Category Archives: mystery

The Whiteboard part four

Welcome to the latest (fourth) installment of The Whiteboard. This story has been keeping me company for weeks now. I am sort of liking the fact that I can just write about 500 words on it (equivalent of 2  pages or so) and let that be the writing for the day. A writer writes. So, I am. I hope you are enjoying this little tale. (I actually do have an ending!)

Here are the three previous links to parts one, two, and three.

Part one

Part two

Part three

The Whiteboard by Kim Smith ©2017

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She was disappointed in Beatrice’s reply. Her co-worker hadn’t seen anyone coming or going in Anne’s office, except Anne. This was met with a bit more dismay than Anne wanted to admit.

She walked up to the board and wrote in her boldest hand, “Who ARE you?”

“I’ll play for one more day,” she said, aloud. Then, she gathered her things to go home. When she touched the doorknob, she considered locking it. What was going to be learned from someone who snuck into her office and played games, anyway?

Finally, she left it unlocked. One more day, she told herself. Then it’s going to be locked up tight.

As she headed toward the elevator, she remembered an 8:30 a.m. meeting on Thursday that she would be having in her office. The writer had better be prepared to divulge their identity and get out quickly or face a few others crowded into her small office to be a new and less attentive audience.

She forced herself to breathe in and out and smile inwardly. Nothing to be done about this business now. There was a well-dressed man on the elevator when she got on. She had never seen him before, but that wasn’t all that remarkable. She didn’t know everyone person on every floor of the massive office complex.

He allowed her to exit before him, as a well-bred man should do. At least, in her opinion. Not that she was an authority or anything . She didn’t even have brothers or uncles and her father had never been home long, preferring to work two jobs and long hours.

She was something like him, she supposed.

When Anne reached her car, she looked up at the building where she spent so much of her time. She couldn’t see her office from this vantagepoint, but she knew where it was. Her life seemed wrapped up in that one place. Now someone was invading her space. It was enough to make her frown as she clicked the button to open her car doors.

When she sat inside, she could see the writing on her windshield, in the dust of the pollen that had begun to collect everywhere thanks to the abundance of trees around the garage.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,” it said in the perfect handwriting she’d already come to recognize.

A drip of cold fear gripped her. What did that even mean? How did the writer know her car? This meant the writer KNEW her and her habits. Should she take this to the authorities? Was it harmless or dangerous. She sat there a long time before finally turning on the washer and wipers, obliterating the writing from her view.

“Take that, you weirdo,” she said, putting her seat belt on.

~@~

I hope you enjoyed this fourth installment! More to come! Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think…

 

 

 

excerpt

Excerpt for Schooled in Murder, Book Three of Shannon Wallace Mysteries

Today, I bring you an excerpt from my soon-to-be-released book, Schooled in Murder, book three in the Shannon Wallace Mysteries.

SCHOOLED IN MURDER copyright KimSmith 2016
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The fear of poverty sat on me like a screaming black cat digging its claws into my guts. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

I was a college graduate. I had a degree in English.

I should have been a teacher with a retirement account slowly building itself a future. But God has a sense of humor and none of that had happened. If a boatload of green didn’t arrive on the horizon pretty soon, none of my meager accomplishments would be of any consequence. I would be living back at home with my aunties. And thanks to the current economy where everyone was looking for jobs—flinging hamburgers didn’t look very promising.

My aunties, Tillie and Nancy, had been giving me money and food ever since my boyfriend/boss had been murdered a few months back. Might be they felt sorry for me, but more likely they just loved me and wanted me to eat, drink, and be merry. Problem was, I kept finding myself situated where dead bodies turned up and people close to me were affected. I need a life, seriously.

My lawyer friend from college, James “Jimmy” Adams, and I were seated at the House of Q consuming unhealthy portions of hot pit barbeque slathered in coleslaw and Tabasco while plotting a possible job for Video Angels and thereby, for me.

Well, he was plotting. I was too unnerved to say much.

“It’s just to cement their testimony and won’t take very long,” Jimmy said. “I finally got the court to agree to a filmed copy of the contents of their house. I know you like that stuff these days, so that’s why I called you.”

“Well, yeah, but dang, Jimmy, it’s Miss Lunsford. She taught me in high school. It’d be like pillaging her desk to snoop for the grade book.”

He licked sauce off his fingertips. “It’s actually Mrs. Denaldo since she got married, hence why I need your services. They’re getting divorced. I need some way to exhibit all of their stuff before one of them ditches something of value. My thought was to tape the contents of the house.”

I wiped at drops of baked bean juice in front of my plate and thought about it. “Don’t they have to fill out forms or something declaring their ownership of stuff so the court can decide who gets what?”

“Are you talking about interrogatories? Sure. But if a form paints a thousand words, a video’ll paint a million, right?”

“Now I know why Dwayne handed the phone to me when you called. This wouldn’t be a job for him. He can’t stand seeing other people’s stuff all jumbled up and mismatched. If you were to let him inside someone’s closet, he’d be spouting tidbits from one of those fashion shows he watches, and believe me, it wouldn’t be pretty. I guess that means the old bat’s dilemma sits in my lap.”

I didn’t mean for it to sound so harsh, but my issues with Mrs. Thelma Lunsford Denaldo surfaced like a smelly, dead fish. She never liked me much while I was in school and since leaving those hallowed halls, I’d returned the favor. She ranked at the top of my least liked list.

“Hey! Don’t be disrespectful. She’s been a teacher in this community for at least twenty years,” he said.

“And she remembers each one of us and all our youthful mistakes from every year she’s taught. In tenth grade, she caught me passing notes to Katie Henderson, my best friend, and made me answer for it by forcing me to read it aloud in front of the entire class.”

He made a face like he had swallowed vinegar.

I continued. “My reputation as Shannon Wallace, last known high school virgin, had been somewhat sullied after that incident. She even reminded me of my shortcomings two years later as I walked across the stage in the gym to accept my diploma.”

“I see,” he said with a shrug. “Well, it’s a thought. If you want to make some quick money—”

“Why are they divorcing?” I interrupted. “Seems to me a pillar of society like her would be an unlikely candidate for irreconcilable differences. Cruelty, maybe.”

“No, not irreconcilable differences. Not cruelty either. Try adultery.”

“What? You’re kidding!”

He shook his head. “Nope. Something about making a video that ended up in her husband’s possession. But other than that, I can’t tell you anymore. Let your imagination run the gamut, you’d be right in the end.”

“Welcome to the digital age, huh?” I tapped my front tooth with my index finger and thought about what he’d said. Had she kept a hidden camera going while she played stuff the sausage with her lover? More than likely, her husband was a better snoop than she thought. He might have placed hidden cameras around their house. I bet she never knew she’d played into his plan.

The world of videography had come to me via a similar avenue, and I worried endlessly my faux pas in the home movie industry would announce itself in mainstream South Lake life. Even the idea someone might innocently discover I had done such a thing made my stomach hurt. Now, the one person in this two-dog town who could reduce me to a quaking, shivering mass of slobber had fallen victim to something similar. I tried to sound nonchalant. “Sexy videos, huh? Maybe they were fakes? You can do a lot with video editing these days.”

“I don’t know and don’t really want to know. Suffice it to say, she was caught from every angle thanks to fancy video work. Although I bet you’re more of an authority on that than me, eh? Maybe I’ll use you in court as a professional analyzer. At any rate, I’m working for her estranged and unhappy hubby. He’s convinced she’s guilty as charged.”

I shoved my Styrofoam plate away and dug in my tote bag for a small container of antacid. The thought of being on a witness stand discussing the technical aspects of videography when it surrounds bedroom activities gave me instant indigestion. I placed the tablet on my tongue and let it dissolve a moment before chewing. Some fruity flavor that they wanted us to think was cherry. It wasn’t even close

“No, thanks,” I replied around the chalky tablet. “I don’t want to be in a court of law ever, and especially not on the opposite side of her.”

Jimmy slurped sweet tea, rubbed his barbeque stained hands on a moist paper towel, and sat back with a satisfied sigh, oblivious to my discomfiture. “Suit yourself,” he said. “I’m just doing my job and thinking of ways to do it best. Speaking of jobs, what about my offer to film the house?”

I glanced at him and gave it some thought. My lack of funds at the moment certainly clouded better judgment, but what else could I do? I had to have money, and he was willing to pay me.

“How much?”

“Two grand.”

“Two grand? For shooting household items?” My voice rose as the insanity of his offer hit me. “Whoa. Adams, Butler, and Cook must be doing mighty good to be able to hand out cash in that quantity.”

He shrugged a bit too innocently for my taste. His firm touted themselves as the A, B, C of attorneys and handled all manner of cases. Even ones like this where a couple was out to get everything they could by digging in and hurting as much as possible. It made the law firm seem on the low-life side, but who was keeping score?

“Sure could use the money,” I added, chewing another of the chalky tablets. “Dwayne would be totally happy.”

“Well, I’ll just tell you, if our poor old teacher-lady hopes to get any alimony or other spousal support out of Mr. Denaldo, she’d better think of some new ways to say “please”. He intends to get the whole tamale and cut her out of everything if she so much as blinks. She’d be a fool to refuse to allow you to come in with a camera.”

I straightened the napkins lying on the plastic-topped table. “What would I have to do exactly?”

His smile said he smelled victory. “First off, you would need to go over and talk to her, tell her what you do, get her comfortable. And while you’re there, get her to sign these forms giving you permission to do the shoot.” He reached down, pulled papers out of his brown briefcase, and waved them at me.  “All you need to know about the case is right here.”

“Why can’t you go over and do this? I’m totally against doing it. I mean, what might happen when my old teacher and I meet again? My reputation in South Lake society would be at stake if I make her mad. And being a party of the second part to her husband’s lawyer and their plan to strip her of everything would certainly not make her happy.”

“Um. I think her reputation is more at stake than yours, and I can’t do it. I have court.” He grinned and shoved the papers across the table toward me. “Your check for two thousand dollars is just waiting to be written out by the way. Get the job done and the money is yours.”

“Talk about presumption! You already knew I’d do this?” I gaped at the neatly typed pages and thought about a check made out to Video Angels.

Damn.

Two thousand dollars was a wealth of money. There was a lot of wiggle room if we plunked two thousand dollars in the Video Angels’s bank account.

“You can do this, Shannon,” he added, “All you have to do is to get friendly with her before you film her worldly goods.”

Friendly? Whatever!

I stood, snatched the papers up, and flipped my tote off the back of my chair with the flick of my index finger. “Fine. But just so you know, no matter what else happens, I tried to get out of this. It’s on your head if I’m ruined because of it.”

He was still frowning at that as I flounced out of the barbeque place to face the suffocating June heat.

Schooled in Murder-new Shannon Wallace mystery coming soon!

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New cover art!

NEWS!NEWS!NEWS!

My new Shannon Wallace mystery is all finished and has been dutifully reported to my newsletter crowd, the Zanies. It will soon be winging it’s way through the interwebs to Amazon. Woo hoo!

Thanks so much to everyone who has asked me about whether there would be more books in the series – it’s great to know you’re all so excited about these books. Well, let’s face it, I can’t shut Shannon up! Schooled in Murder should be available for purchase in November. Here’s the blurb…

Shannon and Dwayne are back in their wildest escapade ever!

They are hired to videotape the interior of a former teacher’s home when her marriage crumbles.   But the teacher is missing, and our dastardly duo step headlong into another murder in their small town. Cop buddy, Sal Ramirez, is too busy to bail them out this time, and they quickly discovered that school may be out for them all if the killer is not caught!
If you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll let you know about all my new releases and contests!

Excerpt for Schooled in Murder, the newest SW mystery coming soon (because I know how much you love to read tidbits from my books )

What I Know: Post Con Wrapup

Post-Con – what I know

I am back from the con, and I survived! Ha-ha–there should be a tee shirt that says “I survived ________ con.” It is a really exhausting experience for those of us who are not used to being “peopled” all day.  You feel mentally drained. I also felt physically drained after spending 14 hours in the car going and coming. Thank God for my pal, Linda Rettstatt. She is an excellent driver, and we had a great time talking about writing and books on the trip.

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My post-con advice would be to be sure to drink a lot of water! I did that this time(not so much in the past) and I think it helped stave off the “con-crud” that goes along with these trips.

The panels were awesome. I had so much fun listening to my contemporaries sharing knowledge and ideas. I learned a lot about things I didn’t know but I also learned that I know quite a lot!

The biggest takeaway for me: I know WHAT I know. My knowledge base is mostly in the craft of writing. I feel qualified THOROUGHLY to discuss writing craft, publishing ideas, and marketing tips. This is my wheel-house. I intend to be included in more of those sorts of panels in the future, because I noted there are a lot of authors out there sort of going in circles on these subjects. They “think” they know what they are doing but their confidence in all of those gray areas, well, that’s what they love to hear about. They just need confirmation.

I did, too, at one time.

But now, I know what I know. I believe that an aspiring author can trust what I say because I know what I say is the absolute truth.

Very happy to be home, and grateful for the opportunity to be included in Imaginarium. I am going to be hosting Stephen Zimmer on the podcast later this month as a sort of wrap-up. Be sure to go out and fan, follow, and friend me on all my social media sites so you don’t miss it!

See below an interview with Judy Alter, Mystery Author.

 

 

SPOOK-TOBER : And the beginning of con week

Yep. It’s October and you know what that means! IMAGINARIUM 2016 is coming this week! Are you spook- worthy?  Last weekend, I changed the theme to zombies but had to change it back as it was not mobile-ready. I don’t like to visit blogs who are not optimized, so I knew it wouldn’t work. Sadly, I haven’t found a cool spook-y theme yet that is.

I know, I am such a child.

But that works in my favor, because it shows I have an imagination. And having an Imagination is what is necessary for IMAGINARIUM – right?

If you haven’t checked out the site for this great, creatives convention, go here now! All the spooks in the Louisville, KY area are coming!

http://www.entertheimaginarium.com

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I am going to be a busy panelist, but I would love to have a cup of coffee and chat with you, so hunt me up after one of them, or maybe in the vendor hall.  I will have a SPOOK-tastic special for you to sign up for (*a giveaway!*)

My panel list is as follows:

Friday

The Devil is in the Details 4:00 PM 
A brainstorming discussion about using mindless details and minor hooks to invigorate your plots.

Healthy Writing Habits 5:00 PM

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Saturday

Building Your Brand 11:00 AM

Being a successful author is much more than just writing good books. It’s about building your brand and marketing it in the wide and crowded world of publishing. This panel will cover the basics of finding your unifying “why” and business brand, basics of social media, online marketing, author platform, etc, and using all these aspects to build a comprehensive author brand and treat your writing like the business it is (if you want to make a profit).

Seasoned Romance 1:00 PM

Exploring romance that features heroes and heroines beyond the “traditional” romance age–characters in their forties, fifties and, even, in their sixties. What do more mature characters bring to a romance novel? Is there an audience for “seasoned” romance?

Flash Fiction:The Art of Big Stories in Little Packages 2:00 PM

A discussion of the strategies and pitfalls of writing impact-ful narratives in 1,000 words or fewer.

DIY Websites : To Be or Not To Be 3:00 PM

With the many options from WordPress to Wix, it’s easier than ever to build your own website, depending on your needs and level of technical knowledge. Is it worth spending hundreds or thousands on a professional to set it up and manage for you?

SPOOK NEWS!

AND! I will be signing my new releases, Disk of Death, and Yew to a Kill at 6:00 PM Saturday evening. I am slated to be signing with my good friend, Linda Rettstatt, and the fabulous Jim C. Hines. It should prove to be the best day of my life. Literally.

I really am looking forward to seeing you there! So bring your spook-tastic self on by and have a chat with me.