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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here Ya Go!!!! A Beautiful, Dirty, Rich Excerpt!

Their Crooked Mile

            “I got something in the mail.”

            Tom Billings sounded like he was drunk.   His voice, cracking and slurring.

            “Tom,” Russ said, rubbing sleep from his eyes.  “It’s after two in the morning.  Why don’t you go sleep it off and call me tomorrow at a more reasonable hour.”

            “It’s a picture of me and some…some kids, Russ,” his voice trailed off.

            Russ sat up on the side of the bed.

            “Russ?” his wife asked, sleepily.  “What is it?”

            “Just Tom, honey.  He’s a little drunk.  Go back to sleep.”

            She moaned.  “Take the phone downstairs, please,” she said irritably.

            Russ got up and left the room.  “What kids, Tom?”

            Tom sighed irritably.  “You know good and damn well what kids.”

            Russ fought back panic started to grow in his chest.  Something was going on.  “Who sent it?”

            Tom hesitated.  “I don’t know.”

            “Well is there a return address, a P.O. box, something?” Russ said, angrily.

            “I said I don’t know who sent it, Russ!  It’s just—”

            Russ took a deep breath to calm himself and hopefully it was deep enough to calm Tom’s fears too.  “It’s just a picture?  A picture of you and some kids,” he said, trying to rationalize the situation.  “So what?”

            “I knew it would come to this,” Tom said, woefully.  “I knew it.”

            “What the hell are you talking about?” Russ asked frustrated.  He filled a small shot glass with scotch, and drank it quickly.

            Tom was so quiet on the other end of the phone that Russ thought he had hung up, or passed out.  “You mess around with the devil long enough, Russ, and sooner or later, he’ll get you.”

            Russ grimaced.  “You’re fuckin drunk off your ass!” he growled.  “Go to sleep, Tom.”

            “Ida Green cursed us, Russ,” Tom chuckled menacingly.  “She cursed us the day we put her daughter away in prison.”

            Now, the man was just talking nonsense.  “Ida Green’s dead and buried in the ground.  She ain’t in the business of cursing anybody these days.”

            “We got greedy, Russ,” Tom continued, unaffected by anything coming out of Russ’s mouth.  “I knew it in my gut that someday—someday it would come back to bite us in the ass.”

            Russ hadn’t given energy to a single thought about Ida or about what had happened back then.  Shit, too much time had passed to care.  Desi Green was out, and ended up being a very rich woman. 

            “We saved that girl’s life,” Russ explained.

            “We took it.  And we kept on taking lives, Russ.  For too long.  Too many.”

            Rage flushed over Russ like a heat wave.  “Don’t you put that shit on me, Tom!  Don’t you even think of trying to put what you did on me!”

            “You reaped the benefits of what I did, Russ,” he said, quietly. 

            “Fuck you!  What I do ain’t illegal!  It ain’t a crime if two people are consenting adults!”

            Tom chuckled.  “And that’s the rub, ain’t it?  They tell you what you want to hear, and it makes it fine as wine in your mind?  Is that how it works, Russ?”

            Russ rubbed sleep from his eyes.  Tom was a fuckin' alcoholic, and tonight he was drunk and talking out of the side of his head about nonsense.  “What’s in the picture, Tom?  So, it’s you and some kids.  What?  Are you beating the kids?  Eating them?  Stuffing them into burlaps sacks and tossing them in the river?  What?”

            Again, Tom was quiet, and the empty sound on the phone was deafening.  “I’m just…taking the kids.  I’m taking them—from across the border.”  An anguished sob crossed the phone lines.  “I think she sent it,” Tom finally admitted out loud, a thought that had probably been driving him crazy ever since he found out that Desi Green was writing that book.

            “How?  Tom, how could she know?” Russ asked with desperation.  In his mind, she couldn’t know a thing about either of them.  Desi was nothing.  She was just—a woman who’s suffered under some unfortunate circumstances in her life, but that was such a long time ago.  Russ and Tom were probably nothing more than distant memories to that woman. 

            “You remember,” Tom started to say, drifting off onto another conversation. “You remember how Ida cried that day?  You remember how she cried and cried…”

            Russ squeezed his eyes shut trying to block out a memory he thought was long gone.

            “She begged us, Russ… Begged us to…”

            “You  know she didn’t do this!”  Ida’s eyes were bloodshot red.  She was on her knees for crying out loud.  On her knees tugging at Tom, and then crawled across the floor to Russ.

            Tom had called Russ when he’d gotten the call from the Gatewood lawyers.  “I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what—”

            “Oh, God!” Ida sobbed.  “Tom—Tom, please!  Judge Fleming!  She’s just a baby!  She’s my baby!”

            It was hard to watch.  Deep down, conscience convicted both men, but not enough. 

            “Sign your statement, Ida,” Tom told her, after looking at Russ.  “You have to sign it.”

            “No!” Ida shook her head so hard and fast that she nearly fell over.  “No!  I won’t!  I ain’t signing nothing!  Cause you know it’s a lie!” she struggled to her feet, and took a defiant stance in front of both men.  Ida pointed.  “You know it’s a lie!  And you know it!  And I ain’t signing a motha fuckin thing!”

            Finally, Russ stepped forward.  “You sign it, Ida, or I swear to God I’ll put the death penalty on the table when it comes time to convict that girl!” he stood nose to nose with her.  “And you  know just like I know that the jury will find her guilty!”

            Tom pulled out the chair for her.  Ida deflated right before their eyes, and she signed the document.

            It hadn’t affected him back then.  Russ stood in the middle of his kitchen feeling like he’d been bathed in mud.  Ida had inherited some of Julian Gatewood’s money, but not enough to keep her daughter out of prison. 

            “Take me instead,” she said, solemnly, sitting down at that table over the statement she was supposed to sign.  “She’s too young.  Take me,” her voice trailed off.

            Tom shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.  “I’ve got witnesses who saw her with the gun in her hand, Ida.”

            She looked up at him with hooded, red eyes.  Tom turned away.  Ida signed her official statement.

            “Men like us, take liberties with people’s lives, Russ,” Tom spoke unemotionally into the phone.  “We’re not gods, but we pretend to be.  We have no right to do the things we do.”

            “You need to get some sleep, Tom.  It’s late.”

            Tom sighed.  “It is late. Too damn late, and we’re about to be held accountable for all our trespasses, Russ.  You get ready.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

An interviewer once asked me to describe my "style" when it came to writing.  And I'm often asked about the "messages" I try to convey to readers.  This  might sound strange, but I think it's my job to make you, the reader, uncomfortable.  Whether it's the issue of domestic violence, rape, child molestation, drug addiction, I've been driven as a writer to depict those images, as uncomfortable as they are to write, in ways that forces the reader to pay attention, not because I get off on the shock factor, or the drama, but because these things are a part of life, real life.

So,iIt's one thing to write these types of books, but it's another to create situations in which readers also have to look at a scene from a different perspective, one that they might never have considered before.  In my first novel, "And On The Eighth Day She Rested", not only were readers privy to Ruth's plight as an abused woman, but they also got to see inside her abuser's head, as well.  You probably didn't empathize with Eric, but you were at least given insight into what drove him to do the things he did. 

In "Don't Want No Sugar" readers were introduced to the irrational thought processes of the crazy mid-wife, Roberta, and were given insight to the situations in that woman's life that helped form the foundation of the woman she ultimately became. 

In "That Devil's No Friend of Mine", I gave you a chance to experience the temptation and heartache of a recovering heroine addict in Rayne, and even shared her experience with you of what it was like for her to "fall off the wagon" and lose herself again in those old habits.

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, my next book, follows suit to my pervious books, in that the story isn't always pretty, and you will be faced with attitudes and personalities that make you uncomfortable.  A teenage girl is convicted of murder and is forced to survive twenty-five years in a federal prison.   How does she manage to do it?  A former law enforcement officer is finally exposed for heinous crimes committed against humanity.   A court official has been hiding a terrible secret, until the truth finally catches up with him.  And a woman who is a prisoner of her memories, is tortured by one memory that she refuses to believe to be true.

 The only messages I ever try to convey in any of my books is to ask that you open your mind and your hearts, and really consider an idea or opinion or a choice, or even a lifestyle aside from your own.  So, in answer to the question "What is my writing style?", I'd have to say, confrontational and not necessarily pretty, but always, real.

Finally, on a happier note:  I really am an optimistic, well adjusted, and positive individual.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Blogs

I suck at blogging.  I've found that I am not so saavy when it comes to taking my random thoughts, writing them down and turning them into a fantastic gateway for witty dialogue.  My ideas and thoughts are usually fleeting and mildly, temporarily penetrating before I have moved on to the next one.

I would love to be different and to be able to capitalize on all the intriguing ideas that pop into my head, but, alas, I can never stay focused long enough.   Thankfully, I am blessed to have come across others who don't suffer from my handicap.  The internet is filled with other bloggers who possess the skills and talent for blogging in ways that I never will, and I've decided to share some of those innovative thinkers with you:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bang! Bang!

"...beautiful and dirty rich rich, we got a red light on the 12th, the dance fight, systematic, honey but we got no money..." - Lady Gaga

Like...what does that mean?  Only Gaga knows.  I like Gaga, and I think I like the song, but I loved the title enough to use it for my next book title. 

Actually the title was my editor, Monique Patterson's idea and the conversation went something like this:

Monique:  Hey, JD!  Yes, you've missed another deadline and no, before you ask, you can't have any more money yet, so stop asking.  But how are you?

Me:  Hey Monique.  Yeah, I know the book's late again, but it's comingits coming, I promise.  I just need another week.  And, I got bills to pay, so don't be so negative, and send a sistah a check.

Monique:  Oh, okay.  I'll see what I can do.  By the way.  I was looking for some new music on iTunes and I came across this song title that I thought would be great for a book.  I immediately thought of you when I saw it.

Me:  (a bit flattered)  Well, let me hear it.

Monique:  It's called Beautiful, Dirty, Rich by Lady Gaga.  Do you think you can do something with that?

Me: (feeling so honored that I was moved to tears)  Why yes, MP!  I love the title and I'd love to use it for my next book.

Monique:  Groovy, JD!  That's just groovy! 

I've used quite a few titles or lyrics from songs for several of my books; Don't Want No Sugar title is comprised of song lyrics from Bessie Smith's Boweavil Blues.  This Fire Down In My Soul comes from lyrics in a song called, Don't Leave Me This Way by Thelma Houston.   And Somebody Pick Up My Pieces was a song originally performed by Willie Nelson, and was eventually re-released by Bettye Levette.  Admittedly, I tend to resort to music for titles when I can't come up with something catchy on my own.  And I have no problem returning the favor. 

PSA For the Week:

Attention Musicians (songwriters and performers):  If you are ever at a loss for a song title, or lyrics, feel free to borrow any of my titles for your inspiration, as I have borrowed from you.  I am happy to share.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Extra! Extra!

Scandalous secrets, murder, revenge and dangerous liaisons come together in a delicious new tale about one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Texas when the one woman who can expose all their dirty secrets returns home, aiming to collect what they owe her.

Desdimona Green has been the name on everyone’s lips in Blink, Texas. Twenty-five years ago, at the age of eighteen, she shot and killed one of the wealthiest men and pillars of the community, oil baron Julian Gatewood. The Gatewood family was considered untouchable, so the whole state of Texas was rocked to its core over Julian’s murder. They were even more shocked to discover that Desi is Julian’s daughter and her mother had been his lover for years. But when Desi gets out of jail and promptly inherits millions from Julian’s estate, everyone knows that there is much more to the story—and Desi Green is the keeper of the Gatewood secrets, including what happened the night J ulian died. When a famous true crime reporter shows up on her doorstep wanting the full story, Desi agrees to reveal all, much to the horror of the Gatewoods, who will do anything to stop her. But Desi has more than a few tricks up her sleeve...