Missing Person Alert

We are asking that this information be shared as much as possible regardless of whether you live near Missouri or not. This is my niece* Brittanie’s mom. The family is very concerned that Angie has been out of touch for 8 days. Angie’s vehicle was found in a conservation area north of Columbia, Missouri on December 31, 2021, the location of the vehicle was not close to where Angie was last seen and had no reason to be in that area. The keys to the vehicle as well as Angie’s cellphone were found inside, but her purse was not (the battery in the cellphone was dead). The vehicle was found in working condition.

If you click the download button below, it will download a clean copy of the flyer you can post on social media. We appreciate your assistance in spreading the word.

*I am not biologically related to Brittanie, any of Brittanie’s siblings, or Angie. I “adopted” Brittanie as my niece because my family has known hers for most of the last two decades and she gave birth to my great nephew Jude (Jude’s father is my biological nephew, but since he is not involved with Brittanie or Jude due to his own choices, I claim Brittanie now instead).

Kansas City

Most people have barely heard of Kansas city (or St. Louis for that matter).  I know because I used to work the Missouri Department of Health and when I would tell them I was in Missouri, they would struggle to come up with cities in my state.  Usually if I told them Kansas City I would get the inevitable question “Wait, isn’t that in Kansas?”

It’s true, part of it is in Kansas.  Just like part of St. Louis is in Illinois.  However, the majority of both cities is in Missouri.  Now, I could have easily placed all my books in St. Louis, it is probably the better known city in Missouri, but…

Kansas City is just a weird place.  It always has been.  For instance, while most of the country dealt with Prohibition after the 18th Amendment was passed, Kansas City just ignored it. The number of bars and saloons that were available to the public outnumbered even larger cities like New York and Chicago.  While speakeasies existed, they were not much of a secret either.  And like New York and Chicago it did develop a mob problem during the 1920s – 1950s, but unlike New York and Chicago, it was dealt with more swiftly and severely.  There was even a massacre in downtown Kansas City when gangsters tried to free Frank Nash from the FBI in the 1930s.

The Church of the Latter Day Saints owns several hundred acres of undeveloped land just north of Kansas City.  Joseph Smith had originally intended to build his utopia in KC, but he had several clashes with Missouri lawmen and civilians who didn’t want it.  He was eventually run off and the land rights have been in dispute since then, which is why it remains undeveloped and the utopia was built in Utah.

It really does have a huge Russian immigrant population and it is a stronghold for the at least one Russian mob family, possibly several more.  It is only one of four cities to ever have someone die of Krokodil in the US, a strange drug popular with Ukrainian drug dealers and Russian drug users that causes necrosis of the tissue at the site of injection that spreads out from there.

There are several paranormal stories that surround Kansas City.  Everything from UFO flaps (as recent as 2015) to demonic possession to the destruction of a building by a poltergeist exists there.  Also, it is said the reason Joseph Smith wanted to build his utopia in KC is because the angel, Meroni, who had shown him where to find the golden tablets, had reappeared to him while he was travelling west and told him to build it in Kansas City and in theory, there is a prophecy involved which supposedly stated that if Smith died before the LSD began building it’s utopia in KC, the land would never be usable… So far, that’s proved to be true (and Smith died in either Iowa or Illinois after being chased out of Missouri).  Furthermore, there have been manifestations of the devil and Jesus Christ in KC, which sounds like the ramblings of a mad man, but considering all the other crap that goes on there, might just be an average day there.

The crime rate is one of the most fluid in the country.  One year, murder might jump by forty percent and the following year it will be down by more than seventy.  However, violent crime has been on the rise for the last decade there.

The Missouri River begins to bisect the state of Missouri in Kansas City.  For some reason, there is an abnormal amount of bodies pulled from the Missouri River in Kansas City regardless of where they went in.   They have pulled bodies out that disappeared in Montana in Kansas City.  Since the river has dams along it far north of KC, you’d think they would find them there, but somehow, they slip through and are recovered in KC.

This has created a slight problem with crime statistics in Kansas City.  The FBI has admitted that they cannot estimate the number of serial killers there because the Missouri River seems to hide a lot of sins.  In terms of per capita, it might be the serial killer capital of the US.  New York and Los Angeles both have more active serial killers, but they also have much larger populations (8 million and 3 million, respectively), whereas Kansas City and surrounding areas only has a population of about 1 million and the estimated number of active serial killers rarely drops below ten (FYI, that’s actually a really high number for any city, the last estimate I heard for NYC was 16, LA 15, Chicago 15, and Seattle 8 – all of which have at least double the population of KC).

However, in a city that imports murder victims via a river, has a mob presence like the Russian mob (which is far more deadly and brutal than the Italian mob or the Irish mob), and has a large, mobile victim pool, finding a serial killer is sort of like looking for a needle in a haystack.  While other large cities have similar problems (Chicago has Lake Michigan, New York has the Hudson River, Los Angeles touches the Pacific Ocean and all of them have organized gangs), it is odd that the FBI and US Marshals both singled out Kansas City as a “problem city” for crime.  The only other cities to get that distinction have been Las Vegas in the 1950s, Los Angeles in the 1960s, New York in the 1930s, Detroit in the 1990s, and Chicago in the last two decades.  I didn’t denote a decade for Kansas City because the US Marshals Service has considered it a “problem city” since the late 1800s.

There is in fact a serial killer that works Interstate 70 that is believed to be a long haul trucker.  Bodies with the same MO have been found in multiple states along that interstate, but surprisingly none have been found in Missouri where I-70 is the second most traveled interstate in the state.  For the last decade, rumors have circulated that the FBI suspects the killer actually lives in Kansas City and that is why there has never been one of his bodies found in the state.

And Kansas City doesn’t just import victims, it seems to import serial killers as well.  At least three captured serial killers have admitted to having victims in Kansas City, even though they never lived there and were just passing through.  One very notorious serial killer eluded to the fact that he once checked the city out.  Another infamous traveller also gave statements that led officials to believe that he did have victims in Kansas City.

The creepy, sordid, and odd history that goes into making Kansas City is why I have placed all my books there.  However, I may do one in St. Louis, since it has it’s own weird history as well…

Support Your Local Bookstore

As an indie author, I feel the need to support my indie bookstores.  People like me have trouble getting into places like Barnes & Nobel for book signings.  We have trouble getting them to carry our books, even in our local store.  However, the indie book stores don’t have that problem.  As a matter of fact, when I went in to talk to Becky with Village Books, she signed me up immediately for an opening in October.  She also signed me up to come talk to her book club – Chick Lit & Chocolate.  Aside from being terrified by this event (honestly, I thought it would take a lot of persuading to get a book signing), I realized how much support they were giving me and all it took was me going to talk to them, in person.

The store carries my books, nicely displayed in a visible location (and right now, there’s a picture of me with an event notification that I will be doing a signing on 25 October 2014 under the books).  She’s even peddled a few of my books to the book club (which just terrifies me even more that I am going to be speaking with them).

However, with the ebook revolution (and remember, I’m a huge fan of this), I realize it’s the indie stores that get hurt.  B&N can change their business model to cope with the change (from what I can tell, they really haven’t embraced this, but they could).  Indie stores can’t.  They sell books, period.

Smashwords distribution has made it possible though for small, indie stores to sell ebooks and earn money off of them.  The Village Books Online Store carries all of my books.  The drawback is that you have to Blio to read them or you have to be willing to read a PDF, but tablets and even iPhones have the Blio app.  And I know you can download PDF books to both the Kindle and the Nook.  Since I read on both my Kindle and my iPhone (one day, I’ll get a table, but that day will be… hmmm, another electronic gadget for me to procrastinate with… not today), I have Blio installed on my iPhone so that I can purchase at least some of my books from Village Books.  Unfortunately, I hate reading PDF books.  So, while I do buy ebooks from the online Village Bookstore, they are limited to being read on my iPhone.

So, support your local book store.  Next time you decide to buy an ebook, check to see if they have an ebook distribution company.  If they don’t, you can always support my local book store heroes and buy from Village Books.  Does that mean you should ditch Amazon and B&N completely?  Nope.  I believe in spreading the money around.  If your book buying budget for the month is $20 and you have a Nook/Kindle and either a tablet or iPhone or like reading PDF books, spend $10 or so at your local bookstore and the rest on books from the store associated your dedicated reader.  After all, there are books available on Amazon and B&N that aren’t available as ebooks from your local store.

And as I said, if you don’t have a local indie store with ebooks available, you are always welcome to support my favorite local indie store.  😉

As He Was Dying…

His heart is working at 19%.  It is enough to survive, as long as he doesn’t do anything strenuous. 

But he’s a laborer.  It’s always strenuous.  Even a 9-5 office job in some plush skyscraper would be strenuous for a man with only 19% heart functionality.  They give him some contraption to wear.  If his heartbeats drop, it will shock him.  A stun gun strapped to his chest to keep him from dying.  

He doesn’t need a stun gun, he needs heart surgery.  How can they turn him away?  A lifesaving operation, aren’t they required by law to perform them regardless of the ability to pay?  

And his life?  What of his life?  He can’t work.  The years he spent honing his craft are worth nothing now.  He is filled with shame and humiliation as he enters the disability office.  He’s always been proud of his strong back, the callouses he earned on his hands, and his work ethic.  They’ve been reduced to a number in an office where he’ll be begging for assistance. 

 The mountains of paperwork and red tape alone are enough to cause heart failure.  They are going to make it an “urgent request” so it should only be six months, maybe more, maybe less, before the disability is approved.  How is he supposed to survive while he waits on the government to decide if he deserves the money he’s been paying in for years in taxes?  No, he isn’t a vet, he tells them, but he’s been working for nearly forty years.  Doesn’t that count for anything?

 More shame as he goes from the disability office to the welfare office.  He needs food.  He applies for food stamps.  The embarrassment makes the pen shake in his hand as he signs his name where the woman behind the desk points.  Dealing with her is about as pleasant as carrying an open barrel of acid while being chased by crocodiles.  

He lies in bed at night and worries.  What will tomorrow bring?  Will there be food on the table?  Will there be heat?  Electricity?  Will he even wake up?  What happens if he doesn’t?  Will his wife and family be able to afford the expenses of his funeral?  The bills that he will leave?  The disability checks that will never come if he dies?

 He isn’t supposed to get stressed.  Stress weakens his heart even more.    It’s an impossible situation.  He can’t become stressed, yet he has every reason to be stressed.  The waiting is killing him. Literally.  He worries over every penny that comes in or goes out of the household budget. 

He’s slowly dying.  The brave face he shows his family is a lie.  He soothes them with his words while he worries.

This is inspired by a true story.  The family has been forced to set up a “FundMe” account to try to pay the monthly bills.

The Midnight Post

Technically, it’s midnight where I am.  So, I’m typing up my post because I’ve been slacking lately.

Theoretically, I’m about to be housebound for a few days.  I live north of I-70 in Missouri and they are expecting ice, snow and relatively crappy weather for a couple of days.  I can drive in the slushy-slick muck, but I prefer not to because not everyone else can.  I learned this the hard way a while back.  The car coming towards me decided that slamming on his brakes was a good idea and slide into the front of my SUV.  Fortunately for me, he was in a small car.  Unfortunately for him, I was in a good sized SUV.  My SUV mostly suffered from paint transfer on the bumper.  His car had to be towed.  

With my anxiety disorder, this creates a strange fracture within me.  I know I can drive in ice and snow, regardless of my car.  I also know that there are times when you just can’t save it, regardless of what you do (this happened to me when I was 16).  But if I’m not on the road, the chances of my screwing up and being unable to save it are nil.  The chances that some other driver will screw up and hit me are just as low.  I prefer it that way.  It isn’t convenient.  It would be one of those things where despite the medications, the anxiety is going to win out.  I’ll keep my butt at home and type until my fingers fall off or something.

Speaking of anxiety, I’ve been finding it more and more problematic in recent weeks.  I have no doubt it has something to do with Christmas, winter, my attempts to schedule book tours and promos, lack of sleep and my strange desire for a Wendy’s bacon mushroom burger…

The Met, Central Park and Willie G.

Another day in The Big Apple draws to a close. It included The Met, Central Park Zoo and a street poet named Willie G.

So far, I have not been mistaken as a native. It might be my slow shuffling gait or my unwillingness to follow New Yorkers into busy intersections while the “Don’t Walk” hand is glaring at me or because I seem permanently lost… For the record, I have navigated foreign cities with greater ease. At any rate, I have yet to be run down by a taxi or attacked by rats. We did see one yesterday, enjoying a swim in a pond in Central Park… A rat, not a taxi… However, taxis are plentiful and it might be sheer determination that keeps them out of the watering holes in Central Park.

Central Park Zoo was underwhelming. The Met was overwhelming. Oh and I found Jacques Torres Chocolate. If we return to the store tomorrow, some chocolate might make it back to Missouri.

I was also approached by Willie G. the Poet of Central Park… self-proclaimed of course, but I’m an indie author… They are much the same thing. Willie was interesting to talk to for several minutes, but I finally purchased his collection for $2 to make him walk on and find another out of towner to sucker into purchasing his poetry. At least I got an interesting bit of New York.

Where (How?) to Start?

After a recurrence of the stomach bug I had in July and the long weekend spent with friends and family, I booted my computer this morning and just started at the screen.

Where to start or how to start my day?  I’m behind on everything.  And honestly, I’d just like to go back to bed for a few more hours because part of this stupid stomach bug is fatigue.  I was exhausted before the weekend started… now, well, I’m way past exhausted.  My brain feels like goo.  My body is screaming at me to go back to bed. I’d like to listen to it.

But I can’t.  Because I have word goals to meet for the week, audiobook auditions to listen to, and a mountain of laundry that needs to be done.

I did take the step to make Tortured Dreams an audiobook.  I have a handful of auditions to listen to and a few emails to sift through about it.  It’s very difficult.  The narrators do not sound like the voices in my head.  Also, if anyone wants to audition, you can check out the offer on ACX.

Mercurial Dreams is in full swing and last week, I fell into a rhythm on it.  I missed my word count goal, but part of that was being sick.  I’m hoping to gain that rhythm back this week.  I feel better, tons better, so I might be able to do some serious damage to the word counts this week.

As for the weekend, it was good.  Friends from Windsor, MO and Kansas City, MO came to the campground.  They went tubing on Mark Twain Lake one day.  The next we toured Hannibal, MO and hung out in the historic town for most of the day.  We even did some things that Jason and I hadn’t done before… which was nice. However, by the time Monday rolled around, we were all ready to go. Needed to be home to get some rest before the return of the week.  Obviously, this didn’t work for me, as I’m still exhausted even though the work week has begun.  But I have high hopes for this week.

What a world, what a world…

This should of course be prefaced with “I’m melting…”, but I’m not, so we will leave it off, at least for today.

My weekend was less than stellar, but I did get birthday flowers from a fellow writer at the novelists’ meeting and that was pretty much the highlight.

My nephew’s bank card has been cloned or some other sinister happening.  Someone has already removed $400+ from his account and still at it.  The strange part, my nephew has his bank card, we checked.  Oddly, one of the charges (to a DQ in Jeff City) was done while he was at our house yesterday afternoon.  I’m sure my nephew hasn’t cloned himself, so the possibility of him being in two cities at once, even though they are only 30 miles apart, is nil.

Which is where it gets weirder, all the charges have been made at stores in JC.  Meaning that it wasn’t someone that stole his card number online and is now on a shopping spree.  I know very little about cloning cards.  I know it can happen, my cousin is some big computer security guru and understands the process, and she has warned me about it in the past.

My goal today is to work on The Dysfunctional Novella that I have in my possession.  I have the cover, the title and everything but the written edits.  I’m hoping to change that today.

But I’m still in an enormous amount of pain.  A small cyst takes three to four days to heal.  This was not a small cyst.  Before it ruptured, I could actually feel it from outside my body and I’m a hefty girl, there are layers of fat to get through.  To be able to feel a cyst on an ovary through my skin is not only creepy, but a very bad sign.  However, it was “stable.”  I’d like to know what idiot came up with that term.  A stable cyst, a stable fracture, a stable tendon tear, these are all things that will heal on their own with minimal complications or no complications.

I will give the doctors and nurses credit, it has swelled to enormous size in the past and always gone down on its own.  Never disappeared or healed completely, but always shrunk back down.  Usually bothering me for only a few weeks.  They call it a “leaky stable cyst.”  I’m guessing it stopped leaking, because this time, it didn’t go down.  I’ll have a follow-up ultrasound in a week or so.  I’m guessing five days to heal.

The problem with abdominal pain is that no matter what caused it, you tend to walk slowly and hunched over.  I feel like Quasimodo.  Going into the library, a woman stopped to joke about knee replacement.  It was funny, I laughed, it hurt, I cried, then I explained it wasn’t my knees, it was an ovarian cyst.  She looked horrified and said her daughter had trouble with them, but when her daughter had a cyst rupture she tended to stay in bed for two or three days.  I understand, but they heal faster if you force yourself to move around.  So I continue the gait of an ancient crone and pray for it to be time for my next pain pill.

Out & About

Saturday night, while Jason, his parents and I were enjoying the truck and tractor pull, one of our friends was being rushed to the ER.  He was stopped and someone rear-ended him.  However, he was driving a motorcycle.  Our friend ended up with a list of injuries.  So, while my ankle bothered me, I wasn’t in near the pain that he was… broken vertebra, broken ribs, broken nose, broken thumb, a serious gash to the head and a black eye.  Just a reminder to watch out for motorcyclists and to live each day…

For the record, the pull was at the Marion County Fair in Palmyra, Missouri.  And it was a great pull.  I even got a story idea out of it.

Sore Ears and Insurance Issues… grrrrr

After making all the changes suggested by the editor, I am now in the “clean up stage” of Elysium Dreams.  Since I have been burned a few times with bad editing, I have decided to “listen” to Elysium Dreams.  It’s a good thing, I’ve already caught one error.

However, listening to the computerized voice read my novel is about as exciting as watching the grass grow.  Also, I couldn’t find my head phones and had to break out the ear buds.  This was fine for the first half of the day.  Not so great during the afternoon or evening.  I had to trade to a different pair around 3 p.m. (mine were borrowed for the evening… long story… for another time).  The replacement pair were bigger and now the inside of one of my ears is sore.  I wish I could find my head phones.  I like them so much better.

Now, I’m going to rant a bit… My SO and I had to take our camper (caravan for all my British readers) in for repairs.  During a wind storm, the slide out frame was bent, effectively breaking it.  It is insured, with Progressive, along with all my SO’s cars… he has 3 of them.

We got the estimate for the damage last week $2600.  Then insurance told us it was impossible for the damage to have been caused during a storm; one there hasn’t been a storm in that area and two if the winds were that high, it would have flipped it over.  Except I had pictures that proved otherwise and actually, there were several wind storms including two tornadoes this spring in that area.

Progressive doesn’t want to pay for the damage.  We think that since we pay them all year for exactly this sort of problem, that they should pay for the damage, less our deductible, of course.  Otherwise, it would make more sense for us to keep the money we pay them year after year and just stick it in an account to draw interest and pay for damage out of that.  In the three years we’ve owned the camper, we’ve paid them that much in payments.

Technically, this doesn’t impact me directly.  I do not have to deal with Progressive or its representatives.  I use a different insurance company for my car and the house.  In the five years I’ve been using them, I’ve had zero problems.

However, indirectly, it is making my life hell.  Every time my SO has to deal with Progressive he gets in a bad mood.  Then he comes home cranky.  And I have to deal with Mr. Cranky-Pants.  If the Progressive adjuster had to live with my SO on those nights, he’d just write the check and call it a day.  But he doesn’t…

This experience is really souring me on Progressive.  Especially since I am already stressed out.  I have a book to publish and publicize.  I have started an exercise routine (that I still hate).  I am missing my weekends away from Columbia because my camper is broken.  My To-Do List is getting longer than my arm.  I am still trying to use the electronic cigarette (which makes me cough when I actually take a drag off of it).  And I don’t do stress very well to begin with… I have an anxiety disorder.  I wonder if they care that they are making my life intolerable?  My guess… No.