Sneak Peek Sunday–“Rain Delay Murder”

Here’s the next installment of my WIP romantic comedy mystery: Hope you like it!
I lifted my arms, and stretched in the chair. I’d just hang out for a couple of hours. When it was time, I’d call my friend, cab driver extraordinaire, Red Wolves fan, and all around nice guy, Jay Galloway. He didn’t start working until 5 a.m.
I looked out the window again, taking in the view of the city that was still sleeping. Pretty soon, it would wake up. Traffic would wind its way downtown or across the bridge to Northern Kentucky. Weather forecasters had predicted another hot, humid day. As I sat there in the den, in cool air-conditioned comfort, I worried about people who couldn’t even afford a fan. I thought about my grandmother, and how she’d once paid some of her bills with food. What had happened to those simple times?
When 5 a.m. came, I called Jay.
“Go Red Wolves!” Jay said, making me laugh. Once I’d asked him to pick me up at the usual spot, I headed toward the Den’s kitchen to secure everything. Nothing looked strange or peculiar until I noticed that my favorite paring knife was AWOL. “Now where did that go?” Maybe someone had used it by mistake. I trusted Meredith, and the culinary school students who worked with us.
“Tony, Tony look around. Something’s lost and can’t be found,” I chanted, calling on Saint Anthony, the finder of lost items. One of the culinary school students had taught me the prayer, but as far as I could tell, it hadn’t worked.
“I give up.” Then I tripped, something unusual for me. Meredith was the klutz in this operation. Whatever I’d fallen over was huge. Saint Anthony had found something all right. When I looked at the counters, I noticed a trail of red that led to the floor. Blood—lots of it. Then I saw a Cincinnati Red Wolves player. I stared at the black of his red and gray jersey, reading the name and number. Blake Valentine had been stabbed in the back with my paring knife.


Sneak peek Sunday

Here is the sneak peek of my new WIP, Actually, it’s a new/old WIP. I started writing this a few years ago and lost the files when my computer crashed. I was about to give up, but author Holly Jacobs suggested I try again, and I started getting ideas so thanks, Holly.

Would love some feedback on this so the first person to make a meaningful comment gets a $5 Amazon gift card–thanks in advance for your help!

I couldn’t help it. I leaned back in one of the comfortable chairs in the Red Wolves Den Winner’s Club banquet hall. My shoulders ached, my knees ached, and I tried to figure out how my grandmother had run her own catering business after my grandfather’s death. She’d had really bad arthritis. The Cincinnati Red Wolves baseball game had gone into extra innings. By the time my catering team and I had finished up, it was close to 3 a.m.
I’d sent my best friend and partner, Meredith Fine, home an hour ago. I relaxed, gazing out at the lovely view of the Ohio River. Moonlight flickered on the water. I’d worked so hard to set up this business with Meredith, whose own catering business had suffered because of the economy. We’d joined forces and come up with a combination of our names for the business, and Franci’s Fine Catering was born.
My mom always referred to what I did as my “little catering business,” but it was so much more than that. I’d worked as a secretary in the Red Wolves’ front office, and one day management had hired a catering service for a huge business meeting. The caterer had cancelled at the last minute, and the Red Wolves’ owner had asked me to do my best to find a replacement.
I smiled to myself, thinking of my confident reply. “I won’t have far to look. I can do it.”
The owner had been doubtful, but he’d given me a chance, and I’d never forget him for that. I called Meredith, who was great at baking, and several students the culinary school at Barklage College. Voila! Promotion! I’d become the official caterer of the Cincinnati Red Wolves.

Books that bring back memories

This week, I read two books that were so good, and brought back a lot of memories for me. The first was an e-book, and the other was an audio book that I listened to.

Book #1 — A Candle for Nick by Lorna Michaels

I discovered Lorna Michaels when I read her book, “Season of Light,” which featured Jewish characters and was set in my hometown of Cincinnati. I loved this book–and reading about my town–everything from Cincinnati chili to her parents living in Amberley Village (my parents didn’t, but more about that later). When I saw that “A Candle for Nick” was available for Kindle (I read my e-books on the Kindle for PC app), I ordered it immediately. (My review is on Amazon and Goodreads).

I was immediately drawn into the story of the rabbi’s daughter whose son is diagnosed with leukemia. He loves baseball, especially the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. This made me think of a radio personality in Cincinnati whose son also had leukemia at age three, except his son is a huge Cincinnati Reds fan. In Michaels’s book, Mallory’s son has to go to Houston for treatment and Kent and Mallory take him to an Astros game when he is able to go. Kent arranges for him to meet one of his favorite players, and I remember the talk show host telling the stories about his son meeting his favorite Cincinnati Red (Michaels makes up the names of players like I did in my books, “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny,” “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless,” and “Three Strikes–You’re in Love” (short story series). I went a step further and called the Reds the Cincinnati Red Wolves.

Another thing Michaels does very well is descriptions of the Jewish holidays–Rosh Hashanah, (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur, (Day of Atonement), and Chanukah. She describes Mallory’s memories of cooking with her mother on the holidays, of being in her parents’ home, and of going to temple with them. Even Mallory’s son’s protests of “I don’t want to go to stupid temple” rang true for me because of all the bad things that happened to my parents at the end of last year and most of this year. Now that my parents had to give up their home due to health problems, in move into a nursing home, these passages of the book had even more meaning for me.

I remember going to synagogue with my parents. My dad wasn’t a rabbi, but he was fluent in Hebrew and we went to Rosh Hashanah services one day. He was called to the Torah to do a reading, and as soon as he stepped onto the bimah, the lights went out. As a six-year-old kid, this was exciting–how my dad had made the lights go out.

Like Mallory, I also remember cooking with my mom on the holidays, not only at her home, but at mine after I got married, and after my husband passed away (more about that when I get to the next book).

Book # 2 – A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr

This is the audio book, and I loved the narrator. She made these characters come alive for me –Ian, who came back from the war in Iraq with emotional scars, and cut himself off from the people who live in the town of VIrgin River and became a “mountain man.” Marcie, whose husband passed away from injuries he got in the war in Iraq (but could have died if Ian hadn’t saved him). As I listened to the book, I thought of my husband, who did not fight in the military, but who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in June 2001, and passed away in August 2001 at the age of 46. I remembered how he was king of the grill, and how we’d always have big parties for birthday, anniversaries, and the holidays. He was like the Emeril Lagasse of the grill (there is a scene in “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless,” where Scotty the hero (loosely based on my husband) is king of the grill, and makes it an art form.

The secondary characters of Virgin River made me think of my friends–Karla, Greg, Denise and Bill, Gretchen and Tom, Matt and Terri, Dan, Kathleen, Karen…each special in their own way (there are so many more, but this is already long).

Thanks to these authors for bringing back such wonderful memories.