Welcome to Dee's Pad

My life as a writer, and as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet the Obitch Queen


What is the working title of your book?
The Obitch Queen

Where did the idea come from for this book?

I was the Obitch Queen when I worked at a small newspaper in OH. One of my jobs was to take the obituaries and the kids I worked with tagged me with the title. Then the morticians began referring me by that name. I dug out some notes I took while working there a million years ago and decided to write the book.

What genre does your book fall under?

Woman’s Fiction with a lot of mystery

How long did it take to write the first draft?

Really, I don’t remember.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?

Sandra Bullock for Ellagrace.  Someone older but with the personality of Blake Shelton for Gary.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

It wasn’t a pretty day when Ellagrace Gosdin received the news her husband died in the arms of the town prostitute, and she was determined to get revenge.
Will it be self published or represented by an agency?

If I don’t sell it or have an agent  by March, I’ll try to self publish. Right now two agents have partials and an editor has the full.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

One day I was thinking of all the kooky characters I actually worked with at the newspaper and decided I could pull from them and from my notes to write a book. I use to refer to the town in Ohio where I worked as the town of the dead and the dying. 

Many years ago my husband was waiting while getting a lube job on his car, and a man sitting there was from a neighboring town and he used that phrase. Funny!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really don’t know. I read lots and lots of books, but nothing I can compare with mine.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

An older woman who is left destitute, had to find a job, and meets her high school sweetheart at a party, drags him with her to a friend’s house where they find a man dead in the friend's  kitchen, the friend tied up like a Christmas turkey in a closet, then the friend is upset that her good knife is in his chest and pulls it out, holding it when the police arrive. There are other dead bodies found, like the dead man sitting on the friend’s porch at a later date, posed with a cig in mouth and a note saying they wasted him because he sold them bogus blow, which they later learned was her husband’s ashes and they apologized. A sexy ex-boyfriend she’s determined not to become involved with after her lousy marriage, but how can she make herself not get involved?

The characters are as loony as many people I’ve met over the years, the ones I loved to hang out with, the ones we all love because they are fun to be with.

Oh, Diane notes that I write about dysfunctional families. Are there really families who aren’t dysfunctionals? I thought that was today’s norm!

Welcome to my world.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

I'm a hoarder

Hoarding or not
Dee Gatrell ©

I never thought of myself as a hoarder until recently. I was looking through pictures to find some to send to a few cousins who wanted pictures of their parents. That’s when I discovered that I have thousands of pictures. They start from the time I was a few months old up to now.

Cousin Vicki wanted pictures of her dad. He was three years older than me and was my uncle. He passed away probably 10 years ago. Those who go early in the family mostly were smokers and drinkers, it’s a long family tradition.

It seems I broke that tradition. Instead I think my bad habit is hoarding.

In addition to all those pictures, I was cleaning out my dad’s old cedar chest and discovered, possibly hundreds of letters. They are letters from nearly every family member, including an aunt who died forty-some years ago. When email was new, I started saving them, too, but now don’t. Thankfully, email is saving me space in my closets. 

I hate to admit this, but I think I have large cans and a chest filled with letters in the attic. I don’t go to the attic, so they’ll be there until I croak and my children will be complaining about my addiction.

In addition to family letters, I discovered letters from people I worked with at Superior Court in Indiana about 30 years ago. I also discovered a certificate for profession paralegal secretary or something like that. The court house was different to work at. Gabe, the probation officer, was fun to be around. The lawyers that came to the office were funny and enjoyed telling us stories. The one Judge from Indianapolis was hot and we all drooled over him. Or maybe it was me doing the drooling. Shhh, don’t tell my hubby! Anyhow, I loved listening to his stories about the folks he had to deal with. When Gabe wrote she filled me in on what was going on at the court house, the people who worked there and the cases. I wish we hadn't lost contact.

Sometimes we were sent into the creepy attic to get files. It was said there were ghosts up there. I just know it scared the heck out of my when I had to go there. Spooky!

Other letters were from my Aunt Mildred who would often write from the hospital telling me that was her vacation spot. She was funny. And my dad often spoke about “your dear sweet mother” and how he was cleaning the cupboards, doing the house cleaning and babying her. 

I’ve decided one day I’m going to actually go through all those letters. Who knows? I may get writing material from them. We had a male friend Larry had been in the military with who wrote stuff about his dates that I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted us to know.  He married three times. I still stay in touch with wife #1 and his kids. Wife #2 was a whack job and wife #3 sounded more intelligent, but I’ll just leave it there. The friend told me before he married wife #2 and 3 they were told they had to write me letters. I didn’t know this was a criteria for their marriage or I would’ve told him what I really thought. #2 reminded me of someone I knew and I would never have suggested he marry her. #3 did seem smarter, but there were red flags there, too. Of course, he was an alcoholic, so he had red flags, too.

I can always pick out something that came from my Aunt Martha. She was 5 years older than me and also died right after Uncle Donnie. She loved to underline words on a card. Slash, slash, slash—that was Martha. I still miss her.

Now it’s time to finish cleaning the mess off my bed and wonder what I’ll do with the rest of the mess. 

We all have to have our own addictions, right?

So what’s yours?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Have you Ever Milked a Cow?

Have you ever milked a cow? How about ride a horse that took naps?
Dee Gatrell ©

When I was a teenager my parents bought a 70-acre farm in Minerva, OH. I had been raised in the city of Canton until the age of nine when we moved to the village of East Canton. So at the age of 14, moving to the country wasn’t my cup of tea.

Eventually, my parents bought pigs, who managed to break out of their area often. Pigs are pretty smart and probably figured out why they were there. Then they got turkeys who were put on the top floor of the garage. They couldn’t stay outside. Turkeys aren’t overly bright and can drown in the rain. I have to admit, my cousin’s aunt and uncle had a farm with very mean turkeys that ran free. I wished they would’ve drowned. They used to chase us kids to bite us. 

And of course there were the chickens who ran free--until some of one of our dogs killed them. What fun to see a yard full of dead chickens. They got rid of my dog. I love dogs and cats and preferred the chickens go and the dogs stay.

Then my city parents decided we should get a cow to provide us with milk. Did I mention they took in foster kids and the house was generally filled?

I didn’t care for the chickens, turkeys or pigs, so I opted to learn how to milk the cow. I pulled out the little stool that I saw the others sit on when they milked the cow. How hard could it be to milk the thing? She was a sweet old cow, as far as cows go. I remember talking to the cow whose name was Bessie. I reached for her utters and nothing came out. I tried several more times. I guess she got disgusted with me as she decided to lay down and take a nap. I tried my best to coax her to get up. But no way would she allow me to milk her.

I finally gave up and let my foster brother take over. Of course he snickered once the cow stood up for him and let him milk her.

That ended my affection for the cow.

Until my parents got a calf named Candy. She was cute and I could pet her, and she grew into a pretty brown and white cow. My Aunt Mildred wasn’t too happy that I named her Candy. I never knew if she was joking or not, but she swore that’s what she wanted to name her baby. My cousin Mary Alice is thankful she wasn’t named Candy.

And then one day Candy disappeared while I was in school. My parents said they took her to their friend’s farm in exchange for meat, and Candy would be happy to run around with all their other cows. Okay, I could deal with that. Until a year later when my mother the liar told me we ate Candy. She also told me a rabbit I ate was chicken. She wasn’t a trust worthy mother.

Then there was the neighbor boy who had a horse. He brought it to our farm and said he’d take me for a horse ride, which sounded fun. We trotted about a mile and suddenly the horse laid down. What was it with me and animals lying down? I was a skinny girl back then, so it wasn’t my weight. And he was a skinny boy. But I was worried my 102 pounds was too much for the horse and I had hurt him. A week later my neighbor boy learned his horse was having heart attacks.

From then on I mostly did the housework chores and occasionally got to drive the tractor during hay season. But I longed for the city.

I didn’t live in the city again until I was married with kids. Then I longed for the country.

Teenage kids aren’t easy to please. I used to tell my parents if I died I wanted them to bury me where I could see city lights. 

And later what did I want? The country sounded great.

Ellagrace's dead husband

Interview with Dave  for The Obitch Queen Novel

Author: Dave tell me why you cheated on Ellagrace after all those years of marriage?

Dave: She bored me. She was fun when were first married. Then the  kids came along and took up most of her time. As they got older we spent more time at the country club. It was like Ellagrace became a stepferd wife—she was one them—except I don’t think she cheated on me like the other wives did.

Author: She did stick by me throughout all my cheating on her and my business deals, that I’ll give her. But by then the love was gone. She simply stayed married to me for the same reason I stayed her. It was convenient.

Author: So why did you take up with Mary Mayberry?

Dave: he shrugs. I knew her from high school. She was wild and we had a fling back then. I accidently ran into her at a bachelor party for one of my clients. They had strippers and she was one of them. She suggested we get together for a good time. I was ready. Ellagrace and I hadn’t slept together for a few years. She was always too tired and I was not interested and so it goes. I was ready to have some fun.

Author: How long had you been seeing her before you died?

Dave: I don’t know, a few years I guess. 

Author: Where you seeing other women, too?

Dave: A few. Nothing serious. Then Mary, who owned her own escort service, asked if I would be interested in buying into her business. I was losing money in my business and  she assured me I’d be making good money with her. All I had to do was bring her some new clients, men I knew. It was safe she assured me. After all, she had some big politician clients.

Author: Who were they?
Dave: The mayor, a few policemen, a senator. Some of the men at the country club liked the idea of having a pretty young thing on their arm when they attended functions. Afterwards, they had a pretty young mistress to follow up their nights. At first Mary paid me well for the new customers. Then about 6 months ago the money got less and less. She said she lost some clients. I knew business was bad for everyone. I had learned the bank was foreclosing on my investment business. She suggested I take out a mortgage on my house, which was paid off. I told her Ellagrace would never allow that. She told me not to worry, she’d take care of things.

Author: And did she?

Dave: Yes, she did. She forged Ellagrace’s name on the documents. Her cousin owned the mortgage company. Then she insisted I invest more into her business. I did, but had a hard time sleeping at night. I knew what I did was wrong. She gave me some drugs to help me sleep. I later learned they were addictive. I had to pay for them. When all the money was gone, she said she didn’t need me anymore.

Meanwhile, I had let her keep her business at an old farm house I had bought with my money. I lied and told her I had rented it from a cousin. She didn’t know I had a small business on the back or the property and had a man getting the honey and selling it for me. She was terrified of bugs and snakes and I told her the property was filled with them and not to go beyond the house.

Author: Dave, who killed you?

Dave: I suspected Mary of putting something into my drinks or maybe food. I lost weight, I felt like hell and she kept telling me if I’d take my vitamins she gave me I’d get well. I did. Then one night she insisted on having sex with me. She gave me a Viagra, or so she said. We didn’t get very far when I had terrific chest pains and my heart stopped. I watched her stare at me. A man came into the room and they talked. She had my money, he said, and it was time to get out of dodge and to go onto their next venture—selling babies.

Author: Who was the man?

Dave:  Shady.

Author: Shady? But he’s dead now, too.

Dave: laugh. No, he’s not dead. What I heard is he and Mary were having plastic surgery, changed their names and buying a house in North FL and then setting up a so-called adoption agency—or selling babies. Some of the girls who worked in the escort service got knocked up and don’t want to keep their babies. Mary assured them they’d get paid and she’ll find good homes for the babies.

Author: What about the airplane he fell out of? They said he died.

Dave:  And what did Melzie say? He was a coward and would never jump. That’s true. He got some poor smuck who wanted to skydive take his place in the plane.  The police were told it was Shady. They didn’t like Shady—he was being investigated for bilking people out of their money and was about to be arrested. The parachute not opening saved them the trouble of having to arrest him. Case closed.

Author: But why would someone break into his house and kill the coach?

Dave: Because Shady forgot to get his book with all the names of those men who used the escort service and all the housewives who made extra money that way. He couldn’t remember where in the house he hid it. As for the coach, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Author: Who killed the coach:

Dave: I’m not sure. I think Shady has an inside with someone at the police department who he pays well to help him.

Author: Do you know who is making those phone calls to Melzie?

Dave: Again he laughs. Yes. Shady has been taking voice lessons to learn to change his voice like the actors do. He thinks Melzie is stupid and he is enjoying these games. He’s not as smart as he thinks he is, though.

Author: Is Ellagrace in danger?

Dave: I hope not, but she is nosy and may find herself in a pickle. I hope her boyfriend can keep her safe. I don’t want to see her harmed. I did enough damage to her.

Author: Do you have any advice on how to catch Shady and Mary Mayberry?

Dave: No. I hope the PI catches him. But I have a feeling Mary Mayberry will get her comeuppance. Shady probably  has someone else waiting for him.

Author: RIP