Archive | January 1, 2012

Call Me Lill – Part 5

Fortunately, the commodes had stalls with doors and she was able to put in the contacts. The stim patch would have to be applied later, after she and Dray shared their recreational time. He’d notice if she wore it and it might affect him too if any of the chemical rubbed off. She put it where she could find it easily and waited until the others were asleep before applying it to her inner thigh.

It was nearly three in the morning when she heard the door to the barracks snick open. They were locked in at night. Sargent Stevens was supposed to have the only key, but he wasn’t in the group who moved with unnatural silence around their barracks. The four men set a canister of what looked like sleep gas among the huddled forms on the other end of the room. They didn’t even glance at Lill as they surrounded two of the Wercha natives, injecting them with a sedative. Saying nothing, they communicated with hand signals. They lifted their two victims carefully, carrying them out of the barracks. Two others came in, got their possessions and left just as silently, taking the spent sleep bomb with them.

Lill felt very vulnerable and defenseless. What if they decided to come after her, or the others? Could she lie there and let them be spirited away in the night? Like hell she could! They were a team now, friends. Not having had many of those over the years, the ones she did have meant a lot to her. Removing the stim patch from her thigh, she rolled over and fell into a light sleep.

The next morning, Lill was tired, but determined. She reported to Stevens directly after chow. He took her for a long walk, ostensibly to discuss the day’s activities. Instead, their stroll took them far from the normal walkways of the camp. When they were far enough away to suit, concealed by a tall, thick stand of trees, Stevens faced her. Before he said a word, he kissed her slowly, deeply, making her toes tingle. Startled, Lill looked up at him, her knees weak.

“Tell me what you saw last night.”

Lill described in vivid detail everything she had seen.

“They never even came down to your end?”

“They were nowhere near us.”

He nodded, frowning.

“What are you going to do about it?”

“I don’t know yet. There’s not much to do, unfortunately. Once criminals are convicted, they become property of the State until they are released. These were all lifers.”

“Does that mean they could take Ché?”

“Conceivably, yes.”

“And what about me?”

He said nothing, refusing to look her in the eyes.

“Can you do something? They’re my friends. I care about them.”

“Do you think you can do another night of this?”

“Maybe, why?”

“I want them followed.”

“What? Are you crazy?”

“I can’t do it, Lill. I need this from you.”

“Fine. But I need more than filters and a stim patch. I need a weapon.”

“I’ll do what I can.”

“You’ll get that weapon, or you can forget about me following anyone.”

Stevens stared into the distance, a faraway look in his eyes. Decision flickered across his stony face. “Okay.” He paused, staring unashamedly at her. “Dammit, Lillian. They could kill me for the thoughts I’m having.”

“Can’t kill a man on his thoughts, Tab.”

“This is Wercha. They can kill me for farting in public.”

It might have been intended as a joke, but he wasn’t laughing.

Mickey Hoffman, Woman of Mystery!

I first met Mickey through a video game. That’s right, an online game. We started talking about writing and she asked if I had a publisher. I sent her to mine and that’s how Second Wind Publishing and Mickey Hoffman got together. Her first book, School of Lies, is reviewed below. I’m excited to announce that the sequel, Deadly Traffic, is now available from Second Wind Publishing. I haven’t read it yet, but I fully expect it to be as great as School of Lies!

What is your book about?

School of Lies is a funny mystery novel about a bunch of teachers who work in a dysfunctional, urban high school. The stressful environment is a perfect catalyst for the murder that takes place. My new book, Deadly Traffic takes a teacher out of her comfort zone into the word of human trafficking when female students disappear from campus.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

My MC is a Special Ed. teacher named Kendra Desola. She’s compulsive and overly inquisitive; every problem has to be examined and solved. She is devoted to her students but has learned the hard way that the best way to help them often involves breaking the rules. There’s a tension between her wanting to be a good role model and her willingness to lie when she thinks it’s useful. In Deadly Traffic, Kendra meets a young man, Win Ni (who my brother decided to call Win Ni the Pooh). Win has a good heart but he wants to be rich and is willing to do almost anything to achieve his goal. I wanted to make him a lot darker than he ended up because I became fond of him.

Who is your most unusual character?

I’d have to say most of them are unusual, but they’re true to form. The good characters I create are never all good and that bothers some people. Readers who aren’t familiar with what really goes on in public schools may think the teachers I portray are over the top. I’ve had people react in shock. They say, “A Vice Principal wouldn’t talk like that.” Oh, but they do, they do.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

For School of Lies I relied on my own experience moving through different schools. I mentally filed away what other teachers told me of their experiences as well. The book, in fact, started because some of my fellow teachers knew I liked to write and said, “You should really make a book about some of this stuff because no one would believe it.” For my second book, Deadly Traffic, I read several nonfiction books about modern slavery—in this country as well as overseas—and human trafficking, and visited many websites.

What was the first story you remember writing?

My family used to make up poems and stories in the car during road trips when I was very young and I’d try to contribute when my older brother would stop torturing me. Just kidding. I do recall writing a play in 9th grade with some friends about a super pigeon named Supersplatt.

What do you like to read?

I like mystery novels, fantasy and science fiction. I try to find mysteries with puzzles and with as little gore as possible. Some of my favorite writers are Elizabeth George, Ian Rankin and Tad Williams.

What writer influenced you the most?

Mark Twain. Absolutely.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

I want the main characters to have a “quest.” The quest can be a real journey or one in their heads and if there’s mystery involved all the better.

What is the best advice another writer gave you?

I asked how you tell when your manuscript is finished. The reply: “You don’t leave a book when it’s done, it leaves you.”

See also:

Mickey Mickey Hoffman’s author page at Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Interview of Kendra DeSola the Hero of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
The first chapter of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
Review of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman

SCHOOL OF LIES – Mickey Hoffman

 Kendra DeSola teaches special education at an inner city school, Standard High School. Short of money for her program, Kendra does the best she can for her students. If there’s one thing the kids know, Miss DeSola is there for them. So it’s a shock when an apparent blackmail picture shows up, implicating Kendra in a scandal.

Terrified her boss, Vice-Principal Zant, will find out and use it against her, Kendra begins to investigate. Her search for the truth turns deadly when one of her colleagues is killed. Was it an accident or murder? Kendra is determined to find out, because she is a suspect.

Vice-Principal Zant is an ambitious, connected and not very bright administrator. Confident he will be chosen to replace the current principal, Mr. Favor, he wields his power mercilessly.

As Kendra investigates, she discovers that her colleagues aren’t the people she thought they were. Everyone has secrets that can end their careers and it’s possible that she’s not the only one who had a really good motive for murder.

School of Lies is a riveting mystery centered around the shy, mousy teacher, Kendra DeSola. She overcomes her timidity as she pursues a puzzling mystery. I highly recommend this book for all mystery/ suspense lovers.

Five Golden Acorns!

Watch this space for a review of Deadly Traffic! I’m honored that Mickey shared several chapters with me while she was writing. It’s a hard hitting sequel to School of Lies.