Christmas Filters

Christmas is almost here again, a time when joyous get-togethers and exchanging meaningful gifts abound. It is a season filled with expectations of love and peace and happiness. Some achieve these, many don’t. I will not dishonour myself by pretending that all the memories of the ghosts of Christmas Past are happy ones but I use what I call my Christmas filters when I look back to those times. These filters, called nostalgia I suppose by others, allow me to look at long ago Decembers and smile. But it is more than nostalgia. What the filters do are let me take the good memories of past Christmases with me on my journey forward and do my best to leave the other ones behind, where they belong.

In the present day I have my boy cat Jay and a place filled to the rim with seasonal lights and greenery. It is hard to fill your own stocking. Jay says “stuff it yourself, just leave me catnip!” My very kind youngest sister makes sure to include a number of small wrapped-in-issue presents in her parcel so that I can have a stocking. I have friends who come to visit and one who always shares my Christmas meal with me so Christmas Present is very good.

And there are many good memories from years ago. Sleigh rides, carolling, banana bread and Earl Grey tea for breakfast, stockings, Jackie Gleason and Peggy Lee Christmas albums (yes, I am old) were among the many things that filled the holidays then. Many of my relatives lived in the same neighbourhood. One year my mother and I delivered their presents to them on a toboggan. I could not have been more than six but I can still remember the sounds of the toboggan gliding across the snow and the crunch of my boots on it. Once the presents were gone I then got a ride home!

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The Write Spot

Once a month, author Cheryl Harrington produces a blog called The Write Spot featuring a specific writer. Her focus is an interesting one – the space that a writer chooses to write in and what is it about the space that helps the creative experience. I am very excited to have been chosen to appear this month and here is an excerpt, where I talk about what I cannot live without in my Write Spot:

“Jay, my cat and my muse. Without Jay, my Write Spot feels empty. He looks after me and seems to know when I should take a break (of course this could also be because he wants attention!). He sits tall on the table, reaches over and pats me on the shoulder or arm, repeatedly, with increasing intensity, until I get up.”

Here is a link to the full blog:

http://kannonsgarden.blogspot.ca/2015/11/the-write-spot-susan-mcnicoll.html

Here is Jay relaxing in my Write Spot

 

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Giancana – Chicago Mobster

I am very excited to announce the publication of my latest book, an eBook published by Arcturus Publishing Ltd.:

SAM GIANCANA
THE RISE AND FALL OF A CHICAGO MOBSTER

After writing numerous crime books, a publisher asked if I’d be interested in writing a “mobster” book. I chose Sam Giancana partly because he operated during a number of important decades in United States history, 1940’s – 1960’s. As is obvious from all my books, I LOVE history. I also think some of what happens has to be seen in the context of the time in which it happens. Giancana was also a challenge because he is not at all likeable. He had a rough childhood but many have and so I had to work hard to find times when he behaved like a human being. I don’t know how successful I was on that count (!) but it certainly was an interesting ride trying to get there.

Sent to Reformatory at the age of 10, Sicilian-American Sam Giancana went on to live a turbulent and eventful life as mobster and mob boss at a pivotal point in history when the mafia decided who ruled America, who lived and who died.

Born in 1908, in The Patch, Chicago, Giancana joined the Forty-Two gang in 1921 and quickly proved himself as a skilled wheel man (getaway driver), extortionist and vicious killer. Called up to the ranks of the Outfit, he held talks with the CIA about assassinating Fidel Castro, befriended a girlfriend of John F. Kennedy and new other celebrities, including Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine and Marilyn Monroe. Giancana also had an interesting relationship with the Kennedy family but the extent of that is not completely clear.

The story of Sam Giancana will overturn many of your beliefs about America during the Kennedy era. If you want to know Giancana’s possible role in the brother’s deaths, and more of the intrigue surrounding that of Marilyn Monroe, this book will fill you in on the murky lives of many shady characters who ruled the day, both in Chicago and elsewhere. 

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Gangster Women

I am very excited to announce my latest book, Gangster Women, published by Arcturus Publishing Limited, is now available as both an eBook and a paperback:

GANGSTER WOMEN
AND THE CRIMINALS THEY LOVE

When I first became interested in the women who chose to ride alongside the gangsters of the early 1930s, I was hoping to find one underlying psychological reason for their choices. It turned out to be more complicated than that. I also saw a distinct difference between gangster and the later mobster molls.

I wrote about only one mobster moll because, frankly, I found the gangster’s women more interesting. The one exception was Virginia Hill who straddled the line between mistress and criminal herself and ended up dead in mysterious circumstances. That I found intriguing. But these molls were a different breed of women entirely than their gangster counterpart. They were mostly in it for the money and the fame of being with a mobster. Love rarely mattered.

Not so for the gangster molls who often greatly loved, had children with and sometimes married their men. The times were desperate following the onset of the Depression and most people were eager for something glamourous and exciting to focus on and the press gave it to them in the form of these women they called gun molls. The exploits of the gangsters were chronicled and when many of the women were later arrested for harbouring these men, the press described them in detail, from the clothes they were wearing to the style of their hair. The public couldn’t get enough.

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