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The Countdown…Day 7

7 days. 7 Famous Gypsy Quotes and Thoughts.

 

1) I didn’t care if the kid lived with a tribe of pygmies. I had my own problems.

2) Johnnie Walker. Black. I’m a picky drinker.

3) Hail Mary, full of grace…blah blah blah…Jesus Christ, why couldn’t I remember that simple prayer?

4) I stared at the number scribbled in the palm of my hand, thinking of a thousand reasons not to call. And a thousand and one why I should.

5) I wasn’t used to looking like a geek.

6) Not that I could do anything with my hands still cuffed behind my back; it was the psychology of knowing what was coming.

7) There were so many bells and whistles, I didn’t know if I was having an orgasm or if I’d won the grand prize at the county fair.

PENTAX Image

The Countdown…Day 8

8 days to go. Short excerpt from Chapter 8:

I sat down on the edge of the bed wondering how I was going to explain this. The less she knew, the better. For her own sake. “I needed to get out of town for a little while.”

Her shoulders dropped and she blew a deep breath. “Oh God, Gypsy. What did you do?” She plopped down beside me on the bed.

“Nothing illegal. You’re not harboring a fugitive or anything so you don’t have to worry about that.”

“About that? What do I need to worry about?”

I looked at her for a moment, then stared at the boxes that held my life. “I’d never put you in the line of fire. You should know that. I’m the big brother, remember?”

“So, in other words, you can’t tell me why you’re here, who you’re obviously running from, or why they won’t track you down to my house. Great, just freaking great.” She leapt up and started out of the room.

“Rhonda—just trust me on this, okay? I’ll tell you the whole sordid story when the time’s right.”

She stood in the doorway with her back to me and slowly nodded. “You keep way too many secrets, Gypsy.”

8

 

The Countdown…Day 9

9 days. 9 characters you’ll come to know:

1) Private Investigator Michael “Gypsy” Moran
2) Tatum McCallen – Gypsy’s pain in the butt sidekick
3) Burke McCallen – Gypsy’s pain in the butt sidekick’s grandfather
4) Rhonda Walker – Gypsy’s younger sister
5) Rodney Walker – Gypsy’s brother-in-law
6) Angie Moran – Gypsy’s mom
7) Gram – Gypsy’s pain in the butt grandmother
8) Sophia Ortez – smokin’ hot reporter
9) Claire Kinley – Gypsy’s pain in the butt old flame

9

The Countdown Begins…Day 10

10 days. 10 things others are saying about Wink of an Eye:

“Readers won’t be able to put this novel down. P.I. Gypsy Moran is the perfect blend of streetwise smartass and big-hearted nice guy…That Chandler Willis manages to much so much into one story, with well-rounded characters, is amazing in itself. This reviewer is hoping for future books.”—RT Book Reviews , 4 1/2 stars

“Gypsy and Tatum’s relationship is a well-drawn emotional hook, and the solid investigation, combined with well-timed humor, should create a following for this PWA First Private Eye Novel Competition winner.”—Booklist

“The real-life town of Wink, Tex., provides the setting for Willis’s promising debut… Readers will want to see more of Gypsy, a nice combination of brains, brawn, and bravery.”—Publishers Weekly

“This engrossing debut is told with a great eye for the gritty details of life in west Texas. The setting is extremely well done, and the twisty, compelling plot will keep readers hooked.”—Library Journal

“A terrific mystery with a Texas twang! Authentic and touching, this well-written page-turner shines with its own brand of western justice.”—Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan

“P.I. Gypsy Moran’s blasting out of Vegas on the run but finds he can’t escape his past when he returns to his hometown in this high octane tale of hot new love, smoldering first love, murder, and betrayal. Wink of an Eye flies by in the ‘wink of an eye’ in this fast paced thriller set on the hot, dusty Texas plains. I eagerly await Gypsy’s next adventure.”—Paul D. Marks, Shamus award-winning author of White Heat

“In Wink of an Eye Lynn Chandler Willis writes with fearless realism and creates characters you’ll never forget. I predict private investigator Michael “Gypsy” Moran has a long and trouble-filled series ahead of him—lucky for readers. One of the most cohesive and entertaining mysteries I’ve ever read.”—Donnell Ann Bell, bestselling author of Betrayed.

“Lynn Chandler Willis perfectly captures the tense atmosphere of a small community where corruption flourishes and good people feel helpless to stop it. Investigator Gypsy Moran is a southwestern cousin to Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight, a flawed but likable Everyman who pushes himself past the danger point to find justice for victims who can’t defend themselves. Wink of an Eye is a winning blend of small town mystery and private eye suspense.”—Sandra Parshall, author of Poisoned Ground

“Small-town Texas, big-time crime. That’s what private-eye Gypsy Moran finds when he comes home to Wink, Texas. Murder disguised as suicide, a cop shot in the back, and an old sweetheart are just the beginning of the problems Moran encounters. Lynn Chandler Willis knows her way around a plot, and her characters and setting ring true. Wink of an Eye is a fine debut, and I hope it’s just the beginning for Willis and Gypsy Moran.”—Bill Crider, author of Compound Murder

“Wink of An Eye creates an entertaining, mannerly, yet bad-boy PI character we wish we’d met in real life in our single, unattached days, because to meet him now would be way too tempting. Gypsy Moran draws out laughter, empathy, and romantic heat with the flip of a switch. Lynn Chandler Willis writes with an easy flow, her dialogue catchy, the plot intricate enough to keep the pages turning.”—C. Hope Clark, author of the Carolina Slade mystery series

10

Let’s play a game

One of the most popular questions readers ask writers is “where do you get your ideas.” I can’t speak for all writers, but for me, a new story starts with a spark, then a flicker, then a full-blown flame. images (4)

Where does the spark come from? I play the “what if” game. What if a spaceship crashed on earth and the ship’s survivors were…or what if it wasn’t earth? What if it was a planet that only looked like earth…what if…

Why don’t you play along with me and we’ll see what we come up with. Next week I’ll pick a best of the crop and the winner will receive an advanced reading copy of Wink of an Eye.

Choose a “what if” topic and leave a few sentences in the comment section along with the corresponding numbered topic. Don’t forget to include your email address. Have fun!

1) What if your mail gets mixed up with the neighbor’s? Only problem is the neighbor died twenty years ago.

2) What if a stranger crashes into you at the grocery store? As he runs away, you notice your shirt covered in blood.

3) What if you woke one morning to discover your senses had been switched? Your sense of taste was now your sense of touch. Your hearing has been switched with your sense of smell.

4) What if you had the ability to make photographs come to life?

5) What if you buy a used sofa and discover something sewed into a cushion.

 

 

Dressing for success, or maybe not

Wink of and Eye will be released in 8 weeks. The editorial reviews are starting to come in. I got a good review in Publisher’s Weekly. And a really good one in Library Journal. And for my non-writing friends,  if you don’t know the importance of this—compare it to two thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert, or your kid getting A/B Honor Roll, or the teacher giving you the gold star for the day.  I’ll admit I got the big head for a moment then there was a poopy diaper that needed changing and the school-age grands really did make A/B Honor Roll so the glory was short lived.

So anyway, part of the planning for this book launch and release is scheduling book signings. The stores I’ve spoken with have all been super excited and accommodating and their enthusiasm warms my heart. But then another problem presented itself. The more dates I filled in on my calendar, the more “book signing” outfits I was going to need.clothes1

Since my primary day job is being Granny Nanny, my idea of “business casual” is either jeans or yoga pants. Tennis shoes, hiking boots, flip-flops. I really didn’t want to do a book signing in yoga pants and a t-shirt stained with spaghettios. I needed a new wardrobe. And one of my favorite stores, Coldwater Creek, was closing its local store, and having a 70 to 90% off sale. $140 sweater for $7.00. Score! I spent about thirty dollars and came home with what I thought was my “book signing” wardrobe. The problem is I have more signings than outfits—and the signings are all local. I’ve had a lot of friends and extended family say they were coming to all the signings. And I’m like—yeah—well, don’t. I only have three outfits so I’m going to have to rotate them. If you should come to all my local signings, chances are 1 in 3 you’re going to see me wearing the same outfit. Again and again.

Oh what the heck—come on out! I’m not the formal type anyway. I’ll wear my yoga pants if you’ll wear yours.

And here’s a partial list of confirmed signings. Mark your calendars!

Why I ditched Michael Connelly

Mike Roche moderating a Q&A with the Michael Connelly at the 2014 WPA. Photo courtesy of Robin Templeton

Mike Roche moderating a Q&A with the Michael Connelly at the 2014 WPA. Photo courtesy of Robin Templeton

Yes, that Michael Connelly. He of Harry Bosch fame. The Lincoln Lawyer…yeah you know the guy. Mr. Connelly was the guest speaker at the 2014 Writer’s Police Academy and I was stoked to meet him. Was planning on carrying a couple of his books that I own with me to the Saturday night banquet and ask him to sign them.

Spent good money on a banquet ticket when I registered for the academy fully expecting to enjoy the crap out of the chicken dinner and gourmet dessert.

But something came up. Death in the family? That might be understandable, but no, everyone is still living and breathing. Wedding I was obligated to attend? Not to my knowledge. A virus that came on suddenly that I didn’t want to spread? Nah. It was an 11-year old’s text message that changed my plans.

Grandson Landon’s 11th birthday was September 3rd. Trying to plan his birthday party was like trying to plan a military operation. This friend could come if the party was Labor Day weekend but that friend couldn’t; that friend could come the next weekend, but those friends couldn’t. And the weekend after labor Day…was the Writer’s Police Academy so Grandma couldn’t be there. But—I told Nina to go with it. Plan it when his friends could be there, not his grandma. He is, after all, getting to that age where his school buddies are important to him.

So his party was set for Saturday afternoon with some swimming, a cookout, and laser tag. Just family and three or four of his friends. But anyone who reads my posts on a regular basis knows “just family” constitutes about 30 people. And that’s immediate family.

I hated I was going to miss it, but…Michael Connelly!

At registration Thursday night, I get a text from Landon thanking me for my gift. Sweet. I’m sitting there among friends and peers all talking about everything writing and I’m floating on cloud nine. When you spend twelve hours a day talking to toddlers, you welcome any adult conversation and to have that conversation centered around the writing business, it was pure heaven.

But I kept going back to Landon’s text. It would be the first party I would miss. Screenshot_2014-09-14-09-54-59 (2)

All day Friday during the classes and at the reception that evening, I mingled a little but I felt off my game. Couldn’t shake the feeling something just wasn’t right. I had a competition-winning book being released in two months by one of the major publishing houses and I barely mentioned it. I had postcards promoting the book—they’re still in my bag.

On the way home Friday night it dawned on me what the problem was. While there at the academy among my peers, I might have been where I was supposed to be—but my heart was where I needed to be. I decided then I’d skip out on the Saturday night banquet for hot dogs and birthday cake. One of the advantages of living thirty minutes away from the host hotel—I was never very far from home.

Whether I was at the banquet or not probably made little difference to Michael Connelly; but my presence at an 11-year old’s birthday party made a difference to me and Landon.

Photo courtesy of Shaw Photography Group

Photo courtesy of Shaw Photography Group

Win an Advanced Readers Copy of Wink of an Eye!

Woot! Got the first Goodreads Giveaway scheduled for Wink. Go ahead and enter – you know you want to!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wink of an Eye by Lynn Chandler Willis

Wink of an Eye

by Lynn Chandler Willis

Giveaway ends October 18, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

You might be a bad neighbor if…

Let’s preface this with some background:

  • I’m a known introvert
  • I no longer have kids at home so have no reason to walk next door to tell said kids to come home for supper
  • There are few kids on my street so the people who live in the surrounding houses, like myself, don’t just hang out in the yard. We prefer air conditioning.
  • Most of our socializing is accomplished with a wave of the hand in passing. Just to be friendly.
  • My road used to be a dirt cut-through road from the main road to the little Quaker church at the bottom of the hill. Thus, some of the houses date back to the late 1800s and placed in a kinda willy-nilly arrangement. My backyard faces my neighbor’s side yard.

Hays.NeighborThief.7.13.20121I’m either the world’s best neighbor, or the world’s worst. You’ll never have to worry about me being all up in your business. I’ve lived here several years and only know three neighbors by name. The neighbor behind me, the one whose side yard faces my back yard, used to bring me vegetables from their garden and we would chat a few minutes. She’d comment about how pretty Sam was and I’d offer a compliment on her and her (presumed) husband’s garden.

To this day, I don’t know the woman’s name. Or her (presumed) husband’s. He brought me some okra last week and it made me stop and think for just a moment that she didn’t bring me anything at all last summer. I remember wondering at some point last summer if he was sick because the garden would sometimes look a little unkempt. It was that thought that pushed me to mow my own yard. I felt if that poor old elderly man (still don’t know his name) can work a garden in this heat, I can mow this yard. And so I did.Garden-Bounty

Flash forward to yesterday. Sam was bugging me for a walk so in the heat of the day, I obliged. I almost grabbed my earbuds and logged into Spotify on my phone, but didn’t. I thought, and those of you who aren’t dog people may think it silly, but I thought I needed to spend the time with Sam—he needed my attention, whether a word was exchanged between us or not, he needed me to be there with him. So I left the earbuds at home and decided I’d just enjoy the sounds of being outdoors, walking through my tiny little neighborhood.

One neighbor was having a yard sale. I waved and smiled as we walked by. The other neighbor, one of the three I know by name, was working in her yard. I stopped and chatted for a moment. She offered Sam a dog treat. We talked about everything, and nothing. Then she told me the girl at the end of the street was moving out. I confessed I didn’t know her and said I really only knew three of my neighbors, her included. I told her I knew the old married couple behind me and that the wife used to bring me food from the garden. I then said something along the line of “I don’t think their garden did so well last year. She didn’t bring me anything at all.”

My neighbor looked at me strangely and said, “She died last spring.”

Probably why she didn’t bring me anything.

My neighbor then proceeded to tell me the sweet old couple were never actually married although they had been together 40 plus years. And the man had 26 kids at last count scattered over the country, most of whom he had contact with. He was a jazz musician in New Orleans back in the day.

Who knew?ostrich-head-in-sand1

 

 

 

Where do you go when you’re not here?

My daughter Nina started having “episodes” back in January. I called them episodes; she referred to it as “watching t.v.” so it wouldn’t alarm the two oldest kids, Landon and Ava. “I watched t.v. twice today” sounds less dramatic than “I blacked out.” Episodes, watching t.v., black out spells…regardless of what we call it, the medical profession calls it seizures

The type of seizures Nina has are called complex partial seizures. They may last for a few seconds, or a few minutes. She may have one or two a day, or a cluster of several on one day and none the next. There’s no body-going-stiff or falling-in-the-floor thing going on. The best way to describe it is an old cliche’—the light’s on but nobody’s home. If you didn’t know what you were witnessing, you’d probably think she was just ignoring you, or daydreaming. When she’s having a seizure, you can’t “shake” her out of it, or shout loudly at her to bring her out of it—believe it or not, this IS the first instinct when witnessing one. It has to run its course and usually lasts for seconds but can last for several minutes. Those are the scary ones.

And when she does come out of it, she knows she’s had a seizure but has no knowledge of the length, or what happened while in its clutches. She has no memory 0f the time away.

The Epilepsy Foundation says this about complex partial seizures: These seizures usually start in a small area of the temporal lobe or frontal lobe of the brain. They quickly involve other areas of the brain that affect alertness and awareness. So even though the person’s eyes are open and they may make movements that seem to have a purpose, in reality “nobody’s home.” If the symptoms are subtle, other people may think the person is just daydreaming. Some people can have seizures of this kind without realizing anything has happened. The seizure can wipe out memories of events just before or after it.

And so I take a lot of pictures and I document the silly things the kids do—and yes, I post them all over Facebook. I refuse to let the seizures rob her of one second of these babies’ lives.

Of course there are things she’d probably rather not remember. Like Casey painting the wall with poop. Or Ireland getting stuck with duct tape to the side of the bed. Don’t ask.  Or any one of Ivy’s historic meltdowns. Or Ava’s broken arm. Or Landon’s disappointment when he struck out at bat.

But at least when she wants to look back at all these moments—the good, the bad, and the ugly—she’ll be able to.  Like any parent, you turn her head for a split second and you’ve missed the moment. And I miss them, too. My camera, or energy level, doesn’t capture every moment but I think I do okay in capturing a decent variety.

Landon and Ava know about the seizures now.They knew something was wrong and wondered what mom “watching t.v.” had to do with why she couldn’t drive anymore. The three youngest, Ivy, Casey, and Ireland, are still too young to know anything is different. They don’t really care who’s driving the vehicle as long as mom is riding shotgun.

 

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