Guest Blog by Kim McMahill: Series Fiction

I would like to thank Bonnie for hosting me once again on her blog. I last visited her blog in June of 2019 and discussed the third installment in the Risky Research Series, A Foundation of Fear, as well as when a writer should end a series. The best part of series fiction is that it gives the reader the opportunity to really get to know the characters on a personal level, to see the recurring protagonists and antagonists progress emotionally, evolving into better or worse people, and sometimes we even see them grow old. And, eventually all series must come to an end.

In the fourth installment of the series, A Measure of Madness, which released on April 9, 2021, FBI agent Devyn Nash’s pursuit of a deadly organization heats up, and the action takes us south of the border…way south! In this novel Coterie, a deadly organization that has been manipulating the diet and nutrition industries, starts to unravel exposing the truth behind the organization’s inception and the commitment level of its remaining members, leaving some questioning if they’ve gone too far.

Since my last visit, I do have a better idea on when this series should end. I am currently working on the fifth, and likely final installment of the series, A Recipe for Revenge. But for now, here’s a bit more on the latest novel, A Measure of Madness.

Blurb 

After a Washington, D.C. fundraiser exposes members of Coterie, a deadly organization that has been manipulating the diet and nutrition industries, the pursuit by FBI agent Devyn Nash rachets up. The FBI locates the mastermind behind Coterie in Puerto Rico, but despite help from local agents, their attempt to bring him in results in a shootout that sends Coterie’s members scrambling for cover, Devyn’s partner fighting for his life, and Devyn more determined than ever to bring them to justice. Her decision to pursue the head of Coterie to Brazil puts her job and her relationship with Wyoming Sheriff, Gage Harris, in jeopardy, but she is unwilling to allow those responsible for so much death to live out their lives in paradise.

Excerpt

There was nothing she wanted more at the moment than to go home and to hear Gage’s voice. At least one of those she could remedy immediately. She retrieved her cell and selected the first contact in her list.

“Hey cowboy, how are you doing?”

“Devyn, where are you? Are you all right?” When he was worried and anxious for information, he always jumped right to the point. It felt good to have someone who cared enough to really worry.

“I’m about forty miles from São Paulo. Gordo has made arrangements to fly me out of Brazil and into Uruguay on a private plane, and I’ll fly home commercial from there.”

“Thank goodness you’re on your way home. How about the second part to my question?”

“Do you want the truth or the candy-coated version.”

“I’m a big boy; lay it on me.”

Other Books in the Series

A Dose of Danger (book #1)

A Taste of Tragedy (book #2)

A Foundation of Fear (book #3)

A Measure of Madness (book #4)

A Formidable Foe (perma-free prequel novelette)

Midnight in Montana (perma-free micro-read)

To learn more about the Risky Research Series or to Download your copy of any of Kim’s novels, visit:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Kim+McMahill&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Kim+McMahill?_requestid=1007373

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Kim+McMahill

About the Author

Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. She has had the opportunity to live in Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa, and Colorado, but has finally returned home to Wyoming. When not writing she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, puzzles, playing games, and spending time with family.

You can find Kim at any of the following:

Blog: http://www.kimmcmahill.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimmcmahill

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimMcMahillAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimmcmahill/

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/849945.Kim_McMahill

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-McMahill/e/B007IK0EJW/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kim-mcmahill

THE ODD OLD COUPLE NEXT DOOR TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER DURING COVID

Have you gotten an appointment for our COVID shots?” asked the Odd Old Man Next Door of his wife.

The OOMND was in no hurry for the vaccinations, but he figured if he didn’t remind his wife, she’d forget entirely.

            The Odd Old Woman Next Door has spaced on the date, but fortunately she’d signed them both up weeks before with their health care provider. “Right as usual,” she answers. “I forget, but I can track it online. We were about number seven thousand, but I can look it up.”

            Shot day arrives, and they set off for the appointment. She’s not looking forward to this, for she remembers a car trip months ago when they wandered around in circles for hours near the city amphitheater, looking for the entry currently hidden by construction zones.

            “Now what in the hell, which way are we allowed to go here?” he’d said as they passed sign after warning sign. Of detours apparently directing traffic in perpetual circles, spirals, dead ends. “God damnit,” he said as he slapped the steering wheel with both hands. ”I’ll try it anyway.”

            Several blocks later, “Which way do we want to go here?” he asked. She had no answer because she lacks even the most primitive sense of direction.

            After another eon, she finally pulled out her smart phone that she’s still learning to use and was able to direct him.

            Today on the way to the clinic, she hopes they’re not ready for a repeat performance. They drive the 30 minutes needed to get to the health facility, not the nearest because that one was too busy, and they couldn’t get in. After reasonable progress, they glide into the parking lot, don their masks, and get their shots. The nurse gives them the record of their procedures on small cards and warns them to take great care of the record. “Bring it back for your second shot.”

            A month later, the OOMND asks his wife, “Do you have your vaccination record handy?” They’re scheduled to get their second today. He has been reminding her about the record daily for a week but today kicked it up to hourly. Fortunately, she’s able to pull it from her wallet immediately.

            He drives carefully. She recalls he seems to drive more carefully by the day. At times, like today when the weather is snowy and icy, she’s glad because she’s terrified of an accident in these conditions. Other times, if they’re late and he’s hyper-careful, the minutes creep by. She’s impatient. She wants to say, turn here, just swing to the left, feeling that foundation of frustration common to wives who have always catered to their husbands, without either of the partners being aware of it.

            No, he can’t, she reminds herself, he hates left-hand turns like the plague, always has avoided them since half-century ago when he caused a massive pileup doing the same. The damage included knocking all his bottom teeth out and breaking his jaw. He’s never admitted this to her, but she guesses that’s the reason for his avoidance of left-hand turns.

            As they exit the highway for the clinic, he mutters, “I hope they’re not working on Grant Street. Well, I guess if they are, they are.” He sighs.

            She’s gotten much more patient on trips like this since she asked her granddaughter to load Kindle and solitaire on the OOWND’s smart phone. She’s tolerant nowadays because she can distract herself with those without worrying about wasting time. Change is difficult at his age, she realizes. One advantage of growing old is you just don’t care about these minor irritations the way you used to.

            As he turns into the parking lot, he says, “This should do the job for me, I think.” She agrees.

TENTING TONIGHT

Tent sites for the homeless crowding the sidewalks of big cities make my skin crawl They appear to be hot beds for rubbish, litter, poor health, and crime.  Many cities fight against the eyesores, passing legislation, carrying out evictions, and tearing down the tents. Denver was one of those where government attempted to outlaw the gatherings and drive the homeless away. If we simply pass a law prohibiting sleeping outside, on sidewalks, under bridges, in doorways, we’ll be rid of the problem.

These ideas remind me of “A Modest Proposal,” in which Jonathan Swift suggested in 1729 fattening poor children of Ireland so they subsequently could be used to feed those wealthier, thereby solving several problems at one. Homeless projects have proven notably ineffective long-term. Yet no other approach is achieving notable success.

Some show promise. Cities like Seattle have approved sites for the homeless to use—set up tents or park motorhomes and cars. San Francisco’s approach during COVID allowed homeless people to voluntarily quarantine in repurposed hotels, which includes providing them with behavioral health support. Now a proposal to transform what remains of certain areas of San Francisco into a mass of sanctioned homeless camps has supporters, in view of the astronomical cost to the city of hotel housing 

Research shows the longer people live unsheltered, the more likely they are to face high barriers to finding and maintaining permanent housing. These barriers can be financial, medical, related to behavioral health, related to a poor rental history or a history in the criminal justice system. So the longer we delay addressing the issue, the bigger it will become. It’s no secret that homelessness has increased during COVID even though a definitive simple answer doesn’t seem to exist yet.

Like San Francisco, Denver is struggling to develop an approach to keep the homeless sheltered to some extent without trashing the environs. We’ve tried outlawing the practice of camping, swooping down to confiscate belongings, conducting cleanups, shifting camps from one area to another.

The neighborhood in which I now live is on the outskirts of the city, and I never see homeless here, unlike my old community. But I drive through central areas where tents and the homeless seem to spread like mushrooms, and I cannot support efforts to eradicate temporary housing. Denver’s tent cities are so important. You can’t close your eyes and pretend the poor and maladjusted aren’t with us. Our tent cities are a constant reminder of unresolved issues, of problems that still exist in the “best of all possible worlds.”

We always want simple answers to complex problems. That’s not ever going to happen. We can just close our eyes, ears and minds to the situation. Or we can use our brains, hearts, and compassion to dig out reasons and keep trying.

THE ODD OLD COUPLE NEXT DOOR THROW THEIR MONEY AROUND

CONTINUING SAGA OF LIFE AFTER SIXTY:           

“Kids today have it so easy,” says the Odd Old Man Next Door to his wife. The couple has just returned from a visit to grandson Conor. Conor, obsessed with computer games, has been longing for an adult laptop for several months, an eternity for him.

            They sit down at the dining table for a cup of coffee. The Odd Old Woman Next Door stirs sugar into her drink, circling the spoon round and round for what seems like hours. She notices the OOMND frown and cast a disapproving look in her direction, so she stops stirring to reach for the box of donut holes and pushes it toward her husband. She knows this will distract him and put him in a better mood.

            He seizes a cinnamon-covered treat to pop in his mouth whole. “His dad’s going to get him the new computer this weekend. Eight hundred dollars! Can you imagine?”

            The OOWND picks up her donut hole with thumb and forefinger and nibbles delicately. “Well, as I understand it, he’s been saving for quite a while. His allowance, his house-plant watering business, the chores he’s done for us.”

            “Eight hundred dollars. When I was young, if I had ten dollars, I thought I was rich. Eight hundred was something that families lived on for a year.”

            “Hardly.”

            The OOMND shakes his head as if to debate the point, so the OOWND hastily amends her statement. “At least very few families had to live on that.”

            “My first bicycle cost thirty dollars. And I rode it for ten years,” says the OOMND. “I’d go around the neighborhood after a snowstorm and shovel neighbors’ sidewalks for fifty cents. Can you believe it?”

            “And my first babysitting jobs were for eighty-five cents an hour,” she answers “I was expected to buy all my own extras with that.”

            “Now a bike easily costs several thousand dollars,” he says. “And to get a haircut for fifteen dollars, I have to go to barber college.”

            “Conor says once he saves up enough money for the laptop, he’s going to throw his money around,” she says. “I wonder what he thinks that means?

            “I can just see him with a jarful of coins, tossing it in the air, and laughing as it rains down. Trying to catch them. Batting them everywhere.”

            “Or taking a stack of dollar bills to hide all over the house. Under cushions, in the cat’s climbing tower” She sips her coffee and ponders. “Say, I bet we could throw our money around,” the OOWND says.

            He chuckles. “You already do that. Every time you see someone on the corner asking for change, you pass him a five.”

            “Well, it makes me feel good. These days lots of people have trouble making ends meet. What about you? Whenever I turn around, you’re buying a new mystery.”

            “I don’t spend nearly as much as you do on going out for breakfasts. According to the blanks in our budget, you laid out fifteen thousand on breakfasts last year.”

            “That’s an exaggeration. It includes our weekly dinners out.”

            “Still, a significant figure.”

            The OOWND sighs. “After talking about food, now I’m hungry.”

            He pushes the donut holes in her direction. “Here. Have another.”

            She holds her palm up. “No way. Each of those has about two hundred calories.”

            The OOMND stretches in his chair. “The way I see it, as regards Conor, the important thing is the same as it always has been. He worked for his money and what he buys. He values it A major life lesson for a nine-year-old. And he’s having fun.”

            “Us, too,” the OOWND answers. “We get money, we throw it around, and we have fun. We throw it around, but we don’t owe anyone anything.”

            “What would the neighbors think if they saw us flinging bills and coins up in the air in the front yard? Would they run to grab some?”

            “Who cares?” says the OOMND. “That’s one of the good qualities of growing old. Not worrying about people’s opinions.”

            “You’re right” his wife agrees.

            “So I guess Conor’s not so different from us,” says the OOMND.

            “Guess not.” She reaches for her husband’s hand and squeezes it.

THE ODD OLD COUPLE NEXT DOOR IMPROVE THEIR HOA, a continuing saga

The Odd Old Man Next Door stands at his second-floor bedroom window, peering out at the alley. Today, his neighbors in the nearby condos rolled their purple, green and black wheeled barrels out to the alley for collection, where the containers stand at attention in perfect rows. However, something’s still off. The OOMND fumes, “Today is not trash day. This week contained a city holiday, so all schedules are one day later. Can’t they get that through their thick skulls?”

            Downstairs, the Odd Old Woman Next Door hears his mutters. Ever-helpful she yells up the stairs, “Why don’t we write a flyer about this, and you can distribute them door to door. If people followed your suggestion, the alley would look much nicer and clear of the debris that collects when the wind blows.”

            “Great idea,” says the OOMND. “If you’ll write and print some, I pass them out.”

            “If you’d learn how to use the computer and printer,” snaps the OOWND back, “you could do all that yourself.”

            He thunders downstairs, thinning gray hair waving around his head like a halo. “But then we couldn’t work on this together.”

            How could she dispute that? She thinks he’s sooooo sweet for wanting them to be together.

            The next week he’s ready early for his project. In the dark house the windows show only the black of night outside when he crawls out of bed to drag on his regular outfit: gray sweatpants, navy blue sweatshirt at least twenty-five years old, ragg wool socks pulled up to his knees, sneakers frayed and ripped. His wife remains snuggled under the covers. After all, the temperature is only thirty-seven. She groans and mutters to herself, “Crazy as a coot.”

            As he thumps downstairs, she screeches, “Hang on to the banister,” just as she hears his shoe slip and he recovers his step. He calls to the OOWND, “If you hurry, you can come with me to deliver the flyers.”

            She groans. “Why would I want to?”

            In short order, the OOWND appears in the kitchen, dressed in jogging pants and turtleneck under her paisley bathrobe. “Okay, all set.” She holds a stack of colorful flyers alerting their neighbors to the revised trash collection schedule.

            After they finish their chore, they return home to breakfast. “Did you see Stacie?” the OOWND asks her husband over bran flakes (low cal, to promote regularity).

            “What?” he asks.

            She recalls he can’t hear her unless she repeats at least twice. “Did you see Stacie? Did you see Stacie?”

            “No,” said the old man. “Why?”

            “She was dragging her trash to the alley when she stopped to read the flyer. She shook her head and rolled her eyes, like What are those odd old people bitchin’ about now? Maybe we shouldn’t pass these out.”

            The OOMND snorts and shakes his head. “Bull,” he says. “She’ll appreciate the suggestion when she notices how tidy the alley stays.”

            “I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now.”

            “What? What?”

            The OOWND raises her voice. “I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now. . . I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now.”

            He splutters. “So much the worse for her if she can’t recognize a great idea.”

            “Right as usual,” said the OOWND. She received instructions years before that that is the appropriate answer in these situations from a wife to her husband.

            “Yes, dear,” said the OOMND. He received instructions years before that that is the appropriate answer in these situations from a husband to his wife.

(Perhaps to be continued)

The Odd Old Man Next Door stands at his second-floor bedroom window, peering out at the alley. Today, his neighbors in the nearby condos rolled their purple, green and black wheeled barrels out to the alley for collection, where the containers stand at attention in perfect rows. However, something’s still off. The OOMND fumes, “Today is not trash day. This week contained a city holiday, so all schedules are one day later. Can’t they get that through their thick skulls?”

            Downstairs, the Odd Old Woman Next Door hears his mutters. Ever-helpful she yells up the stairs, “Why don’t we write a flyer about this, and you can distribute them door to door. If people followed your suggestion, the alley would look much nicer and clear of the debris that collects when the wind blows.”

            “Great idea,” says the OOMND. “If you’ll write and print some, I pass them out.”

            “If you’d learn how to use the computer and printer,” snaps the OOWND back, “you could do all that yourself.”

            He thunders downstairs, thinning gray hair waving around his head like a halo. “But then we couldn’t work on this together.”

            How could she dispute that? She thinks he’s sooooo sweet for wanting them to be together.

            The next week he’s ready early for his project. In the dark house the windows show only the black of night outside when he crawls out of bed to drag on his regular outfit: gray sweatpants, navy blue sweatshirt at least twenty-five years old, ragg wool socks pulled up to his knees, sneakers frayed and ripped. His wife remains snuggled under the covers. After all, the temperature is only thirty-seven. She groans and mutters to herself, “Crazy as a coot.”

            As he thumps downstairs, she screeches, “Hang on to the banister,” just as she hears his shoe slip and he recovers his step. He calls to the OOWND, “If you hurry, you can come with me to deliver the flyers.”

            She groans. “Why would I want to?”

            In short order, the OOWND appears in the kitchen, dressed in jogging pants and turtleneck under her paisley bathrobe. “Okay, all set.” She holds a stack of colorful flyers alerting their neighbors to the revised trash collection schedule.

            After they finish their chore, they return home to breakfast. “Did you see Stacie?” the OOWND asks her husband over bran flakes (low cal, to promote regularity).

            “What?” he asks.

            She recalls he can’t hear her unless she repeats at least twice. “Did you see Stacie? Did you see Stacie?”

            “No,” said the old man. “Why?”

            “She was dragging her trash to the alley when she stopped to read the flyer. She shook her head and rolled her eyes, like What are those odd old people bitchin’ about now? Maybe we shouldn’t pass these out.”

            The OOMND snorts and shakes his head. “Bull,” he says. “She’ll appreciate the suggestion when she notices how tidy the alley stays.”

            “I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now.”

            “What? What?”

            The OOWND raises her voice. “I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now. . . I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now.”

            He splutters. “So much the worse for her if she can’t recognize a great idea.”

            “Right as usual,” said the OOWND. She received instructions years before that that is the appropriate answer in these situations from a wife to her husband.

            “Yes, dear,” said the OOMND. He received instructions years before that that is the appropriate answer in these situations from a husband to his wife.

(Perhaps to be continued)

The Odd Old Man Next Door stands at his second-floor bedroom window, peering out at the alley. Today, his neighbors in the nearby condos rolled their purple, green and black wheeled barrels out to the alley for collection, where the containers stand at attention in perfect rows. However, something’s still off. The OOMND fumes, “Today is not trash day. This week contained a city holiday, so all schedules are one day later. Can’t they get that through their thick skulls?”

            Downstairs, the Odd Old Woman Next Door hears his mutters. Ever-helpful she yells up the stairs, “Why don’t we write a flyer about this, and you can distribute them door to door. If people followed your suggestion, the alley would look much nicer and clear of the debris that collects when the wind blows.”

            “Great idea,” says the OOMND. “If you’ll write and print some, I pass them out.”

            “If you’d learn how to use the computer and printer,” snaps the OOWND back, “you could do all that yourself.”

            He thunders downstairs, thinning gray hair waving around his head like a halo. “But then we couldn’t work on this together.”

            How could she dispute that? She thinks he’s sooooo sweet for wanting them to be together.

            The next week he’s ready early for his project. In the dark house the windows show only the black of night outside when he crawls out of bed to drag on his regular outfit: gray sweatpants, navy blue sweatshirt at least twenty-five years old, ragg wool socks pulled up to his knees, sneakers frayed and ripped. His wife remains snuggled under the covers. After all, the temperature is only thirty-seven. She groans and mutters to herself, “Crazy as a coot.”

            As he thumps downstairs, she screeches, “Hang on to the banister,” just as she hears his shoe slip and he recovers his step. He calls to the OOWND, “If you hurry, you can come with me to deliver the flyers.”

            She groans. “Why would I want to?”

            In short order, the OOWND appears in the kitchen, dressed in jogging pants and turtleneck under her paisley bathrobe. “Okay, all set.” She holds a stack of colorful flyers alerting their neighbors to the revised trash collection schedule.

            After they finish their chore, they return home to breakfast. “Did you see Stacie?” the OOWND asks her husband over bran flakes (low cal, to promote regularity).

            “What?” he asks.

            She recalls he can’t hear her unless she repeats at least twice. “Did you see Stacie? Did you see Stacie?”

            “No,” said the old man. “Why?”

            “She was dragging her trash to the alley when she stopped to read the flyer. She shook her head and rolled her eyes, like What are those odd old people bitchin’ about now? Maybe we shouldn’t pass these out.”

            The OOMND snorts and shakes his head. “Bull,” he says. “She’ll appreciate the suggestion when she notices how tidy the alley stays.”

            “I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now.”

            “What? What?”

            The OOWND raises her voice. “I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now. . . I imagine she’ll just tell her husband what the crazy old people next door are interfering in now.”

            He splutters. “So much the worse for her if she can’t recognize a great idea.”

            “Right as usual,” said the OOWND. She received instructions years before that that is the appropriate answer in these situations from a wife to her husband.

            “Yes, dear,” said the OOMND. He received instructions years before that that is the appropriate answer in these situations from a husband to his wife.

(Perhaps to be continued)