Tag Archives: Florida authors

Lisa Black — That Darkness

Maggie Gardiner, forensic scientist with Cleveland police, sees a connection between three recent homicides. Jack Renner is a Cleveland police detective working on the same crimes. But Jack is also a killer—a vigilante. Some of the dead are his victims. This makes an interesting plot, with Maggie putting together clues and Jack trying to mislead her.

I enjoyed the book—the characters, the plot, the police work, and the different ending. It kept me reading into the wee small hours.

Alice Oldford — 10 Adventures and More in Lee and Collier Counties

Do you like the outdoors? Do you live in Southwest Florida? Would you like to learn some Florida history—see some of Florida’s flora and fauna? Buy this book and explore the trails and waterways described by the author.

A section on Florida spiders (with photos) is included in the book. The spiders are contributed by Janet Bunch who volunteers for Lee County Parks & Recreation, and leads guided nature walks at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and various Conservation 20/20 parks.

If you are a nature-lover, this is a guide to the best places on Florida’s Gulf Coast—Lee and Collier counties. Enjoy.

Tim Dorsey — Clownfish Blues

The protagonist of Dorsey’s twenty-plus books is Serge Storms, a psychotic serial killer who thinks up unique ways to punish or kill people who are hurting others. Coleman is a drugged-out sidekick to tea-totaling Serge. Clownfish Blues main plot (if it has one) revolves around the Florida lottery.

Dorsey skips between places, events, times, and people, so you don’t know where the story is going. Sometimes he seems to throw in characters from previous novels just for the sake of mentioning them, not to advance the story. Serge is unbelievable, Coleman is getting boring in his drunken stupor, the plots are thin, but Dorsey makes me laugh.

His stories are an exaggerated view of reality in Florida. The highways and byways visited by Serge and Coleman are real or based on real places. I enjoy the tours around the state.

So even though there are many things about Dorsey’s writing that I wouldn’t put up with from other authors, I enjoy his weird tales. As I said, he makes me laugh.

James Campbell — My Korean War Stories

In December 1948, James Campbell, age 15, joined the U.S. Army. June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. Campbell, stationed in Japan, was among the first U.S. soldiers to join the conflict. The book is a collection of stories about a young soldier’s experience in the war.

His stories run the gamut of emotions—anger, heartbreak, apprehension, comradery, even humor. Campbell lets you see and feel the horrors of war through the eyes of a boy becoming a man.

This is not a book I would pick to read. I’m not into war stories. But I helped edit and format the book and of course had to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. James Campbell knows how to tell a story.

Carl Hiaasen — Tourist Season

Carl Hiaasen writes black humor about Florida. Tourist Season is one of his earlier books written in 1986.

It’s obvious to me that Hiaasen loves Florida but not necessarily the developers and the tourists. The villain in Tourist Season, Skip Wiley, is a columnist for the Miami Sun who feels the same as the author about Florida, but more vehemently. He goes over the edge of sanity and forms a rag-tag band of terrorists made up of crazy Cuban, a Seminole, and a black ex-football player. They commit kidnappings, bombings, and murder to create headlines that will send the tourists and developers back north and leave Florida to the wildlife.

Brian Keyes is a reporter turned private investigator. He is hired to find a couple of missing persons (kidnapped and disposed of by the terrorists), then hired by the editor of the Sun to find Wiley, and finally hired as a bodyguard for the Orange Bowl queen.

The book is filled with murder, mayhem, and lots of humor. I thoroughly enjoy reading Hiaasen.

Irene “Susie” Smith — Angel of Tears

Angel of Tears
This story of a young girl, Summer, growing up in Detroit is a rewrite of an earlier novel. There are some added details and an epilogue. I enjoyed every minute of it, especially Summer’s connection with her neighbor, an old albino woman.

Irene’s characters are believable and likeable (except those who are not so nice). Her story flows and keeps you reading to the end. Her descriptions of Detroit in the fifties takes you back to another time.

The author writes from the heart. She makes me laugh, she makes me cry.

Tom Corcoran — Crime Almost Pays

key-west-southernmost

Dubbie Tanner and Wiley Fecko have started a Key West private-eye firm called the Aristocrats. They are drawn into a job which pays way too much money for a small task. It turns out to be complicated and dangerous, involving Cuban tourists, a weird federal agent, street fights, kidnapping, scams…

They enlist the help of cab driver Kim Salazar, police detective Beth Watkins, and a few street people who are friends of Fecko’s from his past days of drink and living off the grid. The best part of this novel for me was the Key West setting. Corcoran captures the look and feel of wacky Key West and its characters.

This author is new to me, although he has a number of previous novels. I enjoyed the ride and will look for more of his books.

Of Mice and Marquis

Fiction by Judy Loose

Millie hummed as she cruised up I-75 on Friday morning, headed for Busch Gardens with Brian and Becky secured in the back seat. She enjoyed these outings with her grandchildren, driving her Grand Marquis. She’d had the car for fifteen years, and it still purred.

As much as the kids at five and seven enjoyed these trips, Millie enjoyed them more. Right now, Brian and Becky had their heads together, giggling, looking at something on the seat between them.

“What is it, Becky?”

“It’s the mice from my school project.”

Oh no! What was Becky planning to do with mice? “You were supposed to leave them with your neighbor.”

“She doesn’t even like mice. She screamed at the babies,” Becky whined.

“What babies?”

“Joe and Jim had babies,” Brian answered.

“Joe and Jim?”

Joe and Jim were obviously Joe and Jill. Should she turn the car around and take the mice back to Fort Myers? She pointed the car toward the rest area.

“Oh, Nana. You’re not gonna take them home, are you?” Becky pleaded.

Not far to Tampa. The round trip to Fort Myers would take a couple of hours. The kids would be hungry and cranky long before they arrived. So would Millie. She avoided the rest area.

“No, Becky. But they are not going in the room with us.” It was January and cool. They could leave the mice in the car. Would she regret that decision?

When Becky went out to feed the mice that night, Millie peered into the cage. The babies were tiny, pink, squiggly things, like ugly gummy bears. Becky held one up for Millie. No way! She backed off and shook her head; a shiver of disgust ran down her spine.

Saturday, Busch Gardens was great; no one threw up on any of the rides. Brian petted the giraffe; he loved giraffes. The children wanted to take the mice to see the other animals but accepted Millie’s firm, “No.”

On Sunday, after dropping her grandchildren at home in Fort Myers, Millie sang with the music in her car. She adored Becky and Brian, but she was glad to take them home. As she stopped for a red light, she opened the front windows for fresh air and something crawled across her shoulders — must be a bug. She reached up and flicked it off. A mouse flew out the window and into the next car. A woman screamed, the light changed to green, and Millie stepped on the gas.

~~

When Millie traded in her old stand-by Grand Marquis a month later, she didn’t tell the salesman about the mice that kept appearing — on the dash, in the back seat, in the trunk, or the one that had crawled up her leg the day before.

Crows

A Story by Judy Loose

Won Third Place Nonfiction in GCWA 2016 Writing Contest

raven_calling

“Nana, birds talking to me.”

“What are they saying, Jason?” Sara sat on the back steps of the townhouse deck with her three-year-old grandson. He had quite an imagination. The clatter of the crows was so loud she could hardly hear herself think. The noise irritated her, plucked at her nerves. The birds always congregated in the woods behind her home, but nothing like today. They must be migrating. Did crows migrate? Hundreds, maybe thousands of blue-black wings filled the sky, landing in the woods behind the condo complex. Some were huge, maybe ravens. Did ravens and crows hang out together? The way they were gathering was creepy. It made Sara nervous.

Her grandson was talking. “I’m sorry, Jason. Nana wasn’t paying attention. What did you say?” The din of the birds was distracting.

“They say, ‘come…come…come with me.’” Jason cocked his head. “Can’t you hear, Nana?” He almost looked like a bird. Thin and pale with dark hair and eyes. When he ran, his little arms flapped in the breeze like a baby bird trying to fly.

She listened to the cawing, and it did sound like come…come…. “I hear it, but they’re probably calling to each other. It looks like they’re having a big crow party.”

“We go to party, Nana? My birthday. Jason’s three.” A Halloween baby. Tonight was Halloween.

“You’re having a party tonight, baby. Everyone will be here. Mommy and Daddy, all your cousins and friends. Everyone’s going to dress up.” Too bad Jason’s birthday landed on Halloween, hard to distinguish between birthday and holiday.

“Let’s go in and get ready.” She stood and took his hand to lift him to his feet.

“No, Nana. Birds talking to me.” Jason pulled away. He still had some of that terrible-twos attitude and disagreed with everything.

“OK, Jason. But let’s listen to them from inside. Nana has some cooking to do.”

“I wanna stay here.” He plunked himself down on the steps and folded his arms tightly against his chest.

“You can stay but don’t leave the deck.” Sara didn’t want to argue; she could see him from the kitchen.

As she stirred batter for a cake, Sara watched Jason through the window. He turned and looked at her every few minutes, grinned, waved, then returned to concentrating on the birds. She mixed orange and chocolate frostings, washed dishes, put things away…stopping now and then to peek out at her grandson.

Finished with her chores, she opened the door to call him. No Jason. Her heart squeezed and her breath stopped. He couldn’t have wandered far. He’d waved at her only minutes ago. Sara scanned the yard and spotted him sitting in the grass by the trees. The air escaped her lungs like an explosion.

He was surrounded by birds. So many birds. What were they doing? Silence, no cawing. Sara panicked and stumbled down the steps. As she ran toward Jason, the crows flew, blackening the sky, the whir of wings so strong her clothes swirled around her. Sara’s heart drummed against her ribs, banged in her ears. She thought it would burst by the time she reached Jason and grabbed him.

“Nana, you scared them.” He started to wail, and the crows wailed with him, screeching all around…in the trees, from the roof…as Sara hurried to her house and slammed the door behind her. Jason yowled in her arms.

**

By the time they’d dressed for the party and the guests had arrived, Jason was happy and playing again. He joined the children and a few adults trick-or-treating. Sara felt silly about her reaction to the birds that afternoon. She told no one. The birds must have landed in the grass, and Jason couldn’t resist. But why didn’t they fly away? They only flew when she ran from the house.

The doors were open to the warm night air. “Do you hear those crows?” She could hear them cawing, calling out, Jason…Jason…. What an imagination she had, worse than her grandson’s. But weren’t crows usually quiet at night?

Looking out, she could see their black bodies flying, covering the sky, blocking out the moon. She shivered and returned to the warmth of the party. Where were the trick-or-treaters? She wished with all her heart they would return with their candy.

Noise at the front door drew her attention and the children piled in, grinning and chattering and comparing their take. Jason sailed by her and out the back door before she could stop him.

“Jason!” she screamed. “Don’t go out there!” Everyone stared as she sprinted after her grandson.

No Jason on the deck or in the yard. She flipped on the outside lights. Nothing. No child, no birds, no noise. The emptiness chilled her.

“Jason!” Sara was frantic. Adults carrying flashlights poured into the yard, searching, crashing into the woods.

No Jason.

Sobbing, Sara sank into the grass. “The crows took him,” she said over and over.

Someone called 911. When the police came to organize the search, they sent Sara to the hospital in an ambulance.

**

A mild stroke, the doctors said. When she told people about the crows, they thought she was hallucinating, her mind scrambled. Sara knew better.

She returned home two weeks later, Jason still missing. The official opinion: kidnapping. Easy to take a child with crowds of children in the streets. No one would notice a stranger enticing a child into a car and speeding away.

Sara brooded around her house, seeing Jason in every corner. He would never visit her again. Her heart was broken. She pictured him sitting in the grass surrounded by crows, talking to them. No Jason, no crows. Silence.

**

A year passed, and the crows never returned. Not even the few who usually hung out in the woods during the summer. Halloween came, Jason’s birthday. No party this year. Sara had no treats for the youngsters ringing her bell. She turned off the front light and slipped out the door to her deck.

She stared across the lawn to the spot she remembered seeing Jason. Why was she torturing herself? She should move from this place. But something kept her here, some illogical hope that he would return. The night carried the voices of children as they skipped from house to house.

Sara sat on the steps. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

And then they came. Thousands of crows glistening in the moonlight descended on the lawn in front of her. What were they saying? Nana? No, just cawing. So loud she couldn’t bear it.

As she stood to go inside, a giant crow landed on the railing. “Nana?

Sara collapsed on the rough wood floor. The sky filled with crows and ravens…cawing…calling her…Sara…Sara…Nana…and the air from their wings lifted her…lifted her into the black night…floating…flying…with Jason flying beside her.

Teeth

A story by Judy Loose

Second Place Nonfiction in the GCWA 2016 Writing Contest.

Dan hated his new teeth. Just uppers, not lowers. He still had his own bottom choppers. The plate fit improperly and hurt when he chewed, so he liked to remove it when he ate.

Living alone, he often dined out or picked up something to go rather than cook. On this particular hot summer night, coming home late from work, he decided to stop for pizza. The pizza shop was full, so he took his food with him. Enticing smells rose from the seat beside him in the car — mushroom, pepperoni, extra cheese. He could almost taste it. For a while he resisted, but it was a long drive. Opening the box, he grabbed a slice.

Of course, the teeth were extracted before the first bite.

Cruising down the highway, he continued eating. Not the safest way to operate; worse than texting while driving. Soon the pizza box sat empty. Almost home, he spotted a Dumpster behind the grocery store across the street. He lifted the empty box and tossed it. Perfect shot, right into the trash.

Home at last, he collapsed in front of the television before his nightly ritual — shower, dress for bed, clean his teeth…

No teeth!

Dan pulled a pair of jeans over his pajama bottoms, found a flashlight, and headed for his car. He searched the seats, under the seats, in every crack and crevice.

No teeth!

There could be only one answer. He drove back to the grocery store. Did he really want to go Dumpster diving? What were his choices? Forget it and get another set of teeth? But teeth cost big bucks. He didn’t have money to throw away. Child support for five boys, two in college, helped make the decision.

Dan looked around to see if anyone was watching. The store had closed and no people roamed the streets. He tried leaning over the side of the container, shining his flashlight to see.

No teeth!

He hoisted himself up and dropped into the nightly trash. Luckily, it held mostly boxes and not much food. His pizza box sat on top, wide open and empty, so he proceeded to rummage through the debris.

No teeth!

He heard a blip of a siren and a blue light flashed against the wall of the store. A head peeked over the top of the Dumpster, and a light blinded him.

“Police.”

Dan climbed out and brushed himself off. “Looking for something I lost,” he tried to explain.

“Dan?” The policeman lowered his flashlight and laughed. “What are you doing in there?”

Dan recognized Sam, his niece Marcy’s father-in-law.

“I threw away a pizza box and tossed something with it.”

“Why no shirt?”

“I was ready for bed when it dawned on me.”

“What did you lose?”

Dan hesitated. He didn’t want to tell him. Embarrassing!

“Come on, man. What’s so important you’d go digging through the garbage in the middle of the night?”

“My teeth.”

Sam doubled over, his laughter escaping like hiccups. “Oh, man. Wait ‘til I tell the guys.”

“Don’t tell Marcy.”

Still chuckling, Sam went back to his cruiser and drove off.

Dan decided to give up and go home. Walking back to his car he spotted something shiny in the middle of the street. Taking a closer look, he realized…

His teeth!

He leaned to pick them up, but they were imbedded in the asphalt. Apparently, they’d been run over a time or two. He found a screwdriver in his trunk and dug out the teeth, only to discover a crack down the middle. He was tempted to toss them, but changed his mind.

Asphalt covered the broken teeth, but stubborn Dan dropped them into a jar and filled it with paint thinner.

The next day he examined the dentures and decided the crack could be fixed. He found some crazy glue at work, glued them together, and clamped them in a vise.

It worked. They felt better than before they broke, but a faint taste of solvent lingered for a few days.

Dan wore those teeth for three more years before getting new ones.

Note: This is a true story as told to me by Dan, who is no longer with us, so the story can’t be verified. Any embellishments on the truth are his. I did see the teeth with the crack that had been crazy-glued. No sign of the asphalt, but the teeth looked a little gray.