Graduations!

On Memorial Day, a part of my family and I drove two hours up to Lake Nacona, TX to celebrate the high school graduation of our great niece and cousin. She is the first of her generation to graduate from high school. There will be two more in her family, and we’ll have three more, but not for quite a few years. 🙂

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The experience made me nostalgic about this event. You know your high school graduation is like no other. In college some people decide not to walk, and even if they do, they can have several college graduations, so they lose some of their significance.

I’ve been fortunate to take part in and attend a lot of high school graduations—literally too numerous to count. I was a high school teacher in a former life, and a school board member for eight years in another former life where I spoke and made presentations at graduations. Not to mention my own high school graduation and those of our daughters. I was on the stage for my oldest daughter’s ceremony and my husband was on the board of regents for the state college form which she graduated. (He actually handed her the diploma.)

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So high school graduations have significance to me. “Bittersweet” was the word I heard mentioned today. My great niece and her friends have been together since early elementary school, and now they will be going their separate ways. Oh, a couple are going to several different colleges together, but it will never be the same.

I love the opportunities stretching ahead for these young people. They have their whole lives ahead of them. To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places they will go.”

Not only have the girls been long time good buds, but their moms have too. In their 40s and 50s they’ve juggled jobs, spouses, kids, volunteer activities, and older parents. Such a lot on their plate. Several moms are done now and are empty-nesters.  Others still have one or two more to graduate. What lies ahead for them? Who knows?

The heroine in many of my stories are like these women. They have children, parents, jobs, sometimes spouses, and then I throw in a bit of suspense, a murder or two, and the possibility of a new love. Stir until they can have a happily ever after. Check out my stand-alones and The Second Chances Series.

Second Act 200x300(1) Act of Trust 200x300 Act of Betrayal 200x300 Act of survival 200x300

What about you? Anyone graduating this year? Children, Grands, Nieces or nephews? Maybe yourself?

I love graduations from any perspective. Such joy, excitement and “bittersweetness.” Love to hear from you.

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go go go STOP!

by Kathryn Jane

Just when I thought I had everything under control…life happened.

I got so sick with the flu that I could barely speak or make the twenty-foot trek to the bathroom alone.

Did I mention I NEVER get sick? Yeah, well, I guess I can’t say that anymore. On day five, I managed a 3 minute shower, and a whole cup of soup (in two sittings).

Sucks.

But here’s the thing,

I was apparently on the list for wakeup calls. Running around as though I was invincible, taking on project after project, putting in eighteen hours at the computer, seven days a week. I thought I was in control… of everything!

Today when the haze of illness began to lift and I was simply sitting still, doing NOTHING, it became very clear. I had been spiraling out of control for several months.

I suppose it began to escalate in September with my conference season. Each one I attended sent me home more energized, more excited, and filled with more ideas.

I was ready to tackle whatever came my way—with the tiny cheerleaders in my head thrusting their scrawny arms skyward to shake their tinsel pompoms and egg me on…

I’ve published three new books since August and have a forth set to publish soon. I’ve painted dozens and dozens of rocks for my fundraising auctions as well as many private commissions, and others just because. Blogs have been written, and several hundred authors guided through my online or in-person workshops.

None of this feels like work, because of the tiny cheerleaders… but…

I sailed past my sixtieth birthday a few years ago, I’m skinny. And apparently, I don’t have unlimited resources.

Microscopic critters somehow gained access to my bloodstream and proved that.

Knocked me down good and hard, and with no extra meat on my bones, not eating for days meant resources got seriously depleted very quickly.

Tuesday morning I called my friend to cancel a riding date, because even though I only had a sore throat, and felt great, I didn’t want to share germs if this was more than an allergy issue.

Four hours later I could barely stand. Six hours later, I was flat on my back wishing I was dead.

I’ll spare you the gorey details but suffice to say, I had the stuffing knocked out of me.

And today, when I looked for the positive, I realized I’d forgotten to allow myself time to relax. Sure there were the lovely rides in the park, and the wonderful visits with the feral cats, but these were worked into very tight time slots which took a great deal of the good away from them.

Another crazy thing that happened on Tuesday morning was a message from my editor. She had a computer melt down, and was going to have trouble making deadline. I responded blithely with, “Don’t worry. The universe must have a plan for this. We’ll just ride it out.”

Ouch, Universe.

Talk about a brick upside the head.

I get it.

My wellbeing is more important than the date a book is ready for release. Yes, some people will be disappointed, and some sales might be missed, but that’s life, right? I could no more work on getting the book up and ready next week than fly right now, so CATS #5 was obviously not meant to be released in print form before Christmas. Got it.

Instead, as soon as I’m able I’ll work on painting the rocks already commissioned, and if the dates get tight, I’ll send them by courier to make sure they reach their destinations on time. With the current state of my health, that’s the best I can do. And I’m good with that. I hope everyone else is too.

While I get back on my feet, I’m going to remember to stop and smell the coffee and enjoy the man in my house who has been such an exceptional caregiver this week.

And I’m going to give myself the gift of time every single day to do absolutely nothing, for an hour or two.

Wish me luck!

For anyone interested in how this pans out, or wanting to know more about me and my books and stuff, here’s a link to my website  kathrynjane.com

Would A Real Man Say That?

by Kathryn Jane

Good question.

I am a woman, and therefore, as enlightened as I like to think I am, I still have a female point of view…which can sometimes be annoyingly skewed.

As a writer, I am often writing in a male point of view and like to think I do a damned good job of it because throughout my life I have worked side by side with many men, and have a decent understanding of how the male mind operates. Or so I thought.

But here’s the thing.

Readers constantly say they love how real, how authentic my male characters are. But are they?  Or do I follow the myth of what women generally believe? Perhaps the men I create are the kind we would like to have in our lives.

The question then becomes, does it matter? Fiction is fiction after all, and creating characters a reader can love and relate to is what matters, right? Right!

But every once in a while I feel a need to validate my hero’s thoughts and actions and that’s when I do the scary thing. I ask a man. A real live, breathing male what he would have done in the same situation. What his thoughts might have been.

Sometimes I get the answer I want. Sometimes I don’t. But I always get something I can add to my understanding of the male mind, and often I get an answer that makes me laugh.

My hubby is my go-to guy for these questions because he’s one of those men who is totally stumped by a female perspective, which means I never get an answer tempered to fit the question.

Just now I did a test, for the fun of the blog.  I asked him what color these scarves were. He said one was blue and the other was red. I see turquoise, and a reddish orange pattern on apricot which creates and overall burnt orange, but his male mind sees only the straightforward, none of the nuance.

Last week I had an important question for him. I came out of my writing cave and leaned on the door jamb. “Question,” I said, and he instantly gave me his attention because although he doesn’t read my books, he’s right into my writing and loves to help.

Me: “The hero has spent months trying to track down the woman he loves and finally finds her far from home, down and out, bone thin, and living on the streets. When he gets her to the safety of a hotel room, will he jump her bones?”  (I asked this because it happened sort of like a celebration in the first draft of the story, but when I was editing it seemed insensitive.)

Hubby: “Is she asking for it or is he?”

Geeze, I hadn’t thought of that. Okay, I roll with it.

Me: “She wants it, but she’s skinny and looking pretty rough. Not attractive at all.”

Hubby: “He won’t say no.”

Me: “If she doesn’t want/ask/push for sex?”

Hubby: “He’ll look after her first. Wait until she does.”

And that, my friends, changed an entire scene in the book, and made it better. Much, much better! I realised that the heroine was going to want sex for validation of their relationship, to feel connected again, and that was yet another flaw in her I could explore.

It also added another facet to Jason’s personality. He was already a nurturing kind of man, but now he became aware of Kate’s need to use sex as…  LOL…  I’ll stop here and just say the title of the book is DIAMONDS TO DIE FOR, and it will be out at the end of September.

 

Meantime, MISSING—Broughton and Alexandra’s story is coming out in less than a month and is available for pre-order now.

Caleb Broughton is a man’s man, and the last thing he needs is a greener-than-grass new partner—especially a woman he’s been avoiding for months. But when a plane suddenly vanishes, nothing else matters.

Grab this exciting sequel to Dance With Me, now!

AMAZON  | APPLE & NOOK

 


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

 

 

Easter – so much more than a word

Easter.

Six letters.

Two syllables.

A simple sounding word with a nice visual balance.

A word tasked with conveying entire stories, and where a picture is often worth a thousand words, some words are worth a thousand pictures.

In our complex world filled with assorted and often dissimilar beliefs, Easter conjures up an amazing collection of emotions along with those pictures. 

Joy, love, excitement, anticipation and sorrow, are among the many, and just as dissimilar as a crucifix, white gloves, and a bible, are to chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, and vacations at fancy theme parks.

In celebration of Diversity,  the Sisters of Suspense Authors are sharing little bits of their Easters with all of us.


From Joanne Guidoccio:


From Kathryn Jane:

Easter means Spring to me. A time when the trees sprout new leaves, and daffodils push up through the ground to share their smiling faces with the world. Everything outdoors is new, and fresh, and holds the promise of warmer weather to come.DSCN7733 (2)


From Vicki Batman:

The world coming alive in the Spring.


From Sharon Wray:

“I hope you all have a Happy Easter.”


From Marsha R. West:

Eggs! A highlight of my memories of celebrating Easter when I was a child. My dad was an expert egg decorator. They were beautiful. Afterwards my mother turned the eggs into awesome egg salad. When we had daughters, I tried to do the same thing. Not sure I was successful, but it was fun. Now we have two granddaughters (and one grandson), and the Easter egg hunting tradition continues, but with plastic eggs. This year they will b filled with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Better for you than all that sugar.


From Jeannie Hall:

Pastel eggs and yellow ribbons

Pigtails, smiles, hidden treasure

Laughter on cherubic faces,

While sunshine, warm and gentle

Lights the way.


From Marian Lanlouette:

These girls and I have been friends since birth. I call them my cradle to the grave friends.




 

Resolutions/Goals

First, Happy New Year from the Sisterhood of Suspense Blog.  I love new beginnings. The idea of making resolutions or setting goals is exciting to me. As a former educator (are we ever really a former educator?), I believe strongly in the possibility of self-improvement. One way to do that is by setting  Goals

You all know that’s not just saying: “I want to lose weight,” which is wishful thinking at best. Writing down: “I want to lose 20 lbs by May,” that’s a goal. If it’s realistic and you put a plan with that and stick with it, the goal is attainable. That was one of my goals for 2017. Big bomb! Actually, gained a few pounds. ☹ I can rationalize I was still in recovery from my broken ankle and was just going to Pilates once a week instead of twice which I did pre-ankle. However, I just ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. For most of us that will guarantee weight gain, especially with limited exercise. LOL

Personal goals I attained for 2017  (I have a file called GOALS on the computer with several years of goals.)

*Walked twice a day with Charley and extra steps to get to 10,000 daily. Only missed a few for the year. Some were during our recent freeze.

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*Found a new GP, who I love.

*Enjoyed the lake. (There’s something sad about having to write that down in your goals. Seems like it should be natural. Not for this workaholic! 😊) IMG_6354 Who knew lakes had waves?

Work goals I attained

*Wrote & Published Book 3. (Book 3 in the series, not the 3rd book.) ACT OF BETRAYAL was released in October of 2017

.Act of Betrayal

*Wrote weekly personal blog and monthly SOS blog.

*Attended several book signings.

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There were others in both categories, but that gives you an idea.

So what’s for 2018?

Personal

*Be healthy which includes losing weight and getting my blood pressure down without meds. (I have started this by doing the Whole 30 this month. You can read about that in my Jan. 11th blog at  https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/  )

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*Enjoy the lake (yeah, I know weird!)

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*Continue church volunteering—which does take significant time, but is important

*Enjoy my family (I’m so blessed they live near.)

Work Related

*Complete the short story for the book my writing chapter is publishing in March

*Write and publish the last book in the Second Chances Series. Looking forward to this. Don’t expect to ever write another series, even though I love reading them!)

*Put out a monthly newsletter (began this in November when my PR co. went out of business. So grateful to them. I’d have never had a newsletter without them.)

*Write personal blog weekly and SOS blog monthly

*Make presentations whenever possible–one is set up for February

*Be supportive of my fellow authors (with FB and Twitter shares & reviews)

To accomplish the first four, I must be much more disciplined about my time. Difficult when I’m easily distracted. LOL

So what about you? Do you set goals? Please share if you’re comfortable. Even if you don’t share, I hope you set them. IMHO, they do make a difference.

Please tell your friends about our Sisterhood of Suspense blog. One of our goals is to post more often. Every Tuesday and Thursday, you’ll find something interesting, educational, or entertaining. Something to make you think. We always love to hear from you.

marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com 

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Scents, Aromas, & Emotions

Yesterday I finished up my container of Jergens Lotion. It was the kind with Shea Butter, super good for dry skin and has a nice scent. It’s a large container as you can see, and I’ve used it for a long time.

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When I reached under the sink to see what else was there, I pulled out the Jergens with the original scent. I slathered it on my legs and arms.

And I was instantly back in my mother’s bathroom. Now she’s been gone for over 14 years, but that scent said MOTHER in all capital letters. My mother was never a “little old lady.” In fact, when she was in the retirement center, she worried about the “little old ladies” who didn’t have someone to speak up for them.

Isn’t it interesting how an aroma or scent can do that? Old Spice makes me think of my father. The smell of Popcorn also makes think of my dad. I grew up eating it and later popping it for my family.

I use scents in my writing, trying to capture that emotion that we connect with certain things in our past like….

Fireplaces. I LOVE the smell of wood burning in a fireplace. It makes me feel safe and cozy. Sometimes I have word burning fireplaces in my books and sometimes gas ones. Depends on what the characters and story needs. In one book  I created two fireplaces. 🙂

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Smells can also be bad, the dead skunk that you pass on the highway, rotten eggs, throw-up. Sorry, but it’s that smell that makes others throw up. Likewise, dirty diapers.  I’ll be happy to never smell that again. LOL

So, what are some smells that move you emotionally? What food smells make you hungry. Authors, what scents do you use in your writing? Love to hear from you.

And sense I won’t be posting here again until after my favorite holiday, let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and good food.

marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com  
https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ Blog
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Sisterhood of suspense'sBountiful HarvestGiveaway

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.

 

Don’t forget to enter our monthly giveaway!

 

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More Than I Wished For by Marian Lanouette

Unexpected Holiday Bonus by Marian Lanouette

Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem

Partners: Odyssey of the Phoenix by McKenna Sinclair

Second Act by Marsha R. West

A Midnight Clear by Jeannie Hall

Touch Me by Kathryn Jane

Bug Stuff and Other Stories by Vicki Batman

Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio

Snowed by Veronica Forand

Hold ‘Em in audiobook format by Jacquie Biggar

$10 G/C by S.A. Taylor

Photographic Notecards by Sharon Wray

Disasters, 2, 3, & 4…

Wow! What’s Mother Nature so angry about? The last post I wrote on Aug. 30 was about Hurricane Harvey hitting the Gulf Coast of Texas.  Now here we are not quite two weeks later and Hurricane Irma has torn up the Caribbean and the entire state of Florida, followed close on its heels by Jose and then Katia. That doesn’t even mention the category 8 earthquake in Mexico, or the never ending horrific fires engulfing our friends in Western Canada and the US. Whew! 2017 will be in the record books for sure, but not in a good way.

Can we just go back to watching Disaster Movies instead of experiencing them?

I do realize this is hurricane season, and it’s common to have a number of them hurling themselves around, but WOW! This is bizarre and scary.

(And yesterday was September 11 and the 16th anniversary of that disaster. Here’s a link to offer support for the museum site. info@911memorial.org   You can also  listen to podcasts of people’s memories of that day., Our City, Our Story.)

Amongst the horror are all the wonderful stories of heroism and people helping others regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, or their religion. Those behaviors are the only thing that make these disasters at all bearable.

Plus, as I said on Aug. 30—a good romance book to take you away and to give you hope in a happily ever after.

So into all this mess, on Sept. 21, I’m releasing my sixth book, ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 in the Second Chances Series. Right now, you can pre-order it for $1.99 before it goes live for its regular price of $4.99. It’s on three major sites, Amazon, B & N, and KOBO.  The print will be available soon thereafter. ACT OF BETRAYAL Pre-Sale

Here are direct links:

Amazon  http://amzn.to/2wuqPFc  

B & N        http://bit.ly/2wAWqnT

KOBO    http://bit.ly/2wkBfGW

The setting for this book is Dallas, but my characters are much nicer than those in the TV show named for the city. Oh, I’ve got a really bad guy, of course, and my usual generational thing going. I did not grow up in that kind of situation, but as an adult that’s the life I’ve experienced. So, family is important to me and that shows up in my stories. When I began writing, I didn’t realize I’d write about older characters or that families would play such a strong place in my stories.

Do you like stories about families or do you prefer reading a story just about the guy and the girl? Do you read or write disaster stories? Have you or your family and friends been impacted by this rash of recent  disasters? I hope you take advantage of all the opportunities to give support, and I hope and pray all your family and friends are okay.

Don’t forget our fall Giveaway.

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And check out my links:

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/bBcimz , marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com 

https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ Blog

https://www.facebook.com/marsha.r.west @marsha.r.west

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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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I am not my childhood

by Kathryn Jane

I’ve taken a side trip from my Romantic Suspense series by writing a Women’s Fiction.

A novel about a woman of heart, courage and integrity. A woman who could have been irreparably damaged by the man who raised her.

But wasn’t. At least not for the long haul. Oh, she made some monumentally  bad decisions as a teenager and young adult, but she eventually learned from them.

And when she became privy to the details of her own childhood and the secrets she’d unknowingly lived with, instead of breaking under the weight of what she learned, she built herself a new life.

She found purpose. And she found a way to realize her lifelong dream in spite of all hope being stripped from her soul.

She became a warrior for her cause. And she changed lives.

She fought for her dream and she won.

She is a testament to women everywhere who do what needs to be done, say what needs to be said, and live with the consequences. Who overcome what appear to be insurmountable odds and obstacles.

She is much more than a survivor.

She is not her childhood.

And neither am I.


Award winning author, Kathryn Jane writes the popular Intrepid Women Series. Novels filled with mystery, suspense, adventure, psychic abilities, and romance. Think MacGyver, Criminal Minds, and James Bond…with a dash of I Love Lucy.

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.