The Advocate’s Dilemma

The fourth book in The Advocate Series, The Advocate’s Dilemma, will be released this summer and I’m still enthralled by the process, from start to finish. I don’t know how other authors feel, but here’s what it’s like for me.

I formulate in my mind some little idea of what I want to write. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a first line. Or an ending. Or a “what if?”

Then, I sit down at the computer and look at a blank page, sometimes with very little idea of what I’m going to do. Then I start to write. Every day (or nearly so) I get up and start writing again. Before long, I’m filling up pages and pages until one day I reach the end. It amazes me every time that I was able to write a whole book.

The editing process is next. I really like this part. It’s when the novel really starts to take shape. My editor, Marilee Wood, is wonderful!

Paying Forward

I recently saw a documentary on the plight of Albinos in Tanzania. As you may know my heart is touched whenever I see children suffering. The situation here in Africa effects both adults and children but many of these children never reach adulthood because they are often murdered before they become adults.

Neglected Child in Public School

The Albinos in Tanzania are hunted for their body parts and their blood. There have been many, many slaughterings and dismemberment of Albino children. A news article reported recently on how young albino girls have been raped as a result of a mistaken belief that it can cure aids.

How can we help? There’s a non-profit organization called Under the Same Sun that has been working diligently to help People with Albinism (PWAs). They accept contributions. Also these children are in dire need of having their eyes protected from the sun. So starting December 1, 2011, I will donate a pair of sunglasses for every one of my books that is sold online (either paperback or e-book form) to these children in Tanzania. I have three mystery novels, The Advocate, The Advocate’s Betrayal, and The Advocate’s Conviction. (The main character is an advocate for abused children.) Any of these books will qualify and they are available in paperback on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and about any e-book form you want. If you purchase a book I will use my royalties to send the sunglasses to help protect their sensitive eyes. Together we can pay forward and help these unfortunate children.

Albinos in Tanzania

Can you imagine living every day in fear? That’s the way the albinos in Tanzania have to live because their bodies are sought after for use in witchcraft. More than 60 albinos have been murdered in the last 4 years. They have been chopped up and their body parts have been sold to witch doctors who concoct charms. Others have survived but have been dismembered. Only a few of the cases have resulted in convictions. The news recently indicated that eight suspects were sentenced to death for some of these attacks. Many of these crimes have gone unsolved. And although the arrests that have been made have resulted in some lessening of attacks as recent as last month two teenagers were accosted and their body parts hacked off.

Fifteen year old Kulwa’s arm was hacked off with a machete on 10/21/20ll at her home in Mbizi Village.

Albinism is a genetically inherited condition. They lack pigmentation in their skin and their eyes. They are extremely vulnerable to the sun. People with this condition are generally visually impaired and most are legally blind. In North America and Europe the estimates are that about one in every 20,000 people have some form of Albinism, but in Africa and particularly Tanzania the numbers are about one in every 2,000. Approximately 150,000 albinos live in Tanzania and they all fear for their lives. The children have to attend special schools and are often given away as babies because their parents cannot protect them from this horrible evil that often results in dismemberment or death.

A man named Peter Ash, from Langley, BC, formed a non-profit organization called Under the Same Sun to promote the well being of these poor people. He has done many wonderful things to help them such as forming schools for the children, providing a clinic to help with vision problems, developing public awareness, and advocating for people with albinism.

I can’t imagine the torture these poor people have to endure. It’s bad enough that the sun is their enemy, but to be hunted like animals by other human beings is incomprehensible.

Revisiting Old Stores

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of returning to two Barnes and Noble stores that I haven’t been to in a while, Fullerton and Long Beach Towne Center.

I have spent a lot of time in these stores in the past signing my first two books, and this past weekend The Advocate’s Conviction was featured there. It was great seeing the old staff and meeting new ones. But my favorite part was seeing my readers, many of who started with my first book and have continually returned to get the latest one. Nothing feels better to an author than to have a reader show up to purchase your book because they love your writing. Thanks, Long Beach and Fullerton readers…you made my weekend!

Federal Prison Visit

Last week I was invited by the California Writers Club, High Desert Branch, (CWC) to speak to a group of inmates at the Federal Prison. It was quite an interesting experience. The hardest part was getting inside.

First, you go inside the front door, fill out forms, sign in, and receive a stamp on your wrist. (This is after you have applied for a clearance and have been approved.) They take all your worldly possessions if you forgot to leave them in the car…phones, cash, etc. Then you go through the metal detector and into the next area. There your paperwork is pulled and checked. The paperwork for the two men from CWC, who had been there previously, had been misplaced. It took some time to clear that up, but as a result of it we were able to meet the warden of the prison and that was cool.

The next door took us into a room that had another door to the outside. Only one of those doors can open at a time so the second door won’t open until the first is closed. There was a gadget there that checked our stamps. However, the stamps didn’t show up on the machine so we had to go back out and get re-stamped…there apparently wasn’t enough ink in the pad. We returned went through the second door and walked to a gate that entered onto the complex.

By the time we arrived there it was noon and the inmates were walking from one side of the complex to the other to reach the yard. They were walking around the perimeter of the complex. We walked across and then we waited a few feet from them until they were all past us and then walked into the building where the class was being held. Twenty men awaited our words of wisdom. These were all inmates who were interested in writing, had good behavior records, and thus qualified for the class.

I spoke to the group for about fifteen minutes and then they started to ask questions. We were there for nearly two hours before a guard came in and asked us to wrap it up. The men were very respectful. I have been to many a prison to meet with clients and I have always had to deal with the “looks” and the “mutterings” by inmates. There was none of that here. These men were so thirsty for knowledge. They asked incredible questions and gave great feedback, and even laughed at my jokes. They all have a story to tell and I can imagine many of them are quite interesting. They would love to be published. In fact, two of the men were already published authors before they were incarcerated.

The difficult part for me was trying to give them some positive answers for some of their questions. It is hard enough to get published and promote a book from the outside and many of these men are “lifers.” I encouraged them to use their time to write as much as they can. Maybe one day I’ll read a novel or see a screenplay written by one of these men. No matter what, I’m sure the writing itself is very therapeutic.

Sorry, no pictures were allowed.

Barnes & Noble at Palm Desert

I spent three days at Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert last week.It was the first Meet & Greet  I have done with the new book, The Advocate’s Conviction. I was thoroughly amazed at the number of readers from the desert that came in the store to purchase a copy of the third book. It was nice to hear all the wonderful things they had to say about the first two books and to see how excited they were to start the third. Thank you, Desert Fans, you made my day.

Every event it seems I meet so many nice people and some of them are quite entertaining. This time was no different. A woman and her mother came into the store. The mother, I would guess, was at least in her 70’s, maybe more. When I asked them if they read mysteries, the older woman shook her head, made an “icky” face, and said, “Oh, no.”

I had just handed them each a bookmark and the daughter realized I was the author. She said to her mother, “Mother, you’re insulting her. She’s the author.”

The mother said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  Let me see your book.”

They walked over to my table and started reading the blurbs on my books. The mother said, “Oh, my daughter, Wendy, would love these. She loves books about legal stuff.”

“Is she an attorney?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said again. “She works for an attorney. She does all the work and he gets all the money.”

I smiled and said, “That’s the way it should be.” She frowned at me and I said, “I’m a lawyer.”

Her daughter turned to her mother and said, “Now, you’ve insulted her twice!.”

The mother said, “Would it help if I told you I’m not from this country? I’m Canadian.”

They bought two books, and we were all laughing about it when they left. A while later the older woman came back to my table to apologize one more time. I said to her, “I thought you came back to insult me again.” Of course I explained to her that I wasn’t insulted at all. She gave me a big hug. I love those hugs.


Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN

Nick Valentino & Elizabeth Darvill

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN. It was my first trip to the festival and my second to Nashville, but the city had changed quite a bit since my last visit some thirty-plus years ago. My schedule didn’t allow for a lot of sightseeing except for a quick trip to see the exterior of the Grand Ole Opry.. I hope to return next year and do a little more.

The festival was small but busy. I met a lot of wonderful people and gained a lot of new readers. I shared a booth with two Steampunk authors, Nick Valentino and Elizabeth Darvill both dressed in their incredible costumes. If you haven’t read any Steampunk you really ought to try it. It’s a fun genre to read. You travel to Victorian times with lots of gadgets operating on steam and clockwork. Nick writes adventure novels. Check out Thomas Riley. Be forewarned if you read Elizabeth’s books. Some of them put a little extra steam in the Steampunk. She writes paranormal romance novels among other things.

The best part of the trip for me, however, was visiting with my niece, Adrienne, her husband, Dustin, and their two girls, Meredith and Amelia. They moved their in May from southern California and I sure do miss them,,,but I’ll be back.


First Reader Review on “The Advocate’s Conviction”

This is the first email I received from a reader for The Advocate’s Conviction:

“Good book…if I had to chose, it’s my favorite of the 3…although 2 was right up there also, not that I didn’t like no.1 too. Good to see JP have a bit more of a role…and like JP, I would have wanted to kick Sabre’s butt also for wandering off late at night to meet the kid. Maybe JP should handcuff himself to Sabre :)…Sabre should know better by now. :p  When’s no. 4 coming?”–Chris
Thanks, Chris. I’m sure most of my readers would love to see JP handcuffed to Sabre. Everyone seems to love JP. But then, what’s not to love? And handcuffing them together isn’t a bad idea, maybe I’ll do that in another book.

I’ll post more emails later.

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The Advocate’s Conviction–Sneak Peak

The Advocate’s Convictions releases this Saturday, 
October 22, 2011! 

 The fourteen-year-old girl struggled to break free from the bindings on her hands and feet. One woman on each arm held her as she fought. Her feet were in stirrups, and the unbearable pain shot through her abdomen. Her blonde hair was wet with sweat. She yanked her right arm away but the heavy-set woman holding her arm threw her body across the teenager, pinning her down on the hospital bed.
            “No,” the teen screamed. “No! Don’t take my baby.”
            “Push,” the body-blocker said. “Just push.”
            The tall, thin woman holding the teen’s left arm spoke calmly. “You need to stop fighting and breathe. Your baby is coming. You need to push.”
            The girl looked around the small, dirty room for help, but all she saw was a man wearing a surgical mask sitting at the end of the bed between her legs, waiting for her to give birth. He would be no help. After all, she had agreed to this. The candles flickered around her, casting soft shadows around the room. The oak tree painted on the wall and the circle around her bed would protect her, or so she was told. But she hurt so badly and no one seemed to care.
            The heavy-set woman was face to face with her. The girl could feel her breathing and smell her garlicky lunch. “Just push,” she said again.
            The girl screamed.
            “This is your child’s fate. Your baby must be sacrificed. Are you a believer?”
            The girl wanted to say no. She didn’t know what to believe, but fear won out. “Yes,” she said.
            “Yes, what?”
            “Yes, I believe. I believe in the power of the oak. I believe in the power of the oak.” She was chanting now and the two women joined her.
            “I believe in the power of the oak. I believe in the power of the oak.”
            The young girl screamed again as another contraction shot through her. She pushed as hard as she could, then stopped.
            “Again!” the man at her feet yelled. “Push!”
            She pushed and screamed in agony until she felt the mass exit her womb. Her body lay limp on the bed as she heard the baby cry. The heavy-set woman continued to hold her in place while the tall woman took the baby to the back of the room and out of sight. The baby’s cries still filled the room.
            Then, silence.
            A few minutes later the woman returned without the child.
           The girl turned her head away and closed her eyes. What have I done?