Friday, March 30, 2018

Art Show Santa Fe

Currently in the middle of writing the second Vincent Malone book; Blue Flower Red Thorns. Vincent is still in Santa Fe and involved in the big time art business.  You may not be familiar with the thriving art market that exist in Santa Fe.  Many people think the art is exclusive Native American or southwest art but the city also has many contemporary galleries selling art world wide.  According to the Santa Fe chamber of commerce "Santa Fe is recognized worldwide for its rich culture and diverse art community. The city hosts over 250 art galleries as well as a variety of museums and performing arts."  And also, "In terms of dollar sales, Santa Fe is among the largest art markets in the U.S. according to a study by the University of New Mexico's Bureau of Business and Economic Research."  

But of course even in the rarefied air of fine art there is lust and greed; which leads to murder and mystery; and another book!

Note: pre-order on the first Vincent Malone book; Santa Fe Mojo, should be up on Amazon on May 7th. Notice I said should be--scheduling glitches do happen, but that date is the target.

A Christmas Tradition

Part Two of Four

There had been two big incidents in the neighborhood for as long as anyone could remember.  One was when the bootlegger, who lived one street over, was arrested.  Everyone knew where the bootlegger lived but it was shocking when the police arrested the man.  While selling booze was obviously illegal most fathers thought he hadn’t harmed anyone and “don’t the police have better things to do than hassle our neighbors” was often said by various dads, some of whom were customers.  The other was a suicide.

Across the street from my house two houses down was a family who no one really knew.  They had a grown son who lived with them but he never spoke to anyone or even waved.  The parents were retired military and seemed very old.  Not much was known, but gossip had speculated that the son was staying with his parents because he had legal problems.  That bit of gossip was based on absolutely nothing other than the willful and unfounded claims of Mrs. Peters.  According to my mother, she read way too many books and had extreme ideas.  I heard my mother whisper to my father that she had a whole bookcase full of romance novels.  Sin did exist in Midwest City.

One day the grown son parked his almost new Chevrolet in the one-car garage and started the engine.  His mother found him many hours later and emitted a blood curdling scream before she collapsed.  Within a very short amount of time the police arrived and set-up a blockade with their patrol cars and uniform officers stationed around the small house.  No one saw the father that day, but the mother was taken away in an ambulance.  Soon other vehicles arrived and while observed by everyone in the neighborhood the son’s body was removed.  Shortly after the incident the parents moved out.  It was said the father had been put in a nursing home.  The house stayed vacant for many years and was still vacant when my parents moved to a larger house.

My journey on Christmas morning was first to Bills.  Start with the most difficult and work towards the easiest, a philosophy that served me well long after Christmas Day gift auditing duties.  Bill was prepared.  He had made a list with estimated value points.  He had definitely hit the Christmas gift jack-pot with a Giant Erector Set, the one with a functioning elevator.  On top of that he got a new baseball glove.  He was sitting pretty.  We argued some and debated, but he won me over and we agreed his score was a whopping forty-two.  A record.

Next up was Ernie.  I hadn’t been inside his house all that much, but when I was it was always a warm feeling.  His mother was very small and polite, more like a grandma than a mom.  His dad stayed outside in their garage where he had a wood working shop.  He made things, like tables and book cases and sold them at a small flea market near the fair grounds.  Not sure he had a job.  He had never said anything to me.  Ernie stepped outside wearing a new stocking cap and sporting some impressive gloves.  This was going to be a very competitive year.  Ernie was grinning like he was about to explode, he had something hidden behind his back.  “It is a miracle. I finally got one.”  He seemed in awe, I had no idea what he was talking about.  He brought it forward and showed me.  I still didn’t know what it was.  “It’s a slide-rule.”  This was something different, never had it been listed on the kids scale of gifts.  But, no doubt, even I knew this was on the same scale as an erector set.  After some thought I offered my opinion on value, Ernie looked offended.  He began a dissertation that covered more words than I had ever heard him say.  He talked about adding, subtracting, division, most of which I sort of understood; but then he mentioned logarithms, roots and powers, trigonometry.  The words lost meaning.  This was in another league.  Just based on the look on Ernie’s face this had to be the best genius boy gift of all-time, without further hesitation I declare the gift score, including the gloves and hat at an astronomical seventy-five.  Contest over, no one could beat this—except for maybe a motor scooter.  Congratulations were due to Ernie and his poor parents, they had reached the highest gift score of all time.  Ernie was beaming as I left.

Next Post --Part Three

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Christmas Story in March

My new blog plan is to post at least a couple of times a month.  Some of these posts may be just an excerpt from a short story or they could include some comments from me; not sure what will be available on a bi-weekly basis.  The first short story will be serialized in this blog over four posts.  This story from my childhood will be about a different time and to a large extent about a different place--it is also a little out of season--A Christmas Tradition.

Hope you enjoy!

A Christmas Tradition
Part One of Four

Christmas morning in 1954 was a joyous mixture of giving and receiving along with a little gift score tallying.  My family lived in a modest, I would guess about eight hundred square foot, two-bedroom house.  It was just like all of the other houses on our street, East Northrup Drive in Midwest City, Oklahoma.    The first streets in the new town were named after generals, local VIP’s, airplane companies and other references which somehow linked with the massive air force base just to the south of the small but expanding city.  Most residents had some direct connection with Tinker Field.  Usually one family member worked there.  These were largely lower income families who had the greatest of expectations for their future and the future of the country.  Optimism was the norm.  There was a sense of oneness that was no doubt based on a rather homogeneous look of the residents.  It was a predominantly white Christian population with a strong influence of puritan attitudes, and old-time Oklahoma farmer resilience.  Bigotry existed but was kept under the surface, but not far under.  Luxury wasn’t normal and more often than not was measured by an abundance of food.  Authority was respected and schools were honored.  School Christmas plays with a manger and wise men were traditional and well attended.  Almost all people went to church on Sundays, whether they believed or not.

For most, Christmas morning meant gifts, often many, many gifts.  The feeling of great optimism about the future gave people the courage to over-spend, even though their depression era parents wouldn’t have approved.  Within this bubble of innocence and joy there was the score keeping.  Which kid on the block, often extending a couple of streets over, got the most and the best gifts.  A rating system of sorts had developed.  Electric train sets were a ten, apples and oranges a definite one; and of course the dreaded grandmother bag of nuts, a zero.  A system devised by little boys, girls weren’t involved.

My particular competitors were Donny, Ernie, Bill, Bobby and Johnny.  Sometimes some other kids were involved but this was the core group.  Bill was always the hard one to figure.  In a fortunate or unfortunate occurrence, Bill was born on December 24th.  His birthday and the birthday of Jesus were almost the same.  His parents claimed he still received the same number of birthday gifts as any kid born in August, but of course, Bill knew that wasn’t true.  They would separate them and mark some birthday and some Christmas, but Bill suspected his mother just divided ‘em in half without much thought.  So how to keep score.  It was decided after lengthy discussion that Bill could decide which were birthday and which were Christmas, not his mother.  Everyone trusted Bill.  He was the fat kid in our group, although he wasn’t really all that fat, which somehow to the poorly developed brains of little boys made him a truth teller.  Everyone trusted Bill to make a fair division of the gifts.  Plus, Bill had a little brother named Timmy, who everyone hated.  There was great sympathy for the burdens Bill had to endure.

Everyone else was fairly easy to calculate with some discussion and negotiating, but mostly there was agreement as to value.  The other exception was Ernie.  Ernie lived several blocks off of the street everyone else lived on.  It was perceived that Ernie’s parents were poor.  Mostly Ernie got hand-me-down clothes, new socks, new underwear and candy.  In kid terms not much value depending on the candy; but because kids have an innate sense of fairness the rating system allowed some higher points for things like gloves and hats.  So, if Ernie struck a glove-hat goldmine, he could still win.  Ernie was a genius.  All the other students knew it and, of course, the teachers knew it.  Since he was so smart, he wasn’t allowed to decide much, because he had an unfair advantage.  This was the beginning of a formal society structure in which the smart kids stood by and watch the dumb kids mess things up.

My job was clear.  I gathered the facts.  This was due to my parent’s lenient attitude about me leaving the house and visiting my friends on Christmas Day.  Both my mom and dad worked, not the typical family at the time.  My dad worked two jobs, one at Tinker and one at a local shoe store.  Christmas was a day off for them, and they didn’t have many of those.  In addition to their desire for peace and quiet, was the fact that the neighborhood was absolutely safe.  Kids were out and about all of the time, without supervision.  Parents would have thought it odd to “watch” their kids play. 

Next Week: Part Two

Featured Book

Limited Time Only $2.99

Unless you lived in Oklahoma City in the 1960s this story may not be familiar to you; but much of the circumstances described in this book are true.  The newspaper war that is at the center of Tommy Jacks world was actually happening.  One of the main characters, Taylor Albright; was based on a real person.  He was someone I knew and spent a lot of time discussing all of the important matters of the day.  I owned a printing business where he printed his gossip tabloid.  Never got paid for any of that, but it's long past now.  This, of course, is a book of fiction; although based on some truths.

If you have not yet read this book, you should.  Buy it Now!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Free e-books on Amazon

One of the marketing tools used by myself and other indie authors is limited time free e-book promotions.  These free book days are then promoted on book promotion web sites and generate a lot of new readers. Beginning with my April newsletter I will start publishing these dates in advance for that month.  This will give you an opportunity to get one of my books maybe you have not read FREE! Or if you wanted to recommend one of my books you could pass along the date for the free book to a friend.  Obviously giving away books does not make me anything, but it is a way for me to build a following of readers--and hopefully get some good reviews; which does help me sell more books.

If you have not signed up for my email list on the web site you can do that here.

Upcoming free e-book promotions on Amazon.

March 13        Sky High Stakes
March 23        Dog Gone Lies
March 24        Murder So Strange (Latest release)
March 30        The Bootlegger's Legacy
March 31        Murder So Strange

Remember sign up for the monthly newsletter to get the free dates for April.