Sunday, January 30, 2022

Meet Award-Winning Author Ken Farmer, Who Proved It's Never Too Late, and Read About Murder Mystery THREE CREEKS, One Of My Favorite Books Ever

I met Ken when I joined his Facebook group Writers Roundup. Read about Ken's amazing life and THREE CREEKS, Book One of this award-winning series. 

He was my blog guest last year, and since then, I read THREE CREEKS. I cannot praise it enough. I shared my 5-star Amazon review at the end of this post. Meanwhile, meet Ken and read about his amazing life and books: 


About Ken

Ken didn't write his first full novel until he was sixty-nine years of age. He often wonders what the hell took him so long. At age seventy-nine…he's currently working on novel number forty.

He has written in several genres...Military Action, Police Procedural, SyFy, Western, and now, Southern Noir Mystery.              

Ken spent thirty years raising cattle and quarter horses in Texas and forty-five years as a professional actor (after a stint in the Marine Corps). Those years gave him a background for storytelling…or as he has been known to say, "I've always been a bit of a bull---t artist, so writing novels kind of came naturally once it occurred to me I could put my stories down on paper."

His writing style has been likened to a combination of Louis L'Amour and Terry C. Johnston with an occasional Hitchcockian twist…now that's a combination. Ken just likes to say, "I'm a storyteller." 

"I don't write about outlaws and peace officers...I write about people."

At age seventy-nine, he released novel #37 on Sept. 19th...THREE CREEKS. it just may be his opus. He has released #38, book #2 in the THREE CREEKS series...RED HILL ROAD, followed by #39, book #3 in the series...THE POND, Feb. 19, 2021. The THREE CREEKS series is late 1940s Southern Noir Mysteries in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham. The first in the series, THREE CREEKS just won the Firebird Award for Best Mystery of 2020.

Novel #36 was SKINWALKER JUSTICE, a Western Supernatural thriller, book #5 in the Silke Justice series.  STEELDUST, started the BONE & LORAINE spin-off with modern day detectives, Bone and Loraine being accidentally transported back in time to 1898. Current WIPS are #39, DALIA MARRH, book # 6 in the Silke Justice series and FRIENDS, book #4 in the THREE CREEKS MYSTERY SERIES.

Writing has become Ken's second life: he has been a Marine, played collegiate football, been a Texas wildcatter, cattle and horse rancher, professional film and TV actor and now...a novelist. Who knew?

In addition to his love for writing fiction, he taught acting for 17 years, still teaches voice-over and creative writing workshops. His favorite expression is: "Just tell the damn story."



About THREE CREEKS

WINNER - BEST MYSTERY - 2021 - FIREBIRD AWARDS   

Three Creeks is a heart wrenching, gripping, sometimes poignant, all be it occasionally humorous, Southern Noir Mystery seen through the eyes of an eight year old Texas boy, Foot Lee, in southern Arkansas 1949.

Foot's grandfather is called out of retirement from the Sheriff's Department to cover for Sheriff Wilson, wounded during a moonshine still bust, to track down a chain killer who has murdered three teenage girls with a fourth girl missing.

Who is the killer?

What do Foot and his best friend, a colored boy the same age named Hutch, have to do with it?

Is the fourth girl found alive?

Follow the twists and turns to find out in THREE CREEKS.

THREE CREEKS just named First Place Winner - Mystery Category - Firebird Awards.  I have had the story of Three Creek fighting to get out of my head and on paper for the last five or six years...It finally won. I wrote it in 21 days. I've never written a story quite like this before and I'm amazed at how fast it came pouring out...in a torrent. Some of my beta readers told me after reading it that Three Creeks had the flavor of To Kill a Mocking Bird, Catcher in the Rye, and Where the Crawdads Sing and they thought it just as good. That's a bit heady, but I do think most will like it, especially if they like a good Southern Noir Mystery. 

You could almost call it a memoir - minus the murders.

An Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

“No, Daddy, no! I’m scared…” Was all I got out before the waterwings my grandma had made me

out of two one gallon lard buckets and a flour sack went sailing into the bushes one way an’ all I could

see in the other direction was sky, trees, water, sky, trees, water…

I splashed face first to the surface of the murky creek all the way out in the middle of the swimmin’

hole. I came to the surface, spittin’ an’ sputterin’…tryin’ to hold my head above water.

“Put your head down, boy!…Swim to me. Come on…Put your head down…Reach for the bank.”

I looked up with water blurin’ my vision at my daddy standin’ up on the clay bank of the local

swimmin’ hole at Three Creeks, waving me toward him. He was a hard-as-nails, muscular,

square-jawed, broad-shouldered man without a ounce of fat on him.

I was to be eight years old in three days, June 18, 1949…if I survived. My daddy was a driller for

Shell Oil and we currently lived just outside of a boomtown named Gainesville, Texas, in some

former Army barracks. The base where all the drillin’ crews lived had been named Camp Howes

durin’ the war.

The war they called World War II…guess there’d been another one before…had been over

almost four years and we had already lived in seven boomtowns in three states, searchin’ for oil during

the war an’ were still at it. I was born six months before Pearl Harbor.

My Amazon Review:

Better Than Watching A Movie 

Three Creeks, set in 1940’s Arkansas, had me hooked from the first paragraph. In Book One of this series, told in part by 8-year-old “Foot” Lee, three young girls are found drowned, strangled, and discovered to be pregnant. A fourth girl survived a similar horrific ordeal and escaped, but her state of shock prevents her from talking. I cannot remember the last time I’ve experienced dialogue so realistic, so authentic, so true-to-life, and the day-to-day details of the townsfolks’ lives made this story come to such vivid life, I could see every scene and hear every word as if I was watching a movie rather than reading a book. The writing and dialogue are nothing short of brilliant.

I couldn’t even guess who the murderer was, and as in every great mystery, I was dumbfounded when it was revealed.

This is the first of Ken’s books I’ve read, and am going back to purchase the rest of the series. It’s obvious why he’s won so many awards. His storytelling is beyond masterful; he’s up there with the greats. Bravo Ken!

Connect with Ken on Facebook

Book Trailer

Ken's VO Demo


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Meet My Fellow Wild Rose Press Author Terry Korth Fischer and Read About Her New Mystery Novel GONE BEFORE

I've been a happy Wild Rose Press author for 12 years and always enjoy hosting other Wild Rose authors here. Today I'm hosting Terry, featuring her new murder mystery, released last week.

About Terry


Terry Korth Fischer writes short stories, memoirs, and mysteries. Her memoir, Omaha to Ogallala, was published in 2019. Followed in 2021, by her debut mystery, Gone Astray, introducing Detective Rory Naysmith, a seasoned city cop relocated to small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two guard cats. When not writing, she loves reading, frolicking with the kittens, and basking in sunshine. Yet, her heart often wanders to the country's heartland, where she spent a memorable—ordinary but charmed—childhood. 

About GONE BEFORE



A murderer who doesn’t leave a clue. Small-town detective, Rory Naysmith, thought he’d seen it all, but a young woman’s brutal murder is especially hard to stomach. Doubly so, when he recognizes the murder’s MO is identical to that of Tobias Snearl, the killer he put behind bars a decade before. His frustration grows after a series of senseless accidents plague those dearest to him, and a second woman dies. Searching for answers, Rory races against time, plunging deep into the murder investigations, drawing ever closer to becoming a casualty of the dark, angry deeds himself, until he finds no one is who they pretend to be—and none are beyond evil’s reach. 

Excerpt

The detective studied the cloudless sky and tried not to think about his foot. It didn’t work. “Just use the crowbar to break one of these frickin’ stones loose.”

The jack handle didn’t do the trick. Opening the trenching tool and using the pick end, Thacker swung it against the largest stone. It bounced off the surface. Rory suppressed a scream as pain shot from his knee down his encased leg.

“Easy!”

“Sorry, boss.”

“Try removing one of the outer stones. Loosen them, and maybe we’ll be able to budge these. I’ll hold the light, and you make room for these damn jaws to unclasp. Try finding the cornerstone.” A fine layer of perspiration covered Rory’s face. He felt defeated and a little nauseous. He leaned back on his elbows and looked at the sky. “Thacker,” he said, “this is damn unlucky.”

The rookie moved down the mound to the edge of the pile. Using the crowbar and a lot of muscle, he attacked. Finally, he was able to roll one stone out of position. Then another. He was still three feet from Rory’s crevice, working his way toward the more enormous boulders and Rory’s ultimate freedom, when the rock he was prying loose rolled out of place. He hesitated. “There is something funny here, boss.”

“I could use a good laugh.”

“Not ha-ha funny, peculiar funny.”

“Tell me anyway.”

“There’s someone else in this rock pile.”

 Purchase GONE BEFORE on Amazon

 Purchase on Barnes & Noble

Connect with Terry

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Meet My Guest Ian Churchward and Read About His Book, His Medieval Band "The Legendary Ten Seconds" and How They Were Created

I met Ian through the Richard III Society, of which I've been a member for 30 years. Ian is a gifted musician and songwriter who writes lyrics and music in the medieval style but with a folksy touch and even hints of rock. All the songs tell stories about the life of Richard III, as ballads, some lively, some slower. His book, Songs About Richard III - A Richard III Music Project (click on the title to see it on Amazon) ties in with all his songs, explains how he became a loyal Ricardian, and how he formed the band. 

About the Book, in Ian's Words

This is a revised edition of the original book which is about the songs I have written for my Richard III music project. It includes the lyrics for the songs which have been released on the albums which have been recorded as The Legendary Ten Seconds. The songs that I have written and recorded tell the story of the life and times of this King and the book has been written to try to satisfy the demand from people who want to know more about my music.

The introduction for the book has been written by the author Kathy Martin and her books include The Woodville Connection and The Beaulieu Vanishing. My book has been edited with the help of the author Sandra Heath Wilson who has had many novels published since the 1970's. Sandra wrote and read the narratives which accompany the songs for the second album about Richard III by The Legendary Ten Seconds and these narratives are included in my book.

The original version of Songs About Richard III was published in 2016 and this revised edition includes details of the songs which have been recorded up until the end of 2020. It includes information about the Mer de Mort album which was recorded to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Mortimer History Society. It also includes details about the Torbay Pageant concept albums which was the main focus of The Legendary Ten Seconds throughout 2020.



About Ian

Ian's main hobby is music and he has played guitar in several bands in South Devon. He started recording as the Legendary Ten Seconds when he was the lead guitar player of The Morrisons who were featured on John Peel's radio one show back in 1987. Ian lives with his wife in Torquay, Devon, England and is a keen supporter of his local football club.

How The Band Was Born

The Legendary Ten Seconds started off as the solo music project of Ian Churchward in 2004 during the time when he was the lead guitar player of The Morrisons who were featured on John Peel's Radio One show back in 1987. When Ian started recording as the Legendary Ten Seconds he was also playing guitar for a ceilidh band called Phoenix. In 2013 Lord Zarquon joined Ian's music project and since then the line up has gradually expanded and various guest musicians and vocalists have helped out in the recording studio. These have included the backing vocals of Camilla Joyce and the lead guitar of Rob Bright. The most recent musicians to join the project are Phil Swann and Martyn Hillstead. The sounds of the Mellotron feature quite significantly in the recordings.

Most notably The Legendary Ten Seconds have recorded many critically acclaimed English folk rock albums which chronicle the Wars of the Roses and the life and times of Richard III in England during the late fifteenth century. The albums are available on Amazon and iTunes and the band have donated money to a scoliosis charity from some of the income generated from the sale of their music. The CD versions of the albums are available via the Richard III Society in the UK. In 2018 the band recorded the Mer de Mort album which was commissioned by the Mortimer History Society to commemorate the Society's tenth anniversary. It is a historically accurate album of songs which tells the story of the significantly important Mortimer medieval family from their roots in Normandy prior to the battle of Hastings and into the 15th century. The album includes historical narratives read by the actor John Challis ( Boycie in Only Fools and Horses ) who was the patron of the Mortimer History Society. The Legendary Ten Seconds have also recorded a comedy song about the Mortimers with John Challis speaking as Boycie.

2019 saw the release of four albums, Devon Roses, History Book Part One. Instrumental Legends and Thrilling Blunder Stories. The Devon Roses album features the lead vocals of the lady singers of the Legendary Ten Seconds, Bridgit England, Pippa West, Jules Jones and Ian's wife Elaine.

In February 2020 the History Book Part Two album was completed and this was followed by The Acoustic Almanac, Amazing Songs and the Pageant of Torbay Part One albums. This last album contains songs which explore the rich and varied history of Torbay. For instance The Billy Ruffian is about when Napoleon Bonaparte was held as a prisoner on board HMS Bellerophon while at anchor in Torbay. Additionally a new version of the first Richard III album was released in digital format via Circle of Spears Productions. The new version of the album features fictional narratives written by Sandra Heath Wilson. The narratives are read by Sandra and Ian's wife Elaine, in the form of an exchange of letters between Richard III's mother and his sister Margaret.

2021 has so far produced three new albums by The Legendary Ten Seconds. These are the Pageant of Torbay Part Two, Semi Acoustic Almanac and a concept album of songs about Devon. This latest album is in the format of a Torquay radio show with jingles recorded by the band and introductions by Riviera FM's Peter Cartwright.

The band have performed several concerts for the Richard III Society including one for the USA branch in Denver.

Click Here for the Band's Website

Purchase CDs on the Band's Website


**********************************************

I must say, the CD covers are fabulous frame-worthy works of art. Below are some of the covers:

Artist: George Harman


Artist: Georgie Harman


Artist: Georgie Harman


Artist: Graham Moores




Contact Ian


My Review of The Legendary Ten Seconds for the Ricardian Register (magazine of the American branch)

As a longtime Ricardian, I enjoy music from his era, but The Legendary Ten Seconds, led by balladeer Ian Churchward, who writes the music and lyrics, writes songs of Richard III's life. They each tell a story about different times and events in Richard's life before and during his reign, and the music will transport you right back to medieval times. The accompanying flute, as well as Ian's singing voice, instantly made me think of one of my favorite bands of all time, Jethro Tull, with flute virtuoso Ian Anderson's lively melodies and smooth voice. It's folksy, yet some of the songs have a faster tempo, as the folk-rock of Tull, and you'll find yourself tapping your foot as you listen to the livelier songs. Richard, who appreciated music and was reportedly a great dancer, would have thoroughly enjoyed these songs.

The CD covers are works of art. The CD Loyaulte Me Lie, (Richard's motto "Loyalty Binds Me"), released the year after his remains were discovered under a Leicester car park in 2012, features an image of Richard based on the facial reconstruction that shows us what Richard looked like.

If you're not a Ricardian (yet) you will learn much about Richard from these stories put to beautiful music.

 I just purchased Loyaulte Me Lie from Amazon and will undoubtedly purchase more from this multi-talented group of musicians, who, incidentally, donate profits to a UK scoliosis charity.

 



Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Tradition of Christmas Past: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe, and My Italian Heroine, Based on my Great Grandmother

My great grandmother was the matriarch of the family, the mother of my grandfather. “Josie Red” as she was known in downtown Jersey City was way ahead of her time, as a bootlegger during Prohibition, a real estate tycoon, a small-time loan shark, and according to legend, Mayor Hague’s mistress!

Every Christmas Eve, her daughter, my great aunt Lucretia, a gourmet cook, invited everyone to her basement for an Italian feast. Grandma’s four children were grown with children and grandchildren of their own. Of course this necessitated a ‘kiddie table’ at which I sat until I was tall enough to sit with the grown-ups. Aunt Lucretia always made two types of spaghetti sauce—regular marinara sauce and aglio e olio—but what I remember is it always contained clam sauce, which I wouldn’t touch, so I went for the plain and safe marinara. Her finished basement had a small kitchen so she was able to do all the cooking right there. Kiddies weren’t allowed to, but several adults helped her carry the steaming plates to the long tables set up and covered with holiday-themed tablecloths. She served all the traditional Italian dishes—after the pasta came the ham, then the fruit and nuts, and of course, an array of desserts, always including her famous struffoli (honey balls) and Italian rum cake. My Uncle Eddie tended bar at the other end of the room. Thankfully, he’s still with us at 84.

After dinner, Santa always showed up. My cousin Mike’s father played the part very convincingly—the kiddies scrambled onto his lap for their chance to gush about how good they behaved all year and how deserving they were of his visit later that night to surround their Christmas trees with presents to be torn open the next morning. Someone always had a home movie camera to capture these special moments on film. I remember the lights always blazing like the noonday sun when the camera started rolling.

After leaving the party, I always went to Midnight Mass with my friends and someone always threw a party after that.

Christmas Eves in the basement ended after Grandma left us, but the memories live on!

Vita Caputo, the heroine of my 1894 New York City romance FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, is based on my great grandmother. It’s now on audio with the expressive voice of New York native Nina Price.



Purchase FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET

Recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio 



Ingredients: 

One pound uncooked spaghetti

6 cloves minced garlic

½ cup olive oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pasta bowl.
  2. Combine garlic and olive oil in a cold skillet. Cook over medium heat to slowly toast garlic, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low when olive oil begins to bubble. Cook and stir until garlic is golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt into the pasta. Pour in olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle on Italian parsley and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; stir until combined.
  4. Serve pasta topped with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Meet Pamela Thibodeaux and Read About Her Holiday Romance Novel KERI'S CHRISTMAS WISH

 About Pamela

Award-winning author Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive her newsletter and get a free short story!

Connect With Pamela

Link Tree

Good Reads

About KERI'S CHRISTMAS WISH

New Cover:



Old Cover:



Thank you SO much for hosting us today, Diana. 

Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same… 

This CW song by Patti Loveless has been my theme lately, especially when it comes to my books. 

In joining Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad School, I’m getting a crash course in what works and doesn’t when it comes blurbs and covers and what readers look for. 

I always thought both should be reflective of the story and while that’s true to some degree, they should also be reflective of the genre and market trends. 

Who knew? 

So, Keri’s Christmas Wish got a makeover. 

Old Blurb: For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year? 

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught? 

New Blurb: Controversy and Inconsistencies are thieves of holiday joy for Keri...is there any hope for a happy holiday season? 

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas—especially with the controversy over the time of Jesus’s birth. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year? 

Jeremy Hinton thinks Keri is a highly intelligent, deeply emotional, and intensely complex woman and he’s as fascinated by her aversion to Christmas as he is of the woman herself. A devout Christian at heart, he’s studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens her life, will all of his faith and training be for naught? 

Fans of near death experiences will enjoy this woman’s mystical journey into spiritual Truth. 

Which do YOU like best? 

Many times, we aren’t happy with change and although a LOT of work, I’m thrilled to be making these, and excited to see how effective they are in helping me to get my stories of faith and trust in God out to the world. After all, (for me) every sale is a soul for Him. 

Thanks for dropping by, friends! 

Keri’s Christmas Wish is also available in audiobook, and I have promo codes for a free copy for anyone who wishes to listen in return for a review. 

Here’s wishing you and yours a BLESSED and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Purchase KERI'S CHRISTMAS WISH


 


Friday, December 3, 2021

My Italian Heroine and Her Honey Balls Holiday Recipe

Can an Italian sweatshop worker and an Irish cop fall in love on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1894? The answer is a big YES, and once they’re enjoying wedded bliss in their Greenwich Village brownstone, they spend their first Christmas together feasting on her strufoli (Italian for honey balls). 

In FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET it's 1894 on New York's Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. They know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. 


getBook.at/NewYorkSagaBookOne

Here’s Vita’s Honey Balls recipe:

 

When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or recipes along with their possessions. A favorite Christmas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!

Ingredients
Dough:
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Directions

For dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).

In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a spoon or damp hands, arrange struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar.

Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.

Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven 8 to 10 minutes. Cool before using.

Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Monday, November 22, 2021

THE END OF CAMELOT--Book 3 of the New York Saga--Who Killed President Kennedy?

                                  THE END OF CAMELOT, a romance mystery

November 22, 1963, a day that changed America forever. Who killed President Kennedy?

          


I was six years old when President Kennedy was assassinated. Everyone who was alive that day knew exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I was in my first grade classroom. The teacher got a call on the classroom phone and told us ‘the president was shot.’ A collective gasp went around the room. My grandmother was a huge JFK assassination buff. She’s the one who got me fascinated with this tragic event, at the time the biggest mystery since 'who killed the princes in the Tower?' (I'm a Ricardian; that's for another post).  She got me embroiled right along with her.

          She listened to all the radio talk shows (those who lived in the New York area might remember Long John Nebel, on WOR, WNBC, and WMCA, all on AM radio (FM was really 'out there' at that time). She bought whatever books came out over the years, along with the Warren Commission Report, which I couldn't lift at the time, it was so heavy. But my interest never waned in the 52 years that followed.

          In 2000, I began the third book of my New York Saga, set in 1963. The heroine is Vikki McGlory Ward, daughter of Billy McGlory, hero of the second book, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, set during Prohibition. This was my opportunity to write a novel showcasing all my current theories, and continue the saga. It took a minimum of research, since I remember all the 60's brands, (Bosco, Yum Berry, Mr. Bubble...), the fashions, the songs, and I even included a scene set on that unforgettable night when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964.

About THE END OF CAMELOT   

The third in the New York Saga, The End of Camelot centers on Billy McGlory’s daughter Vikki, whose husband is murdered trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vikki uses her detective skills to trace the conspiracy, from New York to New Orleans to Dallas, and at the same time, tricks her husband’s murderer into a confession. A romance with her bodyguard makes her life complete.

November 22, 1963: The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki vows to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband. With the help of her father and godfather, she sets out to uncover the truth.

Aldobrandi Po , the bodyguard hired to protect Vikki, falls in love with her almost as soon as he sets eyes on her. But he's engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they ever hope to find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?

An Interview with Vikki McGlory Ward, the heroine of THE END OF CAMELOT

What is your occupation?  Do you enjoy it? 

I’m living my dream as a housewife, but I design costumes for my father’s Broadway musicals. I’m also busy with our two kids—although Al and I decided we want four, so I’m hoping for twins. 

What is your family like? 

A bit crazier than others, mainly because my father was in the rackets in the 1930s and he’s a composer of Broadway show tunes.  I had an unforgettable childhood. My father took me to every Broadway musical that came out. We had famous people to the house all the time for dinner and cocktails, and to me, they were just folks, I didn’t care how famous they were, or if their albums played in the background. Dad gave me piano lessons, although it wasn’t my calling the way it was his—I preferred painting, sewing and designing fashions as a creative outlet. I never knew my mom, she died tragically and suddenly when I was an infant. But my father’s second wife Greta treated me like her own daughter. We went everywhere together, museums, hair salons, shopping, for long strolls through Central Park. But in school nobody cared whose kid I was. It was a strict Catholic school and I was in a uniform like everybody else. My family is Roman Catholic and we still have all the saints’ statues in the hallways and backyards. 

What did your childhood home look like? 

A stately Tudor in Bronxville, then a red brick colonial in Westchester County. My father also brought us to his beach house on the New Jersey shore, which he bought the year I was born. I don’t like to go there, though. It’s where my mother overdosed on pain pills and I don’t want to be reminded of that. She died in the hospital the next day. 

Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing? 

Designing costumes, going for bicycle rides with my husband and kids. I love to sing opera arias, although I’m not trained, and I make sure I’m alone when I do it. Fortunately, Al and I share a lot of interests - opera, painting, fashion—and one that most couples don’t share—guns. We have contests at the shooting range to see who’s the best shot. He also likes to hunt, which I don’t. But I’m good at cooking the venison he brings home. 

  Who was your first love? 

My first husband Jack Ward. I stayed in D.C. after I graduated Georgetown, still thinking I wanted a career in politics. I got a job as a political consultant with a couple of ex-CIA agents. Jack was a reporter for the Washington Post. I always enjoyed his articles—they had a clever undertone of cutting-edge humor. Sometimes he mentioned personal details: his close calls as a stunt pilot, his solo in a sailboat around Cape Horn, the political and show business parties he attended…I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for him to reveal another personal item, like the next installment in a serial. Then he became a television reporter for NBS. I was in my glory, able to see him every night at six and eleven. When So Far So Good came out—that was his memoir—I took the day off from work to read it. I devoured it, tore out the pictures and taped them to my walls. On television, he was as commanding and powerful as any president, and that was it—I had to meet him. So I spent every spare moment in front of NBS Studios waiting for an ‘accidental’ encounter. Finally it happened. First it was eye contact and a little small talk, ‘I’m your biggest fan,’ that kind of stuff. I had to talk fast. One day I just blurted out an invitation to my place for dinner. He was so surprised, he accepted. I had him over the next night, and he fell in love with my lasagne. I was already in love with him.  

 What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?

Losing Jack. He was found dead in the bathtub of his Dallas hotel room the same day President Kennedy was shot. He wasn’t supposed to be in Dallas. He never took baths. I immediately knew he’d been murdered. I found his notes and his tapes, and learned that he was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. From that horrific day on, I vowed to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and my husband. Bringing that bastard to justice became my quest, and once I found him, I knew Jack could rest.

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not? 

To be a wife and mother, and indulge my passion for painting, designing costumes and seeing them on the stage. I must say I am living that dream, despite having lost Jack so tragically. But I know everything happens for a reason. Al told me many times if he hadn’t met me, he doesn’t know if he’d be alive today. 

 Who is your role model? 

My stepmother Greta. She rescued my father when he was still deeply grieving for my mother. She brought him back from the brink and gave him two beautiful kids.

  What is your deepest desire?

To give my kids a normal life, and I hope they never have to face crime or murder or even greed. 

 What is your greatest fear? 

That some underworld figure will come after me. It’s an irrational fear, but when you learn your father was a gangster, and my having met killers such as Jack Ruby and underworld figures on my quest to find Jack’s killer, that fear never leaves you.

An excerpt from THE END OF CAMELOT

November 22, 1963

Larchmont, New York

Vikki entered her foyer and dropped her shopping bags on the floor. As she locked the door and kicked off her alligator pumps, the phone rang. She answered it in the kitchen, so she could raid the pastry box while she chatted.

“Vikki, it’s Linc Benjamin.” His ragged voice came over the line. “I have terrible news. Jack is dead.”

“What?” She couldn’t have heard right. “What did you say?”

“Jack was found in the bathtub of his hotel room this morning—”

She dropped the phone and slid down against the wall. Her glasses fell off her face. The room spun. Sunlight glared. She smelled the new coat of wax on the kitchen floor.

“Vikki? Vikki?” came faintly from the dangling receiver. She crawled over and grasped it. He would tell her it was a mistake, they had the wrong man, or it was another of Jack’s practical jokes.

“My Jack?” she whispered.

“Vikki, I’m so sorry,” he sobbed.

“Linc—no, please. Tell me it wasn’t Jack. Are you sure? There must be a mistake. Not Jack.” Her heart thudded like a hammer. A stabbing pain pierced her chest. She held the receiver away from her ear.

 “Vikki, are you there?” His voice came through the earpiece. “If you want, I’ll be right over. I can tell you everything when I get there, or right now, whatever you want.”

“Now!” she demanded.

“The Dallas police found him drowned in his hotel bathtub—”

“Dallas? What was he doing in Dallas? He’s supposed to be in Chicago doing a story on the FBI!” she screeched, beyond rational thought. No, this had to be a mistake!

“I don’t know, Vikki. The maid found him. The Dallas police tried to call you all morning, but you weren’t home, so they called here, at the network. Do you want me to come over and—”

“Wait!” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Now—where is he now?”

“Parkland Hospital. They’re going to bring the bod—er, bring him back to New York after the autopsy.” His voice broke again. “God, Vikki, I’m so sorry. I feel like I lost my brother.”

She went blank, too stunned to think. Her hands shook so much she could hardly hold the phone.

“Vikki, do you want me to come over—”

“No.” She released the receiver. It swung away and banged against the wall. She curled up on the floor as the ticking clock echoed the thudding of her heart.

She wept in unbearable grief. Shutting her eyes tight, she cradled her head in her arms. A jumble of thoughts rendered her helpless.

“Please, God,” she prayed, “Let it be a mistake and Jack will come walking through the door.”

The doorbell rang. “Jack?” She forced her eyes open.

 “Vikki!”

Her head throbbed with each pound on the door. 

“Vikki! Are you okay? Can you hear me?”

The voice was her father’s, and as much as she wanted him with her, holding her, rocking her, the present was too much to bear. She wanted one last visit to the past with Jack, happy and alive and free from harm.

 But the raw truth seared her soul: The past is gone, and so is your beloved Jack!

Too weak to walk, she crawled to the door, reached up, and unlocked it.

Her father rushed in and knelt beside her. “Vikki, honey?”

She collapsed into his arms, heaving gut-wrenching sobs.

“It’s okay, I’m here,” he crooned, like he was singing the songs he wrote for her.

“Dad, Jack—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it yet. The words were too ugly, too real.

“Yeah, I know. He got shot. When I looked in the sidelight and saw you lying on the floor, I thought you were hurt.”

She gulped. “I answered the phone and it was…” That seemed like a hundred years ago already.

He helped her up, and she forced herself to gulp enough air to stay conscious while he said, “I’ll turn on the TV and see what the news says about the shooting—”

“No, he wasn’t shot! They found him in the tub—”

 “Vikki, here, let me get you on the couch. Come on, babe, that’s it.” He helped her off with her coat. “Now, what are you saying?”

“Dad—Jack…”

“I know.” He nodded. “JFK was shot in the head. The governor of Texas was shot, too.”

“No. My Jack! They found him—” Sobs burst from the depths of her soul.

“Huh? What…your Jack?”

Unable to speak any further, she nodded.

“Something happened to him?” He sat her down on the couch.

She drew in a ragged breath and he grasped her hands.

“Oh, God. Oh, Jesus Christ, Vikki.” He held her and stroked her hair as she sobbed, her tears staining his scarf. “Okay, Dad’s here, I’ll stay with you. I’m sorry, I thought you were talking about President Kennedy. He just got shot.”

“President Kennedy?” She shook her head in disbelief. “No. Jack’s friend from the network called, and—” She couldn’t go on.

“Don’t talk. I’ll get you a brandy or something.” He glanced over at her liquor cabinet.

She didn’t even want him leaving her for a few seconds. He hung her phone up and it started ringing instantly. She heard spurts of conversation. His voice sounded like an echo in a marble tomb. He finally stopped talking and came back with a brandy bottle, a snifter, and her eyeglasses. “I found your glasses on the floor.” He took her into his arms and rocked her back and forth. “You’ll be okay, you’re strong, you’re my girl,” he murmured, and she wished he’d sing to her.

Instead he explained that President Kennedy had been shot on the motorcade route in Dallas.

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On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward in my romance thriller THE END OF CAMELOT — her TV reporter husband Jack, a friend of the president's, was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning. Vikki learns Jack was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule Jack's death accidental, Vikki vows to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband.

In print, on Kindle and on audio with the animated Nina Price.

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