“An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery” (Book 1) (Take a peek)

liebsteraward  booker-award  Billy Ray Chitwood 180


Many years ago I was fortunate enough to play in front of the camera in TV commercials, film presentations, some live stage acting, and some modeling. A southern transplant I was pretty much a kid in a candy store – had loved my cowboy movies, John Wayne, and some wild action films at the Saturday movie house. It was just a lot of fun for me to ham it up and be who I was not. My entree into this entertainment business came via a good friend who was also a model/actress but primarily a legal secretary to a couple of my good attorney buddies. This sweet lady got me an agent, and I was off and running, doing some really fun stuff in my spare time. Some of my acting pals of the day were Kit Carson, Director of the Phoenix Little Theater at the time, Nick Nolte, a young impassioned fellow everyone knew was destined for Hollywood, et al. These were great days to be alive, but there came a sadness to make us all stop and think.

That lovely young mother of two and actress/model who befriended me and ushered me into the entertainment world was found brutally murdered in the desert northeast of Phoenix during the hot month of August. She had been missing for some weeks before her body was found, and the newspapers of the day were filled with known facts and thin theories. Her body had been ravaged by the heat and the desert denizens, and the police officials were left with virtually nothing of forensic value. It was known that the killer or killers had savagely thrown heavy rocks upon her head in order to make certain she was dead.

I would end up marrying my murdered friend’s ex-roommate shortly after a sad Memorial service, and life would go on. Many people would be interviewed by police, ex-husband, boy friends, neighbors, et al. Lie detector tests were administered to those who had intimately known my dead friend, eliminated as suspects, and the case would never to this day be solved.

My book, “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery” (Book 1) was inspired by that gruesome murder, and it is my wish that the book can serve as some sort of humble tribute to my friend. The book does not point fingers at anyone connected in the actual case. It is simply my applying what is actually known about the homicide and allowing my imagination to do the rest.

Here is a sample from the book. If you enjoy what you read you can go to the links that follow for more purchase options for the book and for more information on me. So, ‘take a quick peek.’


After Midnight on Wednesday, July 19


She seemed strangely out of her body, off in a wispy connecting chamber, floating through a kaleidoscope of sight and sound … lights flashing … and motion.

She was in a car, moving fast, then slow, stopping, starting … she could see the night sky filled with a million bouncing stars, but she couldn’t be sure if her eyes were really open … car slowing down, stopping again, motor shut down, door opening … heavy breathing, cursing, mixed with cricket chirps, all coming through a fog horn of slow motion sound and movement … fingers, hands, arms on her body … tugging at her, pulling her from the car … a soft tinge of fear, anesthetized but it was so far away, this fear, and there was an eerie peace within the connecting chamber, an almost rhapsodic bending and twisting of the past, present, and an inescapable but caressing future …

There came a cacophony of cymbal sounds, a further muting within the connecting chamber, and a light that had begun so dimly now becoming greater … pain was palpable but peripherally numbing, and, while the light grew brighter, micro seconds lingered on the desert air, in her connecting chamber, and she recounted her life … kids, family, school, jobs, friends, loves, hates, joys, disappointments, all coalescing into the awesome, wonderful, totality that was her being …

The scraping sounds … her body dropped yet again to the desert floor, once more the cursing, the heavy breathing …

The final cacophony splintered the light into a dazzling crystal brilliance …

She felt the connecting chamber, her body, her last thoughts of betrayal, beauty, and forgiveness all merging into the warm and timeless cosmos of light.

(End of ‘peek.’)

NOTE: “An Arizona Tragedy – A Bailey Crane Mystery” (Book 1) is the first book in ‘The Bailey Crane Mystery Series.’ There are five books in the series, some inspired by actual crimes. Each book can be read independently but there is the natural aging and progression of Bailey Crane’s life in each succeeding book. You can find all the books in the links provided.





http://www.goo.gl/3VeNk (Amazon US)

http://www.goo.gl/HTQGo (Amazon UK)


“Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story” (Take a peek!)

Billy Ray Chitwood  liebsteraward  booker-award

Butterfly Jellybeans Nook Size

My only ‘Romance’ writing so far is “Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story.” The book was dedicated to my most beautiful twin granddaughters, Chase and Paige, affectionately known by me as ‘Chatty Chaser’ and ‘The Pickle Princess.’

Chase’s nickname came from a hike down a mountain in southeast Arizona – grandma and I had told the girls to watch for rattlesnakes and that they should make noise along the way to maybe keep the snakes away… Well, Chase, seven years old at the time, chatted all the way down the mountain, delighted us and made us all laugh. So, she became forever our ‘Chatty Chaser.’

Paige’s nickname came much earlier. The twins were mere babies at the time, and I might say there have never been better behaved babies in this universe. At lunch time I would have pickles with my hot dogs and/or sandwiches. It rather astonished me the immediate taste acquired by Paige for those sweet pickles. She would not stop at one or two. She absolutely loved them. So, she became our ‘Pickle Princess.’

When my writing of mysteries began with some earnest, I decided at some point to write a romance novel, a love story. Chase and Paige were by now cheerleaders for the NFL Baltimore Ravens, their beautiful bodies now filled out to gloriously fit into skimpy bikinis and to confound all the young men with whom they were to encounter — even, grandpa, I might add (after all, I still had eyes). What I knew and what everyone who came to know them would know was that these twins were as beautiful of heart and soul as of body. Anyway, I wrote my love story, “Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story,” and added some gambling, some murder scenes, and those conflicts that a book must have to make it interesting. It was to be a simple and perhaps an old fashioned love story with some sprinklings of secrets and intrigues. It was finished and published in 2012.

Here is the beginning of “Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story.” If you like what you read here, I promise it gets even better later on.

Chapter One

She was lost in the brightness, a magnificent static whiteness, alluring and warm. It was an easy place to be, if it was a place. Perhaps it was a state, a bright and new awareness, a safe and final destination.

She only knew that her essence was etched in the great luminous energy and she did not wish to leave it. The light seemed to be transporting her outward, expanding some awesome truth, recently possessed, and she wanted only to remain and to become whatever the promising ultimacy.

Then, there came a shimmer of interference, vaguely emanating from the mystic fringes, slowly fragmenting the weightless pool of white. There was a rippling which nudged her new awareness, gently precluding her anticipated oneness with the expanding light.

Then came sound, soft and beckoning, like a bird chirping in slow motion, becoming stronger and more strident. She resisted the sound and the fragmenting but she could not pull herself onward into the radiant void. Like a swimmer urgently breast stroking against a strong noiseless tide, she felt herself dipping, sinking, then free-falling from the disintegrating brilliance.

She became conscious of her head shaking in sidelong negation of the interference, her lips silently murmuring, ‘no, no, let me stay! Please let me stay!’

Then she acknowledged the inevitable full  immersion back to a solid, contoured reality. The bird chirps became loud concerned voices. The ripples became caring and caressing hands.

The hard ground was cold.  She began to shiver, felt the urge to rise, but was somehow constricted. Her mind made some adjustments and she suddenly knew where she was, how she had gotten there.

Finally, she slowly opened her eyes with a fluttery acceptance of her immediate environment. A man’s face came into focus, hovering two feet above her own. She felt pinned down and quickly discovered that the man was astride her. There was a momentary sense of panic but something about the man’s face made her relax.

A light rain fell, and she was conscious of wet hair matted to her face and forehead. The sky was a dull gray, and skinny treetops came to her peripherally as some surreal apparitions. The man’s concerned face gave her a final focus. She remembered what had happened.

The lightning! She recalled an awful clap of thunder, so jarring and harsh, so totally upon her, instantaneously enveloping her in its loud and splintered brightness. She remembered the searing, exquisite pain that had so consummately wracked her body and mind.

She had been jogging and she must have been struck by lightning. As she blinked from the raindrops and the accounting of the lightning strike, she felt lethargic and without purpose. She had been struck by lightning, yet there was no panic, no real sense of urgency.

The man’s hands left her chest and he studied her with a tender and squinted concern. She felt the weight of his body leaving her, felt a great rush of air fill her chest. The man lifted himself from her but his soft blue eyes remained upon her face.

They were beautiful eyes, shrouded by dark cavernous brows. Wisps of his black hair was pasted about his forehead, and he made odd movements with his lips as though making an adjustment.

Her own lips felt strangely tender to the touch of her tongue, and, in a moment of clarity, she understood: the man had given her mouth to mouth resuscitation.

The man then spoke, softly, his voice conveying a cultured refinement and pleasant resonance. “Can you move your arms and legs?”

She understood the question and lifted her head tentatively, feeling her hands, arms, and legs slowly move to her inner commands. She nodded to the handsome stranger who knelt above and to her side. She managed a small, sad smile of gratitude.

“And can you speak?” He returned her smile.

“Yes, I think so,” came her weak reply.

She noticed for the first time a small group of people standing off to her right, near a park utility shed. She heard a siren off in the distance, its sound increasing in volume. She attempted to rise from the ground.

“Maybe you should stay where you are until medically checked. Are you feeling much pain?” The man lightly touched her shoulder.

As her powers of observation became more keen she noticed how the man was dressed. He wore faded red denim shorts, a powder blue sweat shirt which matched his eyes, white athletic socks, and Adidas jogging shoes. Her own ensemble of white shorts, blue top, white socks, and Nike shoes merged nicely with the man’s attire.

She answered the question. “No, I don’t think so, not pain so much. It’s sort of dull aching almost everywhere about my body. I think I’m okay. You’re very kind to help me. Thank you.”

“No ‘thanks’ necessary. It was kind of freaky the way that cloud exploded above us. You just got unlucky, and I suppose we could be faulted for jogging when a storm was brewing …”

The man stopped talking as he saw the flashing lights and heard the diminishing siren whirr of an approaching ambulance.

Uniformed EMTs rushed from the ambulance to the woman’s side, their faces intent and focused. She watched as they quickly set up equipment and prepared for various medical checks. She was beginning to feel confident that her body had not sustained any permanent damage, although some tingling sensations remained in her legs.

After all the medical tests were run, she heard an attendant announce that her vital signs were normal, that she was stable.

The visage of the handsome stranger stayed with her, after the ambulance attendants had displaced him. The image of his dark hair wet against the brow stayed with her, even when he became a blur on the gray fringe of the rainy day crowd. His face stayed with her even beyond the hospital’s emergency room where she was pronounced hale, hearty, and lucky to be alive. His soft smile stayed even when she had returned to her spacious Scottsdale condominium.

(End of Chapter One.)

For those of you who might be interested in reading all of “Butterflies And Jellybeans – A Love Story,” you can find it on all of the following sites:

http://www.goo.gl/Rv4tk (Amazon)

http://www.goo.gl/jH5Zk (Amazon – UK)




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“It’s Always Up There”

Bill SSMTdesert_sunset-bigbooker-awardliebsteraward

How often do you look up there?  That big old sky that presents all its patterns? The clear lucent blue with old Sol hanging around? A few wisps of clouds that enhance the palette of your mind? A thick set of dark impending cumuli that carries lots of moisture, with perhaps a patch of blue just off to the west? A clear dreamer’s night of a million plus stars? How often do you look up there?

Quite often for me… You see, I’m one of those restless and rudderless romantics that cannot somehow find that magical glue that pastes me to one place. So I look up there quite often and ponder not only God’s great handiwork but the course of history and mortal confusion and doubt. Mostly, it’s my own mortal confusion and doubt, but, certainly, I would be totally blind not to see it all around me. The people of the world, peasant-types, power brokers, movers and shakers, all of us send out our queries to the universe in moments of that mortal confusion and doubt. Individual, global, it matters not, we fight our wars within these fragile bodies created during that nine-month miracle in time when we become who and what it is we are meant to be. Some of us with doubt and confusion speak in different tongues, make a wrong translation, push a wrong button, and cause a war. Some of us have been passed the torch of hate from generation to generation, will seemingly ever know only one way to relieve their confusion and doubt. Some of us, even amid our doubt and confusion, will create a masterpiece map for living in freedom with liberty and justice for all. And, some of us add to our confusion and doubt, forget the lessons of history which in the relative span of mortal time were only yesterday.

Somehow, I’ve managed to somehow understand that we all cannot come together in peace and understanding in my mortal lifetime. The efforts of good intentioned people have really become just silly simple games played among those who pursue their selfish political agendas. An accord is reached only to be broken. An ally becomes an enemy. An enemy becomes an ally… All silly power games that silly power men and women play.

When I look up there, in that sky that gives us sometime hope, sometime fear, I only ponder my simple existence and must come to some conclusion as to why I am here on this rotating sphere. The only reckoning that I can make is that no simple big bang caused all of this mortal confusion and doubt. When I look up into that sky of many faces there is but one conclusion, one truth that for me makes all the sense in this world. It is the truth that has been passed down to us from the beginning of our time, on cave walls, on papyrus, in the bible, the truth that has been maligned, reorganized, and otherwise discounted for centuries, the truth that has become debatable sport among some elites and scholars. It is the truth that a Supreme Being, God, controls all of our destinies. Otherwise, why do I and so many have our faith? Why would we contrive so much to make something so?

Our God gives us so many examples to how our mortal moments could and should be spent. He gives us so many paths our lives could take, to provide help for those who need, to forever act as peacemakers, to quell the urges of the dark essence that would possess us… Our God gives us free will to act out our choices. And, what makes God’s plan so wonderful is that we get to do it over and over again until we get it right. In His time, our mortal months and years are but fleeting seconds. There is death on the mortal plain, but you must believe, you must have faith, that you will never forego God’s ultimate plan. At some point along God’s timeline, no matter how many mortal lives it might take, you will reach that magical light of eternity.

It’s always up there. When I look up and penetrate the blue and dark of sky, that is what I see, out beyond the far dimensions of space… Family, Hope, Love, Peace, Eternity.

And, sometimes, I sing and write about it…

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Where Do We Belong?

Billy Ray Chitwood         liebsteraward         booker-award

The title represents an intriguing question. Obviously it is a question posed by an incurable romantic, a question that can occupy many minutes and hours of the day. The context in which the question is posed has to do with those of us who live our lives not so much by genetic and environmental formulae but by the seat of our pants, those of us who have some insatiable nomadic quality that pushes us over the next mountain, over the next body of water, or over the next arid desert. The context has to do with that indefinable impulse within us that makes us ‘moths to light’ or ‘creatures of instinct and passion.’ I’m really a simple man but somehow I seem to be making this sound complicated…

Here’s the deal! I’m sharing me with you. I’m currently living a lovely life in a penthouse on the beautiful Sea of Cortez. Now, as I write, I look out my big windows at the beach and cobalt brilliance of ‘Cortez.’ The sun is slowly making its western arc thanks to our spinning orb. There are sail boats out there, jet skis, occasional yachts, and people adorn the sands dreaming whatever dreams within them. I’m living here near three years now and I’m restless, somehow needing and wanting a new venue, perhaps going backward in time to the state where I was born – Tennessee. What! Give up this sea, this constant sun, and return to the hills of my youth? Am I nuts? No, not nuts, just some inner wiring that makes me long and yearn for where I’ve been and/or what I’ve had – that nomadic thing, that ‘wisp in the wind’ thing, that ‘moth to light’ thing.

Maybe it’s because that opportunity is there. I can move to the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, exchanging what I have here for the four acres of hardwood trees, a canyon, and a big lovely three-story log house. It’s compelling. The urge is strong…to be going back to the state where it all began for me, and not necessarily in the best ways. The property is near the most exquisite Sequatchie Valley, a long and narrow valley that stretches far and parallels the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachian Mountains. That current within me that sends these strong romantic impulses cannot be quelled. What do I do? But, that begs the question to which the answer is already likely known. If the promises are met by the Tennessee person involved, it will in all likelihood become a reality.

So it becomes a reality. I leave the sea for Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau. What then? The ‘what then’ is rather predictable for an incurable romantic, is it not? The romantic will come to miss his Sea of Cortez, the constant sun, and the far distant southern horizon. He will feel new wanderlust urges in his senses. It is the way of a romantic.

An incurable romantic knows not about the ways of practicality!


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