Writers’ Lift Etiquette?, Book Review – Once a Man Indulges, Short Story – Open Door Opportunity

Writers’ Lift Etiquette?

Over the past few weeks, when I engage with a “writers’ lift,” I follow the writers who acknowledge the lift sponsor rather than immediately launching into their sales pitch.  I’ve observed that most people engaging in the lifts do not even say hello to the host.  It’s not a requirement, and I suspect most hosts don’t care.  Seeing as it’s a common occurrence, it apparently is not considered as discourteous by the #writingcommunity.

Sometimes, a host tries to flavor the lift with their own twist.  In one I recently saw, the sponsor asked that responders turn things around and give the reasons why readers should not buy their books.  Of course, many of the usual suspects did not follow that direction – they just posted their regular pre-fab marketing blurbs.  Kudos to that sponsor and the people who truly engaged with her – the responses were highly imaginative and immensely entertaining.  I followed several of those and added a few books to my reading list. The people who didn’t engage as requested missed out on a great community activity. 

Another thing I’ve noticed that gives me a little satisfied smile:  The people I’ve followed because of their courtesy in writers’ lifts consistently display that courtesy. Each time I see that they again say hello or thank the sponsor for the lift, It’s like a confirmation of  community for me.  Thank you, #writingcommunity!

In other news:

  • After seeing more than one writer refer to themselves as a “psychopomp,” I took the clue that it may be an actual word.  Derived from ancient Greek, it traditionally has referred to a guide who helps the dead find their way to the afterlife.  Less traditionally, it describes the role of someone who guides others through transitional phases.  I’m not exactly sure how the people in the #writingcommunity are defining it.  I look forward to learning more.
  •  I’ve decided that trying to do this blog on a weekly basis is too much.  I’m getting little other writing done.   Consequently, I’m moving to bi-weekly, or perhaps monthly.  I’ll shoot for bi-weekly first.

Book Review – Once a Man Indulges by Tony Kelsey

Are you a fan of a hard-boiled detective story set when men wore suits and women wore hose, every head had a hat, and every hand held a cigarette?  Ready to take a tour around 1940s Denver and the surrounding areas?  Do you love a story where the good guy gets away with doing a bad thing for a good reason?  Wow, do I have the perfect book for you:  Once a Man Indulges by Tony Kelsey!

Harry Thorpe’s role as a Marines Corps fighter pilot in WWII ended with him being shot down over New Guinea.  He bounced around a bit before getting his private detective license in Denver.  It’s the end of the 1940s, and Harry’s making ends meet spying on cheating spouses, when Christian Marquand, a WWII war hero Harry had the dubious luck to train with during the war, comes into his office and lays down a $1000 bill as a retainer.  That’s almost $13,000 in today’s currency.  Marquand is receiving threatening letters, and he wants Harry to find out who’s sending them and put a stop to it.

Before Harry has a chance to look into anything, a member of Marquand’s family is reportedly kidnapped, and Marquand expresses little confidence in the cops’ ability to safely locate and return his family member.  So, he sends Harry to enlist the aid of local mobsters.  Harry becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the way everything is progressing, especially when the bodies (including that of his goldfish, Oscar) begin to pile up.  He distracts himself with alcohol and Marquand’s sister-in-law Loren, but things become even more complicated as Loren’s checkered past unfolds and hints she could be involved in the threats and the kidnapping.

Harry’s good at his chosen career.  He sees what doesn’t fit together, and he does the legwork to find the truth.  As a result, he becomes the target of a murder attempt, which although unsuccessful still has tragic consequences.  Harry, no longer uncertain whether he should ”just let it go,” goes in search of those responsible.

This story is brilliantly written.  The characters, in particular main character Harry Thorpe, the cop Greenberg, and Johnny Two-nose of the Capra crime family come to life off the page. The story’s text flows smoothly, and the incorporation of history and well-known Denver-metro locales gives a foundation that lends authenticity to the tale.  This would be a five-star read for me except for the editing issues.  They don’t detract greatly from the story, but do require rereading some sentences.  As indicated by the four stars, I highly recommend this book, and look forward to other Harry Thorpe detective stories!

Short Story — Open Door Opportunity

Sara was out in her yard weeding the landscaping in front of her house, when the faded, pale green, sixties sedan pulled into her long driveway.  She pulled off her work gloves and tried to smooth her wavy red hair, which was threatening to go full on Bozo the Clown in the humidity.  The driver went all the way down to the open garage door at the side of the house, and Sara walked down to greet whoever it was.

A man who looked old enough to have purchased the sedan brand new got slowly out of the car.   He was a study in a grey continuum, from his scraggly almost, but not quite, white hair plastered to his head, to his light grey button down, to his darker grey work pants, and ending in the well-worn dull black work boots, which Sara guessed were steel–toed.  She figured with the boots, the long-sleeved shirt, and what she assumed was a lack of air conditioning in the vintage car, that the state of the man’s hair was due to sweat.  Her assumptions were proven correct when the man removed his thick and heavy rimmed eyeglasses, revealing very pale blue eyes, to wipe his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt. 

“Hello,” she greeted him.  “It’s a warm one today!”

In response, the man bellowed, “I drove by here twice, and your garage door was open both times!”

Sara was trying to guess why that fact had him so agitated, but she didn’t get a chance to ask. 

“You’re just asking to get robbed.  They’ll clean you out lickety split!”

It was daylight, and she was in her yard where she could see everyone driving by and also see everyone, like the old man, who chose to come down her driveway. 

“You don’t know this neighborhood!” Then gesturing vaguely toward the back of Sara’s property, he said, “There’s a trailer park right behind that grove of trees back there.  You know what kind of people live in trailer parks.”

Sara thought, but didn’t get an opportunity to say,  “Two of my family’s best friends, and at least three relatives I can think of.”

“Thievin’ people, that’s who.  It’s a den of thieves!   They’ll come traipsin’ through those woods and the meadow in the middle of the night, jump your fence, come in through your garage, and next thing you know your TV’s gone!”

Sara managed to get out in a purposely light tone, “But, it’s not the middle of the night, and my TV is too big for them to cart it back through the fields to the woods in broad daylight without being seen.“

He waved his hand like she was spouting nonsense and said, “Even better for them, they can pull up to your open garage and just load everything up!”

Sara replied, less lightly,  “You mean, pull up to my open garage like you just did?”

“Exactly.  You’re just invitin’ someone to take your stuff.”

Sara gave him a tight smile and said, just shy of sarcastic, “Uhm, did you not see me out working in the yard when you drove by two times and pulled down the driveway?”

“Exactly,” he replied.  “All those thievin’ people from the trailer park will see is that your garage is open, and you have a lot of stuff.”

Sara replied pointedly, “And, did you not see how I immediately came over when you pulled up to my garage?”

Still yelling, he replied, “Yeah, but you might not see ‘em!  They’re tricky!”

Sara screwed up her face and bellowed back, “Tricky like they’re invisible, or what?  I’m. Right. Here.”

He wagged his finger at her and said irritably, “Sure, go ahead and make fun of me, disrespect me.  All you young people do nothin’ but disrespect us older people like we don’t know nothin’, when you’re the ones that don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground.   But, mark my words, missy:  you keep leavin’ that garage door open, and you’re gonna be sayin’, ‘I wish I listened to ol’ Abel’!”

Old man or not, trying to be helpful or not, Sara took offense at being told she didn’t know her ass from a hole in the ground in regard to knowing when to close a door.  She said coldly, “First of all, I’m not that young — I’ve been taking care of myself for more than 30 years.  And, second of all, I’m not gonna open and close the garage door over and over in broad daylight when I’m working in the yard!”

Before Abel could launch into a new tirade, Sara’s neighbor, Jeff, came walking across the lawn between their houses.

“Hey, Sara,” he said.  “I see you’ve met Abel.”  Then pointing to the grove of trees behind Sara’s house, he said, “Abel’s our neighbor from over in the Shady Grove trailer park.  How’re ya doing, Abel?”

Abel looked at Sara.  She raised her left eyebrow in reply.  He grumbled, “I gotta be going,” and immediately got back in his car.  Sara and Jeff watched him maneuver it  out of the driveway. 

Sara said quietly, “He just told me the trailer park was full of ‘thievin’ people.’”

“Yeah, well, he should know,” Jeff replied.