Books are the gateway to imagination

Books are the gateway to imagination
Morgan welcomes you to her personal blog

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Yesterday the threat of Hurricane Irene dominated a good portion of the news and that continues today. Yesterday was August 26---my birthday.

Roll back the hands of time to August 25, 1949. I was a very unhappy 9-year-old living in Miami, Florida. My parents had moved to Miami from Chicago several months before and I was still struggling to make friends and covercome the image of the smart Yankee who wore shoes to school, wore thick glasses and couldn't play sports.

Although I wasn't Baptist, I'd made some friends by joining the Baptist Bible Class after school. I told my mom I'd joined an after-school social club. My 10th birthday was approaching and Mom said I could have a big party and I was really excited as plans were made, invitations handed out. Almost all of my new friends said they would come and at last I was a happy camper.

The hurricane warnings were broadcast on the radio on the afternoon of August 25th. There were few little black and white TVs back then. Instead of setting out party decorations, I helped to tie garbage cans to palm trees while my dad secured the storm shutters. As a kid I didn't understand the impact of what was about to hit--only that my long-awaited party, my acceptance into the clique of Southern kids who finally admitted the Yankee, might never be.

On the morning o August 26 the hurricane struck. We lived in a fourplex, and our neighbor next door was a wonderful "earth mother" from the hills of Georgia. I still remember her name 62 years later--Agnes Shattler. She had three kids. A daughter Ida Mae, my age, and her little brothers Johnny and Donny. She knew how devastated I was and offered to make a chocolate birthday cake and have me sleep over as a subsitute for my gala party. Agnes could make a cake like no one else. It was a handful of this and a smidgen of that...never a recipe, but every slice was a piece of heaven.

Mom, dad and my younger sister Phyllice went to the Shattler's apartment for the makeshift party, while the strong winds of Hurricane Two whistled and torrential rain battered the building. It didn't even have a proper name like Hurricane Cleo, the one that hit on August 26, 1948. After the cake, they went home and I huddled with Agnes' kids chattering about the sleepover.

About 2:00 in the morning I awoke on fire. I crept into the bedroom Agnes and her husband John shared and said I didn't feel good. She took my temperature and gasped. It was 104. "We got to take you back to your Mama. She's got to find a way to get a doctor." Lights flickered as Agnes led me across the hall between the apartments and banged on their door. I swayed, on the brink of passing out just as my dad opened the door. He took one look at me and paled. I could barely focus, I was in such misery.

We hadn't lived in Miami long enough to establish a relationship with a doctor who would venture out in the lull of a hurricane to make a house call and Agnes and John were just making ends meet and didn't have a regular doctor. However, Dad's uncle was an influential jeweler on Miami Beach  and Uncle Sam had that kind of juice. The phones worked, and my dad called him. Sure enough Uncle Sam performed magic and called back to say his family doctor had agreed to venture across the causeway during the lull as a special favor to him. Again, as a child I didn't know what an amazing thing my great uncle had pulled off.

Mom kept me in a cool tub, while she and Agnes alternated soaking with alcohol rubs in an attempt to lower my temperature. By first light there was a lull in the ferocious storm and lo and behold a very handsome doctor appeared at our door. He'd made it across from Miami Beach and told my mom he wouldn't have done this for many people, but loved my great uncle. He produced a syringe from his black bag, gave me shots of God-knows-what, and then he had to stay with us until the storm blew over and it was safe for him to leave.

I was pretty sick for a few days, but my parents let me go outside to see coconuts strewn all over the broad front lawn along with other damage the storm ravaged on Miami. The following week, we had an "after-birthday" party and Agnes baked one of her special cakes for me.

That's why I'll never forget my 10th birthday. The image I've had all these years is fright, loving parents who calmed me, the kindness of a caring next-door neighbor and a great uncle who convinced a doctor to brave a hurricane to treat his great niece.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The interesting language of politics

A thought occurred to me this morning while watching Michelle Bachman on "Meet the Press." The woman is an expert at sidestepping a question. Over and over David Gregory asked whether as President she would appoint people to to the Supreme Court and other political jobs if they were gay, aethesists or a variety of other attributes that differ from her publicly documented position.

Over and over she answered with the same statement designed to make her appear objective. She alluded to basing choices on qualifications, the person and track record. That sounded fine, but the last qualification said it all. She added to each response, "and, if they agree with my views." Hmmm. Sounds pretty much like a President who would stand firm with "my way or the highway." What do you think?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


SIN CITY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!   Former vaudeville magicians, 80-year-old Flossie and Sterling Silver, try to unravel the mystery surrounding their grandson's new girlfriend Mara the Magnificent, a magician who performs at the Glitz Palace with a white peacock act. Silver Sister twins Goldie and Godvia try to convince their mother and uncle to just enjoy Las Vegas and let them be the sleuths. But Flossie and Sterling enjoy putting on disguises and working "undercover." It almost earns them a couple pieces of real estate six feet under instead.

The Kindle edition of VANISHING ACT IN VEGAS was just released on Amazon and the paperback will follow soon. has a great presale price on the paperback and they will release it August 28.


After lots of hard work, WRITERS' TRICKS OF THE TRADE (the book)  is finally available as a Kindle on Amazon. Look for the eBook and paperback to pop up on most online bookseller sites nationally and internationally by the end of the month.  The paperback will also be available for order at your favorite local bookstore.

My greatest thrill is when someone emails me to say that something I wrote in my Writers Tricks' of the Trade column helped them or got them past a bump in the road. Yesterday I received thanks from a few fans.

Writers' Tricks of the Trade: 39 Things You Need to Know About the ABCs of Writing is a handy reference about 39 things a fiction writer needs to know in a field filled with challenges.

In addition to my columns in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas editions of and this new book, I've also launched a new blog: Writers' Tricks of the Trade at Every month on the 15th the latest issue of the new Writers' Tricks of the Trade newsletter will be uploaded to the site with the debut issue on August 15.  SUBSCRIBE to the blog for all the postings and the newsletter.

I'm delighted that many people in the industry have jumped on the bandwagon, and the blog and newsletter will feature several guest contributors in addition to many of my own articles. SO PAY A VISIT AND CHECK IT OUT.

As if having one book release wasn't enough, the third comical Silver Sisters Mystery VANISHING ACT IN VEGAS also releases this month with the Kindle and eBook first, followed by the paperback. And, my sister Phyllice Bradner and I are already working on #4, DIAMONDS IN THE DUMPSTER.

When Beverly Hills advice columnist Godiva Olivia DuBois' son Torch, an Academy Award winning FX expert, moves to Las Vegas to work on a new show about imploding buildings, his 80-year-old grandmother and great-uncle, former vaudeville magicians, fire up their '59 Caddy and take a road trip to Sin City. Flossie is determined to make his new condo at the High Rollers Plaza feel homey.

When they introduce him to beautiful magician Mara the Magnificent, star of the show at the Glitz Palace, the comical crime caper begins. Filled with typical high comedy from Godiva and her over-the-hill flower child twin Goldie Silver, the quartet is led on a merry chase when a mystery surrounds Mara. Don't miss this one!