Congratulations to the Winners!!

You Win

 

New followers:  Penelope Starr and Layne Beckman Wright are the winners of two, signed sets of the Charlie Mack Motown Mystery series.

congratulations

34 new followers took me up on this drawing for free books. Thank you for your interest, and support.

Don’t despair (okay, that’s a bit conceited) if you didn’t win this time, Second Chancethere will be a Second Chance drawing on April 15 for current, and any new followers between now and then.

Thank you for following my blog.  I hope to post enough to keep it interesting, but not overwhelming.

~Cheryl

 

 

Meet Georgette Newton, a WWII Soldier

My Novel

One of the two, key protagonists in my novel Long Way Home:  A World War II Novel is Georgette Lillian Newton a twenty-one year old, North Carolina farm girl who leaves home to become one of only about 6,000 African American members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS).LWH book cover

 

Georgette’s future has been mapped out for her by family traditions and expectations.  She has a boyfriend, Boone, who she is expected to marry, and a family legacy she has to uphold.  But Georgette is a dreamer. She longs to move to a big city and lead a sophisticated life like the ones illustrated in all the magazines of the 1940’s: Look, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post. So, despite her parents’ (and Boone’s) objections, she joins the army after a brief stay at a teacher’s college.

In her new life, Private First Class, Georgette Newton is a personnel clerk with access to the majority of the files at the Fort Huachuca Army Base.  She is meeting new people, and has a new routine.   She feels like an independent woman for the first time in her life, and it suits her.

Maj. Charity E. Adams and Cpt. Abbie N. Campbell inspect women of the 6888th Central Postal Battalion

Maj. Charity E. Adams and Cpt. Abbie N. Campbell inspect women of the 6888th Central Postal Battalion

Georgette is adventurous, head strong, smart and has high standards for herself and those around her.  In Long Way Home, she describes her feelings with through the novel’s first-person point of view, which includes letters to home.

There are a number of interesting memoirs and other non-fiction accounts of the day-to-day lives of Negro soldiers in World War II, but Long Way Home is the first novel that uses the lives of these soldiers, far away from the battlefield, as the backdrop to a story about romance and coming of age.  Long Way Home: A World War II Novel is available as an eBook in the Kindle store.

A Bit About the History of the WAACS

The WAACS played an integral and successful role in America’s military presence during World War II, but the path to their involvement was a bumpy one.  Public opinion about female soldiers was initially negative and the original bill authorizing the WAACS failed in Congress.  It was not until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 that American military leadership saw the wisdom of adding women as new personnel in the war effort.

The law activating the WAACS was passed in May 1942 “for the purpose of making available to the national defense the knowledge, skill, and special training of the women of the nation.”  A recruitment goal of 25,000 was established, but enrollment quickly eclipsed that goal and a final ceiling of 150,000 was authorized by Secretary of the War Henry L. Stimson.

The first Director of the WAACS (later shortened to WACS when the corps traded its auxiliary status for a permanent one) was Oveta Culp Hobby, a former War Department employee.  Hobby’s general idea for the WAACS was that they be trained as non-combatants to take on positions that would free a male soldier for battle.  Hobby  went on to become the first U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

Oveta Culp Hobby

Colonel, Oveta Culp Hobby

Women enlistees had to be U.S. citizens, 21-45 years of age with no dependents, at least 5 feet tall weighing 100 pounds or more, and have the equivalent of a high school education.  They worked at army facilities throughout the country including the Pentagon as clerks, cryptographers, in motor pools, as mechanics, in the signal corps, in ordnance, air traffic control and in postal units.

On July 20, 1942, 440 women began officer candidate training* at Fort Des Moines (over 35,000 women applied for the training).  The four-week basic training of the first enlisted women began in August.   * Forty black women trained as officers were placed in a separate platoon.  They attended classes and ate with the white officer candidates, but base facilities were segregated. Continue reading

Book Giveaway to Boost Coronavirus Immunity

I ordered a lot of books to sell at Clexacon, the LGBTQ media conference held each year in Las Vegas in April.  Clexacon has been cancelled.  You know why.  So I have extras in my house of all four books in the Charlie Mack Motown Mystery series.

SO,

I’m going to giveaway two, signed series sets to two lucky (I hope you’ll feel lucky) readers.20200324_095104The Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries are set in the mid 2000’s, one of the most challenging decades in Detroit’s political, economic, and social times. Therefore, it is a period rife with opportunity for a crime writer.

I’m a native Detroiter (now living in Washington, DC)  and I love this city. You’ll find my books filled with the locales, food, culture, and idiosyncrasies of Detroit. There are also a slew of characters–who are a fictionalized amalgam of the amazing residents who make up what I believe is one of America’s bellwether cities.

Here’s a description of the four books.

Book One:  Bury Me When I’m Dead   BMWIDCMMM

When Charlene (Charlie) Mack and her team head to Birmingham, Alabama following the trail of a missing person, what should be a routine case turns into a complex chase for answers. Shady locals and a southern patriarch with dark secrets obscure the path. When the case turns deadly with a double murder, and Charlie is attacked, everything suddenly becomes personal.

Customer Review Excerpt:   “This was a fast-paced, fun read that bright back colorful memories of Detroit restaurants, streets, and personalities. I don’t know much about Birmingham, AL, but AL natives will likely feel at home in this book, as well.”

Book Two:  Wake Me When It’s Over  Book small version

The Mack Private Investigations agency is hired to take on a seemingly impossible case–to identify and thwart an attack on the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. It takes a $100K incentive and the help of a dozen freelancers for Charlie and her crew to unravel a twisted plot that runs through several countries and many more bank accounts.

Customer Review Excerpt: “With every character we meet and get to know, with every unexpected event, with every new location we find ourselves at, the plot takes a new–and always surprising—turn.”

Book Three:  Catch Me When I’m Falling  CMWIF_RBG

Someone is murdering the homeless in Detroit’s Cass Corridor. Charlie Mack faces the most difficult case of her career when she goes undercover as a street person to find a serial killer the police want to ignore.

Customer Review Excerpt: “I’ve read the other Charlie Mack Motown mysteries and I think this is the best one! The case is dark and the characters complex. And how about Charlie’s Mom testing the waters as an amateur sleuth?”

Book Four:  Judge Me When I’m Wrong  JMWIW

Charlie has been summoned to Jury Duty where she unwittingly begins to unravel a disturbing plan to alter the outcome of a crime lord’s conspiracy trial. Meanwhile, a college rape case focuses the Mack team on a Grand Jury investigation which unravels when a guilt-ridden client has a change of heart.

Customer Review Excerpt: “Who would have thought that money laundering crime bosses, slick attorneys, shady jury members and a private eye who is a firm believer in the judicial system would become the highlight of my late night adventures?”

Book Giveaway Rules!      what

Here are the rules.  They’re easy.

Hit the “Follow” button on the lower right corner of the blog page. That’s all you have to do.  On or before April 1,  I’ll  do a blind selection of two, new followers of my blog. I’ll contact the two winners via their email addresses-that’s required when you follow. I’ll list the two names here, or if you wish to remain anonymous that’s okay, too.

I’ll mail out the set of books, postage-paid, within a week of the drawing.

I will do a SECOND CHANCE Drawing in mid April. Additional new followers, and those who already follow, will automatically be part of the drawing.  So, let’s do this!

Happy Reading

Musings: Coronavirus & Writing

Well, what do you write about when you don’t have any particular thing to talk about, but haven’t posted in a while….coronavirous.

Like so many people around the world, and more recently in the U.S., I’ve been thinking about Coronavirus. I’m not quite in the worry stage yet. Although, I’m in the “worry- about” age demographic.

I’m a news junkie.  The American media began reporting about coronavirus in earnest after Super Tuesday. But months before, the BBC and NHK media were reporting on the spread of the virus in the Wuhan province of China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. I’ve been paying attention to the rapid spread of the virus in China and beyond. I replenished my supply of anti-bacterial hand soap weeks before the CDC told me to sing Happy Birthday and wash my hands.

Truth is I’ve always been a bit of a germophobe.  I wash my hands a half-dozen times or more on an average day, and when I’m cooking, I double that. I have hand sanitizer in my car, my bathrooms, my purse, my luggage.  I have hand wipes, on hand. I have tree/grass allergies, so I had masks in my house even before the virus concerns. I love having guests in for dinner, and my regular diners know to wash their hands before they even think about heading to my kitchen.

Good news.  I’ve been writing and editing the past few weeks, and staying close to home. So, I haven’t been among the masses.  I have a new Charlie Mack book out this spring. I’m also working on a stand-alone crime book set, in Washington, DC, I’m planning to shop to an agent.

Bad news:   It’s difficult to stay focused on writing when talk of the coronavirus outbreak swirls around you, and the details change on an hour-by-hour basis.

I have a lot of travel planned in the next few weeks. So, I’m mulling over the decisions to go, or stay.

I’ll play it by ear, nose and throat.20200309_142007

Visit to Philly for Art and Friends

I had an inspiring day-trip to Philadelphia to visit with friends and explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Rocky view from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Rocky view from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Not only does the museum hold the second largest collection of French Impressionists (my person favorite artwork), there is a special exhibit called Off The Wall that is fabulous.The exhibit of wearable art created in the 60’s and 70’s includes 115 pieces by art-as-fashion mixed media artists.  I took a couple of snaps of pieces I found fascinating. Like these machine-knitted Wizard of Oz socks; the tie-died meditation space; and this feathered, neck piece painted with Egyptian icons.  The special exhibit is on the first floor of the Perelman Building.

Susanne E. Lewis, artist

Susanne E. Lewis, artist

My traveling companion and I took the train up and back to Philly, had lunch at the museum’s wonderful cafe, STIR.  I wrote on the train, and the whole trip got my writer juices flowing.

20200107_123500

20200107_123347

Queer Words

I’ve been talking, and writing, a lot about my life recently. Believe me, that’s a big deal for an introvert like me. I especially enjoyed my discussion in late summer with Wayne Goodman on the Queer Words Podcast. I talk about my writing, my queer heroes, I read an excerpt of my book: Catch Me When I”m Falling, and I talk about my media career, and work in the LGBTQ community. I also give advice to people who want to write. It was a fun interview, and as you will hear I giggle and laugh way too much.

Thank you, Wayne!

The link is below.

Cheryl Head

CMWIF_RBG

Bouchercon in Dallas Ya’ll

The massive mix of mystery writers and readers known as Bouchercon wrapped up in Dallas, Texas a few weekends ago.  The conference brings in 1,700-2,000 participants,  and is held in a different city each year.  I stayed busy at the 50th anniversary of Bouchercon. cheryl at Bouchercon

On Friday, I participated in the Sisters in Crime breakfast.  The SinC group is marvelous, and the breakfast event was upbeat.  There was a change in leadership.  One amazing leader (Sherry Harris) handing off to another amazing leader (Lori Rader-Day).  I was asked to read the thank you remarks of the winner of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color award.  A hearty congratulations to Jessica Martinez in being this year’s recipient. She’s an emerging crime writer to watch out for.

Later on Friday, I participated in the This is Not a Diversity Panel with four, amazing writers: Step Cha, S. A. Cosby, Michael Nava, and Carsen Taite.  I was honored to riff with them about writing and inclusion in the crime writing community.

NotaDiversitypanel

On Saturday, another breakfast where author Heather Graham and I did a speed dating exercise with the readers attending the conference.  That was fun, and tiring, and exhilarating.  My afternoon panel called :  A Cold and Lonely Place, looked at the issue of setting in the crime fiction. Of course, I write about Detroit in the mid-2000s and I was happy to talk about the Motor City.

Next year’s Bouchercon will be in Sacramento, California and I’ll be there.  Because, one more thing happened at B’con. I was voted onto the national board.  I’m happy to serve and amazing community of lovers of the crime/mystery genre.

…and audience favorite is: Mule

I really worked hard on polishing a piece of micro fiction I’d written almost five years ago to read in my inaugural appearance at DC’s Noir at the Bar.  The story, a criminal’s descent into madness is dark, troubling, a bit macabre.  I wanted to flex my writing muscles by creating a story outside of my usual subject matter, and tone. I think I succeeded.  I have come to love this story, and am thinking about building it into something more.

But, here’s the good news.  That story won the Noir at the Bar Audience Favorite.

And I won a dagger…perfect for this crime-writer’s habit of peeling fruit. Ha Ha.  I don’t think it will get much more use than that.  Photo of dagger will come later.

Oct. 12, 2019 Noir at the Bar

Oct. 12, 2019 Noir at the Bar

Thank you to Ed Ayamar for organizing, and hosting, the event.  Thanks and admiration to the other presenting writers: John Copenhaver, Erica Wright, David Swinson, James Grady, Art Taylor, Alan Orloff, Kathleen Barber, and Ed.