Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guesting Today-- Billie A. Williams

My guest today is mystery/suspense author, Billie A. Williams. Billie and I met when we both were at a publishing house that no longer exists. The demise of the publisher created a lot of frustration for the authors, but the good thing that came of it, at least for me, is all the wonderful friendships I established, like the one with Billie. So, let's give Billie a warm welcome!

Billie will share the first chapter of her soon to be released novel TRACKER, with anyone who asks her a question or posts a comment here today.


Best Selling and Award winning Mystery/Suspense author Billie A Williams is a fiction, non-fiction and poetry author and has won numerous contests for her short/flash fiction stories, essays, and poetry with over two dozen works published. She is published in various magazines such as the literary magazine Thema; Guide, a Magazine for Children, Novel Advice.com, Writing Etc. WritingNow.com, and Women In The Arts newsletter as well as Sister’s in Crime, to list but a few.
Her articles, columns and features have appeared regularly in newspapers. Short stories, Flash fiction, poetry and book reviews have appeared in Mystery Time, True Love Magazine and various anthologies and on line e-zines and web sites. She writes a bi-monthly column titled “Whodunit?” for Mystery Fiction’s Voices in the Dark and is a contributing editor for Writingnow.com a Blueberry Press Newsletter. She also hosts her own writer’s group, Word Mage Writers and Readers as well as The Amberg Writers Group that meets at her home monthly. She is an active blogger; http://printedwords.blogspot.com and http://onewomansgarden.blogspot.com A website for writers is at http://writingwide.com where you can find plenty of tips, tricks and good reads, as well as a current novel in progress serialized in her newsletter, “Printed Words.”
Williams is currently a member of The Wisconsin Regional Writers Association (WRWA) Upper Peninsula Writers Association (UPWA)National Association of Women Writers (NAWW) Sister’s in Crime, Women in the Arts Program, Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. (SCBWI) and Children’s Book Insider, and the Children Writers Coaching Club. Her website www.billiewilliams.com
She lives with her husband and Lady Slipper the Maine Coon Cat she received the day she got her contract for The Pink Lady Slipper bed and breakfast murder mystery from Wings ePress so of course the kitten got the name. Amberg, is home, a small Northern Wisconsin community where the winters are cold and long, but the people are warm and friendly.

****

Money Isn’t Everything,
By Billie A Williams
Chapter
One


Mary March pulled into her parking spot at the Idle A While Nursing Home. The slush and ice of March trying to decide whether to be spring or winter created ruts where, depending on the time of day and the amount of sunshine, ice created a walking hazard or rivers of muddy
water running in the ruts.

Skirting the puddles and ruts when possible, Mary was loaded down with treats for her favorite residents, her lunch bag, assignment book and her purse. Tanner Irish, that would be Doctor Tanner Irish to the public, whizzed by her in his not-meant-to-be-driven-in-the-winter blazing yellow Fiat Spider 124.

She thanked her lucky stars it was still ice this early in the day and not slush. Jerk, why did he think his money could make every woman fall at his feet? This one wasn’t about to. Money isn’t everything. Arms full, she returned his honk and jaunty salute with a nod. Nothing’s changed.
She went in the employee entrance of Idle A While, the halls were buzzing as day shift prepared to replace night shift. The exchange reminded her of Girl Scout Camp and the competition between the cottages for who was the ‘best’ that day.

The Charge Nurse of the night time CNAs and the Day Charge Nurse would meet with the others in the employee lounge to exchange information on the patients under their care before the day crew began their rounds. Mary wasn‘t looking forward to exchanging anything with Jayde Blarney. In her opinion Jayde was a mistake, but then she wasn‘t on the hiring committee. Jayde‘s credentials must have been good enough, but Mary was uncomfortable with her. She‘d felt bullied by the woman in their few encounters. Maybe she was just testing the water. Everyone deserves a chance.


Mary deposited her stuff in her locker, then she moved toward the employee lounge. Amid “welcome back” and “gee we missed you” from her crew, and glares from Jayde and her chief witch mate Dolly Sweetig and second in command Ebony Jane, Mary felt the stress of the previous weeks return in one fell swoop. The three had their heads together and that unnerved Mary. She felt there was trouble brewing but she wasn‘t sure what.


Edith Erhoes clapped her hands to get everyone‘s attention. “Welcome back, Mary, we‘re relieved to have one more pair of helping hands.”


Edith had been Director of Nurses since Columbus came over, Mary was sure. “Thank you, nice to be back.” Though the statement felt like a lie amidst the glares of Jayde and her team, she really did enjoy her job.


“We have gained residents, five to be exact, and lost three since you went on vacation,” Edith continued in her all business drill sergeant manner.


Mary couldn‘t help but wonder who they lost. Life, especially at the nursing home, was so fragile. It got harder and harder to watch people she had become attached to slip away. One day at a time, she told herself. She gave them all she could while they were at Idle A While. There was nothing else she could do.


The meeting broke up quickly. The night crew was anxious to break free for the day. The smell of breakfast carts arriving drew her attention to the task at hand, making sure those that could were showered and brought to the dining room. Those that needed help eating were assigned CNAs or orderlies to help them.


Mary noticed Audrey wasn‘t eating. She was slumped over on her chair. She laid her hand on Audrey‘s shoulder. Audrey winced and pulled away, pain and fear darkening her faded olive green eyes. “Are you okay, Audrey?”


Tears slid down her furrowed cheeks and her gaze darted around the room like a hunted rabbit. She didn‘t speak. Mary crouched down beside her and wrapped her arm around her shoulders, Audrey pulled away. She put her hands over Audrey‘s. “What happened, Audrey? Did you fall?”
This was so unlike the exuberant and talkative Audrey. Mary became worried. “Here, let me help you with this. Do you want jelly on your toast?” Audrey ate in silence, but at least she ate. She acted like she hadn‘t eaten in days. Mary made a note to have Dr. Irish look at her today. “I‘m going to have Doctor Irish come look in on you today. You be sure to tell him where you hurt, okay?”


Audrey offered a weak smile and patted Mary‘s arm. But, she didn‘t speak.
As Mary made her rounds she noticed more lethargy than normal. Something was definitely wrong here—or was she attaching flawed memories to the usually lively dining room that was only truth in her mind. Memory was such a fragile thing. And it had a tendency to be more about a hoped for truth then reality.


Mary couldn‘t wait to talk to her crew and find out what was going on. One of the CNAs called her to come look at a resident. Raw open sores on the woman‘s buttocks told her hygiene practices had been skipped more than once. She knew Maude was a difficult person. She swung at her caregiver, swore, and threatened all manner of repercussion at whoever was near. She was an angry woman. Part of it Mary knew was because her children forcefully removed her from her home. Now that Idle A While allowed pets, she thought Maude had become more docile. However, the cat that had adopted her was nowhere to be seen.


“We‘re going to have to get you into a bath tub to sit awhile, Maude,” Mary advised ready to be hit verbally and physically with all this used-to-be sheriff wanted to throw at her. Instead Maude merely blinked her eyes, and turned her head away.


The CNA shrugged. “This is the first I was assigned to her.”


“It‘s not your fault. I‘ll have a couple of the orderlies get her into the bath. You can comb her hair and do her nails whiles she sits. Make her feel pampered.” Mary felt her stomach churn. Maude might be a handful, even malicious, but her fighting spirit kept her going. This made Mary‘s heart ache. Clearly, she‘d been neglected.

“When she comes back use some A & D ointment on those sores. Be sure you wear gloves. Then don‘t diaper her. Let her be exposed to the air with just a puddle pad and sheet.” The CNA nodded. Mary made notes on her chart and went to the desk to page the orderlies. Anger was building up inside her. There were cases that flared every day. A fall, a misstep, resulting in a bruise, a patient would be bedridden and prone to bed sores, no matter how careful and well-cared for, but what Mary was seeing was not ordinary. She needed to talk to Edith Erhoes. As Director of Nurses she should be made aware, if she wasn‘t already. How could she not be, Mary thought as she slipped down the hall between housekeeping carts, wheel chairs with residents and CNAs going to and from rooms, appointments or lounges.


She knocked on Edith‘s office door. Edith motioned her to come in as she finished up a phone call. She jotted a name on a piece of paper and handed it to Mary.


“Her family…nothing but trouble. Always complaining. Wish they‘d just take her out of here. I may request they do just that if this keeps up.”


Mary glanced down at the name. The woman hadn‘t been there very long. Mary liked her. She always seemed congenial. She participated in all scheduled activities. “I‘ll check on her right away. What‘s the complaint?”


“Oh, some gibberish about rough treatment again. Same as last week.”


“There is something going on.” Mary cautiously approached the subject. Why should she be worried about reporting suspected abuse, those were state rules, the state demanded suspected abuse be reported immediately to a supervisor.

Edith‘s eyes flashed open wide and then narrowed into angry slits. “What do you mean?” It came across as more an accusation then a question in Mary‘s mind.


Mary listed the problems she had seen already that morning.


Edith fluttered her fingers as if Mary were a bothersome gnat she was trying to dispose of. “You‘ve been on vacation. After a while away from here you forget how most of these people deteriorate by the day. They go from ambulatory and lucid to bed ridden and dementia faster than you realize.”


“I really don‘t believe it‘s that.” Mary pressed on. “When a resident exhibits fear when you place a hand on their shoulder that signals a different kind of—“


Edith cut her off. “I haven‘t got time to deal with your fantasies. After you are back for a few days we‘ll speak again. Don‘t be stirring up trouble where there is none. Now, I have real work to do.”


Mary was angry. A scuffle down the corridor drew her attention and she hurried to intercede. Billy James‘ arms flailed the air. He was refusing to be taken anywhere. He demanded to be returned to his room. “Good morning, Billy. What seems to be the problem?”


“Ain‘t goin‘ nowhere. I‘m stayin‘ in my room where it‘s safe,” he said. His warm cocoa eyes wide with excitement.


It was then Mary noticed his bruised eye. “Who you been fighting with?” She bent to examine the eye.


Billy jerked back. “Ain‘t fightin‘ nobody.” He clutched his lap robe up to his chin and turned away.


“When did this happen, how?” She stood up straight directing her questions to the CNA, a new girl since Mary had worked last. The girl looked frightened, she let her shoulders rise to her ears and then dropped them, her eyes not meeting Mary‘s as she did so.


“I—I really don‘t know. I was assigned to take him to physical therapy.”


“If you don‘t do your physical therapy, you‘ll turn into a vegetable and have to spend all your time in bed.” Mary motioned to the girl to move on to Pearl‘s room and help her. “I‘ll take care of him,” she said softly.


The girl nearly ran down the hall away from her.


“I‘ll take you down today just to prove you are perfectly safe, okay?”


“If that‘s the case, I don‘t want no more shiners from the likes of her.”


“Who do you mean, Billy?”


“That other woman.” anger edged his raised voice.


“You mean the little gal who was just helping you?” Mary thought the tiny young woman who she had relieved of the burden of Billy couldn‘t give a mosquito a black eye, or shiner as Billy‘s colorful language explained it.


“Naw, not her—that Amazon woman.”


Mary searched her mind for a CNA whose stature would qualify her as Billy‘s Amazon woman. Most of the CNA‘s were her size, medium height and build. None of them were very imposing figures.


Dropping Billy off at physical therapy and asking them to treat him with kid gloves today, Mary made her way back up to the main floor nurse‘s station.

Idle A While seemed to have taken on a hostile and disjointed persona, if a place can have a personality. The warm friendly family atmosphere had evaporated in the three weeks she was gone on vacation. Janet had assumed her duties as her second in command. Very competent and motivated. She had been given three days off as compensation for the extra duty. Mary wouldn‘t see her until Wednesday. Already, Mary sensed an urgent need to get Janet‘s take on what she sensed in the atmosphere at Idle A While.

12 comments:

Word Crafter said...

Hi Lizzie,
Thanks so much for doing this. Your blog is GREAT I'm proud to be here. Storms and tornados kept me from being here last night or early today - but I'll be back to answer questions or talk to anyone who comments and there are prizes for those who do.
Billie

Pat said...

Hi Lizzie and Billie,
What a nice site and it's good to see Billie here. Billie has been a friend of mine, also, for a long time as well as a mentor for many of us. For those of you who haven't read some of Billie's mysteries, you don't know what you are missing!

Pat Cerise
www.patmccainworld.com

Lizzie said...

She is a great friend to a lot of us, Pat! And yes, her mysteries are terrific.

Sylvia Kaye Hamilton said...

Hi Lizzie and Billie,
Cool website, nice and clear and in good taste. And Billie, oh my Billie, how cool you are too. LOL You've come a long way, sweetie and I so am proud of you. Keep them books a-comin` for my collection.

Word Crafter said...

Hi Pat, Pee Wee, Lizzie--you gals are just too kind, and make me blush {grin}. Thanks for stopping by - I love Lizzie's site she is a master at whatever she touches for sure.
Make it a great day!
Billie

Fran Orenstein said...

I'm so glad you put an excerpt from the book on your website. You are a good writer, Billie, I want to skip to the end and find out how it concludes. How did you come up with this unique setting for a mystery?
Fran
www.franorenstein.weebly.com

Elena Dorothy Bowman said...

Hi, Billie!

Nice to see that even the tornadoes and storms couldn't keep you away. Nice blog Lizzie...you did a great job for Billie. Here's hoping the weather will calm down and we can expect some nice dry and cool days.

Best Wishes to All!

Elena

Janice said...

Hi, Lizzie and Billie,

Billie I'll trade you the tornadoes and thunderstorms for the monsoons if you'd like. But I'm sure you would rather have neither.

It was nice of you to host Billie today and give us a look at your world, Lizzie. Your blog is looking good.

Write on.

Janice Kaat
surchitout@yahoo.com

Word Crafter said...

How nice of you Fran, and Elena, Your kind comments are appreciated. And Janice you can keep the monsoons we got those as well - over 14 inches of rain this month. LOL But thank you as well for stopping by to comment and enjoy Lizzie's blog. Everyone here will get the first chapter of Tracker as Lizzie said.
Thanks one and all
Billie

Elaine Cantrell said...

Hi, Billie and Lizzie,

Great post. Billie, Money Isn't Everything sounds great, and I can't wait to read more about Tracker.

Renee said...

This is an awesome review, sorry so late but super slammed at work and this was my first free minute. Honored to have met you and visit with Billie on here... Hugs Renee

Word Crafter said...

Thanks Elaine and Rene - and Rene better late than never applies here = ) Thank you both for your kind words and your visit - As promised everyone who visited or tried to, will get a copy of the first chapter of Tracker - just shout me an email and I'll send it off if you tried and couldn't get through as Ron and Gayle did. You guys are counted.
I'll announce more winners and prizes as soon as the last blog is visited.
Billie