Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Big News?


Okay, there’s no big news on the Nostalgia City front. And there hasn’t been. Since mid-March, 2020.

Some13 months ago I was in San Diego preparing for my part in Left Coast Crime 2020. I was scheduled for three events including a panel. This conference gives mystery fans in the west a chance to mingle with mystery writers, listen to panel discussions, and buy the latest, signed, whodunits.  I had just completed one of the first events of the convention’s first morning when LCC was shut as California shut down.

Mystery writer David Hagerty and I were going to host a table at the conference’s closing banquet. We were encouraged to decorate our table so I found a party store and bought plastic handcuffs, two rubber knives, a chrome plastic detective’s badge, a toy gun and masks.  Not pandemic masks—what’s that? These were black, bank-robber, Lone Ranger-style masks.  Now I’m stuck with these unused souvenirs taking up space in a closet shelf. Maybe I should host a murder mystery party for my vaccinated friends.

A year ago this past March I drove home and I have not made news since.  No book signings, no library talks, no book festivals or mystery conventions.  And, apparently, not many blog posts.  I have, however, been busy writing the fourth addition to the Nostalgia City Mystery series. Although I couldn’t go anywhere, the pandemic quarantine did not significantly alter my writing routine.  I posted the following on Facebook in answer to the common question about what I was doing about the isolation.

The new Nostalgia City book is Dark Ride Deception.  Watch this space for details.  In the meantime, here’s a look back at what was news before the pandemic.

Book Carnival in Orange, Calif., is one of the best-stocked mystery bookstores in the west. If you have a question about a particular author or book, give owner Anne Saller a call. She can find any book you’re looking for and has a stock of mysteries signed by some of the famous names in the business. And perhaps some of mine, too. This was my second visit with Anne. Desert Kill Switch had just come out. She hosted my talk and had me sign a stack of books.
After my first mystery came out, I appeared, sans beard, on Good Morning Reno on ABC channel 8. Amanda Sanchez and Dick Stoddard made me feel much more relaxed than I thought I would be.
Unlike 2020, the 2018 edition of Left Coast Crime was fun, start to finish. And it did finish. This panel discussed outlining a novel versus writing by the seat of your pants. The latter writers are called pantsers. Author Annamarie Alfieri, on the left, moderated, and I bookended on the right.
I was busy when the first book came out. Here I’m giving a talk at Mystery Ink bookstore in Huntington Beach, Calif.
I’m not talking into a mic at a crime scene here. Police tape around the stage area was appropriate dressing for the South Lake Tahoe Library’s mystery event, A Toast to Die For. I don’t remember what I said.
Truckee, Calif., is an old railroad town that sponsors a weekly street fair in the summer. I sold books and met some great people. That’s me under the awning, in front of the red building.

After this walk down memory lane, you can expect to find here–on a more regular basis–book reviews and articles on mystery authors, novels and films past and present. Stay tuned.

New mystery-romance, ‘Temporarily Out of Luck’


Today author Vicki Batman discusses how she got started writing short stories and novels.

Good morning! Thank you Mark, for hosting me today.

Years ago, Handsome and I shopped in a used bookstore. I had just discovered Dick Francis’ books. Handsome asked why I liked him so, and I blurted out, “I wish I could write like him.” It took me a long time to try.

Years later, several girlfriends and I drove home from a road trip. One asked silly car game questions like, “Pick one. Tom Jones or Englebert Humperdink.” A few questions later, she said, “Write the opening paragraph of a book using the word window.”

I was stymied. I had nothing, and I mean nothing—nothing. I had not majored in journalism or creative writing. I had written poetry and lots of essays. I wrote and produced several newsletters for different organizations, but was that good enough? A part of me feared criticism. I still had growing to do.

I sat at the family computer, inputting “window” in a doc. Before I knew it, I wrote eight chapters. For a while, I fine-tuned, then went to the friend who inspired me with her window question. I asked her to read it. She returned with the comment, “Keep going.” So, I did.

Somewhere I read about Romance Writers of America, and to my delight, my town had a local chapter. I found a tribe. I’ve learned and continue to learn.

Tools that helped me on my journey:

Reading  Many authors began as readers.

Books on the craft of writing  After I received a critique on the first thirty pages of my work, someone recommended Write Tight by William Brohaugh. Simple fixes made a huge difference.

Workshops  Many RWA chapters hosted workshops on subjects related to writing. An all-day workshop with Margie Lawson caused me to look at my pages differently—a game-changer. Michael Hauge has an easy way of dissecting movies and books. I also heard talks from all areas of the publishing business.

Local chapter speakers  Authors spoke at our monthly meetings, answered questions over lunch, emailed, etc.—invaluable.

Reference books  Because I write romantic comedy mysteries, I needed some law enforcement details. I attended the local police and fire academies, read books on detecting, crime scenes and forensics.

Contests  I revised and sent my pages to contests. Some feedback helped, some not so much. I did well in several.

Writing  I just wrote and wrote. I believe Nora Roberts said, “You can’t fix a blank page.”

My advice: The words may be perfect or not. Put something on the page. Work hard!

Temporarily out of Luck: Great job. What man? And murder.

Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister who is planning her own I Dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?


Sometimes, I felt like a small white mouse housed in a cage with lots of small white mice, whose playground activities involved eating, sleeping, and continually revolving on the exercise wheel. Just like one rodent friend—who I named Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, having a field day back-flipping from the top of the spinning wheel—something happened. Unexpectedly, I found myself airborne.

Not hurt, a sense of disappointment overcame me, plus a bit of confusion, and a whole lot of colorful adjectives too numerous to list. I, mostly known as Hattie Cooks, shook off the pine shavings and joined the rat race. Sometimes, life sucked.

But wallowing? Not a good solution.

Being positive? A better one.

In most cases, a pitstop was a good idea, and I found comfort in my chocolate stockpile. And in most cases, I found empty shelves, for I had little dough to supply my habit due to the loss of my adored job as an assistant buyer at Sommerville’s top-class department store, Tucker’s, and the subsequent low-paying temporary ones I reluctantly took in the interim. Due to the expenses of rent, food, utilities, budgeting became my new compadré. However, for my recent birthday, Mom suggested friends and family provide me with treats. They were generous—gifting lots and lots of my favorite M&Ms in vast colors and flavors.

Mom’s idea totally rocked as the best birthday gift ever.

From outside my door, I heard Allan Wellborn smack the door frame.

“You know how to find me.”

I roused from my ruminations and banged my forehead against the wall.   

Vicki Batman is the author of seven short story collections and the Hattie Cooks Mystery series. Temporarily Out of Luck is the third book in the series of romantic comedy mysteries. Her award-winning short stories have also appeared in magazines and in two anthologies. Her website describes her as an avid jazzerciser, handbag lover, mahjong player, yoga practitioner, movie fan, book devourer, cat fancier and best Mom ever who adores Handsome Hubby.


Contact Vicki Batman:


Other side of the tracks


Here’s a 100-word flash fiction story for the holidays.

Observe social distancing and stay safe.

Other Side of the Tracks

Balancing a brimming food tray, Mario tapped on the door. A woman answered, a gaunt child clutching her stained dress. Inside, no Christmas decorations brightened the bare room.

“Delivery for 18630 West Waverly. Got three more in the truck.”

“This is East Waverly.”

Miles away, at 18630 West Waverly, Mario found a large, elegant house filled with guests and tables overflowing with food.

“Put it anywhere,” said a tipsy woman. “Maybe Harold ordered it. Way too much food.”  She shoved a $10 bill in Mario’s hand.

Twenty minutes later, Mario called his boss. “Yup, all four trays delivered. 1-8-6-3-0 Waverly.”

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