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Monday, March 25, 2013

Rick Cantelli, P.I. - Part 8

First before I retell what happened this morning, I want to give the link to Rick Cantelli, P.I. – Part 8. This newest adventure with my aging P.I. is 6,000 words. He and his partner Lois investigate a business investment offered them to buy into a cafĂ©. Rick polishes off his investigative skills for this one, and yeah, there’s humor. My book sales have been good, and I keep waiting for the wave to crash into the rocks.  :)

Rick Cantelli, P.I. – Part 8

On to my incident this morning in non-fiction auto repair land
This morning a rough looking lady drove a 2007 Chevy Malibu with 2.2.L engine into the shop. I say rough because she was wearing dirty coveralls with an equally dirty black stocking cap. Her hands were dirtier than mine, so she wasn’t using gloves. She was about 5’ 7” tall, mid thirties to mid forties, and thin. She will be referred to as Mary Malibu for this story. Mary did not smile after exiting the Chevy.
“Hi, can I help you?”
“How much to check out a charging problem?”
I told Mary, and her facial features screwed up into a very unbecoming mask. I understand this is all a game, because I know what any initial electrical diagnostic check costs at the dealer. I’m half what they are.
“You’re kidding!”
I do kid, but not with strangers, and never about business. “No Ma’am, I’m not kidding.”
“The dealer doesn’t charge that much!”
“Let’s use our inside voices, Ma’am. I can hear very well. Yes, they do. They charge double my charging system diagnostic fee, but you’re welcome to check with them.”
The facial mask turned sullen, because I imagine she’s already checked with them. “I want to leave the car for the diagnostic. The battery light is on and I just changed the battery.”
“I’ll get an invoice.”
Ten minutes later, Mary’s ride picked her up, and I moved the Malibu over into a stall. There were greasy hand prints everywhere, which is not a shock. It helps because I can trace Mary’s actions pretty well from the print evidence. I did a quick check for loose connections, and obvious harness problems. I then hooked up my scanner and started the Chevy up - no charging voltage.
I shut it back off. The next move is to check for power at the alternator – no power. These systems incorporate fuse wires which melt internally if something goes wrong. I found a melted fuse link wire at the starter. For vehicles even 6 years old, that’s an odd occurrence. I checked for short to ground at the alternator, but it was okay. I replaced the fusible link wire and started the car. Everything worked fine. It charged and the battery light went out. That’s good news and bad news, because those fuse wires don’t blow on their own. I considered Mary had hooked the battery up backwards, but that mistake would have blown more than a fuse wire.
After cleaning the handprint evidence, I completed the invoice and called Mary.
“I need to ask you about what you did while working on your car. I-”
“I didn’t do anything to the car but change the battery! I’ve been working on my own vehicles since I was a kid.”
“Just take me through your battery change. How did you know it needed a battery?
“It was turning over slow when I’d leave it for the weekend, and it was the original battery. I knew it wasn’t the charging system. I tested it.”
My spidey sense began tingling. “How did you test the charging system?”
Mary clucked her tongue in that way people have when they think they’re wasting their time. “Just like I’ve always done it. I started up the car and disconnected the battery negative terminal to see if it stalled out or not.”
Bing, bing, bing, we have a winner. “Okay. You can come pick up the car. It was a blown fusible link wire that protects the system during spikes in the current and voltage past safety parameters. When you took off the negative terminal, it blew the fusible link wire. I replaced the wire and it’s charging now. I needed to find out why it blew the wire before releasing the car.”
“You can prove it for yourself, but I wouldn’t advise it. You can also damage the on-board computer doing that, but it doesn’t matter to me. One thing though – if you decide to pull off the negative terminal and refry the fusible link wire, call someone else to fix it.”
“I want proof the charging system’s working too.”
“I’ll have the scanner hooked up and you’ll be able to see the charging volts. Plus, the battery light is now off. We won’t know if you’ve damaged the computer for a while. The mode 6 data is good so far, but you won’t know about the computer until you drive it for a few weeks.”
Mary hung up on me, rushed to the shop, and I showed her the charging volts. She saw the battery light was out. After paying the bill, she left without a word. I doubt she realized I could have sold her an alternator job too. Oh well.  :)

Folks. Do not disconnect the negative battery terminal when a vehicle is running under any circumstances! You cannot even imagine the potential problems you can cause. That’s it for the auto repair part of the blog.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Another Cantelli Tale

My favorite private detective character, Rick Cantelli, and his partner Lois haunted me for a couple days until I wrote up their latest 4,500 word adventure and published it through Triond at AuthSpot yesterday. It’s a bit darker story for the two, but when Lois’s daughter Kim brokers a real estate deal up north with the wrong people, Lois drags Rick and husband Frank up there to set things right.      RICKCANTELLI, P.I. – Part 7

These two never allow writer’s block to form. The second I pause in writing my new HARD CASE sequel, Rick and Lois yammer for another long short story. It gets crowded in my head for a time while I give in to their demands.  :)  My friend and marketing partner, best selling True Crime Author RJ Parker wrote a very interesting blog on one star hit pieces. He’s also developing widgets for sales and recognition that are very neat.   Author RJ Parker

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rick's Back... Again.

Over the weekend, another humorous Rick Cantelli, P.I. tale took me over on Sunday and I churned out a very funny nearly 4,000 word part 6. I guess I’m enjoying these two because I can make them as funny as I want, and still put them in danger. Naturally, in hanging around the beginning of their seventh decade, they don’t scare at all. Here’s the link to where my new story can be found:  Rick Cantelli P.I. Part 6
Here’s the blurb for their latest adventure.
Rick and Lois go out on a bond retrieval together with the usual hilarious interaction. The lady of the night wanted for an aggravated assault warrant in LA gives up quietly. Her companion, the brother consigliore of an Eastern mob boss, takes exception to losing his companion’s company. He mistakenly thinks Lois cares.
Yep. I am under the Rick and Lois spell. I plan to make ‘Madigan and Cantelli Security and Investigations’ a well known name if I can. The best part of self publishing is I can release this series of short stories in a novel form when I get up around the 90,000 word range, and I won’t have to answer to anyone. No one will be e-mailing me that I can’t do this or you’ll have to change this scene, or that’s too episodic. I don’t even think about agents, publishers, or what they think the market is screaming for. When Wild Child Publishing e-mailed me trying to find out what I was doing to increase sales for COLD BLOODED because it was spiking suddenly, while taking 60 percent of the profits for doing nothing - that was the last lesson. Yeah, the novels have begun selling nicely for now, but as my writing friends know, this is a brutally inconsistent business. I have my publishing release schedule in mind. DEMON AT WAR, the third part in my YA trilogy will be out May 1st. The sequel to HARD CASE will be out by July 1st called THE LURE OF HELL. I’m figuring my Cantelli Tales with Rick and Lois will be novel length by Sept 1st.
No more query letters, no more haunting agents sites for crumbs, and definitely no more no help publishers. They saw ‘Fifty Shades’ of sexual deviancy strike gold, and now they’re deluging the market with a million shades of the same thing. Good luck to them. I think I’ll just keep laughing along with Rick and Lois in my head, while telling tales.  :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Drawing and a new Rick Cantelli, P.I. Story

On the writing marketing front, my good friend, True Crime Author RJ Parker is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day drawing to garner reviews for our novels. The prize is a $100 Amazon gift certificate. It’s a fun deal which he’s also going to do in the UK.

I couldn’t stay away from my Rick Cantelli, P.I. short story series. His partner Lois needs to attend an aerobics class to keep her back rehabbed. She can’t get husband Frank interested, so she recruits office secretary Shelly and double teams the redoubtable Rick into going too. He knows it’s a setup to make him into a laughing stock, but he has a couple surprises. The initially humorous escapade turns into a business opportunity with Rick’s recently weird flair for attracting female attention.

The story ended up at nearly 5,000 words, and it was as usual fun to write and edit. That brought me up to over twenty thousand words for my five Cantelli tales. Rick’s doing so well in my head, he might be into novel length far sooner than I had imagined. Working on three projects at once, all very different, seems to be keeping the creative impulse flowing. The third DEMON screenplay, new HARD CASE sequel, and my Cantelli tales have been equally fun to dive around into. The only part of my writing gig that’s been missing lately is the once in a while humorous encounter at my automotive repair shop. I did get a guy who stumbled in on Tuesday morning though. I held off doing an instant blog because I thought he would be making daily ventures, but such is not the case. For this short update, my 38th Avenue street denizen will be known as Hairof The Dog.
I had just arrived at the shop around a quarter till eight, opened the big door, and started my computer in the back room. The motion detector went off at 8:15 AM. I looked up and a guy about 5’ 6” weighing around 190 lurched in the main entrance. He’s wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt, with some kind of sandals. Mr. Dog didn’t look too good as I walked up front to greet him. His eyes were at half mast with the head tilted back slightly as if he needed to see better but didn’t want to open his eyelids any further to get the job done. It was about 48 degrees in the shop that morning. I had on three layers of clothes and a work jacket. Hairof’s nose was running, he couldn’t stay still without losing his balance, and he was so far gone I doubt he knew where the hell he was. His age was somewhere in the 40 to 55 range. It’s hard to tell in that condition. I greeted him, and he immediately tried to put a few thoughts into words. Fail!
“Yeah… I have… this wheel.” Mr. Dog begins pantomiming a circular item with shaky hands. “It… turns… and I… it goes like this… you know… ah… has this… you know...”
No, I don’t, nor would I ever. “Sir, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Do you have a car that needs repaired? This is an automotive repair shop.”
His brows knit and his lower lip juts out along with his chin. It was obvious he wanted more compassion than I had to give. Even the thought of a blog excursion wasn’t holding my attention with Hairof.
“I…I’m trying to tell you!” The Dog emphasized for me. Hairof immediately starts pantomiming a wheel again. Oh boy. “You know… a tire… on a carriage… it has… a… you know… can you do it?”
Not having a clue what he was describing in drunken detail, I had to opt out. “No sir, I don’t do that type of work.”
Hands on hips with slimy face jutted out at me to relate Mr. Dog’s incredulity at my answer, he loses his balance from being in one position too long and stumbles forward. He corrects his flight and utters an outraged, “huh?”
“Sorry, I don’t do that type of work.” I reiterate for him.
“You don’t?!” Hairof can’t believe it. The Dog is incensed I can’t fix what he has wrong.
“No Sir, I can’t help you with that.”
“Fine!” Hairof spins too fast and has to grope around a few steps in loose limbed fashion until he sees light at the door. He hunches his shoulders and plows onward to the street and around the shop corner.
For some reason the encounter did not brighten my day. The lyrics to an old ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ rock song popped into my head – ‘Don’t want to go by devil… don’t want to go by demon… just want to go naturally…’