Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Snatcher Launches Today!

I am beyond excited to announce the release of The Snatcher, A Moonshine Murder Mystery! You won't want to miss the last in the series.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Parenting in the Pandemic: Episode 2, "The Doom of Zoom"

 If any of you have had the pleasure of meeting my eight-year-old, Elliot, you know that he is a very active boy. My dad likes to compare him to a 1950's boy. If he's not on his bike, he's got his bow and arrow trying to shoot turkeys from our deck. And yes, one time he thought perhaps he could chase away a bear with his bow and arrow. I reminded Braveheart that his dull-tipped arrows probably would just make the bear mad! And give his mother a heart attack!

This same little boy who loves the outdoors, finding mischief and experimenting also doesn't do so great with screens. I've read plenty of examples of how screens affect kids' brains (adults, too by the way), but with older brother, Ethan, I never saw dramatic changes in behavior. Elliot is a different story. The word screen zombie is a real word in our house that we try to avoid. Screen time for Elliot is short and a sweet treat.

So, you can imagine when schooling went remote what that was like for Elliot! Welcome to the doom of Zoom. 

Now, before I go any further with this blog, I want to make something very clear. Teachers, ALL teachers right now and seven months ago, well and forever actually, are amazing. I can not even fathom trying to teach a classroom of second graders. Remotely! Are you kidding me? Yet, that's exactly what our teachers were called to do. Not because they got some pay raise or bonus. I'm pretty sure teachers don't get those, yet they have been asked to accomplish the impossible. And now, those same teachers who rallied in the spring are teaching in-person, risking their lives for our children. They are teaching blended classrooms and remote classrooms. Many of them simultaneously. Have you ever been asked to go ahead and do three jobs AT THE SAME TIME? For the same pay? They are true heroes.

Back to Zoom. We knew pretty quickly that Zoom wasn't going to work for Elliot. We watched as the active boy turned morose, couldn't focus, was having toddler-like meltdowns. This, happening while both my husband and I are remoting into our jobs. A meltdown in the middle of a virtual court hearing is not a good idea!

Once upon a time in 2000, I had gone to college to earn a BA in English Education. No, not early childhood education. But I wasn't a complete dummy on the subject. We made a super hard decision. One that we are not alone in making as thousands of other families across the globe were in our exact situation. We unenrolled Elliot from public school. I jumped on and reviewed the State Standards for second grade and third grade, bought curriculum books and created a schedule. 

I would like to report that it was all sunshine and rainbows. I was the perfect teacher, Elliot the perfect student. But that would be a laughing lie. It was hard. Real hard. I'm still remoting into work, remember? So, trying to keep an eight-year-old on task while Zooming in to my own meetings was sometimes a nightmare. I hate to admit I think I had some of those toddler tantrums myself. And on more than one evening I was ready to quit my job.

But I didn't and something amazing started to happen. I realized that although I operate under a strict schedule, Elliot does not. I created a sticker chart with each subject he needed to complete. We tabbed the pages he needed to do, reviewed those pages together and I let him go. The rule? By the end of the day, all stickers on the chart equals that blessed thirty minutes of screen time. And it's not perfect. We both have good and bad days. He gets stuck, we work through it. But it's amazing how motivated he became to figure out his schoolwork when it was no longer my schedule, but his. I saw him taking ownership of his learning.

As May came to an end, we decided to just keep going with it. It would give him a head start, occupy his summer days and keep him from harassing too many of the wild turkeys. 

And for Ethan? He remoted in to Google Classrooms as an eighth grader. Being the techie kid that he is, he excelled in it. And thank goodness for that! He absolutely rocked it. 

As we rolled into summer, we had some hard decisions, based on the ever-changing facts of COVID. To remote or not to remote, that became the question.

Some hands-on science

Ethan completing a science experiment for school

The favorite class of the day: reading time on the hammock

Friday, October 23, 2020

Parenting in the Pandemic: Episode 1

 So I'm writing this at eleven p.m., which, let's face it has been the new two a.m. for a couple decades now. It could be a really bad idea. I may just delete the whole thing in the morning. But here I am, suffering from a mild flu shot vaccine reaction—yep that's me—and not able to sleep. I'm usually the up-at-five-a.m. person, so tomorrow should be very interesting. Don't judge me for typos.

 You might be wondering why I'm writing about parenting during the pandemic. Isn't this a book news site? Well, yes, yes it is, but let's remember it's two a.m. And like millions of parents out there, the pandemic and what it has done to our lives is always on my mind.

If I was smart, I would have started this episode months ago. Seven to be exact. But, let's be honest, I was just surviving seven months ago. And I'm pretty sure I would have lacked the perspective to see any humor in the situation at the time.

Our family is one of "those". You know, one day it was the last day of school before spring break where I was picking up my second grader from school, lugging home his prized school work (we had to keep it, his best comic strips were written in the margins, after all) and going to my eighth grader’s choir concert, and the next we turned into the crew on Gilligan's Island, where social interaction was a sweet dream and plotting and failing to get off the island our daily routine. Those were the days.

You see, I've got a super rare and super obnoxious auto-immune disease. It's about as predictable as a toddler. One minute everything is fine and then the milk spills. And on no, total melt down. And then, the milk can spill again, and everything is fine. So COVID posed a special risk to our household. 

You know that day back in March? Yah, the last day before spring break. That's the one. You know what I was doing? I was in my office, downloading software to remote in to work from home. I think I mentioned something about being prepared. And as the Finance and Operations Director, I was doing just that. I'm not sure if my coworkers thought I had lost my mind. I think I was scaring them a little, so I went ahead and download that software on their computers, too.

The brain wasn't turned on all the way, I hate to admit it, and only the part of me that was raised Seventh-Day Adventist (look it up, best survivalists on the planet) must have kicked in. All those years of tying knots, identifying edible plants, and making snow shelters was paying off. But I left everything in my office desk. I mean everything. Stamps, pens, chocolate (I really regretting this one later), the emergency kid supplies (I regretted this, too, more than you can know), and walked out the door. 

And for the first week, you know, it was almost exhilarating, like watching one of those zombie apocalypse movies. The world was going nuts, but we, in all our wisdom and toilet paper buying, were fine. I painted the office, we took hikes in the woods, and we ate our "survival" food, consisting of canned foods and macaroni (this is not, I repeat not what we eat). But we are Generation-X, the latchkey kids. Canned and boxed food. We got this. 

I'm not sure what my husband and I thought. That, like a bad movie, it would end, and the lights would flicker on. We would rub our eyes and look around disoriented and then march ourselves back into reality? It must have been, but by day five, the fun was over. News overload was served for breakfast, and the emergency fund at my office, serving our community, was activated. I plugged the kids into left-over "summer school" curriculum books (you know, the ones we always buy and the kids never use) and popped open my 2011, Windows 7 laptop, and we moved into the Twilight Zone. 

It wasn't Gilligan's Island anymore and the bad movie wasn't going to end. We weren't going to get our brains eaten by the COVID zombie, I was going to make sure of that, but the monsters under the bed were just starting to peak their heads out. The layoffs hadn't happened yet (it's spring break, remember), and moms (and dads, too)  across the globe hadn't yet realized that they were going to be logging in to work while simultaneously logging into their child's Zoom classroom. All with faulty internet (thank you, rural Colorado).

It was, as my class of 1999 high school motto stated: "It's not the end. It's not even the beginning of the end. It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." -Winston Churchill


P.S. Help a starving artist, multi-job, homeschooling mom and check out my new release: www.esjameson.com

My little helper, painting the office
Spring Break, 2020

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Knock Over Book Launch AND Moonshine Murder Relaunch is Here!

I am beyond excited to announce the release of The Knock Over a Moonshine Murder mystery! Book launch video below with a link to the book launch page where you can sign up for E.S. Jameson Book News and receive a free digital bookmark.

For the next four days, the new edition of Moonshine Murder is FREE!

The Knock Over Book Launch Page

Friday, July 17, 2020

Having Fun Researching

I've been having fun researching for my new work-in-progress. Research is one of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction. It's so exciting to uncover a new piece of history and I want to share what I've learned with anyone who will listen. Not all of what I research makes its way into my writing. In fact, only a small percentage does. I decided I need to share some of these great pieces here.

The link below is to a Denver 7 News channel clip, captioned, "On the outside, the house may look like any other historic home in the north Denver neighborhood, but inside, the secrets of a gangster's paradise are finally revealed. Jaclyn Allen reports.

If this is your first time back to this site in awhile, you are probably noticing some changes. Moonshine Murder is getting a new look, to be released next month along with the sequel, The Knock Over. Stay tuned for the launch date.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Knock Over - A Sneak Peak for Big Picture High School

 Dear Big Picture High School Students,

As promised, here is a sneak peak of Chapter One of The Knock Over, a Moonshine Murder Sequel. I'm uploading this as an example of the process of writing: its many drafts, stages and faces. This is an early version, intended to demonstrate that.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of your classroom this past month. Thank you!

The Knock Over
E.S. Jameson

Copyright 2019 E.S. Jameson
All rights reserved.

All rights reserved.
Flashlight Fiction
a division of
Paper Trail Publishing
Durango, CO 81301
Published and Printed in the U.S.A.

License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to papertrailpublishing.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. The characters and events in this ebook are fictional and any resemblance to persons, whether living or dead, is strictly coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, scanning to a computer disk, or by any informational storage and retrieval system, without express permission in writing from the publisher.

Chapter One

 It wasn’t going to be an ordinary day. Rusty had plans. He felt them in his pocket now—not entirely round, sharp cut edges yet smooth. The gold cross, about the length of a half dollar, he ran his thumb and forefinger over its smooth surface.
Rusty jingled the necklace in his pocket and couldn’t help but think of her. The red garnets around her neck, her piercing blue eyes looking at him. It wasn’t a diamond ring he had in mind for the proposal. He wanted a matching ring to the garnet necklace, the one given to Lenora by their good friend, Rosa. The necklace that reminded her so of her mother’s. After work, he would take it to the jeweler, have a few of the garnets removed to make a ring, then restring the necklace. She rarely wore it—too special for that. But she often pulled it out of the top dresser drawer in her rented flat and looked at it. He had seen her do it, especially when homesick for her mamma or papa. It was his hope to complete the task before she knew it was missing. And it hadn’t been all that easy to sneak it out of her one-room flat. He had to make run back into the flat on their way out that morning for work with the excuse that he had left his cap on the table. He had, so it wasn’t exactly a lie.
"What are you about, Rusty?" She had asked. He knew by the heat in his cheeks that his complexion matched his hair.
Avoiding her eyes, he shrugged. "Nothing to worry about, just a lost hat and misplaced memory." He gave her his most dashing smile, one arm wrapped around her shoulder, the other hand clenching the necklace in his pocket.
He couldn’t help but smile. Nah, it was a grin, and he didn’t care. He loved that lass. Everyone knew it.
So it was with that smile that he looked up from the teller table when the copper bell rang above the mahogany door of the Citizens State Bank. The green paneled walls and mahogany trim around the windows was intended to express the wealth and security of the bank in its traditional colors, but on a bright autumn day it took a few moments for one’s eyes to adjust to the customer entering through the front door.
“Good Morning. How can I help you folks?” Rusty asked, as he rearranged his ledger, allowing his eyes to turn the black specks in front of him into faces.
Customer interaction was his favorite part of the job. He missed that about running his moonshining business, the customers. It was worth it though. She was worth it. He brought his mind back to the present. He couldn’t daydream about her all day if he intended to keep this job and buy their way out of Silverton.
The smile dropped from his face as his eyes focused on the two men who had entered the lobby of the bank. One was quite tall, taller than Rusty and he was over six foot himself. The man pulled his white fedora from his head and black hair fell forward across his forehead. He slicked it back into place with his hand, his forefinger bearing a large gold ring with a symbol Rusty couldn’t quite make out across the room, but recognized as important nonetheless. He was wearing a brown felt jacket, a dark blue tie. His eyes were midnight black and beady, impassive, like staring into the eyes of an animal—carnal. There were no smiles in those eyes. One eyelid hung low, covering half his pupil, and he sported a thin mustache covering his upper lip. He wasn’t from around here, there was no doubt of that fact.
“Gentlemen,” Rusty said. He shot a glance behind his shoulder seeing if the bank president was sitting in his office. He knew he wasn’t there. He and his son never came in before ten. It was Rusty’s job to open the bank, make the coffee,  pull out cash from the safe in the back for the cash drawer, review the ledgers from the day before.
But the men made him nervous and he had had his share of experience when it came to shady characters.
The dark, tall man, turned to his partner, bushy eyebrows raised in an unanswered question. The other nodded his consent and Rusty’s attention was drawn to the man who had entered second. For the briefest moment, his heart jolted. His palms were suddenly sweaty and his button-up white shirt began to stick to the back of his broad shoulders.
The shorter man’s hair was drifting back along his hairline, but the auburn curls were apparent even after being pressed down from his felt cap. He wore a flannel shirt, tucked in to work trousers. Day laborer for the mill or mines. It was his eyes that were different enough from his, and he was stouter. Not a man to get into a brawl with. Neither of them were.
After the initial shock of the similarities, Rusty was sure it wasn’t him. But boy, it sure could have been. A relative. Sure enough, it had to be a relative.
“Hello Rusty,” the shorter man said as he came around in front of the tall man and sauntered up to the counter.
Rusty, behind the barred counter, still took a half step back as the tall man clicked the front door lock into place.
“Do I know you, sir?”
“Nope, but I know who you are, Rusty O’Donald.” The man pulled a toothpick from his pocket and began picking at his yellowed teeth.
Rusty tilted his head to the side to get a better view of the man by the door. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to unlock that door. This bank is open for business.”
The tall man’s response was a mere raspy whisper, but Rusty heard every word. “We got business with you, boy, that doesn’t need interruption.” It wasn’t a threat exactly, but it sure felt like one.
“You knew my brother,” the man at the counter said, flicking his toothpick toward the corner of the counter where the burnt orange ceramic ashtray sat. “Tony.”
Rusty’s eyes darted between the man at the door and the man at the counter. There was a ringing in his ears and his legs were tingling. Yes. He knew Tony. He wished he didn’t, but he did.
            “How’s Tony?” Rusty asked.
            “In a jam. You see, he owes a debt, but since you and that girl of Dominick’s had him thrown in the can, he is unable to fulfill his obligation.”
            “Well that’s a shame…I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
            “Victor. And this,” he said pointing his finger behind his back, “is Joe.”
            “Well, Victor, I’m sorry to hear about Tony’s troubles, but they ain’t mine.”
            “That’s where you’re wrong.” Joe had come up behind Victor, standing a near foot taller than him, and leaned on the counter. “It is your problem. You see, Tony worked with your old partner, Dominick, right?” Joe studied the clock behind Rusty’s head, never once making direct eye contact. It should have been less nerve racking, but it wasn’t.
            Rusty nodded, and splayed his palms out flat on the counter in front of him. Sweat was soaking through the ledger, green lines smearing with the brown.
            “You see, Tony was going to buy that business from Dominick. He borrowed money from us to do the job.”
            “You know there isn’t any proof that I was involved at all in his arrest,” Rusty tried to keep his voice even. “Hell, Tony getting nailed put us all in jeopardy and lost us all our jobs, should I remind you of that, Victor?”
            “Maybe there isn’t proof of your involvement Rusty, but there is no denying that kid of Dominick’s was working with the feds, and now you and her are a hot item.”
            Rusty clamped his mouth shut. It just became a lot more dangerous in the room, a dynamite stick ready to be lit.
            Victor grinned. “That’s what I thought.”
            Rusty glanced up at Joe. “Who does he owe the money to? Who is ‘us’?”
            “Cosa Nostra.”
            Rusty’s ears began to ring. The room blurred. Cosa Nostra.
These were Trouble Boys. Mafia.
Rusty forced himself to watch the man. His lips moved and a funneled noise reached his ears. It took a moment for Rusty to realize it was the sound of Joe’s voice.
“Like I said to Victor, unfortunate event.” Joe pulled out a cigarette, lit it with a match and tossed the match in the ashtray next to the toothpick. “But the truth of the matter is that I loaned that money to Tony as a favor on behalf of the Carlino brothers up north.” Joe turned his attention from the clock he had been inspecting nearly the whole time and shot a hard look at Rusty. “You know who the Carlino brothers are, yes?”
Rusty nodded. Anybody who was anybody moonshining in the state of Colorado knew who the Carlino brothers were. Pete and Sam, the most notorious bootleggers in Colorado, as far as Rusty was concerned.  Although Joe Roma could be a contender. He wouldn’t of course confuse this Joe for that Joe. Roma was a pint-sized man. He was known for it. Roma was also known to be the giant of the bootlegging underworld in Denver. Truth is, Roma and the Carlinos brothers were the bootleggers in nearly all of the state. Sure a handful of small operations like his and Dominick’s existed, but that was west of the pass. Another time or place, he might have felt a thrill to be in the company of Carlino’s associates.
This man Joe, knowing the Carlino’s personally? Rusty wanted to doubt it. He wanted to believe that Joe was throwing around a name Rusty was sure to know to intimidate him. As if he needed more intimidation as he stood shaking and sweating locked inside the bank with two big Italian mobsters. But the story fit. And now that his mind was drifting to the Carlion’s, Joe did resemble Pete Carlino. Enough to be a cousin, he thought. Of course the Carlino’s were looking for their way into the Southwest part of the state. And it would have made sense why they wanted to knock-off Dominick—he was Tyrolean after all, an Austrian, home country enemy to the Italians, Piedmonts or Sicilians. It didn’t matter.
There was certainly a large amount of respect for the Carlino brothers. But there were equal or larger amount of caution.   
“Tony was our Durango and Silverton contact. I’m here on behalf of Pete. I owe him, said I would take a look into the situation for him.
Pete. He has a thing for explosions, dynamite and such. It’s a bit of an obsession for him, you could say. I’m telling you this so’s you understand that should we not come to an agreement, the underboss is coming in the month. We would hate to see something happen to that girl of Dominick’s.”
 Victor squared his felt cap on his head, readying to leave. “Something like what happened to Peter Dalla.”
Joe flicked his fedora back in place and pushed off the counter where he had been slouching. “Tony owes us $5,000. With interest, you owe Pete $5,500. You got a month.”
The men moved to the door.
“We’ll be checking in on things from time to time,” Joe said. “Make sure you have a plan. Would be a shame to see that air tight girl of Dominick’s messed up.”
Victor snapped the lock back and they existed. Rusty watched as they crossed down Greene Street and out of view.
Rusty’s throat clenched tight. He hands were still splayed across the desk, sticking to the ledger paper. There was a weight in his pocket and for a moment he forgot about the necklace. It seemed now so trivial and yet so center point at the same time. Lenora. Dominick’s daughter. The girl he had fallen in love with despite trying to keep her unaware of her father’s moonshining business.
And who the heck was Peter Dalla? It was meant as a threat from Victor, no doubt, but he didn’t know what it meant. Which made it all the more menacing.
The back door opened and the bank president, came in whistling and hitching up his britches over his large belly.
“Morning, Rusty.”
Rusty cleared his throat and re-stacked the papers on his desk. “Morning, Richard. Nice weekend?”
“Sure, sure, and you?”
“Fine, just fine.”
“Sir, you know of a Peter Dalla?”
Richard snapped his head up from his desk behind Rusty. “Peter Dalla! Why are you asking after that old story? Bad business. Bad business. Damn fools.”
“Who?” Rusty hesitated, uncertain if he wanted the answer.
 “Nothing you want to know about, son.”
The front door bell rang and Rusty whipped his head forward.
Lenora pushed through the doors, her auburn curls swept back into a bun, a few tendrils wisped around her high-set cheeks. She was smiling, and pulled a wrapped sandwich from behind her back.
“I would have thought you to have grabbed your sandwich when you went back in for your hat this morning. It was sitting right next to it.”
Rusty put on his best smile. “Thanks, doll.” 
Doing his best not to check out the window for the two men, he studied Lenora’s laughing eyes, a cobalt blue, reminding him of a lazy summer afternoon.
She plopped the cheese sandwich on the counter and leaned toward him, exactly where Victor had been slouching only moments earlier.
“I promised Sal I would help out with the supper shift. I probably won’t be home until after 10:00. I’m sure to have leftover pie with me though if you want to stop by tomorrow morning?”
“Sounds grand. That works out best for me anyways. Jimmy invited me out tonight.”
Lenora pushed from the counter and smiled. “Well, have a good evening then. We will see you in the morning.”
“Hello Mr. Torinto,” Lenora hollered and waved, as she stood on her tiptoes and peeked over Rusty’s head.”
“Well hello there, doll. I didn’t even hear you come in. Everything going good for you over at Sal’s? She treating you right?” Mr. Torinto had come from behind the counter and stood in the door frame.
“She’s great. Thank you for putting in a good word for me.”
Mr. Torinto waved her away. “Not at all, not at all. Anything from Dominick’s daughter.”
Lenora smiled. “Well, I best be heading over that direction. Have a good day.” Lenora waived and made for the door.
Rusty let out his breathe. He was just sure the men were going to come back in when Lenora was standing right there. He needed to get his head straight, figure out how to get out of this jam. He’d been in jams before, but this one was different. First thing he needed to do was get to the bottom of this Peter Dalla story.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Gift of Writing

Grandma shared a gift, my great grandmother's school copy of Paradise Lost and her composition booklet. The novel is dated 1896, the composition booklet, 1913.

This gift is particularly special because it belonged to Martha Haldeman, the woman portrayed as Lenora on the cover of Moonshine Murder.

A writer herself, Martha wrote eloquently not only in English but also in Old German script, an extinct language. This woman, who I never met, has shared not just her image but her imagination and love of words, a trait she passed down to her daughter, Ruth--my grandma--and to me. I am thankful to Grandma for sharing.