Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gayle Bartos-Pool Sums Up Sisters-in-Crime Anthology, "LAst Resort"

Los Angeles writer
Michael Connelly
If Michael Connelly introduces a book, you know it has to be worth a look. This time he focuses on a journey through Los Angeles, its dark alleys and places tourists never go. Who inhabits these locals? People who come from out of town looking for fame, fortune, excitement, or maybe just a place to bury a body. L.A. is like a drug. It can cure and it can kill. Read on.

“Eggs Over Dead” by Wendall Thomas shows us that waitressing might be a dead end job when you came to L.A. to be a writer, especially when your one break turns sour, but sometimes when the meal’s finished, the just desserts can be delicious.

“The Ride of Your Life” by Laurie Stevens begins with a carjacking. Los Angeles put them on the map. But you never know who might be in that car.

“Method Actor” by G.B. Pool tells the story of a New York actor who is offered a part in a Hollywood movie by a producer with one condition: the actor has to kill the producer’s wife with a smile on his face. Our young thespian practices his craft across country and tops it off in L.A. before the cameras roll.

Available at Amazon
“The Best LAid Plans” by Anne David lets you know you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl. This gal hasn’t lost her green thumb because the tomatoes grown in her backyard are winners. Wonder what kind of fertilizer she uses?

L.H. Dillman weighs nature vs. nurture in “Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” When a street punk from Chicago comes to Los Angeles to be nurtured by his very caring aunt who works as a housekeeper for a wayward “parachute kid” in a mansion on the expensive side of town, he learns a valuable lesson. But L.A. can play havoc with your schooling.

“Highland Park Hit” by Gay Degani lets us know family is family. But when you come from Louisiana to help your cousin with his daughter and find a dead body in the living room, you might need more than Gorilla Glue to fix the problem… like maybe a good dose of Law & Order…Lennie Briscoe style.

“Independence Day” by Avril Adams tells the story of Ava who’s just out of prison on the 4th of July. This gal is looking for her own kind of fireworks like finding the guy who killed the wrong people and got away with it. Let the fireworks begin.

Lynn Bronstein’s “Mimo” is a poignant tale of a tiny woman heading for a dead end… her way.

“Today’s the Day” by Mae Woods features a spurious psychic who had a pretty good operation going in prison, but when she tries to ply her craft on the outside she finds out con artists sometimes can’t read the handwriting on the wall.
Figueroa Street in Highland Park

“Little Egypt” by Georgia Jeffries lets you know it’s hard to bury your past especially when there’s always somebody around who will dig it up for you. But some memories can be buried for good… or maybe for bad.

“Thump Bump and Dump” by Wrona Gall is a study. When you think your lifestyle needs a makeover, why not move to L.A. and fix somebody else’s problem. It just might make a new man of you…

“Hired Lives” by Cyndra Gernet takes a trip back to a quieter time in Los Angeles where you meet an older couple who only want a few simple things out of life, so they put an ad in the paper for a couple who can provide just what they want. Ask for references…

Sarah M. Chen’s “Nut Job” introduces us to Hector, a guy with friends who have a great idea to make big money. With that money he would make his girlfriend happy. She wouldn’t dump him. What could go wrong?

“Crime Drama/Do Not Cross” by Melinda Loomis features Alexandra Jones. She goes by Zan. She’s currently working as a private detective. But when your favorite TV show, the one where you know all the episodes by heart, is ending its run, and you really want to be an actress, not a P.I., but you can’t get a job, sometimes reality and fantasy collide.

“On Call for Murder” by Paula Bernstein is the story of a dead surrogate mother, a question of paternity, an arrogant doctor, and another doctor who has questions and gets answers that just might get her killed.

Stephen Buehler’s “Seth’s Big Move” shows us that you can have bad days… and then you can have the Titanic. Seth is a wannabe actor from Indiana who can’t catch a break in Hollywood. Then he meets Emily and he’s going to move into a new apartment and share his life with her. And he has a small inheritance. Things are looking up, but than he looks at his bank account… Can things get any worse?

Last Resort is the latest anthology from Sisters-in-Crime/Los Angeles, edited by Matt Coyle, Mary Marks, and Patricia Smiley.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author Anne David "The Best LAid Plans"

Excerpt from “The Best LAid Plans” by Anne David

Irene had arrived in Los Angeles at the Greyhound bus station shortly after her twenty-first birthday. She shed the name Elvira Klotzman in favor of Irene Ross on the long road trip from the farm in Minnesota. A substantial stash of movie magazines in her travel bag, the source of her information on how to break into the movies, reported on the many stars that had changed their names. No shame in doing that. Better John than Marion, or Marilyn than Norma Jean. Irene seemed glamorous, but dignified, and there didn’t seem to be any Irenes on the movie scene right now. Irene Dunne was the last one she knew of, so there wouldn’t be any confusion with someone else.

The seedy people wandering around the outside of the bus station and the general dinginess of the street dismayed Irene, and she realized that she had no idea where to go. She had some money saved from her waitressing job at the Prairie Café from the last few years to get her started, and her mother had pressed a twenty-dollar bill into her hand as she boarded the bus.

“Be careful.” Her mother was a woman of few words. “You can come home anytime.”

Her father just stood with his hands in his overall pockets, chewing on a toothpick. “Take it easy, girl.”

None of them was demonstrative, so no hugs or kisses. She did have a slight lump in her throat though, because as far as she was concerned she wasn’t coming home again. She would never return to the backbreaking work of a farm, with the endless chores and the smell of the place on your clothes and in your hair, and the dirt always under your fingernails. The long hours aged a person beyond their time. Look at her mother.

“I’ll write.” And then she was on her way.

The Rochelle Staub Questions

Photo by Charles Ng - Time On Film
What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in Los Angeles?

My daughter’s dog was running off leash in the Hollywood Hills and came bounding back from the brush dragging a plastic bag that contained a severed head. Needless to say, he made the papers and late night TV. The mayor even issued him a commendation from the City of Los Angeles. That might actually be the weirdest part.

Do you have a yet-to-be realized L.A. dream?

I’m looking forward to the day when the L. A. highways, byways, and freeways are trash free.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What’s in it for you?

"What’s in it for you?" and "why write at all?" are two sides of the same question for me. It’s like an out of body experience in which I can relive an episode from my past, or project myself into another life altogether. It’s a chance to expand the finite experiences of a single lifetime into an ever-changing universe.  As far as "why write short stories?"… not every idea merits a book, but most ideas merit the telling.

What is the biggest challenge to writing to theme?

I wasn’t so much challenged by the theme as by the word count. That makes you hone the language and boil the story down to its essence - no sidebars, flights of fancy, or unrelated facts allowed.

Are the characters in your story based on you or people you know/met?

I don’t think so, but then you store a lot in your sub-conscience and it probably comes out in your characters. 

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story, and how did the area influence your story?

Available at Amazon
I got to know Silver Lake when my daughter and her family moved there several years ago. The side streets can be narrow and winding and very confusing, and I used WASE to find my way around. It never seemed to take me on the same route twice, always looking for the least traffic, so I developed a real appreciation for the quirky neighborhoods and a healthy respect for the treacherous hill streets. It can take your breath away to crest the summit of the neighborhood roller coaster ride, have the sun in your eyes, and meet a garbage truck coming at you.  I also spend a lot of time driving the stretch of Sunset Boulevard that runs through Silver Lake, not the posh stretch, and there is a never-ending stream of pedestrians, mostly young, and you wonder where they come from and how they live.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life – yours, hearsay, or a news story you read?

The singles bar scene was a pretty standard one in the 70’s, and characters like Roy were usually lurking there, waiting for an Irene to come along.

What came first, the character or the plot?

They came together, but not as they finally played out in the story. Irene followed me around for days declaring that she was rich and famous, but had to back down from that position when her humble farm girl origins began to emerge. But as Irene evolved, so did the plot.

While you’re writing: music (what kind?), dead silence, or… ?

I have to write first thing in the morning. I’m up at six, make a cup of coffee and retreat to my quiet corner, away from the household traffic and the distractions of email, TV, or phone calls, which can tempt me back into the real world.

Favorite writing quote – yours or from someone else…

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Mark Twain

Your writing ritual begins with…

Reading aloud.  I like to hear how the words written yesterday sound today.

Anne David retired from a lifetime spent in elementary education and now lives in Pasadena with her husband, John. She had intentions of beginning a new career writing children’s books, but somehow she deviated from that plan and turned to murder and mayhem with a novel, The Accidental Benefactor, followed with another murder in her short story “The Best LAid Plans.” She has a BA in English, a MA in Reading Instruction, and a PhD in Literacy and Language Arts. Her children’s book, The Three Basketeers, is the first in a series developed for the emerging reader.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author Melinda Loomis "Crime Drama/Do Not Cross"

Excerpt from “Crime Drama/Do Not Cross” by Melinda Loomis

So I became Zan.

A crapload of paperwork (part of which, the prior experience requirement, I fudged), background check and one state exam later, and I had my PI license. No one questioned that I was changing my name at the same time. I concocted the story that I was an actress trying to remake myself to try and jumpstart my comatose career, and that was the end of that conversation. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought Alexandra “Zan” Jones was a lot catchier and more dramatic than Susan Cooper. I bought my first fedora and started wearing it 24/7, and gave myself a catchphrase for good measure. I figured it would all come in handy when I finally got on the show.

Because, you see, it was also a calculated career move. I hoped that in addition to getting to be Zan, that eventually I could solve a high enough profile case to make the news. My plan was that the novelty of casting an actress who was a real-life PI on a show about PI’s would prove irresistible to the PI: Private Investigators producers and network, and I would be in.

The Rochelle Staub Questions

What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in Los Angeles?

It was actually something that almost happened. I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and there was a huge crash behind me. A palm frond had fallen and hit the sidewalk. A guy walking toward me held his hands about twelve inches apart and said, “It missed you by this much,” and I thought, what a stupid way to die. I had visions of LAPD notifying my family just like they do on T.V.

Do you have a yet-to-be realized L.A. dream?

Writing for television. I’m currently in the UCLA Extension TV Writing Program and would love to be able to make my living doing that. I’ve worked so many jobs I loathed that it would be wonderful to have a dream job.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What's in it for you?

I’ve only recently discovered the markets for short stories. I’ve always had trouble trying to write novels or feature scripts; it gets to a certain size and I just can’t wrangle it. But short stories and TV scripts are manageable for me.

I’m not a brilliant conversationalist, but I feel like I’m able to express myself well in writing. And I like crime writing in particular because I like seeing people get what they deserve, good, bad, or otherwise. That doesn’t always happen in real life so it’s nice to see justice served, even if it’s fictional.

What is the biggest challenge in writing to theme?

Hoping that the judges will feel you’ve met that particular requirement.

Are the characters in your story based on you or people you know/met?

No, more like types of people. So many people come here to break into the entertainment industry, but most won’t make it. I’ll watch the credits of old movies and TV shows and wonder what happened to the actors who didn’t make it big. You know their Hollywood dream wasn’t to have their biggest credit be “Girl at party” or “Guy at bar”. I wonder about those people and what happens to them when the dream eludes them.

Plus, thanks to the internet, people who are overly obsessed with TV shows have an outlet to share that with the world and some of it is kind of disturbing, so that contributed to the idea of someone who was such a fan that she tried to live as if she was a character on the show.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story, and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

When I read the theme for LAst Resort, my mind went straight to an actress whose career hadn’t happened. Of course she’s still in Hollywood—leaving would be admitting defeat. I lived in Hollywood during the same period as Zan, so I know my way around the neighborhood and its recent history. I didn’t need to research it.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life—yours, hearsay, or a news story you read?

The catalyst for Zan becoming a private investigator, the checks being stolen by a neighbor, actually happened to me. She cleaned out my checking account. The difference is my neighbor didn’t answer the door when I tried to confront her. But I still had this amazing feeling of euphoria from solving the crime, plus I was able to tie it to the TV show Zan is obsessed with.

What came first, the character or the plot? 

The plot, based on the theme. I know I said earlier Zan came to mind immediately, but it was more her situation and her obsession than her personally, and that’s what drove the story.

While you're writing: music (what kind?), dead silence, or…? 

I find listening to songs while I’m writing to be distracting. I usually have creativity music from YouTube going because it stays in the background. There’s a website called that plays coffee shop background noise, and I use that sometimes because it’s also background enough that it doesn’t distract me.

Favorite writing quote—yours or from someone else…

Anne Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

There was major family drama after my father died in 2011 that was extremely traumatic and unnecessary, all the responsibility fell on me, and it made me depressed and angry. It went on for several years and at one point I thought, when this is over, I never want to think about it again, EVER. Earlier this year I used the experience as the basis for a script for my UCLA Extension class and got raves for it. Enough time had passed and I was able to use the experience to my advantage. It was wonderfully cathartic and Anne’s quote was an inspiration.

Your writing ritual begins with…

Unfortunately I procrastinate like crazy, so my “ritual” usually involves me suddenly being interested in housework. When the deadline is looming and I don’t have any choice is when the muse finally shows up. I submit right at deadline a lot.

Melinda Loomis was born and raised in Southern California. She has at times been an office drone, culinary student and unemployed bum.

LAst Resort is her first time being published. She got the news that she was accepted as a contributor on her birthday.

Melinda lives in the Los Angeles area with her extremely photogenic cat Sophie. Visit her online at .

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author Avril Adams "Independence Day"

Photo by Maya Rosenfeld

Excerpt from "Independence Day" by Avril Adams

"So what brings you here?" she said.

"Business or pleasure?" The corners of her lips turned slightly upward when she said "pleasure". Easy does it, Ava. Take your foot off the gas.

"Neither." He glanced, discreetly, she thought, for a wedding ring. She folded her left hand, hiding the crooked middle finger broken during the escape. Frank had sent his own man from the mortuary to push her into a false-bottom coffin for the getaway.

"Art, you might say. I'm a writer. Freelance."

"What are you freelancing?" As if she didn't know.

"I'm covering the Coburn murder trial for People's Gazette Magazine."

"The Coburn murder trial? That gangland murder up in the hills a few years ago?"

"That's the one," he said with emphasis, circling a thick finger around the crest of his glass. Ava shivered, her well-shaped breasts contributing their part to the performance.

She set her drink on the bar and poked at the ice cubes with a swizzle stick while she thought of something to say that would imply she had some sympathy for the victims. "So they finally got the killers," she said. "I remember seeing the coverage and thinking what they did was so cold-blooded." She held her fingers like a pistol. "Each one of them, two to the head, pop, pop, execution style. Weren't there four people in that house? Four college students?”

"I believe so," he said, thoughtfully, after a pause. "Yes, four. You have a good memory, Danni."

One of them was Frank’s niece, you Dumbo. You could have just taken the cocaine, but you’re a killer at heart. So you’re gonna be number five, Conrad Oliver.

The Rochelle Staab Questions Asked of Avril Adams

What is the weirdest thing that's happened to you in Los Angeles?

One night someone knocked on my door. I lived on a hillside at the time and it was a hard climb without a car. I opened the door and there was a woman standing there. She had red hair and wore glasses. She said her car had broken down and asked to use my phone. Right out of a horror movie, right? Well this was in the days before cell phones so it was more reasonable than now. Since she appeared to be alone I agreed to let her use the phone . I pointed it out on the kitchen wall. I was busy for a moment as she picked up the receiver but unknown to her I was watching. I realized she hadn't actually dialed a number but was just pretending to talk to someone. Then I was really scared but I didn't let on. After a minute of very strange conversation she asked if she could stay the night. Whew! I was scared. I finally got her to go outside and locked the door behind her.

Do you have a yet-to-be-realized L.A. dream?

My dreams don't center around this town. This city has a thousand masks and you can try on a few but sometimes the masks can overtake you and you can become part of the craziness. I'm okay with being in it but not of it.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What's in it for you?

A lot of life is about karma and the law of unintended consequences. Shot stories allow me to play god with these ideas, pack a punch and get out quick. Sometimes short stories leave an indelible mark because they are brief, ephemeral,  pivotal moments in time.

What is the biggest challenge to writing to theme?

Writing to theme can be a curse if you feel you have to be totally linear with it. It can also be a blessing in that it winnows a universe of possibilities down to a manageable few.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

This city is full of neighborhoods but most people drive through or around them without ever stopping to meet the people that live in them or to experience other cultures. You could have a story with a certain set of facts but it will be completely different when filtered through different neighborhoods and ethnic group experience.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life-yours, hearsay, or a news story you read?

Most of my stories are based on something real, in the news, an idea in a book, something that happened to me. I rearrange the facts and try to figure out why this event is important and what is the theme that I want to dress it in.

What came first, the character or the plot?

For me, always the character.

Available at Amazon
While you are writing: music (what kind) dead silence, or...?

I can sometimes write when there is music or the T.V. going on in the room, usually classical or something without  words. I can work while half-listening to the T.V.  Noise isn't so much a distraction but a mood changer. Sometimes that's also good to change the mood.

What's your favorite writing quote?

I don't really have a favorite but if I did it would remind me that one writes for its own sake and not for a reward or if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

What's my writing ritual?

Don't have one but I often warm up by reading something great by another author.

Avril Adams lives in the Inland Empire.  She writes crime fiction, often in the noir genre.  Her story, "The Lowriders" was included in Last Exit to Murder. She has had several other short stories published.  In addition to crime fiction, Avril writs science fiction with a humanist twist as well as children's stories. She is working on a novel starring an African-Amercican female PI. Her animals are an inspiration for her fiction.