Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Retirement.

I should really call this, No Work For Another year. Yesterday was the anniversary of my retirement from Texas A&M on February 1, 2017. Looking back on the year, I have to say it was a year of one great event after another. Some highlights from the year of retirement:

  • Retirement parties: Jan 31 at A&M, thrown by my colleagues at work, and birthday/retirement on Feb 18, thrown by my wife and sons.
  • Left Coast Crime in Honolulu, March 2017
  • Six week extended stay in Hawaii following Left Coast Crime. we visited Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Kauai.
  • Weight loss: over 50 pounds from June through January of this year. The weight loss was motivated by pictures from our Hawaii trip.
  • Completed another novel in the Ava Rome series and completed a short story.
  • Caribbean Cruise in October to Roatan, Costa Maya, Cozumel.
  • Signed with Ladderbird Literary Agency.
  • Finished 3rd in my age division in the BCS Half-marathon.

And that was only the first year of retirement.

Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i

Kailua-Kona, usually referred to a Kona, is a port and city on the west side of the island of Hawai`i. It is known for deep sea fishing and the Ironman Triathlon. The beaches in Kona are not great, in my opinion. They are small and difficult to access because of the rock. the Big Island doesn’t have great beaches anyway because, being the newest island, has not experienced as many eons of erosion as the other islands.

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Kailua-Kona from out at sea

Our favorite adventure in Kona was a night snorkel with manta rays. We signed onto a tour which left the harbor at dusk. They provided us with snorkels, masks and flippers. We set out for about a 45 minute trip to the manta ray feeding ground. On the way, we experienced a gorgeous sunset (of course) and witnessed pods of dolphins. There were about 15 of us on the boat, not counting crew and guides.

 

Once at the feeding spot, we donned our gear and entered the water where we clung to surfboards outfitted with rails along the sides and lights in the middle. The guides swam us to the viewing site and turned on the light. The light shines into the water and attracts plankton, which are the primary food source of mantas. Then we waited. Not for long, however. In a short time we saw several mantas below. Magnificent creatures with huge wingspans. All of a sudden, one pealed off and swam up at us and did a barrel roll right under our board. We could look into the creature’s gaping mouth. It gave us a show of several rolls before swimming off. Altogether  we saw five or six mantas. We had brought waterproof cases for our phones and I would like to say that I got some great pictures. Each appearance happened before I could get the phone aimed. So all I have are memories. But great memories nonetheless.  If you go to Kona, I recommend a manta ray expedition.

Anniversary: The 442nd RCT

Yesterday, February, 1, 2018 was the 75th anniversary of the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Japanese American unit that fought so bravely in Italy and France during World War II.  They are the most decorated combat unit in the history of the Army. In earlier posts, I tell about some of their battles.

The unit was created by FDR.

Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race and ancestry.

—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, February 1, 1943.

Timeline in the formation of the 442nd.

  • December 7, 1941. Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i.
  • January 23, 1942. Japanese American soldiers are segregated out of their units.
  • February 19, 1942. FDR issues Executive Order 9066, which calls for the establishment of a western defense zone and the removal of Japanese and Japanese Americans from that zone to concentration camps.
  • February 25, 1942. The all nisei Varsity Victory Volunteers, made up mostly of University of Hawai`i students, is formed as part of the 34th Combat Engineers.
  • May 26, 1942. The Hawai`i Provisional Infantry Battalion is formed of Japanese Americans from the Hawai`i National Gard.
  • June 5, 1942. 1,432 members of the Provisional Infantry Battalion depart Honolulu for San Francisco.
  • June 12, 1942. The 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) is activated on the Oakland docks.
  • February 1, 1943. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is activated by President Roosevelt. Members of the Varsity Victory Volunteers join the 442nd after deactivation of their unit at their request.
  • May 1943. 442nd RCT begins training in Mississippi.
  • September 2, 1943. 100th Infantry Battalion lands in Oran, North Africa. It is assigned to the 34th Infantry Division on September 5th.
  • September 22, 1943. 100th Infantry Battalion lands on the beach at Salerno, Italy.
  • November 3, 1943. The 100th Infantry Battalion crosses the Volturno River, south of Naples.
  • January 24, 1944. The Battle of Cassino and the Gustav Line begins. The 100th Infantry Battalion fights in the first two assaults in the first month of battle.
  • March 26, 1944. The 100th Infantry Battalion lands at Anzio
  • May 1, 1944. 442nd RCT ships out to Europe where they will meet up with the 100th in Civitavecchia, Italy in July.
  • June 2, 1944. The 100th captures Lanuvio in the push to take Rome.
  • July 7, 1944. The bitter battle for Hill 140.
  • July 9, 1944. 100th Infantry Battalion occupies and controls Leghorn, Italy near Rome.
  • August 14, 1944. The 100th Infantry Battalion is formally made an integral part of the 442nd RCT.
  • August 31, 1944. 442nd RCT reaches the Arno River in Italy near Florence. the 100th Infantry Battalion crosses the Arno and captures Pisa.
  • September 26, 1944. 100th/442nd RCT leaves Naples for France where they are attached to the 36th Division (AKA the Texas Division) of the Seventh Army..
  • October 15, 1944. The battle of Bruyeres in the Vosges Mountains.
  • October 22, 1944. 100th Infantry Battalion takes Biffontaine, suffering many casualties.
  • October 26-31, 1944. 100th/442nd RCT rescues the “Lost Battalion,” which was cut off and surrounded by the enemy.
  • March 20, 1945. The 100th/442nd RCT returns to Italy for the attack on the Gothic Line in the Appenine mountains.
  • April 5-6, 1945. The 442nd RCT makes a surprise attack on Nazi mountainside positions in Italy, breaking through the Nazi Gothic Line in one day.
  • April 6-30, 1945. The 100th/442nd RCT drives the enemy up the Italian coast to Genoa and Turin.
  • April 29, 1945. The 522nd Field Artillery battalion help to liberate Jewish prisoners from Dachau satellite camps.
  • May 2, 1945. German Army surrenders. The war in Europe is over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year in mystery.

When 2017 began, I was still working at Texas A&M with one month before retirement. No mystery there unless you count the mysteries of retirement planning, health care, annuities, etc. I am pleased to report that retirement is going great.

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Hawaiian Blessing LCC 3/16/17

Left Coast Crime—Honolulu Havoc, mid-March in Honolulu. This was my retirement trip, one we had planned on for years. Once my retirement date was set we built a six-week tour of Hawaii, beginning with the convention at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. For mystery lovers, Left Coast Crime is always a great treat. This was no exception. My hat goes off to Lucinda Surber and her team of organizers.

 

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The convention began with a reader connection event. Mary Fran and I hosted six attendees for drinks and sunset at the House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel. Great evening, great conversation, and spectacular sunset. I participated in two panel discussions. One panel on writing Hawaiian, moderated by Terry Ambrose, and another panel on writing villains moderated by Ken Wishnia. Both panels had lively, intelligent speakers, as you can see in the pictures. On the writing hawaii panel, we had Leslie Karst, Laurie Hannan, and Katharine Nohr. The Villain panel had Laurie R. King, Terry Shames, and Matt Coyle.

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Writing Hawaii Panel 3/16/17.

Between panels, I had a chance to connect with friends, listen to great music, eat great food, and swim in the beautiful Pacific. I don’t think any convention can top LCC in Honolulu. Readers of this blog know some of the things we did after the convention, so I won’t go into that here. Stay turned for future posts because I haven’t finished recounting our adventures.

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Left Coast Crime Panel, March 18, 2017

Writing

When 2017 began, I was working on the sixth draft of a novel, Day Of Infamy and getting editorial assistance from Dario Ciriello . I finished the seventh draft before heading to Honolulu. I also began querying agents about the book. I sent the first query on March 7. On November 9, I signed with Elizabeth Marshea of Ladderbird Literary Agency https://www.ladderbird.com. In all, I queried 80 agents. Ladderbird was number 75. Between March and November, Day Of Infamy went through three more drafts and changed title to Questions Of loyalty. I’m hoping for a sale in 2018.

Red Christmas

An Ava Rome mystery.

Speaking of title changes, I changed the title of IFHC, a short story that had appeared in the Shamus Sampler II anthology, to Red Christmas, put a new cover on it, and published it on Kindle as a stand-alone. https://www.amazon.com/Red-Christmas-Ava-Rome-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B074PDSTXY/.

Closing out the year, I received notice that my short story, Shaft On Wheels, has been accepted for inclusion in a forthcoming anthology, The Eyes Of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken. It will be published next year to coincide with Bouchercon in Dallas. Shaft On Wheels introduces a new character, Colt Colton, a Texas private eye. Colt is a former Dallas PD officer and former bull rider who was injured by a bull and is now confined to a wheelchair. I’m planning on several more Colt stories.

Reading

9DACE35D-E3FF-4EBA-89F7-45684EE273FDThe first book of the year (or perhaps the last book of 2016) was a Christmas gift. Impounded, by Linda Gordon and Gary Okihiro. Impounded is a set of essays and photos by Dorothea Lange of the Japanese concentration camps during World War II. Lange is best know for her photo essays of the Depression. She was commissioned by the War Department to photograph the camps in a propaganda effort to show that the internees were being well treated. Instead, she captured much of the emotion and unfairness of the experience. As a result, her photos were impounded and only allowed to be made public a few years ago.Since my book, Questions of Loyalty, deals with the same history, I found the book to be moving and enlightening.

A book which I acquired early In the year but have not read is The Cooperstown Symposium On Baseball And American Culture: 2013-2014. I purchased it on Kindle while doing research for Questions Of Loyalty. I wanted more information on baseball in the Japanese concentration camps and the book contains an essay on the topic. The essay might have more than I want to know. In looking at the index. I was able to determine that the author discusses baseball at Tule Lake, the camp that figures prominently in my story. Moreover, the author is named Osaki, which is the name of an important character in Questions Of Loyalty. I closed the ebook and changed my character’s name to Miyazaki because I don’t want to be telling Osaki’s story. I hope to read the essay when Questions of Loyalty is published.

A selection of books I read in 2017.

7FB522F9-0A33-4BBF-B0EF-EAD545B9F518Rusty Puppy, Joe R. Lansdale
Honky Tonk Samurai, Joe R. Lansdale
Devil Red, Joe R. Lansdale
Coco Butternut, Joe R. Lansdale
Dead Aim, Joe R. Lansdale
Hyenas, Joe R. Lansdale
Hap and Leonard Ride Again, Joe R. Lansdale
(Note: since we had two long flight two and from Hawaii, and many more inter island flights, plus a lot of beach time, I downloaded all the Lansdale books I hadn’t read for the hawaii trip)
The Gods Of Guilt, Michael Connelly
The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, Michael Connelly
The Late Show, Michael ConnellyD2CA747A-0ABE-4232-AFB5-1FCF49497AD1
World Gone By, Dennis Lehane
The Promise, Robert Crais
Not A Drill, Lee Child
Night School, Lee Child
Small Wars, Lee Child
A Wanted Man, Lee Child
The Fever, Megan Abbott
Hawke’s Prey, Reavis Z. Wortham
Bucky F___ing Dent, David Duchovny
Dying For A Taste, Leslie Karst
Land Sharks, Katharine Nohr
Honolulu Hottie, Terry Ambrose
The Rainbow Connection, Laurie Hannan875764F0-99CC-41A2-B83B-D22EFC7AFC6C
The Lady From Zagreb, Phillip Kerr

Recently acquired, but not finished:

The Obama Inheritance, 15 stories of conspiracy edited by Gary Phillips
A Chant of Love and Lamentation, Brian Reeves
The Kona Shuffle, Tom Bradley, Jr.

I also have some non-fiction, which I won’t list here. Most are books to help with my research or my writing. Several of the books on writing are by James Scot Bell, whose books every fiction writer should have.

Sad News

435FD5D3-6C52-41D7-80A2-334C4D3DFDF9The mystery world is very saddened at the passing of Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone series. Ms. Grafton was a talented writer who created a revolution in literature and, especially the world of detective fiction, with the publication of A Is For Alibi. She, along with P. D. James, Sara Paretsky, and Marcia Muller created the modern, hard-boiled, female private eye and opened the way for many female and male writers. Prior to Grafton, James, Paretsky, and Muller, there were female private eyes, but they were written by men, and mostly continued male stereotypes of women. Grafton, along with the others, gave us realistically drawn women facing realistic challenges, and often having to overcome stereotypes and prejudice. She was also instrumental in the formation of Sisters In Crime, an international organization that worked to encourage women writers and to fight for equality in reviews and remuneration with male writers.I was fortunate to meet Sue Grafton several times at various Bouchercons. She was a delightful and gracious lady. We are all diminished by her death. Her latest book in the famous alphabet series was Y Is For Yesterday. Sue Grafton was adamant that her books not be translated into movies or television, and that the series not be ghost written. Kinsey Milhone’s 25th adventure was her last.

 

Hope 2018 is better.

 

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Aloha Friday didn’t make an appearance yesterday because she was busy with Christmas shopping. Six hours, to be exact. So I promised to tell you the number of books in our Christmas tree.

Drum roll please: Ta da da da—159 books.

Here’s what’s happening in the Islands at Christmas.

7BDFD7C5-0228-4148-8B18-F0D2B0F7F3DCDecember 6, the fifty-foot pine in front of Honolulu Hale was lit up and will remain lit until January 2,

Santa arrives early in Honolulu. He showed up at Waikiki beach on December 9 in an outrigger canoe.

6A6B5A14-5281-4D6C-ACC7-9A3A3CB5D771What do people do on Christmas? In Kailua, they are enjoying the beach and the surf.

Singing Mele Kalikimaka and the 12 Pidgin Days of Christmas.

 

 

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Twelve Days of Christmas

Pidgin lyrics by Eaton Bob Magoon, Jr., Edward Kenny, Gordon N. Phelps

Number one day of Christmas My tutu gave to me

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah two day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah three day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 3 dried squid

2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah four day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 4 flower leis,

3 dried squid

2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah five day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 5 big fat pigs

4 flower leis

3 dried squid,

2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah six day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 6 hula lessons,

(continue 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah seven day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

7 shrimps a swimming

(continue 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah eight day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

8 ukuleles,

(continue 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah nine day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

9 pounds of poi

(continue 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah ten day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

10 cans of beer

(continue 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah eleven day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

11 missionaries

(continue 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Numbah twelve day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

12 televisions

(continue 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree

 

Time to get out the uke and practice.

BB292925-6284-4D76-A019-9C6A34E17254Christmas is around the corner. You’ve gotta know “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Get the tabs here: https://ukutabs.com/m/mariah-carey/all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you need some traditional melodies, here is the Ukulele Christmas Songbook: http://www.ukuke.co.uk/Ukulele%20Christmas%20Song%20Book.pdf

Let it Snow!

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Texas Author Bill Crider

Many of you are already acquainted with Bill Crider and his work. If you are not, you should be. Bill is a writer’s writer. He not only writes stories that are worth reading over and over for enjoyment and inspiration, but he is knowledgeable about nearly all aspects of genre fiction, especially mystery, western, science fiction, and horror. Bill is a contributor to many lists such as Rara-Avis He has been a fixture at many conventions, especially Bouchercon, Aggiecon, and many others. Most importantly, Bill has been a helpful and encouraging voice for beginning writers and a friend and advocate for established writers throughout the United States.

I first met Bill at a mystery workshop in Chicago about 1991 or 1992. He was a featured speaker and I was an unpublished nobody, but he was friendly, gracious and encouraging. At that time, I was a member of Brazos Writers and was on a committee to develop a writing workshop. I asked Bill if he would take part and he generously agreed, even though, as a small organization, we couldn’t offer much in remuneration.

Over the years, I encountered Bill at many conventions and communicated with him often by email. At Conmisterio in Austin, I shared a panel with Bill. The topic had to do with books and authors from our youth. I mentioned reading the Saint series by Leslie Charteris. Sometime later in the convention, Bill gave me a paperback of Saint stories he had found at a used bookstore that day and thought of me.

When The Splintered Paddle was published in 2014, Bill was kind enough to give me a pre-publication review it and write a blurb for it.

Those of you who have followed Bill’s blog, know that he is ill with cancer and has recently entered hospice care. For all of us who know him, it is truly sad news. There is not a kinder, gently, more knowledgeable person in the literary scene. On Friday, December 15, Patricia Abbott devoted a post of Friday’s Forgotten Books to Bill. Friends and followers of Bill contributed their thoughts and reviews of his work. You can read the testament to Bill here: https://pattinase.blogspot.com/2017/12/bill-crider-day-on-ffb-december-15-2017.html

Aloha Bill Crider!

Holiday Giveaway!

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Christmas Book Tree

Yesterday, Mary Fran and I put up our tree, shown here. How many books make up the tree? If you think you know, send me an email at mark@marktroyauthor.com. The person who comes closest will receive an audiobook (Audible) of The Splintered Paddle. Send your guess by midnight, Thursday, December 21. I will make the announcement on December 22. You can be over or under. Closest wins. Hint: The stack has 39 levels.

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