Free Apr 30 only! Speculative Detective Novel

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What’s free?

On Saturday, April 30, Nica of Los Angeles will be free on Amazon (as an ebook).

This is the first book in the FRAMES trilogy of speculative fiction/detective novels.

If you’ve been meaning to read Nica of Los Angeles, now would be an excellent time – book 2 is coming soon.

What’s the book about?

When rookie private eye Nica takes on a mysterious case, she enters a world of multiple dimensions called Frames, where buildings and lawn chairs can be sentient, a stray cat has great powers, books can be killers, and clouds can be spies. At home, Nica tackles missing person cases, while in the larger reality of the Frames she is swept into an escalating battle with stakes that could not be higher…

What do other readers think?

Nica has been blessed with a few dozen extremely positive reader reviews, including this one:

This is a fantastic book. The characters are interesting, the dialog witty and the story straddles the line between strange and believable perfectly. If Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams got together to write a Raymond Chandler-style private eye story, this is what would come out.

 

 

Exotic Infrastructure

There is so much beauty in modern infrastructure. No wonder I take so many pictures of that stuff.

Admittedly, I’m obsessed with subways. I could fill a whole other blog with subway photos and videos. (<– Hmm. Am I the only one who thinks that’s a good idea?) Meanwhile, here’s a recent moody image from NYC:

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This power line runs through my neighborhood (although not precisely at this angle):

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Can you guess what this is?:

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It’s the crumbling (sideways) letters of a storm drain warning. NO DUMPING DRAINS TO OCEAN.

And how about this?:

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Well, if you’ve been a reader of this blog for long, that’s an easy one to answer. It’s part of a pair of decaying sea walls that fascinate me. (Fascination is a kinder word than obsession.) Here’s a wider shot of the same wall (earlier that same sunrise):

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If you ever want to visit this wall, it is just east of East Beach in Santa Barbara, CA.

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was Abstract.)

 

 

 

 

Improv/Stage Review: Improvised Shakespeare Company

I’m not good with live theater. I watch with underlying tension – afraid the actors will commit some bigtime flub that they won’t be able to rescue.

No, I have never witnessed such an event – although I have witnessed actors exchanging meaningful subtle glances — doesn’t that sound terrifying?

No, I don’t know why I care – but I do care, and have for years. It’s like being afraid that someone else will dream he’s back in high school and can’t remember his locker combination.

Perversely and/or because of all this, there is one stage event that I attend as often as I can: performances of The Improvised Shakespeare Company (ISC).

Every ISC show starts the same. Five guys walk onto a bare stage, the audience shouts phrases, the troop’s founder selects one of those phrases and it becomes the play’s title: the five guys make up a 1.5-2 hour play, using the style, themes, locales, situations of Shakespeare. No props, no costumes, no intermissions. And as the founder promises, they make up characters on the spot, they learn no lines, “… and if ever you are wondering where the story is going, so are we.”

During a show, the ISC wordplay and inventiveness are staggering. Also, I love the way the troop enjoys what the other guys come up with. And the ways they extricate from the jams they get into (for example, they each play multiple characters, and sometimes they have to play scenes with themselves). I’m impressed at how convincing their settings and characters can be. They play girls, old coots, servants, nobility, soldiers, merchants; in castles, on rivers, on turrets, in town squares.

They are frequently raunchy, which most in the audience seem to prefer. Sometimes that raunch gets a little easy/obvious, but you never know where they will take an idea. As might have been predicted, “As You Lick It” got pretty dirty, yet “Brothello” had an innocent sweetness, while “Straight Outta Venice” was just plain goofy (beware the suspended pickle jars).

ISC is a stand-up comedy troop from Chicago (although some of their players live and work in Los Angeles). Lucky for me, they perform monthly at Largo-at-the-Coronet, a small wonderful venue where I’m a regular. When I visited Chicago, I saw the Chicago troop perform and – based on that single night – I prefer the Los Angeles troop, but who knows where another night may have led.

ISC tours, and seems to be expanding those tours. They play frequently in New York. Watch for them. Go see them. You can read reviews and you can watch You-Tube videos but none of that will capture the essence of the live show.

If you do get to see them, let me know what you think! You might react like my daughter, who was put off by the audience’s enthusiasm and overall couldn’t get into it: “I can see they’re geniuses and all but – meh.” Or you might react like me, and line up your tickets months in advance.

I am grateful to The Improvised Shakespeare Company. They make me laugh out loud, repeatedly; such laughter is one of the great treats of being alive.

In addition, ISC has inspired me to write improvisationally. I’ve got a new piece of fiction, DDsE, that I am writing by adapting their stage constraints: 300 words per day, don’t plan it, don’t rework it, just write and keep going. I don’t know where it is headed or what eventual format it will be (novella? scripted video? comic book?) but, some 50 segments into it, I am jazzed about the results. More about DDsE soon…

 

 

Would We Call That A Cowgoyle?

Good luck all around: I got to spend a week in New York and the weather was mostly beautiful. I must have walked 100 miles!

Headed south along the Hudson River in midtown, New Jersey looked picturesque:

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In Manhattan I’ve always got tourist neck from walking with my head thrown back to take in the architecture. New York’s buildings of a certain age are loaded with decorative frills such as carvings, cornices, balustrades. (I’m confident I know what one of those words means.) There is even the occasional gargoyle.

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On my walk along the Hudson, I discovered a yard for old building decor. Mammoth stone pieces lay scattered behind chicken wire fence.

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There was even a cow’s head. Or, apparently, two.

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Such pieces were built to last, so I couldn’t tell how long they’d been sitting there.

Certainly, there was a whole lotta building going on nearby.

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I’m hoping the decor yard is a storeyard, not a junkyard. But it’s been a long time since construction trends in the U.S. favored such ornamentation.

Perhaps the pieces can be repurposed in a cemetery with really large mausoleums.

(The WP Photo Challenge was Ornate.)

A Bit Part in Somebody Else’s Movie

PrintRick was a jock and Karyn was a cheerleader and I was a freak. That’s how my memory tells the story, but I am only certain about the third statement. It was high school and our tribes did not typically mingle, but somehow Karyn and I became friends. She was in love with Rick, hung up on him, big time. I don’t recall ever talking to him, so don’t know what he thought about her, or anything else.

My friendship with Karyn was sorely tested when she invited me over to hang out, one summer day, at the motel that her family owned or maybe worked at. I was bored and ignored for what felt like eternity, because Rick just happened to show up. In fact – as I realized, to my annoyance – I was there to dupe the parents. Karyn wasn’t allowed to date, or see Rick alone. She invited me over so she could see Rick without repercussions.

By the time we all graduated, I no longer saw Karyn much. I later heard, third hand, that Rick got Karyn pregnant, and broke up with her. I have no idea what their truth was, because I never crossed paths with either of them; nonetheless I filed them in categories: Karyn was ill-used, Rick was cold-hearted. The less one knows, the easier it is to hold a strong opinion…

Over the years, I forgot about Rick, Karyn. Completely. (Although I probably used that second-hand experience as I shaped my views about men, and women, and love.)

Recently – and as out of the blue as things get – I was contacted by Rick. He happened upon mention of me in a college alumni magazine, and from that wound his way to this blog, where he left me a note:

are you the one and very same Sue Perry that was sitting with Karyn *** on a small patch of grass in front of the S* Motel at the edge of the El Camino Real circa 1967-68, in the very middle of a very beautiful summer day while a song by the Byrds was playing on the radio?  This one little scene has stuck in my memory for all of this time (half of a century?!?!).

The instant I saw the names, my own memories rushed back. For me, Rick’s lyrical memory changes my perspective on so many things. First off, I was wrong about Rick (and probably Karyn, too): you don’t remember somebody for 50 years if you didn’t care about them. Then, too, I see I was a bit player in one of their key scenes. A day that gave me brief annoyance hit one of them with such poignancy that it stayed on the top of the memory heap for decades.

Which gets me thinking about all the people around me, living their lives in grazing intersection to mine. About all the pivotal moments that we share without knowing it.

And finally, all this reminds me how glad I am that the internet exists to connect us in ways that would otherwise never happen.

(The WP Daily Prompt asked about music when we were growing up.)