Thursday, October 31, 2013

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night 2014

Bob Hill and his new wife Betty are vacationing in it happens, near Transylvania . They‘re driving in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It’s late at night and raining very hard with thunder and lightning. Bob can barely see the road in front of the car. 

Suddenly, the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control it, but to no avail. The car swerves and smashes into a tree.

Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog. Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees his wife unconscious, with her head bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has to get help. Bob picks up his wife and begins trudging down the road. 

After a short while, he sees a light. He heads towards the light, which is coming from a large, old house. He approaches the door and knocks.

A minute passes and a small, hunched old man opens the door. Bob immediately blurts out, "Help! My name is Bob Hill, and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife is seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone?"

"I'm sorry," replies the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. But my master is a doctor. Come in, and I will get him!"

Bob enters as another older man comes down the stairs. "I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor. I am a scientist. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and since I’ve had some medical training, I’ll see what I can do for your wife. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."

With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely behind. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table.

After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried. "Things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion."

Igor and his master work feverishly, but despite all they do, both Bob and Betty Hill pass away.

The Hills' deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his conservatory, which houses his grand piano. Music has always brought him solace, so he begins to play, and a stirring, almost haunting melody fills the house. 

Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement, and he notices the fingers on Betty's hand twitching, keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise, marking the beat. He is further amazed when both Betty and Bob suddenly sit upright on the examining tables.

 Unable to contain himself, Igor dashes up the stairs to the conservatory, bursts in, and shouts,"Master! Master!

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music!"

I am Soooooo Sorry.....
But You Really
Should've Seen That Coming!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Welcoming Author Marilyn Meredith

Today I'm happy to host my good friend Marilyn Meredith here at Cicero's Children. Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, including the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation. She does like to remind everyone that she is writing fiction. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and follow her blog at

Halloween Memories

When I was kid, trick-or-treating was an adventure. We traipsed all over the neighborhood with no adults supervising. We older kids, and I’m talking nine or ten, had our younger siblings in tow. At least we had them until they got too tired and then we took them back home, and headed out again.

Those were the war years (WWII) and sugar was rationed, so the most wonderful treats were the homemade ones like popcorn balls, chocolate chip cookies, and candied apples. We had no reason to fear razor blades or poison. And we weren’t ashamed to hit up a house with homemade goodies a second time. We also passed the word where the “good stuff” was to others on the street.

One time I ventured out on my own. I can’t remember why, but probably my friends had tired and given up. I know I was on a street several blocks from home and had to climb a whole flight of stairs to a house I’d never been to before. I knocked and shouted, “Trick or Treat.”

A man with a fierce expression opened the door with a rifle pointed right at me. He growled, “You know what I do to kids who come trick or treating?”

Positive I was about to die, I managed to squeak out, “No, sir.”
He grinned, lowered the rifle and said, “I give them candy,” and he did.

I hightailed it home after that—and though I don’t know for sure, I have a strong feeling I never went trick-or-treating on my own after that.

What about you? What kind of Halloween Memories do you have?

About Spirit Shapes, Marilyn's latest book: Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree's investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.


The person who comments on the most blogs on Marilyn's blog tour will have the opportunity to have a character named after him or her in the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Tomorrow Marilyn will be visiting here:

To buy directly from Marilyn's publisher in all formats:
Her books are also available directly from Amazon.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Bullet to the Shoulder

Have you ever noticed how many mystery novel characters take a bullet to the shoulder and bounce right back into action in the next chapter? Is this realistic, or are some modern day writers simply following a pattern created by dime novel authors back in the years when fictional tough guys were all the rage?

Sometimes it's necessary to the story to let your hero take a beating or be shot by the bad guys. After all, criminals aren't nice people, and if your hero is involved in catching criminals for a living -- say he is a cop or a P.I. -- he stands a good chance of needing medical care at least once or twice in his life. 

Lydia Chin, a P.I. in S.J. Rozan's CHINA TRADE, took a classic beating in that book. Chin didn't miraculously recover from the attack in one day flat. Instead, Rozan portrayed her painful physical recovery over a matter of time, including limiting her ability to perform certain activities for the first few days. Rozan dealt in realism, unlike so many writers who minimize the effects of physical assaults on their characters. 

Now let's consider that bullet to the shoulder I mentioned earlier. If you look at the picture on the left, you'll notice there are more bones than muscle showing in the upper arm and shoulder area. Sure, a writer could simply "wing" his victim, grazing the upper outer arm with a bullet and leaving a nice gash there, but little other damage. That gash might require stitches, and it would certainly hurt like heck for a few days, but a tough hero could probably grimace his way through the pain while fighting off the bad guys, especially if he had the biceps of a football player with lots of muscle between skin and bone. 

But what if he's shot a little higher in the shoulder? Or what if he's lacking big biceps? And what if he's a size 4 she?? What then? You can probably deduce from the picture that a bullet of any size could do considerable harm to the clavicle, the scapula, or the humerus itself. Damage to any of those bones means our hero -- or heroine -- will be out of the competition for a while. 

And what about blood? In these pictures, the red indicates arteries, the blue indicates veins.

 "Winging" someone wouldn't cause much bleeding, but a bullet to the inside of the shoulder area could cause massive hemorrhage.

Shooting a character in the shoulder requires some thoughtful decision making on the part of the writer. Can the character be out of heavy duty action for anywhere from several days to several weeks? Can he do his job while wearing a sling on his arm or a figure-8 clavicle strap on his upper body? Will he bleed a little or a lot? Will he experience the minor but annoying pain of a simple gash, or the more exquisite pain of a shattered bone?

It's all up to the writer -- if the scene is to be written realistically.

So, how much damage would a bullet do to you? Check yourself out in a mirror. If you're a small woman like I am, you might be surprised at how little muscle separates skin from bones in your shoulder.