In the Wild with Michele Drier

The other night I woke up about 5 a.m.I was a little disoriented because I’m not normally awake then and I lay there wondering what woke me.

I didn’t hear anything, but my cat suddenly jumped up on the bed and sat on my head, his signal for an empty food bowl. I tried to reason with him—mostly me saying, “No, go away” and him saying “Merow”—before heading to the laundry room where his food is.

As I rounded the kitchen door and flipped on the light, a large brown-gray animal streaked past me and headed through the cat door. I stood there in a tee shirt, without my contacts, my glasses on the bedside table, and screamed.

My first thought was “skunk”.  I have a multigenerational family of them living under my house and for sure I didn’t want to get sprayed in my own kitchen. The screaming woke me up enough to see the mask, as a probably 30-pound raccoon headed out the door.

I live in a city with almost half a million population, in a county of 1.5 million in California, with close to 38,000,000 people. We have just over 239 people per square mile compared to the country as a whole that averages 87 people per square mile. So generally speaking, it’s a pretty urban neighborhood and a settled one—my house is 60 years old.

But I forget sometimes that we’re newcomers. There was the Thanksgiving morning I saw the wild turkeys in my front yard. There are flocks of them that live near the rivers in the area and it’s not uncommon now days to see a group of ten to twenty patrolling the lawns of small office complexes. And I met the skunks, and their pal the opossum, when in a lapse of judgment I fed the cats on the porch.

This isn’t my first run-in with the wild. As a kid, I used to visit an aunt and uncle who lived on Twin Peaks in San Francisco and fed their neighborhood raccoons on the front deck, overlooking the whole bay.

One night, in a different house and a different city, my daughter and I came home from the movies and found a baby opossum frozen in terror on the inside sill of the front door. We never figured out how it got there and managed to avoid the cats. We swept him off and carried him to the overgrown jasmine in the side yard, where I figured his family lived because of the nocturnal rustling.

Pretty much, the wildlife and I have reached detente. They’re welcome to the whole outdoors, but I draw the line at in the house. The cat suffered most in this episode. He didn’t lie to me, his food bowl was empty, but now the cat door is closed at night and he has to use his litter box.

I’ve lived in rural areas of the state, including the Sierra Nevada foothills and the far North Coast so animals don’t frighten me, but there are some people who are much more urban than me.

One of them is the mother of a friend. The friend lives further up in the foothills and her mother is from downtown Oakland. On a recent visit, she yelled at my friend, “There’s a big animal in your yard!”

My friend looked out the window and said, “Mother, that’s just a deer,” at which point her mother said, “Well do something! Call it’s owner!”

In addition to writing, Michele is in the running for the President of the Guppies, a subgroup of the National Sisters in Crime. These Guppies aren’t fish—the name stems from The Great Unpublished, a mixture of unpublished and recently published mystery writers.

 

 

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

Visit her website or facebook page,  or her Amazon author page,

 

Continuing Education with Michele Drier

My seventh book is languishing, mired in the dreaded middle third.

I know where I’m going to end up—although I haven’t written the last line yet—but the middle is a slog. Partially because I’ve had a few interruptions.

I write in two genres, traditional mysteries—not cozies and not thrillers—and paranormal romance. And my timeline is three books a year. I’m an unknown, still, and figure that since I haven’t had the “breakout debut novel” I’m better off with a quantity of work out there. All good quality, just unread, as yet.

One of my other hats is the secretary of my local Sisters in Crime chapter, Capitol Crimes.

We have about 50 members and are an active group. In 2012 we were the host chapter for the Left Coast Crime conference—lots of work and great fun.

And last weekend, I was the chair for our one-day Writers’ Workshop, with David Corbett, Allison Brennen and Simon Wood as presenters.

Great line-up, wonderful workshop and a fair amount of work. Threw my schedule out of whack for couple of weeks…not to mention getting up at5:30 a.m.on Saturday (not a morning person any more!).

I’ve always called myself a panster—I start writing at page one and just write through, finding characters and trailing down paths and detours until the last line. It makes for interesting writing and my characters surprise me by the tacks they take and some of their reactions. Nothing out of character, just nuances I didn’t realize they had.

So I wasn’t sure how much I’d come away from the workshop with—beyond sore feet and a mild case of exhaustion.

But I did.David Corbett talked about characters and motivation, about yearning and questing, about barriers for the protagonist and resolution and secrets that, when revealed, lead to healing. Heady stuff.

Allison Brennen is a true pantser, starting each book with no idea where she’ll end up. And she does, with 24 novels as well as short stories published. “Prolific” was probably coined for her. And she does it all while raising five children.

Simon Wood is a plotter. He puts together a chart of about 80 scenes, color-coded by action, lead, subplot, surprise, final action and reaction and a wrap-up. Because of his meticulous planning, he can write a book in four months.

All different people with different writing styles and techniques. I went into the workshop as a worker, watching for late registrants, checking for the lunch delivery, eyeing the clock for windup, and I ended up being a student.

I believe everything is continuing education. I’ll continue being a pantser with an idea of where I’m going, maybe somewhere closer to Allison with a little of Simon thrown in.

But the best take-away? Positive, close to raving, evaluations, still trickling in. One participant said, “Thank you for allowing me to be able to attend this wonderful workshop and also join Sisters in Crime.”

And we even had a small profit!

Now back to Labeled for Death.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

Visit her websitefacebook page,  or her Amazon author page.

A project for Spring with Michele Drier

Even as a kid, when you had to wear green to school or get pinched,St.Patrick’s Day has been one of those annual times to remember ancient rituals.

I’m not Catholic, nor is my family, but we do have some Irish blood; along with English, Welsh and a smattering of Portuguese, thanks to someone way back in my father’s family.

But on my mother’s side?  Pure British Isles.  And this includes a great-great-grandmother from Leeds who sailed to the U.S. from Ireland.  Why Ireland?  No one has ever found the answer, but I’m still looking.

This same great-great-grandmother traveled and on one trip back to Ireland, family lore has it that she kissed the Blarney Stone.  So some of our family legend might trace back to that visit.

Whatever the reason, I’ve always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, usually with corned beef, cabbage and Irish potatoes, occasionally with a tot of Jameson and for several years with a party that included a fair amount of drink and someone singing “Danny Boy”.

One year as the party was in the planning stages, I moved.  I moved 900 miles away.  It was for a new job that I desperately needed.  I ended up on St. Patrick’s Day that year in a new city, a new home and a new job with a group of people I came to count on as true friends.

But on the day, I sat in my new office looking north at the San Bernardino Mountains, palm trees waving in the breeze under a clear blue sky and wondered what the future held.

That year was particularly hard because our St. Patrick’s Day party had a theme.  We were going to design and enter a “float” in the Kinetic Sculpture Race, a three-day event from Arcata to Ferndale, across Humboldt Bay mud flats, grazing lands and two-lane roads using only human power to propel the sculptures.

A dream brought on by the Guinness and Jameson?  Maybe.  This vision and planning had begun several weeks earlier and would consume us right up until race day, always begun on Mother’s Day in May.

Our sculpture would be a cross between a barge and a cart.  It would have to ride on over-inflated fat tires, like a dune buggy.  It would have to have pontoons laced underneath for the water portions.

We had a name and a design.  Since all of us worked for various non-profit agencies, it would be called the “Non-profit Prophet”.  It would have a superstructure designed with Moorish columns and turrets.  A “prophet”, yet to be chosen, would ride on a throne, dressed like a Turkish sultan.

Since we were all women, the actual work of moving the sculpture was a major discussion.  It would have to be propelled by some sort of bicycle arrangement to move across the mudflats and none of us were bicycle enthusiasts, so we started working up a training schedule.

We’d set aside the St. Patrick’s Day party as an appropriate time to work out the superstructure design.  What should the turrets be made from?  We were leaning toward papier-mâché over chicken wire, both for weight and because a couple of us had been teachers and could churn out papier-mâché by the cart-load.

Plans were coming along until that fateful phone call one Sunday morning, offering me a job I couldn’t refuse.

In the hustle of packing up, moving, finding a place to live, enrolling my daughter in a new school where she’d know no one, the “Non-profit Prophet” slid off the radar.  I’d promised myself and my friends that I’d come back for the St. Patrick’s Day party and to help with the final planning for the race, but demands of a new job and new surroundings took over.

So instead of celebrating the day with a group of close friends, laughter and raging silliness, I sat at my new desk and wondered if I’d made the right move.

Over many years, I’ve decided that, yes, it was the right move since it opened up experiences and challenges I’d never have had. I’ve stretched my interests, met many new people, become a writer with six books under my belt and traveled.  I’ve even been toIreland.

I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone, but now St. Patrick’s Day brings back both memories of parties and memories of a green, green land full of history, music and welcoming people.

And a big chunk of zaniness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos are from the Kinetic Sculpture Race website and were shot by Tina Kerrigan.

 

 

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

Visit her website or facebook page,  or her Amazon author page.

 

 

 

Old Friends with Michele Drier

I was shocked last week when I heard about the death of a high school acquaintance.

It’s not unusual to read about the death of someone you once knew, but it brings home the fact that you’ll never have a conversation with that person again. I’ve lost several friends and relatives over the years, including my mother, my grandmother and an adored uncle. These people are part of me, literally, and I talk to them daily in my thoughts.

Others visit occasionally, memories of them jogged by an event, a turn of phrase, a certain place. When I read about Treva’s death, I remembered John Ross. These were two people who crossed my life at very different times, in very different circumstances. Treva brought back my teens—a few years of angst tucked back in my memory banks. But John brought back my struggles as a poor, single mother and my need to write.

I met John in Humboldt County, in far northern California. He was a poet, a writer, a sometime journalist and one of the most intense people I’ve ever known. We were both part of a group trying to get an alternative newspaper started with no money but a lot of liberal zeal.

Over the next seven years, we were close .John was an old leftie from the Beat years, born to noted parents in New York. He was proud of the fact that his birth was announced in Walter Winchell’s column and by eighteen, he was reading his poetry in  Greenwich Village bars, accompanied by bass player Charles Mingus.

He always joked that his formal education consisted of two boxes of books “liberated” from the New York Public Library that he took with him for an extended stay in an indigenous community in the Michoacan state of Mexico. They must have been celebrated books, because he was well-read. We shared a passion for e.e.cummings and John pushed me to write poetry, which I did, badly. He used to call me his “Secret Wife” though I was never sure why.

He was forever broke, living on disability and occasional odd jobs he picked up, including a stint planting and harvesting lilies at a commercial nursery. Today, he’d probably be called “occasional homeless”, primarily living in the back bedrooms and on couches of various women.

He called one night, on the verge of hysteria. He’d been renting an apartment, but was being evicted for non-payment of rent, he’d washed all of his identification in the pocket of a pair of jeans and was having free-floating anxiety. I loaded my daughter in the car and went to cook him dinner.

As I cooked, he raged around the tiny kitchen, ranting that the “capitalist landlord” was unfair. All he, John, needed was a quiet place where he could write, without all the other worries and burdens of life.

I moved from Humboldt County to Southern California, John moved to San Francisco, and I’d hear about him every so often. When I went back into journalism, he’d pop up in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle every once in a while. One time was in 2005 when his book, “Murdered by Capitalism: 150 Years of Life and Death on the American Left” was reviewed. Thomas Pynchon wrote a blurb and the book won the Upton Sinclair Award.

This came ten years after he received the American Book Award for his reportorial work “Rebellion for the Roots: Zapatista Uprising inChiapas”.

Another time was May 12, 2009 when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors declared it John Ross Day.

I don’t know how he found the quiet space and peace in his soul to write. I’d like to think he’d be proud of me for finally coming to the life of a writer. And now I fully understand his meltdown that dark night.

I’m still looking for that quiet place to just write.

John died of cancer January 17, 2011 inLake Patzcuaro,Mexico. Every so often I reread his letters to his Secret Wife.

 

 

Michele Drier was born inSanta Cruzand is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and NorthernCaliforniahome.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at Amazon.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

Visit her website,  facebook page,  or her Amazon author page.

Michele Drier and The Third Wave

 “In a time when terrorists play death games with hostages, as currencies careen amid rumors of a Third World War, as embassies flame and storm troopers lace up their boots, in many lands we stare in horror at the headlines.  The price of gold—-that sensitive barometer of fear—breaks all records.  Banks tremble.  Inflation rages out of control.   And the governments of the world are reduced to paralysis or imbecility.” 

Alvin Toffler

The Third Wave

 

When social critic Alvin Toffler wrote this introduction to The Third Wave in 1980, he identified the First Wave as the agriculture revolution, moving from hunting and gathering to settled farming; the Second Wave as the Industrial Revolution when manufacturing moved from the home to the factory, and the Third Wave as a “super-industrial society”, an Information Age, a Global Village.

Now, some thirty years later, we’re moving headlong into some aspects of the Third Wave.

Toffler talked about changes in the family, the changing definition of family, moving toward the non-nuclear family, the child-free culture and the electronic expanded family.  We see some of this taking hold. The issue of gay marriage, child adoption by single people, surrogate pregnancies, invitro-fertilization, the “families” of facebook and other social media sites, the proliferation of specialized groups.

He predicted people would be working from their homes (“telecommunting” is the in-word now) and because of this they’d seek out friends and acquaintances in new ways. No longer would the Second Wave civilization be in charge with the 9-to-5 workday schedules tied to the rhythm of machines.  Work could be preformed any time.

Ah, brave new world!  I was entranced.

Not one to love schedules (let alone early mornings) I welcomed the day when I could work in my own time at my own pace.  And I found jobs where some of that was true. As the CEO of non-profit agencies, I allowed staff to work flexible hours. At daily morning newspapers I came to work later in the day and worked until 7 or so in the evening. Now as a writer and novelist, I begin work when I have my first cup of coffee, maybe around9 a.m., and work on and off throughout the day.  I’ve been know to still be answering emails at 10 at night.

There are an awful lot of people still working at the pace of the machine, though.  In my family, my son-in-law owns a high-tech company in San Jose. His days are a combination of working from home (on the phone and the computer most of the day) and going into his company two or three days a week. He has a lot of flexibility but is also available for calls from his staff at 10 at night.

My daughter is a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit nurse. She works 12- hour shifts from7 p.m.until7 a.m.three days a week. She doesn’t have much flexibility because the hospital is staffed 24/7.

The one I feel most sorry for, though, is my oldest granddaughter.  Because she attends her neighborhood school, and most of the parents in the neighborhood work for the state and have to be at their desks at 8 a.m., she has to be at school at 7:45 in the morning. That means for a couple of months in the winter, she’s standing outside in a line, in the semi-dark shivering until they open the classroom doors.

I don’t know what the answer is, but when I watch the kids trudging to school to line up in the waning dark, the only vision I have is of mill and mine workers in 19th century England and I thought the Third Wave would eliminate that.

 

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available in paperback at Amazon and B&N and on audio at ACX.

She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. SNAP: The World Unfolds,  SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder  are available as a boxed set. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood has 5 star ratings. She’s writing the sixth book, SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.

 

Visit her website or facebook page,  or her Amazon author page.

Michele Drier’s new love interest

I have a new love interest.

Well, maybe “love” is too strong a word.

But I’m definitely intrigued with someone I’ve never met.

A few months ago, a pal from high school mentioned an organization called Coursera on his facebook page.  He was talking about taking an engineering course from them.

An online engineering class? That sounded interesting. I wondered what else this Coursera had to offer.

I discovered a virtual online university!  A couple of small drawbacks, though.  No grades and no credits.  The upside? It’s FREE.

It was started by two Stanford professors and is funded by some Bay Area venture capitalists. The website says, “We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.”

I looked at their course offerings and enrolled in two: A History of the World Since 1300 taught by Jeremy Adelman from Princeton and Greek and Roman Mythology taught by Peter Struck from the University of  Pennsylvania.

The history class will come in handy as I continue to write The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles. After all, the Kandeskys began in fourteenth century Hungary following the Black Death.  And they built their fortune in trade, as cloth merchants, along the Renaissance routes through European rivers and the Silk Road.

It’s early days yet and I’ve only watched a couple of the video lectures, but Jeremy Adelman has my attention!  It may have something to do with the fact that I was a dual English/History major as an undergrad, but I stayed up the other night until midnight, watching lectures. Class discussion is a little iffy.  There are 70,000 people from around the world enrolled in history and 50,000 folks in the Mythology class.

Having spent the summer with two married men, it’s going to be interesting to open up to new experiences. Baron Stefan and Jean-Louis, the top-ranking Kandesky vampires are fascinating and I told their stories in two novellas I wrote this summer: Plague: A Love Story and the just-released Danube: A Tale of Murder.  I was immersed in four centuries of Hungarian history and now I can find out what the rest of the world was up to as the Kandeskys were building their trade empire.

There were selfish reasons I enrolled, but it became totally worthwhile a few days ago.  There’s a discussion thread in the history class where we can introduce ourselves and suddenly a comment popped up in my email.  It was from a woman in the Midwest who was taking her first college level course since she graduated from high school—at the age of 49!

What I learn from Jeremy Adelman will be wonderful and information I can put to use in my writing.  But what worlds will open to the woman in the Midwest! And I’m astounded at her courage and heart and thirst for learning.

What an incredible win-win situation!

Check  out Coursera

Book Four of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles Danube: A Tale of Murder.

 

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian.  She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review and a Memorable Book for 2011 on DorothyL, is available in paperback at Amazon and B&N.

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook format at Amazon.  The first book, SNAP: The World Unfolds, received a 4-star rating from the Paranormal Romance Guild.  The second book, SNAP: New Talent, also received 4 stars from PRG.  The third book of the Chronicles, Plague: A Love Story, was published in June 2012, the fourth, Danube: A Tale of Murder was published September 13, 2012 and the fifth,  SNAP: Love for Blood is scheduled to be released in December 2012.

 

Visit Michele

 

Plague…the Black Death

Plague.

The Black Death.

The Scourge of God.

 

Today, we shudder when we read about this disease that killed off a third to half of Europe’s population in the 14th century.  And we think it was a one-time pandemic of a disease that caused more deaths than any other and mysteriously went away.

Wrong on both counts.

Where bubonic plague began is still not pinpointed, but the 14th century outbreak of it came from Russia, near the Crimea, and swept across fromRussia to England, killing an estimated 25 million people in the space of a few years.

That’s the pandemic we learn about, but there were outbreaks of bubonic plague roughly every generation for the next 400 years.  Vienna, Seville and most notably London had outbreaks of plague in the 17th century and smaller epidemics continued until the late 19th century.

And the worst killer in the world?  The flu epidemic of 1918, which killed some 75,000,000 people around the world in two years at the end of the First World War.

Most recently, the AIDS epidemic has slaughtered about 25,000,000 people over the last 30 years and it continues to be a major cause of death in some African countries.

Ironically, it was the opening up of trade routes and travel that spread the plague so quickly in the 14th century, just as epidemiologists warn about the spread of disease in our instant jet age.

Hands down, though, the disease that lurks in our minds as the scariest and most dangerous is the Black Death.  It conjures up images of bodies lying in the streets, of people dropping dead where they stood, of death carts trundling by, of bodies dumped by the hundreds in plague pits.  There was no one left to bury the dead, no way to stop the carnage, few left to mourn and no list of who died.

Since no one knew what is was or how it started, they also were baffled by how it ended.  Even now, there’s no clear answer.  Some people seem to have a genetic mutation that gave them immunity, so that the plague killed those most susceptible.

Today, we know what caused it.  The plague is an infection caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria, named for the Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre-Emile-JeanYersinwho identified it in 1894.  It’s treated by antibiotics, but about 14 percent of those who contract it still die.

The plague is still with us—on average, 13 people in the United States contract it yearly, and the World Health Organization estimates 2,900 cases internationally each year.  In the U.S., it’s most typically found in the West—California, Colorado, New Mexico—where is lives in the rodent population of wild areas.

Yes, those ground squirrels and cute chipmunks you take pictures of in Yosemite may very well be carrying plague.

One of the more publicized cases took place this summer when a Prineville, Oregon man tried to save a cat that was choking on a mouse.  The cat bit him for his trouble and transmitted the bacteria. He’s survived after ending up in life-support, a month of hospitalization and amputation of his fingers and toes.

The chances that you’ll ever run into the plague bacillus are very slim, unless you shop like my daughter.  She’s an RN with a macabre sense of humor so one year she bought her daughter (a stuffed animal fanatic)…you guessed it, a small, black, furry Yersinia pestis bacteria.  It looks much like a small Guinea pig without legs.

We don’t befriend squirrels and chipmunks and all hope that the only plague we run into is the stuffed variety.

 

Michele Drier was born inSanta Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian.  She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.

Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review and a Memorable Book for 2011 on DorothyL, is available in paperback at Amazon and B&N.

 

 

 

 

Visit Michele

 

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky vampire chronicles, is available in ebook format at Amazon.  The first book, SNAP: The World Unfolds, received a 4-star rating from the Paranormal Romance Guild.  The second book, SNAP: New Talent, also received 4 stars from PRG and the third book of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, Plague: A Love Story, was published in June 2012.

 

 

Flag Day with Michele Drier

Today is Flag Day, a much more low-key celebration than the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day now, but it wasn’t always so.

The first flag day was June 14, 1885 when a Wisconsin teacher created the Flag’s Birthday, in honor of the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes.

The idea caught on and in 1894 the governor of New York directed that all public buildings fly the flag on June 14.

Nationally, Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day in 1916 and on August 3, 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

But I remember Flag Day because of events that happened June 14, 1940.

That was the day that Paris fell to the Nazis, and my former husband was a witness.

He was years older than me and a German Jew.  His family had sent him out of Germany to what they thought was safety, a boarding school in St. Denis, just outside Paris.

He talked about watching Nazi troops come through the garden shooting, and then how he and the other children walked most of the way to an orphanage in Vichy France run by a Swiss citizen.

With several other children from the orphanage, he was smuggled to Lisbon where they managed to get on the last refugee ship for the United States and he ended up in an orphanage in Los Angeles.

He was the only member of his immediate family to survive.

As a baby boomer, born and raised in California, this story was only a tale, until I met him and his friends, some of whom still had numbers tattooed on their arms.

When I began writing my traditional mystery, Edited for Death, I thought about both the young GIs who fought and died in the Second World War, as well as those millions of Europeans killed or displaced by the Nazis.

He died several years ago but I used his story as the bones for the Nazi-hunter, Henry Blomberg in Edited for Death.

I don’t really celebrate Flag Day much.  I do, however, always remember the date and remember what happened on June 14, 1940.

And then I married a man who was born on June 14, 1940.  That date won’t live in infamy, but it stays alive in my mind.

So today, the 127th anniversary of the first Flag Day celebration and the 235th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as our national flag, I’ll spend a few minutes with a frightened eight-year-old boy as he watches soldiers come through the garden. And think about the U.S. forces and the Allies who finally chased them out.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian.  She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home.  During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review and a Memorable Book for 2011 on DorothyL, is available in paperback at Amazon and B&N.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky vampire chronicles, is available in ebook at Amazon.  The first book, SNAP: The World Unfolds, received a 4-star rating from the Paranormal Romance Guild.  The second book, SNAP: New Talent, is now also available from Amazon and the novella Plague: A Love Story will be available this June.

Visit Michele’s website    

Michele’s books on Amazon

Barnes & Noble    

contact Michele at mjdrier@gmail.com

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