There are a few books that you begin to read and know you in for a treat! Key Lime Squeeze is one of those rare books. Be prepared to miss meals, appointments and phone calls as you join Joe Banks on his adventures.

From the first page, to the last line, this exhilarating novel takes its readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions, tears, laughter, intrigue and tension. Trying to out-guess the plot is a waste of time. Even the good guy/bad guy border is hard to define. Just when you feel you know the lay of the land, the horizon alters. It is a great ride! The thrill of reading a novel of this genre is always anticipated with great expectation. Key Lime Squeeze delivers the pleasure, the intensity of characters and situations we expect, while supplying twists and hiccups that no one sees coming.

Ron Adams proves himself a master in the field of taking the reader and propelling them into stark moments of crisis. His realism and love of location brings the reader into the story, transporting them into the world of Joe Banks. The relationships between the key players develop with clarity and unexpected humanity. Joe’s feisty wife is one of my favorite characters. While Joe is portrayed as a caring, courageous father, he is also a diligent detective whose integrity lands him in trouble. Ron Adams’ memorable characters, with their personality traits and foibles, remain alive and compelling beyond the last page. Ron writes with compassion, humor, intelligence and empathy. Combined with his realism he succeeds in creating believable (if unexpected) heroes and shady, unsettling villains.

Easily the best book I have read this year. Definitely going onto my shelf of favorites, Key Lime Squeeze is a fine example of its genre.

 

Reviewed by Lady Rosalie Skinner

Author of the speculative fiction series ‘The Chronicles of Caleath’.

Exiled: Winter’s Plight and Exiled: Summer’s Peril available from Amazon.

“What’s Wrong”

November 4, 2008

“What’s wrong?”

I was having a bad day, stemming from a fairly stressful weekend.  I was not my usual fun-loving self, and my co-workers noticed. One of them had the misfortune to ask me directly.  In no particular order, here’s what’s wrong as I see it:

          The designated hitter rule in baseball.

          The wearing of spandex by anyone over the age of thirty, over the 200 pound mark, or by anyone other than the most elite of athletes.  The rest of us don’t want to have to look.

          Mohawks.  Do I have to elaborate?

          Political campaigns that last longer than one year.  This one for the 2008 presidency has lasted over 21 months.

          While I’m at it, spending millions upon millions of dollars for a job that doesn’t even pay half a million and has mandatory retirement after eight years is wrong.

          This will be unpopular, but having a hockey team in any town that can’t produce ice outdoors is wrong.

          Paying more for gas than anyone else in the country is wrong. We’re at $2.99 a gallon at the time of this writing. 

          Michael Jackson is wrong. On more levels than I can describe.

          Spending BILLIONS of dollars on a military solution to the issues in the Middle East is wrong.  So is wasting the lives of thousands of US soldiers. If you have to, pick one fight, WIN IT, then move on.

          Robocalls to announce the virtues of the same candidate 8 times between the hours of 6 and 9 pm is wrong. And yes, that was the count tonight.

          Beer flavored with cherries, limes, lemons, oranges or other fruits.

          Coffee that takes longer to order than it does to drink.

          A library of the collected papers of George W. Bush.

So now it’s my turn.  Let me ask you a question:  What’s wrong?

Leave me a message, I’d love to hear your opinion.

This is the first time I have attempted to post one of my short stories at my blog site. Let me know what you think, and if the feedback is positive I’ll do more of this in the future.

Sweat trickled down Charlie Murphy’s forehead as he dumped the dry mortar mix into the old steel mixing tub. Countless batches of mortar mix had been created in the ancient blue tank, scarred with dried mortar and dents, and this was just another dirty job. The dust clung to his face and arms as he reached for the hose hissing at his feet. He opened the sprayer to a light shower and added just enough to the mix. A leaned against the half built brick wall, and Charlie grabbed firmly in both hands and worked the water into the mix. He figured this would be the last batch he’d have to make for this job. He was almost done.

A single bare hundred watt bulb shone brightly in the corner of the basement. It was a little too bright, and if he wasn’t careful the light burned his eyes when he looked up toward his job. It cast long shadows into the corners, and past the wall he was building was as black as pitch. For a basement, the heat was almost stifling. He would be glad to get this done and get back upstairs to a cold beer and a shower. He took his trowel and loaded it up with mortar, spreading a thick coat on the top of the bricks on the last course. His hands were rough and calloused from carrying loads of the red bricks down there, pressing them into place and making sure to clean the excess mortar between them. He had a bucket of water to clean his hands when the cement would cake on them, but mostly he stuck to his task. There was still the rest of the house to finish.

Charlie bought this house just after the divorce. It was swift, sudden and devastating. He came home one night after pulling a double to find her in bed with another man. They didn’t even try to hide, and the man brazenly brushed his shoulder as he left. They fought, for a time, but there was no use in fighting. He couldn’t live at home, obviously. He was hardly there anymore anyway, what with his schedule at work and overtime. He had to get away, and was only at his old house long enough to allow him time to find this country house out in Freedom. The irony of the name struck him sometimes. But in the end that’s truly what he had. The old farmhouse needed some work, but Charlie could do most things himself. Nineteen acres of land surrounded the new home, giving him plenty privacy. Most of his neighbors had similar lands, so he had a fair distance between the nearest one. He had lived most of his life in the city, on what amounted to a postage stamp’s worth of land, so this was a very welcome change. The air was fresh and clean, and he could enjoy a little privacy. He wouldn’t have to listen to the sirens and the noise from the neighbors. It was a good place for a new start.

The basement was the first project he had to do before he could finish the upstairs. The old couple that had this farm house before him saw fit to put in a large root cellar, perfect for storing potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, whatever. But Charlie had no desire for the dank earthy smell that permeated the basement, so the first thing he did was to finish building a cement block wall across the back and sides, effectively creating an alcove. He hated to lose the extra storage space he created by putting up this brick front, but it had to be done. He had the wall almost halfway built, when he realized he hadn’t eaten since last night. Good time to grab something, he figured, and ran his hands under the hose before ascending the stairs. Each step on the old wooden staircase shook and creaked. He would have to get to those soon.

The kitchen was bare save for a countertop with a boom-box radio and the old Kenmore refrigerator. There was a pump bottle of hand sanitizer by the sink, and he used it to clean his hands before making a sandwich. The clean smell of the sanitizer liquid was a welcome change from the air in the basement. He grabbed a piece of cold fried chicken from the night before out of the fridge, and a bottle of Coors Light beer to wash it down. Charlie flipped on the radio to the local rock station, where Eric Clapton wailed on the guitar. He pulled at the chicken, tearing a piece off before chewing it. He took a long swallow off his beer, and leaned wearily against the counter. He had been working non-stop all night, and now it was almost noon. While he was working along, he felt fine. Once he stopped, once he rested a moment, he could feel the weight of his effort pressing him down. He felt the exhaustion, but then the need to get back to work, to finish what he started took over.

At the top of the stairs he could hear a groan coming from the bottom. He stopped, waited to make sure of what he heard then flipped the light switch. The bottom of the staircase was illuminated in that stark white light he had been laboring in all night.

“Who’s there?” a voice called. It sounded like a man’s voice, but weak, smaller somehow.

Charlie proceeded down the stairs and back to the wall he was building. The voice called out again.

“Hello? Is anyone out there?”

“Hey, you’re awake,” Charlie called back.

“Charlie? Is that you?”

“Why is it you smart lawyers only ask questions you already know the answers to?” Charlie replied. He added a small amount of water to his mortar mix, and used the trowel to get the cement back the way he could work with it. Satisfied, he grabbed enough bricks for three more rows and brought them over to the wall and started the next course.

“Charlie!” the man screamed. “Let me outta here, for Chrissakes!”

“Larry,” Charlie responded, “I think I’ve had enough taking orders from you.”

“What the hell is going on?” Larry demanded.“Again, you know the answer to that one, too, Councilor.”

“So help me God, Charlie, I am going to…” Larry lunged forward and felt the cord around his neck tighten. He choked, and reached forward and found his arms similarly bound and connected to the concrete block wall behind him. He glared toward the opening in front of him, and found it narrowing. He couldn’t remember how he got here, just that he and Mary Lou were taking a drive in the country. They stopped for a few drinks, and that was all he could recall. That bastard must have drugged us. He was going to pay.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked his captor.
Charlie worked quietly, continuing to add row after row of brick. “Do you remember when you and Mary Lou got caught naked in our bed, Larry? Remember how you told me you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her?”

“Yeah. But c’mon, Charlie, your marriage was pretty much over before then. You know it. Mary Lou deserved better than an out of work construction worker and part-time handyman. I could give her things you couldn’t.”

Charlie kept working steadily, only three more rows to go. He left one brick out of the row he was working on, and built right over the top of the hole.

“So what, are you trying to scare me, Charlie? Are you so deluded to think the Mary Lou would ever want to come back to a loser like you? Well, I’m not scared, Charlie!”

“I wouldn’t try to scare you, Larry. I know you’re much too smart for that, you’d never fall for some scare tactic.“

“Goddamn right, pal! Now get me outta here!”

“Were you screwing Mary Lou before or after you were her attorney? Because, if it was after, let me tell you she wasn’t the only one you screwed.” Charlie kept working, mortar then brick. The opening was getting smaller.

“You know she was entitled to everything she got. You shoulda had a better lawyer.”

“I have one now.”

“That’s not funny, you smug sonovabitch!” Larry screamed. “You can’t do this to me!”

“You see, the thing is,” Charlie replied, “I am doing it to you. You and Mary Lou made it easy for me. I knew when you stopped in that bar outside of town. Were you two coming out here to gloat? Were you coming out to see how far I sank after you took everything from me? Oh I sank alright, right down to this basement. Do you like what I’ve done with the place?”

Charlie stepped away from the closing hole in the wall long enough to load his trowel. He brought a half a dozen brick back to the wall, and looked in at Larry. From his point of view, Larry could only see half of Charlie’s head through the opening.

“Geez, Larry. You don’t look to good. In fact, I’d say you look like somebody spiked your drink, stuffed you in the trunk of a car, and dragged your sorry ass down into a basement.”

“You’ve finally snapped! You’ve lost it! You can’t leave me here to die all alone!” Larry was panicking, realizing he was never again getting out of his newly constructed tomb.

“You know, Lar, that’s the first thing you and I agree on,” Charlie said, leaving one last brick out of the wall. He took a flashlight and shined it on the floor of the crypt. Illuminated was the body of his ex-wife, her lifeless form on the dirt floor just inches away from her lover.

“I built this with room for two. After all, I’m just granting you your wish. Now you can spend the rest of your life with her.”

“Charlie!” he cried in despair.
“Have a nice life, Larry. Enjoy your company.”

“NO!”

Charlie slid the last brick into place, muffling the cries of the doomed lawyer. The only sound he could hear was the radio upstairs, the haunting sounds of an old Pink Floyd song drifting down the stairs. He climbed the ancient stairs, and never heard the cracking of the step two- thirds of the way up.

He lost his footing and fell through the risers, twisting backwards as he fell to the floor. He landed on the side and back of his head, his neck making a sickening snap and crunch. He immediately loss all sensation and movement in his arms and legs. His head throbbed, and he tried to will himself to his feet. His body would not respond. Charlie tried to move his head to look around at where he was The only movement he had was his eyes, which could scan just the half of the basement he had been working on. He was within feet of the only other person who could help, and Charlie made sure he couldn’t. Laying in the dirt and dust, he felt his breath becoming more ragged. He couldn’t cry out. Nobody would hear him. All he could do is stare at the wall, and listen to the radio. He was getting short of breath, no longer able to draw air in deep. As he started to black out, Charlie heard pounding coming from the back corner of the basement, and the final refrain of the song from the radio upstairs.

“All in all you’re just another brick in the wall…”

Thanks, Ron, for letting me sort of hijack your blog for this post. I love readers and have a lot of fans and friends out there who follow me all around the net, reading all of the various things I post and it is always fun to have a new venue.

 

So what have I been up to?

 

Since last November, when my book Avenging Angel was accepted by Enspiren Press, I have tried hard not to let grass grow under my feet.  If you are reading this and are my fan and faithful follower, let me tell you, I have worked hard to capture your interest in all things Kim Smith.

 

As of this writing I belong to more than twenty social networking sites, and regularly post at over five different blogs. I guess, if you haven’t heard or seen my name, you and I must really travel in opposite directions. That’s okay, though. I hope to cover some ground with this writing.

 

Avenging Angel is nearing its final stages, and I am happy to report it is slated to go out into the world this year. I am thrilled to be able to say that. I still do not have a definite release date, or a cover art to post, but we are getting vewwy vewwy close, as Elmer Fudd would say.

 

In my personal life, I have done a whole lot of resting, and renewing of the mind and body. I took a leisurely vacation of about ten days all told, and I must tell you, everyone should do that. I didn’t go anywhere special, didn’t spend a lot of money while I was off, and didn’t get much done (to speak of) in the housework department.

 

I did get a chance to visit with friends, try out a few restaurants, and get a little writing done. Mostly, I planned. It is very important in our lives as creative individuals to just sit down and contemplate the next step. I mean you won’t quit writing, so you should be planning on what you want to attempt next. I hope you will do as I have done, and plan the next level.

 

The Muse Online Writer’s Conference is looming on the horizon (October 13-19, 2008) and I am happy to announce I will be teaching a workshop entitled, WRITE THAT COZY! This should be awesome fun, and I am very excited about it. It is a weeklong endeavor and will prove to be great testing ground for an ongoing class I hope to teach about writing the cozy mystery. If you are one of my attendees, thank you for signing up, and I hope you are enjoying Cleo Coyle’s book, ON WHAT GROUNDS, which you should be reading for class.

 

I have also completed the second book in the Shannon Wallace mystery series, lovingly titled BURIED ANGEL and it is currently making the rounds on edits from my betas, so that is another thing you can look forward to. Confidentially, book three is underway so you can heave a huge sigh of contentment. Shannon and Dwayne stories will be around for a while, never fear. In fact, watch for new shorts to arrive at the end of the year at some of the short story markets for mystery!

 

Until we get the first one in your hot little hands though, I hope you will continue to follow the journey here at Ron’s place, at my website, or over at Murder By 4 (The blog I group post with other mystery writers). Those are the best ways to keep up on all the happenings in the world of Kim. I thank you for being interested in my work, and my world, and look forward to all the fun stuff ahead with you!

 

A Christmas List…Sort of

December 8, 2008

A friend of mine recently e-mailed me a series of Christmas-related poll questions. Just thought you’d like a glimpse inside my holiday thoughts. Who knows, you might even have your own set of answers…

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial – but the love is real

3. When do you put up the tree? As soon as I get a few hours to string together, the thing is HUGE

4. When do you take the tree down? after Jan 1

5. What do you do with your tree after you take it down? Back to the Basement with ye…

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hockey Skates

7. Hardest person to buy for? Me

8. Easiest person to buy for? The kids…they want everything

9. Do you have a nativity scene? of course, it’s Christmas

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail, and yes we lick the envelopes

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Sweater – ugly, don’t ask from whom

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Tie between A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim as Scrooge, and A Charlie Brown Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Start shopping for…DANG!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Haven’t you?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? No favorites, I’m Omnivorous

16. Lights on the tree? Please refer to answer #9

17. Favorite Christmas song? there’s two that many people don’t know, both from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra – An Angel Came Down/An Angel Returns (two songs at the beginning and end of the CD), and Old City Bar…Not Traditional, but for a real Christamas story, nothing work better than these for me.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer’s? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Biltzen…and the one with the red nose… what’s his name again…

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star, but we have done the angel as well

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Starting it in Freeking October!

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Family theme

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? The next one…

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? For a child’s dream to come true

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Anyone with a heart

27. Who is least likely to respond to this? The one’s who really should have

Merry Christmas from My Family, and The Banks Family, to all of you!

Ron Adams

“I Love My Bad Guys”

December 1, 2008

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the International Festival of Authors in Toronto this year, the short drive across the Peace Bridge into Canada being yet another perk of living in Western New York. While there, I attended a roundtable discussion of the psychology of the villain in contemporary fiction.  The formal title of the roundtable was “Psycho-babble – Inside the Character’s Twisted Mind.”  The panel included such heavyweights in crime and thriller fiction as John Connolly, Jeffery Deaver, Elena Forbes, and newcomer Ross Raisin. As a mystery writer myself, it was a thrill to sit and listen to these writers discuss their writing, their work schedules, their inspirations, and their unique insights into character development.  And as they went on, I noticed a common theme to all of their writing, and it was said best by Deaver: “I love my bad guys.”

Here’s a sampling of the items touched on by the panel:

1.      Create villains that are real to engage the reader.  If the hero prevails against a cardboard bad guy, then it is the hero who is diminished.  But think about what you do to the villain, and be careful not to make him more captivating than the hero.

2.      It is also important that along with being bad, your villain must be human.  You should have the reader asking why he does what he does. The bad guy may not always see himself as bad, or he may see what he does is good based on his sense of right or wrong.

3.      Be a compulsive researcher as much as possible.  Develop an interest in people beyond themselves, and even develop affection for them. That way you can find the humanity in your villain and all your characters.

4.      Most people, villains and bad guys included, act out of selfishness and/or fear. For one example, they discussed the concept of Mad vs. Bad in relation to the villain.  The villains that are interesting to these writers are the ones who lack a social or moral compass.  In other words, they may be perfectly aware they are committing a crime, and are perfectly fine with it.

5.      There is always a conflict between truth and credibility.  Believe it or not, the authors found that there are so many real life crimes that are too incredible in their very nature to make effective stories.  Despite being true, they would not make credible stories.  The “ick” factor of many true stories is an incredibly fine line to walk for most writers.  This discussion gave rise to one of the funniest exchanges of the afternoon.  John Connelly was saying that he does not read as much true crime as he used to, due to the gratuitous use of shock and violence.  He also criticized another crime fiction writer for doing just that, and drew fire himself for the critique.  He asked the panel. “Do we have to be nice and not criticize each other?

Jeffery Deaver responded, “John, we all know 50 ways to kill people.”

I’ll be sharing more from this discussion, but I would appreciate any feed back readers or authors have to share with me as well.

The Three P’s of Writing

November 15, 2008

The Three P’s of Writing

I have had an occasion recently to witness the turmoil of some writers and publishers when things don’t go according to plan.  It was a sad thing to watch, and I am grateful to have maintained good working relationships with all the parties involved.  I offer, therefore, some assistance for the new, budding, aspiring, frustrated writer still working on getting their masterpiece into the hands of the readers. Please take it for what it is, and I hope these tips can be of some help. I call these the three P’s of writing.

1.       PROFESSIONAL – First and foremost, writing and writing well is an art form, one which most of us have invested our hearts and souls in.  But publishing is a business. It is a for profit enterprise where the writer must learn to become the best business person they can be, and be willing to approach it in a professional manner.  Life is not fair, and the business world is not fair, either.  Approach every interaction with your agent and editors in a straightforward, respectful, and professional manner, and most of the time it will be returned in kind.  Not always, mind you, but you will be better served in that approach in the long run.

2.      POSITIVE- Remain as positive as possible in all your dealings with your agent, editor and publisher.  Adopt a can-do/will-do attitude towards all interactions. Be willing to listen to those that may have more expertise, and offer what expertise you can bring in a positive, constructive manner.  A problem solver is easier to work with than a problem bringer.

3.      PHILOSOPHICAL – A while back, a friend of mine got me and my wife involved in a network marketing business.  Yeah, I know, but I did learn a valuable lesson.  They have a philosophy of some-will-some-won’t-so-what in regards to their business. Not the worst approach to take to this business.  When going through the process of promotion and building your writing career, listen to those you believe in and trust, listen to the experts, and remember some things will work, some things won’t. So what.  Doing is better than not doing, trying is more productive than not trying.

And if I have to add a fourth, it would be PERSEVERANCE.  Keep learning, keep growing, and keep believing in yourself and your goals.  I can’t promise that any of these will get you on the best-seller list. But I do believe that a positive, professional writer with a philosophical approach, who perseveres in the face of adversity, will be one that agents, editors and publishers will want to work with.

Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2008

I work in a nursing home where, on a regular basis, I have the privelege of providing healthcare services to men and women who served in the armed forces, and some who have even lost a son or daughter in the protection of our rights and liberties.  These people have sacrificed much more than many of us will ever know, and have lived their lives in quiet dignity.  They seldom share the magnitude of their contribution, preferring instead to keep the stories of battles, and bars, of bullets and bombs and blood, and of their lasting friendships locked away.  Once in a while, I am honored to listen to their tales.

I have listened to the stories of a Gold Star Mother, whose son died in Southeast Asia, as she showed me his posthumous medals.  I listened to a paratrooper who jumped (his words, not mine) “at” Nomandy on D-day, and actually landed some miles inland.  I met and spoke with a bombadier on a B-24 Bomber, and to a German soldier who was “drafted”, in time to see the bombing of Dresden from the ground.  He spent several months in a POW camp prior to coming to the United States.  Closer to home, I am priveleged to be the brother, son, and friend to several United States Marines, to whom I send out “Semper Fi”, and my gratitude.

In the United States we celebrate the achievements of these heroes on Veteran’s Day, November 11.  I’ll be working, because that’s what I do. They’ll be quietly remembered, and honored by those that know, and those that love them.  My hope and my prayer is, while so many of “The Greatest Generation” pass on everyday, we learn from them the quiet dignity and grace that comes from serving a cause greater than ourselves, and from being role models in deeds, not words.

God Bless you all, as you have blessed us.

BlogTalk Radio Interview

November 6, 2008

Please join me tonight at BlogTalk Radio for an interview with Ms. Kim Smith, author of the Shannon Wallace mysteries.  We’ll be discussing my newest novel, Key Lime Squeeze, writing in general, mysteries in specific, and just chatting about whatever comes up.  She as a wonderful and talented writer and an insightful host, so it should be an interesting half hour from 7:30pm CST/8:30 EST on  http://www.blogtalk radio.com/ KimS
 

Bill Gates, of richest man in America and co-founder of Microsoft fame, gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.  This list came to me and I found myself in enough agreement with them to share them with you.  In no particular order of importance, the eleven things you need to know but never learned in school are: 

 

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

 

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

 

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

 

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

 

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

 

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

 

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

 

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

 

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

 

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

 

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.