Today we welcome Jane Hale.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Jane Hale: They call me the Firecracker Lady. We’ve been in the pyro business for over 60 years.
I’m a organizer, promoter, speaker, and author. My late husband and I have 9 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. I live on the 80 acre Hale Family Farm just north of Buffalo, Missouri.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written?
Jane Hale: YA children’s mystery series. Gift books. Short story mysteries. Read aloud children’s book and color book.
Book ‘Em: What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Jane Hale: Children’s series are mysteries that can stand alone or be read as a series. The main character is an 11 year old boy named Thomas Scott. His dad died two years ago and his mom is bringing home a new gentleman with a 6 year old daughter. Christmas is coming. Thomas feels left out. He becomes involved with a man named Snick in a chat room.
He learns how to lock the man in the chat room, goes about his life, and forgets it.
Snick turns out to be Santa, who can’t get out of the chat room, Christmas may not happen because the man in red cannot do his job. Thomas meets another friend, who shares software called Wonderland. It’s a virtual reality program which can make anything happen. Together, Thomas, his grandpa, and his new friend, help catch Christmas thieves and save Christmas when Thomas realizes who is locked in his chat room and helps tie Christmas up in a big red bow.
Each mystery in the series has most of the same characters but the mystery happens on a different holiday. i.e. Heartland on Valentine’s Day. Foreverland on Easter. Boomland on the 4th of July. Books are fantasy fiction. Each book has a companion animal designed for an animal in the book. I was able to design and produce the animals with the help of our fireworks friends, who live in China.
My gift books are titled: Every Day is Mother’s Day. Every Day is Father’s Day. I wrote a column for our area newspaper for over 20 years in the voice of my childhood. It was called “Buffalo, as I Remember It.” The books share the columns with the strengths of Mother and Father, in each book. They are hard back treasures.
I have several short stories in anthologies. Some won contests to be included, others were chosen.
I am the President of Ozark Writers, Inc. a not-for-profit organization, who promotes authors from the Ozarks area. For one of our goals, we have published 5 volumes of Mysteries of the Ozarks with 19-22 authors in each volume. The cover art is produced by artists from the Ozarks, too. Last month, our 5th volume was published by Goldmines Publishing with 19 authors, two of which were myself and my son, Mitch. Members of our board are available to speak at functions to raise funds to further the program.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Jane Hale: Yes, I have several. I love to enter my work in writing contests so I keep material in progress in anticipation of this. I’m working on a fictional thriller called Daddy Thompson. The blurb is” “If you have a little boy and you take him out in public, hold on tight to his hand. Somewhere, out there, Daddy Thompson is waiting.”
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote?
Jane Hale: Daddy Thompson. It has been in my head for years. It’s has a lot of depth, and the subject material is dark. The story is great. You’ll be surprised at the ending. I was. One of my mentor’s said, “Your ending surprised the hell out of me. You came out of left field but you made it work. This is a good story.”
Book ‘Em: What made it difficult?
Jane Hale: The length of time I spent on it.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Jane Hale: I read a lot (Or, rather, I listen to a lot of audios. Listening helps me hear the structure of the book. Radio, Tv, computer, google, and an inquiring mind, helps the story become real. I believe my mind works on it while I sleep. Much of the inspiration is with me when I wake.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure?
Jane Hale: I like thrillers: Stephen King, Jeffery Deaver, Dean Koons. I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross books. Sandra Brown is a favorite author.
Book ‘Em: Is there an author that inspires you?
Jane Hale: Every good author is an inspiration.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Jane Hale: My mom. My mentor was Ellen Gray Massey. Robert Vaughan is a marvelous writer and inspiration. Several of the authors in our 5th volume of Mysteries of the Ozarks are wonderful writers, Robert Vaughan, Johnny Boggs, Dusty Richards, Vicki Cox, Donna Volkenannt, Marilyn Smith. There are so many, you’ll have to read it.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Jane Hale: Imagination, plot, and humor.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Jane Hale: I work my writing in with my busy schedule. Sometimes, late at night into the morning are my best hours to write. I can’t wait to read it the next morning.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Jane Hale: At my age, the writing may be etched on a granite stone. If I’m still around in 5 years, I would like to be counted among the authors, who topped the New York Time best seller lists.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Jane Hale: Don’t give up.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Jane Hale: When is your next book coming out?
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Jane Hale: From Daddy Thompson: Missing Mississippi Boy:
“Trick or Treat!” The Hobo whispered to the dead dog in a burlap sack slung over his back. “Don’t you love a weekend of Trick or Treat, Spot?”
Spot didn’t answer.
“Play dead, Spot!” The Hobo chuckled. “Good dog!”
Spot, the hungry mutt, hadn’t been hard to catch. The hobo hid in a patch of trees near the Dotson family yard and lured the pooch to him with hamburger. A quick snap of the dog’s scrawny neck put it out of its misery.
The hobo smiled a toothless grin. “RIP, Spot! You’ll soon be reunited with your best friend, Jerome.”
The Hobo knew the Dotson family habits well. He’d watched them at work and play. He knew fifteen-year-old Jerome hated Halloween. Not the holiday itself but the fact that he had to take his younger brothers and sister Trick or Treating on a Sunday night. Going out with his friends, Monday, October 31, would be his prize for being a good brother.
“Dream on, Jerome. Monday night has a costly price tag. I wonder if you can afford it.” The Hobo gave the burlap sack a nudge. “Pay attention, Spot, the show is about to begin.” The Hobo’s maniacal laughter matched the cadence of the night.
“Soon, Jerome, Soon, you’ll have one less brother to worry about. You’ll find Spot. I’ll have my prey. Everyone will go their merry way. Happy Halloween!”
Far to the east thunder rumbled like a giant locomotive moving across Louisiana toward Mississippi with the promise of an early winter storm.
The hobo edged his way along the streets of Pearl, Mississippi. He blended with the throng of costumed children hurrying to get their treats on the long Halloween weekend before the storm blew in. He stayed a safe distance behind the group of kids that included Tyrell Dotson, a small black boy, who wore a Bat Masterson costume.
Jerome, the pirate, herded his ragtag collection of brothers, and sister ghost, to the homes along Main Street collecting treats.
Five-year-old Tyrell moved closer to Jerome. “Gotta pee.”
Jerome glared down at his little brother. “Tyrell, you know what happens to little kids like you at Halloween?”
Tyrell stood in the circle of a street light shaking his head from side to side.
Jerome’s chant began softly and ended in a shout, “The devil comes to get them and takes them to hell.”
Tyrell’s lower lip quivered. “That ain’t true, Jerome.”
Fingers of lightening reached down from the skies to illuminate bumper to bumper traffic laden with spooks. As if on cue a car pulled to the curb and unloaded two devils.
Tyrell moved closer to Jerome.
Jerome gave Tyrell a playful shove. “Looks like they’ve come for you, kid.”
Tyrell backed against a street light post and wrapped his arms around it.
Jerome jingled the few coins in the pocket of his pirate suit. “Little brother, I just sold your soul to Beelzebub. Didn’t get much for a lying, stinky, little cowboy but it’ll buy me a cola.”
Jerome’s other brothers laughed along with him as they chanted, “Devil’s gonna get ya, Tyrell.”
Little sister ghost separated from the group. She moved with feminine grace to hug her youngest brother. “You boys quit teasing Tyrell.”
Jerome pointed toward a house where treats were being handed out on the front porch. “This is the last house for us. It’s starting to sleet. Get on up on that porch and get your stuff before the devils get their due.” Jerome chuckled at his wisecrack.
Tyrell started to follow his brothers and sister.
“Hey you, Bat Masterson, get your stinky butt back here. Your britches are dragging.”
Tyrell tried to hitch his pants up. The gun and holster he wore kept pulling his britches down his skinny frame. He glared at his brother. “I hate you, Jerome.”
Before Jerome could answer, a fight broke out near the front porch of the house where his brothers and sister had pushed ahead of another group of costumed kids. Jerome shoved Tyrell against the base of the street light, “Stay here,” he raced in the direction of the fight sliding on the sleet covered street. Halloween goblins converged on the fight scene leaving the street empty.
Tyrell scowled into the darkness separating him from the lighted front porch and his brothers and sister and the fight. The glare of the street lamp danced with flakes of white drifting around him, Tyrell reached out his hand and caught the flakes bringing them to his mouth. “Jerome–it’s snowing!”
From the shadows a voice hissed, “Tyrell, want a treat?”
The boy executed a fast draw worthy of his namesake, Bat Masterson. He whirled, and lowered his sites on a Halloween hobo. “What treat you got?”
“Hold on there, partner! Come over here and I’ll show you.”
“Jerome won’t care. See, he’s watching the fight.”
“I’m going to see the fight, too.” Tyrell holstered his gun. Cautiously, he stepped away from the street light.
The hobo laid down his sack.
Tyrell peered through the snow flakes into the semi-darkness.
The hobo reached into his overall pocket. He laid a striped peppermint on the ground rapidly covering with snow. He moved into the shadows dragging his bag.
Tyrell slipped further from the street lamp and closer to the candy. “Mister? You still there?”
“That’s right, Tyrell. Come out of the light.” The hobo muttered.
Tyrell picked up the candy. He tore the cellophane away. He put the sweetness into his mouth and sucked. His lips curled into a sticky grin. “Dizzy,” he mumbled as he slumped into a heap just outside the circle of light.
Minutes later, the hobo moved down the snow covered street toward his vehicle with the knapsack on his back. His hand caressed the sack holding the still small figure.
Jerome herded his brothers and sister away from the house and the angry mob of goblins. Slipping and sliding, they passed the street light as he mouthed them into obedience. “Get on home and don’t pick fights until you learn to win.”
Flaps of her bed sheet costume whipped around the ankles of sister ghost as she tried to stay close to her brothers. “Where’s Tyr–?” Her question was cut short when she stumbled. Her precious sack of goodies slipped from her grasp and rolled across the snow covered street. Scrambling after the sack, she stopped abruptly when it lodged against an obscure mound. Quickly, she stooped to recover her spilled candy. Groping in the darkness her hand touched something cold, hard, and stiff.
Sister ghost’s scream could be heard for blocks away where a hobo hurried to load a bundle into his vehicle.
The hobo crawled in the driver’s seat, gunned the motor, and headed toward I-20 East.
Jerome jogged, flashlight in hand, spraying light in the direction of his sister’s cries.
“What the–?” The beam cut through the rapidly falling snow and settled on a furry heap near the feet of Sister Ghost. Splinters of light reflected off sightless eyes staring from the face of Jerome’s best friend. He screamed. “Spot-t-t!”
A crowd assembled as Jerome knelt to gather the lifeless body of the dog in his arms. “Why Spot? He was the only thing I ever loved.”
A small piece of paper fell to the ground near where the dog had lain. Sister Ghost picked it up and stuffed it into her sack of Halloween candy.
A somber procession began the pilgrimage home. Jerome, the pirate, carried his dead dog. Two spacemen, and sister ghost, followed serving as pallbearers.
By the light of the Jack O Lantern moon, Jerome buried Spot in a snowy grave.
“Jerome, I gotta show you something,” Sister ghost pleaded. She extended a grimy hand toward her brother offering the piece of paper she’d picked up earlier.
Jerome brushed passed his sister, “Just dry off, shut up and get to bed, before Mom gets home from her party. I’d hate to tell her all of you got into a fight.”
Exhausted, Jerome lay on his bed and cried. Just before he fell asleep, he muttered, “This is the worst thing that could ever happen to me.”
The next morning Lucinda Dotson’s Halloween hangover demanded she hurry her brood through the rituals of breakfast. She and her husband had stayed too late at the party last night. She could hardly wait to get the kids off to School. If she was lucky she could take a nap before going to work. “Hurry up, now. The School bus don’t wait for children on this street.”
She started up the stairs to roust her youngest child, “Tyrell, get yourself on down here and eat.” Minutes later, she reappeared, worry creased her brow. “Where is that child? Jerome, have you seen your little brother?”
“Why ,me? I’m not my brother’s keeper.” Jerome muttered, rubbing his red eyes. He hadn’t even had a chance to tell his mom about Spot. Then, a shiver of apprehension passed over Jerome as his thoughts returned to the night before. He squinted, trying mentally to count the number of kids he’d returned home.
Lucinda searched the bedrooms of her other children. She returned to the kitchen. Hands on her ample hips, she demanded. “All right now! Can any of you kids shed a little light on where Tyrell might be? Don’t make me wake your Papa.”
Bile rose in Jerome’s throat as he remembered where he’d last seen his little brother huddled against the street light post.
Then little sister sniveled her belated message. “Jerome sold Tyrell’s soul to the devil last night.” She handed her mother the piece of paper she’d found when she’d dropped her candy.
Lucinda Jackson looked from Jerome’s tear-stained face to the crumpled piece of paper. Her heart skipped a beat as she grabbed the paper from her daughter, smoothed it out, and began to read:
“If you have a little boy and you take him out in public
Hold on tight to his hand because somewhere out there
Daddy Thompson is waiting.”
Ozark Writers, Inc. on fb, Firecrackerlady.com website, Goldminds Publishing Co website. Look for my books on Amazon. They are waiting for your stars.