Carol Montgomery #1

I’m almost ready to publish the first Carol Montgomery mystery, “The Old Courthouse”. It’s taken a tad longer to get out than I anticipated. My BetaReader-Editor made several really good suggestions that are going to take a bit of re-writing to bring to life.

Here’s the proposed cover for the book.

Strange noises are coming from the jail section of the old courthouse, which is said to be haunted. A man is found dead under a shrub outside the building, with a broken window above him. The building is scheduled for redevelopment as a hotel and conference center. Carol Montgomery, a Ph.D. structural engineer, and adobe specialist is hired to evaluate the stability of the WPA-built adobe building. Carol, a Wiccan, and her telepathic cat familiar get involved in solving the mystery of the noises, the purported haunts, the dead man, and they discover a person living in the jail.

I’m well into the sequel for Carol Montgomery #1, with a working title of “A Piano In The Night”. An old house is said to be haunted and neighbors see strnge flickering lights in the dormer windows and the sound of a piano being played during the night.

Book Signing in Las Vegas

I just did a book signing in Las Vegas. I took a batch of my books to my 60th high school reunion. I sold and signed several of them and it was a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed telling people about the content of the books as a way of answering their question – “Which one is best?” or “Which one would I like?”.

The most common question I got, as I sat at my table, was “Are you the author? Did you write all of these?” Another common questions was “Where do you get your ideas?” Where, indeed?

The former French and Spanish teacher bought ‘Le Cochon Volant: The Flying Pigafter I told her why the title and that it had English, Spanish, and French in it. One guy bought ‘Chipmunk Jumped Over Him’ for his grandson and another bought ‘Eye of Newt and Skin of Toad’ for his nephew that is crazy about reptiles. A long-time acquaintance and one of the folks I hung with in high school bought two copies of each of my books to read and to donate to a group that he supports. A retired math teacher and computer programmer bought ‘Bear Market’ because she liked the cover. The reasons why folks select books is a never-ending mystery.

With any luck at all, some of those folks will read the books, enjoy them and tell their friends or relatives. I might even get some online sales as a result of my trip, who knows?

Halloween is Coming – and So are Three Free Mysteries

In honor of Halloween, I am putting my three current mysteries up as Amazon Freebies.

Eye of Newt, Skin of Toad will be available free from October 9 through October 13.

Bear Market will be available free from October 10 through October 14.

Le Cochon Volant: The Flying Pig will be available from October 11 through October 15.

So cuddle up with a good mystery, listen to the wind howl, enjoy!

Book Signing Coming Up

I am going to be in Vegas on the 6th and 7th of October for my 60th High School Reunion – Go Rams. While there, I’m going to do a book signing at the reunion picnic on the 7th, not sure yet about the venue for the BBQ on the 6th. My plan is to have all five of my books there and available – we’ll see if I actually peddle any of them.

I am still fiddling with “The Old Courthouse”. Actually, I’m still waiting for my wife/editor/beta reader to get done with it and get it back to me for repairs. I’m maybe half way though the sequel, which I am tentatively calling “A Piano In the Night”. Between teaching two online classes and getting two teenage boys off to school, my muse is sitting there yawning. I’m not writing anywhere nearly as quickly as I might like, but I think the story will be better for all of the long thinking sessions (naps).

Here’s a recent picture of some yellow sulfur butterflies working on the purple-flowered Vitex along our driveway. Took it with my phone out the van window while sitting, waiting for my wife to come out so we could go to the store.

Yellow sulfur butterflies on a purple Vitex flower stalk

I’ve been too quiet.

Hey – I’ve been very quiet on here and I guess I need to say something.

Eye of Newt has six good to outstanding reviews – I appreciate those.

I nearly have the first Carol Montgomery Mystery ready to go to press and I’m well into the sequel. Writing about witches, haunts, and telepathic cats is a different world for me, so I find it sometimes rather slow going. Besides, my muse took a vacation – but it’s back and nicely refreshed.

I’m thinking about including some stuff about the Piro Tribe of Native Americans in the sequel to “The Old Courthouse”. They resided in the Las Cruces/El Paso area for millennia before the Spanish and English Entrada’s and have been trying to get Federally recognized for decades. I have to do some research on their cultural and religious traditions. That should be interesting and fun.

I may have a new O’Flaithearta Biological Consults mystery in the cooker. We’ll see how the new Carol Montgomery book goes, then move forward from there.

Eye of Newt, Skin of Toad – Teaser

“Hello, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police dispatch. How may I help you? Yes, ma’am, we are aware that there’re some folks at Tule Springs, and they have a fire. Yes, ma’am, they have a permit. According to my log, ma’am, they will be there all night. Yes, ma’am, they are some sort of witchcraft group, but what they are doing is perfectly legal. I will have an officer check on them, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.”

Ok, let’s see – who’s got patrol out there? Mary – Ok.

“267, this is dispatch – come in.”

“Dispatch, this is 267; what can I do for you?”

“Mary, what’s your 10-20?  

“I’m in the West Charleston area, not too far from Rainbow.”

“I just got a citizen call about a group that’s toasting marshmallows at Tule Springs. Any chance you can cruise by there and check them out?”

“10-4, dispatch – just as soon as I get done with this domestic bliss call that I’m on.”

“10-4, 267 – be careful – dispatch out.”

The two archaeologists climbed out of their truck and strolled toward the tarp they had left covering their small excavation pit.

“What’s this I heard about a witch’s coven having some sort of ritual here last night, Charlie?”

“Yeah, that’s what I heard from the Metro. They gave me a heads-up in case we had anything that might need protecting. I understand that the coven folks think Tule Springs is some sort of astral power center. I think they got onto the notion from some of the local Paiutes.”

“You know, I think I have heard that the Paiutes have some ancient stories about Tule Springs. That’s not too surprising, considering how long humans appear to have been around here. That reminds me, did you remember to photograph that flake we found yesterday?”

“Oh, damn. No, I completely spaced on that. Let me get my camera. We left the flake in situ when we finished and covered the pit yesterday.”

“Ok, I’ll pull the tarp back. Sure hope the witches didn’t decide to wander over here and check out what we are up to.”

Dr. Charlie Meroux, the number two person on the new Tule Springs ancient man dig, turned and walked back toward the truck. Dr. Alex Gibson, the site lead, continued toward the tarp covering the excavation’s first pit. When Alex reached the tarp, he leaned down, grabbed one corner, and turned to pull the tarp back, away from the dig site. As he did so, Alex caught a glimpse of something under the far edge of the tarp. Pulling his corner away from the side of the hole, he walked over, grabbed the other corner, and started to pull it back. Alex stopped in mid-pull and let out a whistle.

“Holy shit! This ain’t no ancient man.”

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Like Cozies?

Ghosts in a historic courthouse and jail?

Telepathic cats?

Ph.D. Engineer and adobe expert that has wiccan powers?

What is going on in the Old Courthouse? Carol Montgomery and her cat, Rogue, get to the heart of the mysterious noises coming from the abandoned jail and courthouse.

Eye of Newt, Skin of Toad – Newest O’Flaithearta Biological Consulting Mystery

Coming within the next month or perhaps less a new mystery, “Eye of Newt, Skin of Toad”. A musician is found dead in an archaeological site pit in a Las Vegas Park. The man was attending a wiccan celebration at a power center in the park. An autopsy reveals he died of toad poisoning. A shady casino owner is found executed in a canyon in the Red Rock National Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas. The casino owner owed the musician money. An Ayahuasca shaman seems to be connected to both of the men. TheHerbster, an authority on desert amphibians, is hired by the Las Vegas Metro Department to help determine what kind of toad provided the poison. Herb finds himself in Peru’s Amazon forest collecting skin swabs from poison dart frogs, and is nearly murdered.

A 5-Star Review of Bear Market.

An Interesting Wildlife Read in Tahoe

Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2021.

This was an interesting look at biological bear studies, framed in a fictional mystery about a group of biologists trying to bust a bear poaching ring. You can tell that scientifically, the author knows his stuff, and I enjoyed this read, I finished it very quickly. It has a full cast of diverse characters working the case. I found the format interesting too, much of the book is set up as one-sided phone conversations, and you see the plot unfolding as it bounces from person to person calling around. I thought that was creative.

However, at times I felt the characters were a bit too dispassionate. I thought there would be more of a connection to these animals the biologists were tracking in the field, and more anger when the bears met their needless demises. The biologists seemed just as concerned about what they were going to eat for lunch as for the fates of the bears. I also wish that maybe there had been more details about black bears, or the lore of traditional Chinese medicine. What exactly are the healers doing with those parts?

That said, I am curious about the undercover op that seems to be setting up in the end of this book, and I want to know what happens next!