Betrayed!

by Kathryn Jane

Betrayed:

Powerful Stories of Kick-Ass Crime Survivors

Some months ago I was asked if I would like to contribute a short story to an anthology. But not just any anthology. This one was being produced to benefit survivors of violence, and ALL the proceeds would be going to help those in need.

Seemed like a good idea for a worthy cause, so I said yes.

That’s when things got really wild because I started to see the names of the other authors participating. OMGoodness! Cream of the crop thriller writers were signing on.

Surprised is a mild word to express how I felt. But really, considering the woman at the helm was Pam Stack, of Writers on the Air, I should not have been surprised. Pam interviews amazing upper echelon writers all the time.

But pinch me, I am part of this team, and my story is one of twenty-two between the covers of this awesome project.

And speaking of covers, isn’t this one by participating author, Elle J Rossi, spectacular?

Oh, and besides the short stories, did I mention a complete novella by the amazing Allison Brennan is also included?

I hope you pick up a copy so you can enjoy a great read. Every cent of the purchase price goes to a wonderful charity that supports survivors of domestic violence.

Buy now as an eBook

Available in print within 24 hours.


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Inspiration from My Favorite Mystery Authors

Collecting quotations has been one of my lifelong hobbies. In the pre-computer days, I would jot down quotations on slips of paper and toss them in a desk drawer. Once a month, I would type them up and place them in a special file folder. I’ve kept the folder but now use Pinterest and Goodreads to store my quotations.

Here are ten inspiring quotations from my favorite mystery authors:

Approach your lives as if they were novels, with their own heroes, villains, red herrings, and triumphs. Mary Higgins Clark

Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions. Agatha Christie

Do no harm and leave the world a better place than you found it. Patricia Cornwell

Somewhere along the line, I realized that I liked telling stories, and I decided that I would try writing. Ten years later, I finally got a book published. It was hard. I had no skills. I knew nothing about the business of getting published. So I had to keep working at it. Janet Evanovich

Both back when I was acting and now that I’m writing, I’ve always wanted the same thing out of my career: to be able to get up in the morning and do what I love doing. Tana French

The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel, where you have the emotional aspect of a detective’s personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character. Elizabeth George

I don’t want to write formula. I don’t want to crank these books out like sausages. Every book is different, which takes a hell of a lot of ingenuity on my part. Sue Grafton

I had to learn compassion. Had to learn what it felt like to hate, and to forgive and to love and be loved. And to lose people close to me. Had to feel deep loneliness and sorrow. And then I could write. Louise Penny

You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job. Nora Roberts

What I’m doing is writing stories about women who care about justice…who think about the difference between right and wrong, what’s legal and illegal, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral.  Lisa Scottoline

Do you have an inspiring quotation to share?

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

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The Scent of Change #Globalwarming #Inspiration @jacqbiggar

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It’s raining!

I don’t know about you, but those of us in the northwestern part of Canada are celebrating. Every year it gets hotter and drier and the earth is aging seemingly before our eyes.

It was always a dream for DH and I to move to Vancouver Island. We came here on our honeymoon and every year after that we could afford the trip. I craved the beautiful cedars, rhododendrons, ivy, and ferns. The lush greenness of the rainforest, the scent of the ocean on the air, the slap of the waves upon the shore… I could go on and on, lol.

Thirty years later we made the move and it was just as amazing as we remembered!

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Photo curtesy of Tofino Photography

I’ve made new friends, explored this magical place I’m blessed to call home, and learned to feel the pulse of the land.

And it worries me.

The birds and wildlife that count on the weather to keep the forest green and the food plentiful, are suffering.

Global warming is not simply a term-it is a view of our future. Unless we do something to change it. Not soon.

Now.

We’ve just come through the worst fire season in our province’s history. I shudder to think how many animals perished along with our forests, crops, homes–lives.

The hurricanes in the southern United States destroyed countless businesses, displaced thousands of people, cost billions of dollars.

And that’s only the tip of a quickly thawing iceberg.

I know this seems all doom and gloom, but it doesn’t have to be. I think we’re being warned, shape up, or face the consequences.

The tide is turning. Many areas now are banning plastic bags, urging economical use of gas and electricity, and promoting more green spaces in cities. This is all good, but we need to do more.

Being part of the baby boomer generation, I think much of the blame lies with us. We grew up in a time of exploration (the first trip to the moon), innovation (personal computers and cell phones), and excess. Lots of excess! Plastic water bottles, disposable baby diapers, takeout foods. You name it, we’ve done it.

I’m amazed by our growth and embarrassed with our neglect.

And I thank God every day that the new generation has learned from our mistakes. My grandson knows all about recycling, composting, energy efficient bulbs, healthy eating, exercise, growing your own sustainable produce.

And he’s ten.

This tells me that we still have a chance.

I’m writing this, drinking herbal tea and listening to the rain as it dances on my roof, and I’m grateful because Mother Nature is forgiving if we just make an effort.

 

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Filling in The Blanks

One of the maladies—and joys—of being a “pantser” novelist is that the story’s not over until it’s over. The raw, clay model of a novel can be reshaped, added to, and trimmed at any point in the process. Just like a sculpture.

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There is no outline. No rubric. Nothing written in stone. Anything, and everything, can change at any point along the way.

I am a devout, committed pantser: can’t write by an outline if my life depended on it. It would be like feeding hemlock to my muse. But the novel I’m working on now has been giving me fits. Why? Because I veered off my path of “purist pantser.”

First, because unlike many of my previous works, I actually have a working synopsis. Did I work long and hard on this? No. It’s a pantser synopsis. It sort of came to me, all in a jumbled lump of 4000 or so words, right after a coaching session with my favorite writing coach of all time, Joanna D’Angelo. Before that, all I had was a premise, and a general idea of characters and plot line. Very general. That’s how most of my novels are born.

But after a lengthy Facebook discussion with Joanna, the smoke started to clear and the mirrors came into view: the magic with which I could create this masterpiece. The manuscript sat for few weeks, while summertime activities and medical issues and life in general got in the way. My muse spent a few weeks in Tahiti (wish I could have gone with her). In fact, once I guilted myself into getting back “at it,” for the first few sessions, I had to cajole myself into even opening the document that held my raw beginnings—about 10,000 words or so—and force the words onto the page.

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They weren’t good. They weren’t even mediocre. They personified that legendary “shitty first draft,” a la Stephen King.

Then suddenly, the magic began to happen. All on its own.

The problem is, my magic muse gets in a hurry sometimes. She frantically whips my fingers around on the keyboard, moving the story along at breakneck speed. Often leaving gaps. Omissions. Holes in the plot line. Skipping over the waves like a water skier. Like a stone across a peaceful stream. Like a restless dragonfly flitting across that stream to light briefly on a reed or a rock along the way.

I am not one of those people who can blast through an entire 80,000-word manuscript, call it the “shitty first draft,” and then go back to “lick my calf over” (can you tell my husband is an old cowboy?). No. These gaps and omissions and plot holes haunt me, waking me up in the wee hours of the morning, declaring their existence at screaming decibels. They insist—demand—that I go back, right now, and fill them in.

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Which is why, at 3:30 a.m. this morning, I climbed out of bed, my brain throbbing from their rants. Somehow, by some magic of the muse’s wisdom, the plot holes had made themselves known to me at some point in the night. And once I knew they were there, well . . . you know the rest of the story.

But now, 2000 words later, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Because I know, now that the omissions, the gaps, the plot holes are filled in (at least some of them), the writing of this novel will progress much more smoothly. Much more rapidly.

Until Ms. Muse again takes possession of my fingertips and races forward at warp speed. Only to pause some tens of thousands of words down the line, at which point she will find something else for which she feels it necessary to disturb my slumber.

~~~

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Claire Gem is an award winning author of contemporary romance & supernatural suspense. You can find out more about her work at her website & on her Amazon Author Page.

 

Painted Rocks, Joy, and Childhood Revisited

I grew up spending my summers at the beach, and one of our favorite pastimes was collecting rocks and shells, and painting them.

Well, imagine my surprise when I recently discovered adults all around the world have taken to painting rocks, and tucking them in fun spots for other folk to find. Rocks with messages, or not. Rocks with great artwork on them…or not.  The point is to spread a bit of love.

So last Tuesday, my besties and I on our “girls playday,” painted rocks, and on the weekend I took them to the beach where the Sea Festival was happening, and I left them here and there, in plain view.

I could only imagine the childlike joy of finding such a special gift—something another human being had created with love.

Guess what we’re doing this Tuesday? Yep, painting more rocks, and this time I might leave a couple at the hospital, or in odd spots around town. My goal in life is to make people smile, and I’m tickled to find this new way that will hopefully bring a moment of joy to a total stranger.

 

 


Kat loves crisp sunny days, the warm breath of a horse, cats with a sense of humor, the smell of the ocean, and her very own charming prince—in no particular order.   http://kathrynjane.com


 

Soul destroying questions and equally stunning answers have Dusty digging deeper than she ever thought possible, and when she discovers her Self, in an entirely foreign landscape, she begins anew, more determined than ever to achieve her lifelong dream.


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To Be or Not to Be – doobie doobie doo

author 100 x 100When I was in tenth grade, high school curriculum mandated we study “Romeo and Juliet.” So we read and discussed the play, and although I did well on that particular unit, I didn’t get it. I felt as if I’d missed something in the writing. romeo and juliet

Then the teacher showed us the movie version. Click. Like big time click. I understood what I’d been missing-the interpretation, the setting, the whole enchilada. Shakespeare was meant to be heard and watched, not necessarily read. Although I am not an auditory learner, his works made much more sense to me through this medium.

For many years, I have gone to Shakespeare in the Park. (It does help the venue is close-by.) We go with friends and family, pack a picnic, bug spray, and our comfy folding chairs. Sometimes, even in July, we need a light sweater after sunset.

This troupe does a particularly good job of performing one comedy and one tragedy each season which lasts about six weeks. They add songs, dance numbers, set and dress in different eras. I truly hate to miss. This quote from “The Merry Wives of Windsor” tickled Handsome and me, “One. Two. Third.” I don’t know if Shakespeare wrote it, but it worked.

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What’s your stance on Shakespeare? Love? Hate?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Although I’m not Shakespeare, I am a writer and am writing a funny holiday story with those names. LOL. Here’s a tease:

Once I’d determined he couldn’t see or hear me, I rubbed my bruised side and turned on Melissa. “Did you have to hurt me?”

“Oh my goodness, Julianne, it’s not like I gave you a broken rib. You were beginning to sound like a lovesick cow.”

“Me? Not hardly.”

“Was, too. Or a lovesick Juliet. Moooooo.”

“Your bovine imitation is sorely lacking.” I shoved my fists to my hips. “Didn’t you just say I might meet my true love on the ship?”

“Yes, but I didn’t mean Romeo. Anyone but him.”

“Right.”

Find me and other funny stories at: Author Central

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My Fascination with the Devil #amwriting #Suspense #RSsos @jacqbiggar

It’s not what you’re thinking. Okay, maybe it is.

I’ve fallen in love.

He’s Handsome, smart, charming, and oh yeah, he’s the devil.

And I’m not alone.

Thousands tune in every Monday night to watch what is quickly becoming a craze on Twitter and various other social media platforms.

That’s right, it’s Lucifer.

So what is this phenomenon all about?

Based on characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg, this series follows Lucifer, the original fallen angel, who has become dissatisfied with his life in hell. After abandoning his throne and retiring to Los Angeles, Lucifer indulges in his favorite things (women, wine and song) — until a murder takes place outside of his upscale nightclub.

For the first time in billions of years, the murder awakens something unfamiliar in Lucifier’s soul that is eerily similar to compassion and sympathy.

Lucifer is faced with another surprise when he meets an intriguing homicide detective named Chloe, who appears to possess an inherent goodness — unlike the worst of humanity, to which he is accustomed. Suddenly, Lucifer starts to wonder if there is hope for his soul.

Like Lucifer-played by the amazing Tom Ellis, I think we all go through phases where we don’t feel good enough (He thinks he was sent to Hell as punishment from Father. His older brother, Amenadiel- played by D.B Woodside, tells him it was actually because He trusted Lucifer to keep the evil ones down there and so protect humanity.)

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Lately, I’ve been struggling with personal self-esteem. That’s the problem with being an introvert, you spend way too much time in your head.

My sales are down. My writing is slo… ow going, each word is like pulling teeth, and my family has been having medical problems.

Hard to stay positive in the face of all that adversity.

But, then hope appears (much like Lucifer’s guiding light, Chloe). A good review here, a kind word there, and the darkness falls away. Maybe I can finish this story. Find new readers. Make my mark in this crazy world of writing.

Maybe.

If you haven’t watched Lucifer yet, you should. It’s surprising what the devil can teach us. 🙂

By the way, I have a new release coming out!

July 1st 2017 is the one hundred fiftieth birthday of Canada’s Confederation and our local writing/critiquing group decided it would be fun to do an anthology to celebrate.

My contribution, My Baby Wrote Me A Letter, stems from a news segment I watched. A woman bought an old desk at a yard sale. After bringing it home she began the process of refinishing the wood and happened to find a letter taped to the back of a drawer.

When she read the message, she realized the note could be important to someone, and with little more than a faded name to go on, began a search for the writer of the mysterious letter.

It was placing a picture on Facebook that led to the son of the man who had written that long ago message to his family. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and feared he would never survive to see his children grow, so he wrote them a letter from the heart.

The news story had a happy ending; the man survived the cancer and lived not only to see his children to adulthood, but several of his grandchildren as well.

His story was an inspiration to me,

Jacquie

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Falling in #Love with your #Characters #amwriting @jacqbiggar

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Readers often ask where do writers come up with ideas for their characters? In my case, the birth of a hero comes from a variety of sources. News reports, television programs, books I’ve read; all are great resources.

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But my favorite characters grow organically from stories I’ve already written. For my new release, Missing: The Lady Said No, the idea for my hero, Augustus Grant, came to me from a previous book where the main character was a mystery writer suffering from writer’s block.

Gus is the character my hero, Joel Carpenter, (in the holiday romance novel Silver Bells) was writing about. I fell in love with the bumbling detective and decided then and there he needed his own story!

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Gus is smart, irreverent, a little bit clumsy (okay, a LOT clumsy!) and still in love with the girl he let get away.

Rebecca Hayes.

Here’s a short excerpt. Gus is investigating a murder at a horse ranch and runs into the one person he never thought he’d see again.

Becky stood at the top of the grand staircase and felt the world give way.

Augustus.

It had been too long.

And not long enough.

She couldn’t believe he was here. Or maybe she could. It had always been his dream to become a detective. After all, that was the reason they had split up, wasn’t it? He’d craved the excitement, and she’d needed stability. Safety.

Well, it was too late now, on many levels. The best thing she could do would be to put on a brave face and escape with her pride.

“Hello, Augustus,” she called. Careful not to let him see her trembling, she gripped the banister and reluctantly went to join the man who had stolen her heart. He was every bit as tall as she remembered. Still just as handsome, too. A few more lines around the eyes and mouth maybe. She shied away from his lips, focusing instead on the crooked tie and wrinkled shirt. A wry smile touched her mouth.

“I see you still haven’t figured out the right side of an iron,” she murmured.

He glanced down and ran a strong, tanned hand down his chest. Something fluttered to life in hers.

He met her gaze with a grin that slowly faded away. “I looked for you,” he said.

Oh, God.

This wasn’t what she expected. After leaving Bourbonville and moving here, to Balmoral, she’d second-guessed her decision often, but never realized maybe he did too, just a little.

“You’re the cop. You could have found me if you tried.”

As you can see, there are a lot of unresolved feelings between these two. The question is, can Gus make it right? You’ll have to read on to find out. 🙂

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This is part of a branded series set around the running of the famous Kentucky Derby. I hope you’ll enjoy my story and give the other books in the Chandler County series a try!

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Getting to Know My Cast

Happy Friday! What better day than this to share some writing inspiration—and perhaps inspire us to make use of some the weekend to further our works-in-progress.racehorse-152697_640

I would have made a bad racehorse. My writing on a new project tends to start out like hellfire: I get a fabulous idea, a great premise for a story, and there I go—bang!—out of the starting gate with all the speed of Affirmed or American Pharaoh. I’m banging away at the keys in a fevered frenzy, the first ten thousand words or so flowing out of my imagination with effortless exuberance.

But then I get to page fifty or so. My burst of writing energy gets winded. And just like a racehorse who leads the pack until he reaches the first turn, I find, sadly, I’m out of gas.

Why does this happen to me? Because although I began with a great story premise, I never really had a story to begin with. Just a story idea.

This doesn’t happen to plotters, who carefully outline their projects and know exactly (or pretty close to exactly) what’s going to happen in Chapter Two and Chapter Fifteen and at The End. I’ve never been able to write that way: out of a box. I’m a confirmed pantser. Perhaps because the other side of my life, my day job, is in scientific research. There I am ruled by outlines and protocols. I find them confining. They are a quick kill for my creative muse.cube-1002897_640

The same muse who finds herself scratching her head around page fifty. We both (she and I) know how the story ends, but getting from that first turn and on toward the finish line is like trying to cross the Rocky Mountains on horseback—with no guide, limited rations, and in January.

This time, I’m trying a new tactic. I’ve acquired some help. I figured, who better to help me write my story than the people most closely involved in it: my characters?

So before I began writing my current WIP, I selected four of the most prominent characters in my book and decided to interview them. I didn’t use a template of pre-determined questions I found in some writing book. I just created an imaginary scene, in the place where my book is set and where my characters live, and met them at various places. I started by taking my heroine out for lunch at a lovely cafe in downtown Tampa overlooking the waterway.

And you know what? A funny thing happened. First, I got to know her—I had no idea she had a Southern accent! She also seemed the very reserved, nervous type—what is she hiding? She exhibited some character-unique tics and mannerisms she will carry throughout the book.

When I followed my imaginary heroine back  to her place of work, a strange man walked in and encountered us in the lobby—not the hero. This guy was sort of sinister-looking, not terribly warm, and looked at my heroine like she was lunch. He was her coworker and superior, but I have the feeling his intentions will become much more intense as the story progresses.bat-2029809_640

My story has an antagonist. One I never planned on.

It’s either an amazing trick of the imagination, or a mental illness, but by simply creating a scene in which to interact with one of my characters, an entirely new facet of my story revealed itself. I highly recommend the practice. You never know who will walk in on you as you get to know your character.

I can’t wait to see what happens when I interview my hero.

This time, I think I may just make it to the finish line a whole lot easier.

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~~~

Claire Gem writes supernatural suspense and contemporary romance. She recently released an Author’s Resource Book, The Road to Publication, which you can find along with all her other books on her Amazon Author Page.

Life Lessons from Hidden Figures

While several weeks have passed, I can still vividly recall scenes from Hidden Figures. The movie has left an impression, one that will linger in my consciousness. And I’m not only thinking of the Oscar-worthy performances delivered by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

Instead, my thoughts gravitate toward Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three brilliant African-American women who helped launch John Glenn into orbit. In the 1960s, this visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines, and in 2017, they continue to inspire generations of women to dream bigger dreams.

Here are five life lessons imparted by the movie:

Show Don’t Tell

My favorite scenes are those where math prodigy Katherine Johnson walks up  (or climbs) to the blackboard and confidently shares her solutions to mathematical problems that have stumped older students and white professional males. As she writes, everyone else stops to watch, awestruck. Even astronaut John Glenn was impressed by her expertise and later asked for final confirmation from Katherine before setting foot in the rocket: “Get the girl, check the numbers. If she says they’re good, I’m ready to go.”

At first dismissive, supervisor Al Harrison soon recognizes Katherine’s competence and her ability to “look beyond the numbers, through the math that doesn’t yet exist.”

Persist! Persist! Persist!

Dorothy Vaughan is competent in her role as office supervisor for the African-American “computers” but lacks the rank and salary attached to the position. Throughout the film, she reminds her supervisor of the situation and receives a variation of the following comments: “They’ve never had a colored in here before” and “Just the way things are.” Undaunted, Dorothy persists while continuing to update her skills and maintain her professionalism.

Feisty Mary Jackson encounters discrimination at all levels when she applies for the engineer training program at the University of Virginia. Doggedly determined, Mary completes all the paperwork and takes her case to court where she delivers an impassioned plea to a skeptical judge.

I felt immense pride when Dorothy was introduced as “Mrs.Vaughan, Supervisor” and Mary entered an all-white, all-male classroom and sat near the front.

Speak Up

Of the three, Katherine was the most reserved, preferring to let her competence speak. But after suffering several indignities, among them racing half a mile to a “colored” bathroom in another building, adhering to an unrealistic (and expensive) dress code, and pouring coffee from a “colored” coffee pot, Katherine finally speaks up. Upon learning of these difficulties, Director Al Harrison resolved Katherine’s problems in one of the most satisfying scenes of the movie.

Get “technical

 An early scene finds Dorothy under her car, attempting to fix the starter. She succeeds. Later, she visits the room housing the mammoth IBM mainframe and figures out how to start and program the machine; a task several “expert” men couldn’t accomplish. At one point in the film, she explains how she watched and listened when her father explained and demonstrated how machines work. An excellent lesson for those of us who claim to be non-techies, preferring to wait for someone else to repair or figure out how to use the technology.

Look and Plan Ahead

 Dorothy didn’t stop at just activating the IBM mainframe. She picked up a book on Fortran and taught herself the programming language. She then taught the thirty women in the “Colored” room, guaranteeing that no one would be laid off once the mainframe was in full operation. Thinking back to my teaching years, I recall many groans and complaints whenever new software was introduced.

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Fifty years ago, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson realized the importance of behaving professionally, continually updating their skill sets, and making themselves indispensable in their respective workplaces.

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Where to find Joanne  Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest