Posts Tagged ‘gifts from grandparents’







The Dangers of Flying Solo



Carol Wheeler sat in her car on a suburban street in New Windsor, Maryland. Her hand shook as she read the letter from the Department of the Navy for perhaps the twentieth time. It concerned something they had discovered about her grandmother’s role in World War II. The Navy had found a note in the wreckage of a plane that crashed in 1943, recently recovered in Appalachia. The note was traced to Charlotte Wheeler, Carol’s grandmother. Why had her grandmother put a note in a fighter plane that was being flown by someone else to a California air base? Charlotte had not been flying that plane. She did not die in 1943.

Carol pulled into the driveway of the home she grew up in and stared at it, memories of her childhood and school days flooding back. Maybe I can find something in the attic that will shed some light on this mystery. After all she did live here. Carol tucked the letter into her purse, shivering at the idea of entering that attic. Fishing in her purse, she pulled out the keys she needed to get into both the house, now occupied by a tenant, and the attic. I feel like a sneak thief, she thought. I’ll leave a note for Tallie. I don’t want her to think I snoop around here at will. I did send her a note. “Darn it! Why do I feel so guilty? I own this place,” she said, slamming the car door.

Gathering her resolve, Carol fumbled with the keys, finally selecting the correct one and entered the house by the side door, made her way to the second floor, and unlocked the door to the attic stairs.

“It smells the same. Probably nobody has touched a thing here since I put Mom in the nursing home. They’re going to put me in the loony bin if I don’t stop talking to myself.”

The heat in the attic produced a sheen of sweat all over Carol’s body, making her a bit light-headed. I’ll have to get out of here fast, she thought, propping the door open.

“Good. The trunks are where I remember them. Before she died, Mom told me all the family mementos are packed inside of them.”

Carol approached the trunks. Two were stained oak with barrel tops, bound in brass straps. The hardware was beginning to show signs of rust. The third one was a maroon steamer trunk, the kind used by immigrants bound for America on ocean liners. This was the one she opened. A strong smell of cinnamon and cloves rose from it. Inside were packets of letters. She scooped them up, and put them in her tote. The second trunk held picture albums. “It’s too much to carry. I’ll have to come back with someone.”

Curiosity got the best of her and Carol lifted a few framed pictures, turning them to the light from the single bare bulb. She gasped. The young woman in the one photo that fell out of the group looked back at her like a mirror image. The photograph was signed in the bottom right corner, Charlotte. My grandmother, Carol mused. That could just as well be me, she thought.

The door to the attic slammed, making Carol jump and clutch the photos to her chest.

“Who’s there?”

Carol ran to the door, pulling at it. It was stuck. She put the photos on a bureau and pulled at the knob with all her might. The door opened, nearly toppling her to the floor. She looked down the long hall where the door to the rest of the house stood open. A woman with a carefully pinned up-do of blonde curls, in a knee-length floral print dress was heading to the floor below.

“Tallie, is that you? Wait! Who is that? What are you doing in my house?”

There was no answer. The photo of Charlotte popped into Carol’s head. She shook herself to clear that vision, her hands trembling.

“That’s impossible,” she whispered. She put the photos back in the trunk, grabbed her tote, and ran out of the house. Heart pounding, Carol dropped the keys as she tried to lock the door.

Safely inside her car, she said, “What in the world was THAT? I’m not coming here alone again, she thought. Turning to the house, she muttered, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but did I just see one?”

AVAILABLE ON AUDIBLE.COM  https://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/The-Mystery-of-the-Lost-Avenger-Audiobook/B01N03QVRG/ref=a_search_c4_1_5_srImg?qid=1511903971&sr=1-5

Great Teen Mysteries

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The Adventures of a Self-Published Author Proves to Be a Matter of Trial and Error.

Ideas can come. And then, they can go.

Ideas can come. And then, they can go.

The challenge continues to be marketing. I finished the fourth book in the Annie Tillery Mystery series late this year, and it’s with the editor, and the illustrator who is working on the three illustrations I have included in all the books of the series.

I hope to get it to the publisher by the end of January. If you are an author, you know how that feels. If you are a reader, the story you are reading happens from the germ of an idea, and travels through much brain work to paper.

I’m now planning my marketing strategies. This is what I plan based on what I have learned:

  • Expensive services usually don’t measure up to their cost.
  • Social media is necessary and takes constant searching for the right sites, and input. POST. TWEET. POST. TWEET. ETC.
  • Twitter is a great research tool. Search for author services, contests and reviewers, as well as sites where you can advertise your books.
  • I’m beginning to wonder if all the “cheap” services I pay for might be better spent on a publicist.
  • There is an endless parade of folks who want to market your books. Choosing the right ones is a challenge, falling under the category of, “Some you win, some you lose”.
  • Review services are a chancy business, especially if your plot, background material, and for me science, are out of the ordinary. I paid for a review that claimed I should check my facts about my setting, one that I visited, recorded in pictures, journaled, and interviewed residents to get my information. This was such a stupid, unfounded criticism that I have become leery about asking for reviews. Don’t pay until you see the review.
  • Local media can be your best friend.
  • Make an organized plan for marketing, one that involves daily, weekly, and monthly activities using various media. This is essential for a self-published author, and probably for traditionally published authors as well.
  • In summary, be careful what you pay for. A lot of marketing can be done by you for free, or little cost.

teen mystery, girl detective, ghost story, summer read        An exciting YA mystery     New Annie Tillery Mystery

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Recently I was privileged to  do a Mystery Writers Workshop for a fifth grade class on Long Island. The students read my three Annie Tillery Mysteries, and  wrote me letters I will always cherish. The students are lucky enough to have a teacher who has developed a Literature Circle in her classroom. The school hosted an Author/Illustrator Night through Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and the students got to meet me. Later I visited the class and we did a mystery writeing workshop. See my previous blog. Here are some of the questions and comments from the students. What fun!

Reading and Writing

Reading and Writing

1. What does Annie, your main character look like. “I was wondering how you pictured Annie looking like and was it like the illustrations?”

2.”I love all these books because they have a lot of action.”

3.”I was wondering how you got the idea for mysteries.”

“The only way I can snap out of it (reading a good book) is if somebody takes the book, does something physical to me, or I simply look up to see what is going on.”

4. “I like the book because it reminds me of Indiana Jones and I also like how Annie has a lot of adventure.”

5. “Why do you have the same format for your book covers?’

6. “Why do you have the same characters in your books?”

7. “Why did you pick the name, Annie, for your main character?”

8. “Why did you choose the series to be mystery books?”

Whoops! I got an idea.

Whoops! I got an idea.

9. “Why did Annie not like her father?”

10, “I am reading your book, Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys, and I absolutely love it. The setting is fantastic, the plot is out of this world, and I can’t even tell you how good the characters are. I think the book has excitement, mystery, friendship, and romance all throughout the book. Where in the world did you think of such a good story?”

11. “I must ask you how you came up with he characters’ names? I myself am writing a story, and I am struggling with finding names for my characters. Are they based off of real people? Or did you just randomly pick names. My second question is did you include real facts about ghosts in the book? Or did you make them up? For example, in the story it said, ‘Don’t ghosts run on some sort of energy?’. When I read that, I felt more interested about ghosts. Also,k besides the questions I really admired how you put many advanced words. It helped me with my vocabulary, and it helps me become more of an advanced writer.”

12. “What inspired you to be an author?”

13. “Why do you write about ghosts?”

14.”I was wondering if you have any children, and what part do you live in?”

15. “When did you start being an author?”

Waiting for inspiration.

Waiting for inspiration.

16. How do you come up with your ideas for books?”
17. “What is your feeling about writing?”

18. “Is writing a story hard?”

Some of the questions were about specific plot choices I made.

I loved this comment too. “I think you chose the right job to be an author.” For those of you who write, it sometimes takes a long time to get that validation.

teen mystery, girl detective, ghost story, summer read

Annie and her boyfriend, Ty, uncover the secrets hidden by Fire Island and The Madonna Ghost.

New Annie Tillery Mystery

Take the magic carpet ride of your imagination to Turkey. Join Annie and Ty in the caves of mysterious Cappadocia for another thrilling adventure.

An exciting YA mystery

The Brooklyn Bridge leads to the mysterious brownstone in Brooklyn where Annie and friends must find the clues to solve the murder of John DiCristiani.

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The gifts of reading and writing open the universe to those who use them.

The gifts of reading and writing open the universe to those who use them.

The gifts of reading and writing open the universe to those who use them.

Tapping into my belief that Exciting Appropriate Literaturelike mystery bookscan spur interest in reading, a Long Island fifth grade class learns the art of mystery solving and mystery writing. using the story of “The Skeleton in the Old Lighthouse”. The workshop hits those important ELA skills of listening, reading and writing, and challenges critical thinking skills used to conduct an investigation and draw conclusions while tapping the creative energy needed to write a story. I’m waiting for their stories which will come just before school ends this month.

Here are some quotes from the readers.

“I love all these books because they have a lot of action.”

“I like the book because it reminds me of Indiana Jones and I also like how Annie has a lot of adventure.”

“I am reading your book, Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys, and I absolutely love it. The setting is fantastic, the plot is out of this world, and I can’t even tell you how good the characters are. I think the book has excitement, mystery, friendship, and romance all throughout the book. Where in the world did you think of such a good story?”

I loved this comment too. “I think you chose the right job to be an author.” For those of you who write, it sometimes takes a long time to get that validation.

NOTE: Search for “The Skeleton in the Old Lighthouse” in past blogs.

What happens when a skeleton is found in the old lighthouse.

united states life saving service

This 1800’s Fire Island Lighthouse assisted the U.S.L.S.S.

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Wish me luck! You can read my entry essay about DNA and authors by going to the following link. Just scroll down to my name. http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow50Writers2014-VotingPageFinalists.html

Learn about my books and if you are interested in mysteries and mystery writing, contact me about the programs I do in libraries, museums, classrooms, and for book clubs. Looking forward to hearing from you.


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Apparent Dangers of Drinking and Driving At 3:00 AM on Nov. 10, Marguerite Lange, her silver 2010Mercedes Sports Coupe, a half-filled bottle of vodka and a plastic bag of white powder landed in a ditch located at the bottom of a steep hill bordering Rte. 17 in upstate New York. The car had apparently gone out of control and went off the highway, rolling several times before landing upside down in the ditch. The police were able to recreate the accident from skid marks on the road and various impressions and disturbances observed in the area. DUI 3 Marguerite forgot her seat belt. She was quite dead. The bottle of vodka was spilled on the front seat. The bag of white powder was in the glove compartment. The first person on the scene was P.O. Nelson who had received a call to check out the wreckage sighted by a passing motorist at 7AM. Nelson noted that Ms. Lange’s head was tilted at an odd angle, and surmised she had died of a broken neck. He also noticed a nasty bruise on the side of her head (left temple). The windshield and other windows of the car were intact. One of Marguerite’s wrists was exposed and curious red marks appeared there. She was wearing a very expensive black silk jumpsuit, a fox coat and no jewelry, not even a wristwatch. Because of the presence of the suspicious white powder, the alcohol and the circumstances of the body, the crime scene unit was called in. The scene was isolated from unauthorized persons, and evidence was collected.                                                                                         Marguerite Lange’s body was taken to the morgue and the M.E. did an autopsy.  The crime scene unit screened the car for evidence; the deceased’s purse, other objects, trace evidence and fingerprints. This evidence as well as the bag of white powder and the bottle of vodka were sent to the forensics lab for investigation. The following items of information were obtained by the crime scene unit either directly or deduced from analysis of the evidence.

  1. The deceased’s purse revealed that she was employed by John DiCristiani, who imports rare hardwood lumber from South America for the manufacture of very expensive custom-made furniture . She was his office manager. The Mercedes is registered in her name but the insurance card shows that the car is insured under DiCristiani’s policy. A check on DiC shows that he had been under scrutiny by the Treasury Department because of some illegal substances of the white powdery variety showing up in his wood shipments. No indictments or convictions showed up.
  2. The fingerprints found in the car belonged to Lange, her sister, DiC and an unknown set.
  3. The fiber evidence included fox hair, gray cat hair, Lange’s hair, her sister’s hair, and short gray human hairs which turned out to belong to DiC. Several coarse navy blue wool fibers are found adhering to the back of the driver’s seat and the rug near the driver’s door sill.
  4. The bottle of vodka is vodka, pure and simple. No fingerprints on the bottle, not even Lange’s.
  5. The white powder is cocaine, uncut.
  6. The bruise on Lange’s temple was inflicted by a punch. The M.E. was able to show the impressions consistent with three knuckles and a thrusting thumb. The red marks on her wrist also consistent with human intervention, a strong grasp.
  7. Examination of the car showed that besides the damage done by the tumble down the hill, there were marks in the front bumper as if the car had been towed with a grappling hook.
  8. The M.E. found that the time of death was between 6 and 10PM of Nov. 9. The cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage. Her BAC (blood alcohol) was.03. No drugs were found in her system.

Were the police suspicious? You bet they were! Let’s talk about some of the evidence. The time of death is determined by algor mortis which is based on the temperature of the body which loses heat to the environment in conjunction with the temperature of the environment. Rigor mortis is also used which is the stiffening of muscles after death, and the eventual relaxation of those muscles, all happening at a predictable rate. It was Nov. so Lange was temperature was not conclusive, but rigor mortis told the tale, along with other chemical changes obvious to the M.E. The real telling evidence was her toxicology profile. She was not driving drunk or impaired. That is if she was driving at all. Blood alcohol level is determined by sampling a body fluid of the deceased, like the fluid in the eyeball, if blood is too congealed. Alcohol is detected in the blood stream by use of gas chromatography which separates the components of the blood at specific rates. The rate of ethyl alcohol is known and the apparatus records it. The presence of drugs is detected by taking tissue samples from the liver, stomach contents, and body fluids. The tests used involve the spectrometer and gas-chromatography/mass spectrometer. The spectrometer identifies the molecular make-up of drugs by observing the interaction of various frequencies of light with the molecules.  Molecules are as individual as a person’s DNA, so the pattern of light interference will be specific for each drug. The gas chromatograph separates the drug sample which is usually a mixture of materials into its component parts. This allows the samples molecules to be analyzed in their pure form which is the only way they can be identified. Every molecule has its own fingerprint. The mass spectrometer identifies the drug from a fingerprint it produces when the molecules are shattered by a stream of ions. These instruments produce results equal in veracity to a fingerprint. The tool marks on the car are determined by an expert who compares the marks to a data base of imprints made by various tools. The blue wool fibers will only be helpful if the source of them can be associated with a person who is also incriminated by other evidence, such as the possession of the grappling hooks. If so, the metal on the grappling hooks would have left trace evidence on the cars bumper, which the forensic scientist can identify. The fact that there are no fingerprints on the vodka bottle and the bruising on Lange’s corpse, coupled with the time of death indicate that she was dead at the time of the “accident” which the police believe was staged. Who did it? An investigation of her private life, and her relationship with her boss may afford valuable leads.

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Here’s a Blog Post that let’s you, the reader of Annie Tillery Mysteries, wallow in the trivia of forensic science and history.

For instance, did you know that the United States Life Saving Service, mentioned in The Madonna Ghost, was the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard? The men of the U.S.L.S.S. rescues our ghost who later perished from her ordeal. In the span of their existence they were responsible for assisting 669 vessels between 1877 and 1915, according to the Annual Report of the U.S.L.S.S. One such wreck occurred off Cherry Grove, Fire Island  in February of 1895, the wreck of the Louis V. Place. As the crew members, clinging to the frozen rigging, waited to be rescued, they fell, one by one, to their death, or were rescued, only to die from the effects of their exposure to the elements. When all was said and done, only one survived, seaman Claus Stuven. He returned to the sea, and continued to serve on ships.

Read more, Fire Island, Heroes and Villains by Jack Whitehouse.

It was the rich, and sometimes lurid history of Fire Island, that sparked me to create my ghost.

united states life saving service

This 1800’s Fire Island Lighthouse assisted the U.S.L.S.S.

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Please join me at these events where I will be selling my books. These books are wonderful stocking stuffers and gifts for mystery lovers and girls of all ages. See you there!

NOV. 24, 10AM – 6PM
ST. JAMES RC CHURCH, 80 Hicksville Rd., Seaford

NOV. 30, 7PM – 10PM
990 Stewart Ave., Garden City, Suite 100

DEC.1, 10AM – 4PM
3945 Jerusalem Ave., Seaford

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Visit Linda and Karen at the Ocean Beach Crafts Fair in Ocean Beach on Fire Island, Aug. 13 – 14, all day.

Linda Maria Frank and Karen Bonnet will be offering their books for sale under the banner, Whale of a Tale: Adventures for Young Readers.

These books are wonderfully exciting and imaginative. Karen writes for elementary school children, Linda for teens. Check the fliers below for a full description of their works





Whale Island book discussion flier2

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Here is Annie's new mystery. Look carefully at the cover to find the clues she will need to capture a murderer and uncover an intriguing ring of art forgers.

Hold on tight as seventeen year old Annie Tillery must turn on her detective skills again, solving the murder of an art gallery owner in the glamorous world of international art and the dangerous world of art fraud.
In this new Annie Tillery mystery, Annie wins a series of art lessons at a prestigious art gallery. At her first lesson she finds herself drawn into the illicit world of art forgery. Her teacher, Francesca Gabrielli, has agreed to copy art pieces for the director of the gallery, John DiCristiani. Francesca finds out what her copies are used for and she confronts him. They have a violent argument and when DiCristiani is found murdered, Francesca is the prime suspect. The key to solving this case revolves around a mysterious brownstone in Brooklyn whose inhabitants present tantalizing and elusive clues. Annie and her N.Y.P.D. detective aunt, Jill Tillery, brave the dangers of an international art fraud ring to clear Francesca. You won’t be able to stop turning the pages as Annie and Company try to stay one step ahead of DiCristiani’s murderer, escaping one deadly trap after another. The stakes are high in this glamorous and very dangerous world of illegal trafficking in artwork.


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