March 8 is International Women's Day. It promotes gender parity and also celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Look around. Strong women aren’t necessarily CEOs of large corporations, congresswomen, or organizers of events for important charity organizations. The strong woman in this story juggles a variety of roles and responsibilities.
By Joyce Ann Brown
The nurse left work at five o’clock—a rarity. This evening, the doctor had taken over her phone calls to patients and ordered her out the door.
"But I have two more--"
"Your health is important. Go play tennis, and enjoy."
Reaching the parking lot, she saw her friend, Lola, lumbering toward the cars. Every morning, Lola picked up donuts and, in order to get a close parking space, got to the building and up to her reception desk half an hour early. With a quick wave, the nurse jogged on toward her own usual space at the back of the lot. Exercise. She took her own medical advice seriously.
Abruptly, she slowed to a creep and pressed a cell phone speed dial number. Twice she had forgotten to call her husband on tennis night, and twice, just as she hit the court, she had urgent and—not nasty exactly, but frustrated “where-are-you” calls by the after school child care providers. She was still trying to repay her neighbor for all the last-minute pick-ups. It was her husband who had urged her to take one evening a week to play tennis. But it was his late calls from clients, who didn’t respect his night with the kids, which made him sometimes forget his commitment. Over the phone, he assured her that in ten seconds he’d be out of the office and on his way to after-school care.
That call cost her several minutes, but there was still time to get onto the court at 6:00, if she hurried. First, she had one stop to make—to get a gift for her daughter to take to a birthday party after school tomorrow. Earlier, they had decided a certain toy was too expensive. Now, it was too late to find anything else, and Creative Play closed at 6:00.
She glanced at the back seat when she got into the car and hit her forehead with the heel of her hand. A hot day in September, she had decided this morning, is not a day to leave one’s tennis racket in the car. She pulled into the front space recently vacated by Lola, ran into the doctor’s building, retrieved her tennis bag from the coat room, and got back to the car in six minutes, tops. Five-fifteen, still time for the gift stop.
On the way to the store, her mother rang her. “Are you coming on Saturday to help with the lawn work? It’ll be a party. I’m making a big lunch.”
“We’ll be there. All of us are coming.” Since her father passed away a year ago, her siblings’ families had helped Mom with the big jobs. She finished the phone call in the parking lot before she raced into the toy store and found the gift. Unfortunately, there was a line at the check-out counter.
Now she would really be late! Okay, maybe not. The courts were close, and she was a fast dresser. She drove down the street toward the racket club entrance past a city park pond where people were walking or jogging on the hiking trail. Almost there, she slammed on her brakes. Ohmygosh, a mother duck with six ducklings following had casually stepped out of the tall grass into the street—right in front of her! Cars going both ways stopped to let the ducks pass. She glanced at her watch. She started to think the last couple of ducklings were dispensable. A momentary lapse.
The last adorable little duckling waddled out of the street, and she sped into the racket club parking lot, past the front desk, and into the locker room. The nurse, mother, wife, daughter, personal shopper, careful driver, tennis player ran onto her assigned court only three-and-a-half minutes late. The first player to arrive, she practiced serves until the others walked on.
The Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series features an ordinary woman who wears multiple hats and takes on another, that of a sleuth, to help family and friends by solving mysterious crimes that are affecting their lives.
Read posts by other women authors who write fiction with strong women protagonists:
Darlene Deluca, author of women’s fiction and romance
Pamela B. Eglinski, author of suspense and historical fiction
Theresa Hupp, author of historical fiction
Juliet Kincaid, author of historical mysteries
If you like the excerpts these authors have posted, please let them know in a comment on their blogs. Writers always enjoy hearing from readers.
I now have Psycho Cat USB drives to give away at book signings thanks to USB Memory Direct, a wholesale company that sells USB drives for businesses. Their business card drives identify the companies with their own logos and text. I love my book-shaped drive with the cat and my info, but next time I may order one of their custom-shaped drives and ask for a yellow cat-shaped drive.
Go to https://www.usbmemorydirect.com/ to see all the different options and to order your own 8-Gig drives.
A year later, but here it is--the fourth Psycho Cat & the Landlady Mystery.
Beth, Psycho Cat Sylvester, and husband Arnie are all getting older and are supposedly retired. They are on an RV vacation in San Antonio, Texas when on returning from an Alamo Museum and River Walk visit, they find their truck ransacked. The robbers' attempt to steal the truck as well as the contents has them spooked, especially when they finally get to the RV park and discover evidence that their fifth-wheel RV might have also been broken into. A day later, they find out about a murder that happened in the parking lot the day they were robbed.
Another mystery for Beth and Psycho Cat to investigate and solve? Or, will it be the end of the road for the two sleuths? Purchase the book here to find out.
Note: The truck break-in happened to the author in real life. That scary experience and the attending policeman's stories of crime in the neighbor became the inspiration for Tailed. What happens with the cat's tail and to the tailing crooks is a product of the author's noir sense of humor.
Updated and ready to read. What's going on with that guy falling from the balcony?
(Click on the image to buy print or e-book.)
Noir at the Salad Bar
Culinary Tales with a Bite
Noir at the Salad Bar, Culinary Tales with a Bite, is now available in paperback and in the Kindle store. This collection of thirty stories has something for everyone, especially those who enjoy a bit of food and drink with their murderous tales. Thanks to all of the contributing authors!
Noir at the Salad Bar, Culinary Tales with a Bite authors & stories:
Get a free booklet of three suspense stories from authors listed in the anthology, Murder, U.S.A., at: http://eepurl.com/VU-dz
This month I was awarded a Books Go Social Quality Badge after Nine LiFelines was reviewed by a British book promotion organization called "Books Go Social." After a thorough review process by computer and humans, my book won a good badge.
New edition of Nine Lifelines, the third book of the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery series is now available at Amazon.com.
An Audiobook of Catastrophic Connections is in the works. What an exciting experience to hear my book being read by a talented narrator. I have to approve the pronunciations and voices of my characters. It's interesting to me that someone might pronounce a name or a word so much differently than my friends, family, and I do.
My narrator, for instance, pronounces either with a long I sound at the beginning. I pronounce it with a long e sound. Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto...
The one thing that concerns me most about holiday giving isn't the money. It's figuring out what to give each person that will be personal and appreciated. Sometimes, in our family we've tried drawing names, giving one person a list of things we'd like, and letting that person pass our lists on to the right people. We've tried making a rule that we could give only homemade items (baked goods, art, sewed or quilted items, etc.) One or two times, everyone brought a small gift and put it in a pile so everyone could draw lots to pick out gifts that could then be claimed by someone else while the chooser had to draw another gift.
None of the ideas lasted for more than a year or two. Even the plan to give money to charity rather than buy gifts for each other (except for young children) worked entirely. There were some who insisted on giving gifts to everyone in the family as well as to the charity. That made the folks who followed the plan feel a little awkward and curmudgeonly.
Here's an idea. Everyone could give books to each other. We know what kind of books most of our family members enjoy. But if someone receives an book, he or she could pass it on in some way. Give it to someone who would like it. Donate it to the library. Put it in a box of items going to a charity. Give it to a retirement community.
People have given my cozy mystery books as gifts in the past, and they've written to tell me the gifts were appreciated. They have also been loved by the folks in retirement communities where I've donated them.
Have a stress-free holiday season. Read a book!
Here are the doors I've been staining lately. Writing in the evenings and staining during the day--the cozy life of a mystery writer.
It's not all play and no work these days. For the past week I've been staining, finishing, and staining, and refinishing wood doors to replace some I painted several years ago. Styles change, but I should never have decided to paint woodwork in my house!!
For Halloween fun, read my short story published at Kings River Life Magazine: http://kingsriverlife.com/10/29/a-wild-halloween/
Also, Furtive Investigation e-book is on sale at Amazon for $.99. The second Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery: Psycho Cat sniffs out a skeleton in the attic. Police are told to drop the investigation. It's up to Beth, the landlady, to figure out who killed the victim.
(Now's your chance: Goes up to $1.99 on Sunday and regular price on Thursday.)
On a beautiful early Fall hike, I sat to rest in this chair. I, in this chair, represent the amount of time I put into writing my new book that day.
My smile shows how much I enjoyed the adventure. How can a writer write unless she voyages into Lilliputian Land every so often?
There are new adventures everywhere. Rock trails to climb. Trees to hug. Ideas to grab.
In LiFELINE, the next Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery, Beth, the landlady, must learn about the people and customs of other countries from people she meets in her new condo building. How do they fit into the murder mystery she is trying to solve? You'll be able to find out when the book is published early in 2016.