June 28, 2012

Made It Moment: Lisa Becker

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 4:36 pm

Click: An Online Love Story

We live in an online, virtual world, which has many benefits. For one thing, it brings readers like you, who are kind enough to visit the blog and get involved in a conversation between writers and readers that enlivens my life in more ways than I can explain in an introduction.

That online world also enabled Lisa Becker to publish her first novel–and in fact, to find its subject matter.

But what I find both ironic and gratifying is that the more virtual we are, the more we seem to crave real-time, F2F interaction as well.  In just under seven months–gasp–I will be setting out on the first of many longed dreamed of live encounters on an 18,000 mile bookstore road trip.

And when you read what Lisa is going for in the next phase of her publishing career, you may conclude that alongside the wealth of opportunity we now have, there is a deep human need for another sort of connection as well.

Lisa Becker

I joke that I “made it” when I saw a 5-star review of my debut novel, Click: An Online Love Story, on Amazon…and the review wasn’t written by my mom.

But the real answer is that I “made it” the minute I finished the book.  I remember writing short stories and poems as a little girl and always told myself I would write a book someday.  In the meantime, I lived my life.  I studied.  I worked.  I dated.  And finally I met my husband on a popular dating website.  After we married, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had with both traditional and online dating.  How could I forget the guy who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking one night.”   I decided to capture some of them in writing and from there, a novel emerged.   The ultimate goal was to create a fun read for anyone who has ever had a bad date, been in love, been dumped, or is searching for “the one.”

I started writing the book after we married but before we had kids.  Then I had to take a break from writing due to the rigors of motherhood.  But I made the commitment to finish the book.  I wrote in the mornings while my girls were at school or at night after they went to sleep.  I made it a goal to write – even if only for a half hour – every day.  So, it’s incredibly gratifying to see a “bucket list” item/dream come true.

Once the book was finished, I explored the traditional publishing route and got feedback from multiple literary agents. One in particular explained the current economic state of the publishing industry to me. Due to the large investment to edit, produce, distribute and market a work by an unknown author, many large publishers won’t take the risk. Self-publishing, she suggested, would be a way to get my work out there.

I’m also reminded of some advice I was once given. I had interviewed Charles Rosen, one of the producers of the original Beverly Hills 90210, for an alumni magazine article while I was in graduate school. And I’ll never forget what he told me, “Don’t fall in love with your words, because somebody above will probably change them.” One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that you can really take control of the process.

So, I went ahead and self-published the book.  To my astonishment, people started buying it…and reading it…and liking it.

Since its release, I’ve been signed by a literary agent who is working diligently to find a publisher to re-issue the book and publish the in-process sequel.  And that literary agent is not my mom.  Fingers crossed!

Lisa Becker had endured her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates, many of which inspired Click: An Online Love Story. She is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for everyone who is looking!

June 26, 2012

Made It Moment: Alan Orloff

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:53 pm

Deadly Campaign

An unsolicited, unasked-for, unpaid testimonial. This may not be the kind of testimonial the Wizard knew the Scarecrow needed, but for sure it’s one that every writer dreams of. Alan Orloff got his, and it keeps him going during some of those rough writer times. What about you? If you’re a writer, do you remember when a reader first reached out to you as one of Alan’s did? If you’re a reader, do you write to authors you admire? Please share Alan’s Moment…and then perhaps one of your own.

Alan Orloff

When I was a kid, I never wanted to write. In high school, I despised English class and absolutely hated writing essays and reports—I was always the guy who increased the margins and “accidentally” threw in two spaces between words in order to achieve the minimum page requirements with the minimum effort (I would have increased the font size, too, but this was before the wondrous age of personal computers).

In college, I majored in mechanical engineering, just to avoid the whole “writing papers” chore.

All of this “writing avoidance” must have irked my father, who at one point in his life was an English teacher.

That’s why I don’t think I’ve had a “made it” moment. Because writing a book had never been a long-term goal of mine.

Of course, once I began writing, getting published became my goal. And I’ve been fortunate to experience some pretty cool milestones (getting “the call” from an agent, getting my first contract, receiving an Agatha nomination, speaking at the Library of Congress, having my old high school calculus teacher show up at one of my events).

But I think one of the neatest things was getting my first fan email from someone, a complete stranger, who said how much she liked my first book. I’d gotten reviews, of course, but reviewing books was a person’s job. This unsolicited review from a reader was different. She went out of her way to write me a complimentary note.

And it meant the world to me. In fact, when I get bogged down writing a first draft, when I’m fretting over that “muddle in the middle,” thinking I’ll never make sense of my mess, those little notes help keep me going.

Maybe one day, something will happen and I’ll think to myself that I’ve “made it.” Then I can hang up my writing shoes and sail around the world.

But I doubt it. After all, it’s the journey that counts (corny, but true), and I hope I never get so complacent that I stop striving for my next goal.

Besides, I don’t sail.

Alan Orloff’s
debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was a Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist. He writes the Last Laff mystery series for Midnight Ink: DEADLY CAMPAIGN and KILLER ROUTINE. Writing as Zak Allen, he’s published two ebook originals, THE TASTE (horror/thriller) and FIRST TIME KILLER (thriller).

June 21, 2012

Made It Moment: Jake Needham

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:35 pm

A World Of Trouble

I don’t think there’s a writer on earth who wouldn’t long to make it in the way Jake Needham is about to describe. I know I do.

But there’s another reason I’m happy to feature Jake’s Moment, and that’s due to the strands and connections afforded by the world wide web, the things that keep me blogging and FB-ing and Tweeting, because they’re the things that bring me to you and you to me. As soon as I started reading this post, spots lit up like satellite connections. Tim Hallinan! went one spot. Lisa Brackmann! These writers have to be a part of each other’s world!

Which brings me back to Jake’s Moment. In the end it reminds me of nothing less than that saying: To the world you may be somebody, but to somebody you are the whole world.

Jake Needham

Four or five years ago my publisher asked me to teach a short course in contemporary crime fiction at a Hong Kong university. Since I was in town anyway, they also asked me to speak to assemblies of seniors at two private international schools in Hong Kong.

I have to admit that rather gave me pause. I doubted I had many readers among seventeen and eighteen year olds, and I didn’t see why seventeen and eighteen year olds in Hong Kong would be particularly interested in listening to some old fart talking about crime fiction when they were probably far more interested in getting on with their lives, making a lot of money, and having a lot of sex. Still, my publisher had always supported my books energetically, and they were pretty insistent, so I agreed.

As it turned out, it was a wonderful experience. The kids were bright, interested, and engaged. A number of them had read at least one of my books and quite a few even brought copies for me to sign.

Okay, all of that was nice, but none of it was really that big a deal. Here’s the big deal…

In the weeks following my appearances at these two Hong Kong prep schools, I got a lot of very nice email from students thanking me for meeting with them. There was one of the emails in particular that I will never forget.

A young man in his senior year wrote to tell me that he had attended my appearance somewhat reluctantly. He had never read a book, he said, not a single one, other than the ones he was forced to read in school. What he wanted to tell me was that a friend of his had given him one of my novels after my appearance at his school. Having nothing better to do when he was riding the tram home the next day, he had opened it and begun to read. After a bit he looked up, and he told me he was absolutely astonished to realize that the place I was writing about in the story at that moment was just outside the windows of his tram. So amazed was he by the coincidence, that he went straight back to my book and finished reading it in two days. ‘I never knew that novels could have anything to do with my life,’ he wrote to me. ‘But you tell stories about the kind of people and places I know, and you make me see them in ways I never realized I could. I’m now a reader for life. Thank you so much for that.”

How did I know I had made it? There you go….

Jake Needham has had an unusual career for an American writer. The Bangkok Post once called him, “Probably the best known American writer almost nobody in America has ever heard of.”

Jake is the author of five international crime novels — THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE, THE BIG MANGO, LAUNDRY MAN, KILLING PLATO, and A WORLD OF TROUBLE — all of which were released by a British publisher owned by a Singapore media group and have been best-sellers in Asia, Europe, and the UK, but none of the print editions of Jake’s books have ever been sold in North America. It was only at the beginning of this year, when his books finally became available worldwide in new ebook editions, that American and Canadian readers began to discover Jake.

Jake was a lawyer, a television news correspondent, and a screenwriter before he became a crime novelist. For the last twenty-five years, he has lived and worked in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and Thailand, and his novels — all set in the cities of modern day Asia — have been praised for their authenticity by CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and a host of international newspapers and magazines. “Needham is Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction,” the Singapore Straits Times concluded.

June 19, 2012

Made It Moment: Donna Galanti

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:14 pm

A Human Element

Some of you know that I chair the Debut Authors Program for International Thriller Writers and some of you probably also know that getting involved in this program has been one of the most thrilling experiences in my writing life. (Thank you, Carla Buckley). Today’s Moment-er is one of the talented Debuts, and her Moment is more than a story about writing. It’s also about the relationships that propel us, and how even once gone, these connections drive both our writing, and our life. Here’s to getting the book we always knew we had inside us out there. And here’s to the people who enable us to do it.

Donna Galanti

I never really thought of what my made-it-moment was. I knew since the age of seven that I wanted to be a writer. Writing was the biggest part of my life. From poetry, short stories, news reporting, to marketing communications. I even owned my own resume writing service. I had my novel inside me but I just didn’t know how to get it out.

My made-it-moment is a twofold one. One private, one public. The death of my mother propelled me to finally write the novel I always wanted to write. The story came to me in a vision fifteen years ago and my mother was the first person I told it to. We chatted excitedly about it. I wrote two chapters, but then life got busy and I shelved it. After my mother’s death, twelve years later, I sat down and finished writing A Human Element. I did it through grief without looking back. Writing The End was a private made-it-moment for me. I could do this. I could write a book.

Connected to this was the defining public made-it-moment when praising reviews started rolling in for my debut novel, A Human Element – and they were by unbiased strangers! I continue to be amazed and overwhelmed that people I don’t know like my book and have been as touched by my characters as I am. It’s like getting a surprise gift each time I see a new four or five star review. It was hard for me to realize once my book was published that it would be “out there.” You mean people will actually read it? Scary! But then they liked it. That drove the fear away.

I wish my mother were here to celebrate the praise I’ve been blessed to receive. It is a bittersweet feeling, knowing that I would not be a published author today if it were not for my mother’s passing. She drove my made-it-moment of writing the novel I always knew I had inside me to the made-it-moment of knowing I had written something that touched others. I hope I can do it again.

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense novel A HUMAN ELEMENT (Echelon Press). Donna has a B.A. in English and a background in marketing. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs.

June 18, 2012

Made It Moment: Shelly Frome

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:35 am

Twilight Of The Drifter

We have bumped a few elbows with Hollywood here on the blog lately. Which is appropriate because I think in some ways, in some hidden, deep pocket of him or herself, every writer believes his or her book would make a great movie, and dreams of seeing it on the silver screen. (Do we still call it the silver screen? ) Today’s Moment-er, Shelly Frome, approached things in the opposite direction: learning the ins and outs of stage and screen before trying his hand at a novel. The success he has had shows that this path can work, too. We might just be watching one of Shelly’s novels one day. For now, greats such as Donald Westlake proclaimed how lucky we are to read them.

Shelly Frome

As a small child, I always loved stories. I even wrote cliffhangers for classmates in study hall and, later on, a short story or two. But I found myself at the Ring Theater at the University of Miami. There, making it meant taking on the mean streets of the Big Apple as a starving actor. Later still, as a university professor, making it meant writing and directing plays along with articles and books on acting and film. Though I eventually wrote a noteworthy book on The Actors Studio, taking the reader inside that fabled sanctuary beyond all the hype, I still had an urge to write crime novels. Why crime? Because as a reader I’d always found something intriguing at stake. And I had this abiding wish to combine the sweep of movies I’ve loved, the here-and-now of the stage, and the pull of the storyteller around the ol’ campfire.

At first, my efforts didn’t pay off. The famed New York agent Scott Meredith told me I was trying to cram too much into every chapter. Two published books later, I continued to founder. It was only when I was visiting my family in L.A. working on a screenwriting book that something caught fire. Inundated yet again with the mindless superficiality of LaLaLand, I came across an abandoned studio whose languishing sets—especially the crumbling old-West town—seemed to be crying out to be brought to life again.

And here was the initial advanced praise for the novel that resulted:

Tinseltown Riff is a twisty tale of quirky characters in a dangerous world of shadows and subterfuge, that company town called Los Angeles. Shelly Frome opens the door on a fascinating and all-too-real scene of hustle and hope. One lovely riff.
–Donald E. Westlake, Oscar nominated and three-time Edgar Award winner

Needless to say, it was then and there that I knew, if I kept perfecting my craft and as long as my heart was truly in it, I was on my way. No matter how large or small the following, my work would be worth the candle.

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K.. He is also a film critic and frequent contributor to writers’ blogs. His fiction includes Tinseltown Riff, Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. His latest novel is Twilight of the Drifter, a southern gothic crime-and-blues odyssey. He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.

June 15, 2012

Made It Moment: Barbara Ebel

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:48 am

The Chester the Chesapeake Trilogy

You don’t have to like dogs to like this Moment, but come on…who wouldn’t love a face like that?? (Chester’s, although Doc Barbara is a pretty lady, too).

I love hearing how writers come to their careers by incorporating other passions. In Doc’s case, it was her love of dogs, whom she trained as therapy pets. But as you can tell from her nickname, Doc also has a medical background. Fans of Robin Cook and his ilk would do well to check out Doc’s back list. But first read about Chester. How can you resist??

Barbara Ebel

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve made it or it’s my dog, Chester, who’s made it!

When I first moved to Tennessee seven years ago, I had already been vigorously writing adult novels. Up to that time, I had been known as Doctor Ebel in the places and practices I had lived and worked, but in TN, my medical career became secondary.

One of my interests is raising and training dogs. I started working my Chesapeake Bay Retriever therapy dog in the region at nursing homes and schools and he started to take on a special place in people’s hearts. Along with that, the philanthropic woman lugging the dog around went from Doctor Ebel, a woman sometimes saving lives as an anesthesiologist, to “Doctor Barbara” or “Chester’s Mom.”

One day after a few queries were thrown my way and people learned I was an author, this remark resonated loudly: “Since you’re already an author, why don’t you write a children’s book about Chester? The kids already love him so!”

So, you know what’s coming. I did. I also took hundreds of pictures of the dogs, made the stories nonfiction with real photos, and wrote it from Chester’s point of view.

But here’s the endearing part where I made it first. After Chester the Chesapeake got into people’s hands, another question was posed to me: “When’s the next one?”

Well, my adult books with medicine sprinkled into the background of their plots have subsequently gotten their day in the sun, but now Chester has three!

So I guess this writer who is buried in a natural wildlife corridor writing mostly adult novels, has made it, but it’s Chester, my Chesapeake, who’s the celebrity. As it should be.

Barbara Ebel, M.D. is an anesthesiologist-turned-author who spreads pet therapy through middle Tennessee. Chester and her dog books are featured at dogbooksforchildren.weebly.com.

Doctor Barbara also writes adult medical genre novels and self-help. Her romantic suspense is Operation Neurosurgeon: You never know…who’s in the OR; her lengthy general fiction is Outcome, A Novel: There’s more than a hurricane coming…, and her book for healthy living is Younger Next Decade: After Fifty, the Transitional Decade, and What You Need to Know.

Barbara lives with her husband and pets in a protected wildlife corridor in Tennessee and continues to be a medical guest lecturer.

June 12, 2012

Made It Moment: B.G. Bernstein

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:35 am


Reading Bob Bernstein’s Moment was something of a shock and a smile for me because, although much of it takes place in the screenwriting world, the process is just like trying to break into big publishing. The near-misses. The almost-rights. The need to write new works if you want to stay in the game–before you’re even really in the game–so that by the end we have eight novels written before we ever get published! Ooops, sorry. That was me. In Bob’s case, I think it was nine scripts.

This is a fascinating look into the ways major media work from someone who can actually call Nicolas Cage ‘Nic’. (I find that very cool). And it’s also a look at what’s happening to publishing today. The indie movement–and I call it a movement deliberately–is about finding ways to showcase talent that might’ve gone undiscovered. Anyone who got as close as many times as this Moment-er did is clearly talented. I’m so glad he found his path. And I think you will be, too.

B.G. Bernstein

I don’t feel as if my moment, my real moment, has arrived. I’ve been writing for about twenty-five years, fifteen of those as a technical magazine writer specializing in maritime subjects. It was something I started to supplement my income from my real job, that of owner-operator of an eco-tour, dive, sport and commercial fishing boat. It happened thus: After one particularly lean winter of scalloping, I wrote a story about swimming with humpback whales in Cape Cod Bay. I sent the story to a regional magazine and to my utter astonishment got back a check in the mail. With the check came a written request for more material.

It was a “moment” for sure. Getting that first check in the mail. However, five years of punching out features, columns, editorials and other magazine content wore the fun-lovin’ spirit of the process right out of this writer’s brain pan. I continued my relationship with the magazine publishing world for several more years but something was definitely missing, something I needed to do to satisfy the writing lust. That “something” turned out to be screenwriting.

As any Oscar award winning wannabe knows, screenwriting is not for the weak hearted or thin skinned. I’m pretty sure Joe Esterhaus will back me up on this.

My first screenplay will never ever see the light of day again. No one will ever read it. No one ever has. It’s that bad.

My second screenplay made it all the way to Tony Bill. My third screenplay was optioned and went on a tour of the creative rooms of Hollywood for several years. Number four made the top twenty-five scripts in the 1998 AMPAS Nicholl Fellowships, the Academy award for unproduced screenwriters. The fifth screenplay almost found a home with George Clooney’s first film company. Six was a dud. Seven had Nic Cage interested. Eight made it up the ladder at Amblin Entertainment. Nine is still in my desk and ten and eleven are in my head.

There were definitive “moments” during that screenplay-writing foray, getting the recognition from the Nicholl and being a few steps away from great talent like George Clooney and Steven Spielberg, to name two. But in the end, the great grinding gears of the industry wormed a hole through my resolve. I said to myself, “Phew, so close and yet so far. There must be a better way.”

And there is: Novel writing.

I just finished and self-published my first novel. I had written short stories and novellas and had seen both published in magazines, but writing a novel is different. In a nutshell–and this may come as a huge shock to people–there are a lot more freakin’ words in a novel.

Just finishing the novel was a “moment.” But the bigger “moment” came about a month later. I had sent the novel to a respected editor and close friend. He sat with it for about a week and kept apologizing for not having the time to read it. I told him it was no biggie, nothing to worry about. And then one morning I called him about something else and he said he couldn’t talk because he was about forty pages from the end of my book. I said, “I thought you didn’t have time to read it.” And he answered, “I started it this morning. I’ll talk to you later.”

Huge “moment” for me.

Have I made it? I hope not. I’m not sure I ever want to feel as if I’ve made it. Because then what happens? Will I still have the drive to want to “make it” further?

And what about screenwriting? Have I left it for novel writing?

Apparently not. Just last night I entered into an agreement with a fabulous author and an Oscar-nominated producer. I’ll be writing the pilot for a TV show that we hope to be pitching in four to six months.

Robert G. Bernstein, a.k.a. “B.G.” is a former executive fundraiser turned professional boat captain. He has worked as a commercial fisherman, charter boat captain and captain-for-hire for over thirty years. His technical marine articles and short stories have appeared in magazines and books.

The novellas, Beneath Cold Seas and Mother Lode – first serialized in Offshore Magazine in 1992 – are now available at Amazon’s Kindle Store, as is Bernstein’s memoir, What They Don’t Tell You About Alzheimer’s, about taking care of a mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, which held the top two spots on Amazon’s Top 100 Kindle Books on Aging for over seven weeks and rose to the top 25 on Amazon’s Top Ten 100 Memoirs.

Mr. Bernstein’s first novel, Calamity, about a financially burdened Maine captain who finds himself in way over his head as a private investigator, has just been released.

June 8, 2012

Made It Moment: Jeffrey Siger

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 6:23 am

Target: Tinos

Some of you know that I keep a special collection of books set in far off climes, very different from what I write, and even from what I normally read. Authors like Tim Hallinan, Leighton Gage, and Lisa Brackmann all write crime novels that aren’t the usual, nor are their settings. And today we welcome to the blog another wonderful example in this set, Jeffrey Siger.

Jeff, who is just coming off a stellar New York Times review by Marilyn Stasio, can certainly be said to have made it. But as his post will tell you, the real Moments often arrive in much more off-color ways, and with a fair dose of uniquely human humor. Read on.

Jeffrey Siger

My “made it moment” occurred on a nude beach on a Greek island.

It was about a year ago and I can assure you I never expected it to happen there.  In fact, by then I thought I’d already experienced my “made it moment”—twice.  First, when I learned that my debut novel, Murder in Mykonos, was the #1 best selling English-language book in Greece, and second when my international rights agent landed a German distribution deal for Murder in Mykonos with Goldmann Publishing/Random House, and a three book deal with the UK publisher Piatkus Books/Little Brown.

Little did I realize the epiphany awaiting me that day on that beach.

I live on Mykonos where clothing on beaches is largely optional and if you’re on a popular one but want to be as far away as possible from the blasting music of beachfront tavernas, you’ll likely end up among the nudists.

So, on that fateful day my girlfriend and I decided to destroy our skin for a few hours on Paranga beach (aka Paraga), a lovely, sophisticated beach with great beach tavernas.  As is my nature I headed away from the music, toward the sans culottes (and everything else) part of the beach.

I’d been coming to Mykonos for decades, which meant I knew most of the regulars.  On this beach I was sure to know someone and vice versa.  I glanced around but didn’t see anyone I knew.  Still, I wasn’t about to take off my clothes in such a public spot.  We found our patch of open sand and put down our towels, but kept on our suits.

“Jeffrey, this is a nude beach, take off your bathing suit.”

I looked over at a couple on the towel nearest to us and there lay two longtime friends of mine from Germany.  Then more German friends from other nearby towels yelled out similar sorts of greetings.  I hadn’t noticed any of them; it was as if they were invisible.

I said, “Sorry folks, I want to be recognized.”  We all had a laugh and went about our business of expediting the aging process.

I don’t know how other writers are when they get to a beach, but when I’m in the midst of writing a book (I can hear the cursing now from my colleagues, “Beach! Who has time for the BEACH?”), if I lie in the sun my mind is always running to ideas.  That’s why I keep a notebook handy to jot down those brilliant thoughts that more often than not later prove to be evidence of sunstroke.  [Luckily, enough thoughts survived that day to turn into TARGET: TINOS, my new book published June 5th by Poisoned Pen Press that The New York Times described as “another of Jeffrey Siger’s thoughtful police procedurals,” Publishers Weekly in a starred review called “superb…a winner,” Library Journal called “Fast-paced, this thriller also serves as a kind of modern travelog and mini-history lesson on Greece rolled into one…interesting and highly entertaining;” Kirkus Reviews described as A crisp style with a complex portrait of contemporary Greece to bolster another solid whodunit;” and Booklist wrote “throbs with the pulse of Greek culture…engaging series.”]

There I was stretched out on the sand doing my thing—jumping up to grab my notebook when I had a thought to scribble and back down again to baking until the next idea hit.   After about an hour of this my very patient and understanding girlfriend decided to take off for a swim.  She didn’t even bother to ask if I wanted to come along because she knew my notebook wasn’t waterproof.  Besides, without a wetsuit there was no way I’d be going in the water this early in the season.

But I did lean on my elbow to keep an eye on her because she liked to swim fairly far out from shore.  At one point I realized I was wearing sunglasses and that some of the folks in my line of vision might be thinking I was staring at their bodies, a definite no-no on a nude beach.  Especially if you’re not sans suit.  So, I took off my glasses for all to see my naked eyes.

A moment later a woman appeared in my peripheral vision.  I turned to see who she was.  No, it wasn’t Ursula Andress coming out of the water in Doctor No, but she did get my attention.  Especially when she walked right up and stood in front of me (au naturel).

“Excuse me,” she said.

Her English had a decided German accent so for some unfathomable reason I responded with practically the full extent of my German vocabulary.  “Ja?

Big mistake, for she abandoned her English and was off and running in her native tongue, leaving me to “Ich verstehe Sie nicht, I don’t understand.”

My neighbor on the nearby towel started to laugh, “Jeffrey, she wants an autograph,” and then said something in German to the woman, who immediately smiled, knelt down (on my girlfriend’s towel), and handed me a copy of the German-language version of Murder in Mykonos, titled Opfergaben in German.

I’m at a loss as to how I never noticed my book in her hands before that moment.

I took the book and reached for my pen.  It was the very first copy of Opfergaben I’d ever autographed for a fan in person, and the very first of any book I’d ever autographed for a naked fan.  This was a significant moment, so I wanted to take my time composing my thoughts.  She kept smiling and I, being raised as a gentleman, kept smiling back of course.

Suddenly, a new vision appeared in my sight.  My girlfriend had decided to come out of the water and return to her towel.

My friend on the next towel—who has a hell of a sense of humor—said, “Shall I make the introductions?”

I said, “Not necessary.”

I turned to my girlfriend and said, “Can you believe that this lovely woman just came over here to ask me to autograph her copy of Opfergaben?  What an honor this is for me.  I’m world famous!”

My girlfriend did not share my enthusiasm.  “She’s on my towel.”

Ahh, how we must suffer for our craft, at times enduring misunderstandings by those we love the most.  Then again, I suppose I should be grateful that at my “made it moment” I had, as did ancient Roman Conquerors returning to grand praise from triumphs abroad, one whispering in my ear the warning, “All glory is fleeting.”

And, yes, I’m still groveling before gf.

TARGET TINOS, the fourth novel in Jeff Siger’s Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, was called “superb…a winner” by Publishers Weekly in a starred review, following up on his internationally best-selling Murder in Mykonos, Assassins of Athens, and Prey on Patmos: An Aegean Prophecy.  Born in Pittsburgh, Jeffrey practiced law at a major Wall Street law firm and established his own New York City law firm before giving it all up to live and write on the island of Mykonos.  Jeffrey blogs Saturdays on Murder is Everywhere, and his website is  www.jeffreysiger.com.

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