Get Your FREE Copy of Death of a Saturday When Momma calls, Kadence answers, even on what was supposed to be a lazy Saturday with her boyfriend Terrence. Saturday is canceled because of death as once again Kadence turns amateur sleuth. Sister Hattie, a member of Momma's church, has confessed to killing her husband, Blind Willie. Since Willie beat Hattie on a regular basis, it's easy enough to understand why she'd kill him, but would she confess to a murder she hadn't committed?
Kadence's interactions with her family are based on my own experiences growing up in an African-American family with southern roots. One time I met my mom at my aunt's house in Arkansas for what I thought would be a restful weekend of chatting and eating. My aunt could burn as in cook really well. Soon as I walked in the door, before I could even put my suitcase down, my aunt said, "You're driving us to Mississippi." Being well past the age of consent at the time and after having already worked a full day on top of a four hour drive from Texas, there could only be one response. "When we leaving?" That's what happens when you're voluntold. No matter how badly Kadence wants her lazy Saturday, she can throw that off her mind.
Can A Brother From Another Planet Find Love? Homer is an alien from the planet Bronzeville. A week before Christmas in a small West Virginia town, he’s running final tests on the XM-14, a lifelike robot designed to save trapped miners. All he wants is to finish XM-14 and return to his planet. Jasmine is a firefighter in that small West Virginia town. She's led an unremarkable life until this full page ad ran on Black Friday: Whatever you want. Whenever you want. For however long you want. Build-a-Mate. Available this Christmas. Homer didn't know his technology had been co-opted to develop Build a Mate. Until the ad ran, Jasmine didn't know that XM-14, aka Build a Mate, looked exactly like her. So it's understandable why Jasmine burst into Homer’s office and demanded her face back. Not so understandable is how Jasmine's face ended up on XM-14 in the first place and how a quest to right this wrong might lead to a love that spans the galaxy.
I love classic Star Trek and utilized its philosophy of inclusion in the development of Homer's, (my hero's) back story. My United Federation of Planets is the planet Bronzeville, a world with no crime, no poverty, and a 200 year lifespan. They've eradicated many of the issues we struggle with by harnessing the gifts of their entire citizenry--a citizenry drawn from across the galaxy. Like Star Trek's Mr. Spock, Homer is intellectually brilliant on Bronzeville, yet socially naive on earth especially when it comes to affairs of the heart.
Can a man who values beauty above all fall for an ugly duckling? In a family filled with happily ever afters, ugly duckling Addie has been jilted for the last time. There is no one for her, so why keep looking? The Love Doctor orchestrates love twenty-two weeks a year on cable. Sure, happily ever afters are a crock, but the fantasy played out in slow motion with breathless declarations from beautiful people generates huge ratings and profits. Pulling off his latest venture, The Ugly Duckling and The Frog Prince, will establish him as the undisputed king of reality TV. Instead of the usual beauty queens, he’ll show a “real” woman finding love live on the air. Addie would be the perfect contestant. Only one problem, and it’s a big one, she won’t have anything to do with the show or him. Desperate to convince Addie to do the show, the Love Doctor hides his identity and joins her on a Caribbean cruise. Through his pursuit of the perfect contestant, will he discover that what Addie’s really perfect for is him?
The thing about love, in order for it to work you have to be willing to give your all. The other thing about love, it takes two, so there's a fair chance that at least once in your life you'll give your heart to someone who doesn't want it or doesn't deserve it. That's the situation Addie finds herself in. Brokenhearted, she's resigned to never finding love not realizing that sometimes when you least expect it love finds you.
Hard to believe, but the first reality dating show hit the airwaves 53 years ago. Very different from today's shows with their exotic destinations and hot tub antics, The Dating Game consisted of a man or woman interviewing three potential suitors from behind a wall. At the interview's end, a "lucky" suitor would be chosen to go on a real date. One of The Dating Game's contestants was 14 year old Michael Jackson. It takes confidence to put your heart on the line in front of the whole world. A confidence Addie does not possess. Her deepest desire is to find real love, but there's no way she'd share that with the world, or would she?
I know how it feels to be the "laughingstock of the galaxy." When I was in the sixth grade, Momma enrolled me in the neighborhood drama program where I was cast as one of the three kings in the Christmas play. Unbeknownst to me, the part included singing a solo in front of everyone in the known galaxy, at least everyone in my known galaxy. I wanted to quit, but Momma said that because I had committed to do the play I couldn't back out. The Lord blessed me with a lot of talents. Singing was not one of them. My trembling voice drew pained looks from the parents and howls of laughter from the kids. I got through it though without running off the stage or throwing up. When writing this passage, I drew on that pain.
Every family has traditions. Opening one present on Christmas Eve. Having the youngest pray at Thanksgiving. Eating homemade waffles on Easter morning. Traditions help bring families together. Until they don't. What happens if a long cherished family tradition becomes too painful for you to continue? Addie's about to find out.
She wanted a reconciliation. She got a murder. After arriving in the Caribbean to try and reconcile with her ex, Kadence MacBride finds herself in the midst of another murder. No moonlit nights. No brush of tropical breezes against her skin, and no time to bemoan her status as a "dead body" magnet. When her ex emerges as the prime suspect, they team up to clear his name. They conduct their investigation in the midst of what the tourist bureau deems civil unrest, but plain folks call riots. With no phone, no lights and no motor car, they're more stranded than Gilligan. On the run, stripped of their tourist status, the real murderer is closing in. Looks like the only way they’ll get off the island will be in a pine box.
Most of us are optimists at heart. We believe that no matter how badly we've screwed up, given enough time and mea culpas we can make things right. For the most part, that's true until it isn't. Despite coming to Terrence, hat in hand, accepting all responsibility for the breakup, willing to do whatever it takes to win him back, Kadence's world implodes with three little words from Terrence: "She's not lying."
Scots poet Robert Burns said, "the best laid plans o' mice an' men gang aft agley" Ain't that the truth. No matter how careful the plan, there's always something lurking that can screw it all up. Screwing up plans is a hallmark of fiction. One of my writing instructors said, put your character in a tree and then throw rocks at them. The woman on the other side of Terrence's door and what she represents is more than a rock. She's a boulder hurtling towards Kadence. What will Kadence do? That's the rest of the story.
As a young marketing manager, I had a bright red power suit. I'm a winter so red is my color. It fit me to a T and had big shoulder pads like Alexis Carrington on Dynasty. Don't judge. It was the eighties after all. The point is clothes can absolutely impact how you carry yourself. I was thinking of my red power suit when I wrote this section. After messing up beyond the telling of it, Kadence's outfit is giving her courage to face her boyfriend Terrence. She's convinced Terrence will be so focused on what she's wearing, he'll forget what she's done. Maybe she doesn't know Terrence as well as she thinks she does.
Have a boss you'd happily kill? Somebody beat her to it. Amateur sleuth was never part of Kadence MacBride’s career plan. Neither was murder suspect. Between unearthing Civil Rights era secrets someone wants to stay buried and fending off a cop driven by expediency, not truth, Kadence may end up trading her red power suit for an orange jumpsuit.
The college students who helped fuel the Civil Rights movement in the '60s are now in their seventies. Some like Jesse Jackson rose to leadership in the struggle. Others like Congressman John Lewis pursued equality through the political arena and some became captains of industry like Kadence's boss, Doug. For over fifty years, he's touted his Civil Rights cred conveniently leaving out some inconvenient truths. Fronting is a dangerous thing. What's done in the dark always comes to the light.
Dressed in our Sunday best, we were lined up by height. Boys in the first row sitting cross-legged on the ground. Girls seated behind them. Tallest kids stood in the back. On command we said cheese, and the school photographer snapped our picture. Invariably, some kid would cross their eyes or stick out their tongue, but for the most part, everyone gave their best smiles in pictures destined for the mantle or family album. Photographs freeze a moment in time and capture the way we were. The pictures on Doug's wall represent his best self and seed a path to his undoing.
I was a huge American Idol fan. Although I loved the performances, watching the artist's fate announced live on TV for all to see could be tough especially when my favorite didn't make it through. For many of them, they'd worked their whole lives for this one moment. As tough as it is for me to watch, I can't imagine how tough it is for the artists. Except, I can. As a writer, imagining is my job. Like the artists on American Idol, Kadence's fate is being announced on stage for all her "peers" to see. That was what was in my mind when I wrote this passage.
Even in the few minutes preceding what should be her greatest career achievement, thoughts of her nemesis, Winston, are never far away. In the words of that well known philosopher Muddy Waters, "You gotta take the bitter with the sweet." Unbeknownst to Kadence, she'll take a boatload of bitter in Death of an Idiot Boss.
If you've ever worked in a large building, you know that nothing stays secret for long. Whether the atrium or the lunchroom, everyone knows where to go to get the dirt.
People often ask if my characters are me. For the most part, they're not. However, like mine, Kadence's parents grew up in the Jim Crow South, so I've imbued her with the understanding that she's been given opportunities her parents could only dream of. Along with those opportunities come responsibilities. Kadence feels the full weight of her parent's sacrifices as she prepares to open that symbolic door. The feeling that she's standing on the shoulders of giants, those who paved the way, informs her actions.
At times our emotions get the best of us, and we struggle to suppress our baser urges. For Kadence, counting backwards in Latin helps at least some of the time.
Spend any time at all in corporate America and you'll see them. Folks promoted far above their skill set because of who, not what, they know. In this passage, Kadence expresses her frustration at being expected to coddle yet another empty suit.
The stories of her parents' struggles in the Jim Crow south propelled Kadence MacBride to take full advantage of the opportunities civil rights afforded her. All her hard work is about to pay off when death gets in the way.
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