Wednesday, October 28, 2015

3 Things a Writer Should Know

1. Every writer needs an editor including the publisher who uses three editors on her own book, Body in the Trunk. The day you think you can see all the mistakes is the day you get awarded "God-Spell" ;) LOL.

2. Selling a book bundle takes the same amount of time as selling a single book, so bundles are great and net more income. I always say it takes 10 minutes to sell $14.95 or $30.95. You might as well offer a bundle and make some real money.

3. The cover matters more than the content. Yes, no riots, please. People are drawn to your book by the cover. We're a visual society. Always make the cover draw them in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


3L Publishing, publisher of award-winning fiction and nonfiction, signed its first international Foreign Rights Deal

Sacramento, California—3L Publishing ( signed its first international Foreign Rights deal. The first deal signed with India-based publisher Manjul Publishing procured the Foreign Rights to the book The Power and Light that is You by Linda Lee. With this first deal signed 3L Publishing officially offers international Foreign Rights deals for all its author to reach out to the world.

The book actually was so good that two India-based publishers bid on it, and Manjul Publishing won the bid. It will thus be available in English and Hindi. The Power and Light that is You is a book designed to guide readers to become more aware in their lives and begin to understand the value and importance of their choices. It teaches readers how to shed old belief systems and mindsets, as well as to recognize that much of what happens in life can be changed by a simple choice, a choice based on how enlightened, powerful and brilliant ways of thinking can change how they are being and living.

3L Publishing President Scott D. Roberts successfully attracted and negotiated with a Foreign Rights agent who made this deal possible. “We expect many of our other titles’ Foreign Rights to be purchased by international publishers in the coming months,” said Roberts. “We’re very excited to see the company’s award-winning books available around the world. The sale of The Power and Light that is You is just the beginning of a powerful collaboration with our agent.”

3L Publishing is a boutique publisher that has numerous best-selling and award-winning books in its catalog. The company is a hybrid publisher that crosses the best of self-publishing with traditional publishing to produce quality books. 3L Publishing also provides traditional publishing for authors who have a qualified following of readers. Next year in 2016, 3L will be introducing Stephen Marinaro, AKA TheSalonGuy, freshman effort, a memoir chronicling his rise to fame and what he learned along the way.

“I am excited that the company I founded in 2006 has gone global,” said Michelle Gamble, CEO of 3L Publishing. “I never imagined we would be anything more than a domestic publisher. I thank Scott D. Roberts for his ambition and vision to spread our messages around the world.”

For more information, log onto, call 916-300-8012, or send an email to

3L Publishing is a domestic and global publisher. We offer both traditional and hybrid full-service publishing. We specialize in working with first-time and emerging authors. Our company mission is to strive for excellence in every aspect of publishing, from writing to editing, and from illustrations to graphics.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Body in the Trunk

Chapter 6

            I sat at the small, black desk with the white bucket chair in my hotel room. I kept looking at Evan’s card as I sat in front of my laptop computer now online. I kept wondering about him. How did he know I was in this hotel? Did he see me earlier? My phone rang: Paul’s name appeared again. It was a three-hour time difference. He never called me on the road. One time I went on a three-week vacation to see my cousins in Wisconsin, and he hadn’t called me the entire time. My cousins had never asked about it, but I could tell they had thought it was strange. Paul just didn’t seem to care anymore – out of sight as they say.
            “Hi, what’s up?”
            “Lulu is crying all day. She has a cold and doesn’t feel good. You need to come home!” he flatly demanded.
            “Paul, I can’t come home from New York City because Lulu has the sniffles. I spent $5,000 on the booth space alone.”
            “Can’t you get your manager to come out? What’s-her-face … Ellie?”
            “No, she’s on vacation in the Turkish Islands. Really Paul? You can’t handle your daughter’s sniffles for one day?”
            The phone went dead. He hung up on me like he routinely did when he deemed the conversation over. I held the phone away from my ear and looked at the screen.
“Love you, too, honey,” I sneered aloud.
            I got up, went to the bathroom, and stared at my reflection. Most people said I looked 10 years younger than my real age of 40. I had put sunscreen on my face since I was 16-years old, and good genes prevented my hair from going gray, although I colored it anyway to brighten it. I got my eyebrows waxed bi-weekly and had those unsightly facial hairs removed with laser treatments. I was vain at times, but overall not really. I knew I was beautiful only through constant comments from other men not Paul who rarely said anything nice. I wondered if Evan thought I was attractive. Well, what did that matter anyway? I was married. I sighed and felt tired.
As I stood staring in the mirror my mind wandered and then all of a sudden, I felt air on my neck, and I looked in the mirror again. Evan was standing next to me. His full lips and mouth got close to my ear, and I could hear his breathing and felt warm breath on my neck. It sent a chill and tingle down my spine. And then it felt like a pull and yank, and I was back in front of the mirror – alone.
            I stood straight up in shock and looked around. No one was in that room with me, but I had felt him, had seen his image in the mirror. I looked around, confused and uncertain. I had never experienced something so strange. I sucked in oxygen and paused. I looked around again. Yes, I was totally alone. What happened? Now though it was like Evan crept under my skin or plugged some invisible tether into me. I kept thinking about him. I wasn’t sure if I was troubled or not, but the slight touch of his lips against my neck left me with a sexual longing – a hunger which five minutes before hadn’t seemed possible. Longing for what, though?
I looked at the phone. It rang. “Evan,” I whispered.
I went to the desk and picked it up. The number was unfamiliar. I picked it up. “Hello?”
“Are you ready?”
“What? Who is this?”
“Oh, hi, ready?”
“Yes, to come up to the bar?”
“Yes, I’ll be there shortly.”
“Good,” and he hung up.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Body in the Trunk

Buy it for $5.99 on Kindle (click here)
Buy the print version (click here)

Chapter 5

The first time Phil sat and sized up Tess was at the Starbuck’s across the street from the station house. He found her cute, energetic and maybe a little ditzy; he wasn’t sure yet. Her strawberry blonde hair and bright green eyes sucked him in. Some guys loved women’s eyes, and Phil was no exception. You had ass men, tit men, and eyes guys – he loved eyes. His ex-girlfriend Diane had the most brilliant hazel eyes imaginable with curled, thick eyelashes. It also didn’t hurt that she had one of those amazing, hot bodies with big tits and a perfect, tight ass, but undoubtedly her eyes won. She could seduce him with one look.
“Those were the days,” he chuckled to himself as he sat and waited for Tess to bring the tea and coffee to the table.
Tess ambled over to him. She was holding each cup in her hands. She carefully placed Phil’s “Tall” tea in front of him, pulled out a chair, and sat down. She took a tense sip from her Mocha Grande and began to explain what she wanted to Paul. He sat across and listened to Tess nervously talk. She kept twisting the ends of her long hair and fidgeting with pink sugar packets.
“I saw you on that cable thingy show, you know what is it … Freedom-something-or-another?”
Free Access.”
“Yeah, that one. Okay, so you know you were talking about a body you found in some trunk. What? A Camry, right? Conservative car.”
Phil smiled at her, reached across the table, and placed his calm hand over the top of hers. She stopped moving the sugar packet and looked up at him. Their eyes met. He removed his hand.
“Yes, what about it, what’s your name again?”
“Tess, what do you want to know? I probably can’t tell you much because it’s still under investigation.”
“I want to … um,” she pulled her hair behind her left ear and looked down. “I want to write about it. You know, true crime.”
Phil sat back, grabbed his white cup filled with hot water with a teabag string hanging off the side. “I see … you a writer?”
“Well, all right so I’m not published yet, but this will be my big break!”
“You’re not a writer then?”
“No, um, yes, yes, I’m a writer,” she asserted as she found her confidence to just to say yes. She giggled and continued, “I was an engineer first, though.”
Phil nodded and kept observing her. “How does one go from being an engineer to a writer?”
Tess waved her hand down her body as if she was showing off a showcase on the Price Is Right.
“Do I look like an engineer?”
At that Phil allowed a slight grin to form on his lips. “No, Tess you do not look like an engineer.”
“Thank you!” she smiled. “I have a brilliant math mind, though. Well, whatever … look I just want to know if you’ll let me shadow you? Learn about the investigation.”
“I’ll check in with department protocol on the media, let you know.”
“Really?” she said in the sweetest, most delighted voice.
Phil found her endearing. She looked to be in her early 30’s but she had this childish, wonderful quality about her. He liked it. So many women were jaded by bad relationships, life’s hardships, horrible treatment, but here was this impish, cute and sweet woman that he almost wanted to call a girl, but she clearly wasn’t a girl. She kept talking with a restless, uneasiness about her. He wasn’t sure why she was so nervous, and she just went right back to playing with her hair.
She explained how she wanted to travel and see the “real” world. Phil kept thinking how the real world wasn’t so pretty. He thought about last week where he had walked into a low-rent apartment in South Sacramento, and there had been so much garbage on the floor, he had to kick it away just to get in the door. And the rancid smell of decay and rot had filled his nostrils until he had grimaced. A toothless woman with acne scars and sunken eyes had been arrested for turning her kitchen into a crystal meth lab. He came to find out she was all of 25 and had looked closer to 50. Drugs did that to people – and that was the “real” world. “Not very glamorous,” he thought, but here was this naïve woman ready to take it on with rose-colored lenses and dreamy fantasies.
“I don’t know if you’ll find what you’re looking for.”
“We don’t know what I’m looking for,” she replied with a grin.
He chuckled, “Guess not.”
She tilted her head to the side, “You married?”
He raised his empty ring finger, “Do I look married?”
She glanced at the ring-less finger and smiled, “No, but some men don’t wear their rings, do they?”
“See a tan line?”
“Not a very good detective, are you?”
She laughed and shook her head.
He continued, “Not married, don’t have a girlfriend. She met some nerdy Russian with a big dick and left me.”
“Does that mean you have a little dick?” smirked Tess.
“Ah, I guess I should amend my sob story.”
Tess got up on cue, extended her hand to which he shook it, and said, “Yes, you should.” She glanced at his package.
He was impressed with her balls and laughed, “Yes, I will!” He winked at her.
“Have a great day, detective,” she sauntered off with a grin on her face.
He watched her leave. She had a great ass for sure. Then he took one last gulp of his tea and thought, “I’m going to enjoy her.”
Later on, he did go back to the community relations department to ask protocol. He got approval with restrictions, of course, but she would be allowed to do research and write her book. He had called her back a day later, and his affirmation of participation had been met with a wonderful squeal of delight. He had held the phone away from his ear as she had started rattling off questions.
“No, no slow down. Let’s meet again tomorrow evening at The Mix downtown, all right? You can ask me all you want.”
“Oh, yeah sure. Do you mind if I record it?”
“Not at all. See you at seven?”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Daily Cup

As a publisher, the no. #1 comment I hear continually is ... "Everybody has a book in them."

While it's true we all have a story to tell, that comment doesn't address the professionalism required to make a book a reality. Using the various methods available to others to get their books out of them, it's true everybody can, in fact, have a book published. But that requires the realization that to get a book into the popular culture, it needs to be treated like any business endeavor -- and any business endeavor requires professionalism to do it right.

If you can't necessarily write, but do have a story to tell, you can do the following:

Hire a ghost writer -- Did you know many books aren't written the author whose name is shown on the front. A ghost writer is a professional writer who can make your story not only structurally make sense, but also grammatically work. A ghost writer knows how a book is supposed to be written, and there is no guesswork involved. This gives your project the highest possible odds of being published because it's done right the first time.

Hire an editor -- if you've written a manuscript already, hire a professional editor to clean it up. Even professional writers need an editor. Even this publisher needs an editor. You can't see the forest from the trees.

Graphics -- let the professionals design your book. The cover is often the most important element of a book to draw in readers. Cookie-cutter templates and stock photography can show up on another person's book. Let the professional use his/her knowledge and background to get it right.

Make sure a legitimate publisher puts your book out into the mainstream. Many authors think that Amazon's CreateSpace is a legit publisher. It's a tool. And there are many such tools like that one out there.

3L Publishing ( is a hybrid publisher that crosses self-publishing with traditional publishing to provide authors a professional outcome. Contact us today at 916-300-8012 or if you want your book done right the first time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Body in the Trunk

Purchase the eBook versions on Kindle (click here)

Chapter 4

Evan returned to his clean, white and sterile-smelling hotel room decorated in black, gray and white colors. He hadn’t been able to think of anything but Mia since he laid eyes on her. It was unusual for him to give any woman (even the most beautiful) much more than 10-minutes thought.
Mia though was different. “Why?” he wondered to himself. What made this blonde woman any more special than the hundreds of others he had fucked and left? He didn’t really know to be honest. She was definitely gorgeous, but again, he had fucked world-class beauties in his time. A wealthy father and three handsome and older brothers guaranteed that bonus. Models, A-list actresses with fake tits, puffy pink lips, and white, shining teeth with bodies so hot most men would get hard with just one glance at them. He licked, tasted, fondled, caressed, and banged them all. So to him, beautiful looks were almost mundane.
He kept wondering, “What? What about her?” It wasn’t like him to get “schmoopy” over a woman. What was it about Mia that she just got right under his skin and made him obsess like a teenage boy with his first crush?
He went to the mirror and looked at his visage in the reflection. The hair on his head was as thick and blonde as it had been since childhood. He never had any trouble getting dates or making girls’ hearts melt. His buddies were never half as lucky or blessed with his good DNA that kept him with little effort muscular, chiseled and model-looking handsome. His best friends often asked Evan his secret to success with the ladies. Evan just told them, “Pay attention to the details, man.” This statement always led to more questions to which Evan would gladly just show them.

They were at the local Irish pub (this was during his college days at Michigan State University), and he spotted his friend Leslie at the bar with three of her girlfriends. Evan motioned to his buddies, Roy and Steve, to follow him. The group of guys led by Evan ascended upon the girls; Leslie was the average-height, curly-haired red head in the middle. She was cute with brown freckles on her reddish tan skin. Evan tapped her shoulder. She turned around, her light green eyes lit up, and she smiled in recognition since she knew him from her economics class.
“Hey,” he said coolly. “You ladies hanging out?”
They all nodded in unison, which amused Evan. He turned and introduced Roy and Steve, who stood there like clueless idiots with their mouths gaped and eyes wide. “Pathetic,” thought Evan, who gave them a look that meant “watch,” and they became rapt on his every move.
“So hey Leslie … Wow! Nice blouse,” he reached out and fingered the collar and stepped closer. “Great color on you,” he cooed in a low, gravelly, sexy voice. “And did you curl your hair? It looks beautiful. You look gorgeous, and so do your friends. Best looking women in the room,” he said with a wide smile and so much charm it just seemed to drip off him.
Leslie smiled proudly and said “Thanks,” as she eagerly embraced the compliments. Then all of her attention went to Evan. Her body shifted toward and into him like a Lego. He matched her stare with his own. She started flipping, twisting and fingering her long hair. Pretty soon, she was touching his bicep in ownership, too. They were caught up in a deep conversation of some sort while the other two guys watched in awe and still couldn’t manage to say one syllable to her friends. While Evan managed to ferry Leslie off for some action, the other two guys remained behind while her friends tired of their useless staring and drifted off toward two hot guys who had just entered the bar.
Later that night after Evan returned to their frat house from a tryst in Leslie’s dorm room, he educated the boys with one simple clue to his success, “Dudes, it’s all about details,” he smugly relayed again and grinned. “She was hot. Five times, guys, five times.” They gave him the proverbial nods and grins of approval followed by chugs of beer and pensive, confused stares. Of course, the guys remained just as ineffective with the girls as ever, but Evan tried.

Now he was a seasoned sex god and the guy most would call a “womanizer” or “player”.  “Mia,” he whispered in his thoughts. How was he going to play her and win this game? She was beautiful and pleasing to the eyes with a long, lithe body and legs that in his estimation “went on for forever.” When he had walked up to the booth and looked her right in her crystal blue eyes, he felt something instantly familiar almost like déjà vu as if he knew her already. It was a queer sensation that from the moment he shook her hand he felt a jolt pulsate through him like a sudden shock one might experience from static electricity and touching another person. He had immediately gazed into her eyes, and her eyes flickered back at him. The attraction was so immediate and intense he had to force himself to focus.
Any other woman he typically wondered what it might be like to have sex; but this one he had fantasies of true, deep and connected lovemaking – something Evan felt sure he had never done. Yes, he had nonstop and often fantastic sex, but he never got emotional over women. In fact, he had a habit of immediately dumping a woman who appeared to get too attached. He didn’t want to deal with genuine feelings nor did he want any real, emotional neediness of any kind exhibited from a woman toward him.
He wasn’t a big fan of major attachments. He favored himself indifferent to the women in his life. Yes, he felt friendship and some level of care, but he largely never allowed real bonds to form. Deep, connected sentiments posed a danger to the barbwire fence he forged around his heart. He had a keen ability to compartmentalize his feelings and control them. He needed, no he had to have absolute control to turn on and off any feelings toward a woman. Control gave him a cold distance and objectivity that enabled him to leave when things got to be too much or he felt vulnerable – and he didn’t like vulnerability.
He refused to spend too much energy on one woman. He used the excuse of wanting a variety and liking women too much to go further in any relationship than perhaps living with a woman, which he was already doing. Yet strong, affecting attachments threatened his style of living free and experiencing quick and pleasurable trysts – this is what he told himself anytime something “felt” like it might go too far.
Mia’s mere presence made him feel an instant sense that the distance he labeled his emotional boundaries had been miraculously and without explanation breached. Moving past this line would make him enter a vast, clouded valley where the bottom was fogged over. Could he go there? His basic reaction was instantly no. He didn’t want to go there – it was not the point. Even if he wanted to explore the unknown, the wisdom of coloring outside of the lines was careless and stupid given his mission.
He became more thoughtful for a moment. He questioned his own humanity. Wasn’t love a part of being human? Wasn’t needing companionship natural maybe even primal and as basic as sexual urges, too? His mind raced with questions about his ability to even have a healthy relationship.
A few years ago, he had run into a woman who had turned out to be a therapist. They were both in a bar in Tucson, Arizona at the famous Hotel Congress. Evan was there on business. He was staying at the Westin on the outskirts of town. Friends had told him to stop at the hotel, and he had decided it sounded intriguing (it was supposed to be haunted). Sitting at a long, tall table with stools on each side, he had intentionally sat across from a dark-haired beauty with intense gray eyes that narrowed on her iPhone as she had texted someone. After he had managed to catch her attention, he found out her name was Annette. 

He and Annette immediately engaged in a casual flirtation until Evan slipped up and admitted he was a little “girl crazy” and didn’t really have any lasting lovers. Well, except one, and he didn’t love her. Annette eyed him with sudden dogged and unusual interest that immediately shifted away from anymore fun flirting. She visibly shifted body language and looked at him with a renewed, more clinical interest.
“And why do you suppose that is?” she asked almost too casually.
Evan felt disconcerted as he realized his plan to find out what was under her sheer vanilla-colored blouse where we could see a hint of lace was derailed with this serious question. He measured in his mind whether to escape now and shift over to the cute blonde in the far corner with sweet freckles across her nose and a busty figure that appealed to him or stay and face this firing squad. As Annette eyed him with close interest, he decided why not play along. The cute blonde was just getting her first drink, and he expected she might be there a while longer.
“I don’t know. Why do you suppose that is?”
“Did you have a cold mother? You know, highly critical, cold and remotely loving only when she felt like it?”
Evan’s mother had passed away when he was young. He remembered very little about her, but he did recall she wasn’t the hugging type. His family was wealthy, and his mother loved her gin and tonics and the occasional smoke but only after dinner and with wine. He spent most of his young childhood tucked away in the nanny’s quarters where she virtually ignored him and plunked him in front of endless episodes of Sesame Street. He remembered more about Burt and Ernie and the famous “Rubber Ducky” than he did of his mother spending any quality time with him. And his mother and father traveled a lot. His brothers, triplets, were older and they had each other.
He looked at Annette and realized he didn’t want to have this conversation – not now and not here. He suddenly became uncomfortable and acted coldly as he tossed some bills down on the table deliberately in front of Annette as if he were paying for her time. Annette looked at the money. She got his number.
“Evan, you seem like a great guy underneath all that ‘baggage’. You cannot continue to use women, fuck them, and leave and expect to have a fulfilling life. Maybe if you get to the root of your problems, and they are problems believe me, you will find not only the right woman, but your promiscuous lifestyle will bore you. After a while sex is only sex – a physical, momentarily satisfying act. Now intimacy, love, caring and real closeness are not only infinitely more satisfying but way more pleasurable. But you won’t know until you’ve had it.”
She reached in her purse and extended a card that Evan only waved off.
“Well, if you want to get a little more self-aware …” she said with a casual shrug as she realized Evan was temporarily a hopeless case.
Evan sneered at her, looked at her card, and headed off toward the cute blonde.

After that encounter he had given it some thought and wondered if perhaps he was avoiding falling in love to protect his heart from potential pain he might not be able to handle. For the most part, he had always managed to keep a cool distance from those kinds of reeling feelings. Yet today these exact kind of forbidden emotions got awakened from the quiet slumber in his heart. Mia made him feel like he was falling off a precipice into uncharted waters of fluid and flowing emotions that were moving much too fast for him to keep up the swim. He was drowning in them – and he didn’t like it. He wanted to shut off the source of the raging water before it became too wild and rapid – out of control … his control.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Body in the Trunk

Buy it on Kindle for $5.99 (click here)

Chapter 3

I attended an annual multimedia trade show in New York City at the Convention Center every year. My company M Marketing and Graphics bought a 10 x 10 booth, and we always seemed to sit across from this Japanese electronics company where the diminutive Asian sales girls wore five-inch heels presumably to make up for their lack of height. I marveled at any woman, short or not, who would dare to wear platform shoes for more than an hour much less 10 hours on a cement trade-show floor. I, on the other hand, wore my comfortable, flat Mary Janes to match my slim black skirt and lavender silk blouse with silver buttons on the two breast pockets that gave it sparkle. I tucked it in with a wide belt with silver infinity clasps in the center to give it a modern, chic flair.
I loved trade shows – the energy and meeting potential clients face-to-face. Most of my life was spent in my home office at my computer working on graphics and illustrations for marketing campaigns. So when I came out of my “cave,” it felt wonderful to talk and interact with interested clients. I also appreciated the time away from my parental duties and the ever-increasing bland and numb feelings toward Paul. He never made these trips easy. He complained he would have to take care of the girls, and I better not stay too long. Although I was expected to earn full-time pay to contribute to my 50-plus percent of our bills, it never seemed to bother him to demand I take all the kid duties.
 Of course, the now-dual interruptions to pick up the girls meant that I still needed to work later to make up the difference; however, Paul also required I end my workday on time to spend time with the family. He complained nonstop if I worked late. Then I would intentionally go out to eat dinner with everyone only to find Paul comfortably sitting in front of our 56-inch flat-screen TV with our kids, watching Power Puff Girls or Sponge Bob Square Pants. He allowed everyone to eat in front of the TV even though when I was a child we sat down for dinner and talked. No talking took place during our dinner routine; but I better damned well be there to eat with them lest Paul come back and yell at me until I acquiesced just to get him to stop.
The craziness of those conversations frustrated me, too.

“You need to eat dinner with us,” he scolded as he crashed into my office.
“I’ve got a deadline.”
“All you do is whine and nag, you know that?”
“Nag, nag, nag, nag.”
“Get out there and eat dinner with us.”
“I’m not …”
“Nag, nag, nag, nag!”
“I don’t …”
“Nag, nag, nag.”
I would just get up and try not to look at him for fear of the last, “Nag!”

My other least-favorite thing about our life involved perpetual yelling. I knew Paul was home every night when I heard the front door open followed by a deep baritone voice and ritualistic crying. I would look up from the computer and sigh. Yes, Paul was home right on time and on cue with the negativity and raised voice at our girls. The theme typically revolved around homework. Giselle, my older one who was in the sixth grade, was a sensitive and sweet girl. Daddy’s screams inevitably led to cries and then another door slam to her room where she disappeared and buried herself in her computer games.
Travel to these trade shows also represented escape from those daily rituals I had come to despise. More importantly it got me away from Paul and the yelling and comments that came when I appeared in the room. The remarks ranged from disparaging observations about my blonde hair (he wanted me to dye it brown) to remarks about my slim figure that he didn’t appreciate. He commonly told people I was anorexic, which I was not anorexic, but I had an extraordinary metabolism. I’m not sure if by telling people this he was justifying his own growing girth, which he added to by heaping so much food on his plate it overflowed the sides. I tried not to pay attention to either the weight gain or food consumption. I said little about anything these days. Between the bland, numb feeling and constant work demand to make more money to pay what now amounted to more than my 50 percent of the bills and more like 70 percent of the bills, I was too tired to care.
Just then a blonde, tall man with bluish-green eyes who wore a perfectly tailored navy-blue jacket, brilliant purple tie that was a complementary color to the jacket, and jeans with a leather belt with an “E” for a buckle walked up. He stopped to look at the graphic designs on display on the royal-blue Velcro walls of my booth. He was specifically gazing at the logos I had created over the years for various companies. He had a blonde goo-tee that he ran his fingertips through as he studied the work. It was one of those goo-tees where he carefully sculpted it and shaved his cheeks fresh and clean. His skin color was light but rosy and healthy-looking. I wasn’t really attracted to blondes, and I wasn’t exactly attracted to him at all until his eyes shifted from the art to me. He gave me this quiet, contemplative look, which I didn’t take for anything more than a stare except his eyes sparkled at me. I noticed the glisten in them like high-quality diamonds. Although even with that thought, I quickly dismissed it.
And then I felt this odd sensation, and I flashed on this vision: I was a bride standing on a beach about to approach my groom. White flowers were woven in my hair and I held a single white lily as a bouquet with a white ribbon tied on its stem. I tried to make out the groom’s face, but he was too far away. And then I felt a tug and returned to the present.
“You do branding?”
“Huh?” I replied and shook off the sensation. “Yes. We’ve done many Fortune 100 companies,” I said as I pointed to a big-name corporation. “My name is Mia.”
“Hello Mia,” he smiled at me again with that same gaze of interest. “Name’s Evan. I’m looking for a partner in my design studio. I need someone who can handle the corporate branding campaigns.”
“Hmm,” I said. “I’ve had partnerships before. They didn’t go well.”
At that comment, Evan turned to face me. He seemed to size me up and nodded as he thought about what I said.
“Maybe you didn’t find the right partner … Mia,” and with my name stated again he put his hand in his pocket and smoothly flipped out a business card.
I took the glossy card and with slick, black Garamond font letters: Evan Garner, Vice President, Garner Media.
I looked back up at him, “Drinks?”
“Yes, tonight back at my place at the Hotel Gansevort along Hudson River Park. Meet me in the bar. We’ll talk shop.”
“How funny,” I said.
“I’m staying there, too.”
“Yes?” I frowned at him.
Evan smiled, “Nine work?”
“Um, all right, okay,” I replied and felt puzzled as I looked at the card again.
 When I looked back up I saw his back as he walked smoothly away toward the front entrance. His gait and air suggested quiet confidence and certainty, but also casualness with his hands stuffed in his pants pockets. He almost looked like someone who had too much cavalier bravado – maybe something else, too. I couldn’t put my finger on it. My cell phone rang in my purse under the sales counter and called my attention away: it was Paul. I looked at the name flash on the phone and groaned. I didn’t want to pick up so I hit ignore and looked back up to find Evan completely gone.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Body in the Trunk

 Buy it on Kindle for $5.99 (click here)

Chapter 2

            Tess McGree stood in the lobby of the City of Sacramento Police Station, touching various icons on her iPad. She hardly noticed the door opening and closing as police officers passed her. She was a pretty strawberry blonde with light freckles on her face and chest, and she had emerald green eyes that were lowered keenly toward the screen. She was a tenacious 32-year old who came to the station every single day to wait for Detective Phil Harris, the subject of her new book. She was determined to write a nonfiction tale based on a case being investigated by Detective Harris of whom she also had a huge crush. Phil was a sweet charmer with dark brown hair, and two eye colors (brown and blue) that Tess didn’t notice the first few times they talked. One day she was picking his brilliant mind, and she had noticed his eyes, which had muddied her focus, because she suddenly didn’t know which eye to look at. Phil had asked her why she stopped talking.
“Your eyes …” she said with a frown. “You have two different-colored eyes.”
Phil was amused. “Yes, I do.”
She fondly thought of that conversation as she continued to pluck away at her iPad. She liked Phil a lot, which made this project all the more enjoyable. She wanted to be with him and loved his stories of detective work. She had just finished her degree in journalism and was a late bloomer. She had actually gone to college and finished a four-year degree in structural engineering, but soon bored with it and the silly politics at her job with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). She thought about the other nerdy engineers who took it seriously and talked nonstop about roads and bridges. She had found their passionate discourse about angles and degrees boring.
Ending up the girl who wore bright pink skirts, yellow or purple T-shirts as a structural engineer was more a result of happenstance. She excelled naturally at math and geometry, and scored ridiculously high on science and math on the SAT. College recruiters soon had come calling, and she had been offered all kinds of scholarships to get a degree in engineering. She had just followed the easiest path, but not long after graduation when she had the most absurd realization that all engineers wrote in tiny upper-case handwriting, and her bright pink, sunny outlook had bugged them more than delighted them. So she rethought her future.
It had happened at an odd moment at work …

 She was sitting at her metal desk when her boss, Alfred walked up. He wore a white button-up shirt; pocket protector loaded with black pens; and held a white coffee mug in one hand as he pushed the bridge of his black-rimmed glasses up. He was such a cliché.
“I was thinking … and this is none of my business, except I am your boss …”
Tess typed into an engineering program as she dutifully worked on a schematic. She quit and sat back to stare at her boss whose dark hair looked slightly greasy for lack of shampoo.
“Yes, Alfred, you were thinking what?”
“Those skirts …”
Tess looked down at her bright pink skirt with yellow polka dots that the Fashion Police would make the object of ridicule, but she liked it anyway.
“What about my skirt?”
“Well young lady,” his tone was fatherly now, “the skirts are simply inappropriate. We have a dress code. Please see your employee handbook.”
“Do we, Alfie?” she asked in a sarcastic tone. She now sat back and folded her arms against her matching yellow T-shirt. “And what might that be? White, boring, black, and greasy?”
Alfred stood up straight in offense and scolded, “I’m just calling your attention to the dress code is all. No need to get snippy there, young miss. You need to report to human resources for that bad attitude.”
“Young miss?” She cracked up.
“Human resources,” he said and pointed toward the door.
Yes, Tess got up and left that afternoon, but did not go to human resources. She instead headed to the elevator, went downstairs, and flounced down N Street to the parking garage. She quit. She figured Alfred and his stiff upper-case handwriting could find someone else to force to wear a pocket protector and churn out staid structural designs with no imagination.
She had quickly enrolled in journalism and had decided to write whatever interested her. She had gotten through the program fast enough and had used the trust fund left by her mother Carly, which her grandmother Murphy-Anne managed. Carly had passed away from breast cancer when Tess was five. Her father Brent had taken a job on the Alaskan pipeline. He’d said something about good money, but young Tess had known he was grief-stricken with a desire to escape sad memories, and the daughter who was the “mini-me” image of Carly. When Tess had been left parentless and scared, it was Grandma Murphy (as she called her) who had raised her in an eccentric downtown three-story Victorian where she sold art supplies and glass-sculpted, colorful artwork from the front room.
Grandma Murphy was a borderline alcoholic. She kept a flask filled with Blue Agave Tequila (of all things) and took a hit every now and again. She was vain, funny, and outrageous; she set no rules for her brilliant granddaughter and taught Tess to do whatever she wanted. Tess’ only problem had been to figure out what she wanted – and hence journalism had come late. When she had told Grandma about her idea for the book and her newly-formed crush on Detective Harris, Grandma, who had been painting what resembled a Kandinsky on an easel behind the cash register, had stopped and stared at her.

“You going to shit where you eat, darling?”
Tess took a watermelon-flavored Jelly Belly from the bowl next to the register and tucked it into her mouth.
“Yes,” she replied and chewed.
Grandma chuckled, “Good job, darling!”
“Now I just have to get ole Phil to pounce.”
Grandma stopped painting, brushed back her graying, dark brown, curly tresses, and grinned. “No granddaughter of mine can’t seduce a guy named Phil.”
Tess considered the object of her seduction. “I don’t know if Punxsutawney even likes me.”
Grandma returned to painting. “You got tits, honey; use ’em.”
Tess looked down – she did have large breasts, as well as a small waist that gave her a near-perfect Barbie-doll figure.
“What if he’s an ass man?”
“Turn around?”
Tess obliged her grandmother’s command.
“You’re fine, dear.” Grandma cleared her for takeoff.
Tess looked over and down at her behind and shrugged. She hardly knew what men really wanted (and an absent father to advise her on the inner workings of men didn’t help her predicament). Although Phil had gamely told her many “man facts”. He had provided a frank education on how men thought – and it all boiled down to one concept that he had put this way: “If a man sees a pretty girl, the first thing he thinks is, ‘I want to fuck her.’” Having been officially brought up to date on manly beliefs and behavior, Tess had wondered if Phil thought that about her. He never had told her she was pretty.
She had made Phil the object of her book after watching him interviewed on one of those low-quality local cable TV shows. He had been investigating a body found in the trunk of a Camry. She wasn’t sure which she found more interesting: the story of the body or Phil’s electric personality. Phil had a dry sense of humor and was handsome and sweet, but he never got too personal with her. She had waited daily outside of the police station where he worked until she had spotted him leaving one day.

She raced up to him. “You Detective Phil Harris?”
Phil stopped and looked at the pretty strawberry blonde in the purple pedal-pusher pants and hot-pink camisole with a black bolero over the shoulders. She looked quirky and fun.
“Yes,” he replied and got a little smirk on his face; he couldn’t help it.
Tess wasn’t sure what he smirked about. “Do you have time for a coffee or something?”
“Or something? Are you asking a stranger out? Cause that’s not too smart.”
“No,” she got uncomfortable and nervous. “Starbuck’s is across the street. Will you meet me … in public?” she emphasized for effect.
“Oh cool down there hot britches. I’m a detective not a perp.”
She frowned and briefly glanced at her pants and back up at him. “I know that.”
“Oh, you do, do you?”
“Yes, I do. Meet me?”
Phil glanced at his watch. “Yeah sure, got some time.”
“See you in five,” and then she walked back to her old eggplant-colored Saturn. She could afford a better car, but cars weren’t a priority. She was more interested in traveling and shedding belongings than adding to them. She thought material stuff was all just more baggage. She wanted to write true stories and travel the world to see “real life,” as she put it. Of course when she had mentioned this desire to Phil he had once said, “Real life isn’t sexy, if that’s what you’re thinking. I could show you ‘real’ like the homeless guy who smells like piss and stands under the downtown bridge talking to himself – that’s ‘real,’ and I just saved you a plane ticket.” That’s what she loved about Phil – no sugarcoated bullshit from him.
As she walked, she turned to glance back at Phil, who seemed amused by her in some strange way. He held his hand up to his face and waved. She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she liked that he was watching her walk away. Made her think of the episode in Sex in the City where Carrie runs into Mr. Big, arranges a date, walks away, and glances over her shoulder to find him staring and smiling at her backside. Maybe Phil was her Mr. “Big” Detective. She had to laugh aloud at her own musings.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Body in the Trunk

Chapter 1

I placed her body in the trunk of a gold Toyota Camry.
I gazed down at her with my hand still holding the trunk lid. Her dark eyes were glassy now and stared up at me, lifeless, and somehow accusing. Her form was bent out of shape and her thick, dark hair was mussed with just a hint of dark blood smeared in it from a single wound.
“Dead,” I thought and closed the trunk.

One year earlier …

It was a sunny fall afternoon. The sun shone through the sliding-glass door and woke me up. My blue eyes fluttered opened, and I looked out the slider toward the pool area where our white standard poodle Maisy slept curled up in her fleece bed. Brown, crisp fall leaves had blown up on the porch and piled around her dog bed. I was alone as my husband Paul had taken the kids to school already. We switched mornings, and this morning I got to sleep in, which I enjoyed. He was always a prick about it, though. Said it wasn’t his job and had once told me he was just going to stop doing it. I was perplexed and wondered, “How do you just decide to stop taking your kids to school?” Well, that was Paul anyway – total jerk. 
As was typical, I got up and started to make the bed. The cream comforter had beautiful brown and blue leaves swirling over it. I took pride in my bed. I loved to create a gorgeous bed space, with matching linens and pillows galore. Pillows that Paul also had pitched a bitch about and had asked in his irritated voice, “Why so many pillows? We don’t sleep on them. Get rid of them.” 
Well, eventually it didn’t matter. Paul’s sciatica and horrendous snoring made him sleep alone in the spare bedroom next to our second daughter Lulu’s room. Lulu naturally had complained, “Daddy snores really loud,” and then she had giggled.
Lulu was a brilliant, happy six-year-old with curly blond hair and bright, sparkling blue eyes. As I thought of Lulu’s sweet giggles, I sneered at the thought of the snoring. We had been married 15 years. I swept my hand across the comforter and stopped for a moment. Our anniversary had just passed. We had taken a trip to South Lake Tahoe so Paul could gamble and play poker. I didn’t like card games, and I hated the smoky smell of casinos. I had suggested we take our anniversary trip to Greece.
“Greece?” he had asked. “Mia, we don’t have that kind of money.”
Money (or lack thereof) was his go-to answer for everything. First, we were wealthy – in fact, most people would say rich. We lived in a modest two-story adobe-style home, but on the upscale side of town where acreage was rare but available. I owned a multimedia and marketing company, and Paul owned a successful software consulting group. Not to mention, I had five Fortune 500 clients to whom I was the brains behind their branding campaigns. Rumors were even flying that one of my clients might go public, and I owned a chunk of stock that would make me wealthy to the tune of millions – that is, if they did go public and hit it big, which was a question at this point. They had paid the stocks to me when their cash flow was low, and they had wanted to give me an incentive. I remember the marketing director commenting on how they were lazy with their stock-option programs and often used programs from new subsidiaries that they didn’t have much confidence in. It was a risky way to get paid, but I went for it anyway. It was like playing professional Lotto.
We did pretty much what we liked to do, and this included traveling whenever I wanted to go somewhere, but I went alone if it was a place I really wanted to visit and Paul scoffed about. Paul’s complaints were usually what I felt was prejudice. “I don’t like French people,” he had said when I wanted to go to France. Now the subject of Greece was at hand.

“We could work it out,” I replied as I stood at the kitchen sink, rinsing dishes and not looking at him.
I didn’t like to look at him anymore. He looked angry, and age had not been kind to him. He was two years older than me, but he looked 50 instead of 42. He had gained weight, and the years spent water skiing without sunscreen had made his tan face look leathery. He loved to tan even though so many experts suggested that lack of sunscreen was unwise. He ignored them in favor of sunbathing on his friend’s motorboat in Folsom Lake.
“Ah, come on, honey,” he said as he stood in the doorway, arms folded. “You know work has been slow.”
No, I didn’t know if work had been slow. He never specifically told me about the books or the income for that matter. He was the owner of a software consulting company. In the early days, he had developed websites and software systems, and he had been smart enough during the IT bubble in 2000 to get out with a tidy sum of cash squirreled away before it burst. He had a tall, black safe in the garage loaded with cash hidden from the IRS and gold and silver coins along with stocks and bonds. We never talked about money much. We had separate bank accounts.
“Well, what then?” I asked tersely.
“Let’s go to South Shore, gamble, drink, have some fun?”
“I don’t gamble or drink, you know that.”
“Oh come on! It will be fun.”
I stared at him. I knew better than to argue. He would force the idea no matter what I said. I slowly nodded.
His face brightened, and he unfolded his arms.
“Great! Make reservations.”
“Hmm. Okay … but where?”
He walked over to the edge of the brown granite counter and grabbed a red apple from a square crystal bowl.
He crunched and said with his mouthful, “Figure it out.”
He went to kiss me with his juicy mouth, and I turned my lips away so he caught my cheek. As soon as he left out the backdoor, I wiped the juice off my cheek with the long sleeve on my burgundy t-shirt. I looked down at the reflection of my face in the dishwater. I hated the thin line that had formed between my eyebrows. What was the face? A look of what? Numb disappointment – that is what I felt. Did I look angry? Sad? I hated that line.
I momentarily thought about Botox. My best girlfriend Erica would be miffed if I told her I wanted to Botox my brow and erase ugly fine lines. She was a natural enthusiast who only bought those pricey organic produce items and bathed in cruelty-free shampoo, and she wore woolens and empire-waist dresses with Birkenstocks. Her face, though still beautiful, had blond hair on her upper lip and chin – and she refused to wax or laser it off. I couldn’t imagine she would be supportive of Botox. I shrugged the thought away and figured we didn’t apparently have money to squander on cosmetic enhancements – at least according to Paul we didn’t, and I thought this for about a week until …
Paul came home early one afternoon. He was just so excited and flushed when he rushed into my office. I was annoyed when he came and bothered me while I worked. He completely disregarded the idea that my business was just as real as his own. I didn’t interrupt his workdays. Besides, if I dared, he would yell at me about respect and business.
I was on the phone with a client.
“Honey!” he shouted as he burst into my office. “Come …”
I put my hand over the phone and said, “I’m on the phone.”
“Hang up!”
I rolled my eyes in frustration and said into the phone, “Grace, can I call you right back?” I hung up and looked up at him, “What?”
He grabbed my arm and pulled me up and out of my black leather office chair. He dragged me down the hallway, out the front door, and right to the expansive driveway where before me I saw it – a brand new, royal blue and white motorboat.
“It’s mine!” he shouted as he pulled his lumbering body up into it. “Isn’t it sexy? We can ski all summer.”
“I thought we had no money.”
He brushed the thought away with his hand. “We’re fine! We’ll take it on our anniversary trip to Tahoe. Gamble and ski – it will be really great.”
As he said this, he ran his hand lovingly across the surface of the side like he was petting Maisy, our dog. He hardly noticed when I turned and headed inside to call Grace back. He was now enraptured with the cream-colored leather seats.

As I fluffed the pillows on the bed and placed the last dusty-blue one in the center, I stood back.
“Perfect,” I said aloud and smiled.
I thought some more about Paul. What did I feel toward him? Blank nothingness is what I felt. Was this mature, 15-year love? Why didn’t I feel anything about him? Shouldn’t I love him with all my heart? Why didn’t I feel that flicker of passion or even gentle, mature love? Was this what love became after a 17-year relationship? We didn’t even kiss anymore – not casually to say “hello” and not while we had sex, which I wouldn’t call making love but more like (and excuse the harsh truth) fucking. He never tried to excite or pleasure me. I pleasured myself. He didn’t initiate anything. He had sometimes pounded me right into the bed so that I had hurt so bad I had prayed he would orgasm and get it over with. In fact, I had once actually said, “Just get it over with,” while I had clenched my teeth and had cried out, “You’re hurting me!” to which I had been pounded even harder. He never said I was beautiful or even pretty. I got an occasional, “You look nice,” but mostly he sneered and said I wore too much make-up, which most people would describe my barely-there eye shadow and gloss as natural-looking.
We had dated for two years while I finished my degree before we got married. He had courted me sweetly and brought me red roses, wild flowers, and little gifts like a thin silver bracelet with a heart on it. One time, he had brought me his aunt’s chicken casserole after I had completed semester finals. He had worried I was stressed from studying. He had wanted me to eat – I was too thin and tired-looking for a 21-year old.

As he walked into my one-bedroom apartment, he set a glass tray down on the end of the kitchen counter. I looked from him – all rugged, dark-brown hair, bright light-green eyes, and a stocky but muscular frame – to the casserole.
“What’s this?” I asked, grinning at him.
“Dinner,” he replied. “My Aunt Susie made me bring the leftovers. I told her you were stressed about finals and had lost weight.”
He went to the cabinet to get plates. I watched and lifted the see-through plastic wrap to smell the rosemary wafting off the chicken. It smelled amazing. I then watched Paul happily take a spatula, cut out a square, lift it onto the plate, and hand it to me. He grabbed and stuck a fork into the top. He had looked infinitely pleased with himself. I just smiled, looked at him, and set the plate down. As I leveled my eyes at him, I looked up and moved to my tiptoes since he was six-feet tall and I was 5’ 9” and started to slowly kiss him. First a lick on his lips to gently pry them open, and then a full-on kiss. He had wrapped his arms completely around my small waist, and he pulled me toward the bedroom.

As I came out of my memory, I stared at the bed – the bed that we hadn’t made love in for over a year. What did I care anyway – at least no one was pounding me from behind and forcing my hips into the mattress as he went at my body like a thoughtless jerk. His sex drive evaporated in the last four years. He used to push to have sex all the time, but on our honeymoon things had uncomfortably shifted. During our courtship, he had been always assertive sexually with me, and he had pursued making love. From the honeymoon on, that had changed. As I said, he had stopped being the aggressor, and on our wedding night he had been too tired and had refused to properly consummate the marriage. 
“Honey, honey, get off me,” he had said as I crawled on top of him in the beautiful, sheer-white nightgown Erica had given me for our wedding night. It had organdy and lace on the bodice and a sheer, see-through robe that fit over the top. “I’m too full of rubber chicken and cake,” he groaned. “You know I don’t like to fuck on a full stomach.”
“Fuck?” I had thought to myself. “Were we ‘fucking’ on our wedding night or making love?” I had thought that making love applied to your new wife. I had rolled to the side and onto my back so I faced the ceiling.
“So, we’re not going to make love on our wedding night?” I asked incredulously.
“Go to sleep,” he said as he began to snore – he always snored as fast as he closed his eyes.
I stared at the ceiling.
“Shit!” I had thought. “What the hell did I just do?”

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