Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Trick or Slooh


     That's the name of the community which nicknamed the Halloween asteroid "Spooky". 

     Spooky, estimated to be between 1,000 and 2,000 feet wide, is hurtling toward Earth at more than 78,000 mph.

     Spooky's official designation is 2015 TB145. I like Spooky better. Simple things for simple minds. He/she/it will come within 310,000 miles of Earth on Oct. 31.

     NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Near Earth Object Program keeps track of these sort of things, and if you have Java enabled on your computer, you can have some fun on their website. Spooky, the dot, will be seen passing the third planet from the sun.

     According to NASA, Spooky was discovered only recently by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii on Oct. 10.

     Said Paul Cox of the community telescope service called Slooh, "It’s frightening to think an asteroid this size, approaching so close to Earth, was discovered only 21-days before its closest approach, which just happens to be on Halloween. If that doesn’t give you the chills, nothing will."

     The closest approach of Spooky or TB145 will happen at 1:12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Halloween day.

     For those of you wishing to track the Halloween asteroid on Allhallows Eve, you can check in with the Slooh community. Or you can go out and Trick or Treat.

     Slooh community:

Spookily yours,

Gerrie Ferris Finger

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"There is something at the end which makes me want to keep reading this series." RUNNING WITH WILD BLOOD (Hardcover: All book stores and online stores. Great holiday or birthday gift.

Friday, September 25, 2015

William Faulkner - Still a literary force.


William Cuthbert Faulkner, born September 25, 1897 – died July 6, 1962) an American writer and Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote novels, short stories, a play, poetry, essays, and screenplays. He is primarily known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he spent most of his life

My favorite Faulkner quote: "The past is never dead; it's not even past."

Favorite story: Forget "The Sound and the Fury". Slogged through incomprehensible dialogue in high school. Loved "A Rose for Emily". It is so Faulkner; the short story is all you need to read to understand his writing and his mind.

The story opens with the funeral of Emily Grierson, an elderly patrician spinster. Emily is known for her odd behavior. Like others in the antebellum Southern aristocracy, the family fell on hard times. She and her father, the last two of the clan, continue to live in the past, her father vowing that Emily cannot marry a man below their aristocratic status.

When her father dies she becomes friendly with Homer Barron, a Northern contractor that paved sidewalks. He, of course, if far below her standards, and Homer doesn't want to marry anyway.
Meantime, Emily has problems with her cousins and is becoming more erratic.

Emily buys arsenic without giving reasons for needing it. Neighbors suspect she means to take it herself. However, her relationship with Homer lifts her spirits and there is talk of marriage. Homer leaves town to give Emily a chance to get rid of her cousins, and returns three days after the cousins leave. One person reports seeing Homer walk in the house, which is the last he was seen.

Despite her lessened social status, Emily continues flout her long-lost patrician ancestry. She's quite nasty actually and the city council can't bring themselves to confront her about a strong smell coming from her house. Bizarrely, they decide to send men to her house under the cover of darkness to sprinkle lime around the house, after which the smell dissipates. The town council also forgives her taxes as an act of charity, though it was done under a pretense of repayment towards her father to assuage Emily's pride.

Emily becomes a recluse, Never seen out of the house, she rarely lets anyone into it. Her black servant shops for her, and the community comes to see her as an hereditary obligation who must be humored.

Her funeral is a large affair; and her death sparks curiosity about her reclusiveness. Once she's buried, townsfolk enter her house. The door to her upstairs bedroom is locked. Someone kicks in the door to see what has been hidden so long. Inside, among the unused wedding clothes, lies the horribly decomposed corpse of Homer Barron on the bed; on the pillow beside him is the indentation of a head, and a single strand of Emily's gray hair.


So totally Southern Gothic like Faulkner himself.

Gerrie Ferris Finger


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Super Blood Moon Coming Sept. 27

Super Blood Moon Coming Sept. 27

Super Blood Moon Coming Sept. 27

Image by Joel Tonyan

On the evening of Sept. 27, the moon will once again become immersed in the Earth's shadow, resulting in a total lunar eclipse — the fourth such event in the last 17 months. As with all lunar eclipses, the region of visibility for Sunday's blood-moon lunar eclipse will encompass more than half of our planet. Nearly 1 billion people in the Western Hemisphere, nearly 1.5 billion throughout much of Europe and Africa and perhaps another 500 million in western Asia will be able to watch as the Harvest Full Moon becomes a shadow of its former self and morphs into a glowing coppery ball.
The lunar eclipse will also feature the "biggest" full moon (in apparent size) of 2015, since the moon will also be at perigee on the very same day ─ its closest point to the Earth ─ 221,753 miles (356,877 km) away.

Visibility Maps for the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse (Gallery)

Read more in-depth, scientific info about the blood moon lunar eclipse from

And for times in your area.

Submitted by
Gerrie Ferris Finger

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Congratulations to U.S.A.'s Lady Golfers, winners of the Solheim Cup, despite controversy.

In case you did not know, the Solheim Cup is an every-other-year golf tournament for professional women golfers represented by teams from the U. S. and Europe. It is named after the Norwegian-American golf club manufacturer Karsten Solheim, who was a driving force behind its founding.

Julie Inkster (a favorite of mine) captained this year's U. S. team to victory 14 1/2 points over Europe's 13 1/2 points. Carin Koch was captain of the European team. LPGA fans will know most of the European players because they play on the LPGA. But when it comes to winning, friendships are set aside as the ladies go at each other for the crystal.

The tension began with the captains and assistants. It was about giving advice, a golf rule that can cover hundreds of pages in a book called "Decisions on the Rules of Golf." It truly is enough to make one's neck twist. I make it a point to never, ever, give advice. In the Solheim format, only captains can give advice to a player, unless she designates someone to act in her stead. Although participants in this advice-giving quarrel - Inkster, Koch and Sorenstam (an assistant to Koch) - declined to give exact reasons for the dispute, there was some apparent on-camera bad blood.

To add to that tension, when the fourballs began, there was confusion over the revision of tee times for players needing breaks after playing their morning sessions. The pair of Americans showed up for their tee times with two opponents from the European side, but that team was no where to be found.

To cap that, tension boiled to tears when Alison Lee, of the United States, believed she had been conceded a 15 inch putt by Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull on the 17th green. Lee believes (having said later) that she heard the concession and that Pettersen and Hull had their backs turned as if to walk off the green.

But not so fast, Miss Lee.

Pettersen insisted that there was no concession to the putt and that her team won the match 2 up. The rules' official said there was no way they could let Lee replace the ball and putt out. Had the putt been ruled conceded, the Americans would go to the 18th 1 down. A chance to tie.

Both Hull and Lee were crying before leaving the course. (See above link. Strong language advised.)

Pettersen is roundly seen as the villain.

But the U. S. got back. They won the coveted Solheim Cup and stopped Europe's winning streak.



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Dame Agatha!

Agatha Christie is the undisputed goddess of mystery for all mystery genre writers and readers the world over.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world's most-widely published books,behind only Shakespeare's works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. (From Wiki)

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, was born into a wealthy family on September 15, 1890 and died on January 12, 1976.

She was the consummate English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name, most of which revolve around the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Parker Pyne, Harley Quin/Mr Satterthwaite and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. She wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap. In 1971 she was made a Dame for her contribution to literature.

Christie served in a hospital during the First World War before marrying Archibald Christie and starting a family in London. She was initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, but in 1920 The Bodley Head press published her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Hercule Poirot.


In late 1926, Archie asked Agatha for a divorce. He was in love with Nancy Neele. In December of 1926, the Christies quarrelled, and Archie left their house, Styles, to spend the weekend with his mistress. That same evening Christie disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her car was later found above a chalk quarry, with an expired driving licence and clothes.

Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public. A newspaper offered a £100 reward. Over a thousand police officers and 15,000 volunteers scoured the land. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave a spirit medium one of Christie's gloves to find the missing woman. Dorothy L. Sayers visited the house in Surrey, later using the scene in her book Unnatural Death.

 On December 14, 1926, she was found at the Swan Hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire, registered as Mrs Teresa Neele (the surname of her husband's lover) from Cape Town.

Two doctors diagnosed her as suffering from amnesia. Why did she disappear? She's never said. She was known to be in a depressed state from overwork, her mother's death earlier that year, and her husband's infidelity. Public reaction at the time was largely negative, supposing a publicity stunt or attempt to frame her husband for murder.

Christie makes no mention of the event in her autobiography, but it is now largely believed that she disappeared to embarrass her husband. They divorced and he went on to marry Neele. Agatha married her second husband, Max Mallowan. She had met the archeologist at an archeology dig.

So, Agatha, the great mystery writer, remains shrouded in, quite naturally, a mystery.

I lay my love for mystery reading and writing at her clever feet. She was, and still is, the best.

Gerrie Ferris Finger



Happy Reading, and
Trust you are resting in peace, Dame Agatha.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Happy Book Lovers Day

Gee, I thought every day was book lovers day.

Be Happy and Read

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy National Friendship Day

If it's the first Sunday in August, it must be National Friendship Day.

I think we need one a month, or a week. The news of the world is not too friendly these days.


According to the Calendar of Days, we are invited to “observe this day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities”.


Fine sentiment certainly, if a bit staid.


A Hallmark Day
National Friendship Day was originally founded by Hallmark in 1919 as a day for people to celebrate their friendship by sending each other cards.  By 1940 the market had dried up, and eventually it died out completely.
Winnie and the United Nations to the Rescue
In 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations, and in April 2011 the United Nations officially recognized International Friendship Day.
We should all celebrate with friends nationally and internationally, with chatting or visiting. Post on social media using #NationalFriendshipDay to encourage others to join in paying it forward.
It's a good day to have.
Gerrie Ferris Finger

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"The Avengers" Patrick Macnee passed at 93.

I just read that one of the actors who passed away in 2015 was Patrick Macnee. He was a British actor and played secret agent John Steed on the spy series "The Avengers." He was 93 when he died in June.

Rest in Peace Patrick Macnee/John Steed.

I'll never forget you, or your famous partner, Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg. Radio hosts often ask me what real or fictional character my series heroine, Moriah Dru, is most like. The first time I gave it a bit of thought and came out with "Emma Peel of "The Avengers."'

They both drive fast and fell their opponents with crafty martial arts moves. I did not consciously create an Emma Peel-like character, but Dru turned out to be very much like her -- without the catsuit. Maybe one day she'll don a catsuit. You never know with Dru.

However, Richard Lake -- the Atlanta police lieutenant and Dru's lover and partner in fighting crime -- is not at all like John Steed, the buttoned-up Brit who wore a bowler and carried an umbrella. Lake wears a fedora, carries a nine-millimeter in a shoulder holster and is contained but not stiff.

About Patrick Macnee: He came from an upscale Berkshire, England family where his father trained horses. He was a naval veteran of World War II. "The Avengers" premiered in 1961 on UK television. He was partnered with a couple of beautiful and talented women before Diana Rigg. They remain in the public's minds because of their chemistry. They were not lovers; Mrs Peel has/had a husband in the background. 

Come to think of it, Emma and John do have something in common with Dru and Lake. While driving the evil-doers off the streets and out of the world, they exchange quick-witted banter and fight their foes with their intellects as well as their physical talents. 

Gerrie Ferris Finger

The Dru Lake Series: 


    Saturday, July 25, 2015

    The Calendar of Days

    Yesterday we had fun with National Tequila Day.

    Hungover from the celebration? Have a taco.

    We had consulted the Calendar of Days to see what today has in store.

    Here they are:

    July 25th
    Surely y'all can take the time to celebrate the above opportunities.

    We're headed for the mall's parking lot merry-go-round. And since it's hot here in the South, we'll have hot fudge sundaes, but forget the dance until it's cooler. You cowboys can thread the needle.


    Gerrie Ferris Finger


    Saturday, June 27, 2015

    OMGs - Oh My God, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs!

    As I suspected when I've done radio spots for RUNNING WITH WILD BLOOD, I would be questioned about the plot and the characters. You see Wild Blood is an outlaw motorcycle gang that is under suspicion in the novel for taking part in, or knowing who, killed Juliet Trapp, a 16-year-old student at Winter's Farm Academy. My heroes, Moriah Dru and Richard Lake, delve into the cold case and come to some surprising conclusions and doubts that Wild Blood members did the evil deed. So, they convince the club to allow them to ride in their ranks to a Bike Week charity event in Florida to help solve the crime and perhaps clear their club and its members. There's plenty of distrust on the part of the bikers -- after all Lake's a cop and Dru's a PI. The tension from all sides, plus rival clubs they meet along the way, lends violence to the mystery.

    While I admitted to the radio hosts that I romanticized what many call thugs, I also shared my research on biker clubs in general.

    First Harley Prototype - Wiki

    Biker clubs have been a part of American culture as long as the motorcycle itself. Harley Davidson considered by many as the premier bike had its beginnings in 1901. Although not the first motorcycle invented -- the Indian brand bicycle company invented the motorized bike in 1900 -- it was one of the first when 20 year-old William S. Harley drew up plans for a small engine and four-inch flywheels. For the next two years, Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson worked on their motor-bicycle in a Milwaukee machine shop. By 1907 they were selling their first bikes.

    The first motorcycle club was formed in 1904 when the Yonkers Bicycle Club morphed into the Yonkers Motorcycle Club -- some 23 years before the founding of the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) in 1927. In San Francisco the very first SFMC meeting, attended by 12 charter members, took place in November 1904 at A. Freed’s Thor Motorcycle Shop near famous Fulton Street.

    When bikers wore coat and tie

    Outlaw "gang" clubs

    One of the first was The Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a one-percenter club that was formed in McCook, Illinois in 1935.

    Probably the most well known American biker gang, The Hell’s Angels, have a long and thorough history on American highways. Much information concerning their origins is hazy due to their long-standing code of secrecy. Sometime in the 1940’s in California Hell’s Angels MC was formed. Their insignia is the “death’s head” logo which is copied from the insignia of the 85th Fighter Squadron and the 552nd Medium Bomber Squadron.

    Many of the members of outlaw gangs (as well as non-outlaw clubs) gravitate to the motorcycle culture when they leave the military. According to sociologists -- who purport to know these things -- men grow used to the company of men and the culture of war. After service, especially during war time, they find life mundane. The thrills, the wild and free, "don't tread on me," lifestyle has drawn at least 44,000 men to what the Justice Department calls OMGs - Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

    From a riot in Hollister, California to this week's shootout at Waco's Twin Peaks, OMG's have left a history of violence in their wake.

    On of the first and most famous is the American Motorcyclist Association's rallies in Hollister, California. The influx of bikers was good for business at first, but after World War II, the rally was bigger than ever with a flood of veterans drawn to the excitement and freedom associated with motorcycles. Beer bottles littered the streets, and people were sleeping everywhere. Bikers did what bikers do. They raced around and popped wheelies. The state police were called in to clear the town.
    The event got big play in Life magazine and inspired the 1953 film "The Wild One," starring Marlon Brando. His leather jacket and brooding demeanor gave a face to the bad-boy biker image.

    The Hells Angels added to the lore. Hired to provide security at a Rolling Stones concert in Altamont, California, a gang member killed Meredith Hunter, a man who rushed the stage with a gun after an earlier confrontation with Hells Angels. The stabbing was captured on film. Witnesses reported several gang members stomping on Hunter. Promoters had paid the gang in beer, and members had numerous scuffles with concertgoers throughout the day of the concert.

    The Bandidos Motorcycle Club goes down in infamy after two brothers ripped them off in a drug deal, selling them baking powder instead of meth.The gang kidnapped Ray and Mel Tarver, drove them into the Texas desert and forced them to dig their own graves before shooting and killing them.

    My Wild Blood does not practice the devilry of other one-percenters, but are people who love their culture, avoid harming "civilians" or killing cops -- and save Moriah Dru's life.

    Gerrie Ferris Finger

    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    A Tale of Four Flags

    I've been traveling and haven't blogged lately, but being home now, the subject of the Confederate Flag has me weighing in -- from an historical perspective and a personal up-close look at the changes made in one state's flag.

    When I was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a movement initiated by the NAACP grew to change Georgia's flag that had been flying from 1956 to 2001.

    Official State Flag of Georgia 1956-2001

    Seen below is the earlier flag that had been redesigned to incorporate the Southern Cross, misnamed the Confederate Battle Flag, after a controversial ruling known as Brown vs. Board of Education.


    With the pressure building on the Georgia General Assembly, flag activists' efforts succeeded in 2001 and Governor Roy Barnes pushed through a design that, though continuing to depict the Southern Cross, reduced it prominence. 

    This move angered both sides of the Southern Cross debate, and contributed to Barnes's defeat in the next election. 

    The following year, amidst dwindling demands for the return of the Southern Cross version, the Georgia General Assembly had the flag redesigned again, adopting a compromise. The design would use the first Flag of the Confederacy called the Stars and Bars with a simplified version of the state seal within the circle of the 13 stars on the flag's canton. That, today, is Georgia's flag.

    Georgia flag 2003-Present
    First Confederate Flag 1861
    The true Stars and Bars

    About the Southern Cross also known as the St. Andrews Cross and the Confederate Battle Flag: Although the Southern Cross was incorporated in a second and third Confederate Flag during the War Between the States, it was never approved by the Confederate Congress as a stand-alone "Battle Flag" of the Confederacy. It began life as the Battle Flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. It is today sometimes called the Stars and Bars, but the true Stars and Bars was the flag of 1861, which was changed in 1863 because it resembled the U. S. Stars and Stripes on the battlefield.

    Called the Stainless Banner, it was the official Confederate Flag in 1865.

    It all began: In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union just months after Abraham Lincoln, from the anti-slavery Republican Party, was elected president. In April 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C.

    Ten other states would eventually follow South Carolina in secession, forming the Confederate States of America. However, of the three flags the Confederacy would go on to adopt, none are the Southern Cross "Battle Flag" that is traditionally recognized today. Southern political scientists James Michael Martinez, William Donald Richardson, and Ron McNinch-Su write:
    The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans' groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election

    Georgia's Four Flag since 1920.

    Gerrie Ferris Finger

    Thursday, May 14, 2015

    CONGRATULATIONS to The Cast and Crew of Milton High School on their Outstanding Cirque du Soleil Performances

    Of a hundred people you survey on the street, I have to be among the few who had not been to, or seen in its entirety, a Cirque du Soleil performance. Until, that is, I saw Cirque Avontuur, a production of Milton High School -- a school known for its theater programs, and one from which my granddaughter will graduate this year. Milton High School is in Alpharetta, Georgia. The high school's plays and musicals have won "first in state" for the last four years. My granddaughter, Tori, has four rings to show for her work on stage lighting the shows.

    About Cirque du Soleil.

    Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical producer in the world. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel, it was founded in Baie-Saint-Paul in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Lalibert√© and Gilles Ste-Croix.

    Photobucket Stock

    They toured Quebec as a performing troupe, but encountered financial problems until they received a government grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Lalibert√© hired Guy Caron from the National Circus School to re-create it as a proper circus. Its character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals define Cirque du Soleil as a contemporary circus.

    Each show has its own theme and storyline. Shows have continuous live music, with performers rather than stagehands changing the props.

    Milton High School's Cirque Avontuur.

    Cirque Avontuur at Milton High School
    Cirque Avontuur, is an upbeat adventure based on the decisions, or lack of decisions, that we make in life and how those moments render our outcomes. Doorways of all shapes and sizes will serve as a symbol of the entrances and exits that we make as we take departures along our individual journeys.

    Milton High School's Cirque Ravstava.
    The Milton Cirque shows are unique pieces of theatre, and have proven popular with audiences like the sold-out Cirque Ravstava.

    Milton is the only public high school in the country with a cirque program as a part of the regular theater curriculum. The audition-only class of over 60 students attracts students with various athletic and specialized skills like tumbling and dance. Cast members also train on various apparatus including the Cyr wheel and silks, and often train with some cirque professionals that travel to the school to work with them on mastering specific skills.

     The young men and women in the Milton Theatrical Program work tirelessly to perfect their art, and I congratulate them for improving on their talents. May they go on to whatever success they dream for themselves.

    Gerrie Ferris Finger
    Running with Wild Blood

    Friday, May 8, 2015

    A Good Walk at The Players

    I should be working on my next novel, but instead I’m watching The Players on television. Will Rory keep his #1world ranking? Will #2 Jordan Spieth soar in his quest to steal #1 for himself? Will #5 Jim Furyk finally win a much coveted Players? Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida is his adopted hometown. The Sawgrass golf course is in his back yard. And, as everyone is hanging on needles to witness, will Tiger Woods keep the chipping yips at bay? And will Angel Cabrera and Keegan Bradley go round 2 over a disputed drop?

    Important questions with important consequences. Money. To the winner, whatever his ranking, goes a dazzling $1.80 million.

    Sawgrass Clubhouse

    To the victor, besides the money (that dazzling $1.80 million) goes 80 points towards his world ranking, the most points besides the majors where winners get100 points. The winner also receives many opportunities to score more cash: a 5-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 3 year invitation to the Masters Tournament, 3-year exemptions for the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, and an exemption to that year's PGA Championship in August. And, if he's a PGA Tour member, he earns 600 FedEx Cup points.

    Not bad for four day's of fun, if you ask me.

    The Players Championship, aka Tournament Players Championship, aka The Players started in 1974. The championship offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf. The field usually includes the top fifty players in the world rankings, but unlike the three major championships in the United States, it is not an official event on the European Tour.

    The Players is often considered the “fifth major” Beside the top money prize, The Players host course is the beautiful and prestigious TPC at Sawgrass. The Stadium Course at which the tournament has been played since 1982 is the home of the iconic par-3 #17. I can tell you it’s not long off the tee for women, but keeping the ball on the island green is tricky. A high soft shot is required. A line drive sends it top-spinning into the water.

    Island Green

    Have a great round and a fine weekend.

     Gerrie Ferris Finger




    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    A Great Mystery Mistress Leaves Us

    From Wikipedia
    Ruth Rendell, creator of the sensitive Inspector Reginald Wexford, was a novel mentor of mine, as was PD. James and Ngaio Marsh. That excellent trio came after Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy Sayers. So, sad to say, I learned that Ruth Rendell succumbed to an illness earlier this week. One of the most prolific authors in the mystery genre -- more than 60 novels -- she died at age 85 following a stroke. The family of Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, announced that she passed away in London on May 2. 

    There will never be another Wexford, and for that the mystery world has lost a very human policeman. Inspector Reginald Wexford was a flawed man, and so related to the flawed villains he pursued.  His wife is the placid Dora. His daughters are Sheila and Sylvia. He has a good relationship with Sheila (his favourite) but a difficult relationship with Sylvia (who feels slighted though he has never actually intended to slight her).

    The first Wexford book was published in 1964. It was several years later that I read From Doon with Death, and that started me on a Rendell addiction. The talented Baroness never feared tackling such psychological subjects as racism or physical domestic abuse. She and the late PD James are credited with pioneering the psychological thriller.

    Baroness Rendell wrote a darker series as Barbara Vine, plus many stand-alone novels, short stories and novellas. Many thought her writings were cutting-edge literature. Labels aside, I thought they were brilliant.

    Rest in Peace, Baroness.

    Gerrie Ferris Finger

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    On Harper Lee's Mockingbird

    I was not a big fan of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I never got the title. I grew up in the country and the darn birds were a loud nuisance.

    I live in the city now, and they're still a loud nuisance that steals the voices of insects, animals and other birds. At night, my word, they'll keep you awake mimicking crickets or bob whites (quail). Baaaa -- (upnote) -- White! Said over and over, it gets on one's last nerve, as we say in the South.

    About the title, Sparknotes writes:
    1. "Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence. Throughout the book, a number of characters (Jem, Tom Robinson, Dill, Boo Radley, Mr. Raymond) can be identified as mockingbirds—innocents who have been injured or destroyed through contact
      with evil."
    US Fish and Wildlife Photo

    Okay. I never thought of mockingbirds as innocents, in fact they are rather crafty. Why not To Kill a Bluebird? Now that songbird, with its distinctive beloved voice, is welcome in every garden as a voracious feeder of pesky insects and are a  joy to see and listen to on a lovely summer morning.

    US Fish and Wildlife Photo

    I realize I'm picking on an icon, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a sensitive author. I read the book when I was a teenager -- in school, of course -- and again about ten years ago to see if my first twinges of boredom reoccurred. It's still slow-moving like the South of the period in which it was set. (Though, by today's literary fiction standards, and length, it moves along.) And, having experienced the attitudes in the book, I appreciate the value of it in today's society. For me, the shrill of the mockingbird's voices resonates with that which is stolen rather than that which is innocent.

    Told from a child's point of view, we meet the Finches (bird irony here?) one summer. Scout, her brother, Jem, and their friend, Dill, plot a way to aggravate the town weirdo, Boo Radley. Into this "innocence" the alledged rape of Mayella Ewell, the white daughter of the town drunk, occurs. That crime hardly phases the kids. But then Scout's father, Atticus Finch, is hired to defend the alleged rapist, Tom Robinson, a black man; and soon the children are witness to the town's deplorable attitudes -- racism, classism and the valiant struggle for justice against ignorance.
    Harper Lee was born Nelle Harper Lee in Monroeville, Alabama on April 28, 1926, Lee wrote one novel and vowed to never write another. She helped research a book by her life-long friend, Truman Capote: In Cold Blood. However, she will publish a book that she wrote before her famous Mockingbird, titled, Go Set a Watchman, to be released in July, 2015.

     As quoted in To Kill a Mockingbird, "People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."

    So true.

    Happy Reading (whatever your preferences)

    Gerrie Ferris Finger
    Running with Wild Blood - 2015

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015

    Inspiration on the Highway from Hell

    A motorcycle mama I am not. My son will attest to that -- and my grumbling fear every time he fired up his bike. He's had a fixation with motorcycles since my father bought his only grandson a motor scooter. My generous father also bought him a pony but that's for another post.

    My son's last bike was a huge Harley Davidson. While I am not a rider, I, too, have been fascinated with motorcycles and the culture created by generations of hard core bikers -- and not all clubs (never gangs) are of the outlaw bent, also called 1%er's.

    From Pinterest

    A couple of years ago, we were on the highway from hell -- I-95 from Georgia to Florida -- and a string of bikes flew past us. (My husband is no slouch when it comes to speed.) That's when the idea of writing a Moriah Dru/Richard Lake thriller/mystery that would feature a biker club came to me.

    I know, it's so easy to connect murder with an outlaw club, which is what I made Wild Blood. But, more than that, in Running With Wild Blood  I was able to explore the mystique and romance of the culture itself. I learned many arcane things from my sources, which were given to me by those who know all kinds of bikers, including outlaws.

    In my reporter days I met several scruffy-looking bikers at Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, S. C. They were the spokesmen (no women) -- the front men or hail-fellows of the clubs. In the last few decades, the big national clubs have campaigned to clean up their image by holding charitable bike events in places where they are welcome. In winter, Florida seems to be a magnet for Bike Weeks. Who doesn't want to get the cold north wind out of their faces?

    While Running with Wild Blood reflects biker practices and traditions, and bikers with hearts-of-gold, it's really about heinous murder, misunderstood people, judgmental society and those in august positions misbehaving. Center stage are Dru and Lake riding with the club to solve the mystery of it all.

    Sons of Anarchy it is not.

    My best to readers and riders alike!

    Gerrie Ferris Finger

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015

    On Being a Bookseller

    I know some wonderful booksellers. Maggie Carter-de Vries at Books Plus in Fernandina Beach, Fl.  is one. So is Louise at Once Upon a Bookseller in St. Marys, Ga. Their patrons are lucky for the attention they get. If you want to just browse, say so and go on and browse. If you want a suggestion, they're happy to guide you to whatever your reading pleasure happens to be. 

    Too many people walk into a book store, stare at the lines of shelves and piles of sale books and leave. Especially men who seem to feel like they're in a china shop.

    During a recent visit to a large corporate book store, I waited to ask a store employee a question and so watched as potential book buyers entered. Although I'm an author, I was not there to sign my books.

    There were several employees behind a large desk, but no one paid attention to those that entered, including me. A timid woman walked up, and I let her go ahead of me. She put her handbag on the counter, and, clutching it, waited for several minutes before someone behind the desk deigned to address her.

    "You need some help?" a female clerk asked.
    The woman said she was looking for a book for a co-worker's going-away present.

    "What kind?"

    "She likes mysteries her friend told me," the woman said.
    "What kind of mysteries?" the clerk asked.
    The lady shrugged. "Just mysteries, I guess. I read biographies."
    "Thriller, cozy, paranormal, what?" the clerk wanted to know.
    Perplexed, the woman asked, "What's cozy?"
    "Unlike a thriller. More like an Agatha Christie."
    "I've heard of her."
    "In the back are the mystery shelves," the clerk said, and pointed the way. With that the clerk turned her back on the woman to speak to her own co-worker.
    I, as an author and, therefore, a seller of my books, said, "I can help you."
    Relieved, the lady smiled.

    We looked through the Mystery section at cozies. "I don't think she'd like anything about animals solving murders," the lady said.
    My cue. "I'm an author, and I write a cross-genre type of mystery, a mystery with thriller elements."
    "That sounds about right," she said. "She likes CSI on TV."
    "Probably not a cozy reader," I said. I pointed out Lee Child's Jack Reacher series and the Michael Connelly's so as not to sound too eager. After all, one sale does not a career make.
    "Tell me about your books," the lady said, less timid now.
    On the shelves were three of the five books in a series of mine that have been recently published.
    She looked at those three, picked one up, glanced at the cover, then looked at me. "I think she'd like yours. Will you autograph them?"
    ThemThree can help a career along.

    But the moral of this story is, I think that without help, the lady might have walked out and bought her friend a fancy soap in the scent boutique next door.
    My best to you dear reader,
    Gerrie Ferris Finger