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Thursday 22 April 2021

✉ Setting as a Character in "Hit or Miss" by Jeff Markowitz

Today author takes over our blog to tell us about Setting as a Character in his latest novel, Hit or Miss (, WiDo Publishing, 233 pages), a Mystery.

"Are you from the 60's? Are you from New York? Are you from Long Island? Do you remember when people wore bell-bottoms and flowers in their hair and demonstrating meant fighting for a better world? Even if you're not, Hit or Miss is for you!" ~ Alan Sidransky, award winning author

"I kept turning pages as all the strands of the plot come together just in the nick of time in this satisfying mystery and tale of family conflict and forgiveness." ~ Mally Becker, author of The Turncoat's Widow

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Guest Post || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

Setting as a Character in Hit or Miss

by Jeff Markowitz

I’d like to talk with you today about the importance of setting in my new mystery, Hit or Miss. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase Treat your setting like a character. It reminds us that the settings in our stories, as much as the characters, need to be fully-developed, three-dimensional actors who give the story depth and complexity. To accomplish that, we need to remember that setting is more than just a place. Setting is place at a particular moment in time. It’s a way of life, a belief system, a culture. In Hit or Miss, that moment in time is the summer of 1970. The detective story unfolds against the backdrop of the cultural and political unrest associated with the war in Viet Nam. Hit or Miss raises questions that were important in 1970 that still resonate today.

The National Student Strike
May 9, 1970 - President Nixon with protesters at the Lincoln Memorial
On Monday, May 4, 1970, the National Guard shot and killed student demonstrators at Kent State University. In response, more than 100,000 demonstrators, primarily young people, college students in particular, descended on Washington DC in protest. In Hit or Miss, 21 year-old college senior, Emily Bayard takes a bus to the capital to be part of the demonstration. She tries, unsuccessfully, to get her more moderate boyfriend, Ben Miller, to join her. While she’s at the demonstration, Emily gets bad news, but before she can return home, she meets President Nixon at the demonstration. Some readers have been surprised to learn that President Nixon did, in fact, come out of the White House the morning of the demonstration and greet the protesters, wishing them an enjoyable stay in the nation’s capital. There is, however, no historical evidence that he invited one particular protester to join him for breakfast in the White House.
      President Nixon turned to leave. He took a few steps and then turned back to face Emily. “I’ve just had an idea. Are you hungry? Would you like to have breakfast with me?”
      “You mean, like, in the White House?”
      The president grinned. “I have the best chef. What would you like? You can have anything, anything at all. After all, I am the president.”
      “This isn’t some sort of photo op, is it? You know what I mean, antiwar activist sees the error of her ways after breaking bread with the President.
      “I see what you mean. It would sure look good in the papers. Lord knows I could use a good story in the papers.” The president chuckled. “No. No photos. No press release. You have my word.”
      And so it came to pass, on Sunday morning, before taking a bus back to Long Island to bury her mother, Emily had breakfast with the president. Mr. Nixon had poached eggs and corned beef hash with a cup of coffee, black. Emily had blueberry blintzes and a cup of chamomile tea. And all the while, they argued about the war.
      “Would you like seconds?”
      But she had put it off long enough. “I’m needed at home.”
The Festival for Peace

August 6, 1970 - Shea Stadium
August 6, 1970 - Janis Joplin, Shea Stadium
August 6, 1970 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) organized a rock festival for the explicit purpose of raising funds to support antiwar political activity. The festival was held at Shea Stadium (home of the NY Mets). Emily and Ben as well as their hippie friends Bug, Willow, Stoner and Lily, make plans to be there.
      According to the newspapers, it was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Normally, that wasn’t the sort of thing Ben would give much notice, but it was also the Festival for Peace at Shea Stadium. Bug had scored six tickets from a scalper.
      Bug handed Ben one of the tickets.
      He could tell right away they had a problem. “Do you see the black stripe at the edge of the ticket? It’s counterfeit.”
      “That’s not possible,” Bug said. “The dude was righteous.”
      Maybe the dude was righteous. Maybe he didn’t know the tickets were counterfeit. It didn’t matter. Ben knew. “I saw it on TV last night. I’m telling you they’re counterfeit.”
They manage to sneak into the festival, but once inside, things don’t go quite according to plan and Ben is arrested for “theft of service.”
      So he missed his chance to hear Creedence Clearwater and Steppenwolf. He missed Paul Simon, Al Kooper, John Sebastien, and Richie Havens. He missed the James Gang. Miles Davis. Johnny Winter. For God’s sake, he missed Janis Joplin. Ben hoped the fine wouldn’t be onerous. Missing Janis was penalty enough for his misbehavior.
      When Ben got home, his father had a different opinion.
The Woman’s Strike for Equality

August 26, 1970 - Women's Strike for Equality, Washington DC
August 26, 1970 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment. Demonstrations were held in cities across the country. In Washington DC, women marched for equal opportunities for employment and education, and for access to the sort of childcare that would make such opportunities possible. Emily’s hippie friends decide to head to DC for the demonstration.
      “When I get back, we need to make a decision about this place.”
      Willow and Bug were alone in the ashram. The kitchen was still closed by order of the health department. The longer it remained closed, the less likely it would ever re-open.
      Bug nodded his head. “I’ll talk to Sativa tomorrow. Maybe he can do something.”
      Willow tried to stifle a laugh. “Sativa can’t even get us a court date.” The troubles at the ashram had put a strain on their relationship. Willow was heading off to D.C. to join the Women’s Strike for Equality. “I wish you would come with me.”
      Bug snorted. “It’s a women’s thing.”
      “You know better than that. Equality’s not a women’s thing. It’s a people thing.”
      “It’s going to be thousands of women getting together to complain about men. Under the circumstances, I’d rather stay here.”
      Willow laughed so hard that green tea came out her nose. “I’m not going there to complain about men. I love men. I’m going there to demonstrate against a patriarchal system that treats women like we’re second-class citizens.”
      “It’s not that bad.”
      “You’re not a woman.”

When you’re twenty-one years old, it can be hard, under the best of circumstances, to balance the expectations of your father and the desires of your girlfriend. For Ben Miller and his girlfriend Emily Bayard, circumstances are far from perfect. Emily’s mother has been murdered. Ben’s father, a detective in Dutch Neck, catches the case.

Hit or Miss
Available NOW!

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Jeff Markowitz said...

Thanks for hosting me today.

Wall-to-wall books said...

Very interesting guest post! Thank you!

Gene Desrochers said...

Looks good!