Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Town Monady: Out of Town

I'm off to parts north this Monday-- specifically to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan-- with my best friend (not the Hubby) for one last trip before this summer and my impending doom parenthood.

We'll be heading up the primary and only North/South expressway to the UP, I-75. Over the Mackinac Bridge-- the first longest suspension bridge (there are now others that are longer)-- and up to the freshwater, inland "ocean" that is Lake Superior.

We'll probably stop at random roadside attractions along the way. And ultimately we'll end up at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Supposed to be really neat-- and neither of us have made our way up there before.

Sometime in the next coming weeks, I'll share the trip. It's not my usual town, but it's part of the state I call home.

Check out the other My Town Monday posts (where Barrie Summy is wrangling links while I go gallivanting off to remote places.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bad Girls

It's not uncommon at all for so-called "good girls" to want to save those "bad boys." There's also the interminable, and for many women, undeniable appeal of the bad boy who does what he wants and lives by his own rules. (Hey, don't look at me. I snagged one of the "nice guys.")

But what about bad girls? What about the girl that you might not want to bring home to mother? The one who makes her own rules, especially about (gasp!) sex. I'm not thinking guys have any of the desire to save the bad girl. She is, ultimately, about the fun for now.

Of course, I do think that those bad girls-- or their lesser counterparts, the spunky, feisty, or "independent" women-- have a much harder time finding long term relationships, even as they begin to mellow. Their spunk makes them fun and exciting, different and enjoyable, but like the bad boy, she's not long term relationship appeal.

Now, this is different in fiction. Those bad girls of fiction are always fun. There're few, if any, of the relationship problems that will come up with a strong willed person who does things solely by their own rules. But we don't really want to see these strong women settle down with a nice man (or woman) do we? We certainly wouldn't expect that from a 'bad boy.'

I admit that the whole romance/ settling down thing that always creeps into so many female-lead stories always drives me nuts. I want to continue reading books with butt-kicking bad girls. Not nest-building and babies.

Not that I'm worried about any long-term relationships with Bo at the moment. First I need to get the series launched.  Then, Bo and I are going to have some fun. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Town Monday: Brighton's Four Corners, Part 4

The remaining two corners of Brighton's Main Street/ Grand River Intersection are harder to track the history of.

On the South-east corner, across Main Street from where the Eastern House Hotel stood, there is currently a two story jewelry store. (The building itself looks too expensive for someone like me...) I missed my chances to get the last shots of the former building when it was torn down a few years ago.

Before the jewelry store, for a good many years-- back into the 60s or 70s if I'm not mistaken-- this corner was home to Cap'n Corky's (sp?). It was a liquor store-- probably what we call a Party Store around here. The terminology matches what my students use to define a party: not a party without alcohol. Anyway, with the opening of the CVS, as well as a good many other chain stores in the vicinity, it appears that the Cap'n Corky store couldn't really keep up. Add to that the ever-present problem in the downtown: parking.

The store closed. And-- I wish I'd had time to stop and take pix-- the construction crews gutted the buildings. I believe only the two walls that abut the neighboring buildings were left standing. Then they added the second story, the new front facade, and all the fanciness.

I have to wonder how long the jewelry store will last in this economy... especially since a long time local favorite is about two doors down. Or will locals go for the "brand name" over the locally owned and operated place. (Sadly, I'm voting for people to go with "brand name" over local. It's happening in so many other places. But I wish it wasn't so.)

Going back through history, all I can find is that this corner was home to Brighton's Foundry for a while. Though, there's some indication that the foundry was actually not right on the corner. Other records indicate that some part of the time, this corner was a private residence. It's a little mind boggling for me to think of people living in houses on Grand River... in my life time, Grand River has always been the main business drag through Brighton. Only when you get out WAY past the edge of Brighton's business stretch are there houses.

More My Town Monday!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Guest Post: Stephen D. Rogers

Today, Stephen D. Rogers is treating us to a post about one his stories in his SHOT TO DEATH anthology! I feel like I've entered the big time, having an author like him here... but enough from me

Stephen's Post:
Perini closed the folders on his desk as soon as he saw the shadow on the pebbled glass.
So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH (ISBN 978-0982589908). Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning
and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.

The first action in the story is to close folders, to hide things. What prompts Perini to do so? A shadow, not an image or a silhouette, but a shadow. Pebbled glass? Things are not as they appear.

Pebbled glass in a door makes me think of small offices located on public hallways. I can't stop recalling Richard S.
Prather's Shell Scott who makes a wry comment about legends, or the scene from CHINATOWN where Jake interrupts the man repainting the name on the door.

So Perini is a private investigator, surrounded by secrets and shadows. He's a man of action.

I know he's a man of action because of how that opening sentence is structured. He responds to the stimulus before before we even become aware of the stimulus.

We would see the shadow and close the folder but Perini is that much quicker on the draw. Is he fast enough?
The opening doesn't really answer that question. Most of the words are neutral, the darker "shadow" balanced by the lighter "glass." Perini's office is located off the hallway, which tells me he's a one-person shop, which could be good and could be bad.

The lack of direction is itself a directive. The story should swing back and forth between negative and positive poles, keeping in mind that Perini at least starts ahead of
the game.

All that remains is the writing.

Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH
(ISBN 978-0982589908) and more than six hundred stories and poems. He's the head writer at Crime Scene (where viewers solve interactive mysteries) and a popular writing instructor. For more information, you can visit his website,, where he tries to pull it all together.

SHOT TO DEATH contains thirty-one stories of murder and mayhem.

"Terse tales of cops and robbers, private eyes and bad guys, with an authentic New England setting." - Linda Barnes, Anthony Award winner and author of the Carlotta Carlyle series

"Put yourself in the hands of a master as you travel this world of the dishonest, dysfunctional, and disappeared. Rogers is the real deal--real writer, real story teller, real tour guide to the dark side." - Kate Flora, author of the Edgar-nominated FINDING AMY and the Thea Kozak mysteries

"SHOT TO DEATH provides a riveting reminder that the short story form is the foundation of the mystery/thriller genre. There's something in this assemblage of New England noir to
suit every aficionado. Highly recommended!" - Richard Helms, editor and publisher, The Back Alley Webzine

For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to and submit your completed entry. Then visit the schedule at to see how you can march along. And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Town Monday: Brighton's Four Corners, part 3

The main intersection of Brighton is where Grand River and Main Street meet. Once upon a time, Main Street was called Fitch Street. Then, apparently, someone got the memo that ALL towns must have a Main Street.

In an early era, when traffic was getting too great, a "silent policeman" was installed at the intersection. I'm not entirely sure what the role of this "signal" was since it didn't have electricity or, from what I can tell, any signaling capabilities. Apparently, it was to keep traffic divided... kind of like the dashed lines in multi-lane intersections that keep traffic where it's supposed to be.

In 1989, left turns were prohibited from Westbound Main Street onto Grand River.

And, thankfully, in 2010, the traffic lights were updated to the new blinking yellow arrow for lefts (though still prohibited from westbound Main onto Grand River) to allow cars to sneak through in the rare chance when traffic is clear.

I used to watch the signal for the pedestrian crossing count down because the left light only allowed 2 cars through the light-- the 3rd had to go on the yellow. (Though, many an impatient 4th, 5th, and 6th vehicle thought that they shouldn't have to wait for the light to cycle... but that's a separate rant issue.)

This last shot is the intersection while the new lights were going up. There was, oddly, nothing in the local paper about the new interchange. In fact, there was an odd little situation where it looked like typical "expendable tax payer dollars being misspent" situation.

See, they took down the old poles with traffic lights on them and hung up the wires. Then... within a few weeks, they put up new poles with new lights. (In the pick, you can see the new lights are turned funny.) I honestly believed that it was some flub of the government where they didn't realize that they were replacing recently replaced poles. Wouldn't have surprised me any. Still don't know the whole story on why they took down the old poles, put up wires, then put up new poles.

Side note: I drive through this intersection every day on my way to work. If the light is green, my commute to work is about 3 minutes. If the light goes red, it nearly doubles my commute. Heh.

Map Note: Yes, Google Maps will try to have you make a left at the intersection from Main Street onto Grand River. Though it does tend to default to taking the side streets if the route is long enough. Which isn't much better, IMHO. As a driver in a strange place, I'd prefer to stay on main roads.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Town Monday: Brighton's Four Corners, part 2

Across Grand River from the Eastern House Hotel once stood a grocery store.

Some time later, the building was torn down and a new store opened. Eventually it was the Brighton Drugs store. Later, in 1937, had bought the Brighton Drug store with Baldwin. For some time it was Leland and Baldwin Drugs. Then, Leland bought out Baldwin and renamed it Leland Drugs.

Leland had the second floor of the building removed and large shop windows installed. Leland's Drug Store became the first building in Livingston County to boast a Frigid-aire air conditioning unit. I believe this distinction came in the 1930s.

Tracing the history of a rather unremarkable set of businesses on this corner is quite difficult. The next information I have is that during the 1980s and 90s various eating establishments were attempted on that corner. One of the problems with that corner-- at least in this modern era-- is that parking is limited and not terribly convenient. There is a lot across Grand River, a few parallel parking spots, and another lot about a block away. These are not far or difficult, however, this is Livingston County, not Ann Arbor. Here, people don't like to walk any farther than necessary. (See in Ann Arbor, you don't drive. You find a place to park, and walk the several blocks. That's just "How it is.")

But, in the early 1990s, this corner of Brighton opened a new eatery. A place called Lu and Carl's that has thrived. Thrived to the point where, in summer months, they have seating on the sidewalk. Like, right alongside Grand River where one can breathe in the lovely aroma of car exhaust and listen to the rumble of hundreds of cars rolling up to and eventually through the traffic light. (Um, you couldn't pay me to eat on the sidewalk of Grand River, but anyway.) My never-humble theory as to why Lu and Carl's has thrived while other restaurants did not is slightly cynical: Lu and Carl's is the first eatery on that location to have a liquor license.

My Town Monday