The Plunge–or Characters Achieving Gravitas

 

 

Writing a series with the same characters appearing from book to book offers so much opportunity for character growth that I can’t resist. Nobody stays the same. Like all humans, characters grow, learn from their experiences, and evolve into a much stronger version of themselves. Take Phoebe McCabe who launched the Crime by Design series in Rogue Wave as an immature and easily lead young woman, especially vulnerable to the men in her life. Yes, part of her is me. Or, was me.

When I think back to some of the decisions I made, or failed to make, in my early days, I could bang my head against a wall. I was afraid of everything, especially what people thought of me. It was more important to be liked than it was to be smart, and often being smart guaranteed not being liked. Women were not judged by their intelligence so much as by their looks and malleability. I’d sit quietly, stamping down my opinions lest some authority figure think less of me. Silly Putty was so popular in those days. Sound familiar? Most women growing up in this society have experienced some version of this to lesser or greater degrees.

So, five books later for Phoebe and several decades later for me, and the interior landscapes of both character and author have changed. The ground has hardened, the mountains have formed, and that great stony ridge running down the length of the human continent might finally be considered a backbone. And now I love nothing better than voicing my opinion, especially if it sparks a lively debate, whereas Phoebe McCabe will risk almost everything to get in THE LAST WORD.

Getting in the last word is an indicator of a strong sense of entitlement to speak one’s truth, whether it be right or wrong, loved or despised. At the very least, it signifies that the speaker stands for something and is willing to take the fall in its defence. In Phoebe’s case, it took awhile to sort through the weight of her heart versus the burden of her moral code. One so easily overrides the other though at the nexus of those two often conflicting elements, Phoebe makes a decision which results in her taking a very deep plunge. The younger woman character couldn’t have done what she does in book five and this older author hopes she’ll never have to do anything remotely similar.

The Plunge (coming out February 16th) is a turning point for the Crime by Design series. Though it’s still on the light end of the thriller spectrum, the character of Phoebe McCabe has at last gathered some gravitas. THE PLUNGE ON AMAZON

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful Survivor–Book 3 in the Crime by Design Series

I am a great admirer of the survivor, whether it be an ancient artifact or a living being. In fact, anything or anyone who has withstood time and trauma deserves accolades and the deepest respect. That could be a Syrian refugee or a Roman amphitheater.  Or you, if you’re over forty. Not everybody gets the chance to grow older.

Because time is a wildcard. Time is a disaster not waiting to happen because it already has–successively and with impact. Look back into the centuries, or even across the days of a human life, and you’ll see wars, earthquakes, explosions, personal losses, heath crises, and heartbreak. Those that walk away, those that withstand the ravages of time, have stories to tell, and authors are tasked with the telling. All right, I admit, we embellish our tales and take license with the facts, but the core of truth is what matters.

I prefer my truths served with humor. It’s a necessary element of survival, perhaps the most important one. For that reason, you’ll never find my stories to be too serious. Even when I touch on weighty topics like crime, murder, death, and destruction, I lightened the load. Let the nightly news handle the raw matter. I’m here to entertain. I’m here to help you survive.

Beautiful Survivor, book three in the Crime by Design series, is soon to be released and, at its heart, it’s about survival, too. Yes, there is trauma, crime, fear, pain, but, you’ll still recognize the personal sinew that keeps the characters powering on.

This action suspense picks up where Phoebe McCabe left off in The Warp in the Weave and, as with the first two books in the series, it’s humorous, fast-paced, filled with vivid characters, a little romance, and bound to take you by surprise. This book is set in one of my favorite lands, Italy, a country that takes survival seriously. Think of the Etruscans, the Romans, the dolce vita.

Pick up your copy January 27th or pre-order from Amazon today.

What does an Antique Textile have to do with how Men Worshiped Women Thousands of Years Ago?

Men used to worship women, I mean really worship them.

Our value wasn’t weighed by how thin we were (lean was mean), or how young, or even how pretty. We were valued based on our contribution as the life-givers, our ability to generate new life to continue the tribe and, following our fecund years, honor was bestowed on all we’ve been and done.

Research on ancient humans plunging way back to the Bronze Age, have unearthed round, bountiful female statues that would never make the cover of Vogue. Fertility Figures they’re referred to now, as if that can tidy them away among the fossils and dinosaur bones.

Ancient sites like Turkey’s Çatal Hüyük discovered an advance civilization where men and women appear to live in a harmonious balance of mutual admiration. The Goddess sits on her leopard throne in a shrine surrounded by symbols of male energy, the bull (some things never change), as if the male hunters and warriors served the giver of life rather than ruled her.

And the Goddess looks more like your great aunt Mable than Gisselle Bündchen .

Think about it. Was this ancient civilization so much more advanced than ourselves that we actually valued multiple kinds of womanhood? Could it be that we didn’t lose our value in society as we aged and ‘lost our looks’?

Which brings me to the title of this post: how does an antique textile relate to how men worshiped women thousands of years ago? That question lays in the heart of my second book in the Crime by Design series, Warp in the Weave.

The answer may surprise you. It certainly should change how you look at traditional carpet patterns in the future and, just maybe, how you view women, ancient or otherwise.

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Give me History and I’ll Give you Life

Research, some writers love it and some find it a chore. I fall into the the first category. Give me an excuse to imagine life in another time, in another place, and I’ll take it on completely. Writers of historical fiction obviously need a sound background in the century of  their book, not just in terms of history but also social mores, clothing, food, and every single detail between. Some writers go so far as to research old cookbooks and make whatever dish that is to be served to a character so the reader may share the experience. That’s dedication. Pass the pig trotters and mead, boys. I can only imagine what Diana Gabaldon had with Outlander.

Every story is a human story. It’s all about plunging a reader into a place and time so real they can experience being human in another century, under a different set of challenges.  When society in the fictive world differs from the way you’ve grown up, the way you think is challenged, too.

What if you were an French-speaking Acadian girl banished from your colony up the Atlantic coast (now known as Nova Scotia) by the British in 1755 and shipped off to boggy Louisiana, just saying? What if you manage to find your way into the Ursuline convent, a convent sheltering young women from good French homes, with the view to marrying them off to the French settlers? The French King at the time, Louis XIV, fretted that New Orleans would grow into a cesspool of rowdies if they continued to breed with unsuitable women. His royal self decreed that the Order of St. Ursuline might properly harbor these French ‘Casket Girls’ shipped over from good French families as a way to improve the gene pool. Presumably, the irony of nuns training girls to be wives didn’t occur to him.

And then, circumstances change, as circumstances are wont to do. France gives Louisiana away in treaty to Spain in 1763 and a Spanish governor arrives to rule the French.  Now you have a French convent housing French girls for the marriage market and the Spaniards are coming. Oh, just imagine the fun!

Back to the Acadian girl, for a moment. Her status as an orphaned peasant farmer’s daughter thrust her to the bottom of the French social heap from the beginning. Hierarchies existed even in convents. She would never be a mate for a proper French gentleman, not that there were many of those in New Orleans at the time. However, it turns out she’s clever, can speak both French and Spanish, and burns with rage. What a perfect pawn, what a perfect spy…

This is how a human story is born, this one playing out in two centuries inside the pages of   Frozen Angel. Yes, I researched it to bits but the story drove me. The heart and mind of someone struggling to decide what is wrong and right in competing ideologies has always fascinated me. History provides such rich fodder.  Stir in a lot of fact and even more imagination, and the writer creates a heady brew. Continue reading

Warp in the Weave…

Publication June 2015

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The loose ends of her past keep threatening to hang Phoebe McCabe as she begins her new life as a London textile gallery owner. Every crook believes Phoebe knows where her missing brother and his friends hid the hoard; Interpol insists the thieves may have stashed the priceless artifacts under her nose; and she’s being stalked by multiple interests, none of them friendly.

As the black market continues to infiltrate her life,  one of the thieves shows up unexpectedly, setting off a deadly chain of events that includes an unexplained corpse and gallery break-ins where nothing is stolen. If she didn’t have such strong feelings for the man, maybe she could have stopped him from escaping. Love is hard enough without falling for a crook.

And then something else extraordinary arrives in the gallery: a mysterious kilim with an ancient motif that holds a clue not only to the thieves’ whereabouts, but also to an ancient religion where God was a Goddess. Fueled by desperation, hope, and fury, Phoebe escapes for Turkey to track down  the source of the kilim and, hopefully, her brother.  Along the way, she meets an archaeologist who offers to help find the kilim’s source for reasons of her own, and together, they race across Turkey with Interpol and black market cutthroats at their heels

Against the panorama of Central Turkey’s underground cities and ancient caves, magnified by its rich textile and cultural heritage, Phoebe and Eva follow a trail that leads deep into the prehistoric past, hurling them against competing ideologies, and the mire that is the black market antiquities trade. What Phoebe discovers along the way is more than just about ancient shrines, missing relatives, and love betrayed.  She finds that what’s at the heart of the human weave may be the pattern that illuminates everything that matters.

This fast-moving suspense blends intrigue, humor, and romance against a textile-rich world interwoven with archaeology, ideology, and one woman’s quest for the ultimate truth.

Coming in June

Warp in the Weave Coming Soon

Publication June 2015

It’s been such a thrilling ride, accumulating in my fourth trip to Turkey last year, a revisit to my beloved London, followed by weaving together all the strands of Phoebe’s unfolding life. Rogue Wave launched the Crime by Design series last year and the second volume answers most of the questions posed in the first.

Are you ready for a thrilling ride?