Links file? I had that in my briefcase back in the states. Why is it here?”
“Sweetheart, you are not the only one to ever have had a red file. Would you have me embarrass myself by walking over there and showing you Algernon’s confidential file?”
“I have a bad feeling about that guy. Call it feminine intuition or whatever, but don’t do any business with that snarkie. Please.”
He laughed. “Not to worry darling. I don’t do business with Algy Green. I just humor him. He’s always on to some urgent deal or whatever. I just listen. What’s a “snarkie?”
“It’s a little shrimp-like creature that lays claim to anything it wants by barfing on it.”
Nigel chuckled. “Please don’t stare at Algernon’s ears. He is very self-conscious.”
I shook my head to line up that segue. “His ears?”
“Yes. He super glues his ears to his head because they stick out so terribly much.”
I was speechless.
“I’ll meet you in Harrod’s Food Hall in thirty minutes,” Nigel said as he scooted me away.
As I walked back to Harrods, I wondered if I was trying too hard to make this relationship work. I didn’t like the vibe I got from the little creep Algy Green. 
An hour later Nigel and I were picking out smoked salmon and fish cakes from one of the seafood counters in the food court. “What’s with that guy, Green?” I asked.
“Algy’s harmless. He runs around trying to make deals that go no where. We all humor him.”
“There’s something untrustworthy about him.”
“Aside from his ears, I assume you are referring to the talcum powder?”
“I thought that’s what that was,” I said.
“It’s an eccentricity. Americans are rabid about shampooing everyday. Some Europeans prefer to use talcum instead of soap to clean their hair. Algy has a tendency to overdo it.”
That night we lay on Nigel’s dust ruffle sheets. I struggled not to tell him he’d gotten it all wrong with the sheets; I didn’t want to embarrass him. We played at making love, but the atmosphere wasn’t very romantic. I let Nigel stroke my head and I gently kissed his pale cheeks. I’m a noisy lover and the mail slot was too close for anything more than gentle touching. Nigel fell asleep. I listened to his quiet snore. You must love him, I told myself, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

                                                                                    ~ Friday March 5

 There might be some sense in your knocking –
if we had the door between us.

8:00 a.m.   The following morning I was tinkering in Nigel’s toy kitchen, making coffee when I heard a THUD outside the door. “There’s someone knocking.” I called to him.
We arrived at the door at the same time. Nigel threw it open and there sat a clock, almost identical to the drowned mantle clock.
“Stand back, darling” Nigel again swung into clock-drowning mode.
“Call the police.”
“No. We can handle this. It’s just another clock. Fill the tub with water. Hurry. Better to be safe.”
I ran to the tub, started the water and I laughed at myself.
“Okay. Here we go.” Nigel repeated the clock-dunk.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sample Sunday ~ The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland ~ The Famous Toe Nail Scene

11:50 p.m.  Back in our room, Nigel confessed that he didn’t know whether to reserve two rooms or one. “I went through quite a dilemma on that one.”
He held me tightly. I couldn’t breathe.
“Nigel, I’ve never felt safe, before tonight. Never in my entire life.” I looked up at him while I spoke. I could see the effect my words had on him. Whatever he was before tonight, my words made him stronger.
Boom. Pow.
“Nigel!” I screamed at the sound of the explosions. I knew it. Something had gone terribly wrong. Was it Leslie or the RICO guys?
We raced to the windows.
“Oh Nigel, look.” The night sky was alive with fireworks – wonderful, beautiful fireworks. The heavens rained down color on the Thames and the river returned the lights in dark ribbons of red and white and purple. I fought for my breath.
Nigel held me close. We kissed while another explosion lit the sky.
Just to the left of the windows was a small door with a little gold knob. We scrunched down and wonder of wonders, my Brit followed me through the door and out onto the ancient roof tiles, made slippery from the evening dew.
“Oops.” I felt my feet heading south.
Strong arms grabbed me.
“I’ve got you.” Nigel stood behind me. He held me while we watched the fireworks.
“It’s a wedding. The celebration looks like it’s running down to the river.” On this magical night, two people had promised to stay together forever. What does forever really mean?
It was cold, very cold. I could see my breath and feel his heart. I turned to look up at him. I liked what I saw. Long before we met in person, we had been able to feel each other across an ocean. There was no doubt in my mind that we would be able to leap across any physical ripples in the pond that was our love.
I had been waiting for Nigel since I was three years old. My White Rabbit had come back to me.
Minutes later, we were back in our room. I shook but not from the cold. Waiting for the other shoe to drop can make you pretty quaky. I retreated to the bathroom to calm my jitters. I thought I knew the heart of Nigel, but was I ready for his body?
After a proper amount of time, I peeked out the door. Nigel stood there holding a shirt to hide his tummy. He was a large man with an excess of stomach that rolled over his boxers. He had a burly mat of chest hair. His most redeeming quality was that in the half-light of our room he did look a bit like a shorter, chubbier version of John Cleese. My prayers were answered. I kissed his cold cheek. “Show me how an Englishman makes love.”
“Darling, I’ve not had much experience. I must claim a certain innocence in sexual matters,” he confessed.
I had to let him know how I felt about who he was behind this bulky thing that was his body. I was at once Alice with the Rabbit and Beauty and the Beast. I felt good and comfortable and un-threatened. I watched him trot about in his Marks and Spencer tailored striped boxers and knew he was mine. What other woman could see past his appearance to the gem that lay beneath?
I slipped into the marble bathroom and took out my bag of tricks. I slathered on the most expensive of fixings designed to make me appear dewy and freshly scrubbed. Half an hour later I emerged from the bathroom. Being seen as natural can take a long time. I was wearing my new ivory satin Victoria Secret bias cut negligee and a smile.
Nigel lay in the bed, his eyes two big blue eggs above the cream colored sheets. I scrambled under the covers and slid my legs down along his.
“Ouch.” I yelped and jumped from the covers, afraid I had been attacked by some exotic animal.
“What is it? Is it something alive?” He scrambled from the bed, terrified.
This was the first of many quirks I would learn about my lover. Lessons are part of relationships aren’t they? I pasted a band-aid on the four-inch scratch on my right leg. I would have to politely tell him about cutting those toe nails. They were as large as Wilkinson’s swords and twice as sharp.
I scrambled back to the sheets and he kissed my eyelids and then my mouth. “Please take off the gown,” he whispered. “It has been so long since I lay with a woman next to me. Just let me hold you.”
Since his kids were in college, I assumed he meant he had not had sex in twenty years. He must have spent all those years waiting for this night.
I took off the gown and lay my head against his chest. I could hear his heart in the darkness. His bulkiness enveloped me and I delighted in the quirky contrast of my body next to his. Our love reached its peak and I physically faded away. I melted into an exquisite mind-meld. 
As he slept, I watched his face. A tear slid down my cheek. “Oh White Rabbit…” I whispered. What I felt was a pocket of peace, a safe harbor which I knew could not last forever. I didn’t want to sleep because those minutes were so rare and life raced by. I told myself his was the last face I would see before I left this earth. I kissed his forehead.
All thoughts of home evaporated and I could have, would have stayed curled against his big body until I died.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Author Bumping ~ Michael Shaara

It was the mid 1980’s and I was at a writers’ conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. Between lectures I wandered into the coffee shop. A nice looking stranger was sitting by himself at a table in the corner. I remembered him from some of the breakout groups. His demeanor drew me to him. I smiled, plopped myself down and started to chat.
His name was Michael Shaara and he turned out to be a sweet, sad man. I would discover he had won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. He was the author of The Killer Angels, a historical novel that tells the story of four days of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. It’s an incredible book told primarily from the perspectives of the commanders of the two armies.  It was one of the largest battles in the history of North America. Shaara used the setting to relate the causes of the Civil War and the motivations that led brother to fight against brother.
We talked that afternoon as two friends might. Mostly, I listened and he described how painfully difficult it was to be a writer, a life of frustration and disappointment. He taught English, literature and creative writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He told me how he struggled to help support his family.  The Killer Angels had been rejected by the first fifteen publishers. That was a lot of rejection in those days.  Finally, in 1973, it was bought by a small independent publisher, The David McKay Company. They were later acquired by Random House.
The Killer Angels never enjoyed commercial success despite winning the Pulitzer. It seemed there was little interest in a personalized story of one of our nation’s most tragic chapters. Now, the book is considered by many to be the best Civil War novel ever written. It was the basis for the film, “Gettysburg.”
Shaara started his career writing short stories. His first novel, The Broken Place was published by New American Library. It was a commercial disappointment. Michael’s drive to write continued. He would teach during the day and write late into the night. He said he lived on coffee and cigarettes throughout the writing of The Killer Angels. He suffered a major heart attack at the age of 36. And still he drove himself on to write.
Later that day, I bought a copy of The Herald, Michael’s third and final novel*   I asked him to smile just before he autographed my copy of The Herald. He couldn’t bring himself to do it, but under his signature he drew a little cartoon of himself… with a smile.  He died a few years later from a second heart attack or perhaps a broken heart.  He paid his dues but never reaped the rewards.

PS:  Michael’s son, Jeff Shaara, is the successful author of historical fiction, most notably by adding a prequel, Gods and Generals and a sequel, The Last Full Measure to The Killer Angels.

*Jeff Shaara finally got Michael’s last manuscript published. For Love of the Game, was in print three years after Michael death. Today there is a Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction, established by Jeff Shaara, awarded yearly at Gettysburg College.

As Seen on History Channel:
Michael Shaara

A Dramatic Biography on the Author of The Killer Angels
This video traces the highlights of Shaara’s dramatic and multifaceted life, from his promising youth in Jersey City to his stints as a paratrooper, amateur boxer, policeman and teacher…from the triumph of winning the Pulitzer Prize to the tragedy of a motor cycle accident that left him brain damaged until his untimely death in 1988. This documentary offers insights into the man who brought the Battle of Gettysburg to life for millions of readers. This program is must viewing for anyone who is a Civil War buff, a reader of classic literature or a lover of American family sagas.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top 20 ~ Kindle ~ Mystery ~ Women Sleuths

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters
made the top 20 in Kindle Mysteries / Women Sleuths - Today!

Thugs Bunny is very happy.
Alice is quite pleased.