Random Rambles

It’s September! Here’s a new Letter From Mickey for my Downey Trilogy fans:


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~~~

Dear Joey,

Your last letter gave me quite the laugh! The cheek of you! Alright then, if you want me to trust you with my jet you’re going to have to tell me what the message is hidden within this tale:

Back when Finn was still the adventuring sort and fond of women and drink — well, more so than he was at the time of this tale, in any case — he came across a young scamp. This boy said he’d take care of Finn’s horse in exchange for a few coins. Now, Finn had already spent the coin he had on the aforementioned activities, but he knew the horse was in need of care.

So, he says to the lad, “Tis true the horse needs attending but I’ve a more pressing matter that’ll earn you double the coin… if you’re interested.”

The boy’s eyes lit up at the opportunity,  for he was hungrier than a louse on a bald man, and at least three times more clever than hungry. “Oh, tell me, please,” the boy pleaded.

“Take the horse down the lane, past old man McIntyre’s, then take a right turn by the old oak and another by the raspberry thicket. There you’ll see a farm of some size. Knock on the door and say you’re delivering a message from Finnegan.”

“And what’s the message, sir?” the boy asked.

“That is the message, lad.”

The boy furrowed his brows, but agreed to take the horse. When he arrived at the place, he was greeted by an old hag rather fearsome in visage.

“Oh, ho, so Finnegan’s finally been gotten the better of, eh?” the old woman asked.

The boy opened his mouth to say something, but she waggled a wizened finger at him, “And don’t be thinkin’ I’ll be paying a thief who got the better of another thief, boyo!” Then she grabbed the horse’s reins and pulled him inside.

Realizing he had been had, the boy shouted, “Wait! I found the horse and I was just returning it. I don’t know this Finnegan. I was only hoping for a bit of bread and a place to stay. Perhaps if I clean the stall, I could rest with the horse for the night?”

The old woman paused and contemplated the offer. The boy did look rather peckish and he reminded her of her son at that age. “Alright, lad. I’ll have Moira bring you some bread and goat’s milk. Ye’ll be off at morning’s light.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he assured her.

And come the morning, her stalls shined as if they’d been built yesterday. And they were just as empty. When she returned to the kitchen, Moira asked her why she was smiling so.

“Why, because I’ve finally gotten rid of all my son’s stolen horses without having to answer any questions! What a good boy, my Finnegan is.”

 

I love you, Joey. Do try and be good in as much as that’s possible for any Downey.

Your loving father, Mickey.

Read the rest of the letters here: Letters From Mickey Downey

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Random Author Ramble: Taking liberties, shoutouts, and being too “clever”


What started this meander was thinking about research put into fictional books. It’s true there are some great fiction novels that practically exude “this author researched the heck outta this” and then there are others that exude “aw, come on, that would never happen, what is this, Sci Fi?”.

My own personal style? I’m somewhere in between. As some of you know I love, looooove, love things having to do with American gangsters–usually old school gangsters of the Luciano and Capone sort. I also love the rich history of the FBI and other crime-fighting branches of the US Government. Everyone and their dog knows by now that I love the history of Chicago and the history of Nebraska (the two of which have quite a long history of being connected). My family’s from Chicago, I’ve heard tons of interesting stories. I grew up in Nebraska (for the most part) so I’ve an inherent knowledge of that unique whatever that makes up a Nebraskan.

Does that mean I am 100% accurate all the time in my books? Of course not. And, I will confess, intentionally not. Why? Because I’m telling a story, a fictional story. I took some liberties. Quite a few liberties, as only the purists will know. *waves* Sometimes this is to protect the truth, but most of the time it’s because I think that’s our right as authors, in essence, to say, “Yeah, but what IF it were to happen this way?” So, some things are made up and some things are shout-outs. Some things would never happen (particularly with regard to some of my law enforcement characters), and others are as accurate as I can make it. As a reader, I have always enjoyed sorting out what is an actual place, person or thing, versus what the author just made up. So when I write, I write as that type of reader.

For instance, in The Good Life there’s Castle Corner. Which does not exist. Nor does Anderson Adventures. Yet I have shout-outs to all sorts of places that do exist like The Cornhusker, and Karma nightclub, Lo Sole Mio, Runza, Valentino’s, Mahoney State Park, Roncalli Catholic, and yeesh, many, many more Nebraska things. And while Ashland absolutely does exist (I love that town!), I didn’t even bother to try to be accurate in any shape or form. It’s alternate universe Ashland and Gretna, where the Anderson and Valentini families run amuck. Well, not amuck, but dispense shenanigans on the regular. So, when I write, I’m saying have fun on your scavenger hunt of hidden meanings and clues, but don’t take it so seriously!

Unfortunately, I have discovered there are some readers who find that confusing. For instance, just today I was asked about this passage at the end of The Good Life:

“Mmm, I dunno, I usually go for the scruffy nerf-herders instead of peace-keepers,” she pushed him up and tapped the St. Christopher medal around his neck.
“But I sense the force is strong with you… Get it? Because you’re on the force…” She dissolved into snorts on her way to the door.

I can totally understand, based on the dialogue, where the reader might ask, oh, is a St. Christopher medal for law enforcement? And no, I have had to answer a number of times already, that is St. Michael, the patron saint of law enforcement. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. I was trying to be clever that Kyle was Demi’s home port, so to speak, after her travels away from Nebraska. But, as my inbox would suggest, I was too “clever”, meaning not clever at all. Haha! Ah well, I’m sure there were plenty of you who didn’t pay it any mind. Just like I’m pretty sure by now my friends connected to the Omaha Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have learned to just “go with it” and have a chuckle at their fictional counterparts. I’m just telling a story here, people!

What was my point?

As usual, I have no real point except to admit that I enjoy when people discover/recognize my nods to history and real places and people that, yes, I did, on purpose, flirt with the “that would never happen” and I was trying to be clever with hidden meanings. I’ll just have to hope my readers forgive me when I fail miserably, haha!

What about you, as a reader or author, how accurate do you like your stories to be?

 

 

 

Here’s a peek at the characters from The Good Life (coming soon!)…


So, sometimes as a writer you see models or actors who remind you of the characters you have in your head. Here are some who remind me of the characters from the Dom & Kate romances. I hope their agents don’t sue me, that would be sad for them as I’m very poor. ;p

dom4 Dominic Valentini, football coach and PE instructor, former professional football player, loves socializing, sports of all varieties, doing anything with an element of danger, and everything about Kate Anderson. Mama’s boy with a bit of a temper.

~

 kate Katelyn Anderson, archaeologist, works part-time for the Midwest Archaeological Center, and part-time for the Nebraska State Museum. Homebody, loves reading, museums, science specials on TV, and running. The family pacifist and people pleaser, she avoids confrontation “the way everyone else avoids paying taxes”.

~

demi Demetria Valentini, outspoken vegetarian who makes occasional exceptions for cheese and eggs, pagan gift shop owner, created her own body-care line, prides herself on being a professional free-spirit. Loves Star Wars, hiking, and provoking reactions from people just for fun.

~

kyleKyle Anderson, police detective, moderately conservative Catholic, loves bacon, dark beer, hockey, and no drama. Especially no drama. One of five siblings from a family that’s “made an Olympic sport out of having children” as his partner Tommy says. More outgoing than his twin sister, Kate Anderson, but leagues less adventurous than his best friend Dom Valentini.

 

Read how Dom & Kate got together in these FREE short romances:

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Then check out this excerpt from The Good Life and enter to win a copy at Goodreads!

Enter to win a paperback copy:

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Goodbye hearts, hello shamrocks. I’m ready to let my inner Irish out.


There are lots of parts to me (and my family), but I’ve always been proud of the Irish bits and pieces. Why? Because I associate these parts with laughter, love, loyalty and perseverance. Is this exclusive to Irish folk? Nah, of course not. But every March when everyone becomes a wee bit Irish for a day, I smile and think it’s funny people think of drinking and parades. Because to me it’s always been about family and faith… that wee part of me.

Alright, enough of the pointless blither blather. I’m dusting off a Letter From Mickey that contains the sort of wisdom my grandpa was fond of sending me in HIS letters:

 

Dear Tommy,

First, I love you and I hope you are well!

A little birdie told me your hockey team didn’t make it to the finals. I am sorry to hear this and I know it is not from any lack on your part. You are quite talented, I am sure. Defeats are a part of life’s lessons for us I am afraid. Sadly they only get harsher as life moves on. But it is how you handle these disappointments that makes the mettle of a man. But I have no worries there, even as a young child you always brushed off disappointments with only a minimal fuss. A trait you get from your mother, no doubt, as it couldn’t have been easy raising you alone but she never complained. Even in the end shortly before she left, for as many arguments as we had she still was as loving and patient as ever. Every day I was able to spend with you, she always had a smile on her face and no matter the struggles she had, she could always find a way to spin a positive out of it. I remember one time when you were only about 2 years old, she had been ill all week with the Flu and had lost her waitressing job from the missed work. I brought her roses and the rent for the remainder of the year expecting to have to comfort her. But you know what she did? She smiled wide, handed you to me, and said, ‘I’m only sad I can’t smell these roses.’ I fed you dinner (spaghetti-os were your favorite) and I even got to give you your bath, something your mother usually did herself as I apparently made too much of a mess playing battleship with you. It was my habit each night I got to spend with you to rock you to sleep telling you stories your great grandfather, Seamus O’Malley, had passed on to me. Now, there is a man whose veins run with pure steel–he never met a disappointment he couldn’t turn into a blessing! He is a full 45 years older than I, yet he can still run circles around me in a spirited argument and still carves every day. If I possess even half of his vigor at his age I will truly be blessed. Anyway, this story was one of your favorites, or I should say, sent you to sleep the fastest, which in retrospect might be saying the opposite. You’ll have to tell me which case it is upon hearing it at an older age: 

Finnegan had been a hard working man, if the work you were speaking about was finding ways to do the least amount of work to gain the most. One of his favorite things to do was trick people in to buying his tales of magical healing wells. Now back then people had heard of Brigid’s Well but few knew where to find it. Finnegan would spin a yarn about how he had thrice been cured by it himself and he knew the secret path to get there. They would pay him in food and shelter and other such comforts to show them where the well existed. But wily Finnegan would lead them around in circles until they were good and dizzy then leave them off at the nearest spring he could find. By the time they discovered the water was just ordinary water, he would be long gone. One night he was sleeping in a barn and a Wee One appeared before him.

“Finnegan,” she said. “It just so happens there is such a well in Kildare as to make a sick man healed. Would you like to know how to find it?”

“Oh, yes, very much,” Finnegan replied, thanking his good fortune, but suspicious of it just the same. “What is it you would want in exchange?”

“You must agree never to trick others again. And, I must warn you, you can only drink the water if you truly seek healing.”

“Of course,” Finnegan agreed, while crossing his finger behind him.

The Wee One told him the well’s location and Finnegan began searching for it, out of curiosity and avarice. But every time he would get near where the well was supposed to be, he would find he was right back where he had started. But he would always begin again thinking this would be the time he would find it. He began to waste away from obsession and lack of food. One day as he was resting on a low wall along came a fair maiden. She gave him some warm bread and he told her of his quest. He figured he had been tricked by the Wee One just as he had tricked others because even now, when he was truly sick, he still could not find the water.

“You poor dear,” the girl said. “I’m afraid Morrigan left out the most important part. You must truly want to get well to find the water in the first place.”

“What foolishness is this?” Finnegan asked. “Of course I want to get well!” And he did, for she was quite beautiful and he could see himself raising goats and children with her as a good and honest man.

“Then drink,” Brigid said and waved her hand. Behind her apace was a small circle of stones with a bucket suspended atop. He drank the cool, mossy water and suddenly felt no desire to wander anymore.

He settled down and made a good life with her. But one day his past came to haunt him as these things tend to do. One of the people he had tricked in the past came seeking justice. When Finnegan offered to let him drink from their well, the man thought he was being tricked yet again and absconded with Finnegan’s bride. Enraged, Finnegan armed himself and his children and swore vengeance upon the man and all who would aid him, vowing he would not stop until he was reunited with his fair love. But he did not know Brigid had sacrificed herself rather than be used by his enemies. So, endlessly he searched, killing all those who dared try and stop him. After each battle, those who would come to claim the bodies of their kin would swear Brigid’s ghost would wander about the dead, crying for their souls, and singing: ‘Until we meet again, my love, until we meet again’.

Then one day, wearied unto his soul from his searching, Finnegan laid down his weapons and gathered his children and grandchildren near and said, ‘enough’ and breathed his last breath, thus finally being reunited with his eternal bride. But his children did not weep, for there is nothing so perfect as a thing with no ending and no beginning, such as a family of souls intertwined.

My dear boy, I think of this story often when I think of you and your mother, not just because it reminds me of when we were together, but because it gives me comfort knowing that eventually, we will be a family again.

Your loving father,

Mickey.

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Be done with it and just do the work.


Saw this the other day on Pinterest and it’s stuck with me. I don’t know about you, but I often have trouble letting the day “go”, and certainly while writing, I am thinking of all the other “places” in the story I need to be, or get to, or polish.

But you’ve GOT to just let it go, and begin each day with fresh enthusiasm.

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#ASMSG #BYNR Just a reminder for my fellow authors, poets, artists…


Here’s some advice I frequently forget to take myself:

On those days where it seems like you’re that person on the sidewalk playing your guitar to an audience of none and you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? Who is even appreciating this?”; on those days, don’t forget the person stuck working a shift inside the building you’re sitting next to who appreciates the music but may never get a chance to say a thing.

Play/write/create for you.

You never know who’s inspired by you… just being you.

 

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A friendly reminder for my friends doing NaNoWriMo…


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Haha! Nothing like a dose of Jason Statham  to get you motivated, huh?

I’m busy writing on The Good Life, the Dom & Kate novel (which is actually just as much a Kyle Anderson novel).

By the way, not to sound too needy or anything, but feel free to rate/review Third Time’s The Charm wherever you bought it or at Goodreads! I adore all the tweets and inboxes I’m getting, but why not share those thoughts with others?

Don’t be shy, I appreciate you more than you can possibly know! 🙂

#ThirdTimesTheCharm: A Letter from a sinner to his lover


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The following is a letter referenced in Third Time’s The Charm;

Somewhere around the twentieth letter she had given up any idea of secrecy or discretion. She drank up his words until her veins felt infused with his longing, rage, bitterness, humor, nostalgia and love, so much love.

~~~

My dearest Mary,

I woke this morning with the scent of you as clear as touch in my nose. You’d say that makes no sense if you were here, smell and touch are two different things, you’d say, and then I’d delight in arguing with you. Just because. It’s a sad truth that no one argues with me these days, unless you count Theresa. But there’s no joy in that, it’s like arguing with a child, pointless and absurd. There’s no joy in anything anymore. No, that’s a lie, which, again, were you here, you would be the first to call me on.

What I mean is, I could have sworn on a stack of Bibles that you were here, so strong was the scent of you in my bed. That lightly perfumed body soap mixed with the sweat of our bodies and the detergent you used on our sheets. Sheets you bought for me, or I bought, since it was my money that you would then spend on me so we could carry on pretending I wasn’t paying for everything anyhow. I think that was probably my first mistake–hard to tell, I made so many–not being more honest with you. The irony in that is I was just honest enough to hang myself, to give you the ammunition to destroy us, but not enough to give you a reason to stay. I get that. I really do. Doesn’t change anything, you’re still gone.

But everywhere I see the ghost of you, and worse, our son. Every red-headed woman turning a corner makes that cruel burst of longing re-appear, and every little boy’s laughter, a fresh knife-wound.  The only thing that helps a bit is rocking Kiki to sleep as I did with Tommy. I even agreed to try for another baby with Theresa, thinking that would help, but it just highlights what I’ve lost. I could have a thousand children and love them all, but my heart will never stop missing the one you stole from me.

First, you stole my heart, then my child, and now I am beginning to think you’ve stolen my hope as well. On the other hand, maybe that theft would be a blessing. Hope is a worse poison than anger or hatred. At least with vengeance in my heart, I have a purpose. Would that you could come home long enough to steal my memories as well. Without them, I might be free for once.

Yes, you’re right. That’s a lie, too.

I’ll never be free of you, and I don’t think I want to be. When I was with you I felt the most free I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt like I could just be Michael Downey, the man who loves Mary Gates. Michael Downey, Tommy’s father. Michael Downey, the guy who remembers to set the garbage on the curb, call his mother, buy you flowers on your birthday. Just a regular Joe, no pun intended. See, I still hear your laughter in my ears when I would make a bad pun like that, and I wouldn’t even have had to explain that I was talking about Big Joe and how un-“regular” he is. You just knew. You just knew me, the real me, better than you can possibly realize. Just like you knew even before your mind wanted to accept it that I was a criminal. It was never that you didn’t know me well enough to know I loved you, wanted to be with you and Tommy and not her. It was that you had no faith in me to do something about it.

And that’s where I’m at now, where the theft of hope began, I’m left with the bitter knowledge that the only woman I ever let into my soul had no faith in what she saw. She saw more liar than lover, more sinner than father. If you would have had just a little more faith in me maybe I could have found a way to be all those things at once. That‘s the chicken and egg of it all, did I kill your faith or did your lack of faith make me what you saw? A man who valued power more than his family. Unfortunately, just as I’m not the only thief between the two of us, I’m not the only killer. Because your lack of faith killed that hopeful man named Michael Downey.

Oh, I can just see your eyes narrow, your nostrils flare, and your cheeks flush as fiery red as your hair at the injustice of that statement. 

Come home and argue with me about it. I dare you. 

I love you, always,

Mickey.

Read the rest of the letters here: Letters From Mickey Downey

#ThirdTimesTheCharm: A Letter from a father to his baby daughter


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The following is a letter referenced in Third Time’s the Charm;

He let go of Kiki and fished a letter out of his pocket…

~~~

Dear Princess,

I am writing you this letter on the occasion of your seven month birthday. Why seven, you ask? Seven is a lucky number and I want as much luck infused into this letter as I can get. It’s actually my third attempt. The first was a bit too combative I think, a failure on my part to acknowledge the inevitability of certain things. The second, I dwelt a bit too much on other things I’ve lost and which should never be your concern. And so here we are, third time’s the charm, as they say. 

I’m going to hold on to this letter until you are grown and ready to start your own family. Which I hope is long after my death. Just kidding. Today your mother wants to take you to Festa di San Gennaro which I think is a horrible idea because my mind spins with all the possible ways you could get hurt by the crowd or scared by all the noises and scents. When you have your own babies I think you will understand how consumed a parent can get with protecting their child, and that brings me to the point of this letter. I want you to know that I love you far beyond any earthly want or need and that as long as it is within my power–even if that power is only my two bare hands–I will do my best to protect you from harm.

The day I give you this letter, or have it given to you, will be the day you have found someone who will love and protect you as much as your father can. I do hope I will give you this letter someday because even at seven months old I can tell you deserve nothing less than everything your sweet, joyful heart desires. I truly believe you are a gift from a God who has no reason to give a man such as me anything. But I will cherish every moment with you until the day I give you away to another and then I will cherish the memories I have of you.

Please know, in this life and the next, I will always watch over you and love you.

Your loving father,

Mickey.

Read the rest of the letters here: Letters From Mickey Downey

festadisangennaro

#ThirdTimesTheCharm: A letter from a mobster to his errant mistress


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The following is a letter referenced in Third Time’s The Charm;

Beneath the tray was a bundle of letters, no envelopes, about an inch thick. Mary’s hands trembled and she quickly rubbed them against her pant legs to remove her sweat. She sent a brief nervous glance at the doorway and lifted the first letter up.

~~~

My dearest Mary,

I would say first, that I love you, except mostly these days I despise you the way a man can hate only that which he once loved more than life. I take joy in that, actually, because today I realized I still have a heart. How could I still hate you this much if I didn’t? The truth is I hate you because I still love you and I would give anything if I could stop. You wanted me in prison for my crimes once, well this is a worse punishment by far. I hope you are happy, wherever you are. No, I hope you are empty. Empty like I am. I hope you ache the way I do. For everything we could have had together.

I decided to stop writing you today. It’s not fair to my children. I held my new son in my arms last night and I made a promise to myself. I will not rest until I find you. It was better to let you run and hide when Big Joe was in charge, but now I’m the man in charge and I will find my son and bring him home to his sister and brother. But until then, I have to stop holding on to the past. I thought writing these letters would help. I know now, nothing will help but to see you in front of me instead of in my memories. I’m only left to wonder, which will win out when I see you again? The love, or the hate?

Until We Meet Again,

Mickey.

Read the rest of the letters here: Letters From Mickey Downey