We’re so pleased to welcome Nicole Kimberling today to help us celebrate our 5th Blogiversary. Nicole comes to us wearing several different hats–author, editor, and publisher–and she’s also offering a teaser from the upcoming release in the final book of the Bellingham Mystery series as well as a great giveaway, so enjoy and good luck.
Both Sides Now
When people ask me what I do for a living I often hesitate before answering. Should I tell them I’m a novelist or an editor? A small publisher? A quasi-retired line cook and recreational caterer?
Normally I go with “novelist” because it’s simplest and sounds the most romantic. Novelists in films are always extremely intelligent and somehow wildly wealthy (that’s the magic of the silver screen, I guess.) But an enormous amount of my time and creative energy goes into projects for our publishing company Blind Eye Books as well.
So I often encounter the weird situation of sending out pages of edits to an author on the very same day that I’m receiving edits from my own editors.
It’s hard to work up a righteous indignation about receiving editorial feedback on my own stuff after having just written a comment like, “Too Many Eyeballs,” on another author’s MS. Still, I’ve tried. I’ve even successfully achieved occasional ire at having my many grammatical errors pointed out. How could there be so many? Why can’t I just stop using the word “just”?
And then there appearances like this one where I wonder: who am I supposed to be repping right now? Nicole Kimberling, author of The Bellingham Mysteries? Or Nicole Kimberling editor of Dal Maclean’s Bitter Legacy and Ginn Hale’s Maze-Born Trouble? (Both available from Blind Eye Books right this very minute!)
Well, one great thing about Lisa and The Novel Approach is that she doesn’t make me choose.
That’s why I’m giving away both. In order to celebrate the January 10 release of the sixth and final installment of The Bellingham Mysteries—called Pentimento Blues—I’m giving away a complete digital boxed set of the first 5 stories in that series.
In addition to that, I’m giving three readers a chance to each win one Blind Eye Ebook of their choice. That’s any book in our whole catalog.
And for those of you wondering what Peter and Nick will be getting up to in Pentimento Blues, here’s the blurb and an exclusive excerpt:
Now that small town reporter, Peter Fontaine has gotten hitched to the man of his dreams he thought his days of solving crimes were over. But after a decades-old secret is revealed, a dead body is found and Peter’s husband Nick falls under suspicion, Peter must harness his power of ultimate nosiness to find one last killer.
As Peter cycled the winding road to work that morning, he’d noticed there had been another brush fire on the verge—another side effect of unending summer sun. The acrid tang of charred reed grass still hung in the air. The record-breaking heat wave this summer had left his beloved Evergreen State tinder-dry, yellow, and intermittently bursting into flames.
The haze of smoke from numerous forest fires now hung over Bellingham, the City of Subdued Excitement, coloring the sunset electric tangerine and impairing the breathing of the town’s asthmatics.
The downtown alleys stank of stale piss and sweet garbage.
It had to rain soon.
It just had to.
He ended his journey in downtown Bellingham, dismounting at the Hamster offices. He checked his phone and noticed that his editor, Doug, had texted him during his ride, which was suspicious.
As an editor, Doug ranked among the most callous and insensitive, blithely killing his darlings, run-ons, and clever asides without remorse. But as long as Peter met his deadlines, Doug didn’t sweat small stuff like tardiness or the occasional unexplained absence. After long association, he expected both from Peter.
So the text must be a warning. Doug wanted him to know something before he entered the Hamster office. With great trepidation Peter tapped his phone screen and read the following:
Some guy named Samuel Powers is waiting for you. He dresses like a douche.
After removing his helmet and mounting the stairs to the second floor, Peter stepped through the door to the large, open-plan office and caught sight of his visitor for himself. The man lounging in Peter’s uncomfortable guest chair was slim, dark-haired, and in his late-thirties to early-forties.
He plainly hailed from a more cosmopolitan locale.
To Peter, Samuel Powers was an excellent example of how weird New York style looks on people who are not physically in New York at the time. He wore a V-neck tee with a too-small blazer, cropped chinos, and polished brown loafers with no socks. His bare, tanned ankles dared the world to question his well-examined casualness. He would have looked amazing if he’d been walking through Central Park, holding some kind of whey-enriched smoothie. But sitting in the main offices of the Hamster, surrounded by mismatched office furniture, he just looked like he’d been beamed there from a cooler future—the victim of a science-fiction transporter accident.
At the same time, he looked vaguely familiar. But that might have been because he looked like every other handsome, stylish guy from New York.
“I’m sorry I kept you waiting.” Peter extended his hand, and Sam shook it with exactly the right amount of manly pressure and eye contact familiar enough that Peter felt certain that this couldn’t be their first meeting. He considered attempting to fake it—go in for a hug, or air-kiss even, just to take it to the next level—but decided against it. It was far too hot to hug, and he’d never been a kissy guy. “I’m sorry, but have we met before?”
Sam pulled a wide, perfectly toothed smile and said, “I came to your wedding three years ago.”
Now it all fell into place. Sam had attended their wedding as Nick’s agent, Donna’s, date.
The wedding itself had been such a blur—not just because he’d been excited and stressed by the first mingling of his and Nick’s respective families but because one of their guests had attempted to murder Nick. Lesser details of the occasion, like the names of their non-murdering guests, had largely slipped through the cracks of Peter’s memory.
“I’m so sorry.” Peter felt a line of red creeping up the back of his neck.
“Please sit down.”
“It’s all right. I don’t think we spoke much beyond the congratulations.” Sam seated himself and then leaned in, elbows on Peter’s none-too-clean desk. “So the reason I’m here is that I’m working on a book and I was hoping I might convince you to help me. It’s about the Werks Collective.”
Peter ran down a list of every collective, commune, and co-op he could recall operating in greater Whatcom County, but nothing rang a bell and he said so.
“It’s the artists’ collective that Walter de Kamp was part of in New York.”
At the mention of that name Peter’s naturally ebullient heart cooled to a dull simmer.
Of course Sam wanted to talk about Walter de Kamp, Nick’s first lover—the ghost who just wouldn’t stay down. Every time Peter thought he and Nick had finally broken free of the specter, he rose up to complicate their lives, bringing with him secrets and lies and old history.
“I’m afraid I can’t help you,” Peter said. “I never met the man. And before you even ask, Nick won’t be interviewed about him at all. Ever. Period.”
“Oh, I wasn’t hoping to interview Mr. Olson.” Sam held up his hands as if to show himself innocent of such notions. “I only hoped to have a closer look at a few of the paintings that you two have at your house. I’m specifically interested in the blue landscape in the dining room. It is such an amazing piece. Ever since I saw it three years ago it’s been on my mind.”
“Haunting you?” Peter asked. He couldn’t help it.
“In a way yes,” Sam said, apparently in complete seriousness. “I would be so grateful if you would just let me have another look at it.”
Peter weighed the request. Although it would annoy Nick to have someone in the house, maybe if Sam could publicize the painting, there might be enough interest in it that Nick would finally auction the thing off.
After that last piece of Walter’s art had gone, Peter could hire an exorcist, and the spirit of Walter could be laid to rest. He could just picture it: a tall, thin man in a priest’s collar standing before his house, the Castle at Wildcat Cove, eyes pressed closed, whispering in Latin…
For an instant, Peter nearly succumbed to his long-standing bad habit of writing the scene out in his head, but Sam had already gathered up his things and started for the door.
Continued in Pentimento Blues, out January 10 from Loose Id.