Had such a fun time with this! What happens when Ava Logan and Sheriff Grayson Ridge have lunch with big-city detective Charlie Kerrian and his wife? Can the news media and law enforcement really get along?
I think I’ve figured out my clown phobia. And dolls. And especially puppets. And fun houses. And those distortion mirrors that make you look either really tall and skinny or short and stumpy. Fairs and carnivals? Oh hell no.
Let me preface by saying I did not have a traumatic childhood. No big yikes moment.
I had my share of dolls and loved everyone of them. Even the armless, nappy haired, scuffed up, missing-an-eye ones. I had my share of puppets and participated in my share of puppet shows. I ventured in and out of many fun houses and stood laughing in front of many weird mirrors. Even got to know a couple clowns from Ringling Bros. & Barnum Bailey one year when the circus came to town. They were fun and crazy.
All of it was perfectly normal and safe. It wasn’t until I started writing mysteries that the happy-go-lucky things of childhood became the creepier-than-all-get-out trauma inducers of adulthood. Why? Because I started looking beneath the masks and behind the mirrors. I started looking under the surface, peeling back the layers, page by page.
Fun houses became crime scenes. The distorted features seen in those fun mirrors became the twisted view of a killer. Clowns hid deep, deep secrets beneath the make-up and fake smiles. Dolls pretended to be something they were not—alive. They cried, they wet, they ate and they pooped. Some of them said “mama” in uber creepy voices. And puppets…oh my. They’re the worst. Because they have no backbone. They have no sense of self until someone, probably someone deranged, puts them into motion. And carnival workers, or carnies as they’re often called—don’t even go there. I’m sure some of them are fine people. And I’m sure some of them are serial killers. Those are the ones who seem to always find their way into my imagination.
One of the most frequent questions asked of mystery writers is where do you get your ideas. Take a look around you. Have fun at the fair this year!
I haven’t posted in a few weeks because I’ve been on tour. You know, the book tour. It’s taken me to far-away places like Burlington, Graham, Asheboro, Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. And Mebane. Can’t forget Mebane. I even graced the lobby of the O’Henry Hotel, a swanky place in Greensboro. You may be thinking Burlington as in Burlington, Vermont. Or that Graham is the town in Texas, or Arizona. True – there are towns in those states with those names. Of course there are also towns in North Carolina with those names, too. Guess which towns I visited?
My travels with that Private Eye named Gypsy may not have taken me across the country, or even the state line, but I have learned some valuable lessons so far. Like no matter how important you think you are, someone will always misspell your name.
Not once. Not twice. Not even three times. Four times. Yep, four times my name was misspelled on publicity posters and press releases. The posters even had a picture of the cover of the book with my name spelled correctly, yet the graphic artists apparently didn’t make the connection. The host bookstores were horrified when they learned of the mistakes, but I assured them it was all well and good. Keeps one humble.
At one of the smaller, independent bookstores, I sat in the cafe prior to the reading/signing sipping on a $4.00 cappuccino I paid for chatting with the store owner/manager. When the start time for the event rolled around, the owner shook his head and said “looks like the author is a no show.” Yes, the publicity flier they had posted in the cafe, on the store window, at the register had my picture on it. But they had my name spelled right.
I was second billed at a book fair with 20 other authors. Rather impressed with that one. Until I realized I was the only author present who wrote genre fiction. Me and Gypsy—right smack in the middle of the poets with their chap books, MFA grads with their literary short story collections, and non-fiction authors pushing their photo-heavy “travels with” books. But me and Gypsy sold right many books so maybe there were closet genre readers in the crowd.
And then there was the cheese guy. it was at the same book fair with the literary minds. The host staff waiters and waitresses worked the crowd, offering trays of gourmet delectables. Everything looked so yummy, and carb rich. I noticed one of the other authors asked a waiter if they could perhaps bring something a little less carb heavy. She got a beautiful cheese tray so I followed suit and asked for the same. The waiter was happy to oblige and brought me a gorgeous marble tray with two different chunks of cheese, a variety of crackers, grapes, and warm pecans rolled lightly in confectioners sugar. Oh my! A nibble here, a nibble there…and I was wondering if it would be, like, really tacky to wrap what I hadn’t eaten in a napkin and stuff it in my bag to take home? But I never got the chance.
It’s kind of an unwritten “rule” at signings, book fairs, etc…to place your snacks or drinks in a corner of the table, behind a stand-up poster of some sort so your bag of Doritos and Diet Dr. Pepper aren’t on public display. Well, my cheese tray was behind my stand-up poster of Wink of an Eye, clearly out of public view, and totally understood for my consumption only. At least I thought so.
So I’m standing there behind my table chatting up a closeted mystery reader and this guy—a middle aged guy so it wasn’t like he was a kid—comes around behind my table and starts helping himself to my cheese. He even asked me where the knife was since the cheese was in chunks—a clear indication is was for one person and one person only. I was a little shocked so barely squeaked out that they didn’t bring a knife. Wait for it…it gets better. The man whips out his pocket knife and starts carving up my cheese! He helps himself to most of it and picks through the warm, sugar coated pecans for the better ones. He then went on about his merry way.
Sigh. Keep it humble, folks. You never know when they’ll misspell your name or steal your cheese.
1 Day. 1 Way.
Want to know how Michael Moran got his nickname “Gypsy?” Many people have asked and there’s been all sorts of speculation, but only one real answer. If you really want to know, the answer will be revealed in my next newsletter. You can subscribe by entering your email address in the button on the sidebar. And just so you’ll know how special you are to me, the newsletter isn’t shared over social media—it’s by subscription only.
2 Days. 2 Random Paragraphs
I squeezed my eyes closed. That was not what I wanted to hear. Even if I took the Fifth, I’d never make it out of the courthouse alive. “If I have to testify, I might as well put a bullet through my own head and save him the trouble.”
Burke sighed heavily, pressing his fingertips to his forehead. After a long moment, he pointed a stern finger at me. “If anything happens to that boy, it’s on your head. And if anything happens to me…you inherited yourself a kid.”
3 Days. 3 things to know about Wink, Texas.
1) As of 2014, Wink’s population is 951. Since the year 2000, Wink has seen a population growth of 1.60% The median home cost in Wink is $39,500.
2) In June 1980, a giant sinkhole formed in Wink. In May 2002, a second sinkhole opened up about a mile from the first. The sinkholes are called Wink Sink #1 and Wink Sink #2. Number 2 is much larger and measures in places, 900 feet wide or three football fields!
3) Singer Roy Orbison spent part of his childhood in Wink. The town is home to a Roy Orbison museum.
4 days. 4th paragraph & more, 4th chapter
Although the air in the volunteer center was nice and cool, I drew in a breath and held it when I entered. The smell of ammonia was so strong I could taste it. A heavyset woman in flowered scrubs was leading a young woman with more challenges than anyone deserved to the restroom. The woman in scrubs eyed me suspiciously.
“I’m looking for Rhonda Walker. I’m her brother,” I said, hoping to put the woman’s mind at ease.
“Oh—so you’re Gypsy!” She smiled broadly. “Rhonda never mentioned how handsome you were.”
I winked at the woman. “You remind her for me.”
5 Days. 5 women.
1) Claire Kinley – junior high & high school sweetheart, only woman Gypsy ever considered marrying.
I reached out, grabbed her, and pulled her to me. Her warm tears rolled down my bare chest. I lifted her chin and gently kissed away each tear, wishing to God I could stop loving her.
2) Sophia Ortez – smokin’ hot reporter helping Gypsy with his investigation.
That wasn’t part of the deal, Gypsy. I don’t tell you how to run your investigation and you don’t tell me what to write. That was the deal.
3) Rhonda Walker – Gypsy’s younger sister.
Gypsy—why is everything you own packed in boxes? And why are those boxes in my front yard?
4) Angie Moran – Gypsy’s mother.
Oh my God. My mother was going to prostitute herself to pay my hospital bill.
5) Gram – Gypsy’s grandmother.
Nothing like discussing your private parts with your eighty-year-old grandmother over morning coffee.