Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Day

Tomorrow is May 1 - this year is flying by! I always picture young girls in white dresses weaving ribbons around a Maypole to celebrate May Day. I don't believe I've ever seen it in person, but it sets a tone for carefree days of summer waiting just ahead.

I've been working on a dark mystery short story, but I wanted to post something more in keeping with May Day. This is from my mystery series featuring fairies. I hope you like it.

Fairy Corps: Faye

Faye Green paused under the fragrant canopy of purple clematis twined through the white arbor which separated the parking lot from the business of Green Gardens. She enjoyed the way green flowers and blue sky set off the flowers. Visitors often complimented Faye on how well the entrance piqued their interest for what lay beyond.
She glanced around to make sure no one could see her open the door set in the south side of the arbor and step through. Not all who visited saw the door; those who did were like Faye.
The warmth of the May sun faded as Faye stepped down into her office. She was most at home in this space, able to be herself in a way she couldn’t be in the public space of her business.
Sunlight came through a skylight, filtered by the arbor and surrounding hedge. The desk and chairs were made from branches and twigs, the desk top fashioned from a shard of slate paver, the chair cushions white and fluffy pussy willow catkins. It smelled fresh, lightly scented by the clematis now high above her.
Faye sat behind her desk and looked at the monitor. Where others might simply see a polished pebble, Faye saw a world above and below.
Above was her business, her pride and joy. Below was a reminder of what her life was before she pranked a human and caused a death, leading to her banishment from Fairy.
Above was after; below was before.
She sighed, knowing she needed to deal with the here and now. She had one opportunity to return to the Seelie Court and needed to focus on how helping her newest employee would accomplish that.
Her cell phone trilled, and Faye answered. “Hello?”
“Faye, you must help me. I did what you did and now I’m banished too.” The sound of sobs came through more clearly than the muffled words.
Faye grimaced. I don’t need this now. Taffie. When would she learn to look first at who was calling instead of just answering the phone? Taffie always had a problem that needed solving, always ate for comfort, and always called Faye to help her out.
Faye leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on the twigs she’d fashioned into an ottoman. “Start at the beginning and stop eating. If things are so bad you can surely put down whatever you’re spooning into your mouth and just tell me.”
Faye heard metal against china. Muffled sobs slowed. Taffie hiccupped. “I didn’t do anything I haven’t done before. I pulled a prank on someone. How was I supposed to know he was allergic?” Taffie drew in a shuddery breath. “It was his decision to eat the pie. It had nuts in it. He died.”
“Was it really that simple?” Faye asked. “You didn’t do a glamour on the pie to make it look like something else?” Faye sat up in her chair.

If Taffie was truly banished, could they team up and work together to get back to the Seelie Court?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

RIP Earl Morrall (1934-2014)

Earl Morrall died yesterday. He was 79, would have been 80 in less than a month, and was 38 when he became part of the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins team.

Acquired on $100 waivers earlier in the year, he was the back-up quarterback for Bob Griese. Griese was injured in Game 5, and Morrall stepped in as starter. He threw 11 touchdowns during the rest of the season, although the Dolphins were known more as a running team than a passing team. Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris were the first teammates to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

Bob Griese came back to lead the team to victory against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII; Morrall wanted to play, but didn't make waves when Shula gave the start to Griese.

Without Morrall, the Dolphins might not have had the "Perfect Season." To date, the 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team to go undefeated during the regular season and through the post-season, including the Super Bowl - they ended the season 17-0.

Every year since then, speculation grows about whether teams that go undefeated deep into the regular season will have a "Perfect Season" of their own. The 2007 New England Patriots came closest, having an undefeated regular season. They lost to the underdog New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins have held the distinction of having the Perfect Season for 42 years, and Earl Morrall was an integral part of that season.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast

by Linda Gordon Hengerer

Mystery Writer's of America Florida Chapter's Crazy Blog Hop

“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~ Phyllis Smallman, SleuthFest 2014
It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

I love living in Vero Beach. The weather, the lack of congestion and traffic, the weather - oh, I already said that :) There is a large population of year-round residents, but Florida is also home to transients, snow-birds and others not so benignly inclined. This makes my writer's heart skip a beat, because things happen here that readers would think were fiction.

Athena Marie Plantation (pictured) is the brainchild of Lewis Barton. He dreamed of a 45,000 square foot, green constructed, 100% renewable energy home. When finished it would be the first in Florida, and the country's largest, 100% renewable energy home. 

Was it an idea whose time had come, or something else?

Delightfully for a writer, it was something else. I got goosebumps when I first heard about this, for all the ways I can use the situation and characters in this story - and make no mistake, Lewis Barton is a character.

Lewis Barton is the sort of free-thinking spirit who seems drawn to Florida in disproportionate numbers. Certainly wanting to utilize green construction isn't crazy, and neither is the desire to have a home that uses renewable energy. 


But the Vero Beach Planning Commission is doing a wonderful job of keeping our beach from being taken over by high-rise condos. The two tallest buildings on the beach are not higher than 13 stories, and they were grandfathered in. The current code says buildings aren't to exceed 5 stories high, and there are regulations that cover many things that keep the beach looking like sane people are in charge of it. 

Lewis Barton was not deterred by pesky regulations. His dream vision (or nightmare, if you were one of his neighbors) included: rooftop pool, helipad, and wind turbines; a website live-streaming the construction site 24/7; a movie based on the construction, with footage from the live-stream; a book about building the house and making the movie.

Neighboring residents weren't happy that they were featured on the webcam. They learned about it when one family member in a far-away state asked another how their day at the beach was, and said they'd seen the person walking down the beach access on the website.

Foreclosure didn't stop him, code enforcement violations didn't stop him, and Department of Energy officials telling him the vibrations from the wind turbines would shake the house apart didn't stop him. Constructing a building so much bigger than his residential neighbors was never on his radar.

Years passed, and the accumulation of fines, court proceedings for a variety of lawsuits, and time did eventually put an end to the construction. 

Lewis Barton's most recent legal troubles come closer to home. His son accused him of identity theft, pressed charges, and had him arrested. Lewis opened several credit cards in his son's name but with Lewis's own Florida address on them, and ran up balances which went unpaid. How low can a father stoop?

How does a mystery writer translate news into fiction? I like to start with who dies. Does a disgruntled neighbor kill him to cover up their own illegal activities, captured on the webcam? Does the son finally get fed up with his father's schemes? Does a code enforcement official decide they've had enough and decide to go rogue? Does shoddy construction fail, and the pool falls through the house and kills him? Does he drown in the pool because no one saw him fall in - or was he pushed?

Google Athena Marie Plantation. You'll find several websites that showcase the home as if it had actually been completed according to Lewis Barton's vision, but they all show the picture above. There aren't any photographs for the simple reason that the house was not completed. In 2009 the bank finally foreclosed. The partially constructed house was torn down in 2011.

I'd like to introduce you to some of my friends, fellow participants in the Blog Hop. Read their blogs for their take on "Florida's Crazy."

Collectively we're giving away a Kindle Paperwhite; individually I'm giving away a Character Name in a Novel. 

Enter Now to Win a Character Name in a Novel

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Enter Now to Win a KindlePaperwhite 

No purchase is necessary. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. By submitting your entry, you agree to be entered into the participating authors' email newsletter list. Your information will not be shared with anyone else, and you may unsubscribe at any time. Winner will be notified by email. Authors are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned email. Winner agrees for their name to be used in conjunction with the contest on FMWA and authors' social media sites. U.S. Residents only due to postage constraints.

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Visit our Other Contributors (just click their name) and win more prizes:

Victoria AllmanGator Bites
Miriam AuerbachBonkers in Boca
Gregg E.BrickmanCrazy South Florida—How it got to be home
Diane CapriFishnado!
Nancy J. CohenCharacters Too Weird to Be True
Joan Lipinsky CochranThe Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels
jd daniels He Did What?
Joy Wallace Dickinson, “In Florida, It's Great to Be a Cracker”
Linda Gordon HengererCrazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast
Victoria LandisEavesdropping 101
Sandy ParksKeep your eyes to the Florida skies
Neil PlakcyMoscow on the Intracoastal
Johnny Ray, Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews
Joanna Campbell Slan, Honey, You'll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf

Monday, April 7, 2014

13th Anniversary

Thirteen years ago today my husband and I got married on a day much like today: mid-80s, sunny, breezy. So much is the same, but so much is different. We lost his mom in 2003, my dad in 2004, and within a three week period last summer we lost my step-mother and his dad. Through it all we've had each other, and I'm looking forward to what happens next in our great adventure together.

Next week is the MWA-FL Chapter Group Blog Hop. You'll get to meet other writers in the chapter, and I hope you'll find some new writers to read and fall in love with. April 15 won't just be Tax Day; it's a day to discover what makes "Florida Crazy."

Today's excerpt is from my work in process Fairy Corps: Faye. The Fairy Corps is where fairies get the opportunity to redeem themselves and return to the Seelie Court; otherwise they're condemned to the malicious Unseelie Court.

Ronald Abbott drove his Range Rover onto the crushed gravel parking lot of Green Gardens. He stepped out, regretting the marks the sharp stone would leave on his Italian leather shoes. The smell of gardenia assaulted him, adding another insult. He buttoned his suit coat and checked his cuffs. The green cuff links caught the sun; the color always made him smile.

Faye suspected the man in her parking lot was Ronald Abbott. She looked at him wrinkle his nose as he looked around her nursery, and thought he’d be horrified to realize lines of dissatisfaction were beginning to set in his face.
Patty Abbott had walked into the florist shop moments after Faye had posted a Help Wanted sign. Some people would have thought the timing a stroke of luck; Faye knew Patty was there for help more than to help. Faye thought Patty’s husband would be a pompous bully, and the man in the parking lot fit the bill.
The bells on the butterfly wind chime sent music floating into the air to mingle with the Enya song playing on the stereo. The gentle sounds were a counter-point to the aura of the man walking through the door.
“Hello, I’m Faye. How can I help you?” Faye stood behind the table she used most often as a counter, and today as a buffer against the ill-will directed her way.
“I’m Ronald. You need to fire Patty.” He leaned on the table’s edge, invading Faye’s space.
Faye smiled at him. “I’m sorry, we haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Faye Green, proprietress. Patty is an excellent employee, and if she wants to quit she is welcome to at any time. I haven’t had any indication that she wishes to do so.”
Ronald’s nostrils flared, spots of temper coloring his cheeks. “I’m Ronald Abbott. Patty is my wife. The fact that she is employed is an embarrassment to me, and you’ll do what I say.”
“Mr. Abbott, I don’t your bidding. I find your assumption that I would do so offensive. Leave now.” Faye smiled, but there was no smile in her eyes.
“You’ll wish you had done as I asked. I’ll put you out of business and there won’t be anything you can do to stop it.” He leaned in and whispered, “You’ll wish you’d never met me.” He straightened up, turning to leave, when Faye’s answer stopped him.
“You’ll find there is plenty I can do to stop you. I’m not like others you might have tried to intimidate.” A tall vase full of water and flowers fell towards Ronald. “I’m sorry, I’ve been clumsy.”
Water cascaded down the front of his suit, and he sputtered in disbelief as he brushed the water off and away from the fine lightweight wool.
Faye moved her arm, and Ronald moved out the door without seeming to realize it was Faye’s action steering him.
The tinkle of wind chimes was not as melodious as it had been, and Faye nodded in agreement. “Yes, he is an odious man. What shall we do about him?”