Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ernie, Rosie's sidekick and cousin

Chope's Bar in La Mesa, NM. Restaurant is brown building, center
Beth Morgan photo.
Ernie is three years older than Rosie. At 45, he is a sufferer of Tourette Syndrome, one of the ones who, unfortunately, have as an uncontrollable tic the urge to shout obscenities. He has always been this way, although, as a child, his obscenities were somewhat milder than they are today. We are in the process of observing Ernie, so that we can learn just what he typically says, when he's nervous or feels threatened. Suffice it to say, it will be in Spanish, his first language. His favorite phrases will be a topic for another blog post.

Ernie is fairly high-functioning, but it's a good thing that Rosie is more than happy to keep an eye on him. He has helped her out of a jam more than once, so she is fiercely loyal to him. He is essentially non-violent, but he is quite tall, and although not obese, he is on the plump side, thus, he cuts a rather imposing figure.  His demeanor, at least toward Rosie, is nearly always pleasant, and generally, he's quite sweet. To other people, he probably seems cold or withdrawn; that's not inaccurate. He tends to keep quiet--except when he can't help it. He works as a janitor at the county courthouse, now more a complex than a building, per se, with the Sheriff's Department next door to the south. He's only responsible for the courthouse, and that only part-time. His boss, Chuy, is primarily responsible for the cleanliness of the courthouse, but he has Ernie clean all the men's restrooms three days a week, and he cleans the commissioners' chambers once a week.

He was born and raised in La Mesa, home of Chope's Mexican restaurant. Folks who live in Las Cruces or elsewhere in the Mesilla Valley generally know of Chope's, because they have great Mexican food there and one of the most authentic (and unpretentious) bars in a 30-mile radius. Just like Rosie's parents, Ernie's folks farmed near La Mesa since before the area became part of the U.S., on the occasion of the Gadsden Purchase. His parents raised chile and cotton, and although they are mostly retired, other family members still farm their land.

Ernie is quite intelligent. He's very good at fixing things, both mechanical and electronic, and he likes to read comic books and graphic novels. His favorite comic book is in Spanish and features a Mexican wrestler who moonlights as, if not a superhero, at least a do-gooder with muscles. Sometimes, he and Rosie watch TV together. Robot Chicken is one of their favorite programs. He lives roughly a block away from Rosie with his parents. He doesn't drive, so Rosie often chauffeurs him around.

He's a little neater than some of his friends. He prefers a nice plaid shirt and chinos to jeans and T-shirts. He sticks to athletic shoes, though. He wants to be prepared, in case he needs to help Rosie on a case. And when he wants to be informal, he wears a black hoodie with a burning skull on the back. He also sometimes wears a black T-shirt with the image of his comic-book hero on it. He has several of them.

What do you think of Ernie so far?

© Beth Morgan

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Testing, testing

Hello, girlfriends (cats, dogs, husbands, etc.),

Hillerman Country
B. Morgan photo

I'm starting this blog, because I thought it might be a good way to share chapters and character profiles and the like from my mystery novel. I've yet to decide what I'd like to share first, but stay tuned.

One thing I could say: I went to Albuquerque the weekend of February 2 to do research for the mystery. The friend I was staying with had a lecture date planned for us on Saturday morning. Anne Hillerman, a former co-worker of mine, and daughter of my former journalism professor, Tony Hillerman (that's right! The one who wrote the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mystery series!), was speaking to the Southwest Writers group. During her talk, she mentioned the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference, an event she started through her business, WordHarvest. They will hook up a first-book author with a publisher and give the author a $10,000 prize, if her book is chosen. The timing is such that I don't think I will have anything ready to submit this year, but I might make it for next year. (Or I might have a publisher before then, who knows?) Anyway, I think it's a great opportunity to get a leg up for anyone writing their first mystery novel.

This is my first—no, actually, my second—attempt, at creating a blog. Please bear with me while I figure out what I'm doing. And feel free to give me constructive criticism. I know a little bit about layout and design but not a lot about creating a blog. Right now, access to this blog is limited. If you like it, I may open it up some more.

I'm hoping to give you a character sketch of my mystery's heroine in the near future. Hope to be writing more, soon!