Yes, full, unremitting disclosure this time. I mean, we’ve all
known for ages that Google, Facebook and the rest spy on us, target us for
advertising purposes and so on, but I, for one, didn’t realise that the CIA
followed this blog. And, naturally enough, they have every right to do so
because I’m a foreigner. So, to make it perfectly clear that nothing I write
here has any ulterior motive, coded message or other intent than to be
completely open about my attitudes to life and writing, I just want to clear up
any possible misunderstandings.
First, my name is not Bill Kirton. I am Freda Dirge, a woman of a
certain age (I’m sure even surveillance operatives allow a lady the usual
discretion re. her birth date), and I have two convictions for shoplifting and
one for arson. Otherwise, my conduct has been blameless, which is more than can
be said for the writer of the books to which I refer on social networks, my
great-nephew, Jason, who is at present a guest of Her Majesty in a relatively
lenient correctional facility near Watford. The identifying photograph carried elsewhere on the Murderous Musings site was copied many
years ago from an article in the Daily Mail on ‘Tell-tale physiognomies – The
Faces of Evil’. As part of this disclosure, I’ve used my real likeness to
illustrate this blog. It was taken at my parents’ wedding in 1953.
I have been married three times, once to my cousin and twice to
Gerald String. The cousin episode was a mistake, which was rectified at the
reception so no harm was done. I’d first married Gerald in 1959 when he was
working in a pet shop in Soho. His conviction
for indecency two years later made me turn to my cousin for comfort. I divorced
Gerald, married the cousin on the rebound, but then, at the reception… well,
I’ve already mentioned that.
Gerald and I remarried when he was released. He operated a barrel
organ on the promenade at Brighton until that
unfortunate incident with the budgie. Since it was his second offence, he was
put on the Veterinarians’ Recidivists List and has since found it difficult to
find employment. I wrote about his peccadilloes (is that how you spell it?) on
my FaceBook page and was touched by the warmth and sympathy I received from my
many friends there. Overwhelmingly, they said I should ‘get rid of the b*****d’
so I did. Unfortunately, his joblessness means that the (theoretical) alimony I
receive from him has been halved, which is why my IP Address has changed. I am
typing this on a computer in the library (as you obviously know already from
your records) since I can no longer afford one of my own.
Two of my six children live in the tenement next door. The other
four (my daughters) are in the army. None of them speaks to me any more, which
is fine by me because they all take after their father. (That’s Gerald, not the
I hope this clears up any misconceptions about the mythical ‘Bill
Kirton’ and his ‘books’. He is, in fact, a very unpleasant character I’ve
invented to unmask the stupidities associated with leftist thinking. Finally,
can I say that I think you’re doing a wonderful job protecting us? Thank you.
Many writers set goals for their work-in-progress, while maybe even more of them don't.
For goal setters, I've heard many writers mention going for creating one new page a day. Then by the end of the year, of course, they would have enough pages for a book. Many others say they go after the number of words they write each time they sit at their computers. A computer page is about two hundred and fifty words, so those with little time often go for that short goal, which at least keeps them creating new work.
Most often what I've heard writers say is they aim for one thousand or more words at one sitting. Those who have or make time to really work fast sometimes mention they do twenty-five hundred new words a day. I did that once. My shoulders were aching. So was my rear. But wow, was it exciting to see the number of words I'd come up in one sitting.
How about you? If you're a writer, do you set goals for how many words you plan to write in a day?
news! My publisher has verified that my new Grace Cassidy mystery THE CORPSE
WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, will be ready to purchase online by May 30. The
trade-paperback will be available later in June.
On Sale May 30, 2014
book, second in the series, moves a bit slower than the first, but the stakes
are higher. Grace fears her son Brand is getting too involved with the ditzy
housemaid, Sandy Walker, and she’s not ready to be a grandma.
heroine longs for a quiet, orderly life. She yearns for time to become acquainted
with the woman she really is, not the cardboard caricature of her former self.
No wonder she bored her husband Charlie. She always did everything he expected.
that was all in the past. Now she’s surprising and delighting herself with this
new persona. Being a woman is a lot more interesting than being a perfect-lady.
But life interferes with her plans.
boss-from-hell, Wilbur Wimberly’s identical twin, thought to be long dead,
shows up at the family reunion. Her son is accused of attempted murder, and
later of rape. Her cat Trouble finds a dead body in the bathroom of her room.
And ex-husband Charlie wants to come back.
of this and Police Sergeant Sam Harper, who wants to move their friendship to a
Why do flowers give us pleasure? Does it go back to prehistory, when blossom was a promise of fruit to come? Certainly it seems to be embedded deeply: Consider the lilies of the field...even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.
Be that as it may, to most if not all people they're a source of continual enjoyment. Here are some that have delighted me in recent days.
Walking by the river-- Is this a wild viburnum? (Classification and "naming" is also a source of pleasure to some of us!)
One within reach, and one way over my head...and for some unfathomable reason the fact that it's way over my head pleases me
In my garden
Those that return year after year of their own accord:
And those that start anew every Spring:
And last but not least, an exotic intruder:
This was a reward for taking part in an "inspiring women" panel for teenage girls. Of course, being regarded as an inspiring woman also has its pleasures...
I’ve spent twenty years living in Texas in cities from the
panhandle to the Gulf Coast.Each city
and region has its own special characteristics, but San Antonio is by far the
most historical because of what is known as The Alamo.Many know of its famous battle between Texan
rebels and the Mexican Army, but few realize our entire western expansion is a
result of the defenders of this small outpost.While it’s impossible to discuss its significance in this blog, I can
present a simplified timeline, and why Texas was governed by six countries.
When Spain assumed control from French in 1691, they named
the new land Texas [pronounced Tey Has].As with much of Spain’s western expansion, the Catholic Church
established missions to aid in colonization and their interpretation of
civilization.In 1718, Mission San
Antonio de Valero was established near a river where crops could be
raised.The hurricane of 1724 destroyed
the mission, but the suitable location prompted the church to rebuild its lost
structures.The first stone church was
erected in 1744.
By 1793, the mission role had been fulfilled so
secularization designated the compound as Pueblo [meaning town] of Valero.Threats to Spanish Rule dispatched the
Company of Alamo de Parras, later known as Alamo Company, to the compound to
occupy it as a fort.As time passed, the
compound simply became known as The Alamo.
In 1806, famed outdoorsman Daniel Boone petitioned to settle
in San Antonio de Bexar [pronounced Bay-Har] because of a land dispute in the U.S.Settling there, Boone became a gunsmith for
the Spanish until he was ironically killed by Indians.
1810 brought more war to the region as the Mexicans fought
for their independence.This goal was
not achieved until 1821 when a Mexican flag flew over the Alamo.
In 1823, an effort to populate Texas led to the Mexican
government offering land to U.S. citizens, granting 4,428.4 acres for a tax of
$117.00, payable over a six year period.Soon-to-be ex-patriot colonists eagerly took the bait and rapidly
increased the population from 500 to over 30,000, with James Bowie being among
Ever-present change led to a shift in government in 1824
when Mexico adopted a Federalist Constitution and divided Mexico into 18
states.Texas was designated the
Department of Texas and placed within the State of Coahuila y Tejas.The political change led to friction between
Centralist and Federalist supporters.
The Texas colonial expansion ended on April 6, 1830, when
Mexico passed a law to stop the flood of Anglo Americans.Tired of losing control of their lives,
native and colonist Texans began organizing opposition to the Federal
government. Because of ongoing civil
strife, the Mexican Army’s Alamo Company returned to The Alamo in 1832.
As tensions rose, the Mexican Army attempted to reclaim a
cannon loaned to the nearby town of Gonzales.Rebel forces answered with a shot at Mexican forces, yelling, “Come and
Take it!” waving a flag with the same words.The beginning of the Texas Revolution is attributed to this October,
1835, incident.The Mexican Army
responded by fortifying The Alamo, but successful rebel attacks, particularly
at the Battle of Bexar [now known as San Antonio] defeated the Mexican forces
after a 56 day, door-to-door siege.With
the enemy defeated and sent back in shame, rebel forces claimed The Alamo for
Unamused by the defeat, President/General Santa Anna
[elected to that position in 1833] issued the following orders on December 7,
1835:“The foreigners who are making war
against the Mexican Nation, violating all laws, are not deserving of any
consideration, and for that reason, no quarter [mercy] I will be given
them.They have, with all audacity,
declared a war of extermination to the Mexicans, and they shall be treated the
same way.”While the Texas Volunteers
watched from a few hundred yards away, Mexican forces continued to build in San
Believing it impossible to adequately man The Alamo with
volunteers, on January 17, 1836, Texas General Sam Houston wanted to level The
Alamo and evacuate it to keep it from enemy hands.The next day G.B. Jameson presented
engineered plans to further fortify it and the compound remained intact.
On February 25, 1836, Colonel Bartes, Assistant Major of
President General Santa Anna, demanded unconditional surrender of The
Alamo.Texas Colonel William B. Travis
answered with a single cannon shot, to which the enemy responded with harassing
bombardment.Inside, Travis ultimately
drew his famous line in the sand, offering open gates for anyone wishing to
leave.Most chose to fight and die as
patriots of Texas.
With thousands of Mexican troops surrounding The Alamo, the
inevitable attack began before the sun rose on March 6, 1836.Exhausted and severely understaffed, the
first Mexican troops were able to enter undetected, but soon all hell broke
loose.Outnumbering the Volunteers
nearly twenty to one, the Mexican Army promptly defeated the Texans with Travis,
Bowie, and David Crockett among them.Surprisingly,
twelve survivors, including Travis’ slave, Joe, were released.To clear the battlefield, Santa Anna had the
rebel bodies burned.
Determined to rid the region of rebels, Santa Anna then
marched his troops to the Goliad region where rebel forces were gathered, held
in the mission, and then executed on Palm Sunday.As with The Alamo, women and children were
spared to tell the tale.
But rather than deter the rebel spirit, The Alamo and Goliad
massacres rallied supporters from the United States.On April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston’s
troops made a surprise raid on the Mexican Army, capturing hundreds, and
killing hundreds more.Santa Anna, who
escaped the battle, was captured alone two days later.As supreme commander of Mexico, his capture
led to his seceding the land that became Texas, New Mexico, California, Utah and Nevada.As a result, Texas became an independent nation.The Republic of Texas ended in 1845 when
voters agreed to be annexed by the United States of America, but in 1861, it
flew the Confederate Flag during the Civil War.Texas flew the U.S. flag again in 1865.
Again, there is no way for me to adequately tell the tale,
but to understand The Alamo is to understand why Texans are proud of their
heritage.When visiting The Alamo, take
the outside tour with a docent before going inside, and then take time to
listen to the audio tour. Then walk over to San Fernando Cathedral where Santa Anna raised his blood red battle flag and where the remains of the Defenders of The Alamo are interned.Do this and
you will barely notice the exploding city surrounding The Alamo as Santa Anna once did.
my novel, The Sparrow Conundrum, won the Readers’ Choice Award for Humor and
Satire on the website Big Al’s Books and Pals, it seemed natural to me to find
out how the news might be greeted by its
protagonists. They had, after all, been the ones who’d earned it, so I envisaged
was busy investigating the latest batch of agents who’d been found bloodless in
graveyards with two puncture wounds in their necks. She found vampires as
believable as politicians so she suspected this was a twisted April Fool’s
stunt. When the phone rang she grabbed it and barked a curt ‘What?’ into it.
The caller was tentative.
Chris Machin.’ Then, with an embarrassed chuckle, ‘Sparrow. You remember?’
could she forget?
d’you want Chris? I’m busy.’
you haven’t heard then?’
‘Don’t mess me about. Heard what?’
book. It’s won the Readers’ Choice Award for Humor and Satire.’
great,’ said Tessa. ‘Terrific.’
tone was heavily ironic.
thought you’d be pleased,’ said Machin.
that some hack has had his ego massaged for distorting the facts about our line
of business? Just think for a minute, Chris. It’s OK for you. You’re a teacher.
Nobody knows you exist. But what about me? I’m supposed to be involved in
clandestine activities. With all the media attention we’ll be getting now, that’s
me well and truly buggered, isn’t it?’
scream from the outer office made her jump. It was followed by the sound of
wood splintering as heavy boots kicked at her door until it was hanging from
its hinges and a terrifying figure stepped through it. In its left hand was a
red wig. Tessa recognised it as belonging to her secretary, Barbara, whose
struggles with shampoos and conditioners were constantly being chronicled by
lifestyle advisers in various magazines.
Inspector Lodgedale. What a pleasant surprise,’ said Tessa.
pointed at the wig.
take it Barbara did something to incur your displeasure,’ she added.
it,’ said the policeman, throwing the wig to the floor and taking from his
pocket an Oxo-sized lump of cannabis resin wrapped in cling film.
no need for that,’ said Tessa. ‘I already have some in my drawer here.’
well as tangling with him during the adventures recorded in The Sparrow
Conundrum, Tessa had had this beast of the constabulary under surveillance ever
since he’d arrived back from Russia, sent home by bosses in the Lubyanka who’d
found his treatment of prisoners too harsh. Her agents had watched him planting
drugs and condoms in nunneries, arresting shoppers who were walking too slowly
and subduing pedestrians before they even had time to provoke him.
put down the phone. The moment Machin had heard the name Lodgedale he’d begun
to cry and hung up.
I help you with your enquiries?’ she said.
be the judge of that,’ said Lodgedale, bafflingly.
said Tessa. ‘And will you be using your new water-boarding facility to do so?’
had indeed had such a facility added to the suite of offices he’d demanded in
his new role in Aberdeen’s
if I may say so,’ Tessa went on, ‘the media interest in the recently-awarded
Readers’ Choice accolade might misinterpret its significance.’
usual response to words he couldn’t understand was to assault the speaker but
he was wary of Tessa. She had access to wrestlers who bit lumps out of teak.
you on about?’ he said.
saw at once how she could get rid of him.
you haven’t heard then,’ she said. ‘I had a call from Chris Machin. Remember
anger that flushed up through his face as he heard the name made her question
know, Sparrow,’ she said.
know bloody Sparrow,’ said Lodgedale. A good pluck, that’s what he wants.’
you’ll be pleased to hear you can go and give him one. He’s at home right now,
celebrating the award.’
ask Chris. All I know is the media will no doubt want to ask you about your
interpretation of the term ‘justice’ and your predilection for applied sadism
will come under close scrutiny.’
Sparrow again,’ yelled Lodgedale.
scribbled on a Post-It note.
his address,’ she said.
hesitated, then grabbed the paper and stamped out. As Barbara began to scream
again, Tessa sighed and reached for the phone. Her bearded boss, Mary, needed
to know about this.
how, in my head, these characters (even though ‘caricature’ would be more
accurate for some of them), have an independent existence.
THE CORPSE WHO
WALKED IN THE DOOR, my 2nd Grace Cassidy mystery, is with my
publisher. Now my time needs to be split between promoting this book, promised
to be ready for sale (at least in e-book form) by the end of this month. So
far, no art work. So most of that is on hold. (Could this be payback for
missing my deadline by a country mile? The publishers have long memories.)
The First Grace Cassidy Mystery
work-in-progress, a novella, has the working title DANGER VISITS
THE GOLDEN DRILLER. It's set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I live. I’m writing this story for SmartWomenWriters, an ultra-cool group of first rate writers. I‘m editing the
The Golden Driller--Tulsa Oklahoma
decision facing me: which mysteryshould
I write next? Characters from two different plots are vying for my attention.
One is Grace Cassidy, my evolving character from her own series. My family
brainstormed with me on Thanksgiving day with this plot idea, and the working
title is THE DISAPPERING CORPSE. The story will be set in Tulsa, Oklahoma and
I’m very excited about the plot twists. (Did I ever mention that both of my
granddaughters are writers? Isn’t that cool? The oldest is enrolled in the University
of Texas film school. The youngest (almost 16) has published online.
Lauren Keithley, Writer
Morgan Sohl, Writer
(Enough from a bragging grandma and back to talking of writing.)
The competing protagonist
hasn’t told me her name yet. She’s pitching her story idea, and it’s a good
one. Needless to say, she’s fast becoming my Best Pretend Friend. (I fear that
Grace is getting a little tired of me. Perhaps we’ve been spending too much
time together and we both need a break.) Of course, I could introduce this new
person in THE DISAPPEARING CORPSE and let her spin off into her own series,
possibility is working on both of these novels at the same time. I’ve never
done this, and would love to hear from other writers who have. Give me the
pluses and the pitfalls.
and comments will be appreciated and seriously considered.
The familiar saying about snips of film left out of the finished movie applies to segments of a book that don't survive the final edit. Overture to Disaster, the third book in my Post Cold War Political Thriller Trilogy, ended up way too long and had to be trimmed down. Even with the revisions, it still wound up the longest novel I've published at 511 pages.
The snip I've included below was part of the background for retired Air Force Col. Warren (Roddy) Rodman, one of the main characters in the book. He was the pilot of a Special Operations helicopter shot down during a mission into Iran to bring out a high-level defector. Though innocent of the charges against him, he was court-martialed and forced out of the career he loved. Here's the cut:
It gave him the same sensation he had felt during the first landing he had ever experienced in a small airplane, the event that had set him on an irreversible course toward a flying career. He was ten years old at the time. The plane was a four-place Cessna, and it made him feel that he could reach out and roll up the clouds like cotton candy, or, closer to the ground, snip off the spindly tops of the trees.
His father worked as an electrical engineer for a public power system in Texas. A company that made transformers had invited the senior Rodman on a hunting trip into northern Idaho. He had decided to take young Warren along. The remote Rocky Mountain lodge was nestled deep in a wilderness area that could only be reached by running the rapids on a rushing river, packing
your way in by horseback, hiking or flying in a light plane capable of short
takeoffs. Air, of course, was the preferred method for flatlanders.
The narrow dirt landing spot beside the meandering river looked like a dusty brown bandage strip from high above. A rugged, rock-faced 8,000-foot peak rose across the river. A range of hills not much lower flanked the makeshift runway. The
spiraling descent fascinated him. He had lived and breathed flying ever since, pestering his father to take lessons at sixteen. Two years later, he organized a lobbying effort with the local congressman to assure getting an appointment
to the Air Force Academy.
End of cut.
I hated to leave out this segment as it concerned an actual experience. Back in the eighties, during my career as an association executive, I won a prize from one of the exhibitors at the American Society of Association Executives' convention. It involved transportation and a week for two at Harrah's Middle Fork Lodge, located on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the heart of Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.
After the spiraling descent onto the riverside strip, we boarded a large rubber raft and floated through a section of rapids to the lodge. It was quite an experience. We were literally in the middle of nowhere. In another part of the book, I used the lodge andrip its isolation to keep Rodman's copilot out of touch until just before the court-martial.
The trip into the River of No Return Wilderness Area was one I'll never forget. It was one of man y personal experiences I've used in my books.
For a great review of Overture to Disaster, check my Mystery Mania blog.