by Cathi Stoler
When I wrote “Nick Of Time,” a Nick Donahue Adventure, I created my character as an intelligent, suave, and good-looking guy who works as an International Blackjack player. If it sounds sexy and a little bit risky, it is. Nick, a good guy, often finds himself caught up in circumstances that have more to do with danger than with Blackjack—like coming to the aid of a beautiful woman in distress, Marina DiPietro, and getting kidnapped for his trouble, or helping his brother, Alex, a banker at Suissebank, avenge the death of a co-worker, or taking on the New York mob, and it’s capo, Tommy B Bonnanniao. As I said, professional gambler, not an action hero. And the settings, Venice, Zurich, and Monte Carlo, make things more exotic and intriguing.
Hmmm, I thought like so many authors before me, with all this swirling around Nick, this story would make a great movie. I believed these characters could jump right off the page and onto big screens, and small ones, everywhere. What director or producer would want to pass up such an opportunity?
With that in mind, I decided to make it effortless for any one of them to just pick up “Nick Of Time,” and go with it. And, to make it even easier, I did my own pre-casting for the main characters.
--Tom Hiddleston as Nick Donahue, a professional Blackjack player who travels the world playing the game. Nick is tall, dark, and handsome, as well as a little bit quirky, which is part of his charm. Impeccably dressed in a black tuxedo and bowtie, Nick brings a sense of humor to the table, until that is, he has to go all in in a high-stakes game to save Marina’s life.
If Tom isn’t available, although I can’t imagine he’d turn down the role, there’s always Luke Evans who could fill in nicely.
--Gal Gadot as Marina DiPietro, a tall, willowy knockout, and an insurance recovery agent, Marina entices Nick to help her to retrieve a package of gems stolen by an infamous gang of jewel thieves. As you might imagine, things don’t go as planned, and after a worldwind of missteps, Nick winds up having to rescue Marina. If Gal is otherwise engaged, Elizabeth Debicki could step in. And, she has a history working with Tom Hiddleston.
--Chris Pratt as Alex Donahue, Nick’s younger, handsome brother. Alex, a banker working for Suissebank in Zurich is at a loss as to what has happened to his former boss and colleague who has disappeared. He believes the bank has had him killed and not transferred as they claim. When Alex asks Nick for help, things spiral out of control as Nick blows the whistle on the bank and its money-laundering scheme for its biggest client, the New York mob. Chris Pine would do nicely in this role, as well.
--Kevin Costner as Tommy “B” Bonnanniao, Capo of the New York mob, Tommy B expects Nick to win at a high-stakes Baccarat game in Monte Carlo and make good on the money he lost in a money-laundering scheme because of Suissbank’s downfall. If Nick doesn’t come through, Marina could lose her life. Rough around the edges and used to getting his way, this character could also be played by Stephen Baldwin or Arian Moayed.
The option is open, so if you’re interested in a high-octane project, let me know.
Cathi Stoler, a native New Yorker, drew on her travels to interesting and exotic places to write two new mystery suspense novels, Out of Time and Nick of Time, The Nick Donahue Adventures.
Her suspense novels, Bar None, Last Call, Straight Up, and With A Twist, The Murder on the Rocks Mysteries, are set in New York City and feature The Corner Lounge owner, Jude Dillane. She is also the author of the three-volume Laurel & Helen New York Mystery series, which includes Telling Lies, Keeping Secrets, and The Hard Way.
Stoler is a three-time finalist and the winner of the Derringer for Best Short Story “The Kaluki Kings of Queens.” She is a board member of Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in New York City with her husband. You can find her at www.cathistoler.com.
By Kathleen Marple Kalb
When life gives you lemons…
Turns out there’s a lot more to lemonade than juice and sugar, which is part of the reason historian Christian Shaw likes a glass after doing yard work in The Stuff of Murder. Christian, the director of the Unity, Connecticut, Historical Society, finds herself in the middle of a murder case when a fading movie star drops dead on a shoot in town – and ends up tracking the killer with her knowledge of historic household items. And the occasional break for lawn mowing and lemonade.
It’s a good choice for this household historian.
While people have been enjoying cold citrusy drinks since at least the tenth century, lemonade has picked up surprising resonance for a simple beverage.
Starting with the lemons. First, life hasn’t been giving us actual lemons all that long. We know there were citrons, and other kinds of citrus in Greek and Roman times…but there’s nothing that’s verifiably a lemon until the 12th century. The treat from the tenth-century, enjoyed by the Jewish community in Egypt, was probably a citron slushie. Yum.
There’s no record of the person who actually took lemons and made lemonade, but we can verify that it was first sold as a soft drink in Paris on August 20th, 1630. It was made with sparkling water, sweetened with honey (the New World cane sugar industry wasn’t in full swing yet) and sold from tanks on the vendors’ backs. It was such a hot property that the vendors unionized into the Guild of Limonadiers!
Peak Lemonade came in 19th century America. The first U.S. recipe for lemonade was published in 1824, in the Virginia Housewife, and included egg whites. Egg whites or no, for most people it was an exotic treat. Remember, in most places, the lemons had to be shipped in or grown in a hothouse, so it was expensive and exciting.
That might add a little context to the whole temperance lemonade frenzy.
As hard as it is to imagine anyone seriously thinking a workingman would give up his nightly snort for a soft drink, it might be slightly less off the wall if the substitute were something seen as a treat. Maybe.
Still, by the late 19th century, the temperance movement was doing its best to make the case, pushing the slogan: “Goodbye to liquor, here’s lemonade!” It may not have worked for the guys at the corner bar, but it was the rule at the White House, where First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes (inevitably known as Lemonade Lucy) poured out the soft stuff. When she and husband Rutherford B. left, temperance went with them, until Prohibition made it mandatory.
By the end of the 19th century, just plain lemonade wasn’t all that exotic any more. Fortunately, there were new variations. “Portable lemonade” was what we recognize as drink mix: powdered lemon juice, sugar, and citric acid, useful for the frontier and even the military.
And then there’s pink lemonade.
There are two origin stories: one is fun and one is icky. The fun one is that someone at a circus accidentally dropped red cinnamon candies in the vat of lemonade and eureka, a cool new drink was born. The icky one? One of the trapeze girls accidentally rinsed out her red tights in the water meant for lemonade, and nobody had time to go get more water…so they made it into lemonade and sold it anyway. Another version of that story is even worse: it’s the clown’s socks!
However we ended up with pink lemonade, it still fits perfectly with the idea of making the best of a setback. So, when life gives you lemons – and wet clown socks! – make lemonade!
Kathleen Marple Kalb likes to describe herself as an Author/Anchor/Mom…not in that order. An award-winning radio journalist, she currently anchors on the weekend morning show at New York's #1 news station, 1010 WINS. She’s the author of several mysteries, historical and contemporary. Her short stories appear in anthologies and online and have been short-listed for Derringer and Black Orchid Novella Awards. She grew up in front of a microphone and a keyboard, working as an overnight DJ as a teenager in her hometown of Brookville, Pennsylvania…and writing her first (thankfully unpublished) novel at sixteen. When her son started kindergarten, she returned to fiction, and after two failed projects, some 200 rejections, and a family health crisis, found an agent for the third book—leading to a pandemic debut. In hopes of sharing what she’s learned the hard way, she’s active in writers’ groups, including Sisters in Crime and the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and keeps a weekly writing survival tips blog. She, her husband, and their son live in Connecticut in a house owned by their cat.
by Charles Philipp Martin
I do not know you. But if you’re attempting to write a novel in 30 days, I know a couple of things about you. One is, you’re insane. The other is you love books, writing, and words. And for this I think you’re a good person, and worth a bit of my time.
But I won’t kid you. What you’re trying to do is very difficult. Especially if you want to create something good. Perhaps these few hints of mine will help.
Sure, it’s a big responsibility. But if you’re not up to it, the porta potties are filling up fast.
Charles Philipp Martin grew up in New York City's Greenwich Village. His father was an opera conductor and both his parents well-known opera translators and librettists who never uttered the word "parenting" but knew enough to steep their family in music and literature. After attending Columbia University and Manhattan School of Music, Martin took off for a six-year paid vacation in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
While in Hong Kong he hung up his bow and turned to writing, spending four years as a Sunday Magazine columnist for the South China Morning Post, and writing for magazines all over Southeast Asia. His weekly jazz radio show 3 O'Clock Jump was heard every Saturday on Hong Kong’s Radio 3 for some two decades.
Neon Panic, his first novel featuring Hong Kong policeman Inspector Herman Lok, was published in 2011. The second Inspector Lok novel, Rented Grave, will be coming out from Level Best Books in the summer of 2024. Martin now lives in Seattle with his wife Catherine.
Photo: Lincoln Potter