Posted on September 9, 2014Recently, my wife and I spent ten days in the City of Angels, La-La Land, AKA Los Angeles. While large places that necessitate driving everywhere are not my cup of ube shake, LA has enough attributes to keep a visitor interested . . . for about a week. First, one cannot debate that the climate is ideal, with temperatures in the low to mid eighties, and clear skies as the summer norm. Next, you can’t argue with the palm trees . . . tall ones, short ones, leafy ones, and spiny ones. The houses and public buildings in LA are to die for (dahling, I simply MUST have the name of your architect). Then, of course, there are all of the iconic landmarks–the Hollywood sign, the movie lots, the massive Getty Museum, the Chinese theater, stars on the sidewalks, and my person favorite–the La Brea Tar Pits. When my kids were little, I told my older daughter that the tar pits were just a big, freshly tarred parking lot . . . to this day, she thinks I was serious. If pressed, I can single out the two elements of LA that were my favorites. First, there is the amazing array of automobiles–Rolls Royces, Maseratis, BMers, Benzes. However, nothing can compare with the number of beautiful people, of both genders and all ages, who are roaming the streets. Many of these are involved in the TV and movie biz; but, countless others are wannabes and just very good looking people, wearing wonderful clothes that reveal their perfect sun tans. Do you think that niece on your mother’s side is a pretty girl(?) . . . forget about it! The people out in LA have a huge head start on being and acting bootiful. Oh, yes, one additional item that exceeded expectations was the food. Funky salad restaurants, ethnic foods from places you probably didn’t know exist, and my personal favorite, ‘real’ Kosher food, can be found everywhere–albeit for a price.
Posted on August 13, 2014Second only to their newborns, authors will tell you there is nothing quite so magical as holding that new book or journal article for the first time. I can tell you there is another feeling that comes close–completion of the first draft of a fledgling publication. Last night, I completed the second draft (the first was a hodgepodge of paragraphs and ideas) of my newest book, Whacked. Depending on how one counts such things, Whacked will be my seventh (or eighth) published book. It is the fifth installment of the Kary Turnell mystery series. Whacked is my fourth book set at a New Hampshire grand hotel, in this case the beautiful Wentworth By the Sea. The book represents a milestone of sorts, in what I like to call my second career. After this book, Kary, Nya, and others will be taking a hiatus, as I begin other writing ventures. My next effort will be the long overdue Another Paradise Lost. Lost was initially intended to be the sixth Turnell mystery. Instead, I’m going to use this as an opportunity to write a piece of main stream fiction. The backdrop of the book will be love and adventure within the beautiful community of Rincon, Puerto Rico. The characters will be fictional, not to mention decades younger than Kary and Nya. The issues that the lead characters, as well as Rincon itself, must face are based upon reality. After Lost, I’ll begin work on Young Upstart, the story of a gunfighter caught among three worlds–the changing West, an Ivy League education, and the shrinking Navaho domain. Third on my list will be a collection of stories contributed by people who used Ocean Beach Park (in New London, CT) as an adolescent proving ground, with the realities of adulthood just around the corner.
Posted on August 7, 2014Many of us have been faced with temptation while traveling. I’m not talking about that gorgeous red-headed guy or woman you may have met at the beach bar. Rather, I’m referring to “things” you may find lying around. During my earliest vacations, bringing home a special rock was an important part of our family’s experience. For example, for years, my father and I would scour fringes of wooded trails in search of the elusive Native American arrow head. Later, as a twenty-one year old, I traveled north to visit Niagara Falls, at a time when the American Fall was dammed up. I returned home with a rock that I’d plucked from the river bed; it was a source of pride for years to come. Even in my sixties, whenever I walk the beach south of Rincon, Puerto Rico, my eyes are focused downward. A shark could swim right up along the shore, and I’d never even see it. That’s because I’m searching for two items that are frequently washed ashore. One favorite is a grayish chunk of limestone coral, whose surfaces have the appearance of a moonscape. My other item of choice is shared with many other beach goers; this is the ubiquitous sea glass. Sea glass comes in a range of colors, including clear, white, brown, various shades of green, blue, red, purple, and black. Anyone finding the latter four has indeed discovered treasure. In truth, glass collectors and jewelry makers alike will pay up to one hundred dollars for such a find. My effort to discover glass in any of the more rare colors has been fruitless. I’ve even been tempted to go to the drugstore, buy a bottle of Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia, smash it, then swirl it in brine for several months . . . nah, I’m not that desperate.
Posted on July 30, 2014When I was a young boy, growing up in New London, Connecticut, we were a family of four: my father and mother, older brother, and yours truly. Even though my brother is only three years older than I am, I try to convince him that there was at least a decade between our births. In one way, there may as well have been. When it came time to repair something around the house, my father usually did it by himself. However, if the project at hand required at least three (hands, not people), my brother was called into action. Sometimes, I felt that my father would rather have summoned Attila the Hun to assist than ask his younger son. When an emergency arose, my mother would call upstairs, “Bruce, your father needs you.” While she never said, “Mark, don’t even think about it,” the implication was clear.
Posted on July 24, 2014For some reason, I’ve been reflecting upon my academic career, which reaches its 40th anniversary next year.
Posted on July 16, 2014After nearly two decades as a mystery writer, I’m having second thoughts. I’ve spent the last two years researching and writing Whacked, a murder mystery set at the beautiful Wentworth By the Sea resort. As the fifth installment of my Kary Turnell series, Whacked is definitely the best of the lot. However, I’m thinking about sending Kary on a vacation of sorts once it has been published. My next book, titled Another Paradise Lost, was scheduled to be another Turnell book. Now, I’m not so certain. The number of other mystery writers, both good and bad-albeit-popular [did someone mention Dan Brown(?)], is staggering. Two weeks ago, I spent a delightful afternoon with a lawyer turned mystery writer named Chris Casko. Chris has written a compelling mystery titled The Elimination Plan. Yet, he struggles to get anyone to notice. Like yours truly, he has a comparatively small, but faithful, following. The problem for the Caskos and Okrants of this world is how to take the next step.