Riding the Rails in Style

Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist and writer of historical mysteries. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance. THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK was released in November, 2017 and was nominated for a prestigious Lefty Award. Her debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC was a finalist in the Lefty Awards for Best Historical Mystery, The Colorado Author’s League Award for Best Genre Fiction, the Macavity Sue Feder Award for Historical Mystery, and is the WINNER of the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery and the Colorado Gold for Best Mystery. Jennifer grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Greenland, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She’s been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. Jennifer currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. There she conducts research on the jails.

CONNECT WITH JENNIFER ONLINE
Website: JenniferKincheloe.com
Facebook: /TheSecretLifeofAnnaBlanc
Twitter: @jenkincheloe
Pinterest: /jrkincheloe
Instagram: @jenniferkincheloe
Goodreads: /jrobin66

In THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK, police matron Anna Blanc pursues a suspect in style, borrowing the family’s luxury railcar without permission. It comes with a fireplace, a double bed, and a gigantic bathtub—everything you’d want in a railcar, really. Lots of velvet and silk.  A bear skin rug. Catering and an open bar. It’s the perfect way to travel alone or with a delicious young detective, providing he isn’t annoying you by actively opposing your investigation.

In the 1900s, trains for cross-country travel were the only game in town. Of course, rich people wouldn’t ride with the rabble. There were first class cars, and for the most fortunate, private railcars.  Private railcars were the private jets of Anna’s day.

There was nothing understated about the rich in the early 20th century. Flaunting your wealth was de rigueur. Private railcars were no exception, dazzling with their opulence. Here are examples of Pullman private railcars from the late 19th and early 20th centuries—like the railcar Anna Blanc and Joe Singer took to Yuma.

   

Private railcars are still a thing for America’s rich. Once, when riding the California Zephyr to San Francisco, Dan Aykroyd attached his private railcar to our train. Regrettably, I didn’t get to peek inside. But here’s a photograph of John Paul DeJoria’s 1927 railcar. (He made The Forbes 400.) I think Anna Blanc would have been quite comfortable.

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The Eyes Have It

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to share her thoughts about how important her vision is to her and all the visual aids she’s had over the years.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

My biggest fear in life is losing my vision.

I’ve never had good vision. Nobody seemed to notice and I thought people saw things the same way I did. It wasn’t until the 5th grade when they gave us the eye test in school. All I could see was the big E. The teacher wouldn’t let me walk home; instead, he drove me and broke the news to my parents. As soon as he left, the arguments started. “It’s not from MY side of the family!” Mom declared. “Are we suppose to get her a seeing eye dog?” Dad lashed out.

When they first put glasses on me, I was amazed. I could see individual leaves on trees. Part of me was angry at all I’d been missing over the years. However, they picked out sparkly pink frames, baby frames. Even at 10, that’s an embarrassment.

When I was ready to go to high school I “lost” my glasses. The next pair were stylish cat-eye frames. Then I heard the adage “Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.” I wouldn’t wear them at school. Classmates now tell me they thought I was snobbish because I never returned their waves.

When I joined the Navy, I told them I wanted to be an air traffic controller. “You have 20/300 vision. You can’t even see an airplane!” I was considered legally blind by their standards.

I graduated to aviator frames. That’s what pilots and Gloria Steinem wore. They were cool. They made me feel like a woman to be dealt with.

Over the years I’ve treated glasses like jewelry. I’ve had John Lennon glasses, huge over-sized glasses popular in the ‘80’s, rose-colored glasses and even hexagonal blue-tinted glasses. I’ve tried and rejected contacts. Now I’m sporting titanium glasses where I can bend the sides into figure eights.

As I age, I worry about losing my eyesight altogether. I’ve had friends who can’t read anymore. Or, their hands can’t hold large books now. Sure, there are audio books and I would definitely go that route. Then I look at all the books I’ve collected over the years but never had a chance to read because I was writing my own books. I waited to retire to indulge in my favorite pastime.  If not now, when?

I recently put my books in alphabetical order by author. I have a daytime book and a nighttime book. I prefer reading historical fiction (but not romance). I want to know about Alexander the Great and the Borgias. I never want to stop reading. I treasure every book and my eyes even as they age.

Pigeonholing

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about how pre-conceived impressions of people–and characters–can cause us to come to some very mistaken conclusions.

Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest. Kathleen’s newest book in the series, Dressed to Kill, will be released in the UK on August 1, 2019 and in the US on November 1, 2019.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net/

The other day I was in Walmart. I had a few awkward to handle packages and a young employee offered to help me out. Not usual for Walmart, and I accepted with gratitude. He was dressed in jeans and I assumed he was in gardening or helped load groceries. We were chatting a little as we walked to my car when a crow flew down close to our heads, then landed on a light pole. “Oh,” the young man said, “I think that’s Edgar. I wonder where Allen is.” He looked at me and smiled a little. “I named them.”

I am sure my mouth was agape as I stared at him. “You mean for who wrote the poem?” I still wasn’t sure if that was what he meant or if it was some coincidence.

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s my favorite one. The poem.”

I am embarrassed to admit I was surprised. He just wasn’t the type I’d associate with reading Edgar Allan Poe. Perhaps in school?  I’m not sure what classes include his work. Even then, I wouldn’t have expected this particular young man to actually like it. If pressed, I’d have thought he was the type who would never willingly read a book of any type, certainly not poetry, that cars and sports would have been his passions. I’d pigeonholed that young man before I’d ever said a word to him and, boy, had I been wrong.

It got me to thinking. Do I always pigeonhole people I meet? Do I assume because they look a certain way, work a certain job, talk with a certain accent that I know what kind of person they are? That I know what they like? How they live? I hope I don’t but if I do, I’m cheating myself out of something important. I shudder to think how many interesting conversations I may have missed out on, how many interesting people I’ve never bothered to get to know. I wondered if I pigeonhole not only the people I’ve met but the characters I write. Sorted them by “type”. Stuffed them in a pigeonhole.

Are there “types”? I’ve heard that expressed all my life. He’s the type to end up in Harvard, or I just knew she was the type to end up getting divorced. Is there a type of man who will abuse his wife or a type of woman who will be president of the PTA? I guess, in a way, there is, but can you tell who falls into a certain category by casual conversation or just observing? I doubt it and we shortchange ourselves and the people we meet by doing so. We sort them into little pigeon holes as neatly as the mail is sorted into little boxes and that doesn’t work very well. The guy  who wears the ‘wife beater’ tee shirt may be a model husband and the one who leaves for work every morning in a three piece suit carrying a pig skin brief case may be the one who comes home and beats his wife to a pulp.

What is the point of all this? Briefly, none of us are so simple we can be sorted into simple little groups or pigeonholes. Not in real life or in the books we read. Or write. People, all people, are complex, a mix of goals, emotions, abilities, and we owe it to ourselves, and to them, to get to know each other better before we pass judgment of any kind. Because if we don’t, we are likely to be wrong and think what interesting conversations and people we might have missed!

Unless, of course, it’s a murder mystery. Then you can pigeonhole anyone, type cast anyone as you try to find the murderer. Of course, if the author has set it up so that the person you think is truly the type to commit murder turns out to be the good guy, or maybe the corpse, and the last person you thought could be the culprit, is, then you just put him, or her, in the wrong pigeonhole.

The Book That Almost Wasn’t

Marilyn Meredith has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

https://fictionforyou.com/

When it was time to begin a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, I knew the setting should be somewhere different. Time to send Tempe and her husband, Hutch, on vacation, but where?

One of the places I’ve always enjoyed visiting is Tehachapi, a small mountain town in California, not to far from where I live. It’s the home of the largest wind farm in California, plus the famous railway Loop, where long, long freight trains pass themselves while going around a mountain. But why would they go there?

Maybe it wouldn’t be their first choice, but it had to be something that would draw Tempe. Ah, yes, why not a ghost? Going on a ghost hunt is not something Hutch would want to do, but surely it wouldn’t take long. This would add some interesting conflict.

To come up with the plot, I did some research into Tehachapi’s history, learned about a devastating earthquake, and the Indian tribe that first inhabited the area.  Ideas developed. When I was nearly through writing, my daughter and I made a long visit to Tehachapi to check what I’d written to make sure it was plausible. We did a self-guided tour of the wind farm, checking out the huge turbines and the areas around them. And of course, we stood at the observation point watching a couple of freight trains going around the Loop.

Once the manuscript was done, I sent it off to the small press that had published all the earlier Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. A wonderful cover was sent for my approval, and the book sent off to an editor. I went over the edits and returned them.

I heard nothing for weeks. I sent email inquiries but received no answer. Was I worried? You bet. I had a sinking feeling the company was in trouble.

Finally, I received an email that was sent to all the authors that the press was closing its doors and that all the manuscript rights would revert to the authors. I sent another inquiry asking if I could use my covers, and was given an affirmative answer.

Getting my rights back was good, but what should I do next?

I doubted any publisher would want to deal with a series like mine with 18 books. The alternative would be to self-publish. I honestly didn’t think I was up to the task.

While discussing the problem with a good friend who’d helped me self-publish some of my older books, she offered to take on this monumental task. Her husband agreed to do the covers, using those that I had the rights too.

Of course, I agreed. She started right away and got Spirit Wind ready for publication. I am so happy with the results—and the fact that Deputy Tempe Crabtree is still around to solve crimes, work with Indians legends, and help wandering spirits find their way.

Marilyn

Leave the Past in the Past

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to share her thoughts about how we view the past.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

My 50th class reunion is coming up in 4 months. I’ve already bought an age-appropriate dress (I consider a low V-neck age appropriate) with sleeves to cover lumps from 5 years of dialysis. I’m nervously looking forward to the event.

While I’m looking forward, the trend now is to look back. There’s a show on TV titled “1969,” my graduating year. I realize the ‘60’s are being lauded as a time of hippies, flower power, peace symbols, free love, LSD, communes and rejecting our parent’s ideals. But was it really a time of innocence and idealism? Hippies became the homeless, peace was never achieved, free love produced welfare children, drugs produced addicts. However, many were brought back into the fold to become computer geniuses, stockbrokers, religious leaders and Republicans.

My recollections of the 1960’s is vastly different. I came from a military family in a military community. We were dubbed “Hawks.” The draft was on and sailors on base painted peace symbols on the bombs being sent to Vietnam. I joined the Navy instead of going to college where my peers were protesting the war. Was it a popular decision? Absolutely not. Even my recruiter tried to un-recruit me.

When people wax eloquent about the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, I think Vietnam, Nixon, J. Edgar, assassinations, Angela Davis, The Black Panthers and Tommy Smith from my hometown of Lemoore, standing on the highest platform at the Mexico Olympics with his fist in the air. In that second a hero turned into a threat.

The era I believed in was the ‘50’s. As a child I fantasized about pretty dresses and poodle skirts, proms and the perfect husband. I only knew one woman who worked for a living and only because she was divorced (another foreign idea). I expected the perfect marriage, a fully equipped house and well-behaved children.

I blame the ‘70’s for dashing my dreams. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem demanded that we achieve. All of a sudden women were encouraged to get a job and not settle until you broke the glass ceiling. I refused to burn my pretty bras but scuttled off to the Armed Forces until this new era blew over.

My best friend, who is 94, bemoans bygone days. I asked what decade she’d turn back time. She decided she liked the ‘40’s. I reminded her that the Depression was barely over and WWII was going on. She doesn’t like technology, especially when she wants a person on the other end of the phone and all she gets is a robotic voice telling her which button to push.

I’m on the fence about technology. I hate cell phones but love my computer. I need cable TV in my life. I don’t listen to Rock and Roll stations, I want to hear what’s popular today. I applaud the decriminalization of marijuana but can’t indulge because of medical reasons.

I suppose it’s human nature to want to remember the good parts of past years. But it’s like trying to cover a black and white photo with a water painting. The reality is stark, but it’s there. And change, good or bad, will come.

 

Lifting the Lid

Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press. Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning about other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now . You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at http://www.jeannematthews.com

A Traveler’s Tale

Travel writing has been popular since a geographer named Pausinias published his Description of Greece in the second century, A.D.  Although many of the sites he described no longer exist, he is quoted in almost every current tour book of Greece.  Marco Polo wrote a travelogue, Captain James Cook kept a diary, and everybody knows about Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.  Any writing in which journey is the central theme can be described as travel writing.

The earliest travel books emphasized classical learning and a non-personal point of view.  Lawrence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy broke the mold.  Witty, insightful and crammed with the idiosyncratic opinions and tastes of his protagonist (the author’s barely disguised alter ego), the book established travel writing as the dominant genre of the second half of the 18th Century.  Not only did it inspire people to read about travel, it inspired them to set out to foreign climes in search of adventure.  This new bevy of intrepid explorers included many respectable women.

Hester Stanhope

Jeanne Baret circumnavigated the globe between 1766 and 1769, albeit disguised as a man.  Defying convention, she bound her breasts with bandages and sailed with the French Navy as Jean Baret. Her Ladyship Hester Stanhope did whatever it took to go where she pleased.  She was the first European woman to cross the Syrian desert and conduct archaeological research in the Holy Land.  Isabella Bird is probably the most famous female globetrotter.  Armed with her trusty revolver, she toured the world and penned her experiences climbing mountains, riding elephants, and hanging out with outlaws.

All of these travelers recorded their exploits and their accounts were supposedly factual and true.  But the tendency to “coloration,” i.e., exaggeration and invention, has been around since the ancient mariners reported sightings of sirens and sea monsters.  Lying is, to some degree, inherent in all travel books just as reality is an element of all novels.

The devices of fiction have the ability to enhance and intensify travel narratives.  A novelist doesn’t write a description of everything she sees.  Instead, she selects the telling details, decides when and how they are revealed, and shapes the emotional topography.  She casts light on one thing, throws shadows on another.  “What raises travel writing to literature,” says William Zinsser, “is not what the writer brings to the place, but what the place draws out of the writer.”

I’ll be leaving next week on a trek through southwestern France where the Albigensian Crusades were waged against the “heretical” Cathars.  The Cathari bastides are haunting reminders of a very successful genocide.  I plan to write about this trip, whether as the setting for another Dinah Pelerin mystery or in a series of non-fiction essays, and I’ve been looking back over some of my favorite travel books for inspiration.

Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi captured the magic of that magnificent river “rolling its mile-wide tide along, shining in the sun.”  For Huck, it was both a physical and a mental journey.  Sharing a raft with a runaway slave changed his mind about race and what it means to own another human being.  Using the perspective of an “unsivilized” boy, Twain skewered the moral hypocrisy of the nation.

Raymond Chandler’s portrayal of Los Angeles created an indelible sense of place.  He peppered his novels with geographic detail and filtered his perceptions of the city through the wry observations and reflections of his detective, Philip Marlowe – the menacing architecture, the tough-looking palms, those dry Santa Ana winds that “make your nerves jump and your skin itch.”  The city assumed the importance of a character, seductive and glittering on the outside but rotten underneath.

Michael Dibdin

Venice was the dominant character in Michael Dibdin’s Dead Lagoon.  His police detective, Aurelio Zen, conducted the reader into the seamier enclaves of his hometown, leaving behind the touristic city-as-museum and pointing out the decaying palaces, the rats scuttering about the canals at low tide, and the venality and moral cowardice of the politicians.  By exposing the city’s underbelly, Dibdin imparted an authenticity to the place that feels more real than a journalist’s report.

Real places have a way of drawing out fresh perspectives and insightful reflections from fictional travelers.  My books aren’t what you’d call gritty, but I haven’t shied away from the darker aspects of the places Dinah has visited.  She confronted the Australian government’s persecution of the Aborigines; the devastation of Native Hawaiian culture and appropriation of their lands; the historic oppression of the Sami people in the Norwegian Arctic; and the plight of the migrants washing up destitute and desperate on the beaches of the Greek island of Samos.  Wherever she finds herself, Dinah lifts the lid on unsavory secrets and bubbling resentments.  Is murder also in the offing?  Thereby hangs a traveler’s tale.

Spotlight on Vow of Silence by Melynda Price


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Vow of Silence
Melynda Price
Published by: Entangled Publishing
Publication date: May 27th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

A killer is hiding in Plain sight…

The hunt for a serial killer leads Homicide Detective Josiah Troyer back to his Amish roots. To catch a madman preying on young women, Joe must return to Lancaster County and regain the trust of a shattered community.

The FBI knows Joe is the best chance they have of solving this case. By returning to Lancaster, he will face shunning, and resentment from the people he once called family and friends.

Hannah’s heart was broken when Josiah abandoned her eight-years ago to live with the Englishers. Forced to wed a man not of her choosing, her husband’s untimely death has left her struggling to put her life back together.

When unspeakable tragedy strikes again, Josiah unexpectedly returns, investigating the murder of her sister and two other young Amish women. Hannah quickly discovers the man that’s come back is not the same one she fell in love with.

Gone are Josiah’s easy smiles and gentle ways. He’s harder, colder—a true Englisher… But not even shunning can stop the attraction from consuming them both, and Josiah soon opens Hannah’s eyes to a world of passion and pleasure she never imagined. Choosing Josiah would mean walking away from the only world she’s ever known.

Josiah’s investigation begins to unravel when he discovers the killer is closer than he thought. Soon, he’s in a race against time to save the only woman he’s ever loved before she becomes the next victim.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

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A Few Words from the Author

What about the Amish world appealed to you as a setting for the book?

Hi! Thank you for inviting me to write a guest post for Buried Under Books.

I’m excited to be here and talk about my new release Vow of Silence. One of the things that I love about this book, and what I think sets it apart from other romantic suspense is the location of the story. The simplicity of the Amish culture has always appealed to me and I wanted to write a book about what might happen if the Amish world collided with ours and the violence of our society touched theirs. What would that look like and what would some of those obstacles be? The challenge of writing story like this was a fun, educational experience.

This book maintains the feel of a romantic suspense while giving a taste of Amish culture. Staying true to the genre I’m known for writing, this story has a dark side, is a bit angsty, and very sexy. Don’t read this book if you’re expecting Beverly Lewis. So many stories written in the Amish setting are sweet, slow-paced romances. I wanted to write a thrilling Amish-based book that felt contemporary and unique. Telling Josiah and Hannah’s story was a rollercoaster of emotion and I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

~Melynda

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About the Author

Melynda Price is a bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her novels have finaled in and or won many awards such as the RONE, USA Today BBA, Golden Quill, National Readers’ Choice, Write Touch, and New England Readers’ Choice.

What Price enjoys most about writing is the chance to make her readers fall in love, over and over again. She cites the greatest challenge of writing is making the unbelievable believable, while taking her characters to the limit with stories full of passion and unique twists and turns. Salting stories with undertones of history whenever possible, Price adds immeasurable depth to her well-crafted books. She currently lives in Northern Minnesota with her husband and two children where she has plenty of snow-filled days to curl up in front of the fireplace with her Chihuahua and a hot cup of coffee to write.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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