Paulie has launched. My buzz team and I have some fun things planned to keep you all entertained and engaged with Paulie and Kate. But the work doesn’t stop there.
The Beacon Street Mysteries are still growing! Angel’s Gate (working title) is next up, and I have a whole new mystery for you to solve. “Regulars” Case & Amy (Point Surrender), Matt & Rebecca (Cape Seduction) and Jack & Maddie (In Too Deep*) all return to enrich the story around newcomers Nate and Emelie, who find something very wrong at Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse. A Beacon Street Mystery wouldn’t be right without a venture into the past, and Angel’s Gate happened to be a very interesting locale during World War II.
Taking a cue from popular Hollywood techniques, here is the “meet cute” between Nate and Emelie. Nate is on his way from Arizona to Los Angeles, where he hopes to uncover answers about his family history. Emelie is heading home from a weekend in Lake Havasu with her pals. Here’s an excerpt:
Nate stared out of the bus window as the Blythe, California, Greyhound station came into view. Was it the right thing to do, going back to Los Angeles? Of course it is. I have no choice. It won’t leave me alone until I do.
The going-away party had been tough. Especially the kids. “Why are you leaving, Mr. Sinquah? When will you come back? Who will teach us our soccer lessons?”
So deep into his thoughts, Nate didn’t notice the girl standing in the aisle until she spoke a second time.
“I’m sorry, I asked if this seat was taken.”
“Oh! No, no, it’s not. It’s empty. I mean, no one is sitting here. Yet. It’s, uh, free.” Nate moved closer to the window, despite the fact that the seats were individual.
The girl sat down and sighed. “Thanks.”
“Sure.” Nate forced himself to look straight ahead. It would be rude to stare, but from what he’d glimpsed, the girl sitting next to him was unbelievably beautiful. Long tresses of chestnut brown hair hung in gentle waves around her bare shoulders, framing a heart-shaped face like he’d never seen before. Warm brown eyes with attractively curved brows. Fair, flawless skin.
“So where did you get on?”
Nate started. “Uh, me?”
His companion pretended to look around. “Uh, yeah. You.”
“Oh. Um, Phoenix. I mean, I live in Flagstaff, but I got a ride to Phoenix first, you know, it’s not that far, but the bus… the bus doesn’t connect… at the right time.”
Crap. I sound like a blithering idiot!
“What about you?”
The girl lifted her perfect eyebrows as her eyes searched his face. “I just got on in Blythe. You know that, right?”
Nate pursed his lips. “Yeah, right. I meant, do you live there? Or, are you going someplace else? I mean, home, like, do you live in L.A.?”
“You’re cute. I’m Emelie.” She stuck out her hand, and Nate stared at it for a moment before taking it in his.
“Nate. For Nathaniel. Nice to meet you.”
“Same. I live in Santa Monica. And I would be home by now if I was not being punished. Dad thinks I need to be humbled. Hence, the bus ticket.”
Nate looked at his hands, clasped in his lap. “I’m sorry. That’s too bad. What did you do?”
“A little personal, isn’t it?”
“Oh, sorry, I thought—you know, you offered the part about being punished, so…”
Emelie laughed. “I left school without telling him. I never wanted to go there in the first place. It’s worthless information for a world I do not live in.”
“What world do you live in?” Nate asked softly, wondering how anyone could turn down a college education, something he could only dream about.
“Certainly not the one that turns out corrupt politicians, greedy corporate moguls and white collar criminals. So we had a fight, and he cut me off. Just like that. It’s okay, though. I will be fine.”
The frivolity in her voice dimmed toward the end of her short tirade. She’s not fine, Nate thought. She’s scared and sad.
“Besides,” Emelie continued. “I have other talents. I can earn good money with what I have. Personal services.”
Nate felt himself blush. “You—you don’t need to resort to that, you know. You could do lots of other things.”
“Resort to what? Oh! Not that!” Emelie laughed again, and Nate’s face grew even warmer. “I’m… special. I have a special talent. I’ll tell you if you promise not to laugh.”
“I won’t laugh.”
Emelie grew serious and stared past him out the window, so long that he was tempted to wave his hand in front of her face.
“I am psychic.”
“Psychic? Like, you can read minds or something?”
“It’s hard to explain. I… get visions in my head. I hear things. Things that happened in the past. I get feelings from, you know, others. It comes and goes.”
Nate’s eyes widened. “Why would I laugh at something like that? Back home, on the Mesa, you would be…”
“Would be what? What mesa? Wait—are you an Indian?”
Now it was Emelie’s turn for astonishment. “You don’t look like an Indian.”
“Well…” Nate searched for the right words. Outside the bus, the cactus rushed by. “Let’s just say that someone in my heritage might have been white. I’m a… a throwback?”
Emelie reached over and took a strand of his hair between her fingers. “You certainly got that Tonto mane.”
Nate licked his lips. References to the Lone Ranger’s Indian sidekick had long grown stale.
“The cheekbones work, and the dark eyes, too. But your skin’s too fair and those dimples just don’t say ‘How!’ to me.”
“’How’? Are you kidding me?” Nate smirked and looked toward the front of the bus, shaking his head. “Right now, I could say that your brown hair doesn’t match your blonde personality.”
Emelie’s quick intake of air reflected her outrage. Crossing her arms, she turned her head the other way. Nate continued to smile.
In Indio, they got off the bus for a cold drink. Nate went into the restroom and washed his hands and face, then neatened his hair with a comb. He stared hard at himself in the mirror and tried to chase the worry from his mind. Los Angeles was a metropolis. He was an under-educated Native American with common skills. He didn’t know the first thing about finding work in L.A., or where he would stay when he got off the Greyhound. His last job was in a reservation elementary school, but he had no credential. He could build furniture, but didn’t have so much as a photograph of the beautiful pieces he’d designed.
Taco Town. All-Green Landscaping. Sunny Acres Rest Home. His best friend Johnny’s suggestions on possible L.A. careers brought a smile. Yet Nate had left one important trait out of his self-assessment: he was a survivor. He would find something.
Back on the bus, he half expected the-girl-who-didn’t-use-many-contractions to find another seat, but she sat down beside him just before they rolled. After a few moments of silence, she giggled.
“I bleached my hair once. Platinum blonde. I thought Daddy would have a heart attack.”
Nate turned to look into her face. “Your hair is far too beautiful to mess with. No wonder he disowned you.”
Emelie colored and smiled with a glimpse of shyness. Encouraged, Nate ventured a question.
“What were you doing in Blythe, anyway? Doesn’t seem like a very fun place.”
“Havasu. I was up at the lake with a friend. I got a ride down to Blythe to catch the bus. I had to trade my watch for bus fare. But it’s okay, I did not need it. I almost never looked at it. And besides. I have my phone. That is, until Daddy remembers to cancel it.”
“Living without a cell phone isn’t so bad,” Nate murmured. “I gave mine up… oh, wait. I never had one.”
Emelie appraised him. “I like that. I think you are a pretty smart guy, Mr. Nathaniel Hopi.”
This time, instead of taking offense, Nate smiled. Inside his shirt, against his chest, he felt the warmth of the turquoise beads on the leather string.
So that’s it. How Nate and Emelie meet. They are young, they are sweet, they are about to embark on an unsettling quest together. Stay tuned for the third Beacon Street Mystery! Coming Fall, 2013. I hope.
Oh, and that asterisk:
* In Too Deep is currently getting ready to re-release under the Beacon Street imprint. You will be advised!
We are about a month away from our big book festival! So thrilled to be rubbing shoulders with such wonderful mystery, romance and suspense authors. Just for fun, I put together this little poster, showing what I hope is the most recent cover of each authors’ books. Take a peek at these intriguing titles!
In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing a little bit about each of our outstanding authors, so check back!
How was 2011?
As they say in the market, it was rather “flat.” That being, some good, some bad, all balances out. Certainly business for Valdata Services declined as I saw three clients close their doors, one being my largest long-term customer. Sad, indeed, and I will miss these great people I interacted with on a daily basis. I wish them all much success (and stability) in the coming year.
Another downer was my inability to get any writing done; that is, if you don’t count the nineteen essays I wrote for school. After a negative experience with a neurotic and overtly rude correspondent, I lost some ambition which is finally beginning to return.
I probably gained 13 pounds this year, and my school obligations discouraged me from getting to the gym, which I subtly abandoned in August. (They actually called to see where I was!)
On the upside, school was great and I’m 9 units away from my degree. The tutoring job I took at the college was rewarding and enlightening. I met lots of wonderful people this year, writers, teachers, high school alumnus, cancer warriors, mountain dwellers, and a few brave souls still working in escrow. I moved to Android this year, and my 6 year old Highlander is still running like new. My brother survived a life-threatening illness. My sons are both working, my grandson is happy and healthy, my daughter is a beautiful, talented and resourceful teen, and my husband realized his dream of building a mountain home. I am incredibly blessed and thankful.
What for 2012?
I have plans, nothing earth-shattering. I need to get back to the Y. I’ll return to my tutoring job in the spring, along with taking 6 units. I’ll complete at least one novel—hopefully the third lighthouse mystery set in Los Angeles. I’m going to try to re-release a couple of my backlist novels soon. Will continue to work with both the SCV Education Foundation and the Circle of Hope*. I hope to do some public presentations similar to one I did on California lighthouses for the library this past January. Three more units in the fall will finish my degree in English.
I also want to cook more,and visit more. Friends. People I keep saying I want to see but never do. And amidst all this activity, I want to stay calm, and healthy, and grateful.
*PS – See one way I’m supporting the Circle of Hope here!