(Revamping the blog. Please excuse the odd headings. Working on it!)

Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

The blog of Cindy Amrhein

Historian - Author - Abstractor

Silver Lake, NY at Sunset

Photo by Zach Amrhein

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Milk Carton Murders 20

We pick up a few paragraphs later from where we left off last week. (I'm skipping some key stuff I can't give away in a snippet) Investigator Pepper Black is still over at Dave's house attempting to be casual as they sit on the front porch and she questions Dave's father, Hal. She wants to find out if he's connected to the murders of the three girls 20 years earlier whose remains were found at Wiscoy Creek. Pinned to each child was a piece of a milk carton with their photograph as part of the missing children campaign of the 1980s and 90s. Only problem is they are different than the ones that came from the Center For Missing Children. Hal worked at one point in the print shop at the dairy.

Pepper had some pretty damning evidence against Dave's dad last time about his work in the print shop and how the killer changed the milk carton layouts to add his victims.  Hal, who is now in his 60s, is coming damn close to incriminating himself. 

Ever wonder where serial killers who were never caught go to retire? I do.
(Think I'll use that line in my book blurb)


Dave swung his way up from the glider. Pepper looked dumbfounded as he walked towards the front door of the house; there was no going back now--no way to undo it.

“Dave, I asked you a question,” Pepper demanded, “who is Sally? Why is your dad saying it’s his fault she’s dead?”

“I called her Sally.” Dave paused. “You know her too, Pepper--you found her five days ago in a wooden coffin. Her real name is Samantha Briggs.”

 ***
And with that I must leave you hanging on that scene. I plan to publish this one way or another so I can't tell the key parts of the story in the snippets.  Next week we will jump ahead.
***

The link to the other Weekend Writing Warriors is here. You're bound to find something to pique your interest.

The Sunday Snippet writer's on Facebook are here. Between the two there is something for everyone. Thank you for any comments you leave me. Much appreciated!

(This is also post #I-can't-remember in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.)
*** 
BLURB:
When three small coffins are unearthed near the Wiscoy Creek during a routine dredging operation, it’s the last thing DAVE ROBERTSON, of the Lamont Weekly Times, expected. Pinned to the skeleton’s clothing are pictures from milk cartons of missing girls.

Dave is stunned to find that one of the girls is Sally―a foster child his parents had cared for through the Friends of Foster Families (FFF) program. Cold case files reveal the girls disappeared over 20 years ago. Knowing his house was the last place he saw Sally alive, he can’t help but suspect his dad.

How can he write the biggest story of his career if his father turns out to be the killer? If the voice in his head would shut up and let him remember, he might figure it out before he loses his mind and his dad is charged with murder.

Full blurb and snippet recap here.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Austins Got it Goin' On

From July 16 to the 24th I took some time for myself and went down to visit my oldest son in Austin, Texas. Wow. There's a place that has it goin' on unlike where I live in New York State. We have revived the historic marker program through private grant funding. Granted, I find them interesting being an historian, but markers aren't enough.

New York's latest idea is called Path Through History and from what I'm told, follows the thruway some how? I'm not sure. They have a nice website and all but there is only one thing about my area on it---surprise, surprise. They included the William Pryor Letchworth Museum listed under the "Natural History" section but nothing about the park itself. THAT is the attraction as you can see by all these Google images of Letchworth State Park.

So that's how we do it in New York. We seem very focused on the east half of the state. In Texas, it's a whole different story. They seem to know how to highlight everything they have and pull it all together. A very proud people those Texans!

Over the next few days I will be posting about my trip which will be a smattering of cool sites, bats, trailer parks, food, and Dr. Seuss. Odd combo right? Something for everyone. Here is a photo of each topic.

COOL SITES

The Driskill Hotel- Allegedly the most haunted place in Texas.

Texas State Capitol. Wow! What a building!

Who can go to Texas and not go to the Alamo, right?

BATS

The little specks in the sky are bats flying out at dusk to feed from under the Congress St. bridge in Austin --thousands of them. I'll be posting video. It's awesome in the true sense of the word.

TRAILER PARKS

 Okay, this is not what we think of in New York when we hear the term "trailer park". It falls under food but so deserves a separate post of its own.

FOOD

Doesn't this look yummy? It's Chicken Fried Steak.

Dr. Seuss


He didn't just do kid's books folks!


I'll be going in to detail on all these wonderful places over the next few days so stop back and see! And just for fun, a video of my son's cats chasing a Palmetto bug. He was almost as funny as they were. Starring Stinky, Alexander, and Calliope (in a supporting role). Guest starring Nicholas Ruggiero as the human.



(This is post #18 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.)

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Recycle Bin Gardening

I live in a small village with a small lot. There is no room for a garden. My back yard might be big enough but it doesn't get the sun all day like in my tiny front yard. Solution? Urban gardening. When you want a small garden and you have limited room you get creative. Most people do container gardening but we use discarded recycle bins.

We use the principal of Square Foot Gardening. Each recycle bin holds a little more than two square foot of space. If you love gardening you should really get the book in the previous link. Although it is geared for ground planting the principal is the same. We can actually get spring, summer and fall crops using the same bins. Below are some pictures of our garden this year. No weeding. No bending. And if we need to move it around to give some plants more sun and others less---it's easy! Check the link above for the square foot method.


WHITE EGGPLANT


OUR MANY CUCUMBERS


GREEN PEPPERS TO THE LEFT, CUKES TO THE RIGHT.

We have more plants around both sides of the house. All of them in recycle bins on top of tables we made out of pallets.

Any questions? Just ask in the comment section.



(This is post #17 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge)
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

PLUM RUM



This was written as part of the just for fun, Resurrection Poetry Contest over at AbsoluteWrite forums. (I came in 3rd and a special mention for originality and application of form. The object was to make up your own beat pattern. So it was sort of a combination of traditional methods and free verse. Here is my made up pattern:

[1]a,[2]x,[3]x,[4]x,[3]x,[2]x,[1]b
[1]a,[2]x,[3]x,[4]x,[3]x,[2]x,[1]b
[1]c,[2]x,[3]x,[4]x,[3]x,[2]x,[1]d
[1]c,[2]x,[3]x,[4]x,[3]x,[2]x,[1]d
[1]a,[2]x,[3]x,[4]x,[3]x,[2]x,[1]b
[1]a,[2]x,[3]x,[4]x,[3]x,[2]x,[1]b 


And now the poem.


F**k
He left
Without me
First time in years
I'll show him
Bastard
Bum

Stuck
That's it
He feels trapped
That's not my fault
Tis the booze
Again
Plum

Lazy
He is
Drinkin' pints
All afternoon
No reason
He says
Right

Crazy
I know
He was mad
I didn't care
He came back
To what
Fight

Duck
I did
As he swung
But he was drunk
Hit the wall
Not me
Dumb

Luck
That's why
I'd found it
His last bottle
Selfish man
T'was good
Rum
 


This is post #16 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Milk Carton Murders 19

We pick up where we left off two weeks ago.  Investigator Pepper Black is still over at Dave's house questioning his father, Hal, on his connection to the murders of the three girls 20 years earlier whose remains were found at Wiscoy Creek. Pinned to each was a piece of a milk carton with their photograph as part of the missing children campaign of the 1980s and 90s. Only problem is they are different than the ones that came from the Center. Hal worked at one point in the print shop at the dairy.

Pepper had some pretty damning evidence against Dave's dad last time about his work in the print shop and how the killer changed the milk carton layouts to add his victims. Just to keep the flow of the scene the last line last week was the voice in Dave's head which said, "Two points for Pepper, Davy boy. You better come up with something or poor, old Hal here will be spending his retirement in Attica."



Dave didn’t like the way this was going. “Okay, two points for you, Pepper, but it seems pretty farfetched don’t you think?”



“Not really—maybe they were souvenirs for him,” said Pepper, “like some serial killers keep something from their victims. This would be so much better. The milk cartons with their pictures would be right in plain sight. He could look at them every day, in every store, and so would everyone else. It would be very gratifying for him.”



“That’s just plain sick!” said Hal.

***


The link to the other Weekend Writing Warriors is here. You're bound to find something to pique your interest.

The Sunday Snippet writer's on Facebook are here. Between the two there is something for everyone. Thank you for any comments you leave me. Much appreciated!

(This also serves as post #15 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.)
*** 
BLURB:
When three small coffins are unearthed near the Wiscoy Creek during a routine dredging operation, it’s the last thing DAVE ROBERTSON, of the Lamont Weekly Times, expected. Pinned to the skeleton’s clothing are pictures from milk cartons of missing girls.

Dave is stunned to find that one of the girls is Sally―a foster child his parents had cared for through the Friends of Foster Families (FFF) program. Cold case files reveal the girls disappeared over 20 years ago. Knowing his house was the last place he saw Sally alive, he can’t help but suspect his dad.

How can he write the biggest story of his career if his father turns out to be the killer? If the voice in his head would shut up and let him remember, he might figure it out before he loses his mind and his dad is charged with murder.

Full blurb and snippet recap here.


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Have You Ever Heard of Little Willie Poems?

From Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes


Harry Graham made his debut in 1902 when he wrote a collection of poems in a book titled Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes, under the pen name of Col. D. Steamer. Here are two of the poems.


Willie saw some dynamite,
Didn't understand it quite.
Curiosity seldom pays.
It rained Willie seven days.


Little Willie, feeling well
Pushed his sister down the well.
Said his mother, drawing water;
It's mighty tough to raise a daughter!"


Little Willie poems have been popular ever since. In 1913 and 1914 The Brooklyn Eagle  ran a political cartoon every week called Ruthless Rhymes for Martial Militants. Below is one from 1944.
 
Willie in his roguish way
Tipped Grandpa on the fire one day.
Mother said, "My dear that's cruel!
But of course it does save fuel.


And now for mine. A Little Willie Poem by Cindy Amrhein

 Willie hated his next door neighbor.
Fed him to an alligator.
Skinned the gator with his knife.
Made a purse and shoes for his neighbor's wife.

Now it's your turn. Can you come up with a Little Willie poem? You can leave it in the comments below for all of us to enjoy!

(This is post #14 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge)
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Treasure of Capachequi

Many writer's are editing one thing while writing another. I'm that way. That's my limit though as far as fiction. When a writer keeps starting new projects and has too many WIPs  going at the same time,  I wonder if they ever finish any of them?

I have a non-fiction work called Right of the Soil: An Abstractor's View of Indian Land Title in New York State. (More on that in another post.) I'm editing that one too, but I really don't count that as exceeding my self-imposed project limit because, being an historian, I do history day in and day out.

The fiction work I have in edits I did the first year I tried NaNoWriMo. It's called The Milk Carton Murders. I post a snippet every Sunday as part of Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors. Past snippets can be found here.

The other one that I am still writing I started before I got the NaNo bug.  I haven't said much about it. I actually started it before the movie National Treasure came out. (Although I choked at first, it's not really the same, and I love the movie.) The people I had read the first few chapters liked it but I put it aside for a while because even though it is fiction, it has true historic elements, so it required more concentration then I had available at the time.  My kids were in school and scouts and there was just too much going on. When there was one of those agent pitch things I submitted it. I was told an adventure was more for middle grade and characters 17-21 was a hard sell. Well lookie now there seems to be a new category slowly creeping in called "New Adult" (NA). So I think I will get back at this one. I even have an outline---an odd thing for a pantster. And who doesn't like an adventure anyway? So here is a blurb of what it is about.


The Treasure of Capachequi


The parents of seventeen-year-old ANNIE VANWYKE have a secret. One that’s been kept from one generation to the next, not to be revealed until each child turns twenty-one. With "Wykeology" lessons every weekend, part of their parent’s strange obsession with learning their family’s history, it didn't leave much time for socializing.

Annie’s older brother Seth thinks the family’s secrets are part of some conspiracy, but he thinks that about a lot of things. He hates the large mansion they call home. Their life in Great Bend, Pennsylvania is all too cloak and dagger for his taste. Annie takes their quirky, recluse life in stride as a sign of over protective parents.  She loves their home. It reflected her love of history, but admittedly, the servants seem to know more than Annie and Seth about their family's past.

When Annie is told she and Seth must go away for the summer to visit an uncle in his lighthouse on Lake Ontario, she is stunned. They were never allowed out without a bodyguard, let alone go out of state without their parents. Annie eavesdrops on a conversation between her father and uncle and hears her uncle request that her father send ahead one of the family diaries and old maps by separate couriers. Seth may be right. Something was going on and they were being sent away for their own safety.

When their limousine is followed to the airport, the chauffeur makes a detour that ends in a crash. Annie’s frantic calls home go unanswered, leaving her and Seth to find their own way to their uncle's lighthouse on the lake. When they meet Lewis Shortsleeve, a Delaware Indian, they realize their paths are one. Seth notices that the amulet around Lewis' neck contains symbols that Seth has seen before among the VanWyke diaries. While looking up the symbols at a local museum they encounter Mariah Jefferson, a descendent of one of Thomas Jefferson’s illegitimate children. Around her wrist is a bracelet with the same symbols along with an odd charm in shape of a coin. Whatever the reasons, their destinies are somehow connected.

They soon surmise that the car crash was no accident. Chased throughout the northeast by a power-hungry organization called Intelligentsia, made up of the world’s most brilliant minds, the mismatched group of four understands that each are in possession of something the Intelligentsia wants. Each carry an heirloom passed down through their families, a key so to speak, that is needed to unravel a puzzle their ancestors couldn’t solve---the location of the treasure of Capachequi. The problem is all four have a different goal when the treasure is found, and one talisman will not work without the others. The Intelligentsia knows it must find all four talismans, even if it means they have to kill to get them.


***
This is post #13 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge



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Available in paperback and eBook formats

Available in paperback and eBook formats

Now Available At:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
The History Press
Walmart

Carried by over 20 college/university libraries across the county, according to daily updates by worldcat.org, including Columbia University, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, and Yale University Law Library.

BOOK SIGNING DATES:

APRIL 2nd,11-1 PM
The Book Shoppe - Medina, NY

APRIL 16th, 2 PM
Barnes & Noble - Pittsfield, MA

APRIL 19th, 7 PM
Tonawanda Indian Reservation Historical Society,
Tonawanda Indian Community Center- Akron, NY

MAY 14th, 1 PM
Seneca Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca, NY

May 17th, 6 PM Warsaw Public Library - Warsaw, NY

AUG 9TH, 7 pm Hoss's Country Corner -2016 Author's Night- Long Lake, NY

AUG 25TH 6 PM Akwesasne Cultural Center - Hogansburg, NY

More to announce as they are confirmed.

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Cindy's bookshelf: read

Waiting for Harvey
4 of 5 stars
Alone, in a cabin in the woods, with a ghost. Who could ask for more in a ghost story? Harvey starts right out with a hint of foreboding in a conversation between brothers John and Erik. Already my curiosity is roused as to what happened...
tagged: books-i-read-to-me
James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper
3 of 5 stars
I randomly downloaded this on my iPad when I hit the wrong button being a bumble fingers, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I've never read fanfic before. It was pretty good. But like many other people, it still can't compare to J. K. Row...
CHIMERAS
5 of 5 stars
I beta read a few chapters of a different book by this author (one that isn't out yet) so when this one was out I had to read it as it was the same character in the one a betaed a bit of--the character of Track. I have a fondness for thi...
tagged: books-i-read-to-me

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