October 15, 2012

A surprise character came to visit in The Colors of Death

When I started writing my mystery novel, The Colors of Death, I got two surprises. The first was all the humor and romance in the piece and the second was the dog. Oh, I knew there’d be a dog. I put a dog, or two, or more, in every book I write. I was just surprised by this dog.
The basic plot of The Colors of Death is: a recently divorced young woman living in Minnesota receives a call from her uncle who lives in San Diego. He’s had a heart attack and needs her to help run his printing business until he’s well. For Callie, it’s an easy decision to make. It’s winter so she leaves the snow and cold behind and flies out to help her beloved uncle. Little does she know, there’s trouble brewing in the print shop, and her uncle neglected to tell her he had a dog, and not just any dog. He has a huge blind black Labrador retriever named, Ray Charles.
Here’s the first Chapter of The Colors of Death
                                                                           Chapter One

          Rain drizzled down the side of the cement building like tears from an aging elephant, the windows in front of me were dark, empty and lifeless. Tension sizzled though my body like lightning in a summer storm and the shop keys almost slid out of my sweaty fingers. It took me three tries before I managed to get the lock to turn. I pushed open the heavy door and immediately regretted it.
         The smell oozing out reminded me of the time I’d gone on vacation and forgotten to refrigerate some eggs. Before I could turn and escape back outside, a phone rang somewhere in the dark recesses of the shop. I followed the sound into a small office off the lobby.
         The jingling rotary phone squatted on the battered desk like a fat, black toad. I’ve always been intrigued by a ringing telephone. Who will be on the other end? Friend or foe? Good news or bad? Life…or death? There was only one way to find out, so I answered it.
          “Good morning, the Print Shack. May I help you?”
          “Let me talk to Oly,” a male voice demanded.
         “I’m sorry. Mr. Torgelson isn’t here. He’s indisposed.”
          Silence, then, “What’s that mean?”
         “He’s sick.”
         “Oh. Listen, when he gets his ass back to work, tell him to call Joe. Tell him I done tole him and I done tole him. Only white paper in the bins. Can’t have nothing but white paper to recycle.” A deep, phlegmy cough rumbled through the receiver temporarily deafening me. “Can’t have no more weird stuff in the barrel. You got that?”
          “Yes, Joe. Only white paper, no weird stuff.” With the phone captured between my ear and shoulder, I pawed around attempting to locate a pencil stub under a pile of newspapers. The only blank space I could find was the edge of the desk calendar, so I scribbled a note there. In the middle of a print shop full of paper, there should be at least one notepad. I tried hard to keep the amusement out of my voice, but I had to ask.
          “Exactly what type of funny stuff did you find in the bin, Joe?”
         “An arm, dammit. I found some poor fella’s arm in the bottom of the barrel and it ain’t a bit funny. Now I got a big drum full of white paper soaked in blood. What the hell am I gonna do with it? You tell Oly, next time I find body parts in one of the bins, I stop picking up.”

            As you can image, things just keep getting worse and worse for poor Callie Sue. Fortunately, she’s from good hearty Norwegian Minnesota stock and she not only survives, she thrives. The Colors of Death is available at: www.writewordsinc.com and  www.amazon.com.

I’ve lived with and loved dogs for over forty years and there are a few things I’ve learned along the way. I’ll share some tips with you all whenever I add to this blog. Ready? Here goes.
What’s the one indispensible thing that you should always have in your refrigerator?
Liverwurst! If you’ve ever had to give your dog a pill, this one is a no brainer. I know I used to try to put the pill in a piece of cheese. Dogs love cheese, right? Well, somehow they always managed to eat the cheese and spit out the pill. A little ball of hamburger? Same result. Maybe you tried peanut butter. Now you have a really soggy disintegrating pill, dog slobber on all your fingers, pants, shirt and floor and the silly dog is sitting there grinning at you. Well the answer is liverwurst. Shove the pill in the middle of a glob of liverwurst, put it in the palm of your hand (we don’t want to lose any fingers) offer it to the dog and watch the medicine go down.
            Even if your dogs are healthy and don’t need pills, it never hurts to keep some liverwurst on hand – just in case. You can always make a tasty sandwich with it for lunch.
            Took the dogs to the sand dunes for a run last Wednesday and Dennis, my husband, shot this video. Are they having fun, or what? Duke and Ebony playing – Tara barking.
            Till next time. Don’t forget to check out my latest book, How to Write a Mystery, now available at www.amazon.com

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