Search Results for "c. hope clark" → 8 articles

A Sense of Place

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Murder on Edisto
Edisto Jinx

A Sense of Place

By C. Hope Clark

 

I love a strong sense of place in my stories, as writer or reader, so when given the opportunity for a new mystery series, I leaped onto the chance to place my mysteries on Edisto Beach.

 

The hardest of hearts and the saddest of souls can find peace on the sand, waves lapping at their toes. How many stories have been written and movies made about the ocean, and how people have used that ebb and flow, soft breezy environment to get away, seek answers, and let go of life’s burdens if even for a few days?

 

In my Edisto Mystery Series, I take a broken main character running from an interrupted law enforcement career, and help her escape to the beach where she hopes to heal. But of course I do not let that happen, and what was supposed to be a long-term retreat turns into death, injury, mental anguish, and a vicious cycle of life-threatening events. Amidst the waves, gulls, swaying palmettos and salty balmy wind, danger abounds.

 

She is often her own worst enemy, and since she’s operated in Boston for years, she views the beach from a detective’s eye, so even where island residents don’t see danger, she does. Without that juxtaposition of locations – big city versus beach village – the magic wouldn’t happen nearly as well.

 

Setting can often assume the role of a character. When a tale can’t be told better anywhere else, setting has morphed into a player. Frankly, that’s my preference in reading material – those stories where even the very ground the character stands on has an impact on the plot.

 

Imagine Sherlock Holmes in other than England. Or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum in other than New Jersey. Or Tony Hillerman’s western mysteries without the Navajo west? True, there are many mysteries that could happen in any urban setting, or any rural setting, or any country, for that matter. But doesn’t it enrich the storytelling so much more to know that where the players fight, love, live and die impacts how it all turns out?

 

BIO

C. Hope Clark inserts strong setting in both her award-winning Carolina Slade Mysteries and Edisto Island Mysteries, all set in rural South Carolina. When she isn’t writing mysteries, she is editor of FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site to aid professional writers in their careers. She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central SC when she isn’t walking the coast of Edisto Beach. www.chopeclark.com

Make sure you grab MURDER ON EDISTO only $1.99 through December! Happy Holidays! 

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And make sure you also grab the second in the series – Edisto Jinx!

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Ariana Cover Finalist

The Cipher
Last Bigfoot in Dixie
Prince of Magic
The Quick and the Undead
Phi Beta Bimbo
Lord of the Storm
Murder on Edisto
The Nightingale Bones

 

Check out the Bell Bridge Books and ImaJinn Books covers that are finalist in the EPIC’s Ariana eBook Cover Art Competition this year! 

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The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Book 1 of The Crosspointe Novels)

Lucy Trenton’s ability to sense majick is one of her most dangerous secrets. But only one.

A blackmailer knows the other.

Suddenly, Lucy is caught in a treasonous plot to destroy the crown, and she’s trapped in the tentacles of a desperate, destructive majick. Her only hope is ship captain Marten Thorpe, who—by every account—cannot be trusted. With time running out, Lucy must find a way to win a dangerous game or lose everything she holds dear.

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Last Bigfoot in Dixie by Wally Avett

Killer bear, Appalachian psycho, Yankee gold . . .

He’s on the trail of something big . . .

Deep in the Great Smokies, a huge black bear kills a child at a campground, and a hunt begins in a quiet mountain community where such threats are rare. Wade, an outdoorsman and backwoods columnist, is quickly deputized to find and slay the massive beast terrorizing tourists and locals alike.

While on the trail, he is wounded by a pot-grower’s booby trap and stalked by Junior, an authentic Appalachian psychopath. Two fellow deputies are gunned down, and rumors of buried Civil War gold surface. Wade gets unexpected assistance from a wannabe writer whose gifts prove helpful even after mushroom trances and spiritual quests—enhanced by a Minnesota Vikings horn-helmet.

The discovery of a mysterious doll ties into grisly murders from the past, and Wade meets a tough, old Marine with a puzzling treasure map. All the while, the looming threat of Junior’s lethal lunacy stalks Wade and his colorful allies.

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Prince of Magic by Anne Stuart

Caught dancing barefoot in the moonlit woods, dressed only in her shift, Elizabeth Penshurst is considered by decent folk to be notorious and disgraced. Sent by her father, a reverend, to serve penance with a cousin in Hernewood, Lizzie sets her thoughts on becoming the perfectly demure and reserved young woman any suitor would want.

But evil haunts the woods of Hernewood Abbey. As the Druid festival of Beltane approaches, a sinister cult seeks a virgin sacrifice. Their intended victim: Lizzie. Her only defender—and the man likely to relieve her of her dangerous maidenhood—is the mysterious Gabriel, the Dark Man, a fellow outcast and scholar of Druidism. The forest calls to them both.

Their irresistible attraction, both mystical and bawdy, may be the only force more powerful than the cult’s dark purpose.

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The Quick and the Undead by Kimberly Raye (Tombstone, Texas: Book 1)

Welcome to Tombstone, Texas, where anything is possible, even your wildest fantasy. Once a haven to outlaws, Tombstone is now a tourist town that gives travelers a taste of the old West. What visitors don’t realize, however, is that the super-hot cowboys, gunslingers, and lawmen walking the streets aren’t actors—they’re originals. These ancient vampires claimed Tombstone two centuries ago.

So step right up, folks, and book your trip today! The outlaws of Tombstone will be waiting . . .

Travel blogger Riley Davenport loves her job, travelling to the most exotic places in the world. Even better, it keeps her one step ahead of her stalking ex. The last thing she wants in her life is a strong alpha male. But that’s exactly what she gets when she comes face-to-face with Sheriff Boone Jarrett, a hero right out of her most erotic fantasies.

Boone isn’t just the law in Tombstone, Texas. He’s also an ancient vampire and the target of a crazed killer. He certainly doesn’t have time for romance. But a temporary fling? Now that he can handle.

Unfortunately, their first night together ends in disaster when Riley witnesses a murder. And to protect her, Boone forces her into hiding. Only her “captivity” ends up becoming the realization of her wildest, most carnal fantasies. Still, Riley’s not going to fall for him, at least that’s what she tells herself.

But as she gets to know him—the man and the vampire—she starts to wonder if she can hold out . . .

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Phi Beta Bimbo by Trish Jensen 

Big blond wig. Do-me shoes. A bra that could serve as a floatation device. She’s about to take her genius IQ for a walk on the bimbo side.

Someone’s pilfering company secrets at Just Peachy, a giant cosmetics firm owned by hunky Steve Smith. When he decides to do some undercover security in disguise as “Stephanie” Smith, his sister Leah, a sociologist working on her doctorate, grabs her own undercover opportunity to prove her theory that nerds stand no chance in the world. She interviews for a low-level security job first as “Leah the super-nerd” then as “Candi Devereaux,” a stereotypical out-to-there bimbo. To her shock, security specialist Mark Colson hires both of her.

Mark isn’t fooled—Leah/Candi are obviously the same woman, a suspicious character, and quite likely the corporate thief. He’ll stay very close to her.

As for Leah, the highly unsettling and extremely irresistible Mr. Colson begins to rattle all her assumptions about what a man wants from a woman. It’s about honesty . . . unfortunately.

In the meantime, “Stephanie” has met his match in corporate rival Kate Bloom, who is determined to best the smart new woman in the company. And yet, Kate feels flustered by Stephanie’s strangely masculine appeal . . . .

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Lord of the Storm by Justine Davis (Book 1 of The Coalition Rebellion Novels)

Her every wish is his command. He lives only to serve her desires.

A warrior. A sex slave from a conquered world.

What will he do to her if she sets him free?

Shaylah Graymist, ace fighter pilot for a brutal intergalactic Coalition, is given a slave as a reward for heroism in battle. The incredibly virile slave named Wolf wears a collar which controls him completely, allowing her to make him do anything she wants. Yet Shaylah has an old-fashioned belief in love and refuses to take advantage of him. A tense friendship grows between her and Wolf, along with deep desires he refuses to admit. The Coalition destroyed his people. He won’t betray their memory.

When Shaylah returns to battle, Wolf rebels and is sold to a prison colony. She frees him, and together they journey to his home planet. As she learns more about Wolf, she begins to question her loyalty to the Coalition, and the passions between them burn out of control.

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Murder on Edisto by C. Hope Clark (Book 1 of The Edisto Island Mysteries)

A big city detective. A lowcountry murder.

Peace, safety, a place to grieve and heal. After her husband is murdered by the Russian mob, Boston detective Callie Jean Morgan comes home to her family’s cottage in South Carolina. There, she can keep their teenage son, Jeb, away from further threats.

But the day they arrive in Edisto Beach, Callie finds her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor murdered. Taunted by the killer, who repeatedly violates her home and threatens others in the community, Callie finds her new sanctuary has become her old nightmare. Despite warnings from the town’s handsome police chief, Callie plunges back into detective work, pursuing a sinister stranger who may have ties to her past. He’s turning a quiet paradise into a paranoid patch of sand where nobody’s safe. She’ll do whatever it takes to stop him.

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The Nightingale Bones by Ariel Swan 

Someone has been waiting a long time for Alice Towne to arrive in Hawthorne.

Two hundred years, in fact.

Trying to accept her mother’s belief that the women of the Towne family are blessed, not cursed, with supernatural abilities, twenty-seven-year old Alice leaves a disapproving Boston husband to housesit for the summer in tiny Hawthorne, a historic village famous in the 1800s for its peppermint farms and the large, herbal-essence distilleries that flourished around the Massachusetts township.

She settles into a beautiful old home with a tragic reputation. There are said to be sightings and sounds from the spirit of a young woman who hanged herself after all her children died there of illnesses in the 1900s.

But soon, Alice experiences firsthand encounters that convince her the spirit is not who people think. The truth is shocking, steeped in the town’s distillery history and its legends of a local wizard and witchcraft. As she falls in love with a local farmer whose family legacy is as tangled in the magick and the mystery as her own, Alice’s fear becomes not whether the past can be resolved . . . but whether it’s waiting to claim new victims.

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YOU KNOW WHO MARK HARMON IS, RIGHT?

Hope Clark

Hope Clark - About Me PicYou Know Who Mark Harmon is, Right?

By C. Hope Clark

          When you think of mysteries, crime, and agents, the routine acronyms come to mind like FBI, CIA, DEA, and ATF. The more arrogant Secret Service guys like to roll out their name and not use initials. Then not all that long ago, we learned about NCIS, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service . . . and Mark Harmon!

But I became aware of another group of federal agents when I signed on with the US Department of Agriculture, and at first blush I wondered what the heck agents with guns and badges were doing around cows and corn, tractors and silos. But when a client offered me a bribe, I learned quickly that crime exists wherever there’s motive and money, even in the country, even within the Ag Department.

The Offices of Inspector General (OIG) quietly exist for all federal agencies, Smithsonian, Transportation, Health and Human Services, etc. But I took particular interest in the Ag Agents since that was my dominion, and I soon learned they could throw cuffs on a culprit as effectively as any FBI agent. So why not open up a new world of crime in a unique mystery series?

Carolina Slade is offered a bribe in Lowcountry Bribe, and she meets Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo with USDA OIG. The culprit? A hog farmer.

Say what? Farmers aren’t like that. Hah! Farmers can be bad guys like anyone else, and this hog producer proved it over and over in the first book of this series. Human blood doesn’t look much different than hog blood, now does it? Our IG agent waded in amongst the muck to help our stumbling yet hardheaded protagonist crack this case.

Then Tidewater Murder drew Slade into the South Carolina Lowcountry amidst tomatoes and shrimp. Drugs and migrant workers caused quite a stir, and we learned that agriculture can get deadly in a hurry.

The term agriculture agent raises visions of cowboy hats, boots, and straw out the corner of someone’s mouth, but as redneck as the role may sound, they are legit. Some of their real cases include:

  • Prosecuting Sarah Lee for selling bad meat leading to a Listeriosis outbreak, killing 15 people and sickening over a hundred.
  • Breaking up dog fighting rings, to include the Michael Vick case.
  • Nabbing a meal and veal exporter who dumped tainted meat on Japan, who then shut down its borders to American meat imports for six months.
  • Arresting meat suppliers for dumping uninspected and tainted meat into school cafeterias.
  • Busting horse owners and trainers for cruel and illegal practices on horses bred for show.
  • Nailing people putting sewing machine needles into food.
  • Cuffing a feed supplier for tainting calf feed with formaldehyde.

 

Theft, conspiracy, fraud, embezzlement, even murder, bribery and smuggling.  It gets bad in many colorful ways the average urban dweller doesn’t fully comprehend.

And now we have Carolina Slade’s newest release Palmetto Poison, where we learn that politics and peanuts can overlap in a bad way. The idea of Palmetto Poison came from the Agriculture OIG’s press release archive, when a produce inspector took bribes under the table to allow substandard products to pass through inspection.

Such action sounds little more than greedy, but can result in serious consequences. Bad peanuts may just sound like a nasty taste, but high levels of mold, fungal, and moisture can make them deadly.

Salmonella can actually wait dormant in that innocent jar of peanut butter until it hits the perfect growth environment, the human stomach. And if inspections get too far out of hand, more serious illnesses rise to the surface, like aflatoxin. Not a common scenario in the protected US of A, thus making it an opportune plot tool in Palmetto Poison, but in third world countries, many die from these cancer-causing peanuts that destroy a liver.

Whenever you have money, subsidies, or profits in the picture, you have crime. While it’s not palatable to think of our food infected with something that could kill us, the potential exists for large-scale tampering. While some mysteries poison the drinking water or substitute flu vaccines with crazy virulent strains of disease, Carolina Slade’s plots scare us where we feel safe, where we don’t expect crime to hit. And the agents in the mix specialize in that arena.

USDA’s OIG might not have a Mark Harmon yet, but I suspect we’ll see one downstream. And if you’ve read any of Slade’s stories, you’ll immediately wonder who could play the luscious Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo. I know I do. And since I married the agent in my bribery investigation, he’s rather intrigued as to who would play him, too!

 

BIO

Palmetto Poison is C. Hope Clark’s latest in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series. Hope is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, a website recognized by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 13 years. www.fundsforwriters.com / www.chopeclark.com

 

Check out C. Hope Clark’s newest release – PALMETTO POISON – today from Amazon!

Just Click the Link!!

          

MARRYING JAMES BOND

Marrying James Bond

By Hope Clark

 

Lowcountry Bribe, the first in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, opens with the protagonist being offered a bribe from a client she least suspects—a hog farmer. She calls the Inspector General’s office, and within 48 hours, they have a federal agent on the ground checking the situation. The investigation goes awry, trust is lost on so many levels, and lives are threatened.

At conferences and readings, I love talking about the opening chapter to that book . . . because it comes so close to reality. I was once a federal employee who was offered a bribe. And my husband was the agent who showed up on the case. We rigged hidden recorders and pin-hole cameras, rehearsed a script to pull off the “sting,” and dealt with threats against me. We didn’t catch the culprit, but we married 18 months later.

At that point in the presentation, the room goes abuzz. Many people then ask me how much of the book is fact and which part fiction. It’s fun, because that means the story reads that realistically. And while I have to tell them the rest of the story is fiction, I can’t help but put myself in those fictional scenes.

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself where reality stopped and fantasy started. And when I do take that pause, I smile. Because I can get lost in my head with my characters and have a grand time, especially knowing that I get to actually sleep with the good guy. In this case, fantasizing in bed about a character is a very good thing, because I’m married to him.

I’ve actually pondered what would happen if, God forbid, I developed dementia in my older years, and fact gradually muddied into my fiction, blending Slade and Wayne into my own history until I could not remember the difference. After all, writers get very close to their stories and the players that make those tales come to life. I did minor investigations in my prior career with the federal government, and my husband was indeed an agent with many war stories under his belt. As I juggle the possibility of make-believe and my past entangling in my gray-headed mind downstream, I can’t decide if that’s a good or bad predicament.

To make matters worse, my husband is my sounding board for subsequent stories. He keeps my technical details accurate, my gun references true, and laughs at the predicaments Slade gets into, chuckling that he’d never let that happen on his watch. At my speaking engagements, he’s often asked if he was my model for Wayne, and he answers, “Nah, Wayne’s a wuss.” Everybody laughs, and I crack a smile. I know he’s serious.

What better life can I ask for than to secretly write about my husband, pretending I’m the girl in the story, carousing through escapades, playing dare-devil, and solving crime.

We may not look like Daniel Craig and his charming Bond-girl with our middle-aged appearances, but we love to think like we are . . . because one time we did some of that, and now we live happily ever after.

 

BIO

C. Hope Clark lives on the banks of Lake Murray, South Carolina, writing her mysteries, and often reading aloud to her federal agent with his lit cigar, neat bourbon, and deep opinions about how Wayne still isn’t close to the “real deal.” Tidewater Murder, the second in the Carolina Slade Mystery Series, arrives on book shelves in April 2013. www.chopeclark.com

 

TOP 10 GIFTS FOR SERIOUS READERS

TOP 10 GIFTS FOR SERIOUS READERS

By C. Hope Clark

            Readers have their ways, and many of those ways are set in stone. They like certain books, certain lighting, certain types of e-readers, even the specific style of slippers on their feet. Readers possess habits and characteristics that nonreaders may not understand, and unless you know a reader well, you could miss the target and give what you think is a grand reading gift that totally misses the mark.

Reading is a serious hobby. If you didn’t know that, ask a hard-and-fast reader what she will and won’t tolerate in her books, reading setting, even the format of the book. Just like a part-time doll-maker, carpenter, or gardener have preferences and experience, so does the reader. Think this is an exaggeration, do you? Step back and note how many writers, publishers, agents and editors hop when reader preferences shift. Yep, readers can make millions dance to their tune.

So what’s a reader what for Christmas? Besides books, of course! Let’s delve further into what readers would appreciate for the holidays and make your gift-giving easier this year.

1)      An e-reader.

Not just any e-reader, though. When you buy a Nook for a Kindle person or vice versa, the package may not even get broken open. Know which political affiliation your reader prefers when it comes to electronic devices. These days an e-reader can drop below $100 in a heartbeat, giving your special reader ease of carrying hundreds of books in an item that can slip in her purse.

 

2)      Tea, coffee and that oh-so-special cup.

Go with diversity and assortment when you aren’t sure which tea or coffee your reader relies upon to find her moment. An antique, bone china teacup might delight that historical romance person. A mug with a grip like brass knuckles could thrill the thriller reader. And if you really aren’t sure about the flavor tea or the coffee strength, go with a Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Seattle Market gift card. If you want to go big, the single-serving expresso machines are all the rage, letting your reader alter her coffee per the book she reads.

 

3)      A subscription to Audible.com

Many readers grab their stories during commutes or long distance trips. Audible.com has per book or unlimited books per month options, with very reasonable prices. An ill reader, a busy reader, or a runner who prefers stories to music are great candidates for this gift. www.audible.com

 

4)      Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or bookstore gift cards

Books become an expensive hobby to the ravenous reader. Imagine the joy of walking into a bookstore (or perusing online) and being able to buy anything you want at a time when the rent might be due or a charge card’s collecting interest? Ever notice how readers weigh their purchases in the store? They’re rationing themselves, and it’s agony trying to select two books when you want to read twenty. Make your reader giddy at the opportunity to splurge.

 

5)      Book journals

Hard-core readers keep up with the books they’ve read. Why wouldn’t they? Some readers cover a hundred books in a year. Gone Reading has a cute assortment of journals purely for this purpose. http://gonereading.com/book-journal/

 

6)      Book lights

While some e-readers are back-lit, others are not, and of course old-fashioned paper books need illumination. Clip lights are handy in the car, by the bed, next to the recliner. They are inexpensive (under $20) so you might buy more than one, for every situation. You can buy them specifically for certain e-readers, making for a nice combination present/ For the reader with aging eyes, consider a strong desk lamp or floor lamp; they even come with magnifiers. http://www.magnifyingaids.com/Lamps_Magnifiers To someone struggling to see, the perfect visual setting is key to the most story enjoyment.

 

7)      Scented candles

Science has proven that our sense of smell is our strongest connection to memory. If you give a book, add a candle to the gift. Downstream, after your reader has finished her book, the scent of that candle will bring back memories of the story, the characters, and the wonderful friend who gave her the experience.

 

8)      Finally, books

Electronic or audio, paperback or hardcover, invest in a book your reader would be thrilled to receive. As a twist, buy several books of a single author, or several books from a single publisher like Bell Bridge Books. www.bellebridgebooks.com  Use a theme like dog fiction, or mysteries involving librarians, or historical women’s fiction in the Pacific Northwest.  Don’t just give a book. Demonstrate that you gave deep thought to a gift with meaning.

Readers love to read, and aiding them in their efforts to sink into grand stories is about the best gift you can give them. And it only takes a little extra attention to make that gift personal, unusual, and memorable for Christmases to come.

 

BIO

C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolinan Slade Mystery Series, set in rural South Carolina. Lowcountry Bribe is available wherever books are sold, and the second in the series, Tidewater Murder, will be available April 2013. Hope lives along the bank of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband and mini-doxie Roo. She is also long-time editor of the award winning FundsforWriters.com –  www.chopeclark.com

 

AIR FORCE BRAT

Hope Clark

AIR FORCE BRAT

By C. Hope Clark

 

Growing up on military bases in the 1960’s and 1970’s, we brats shared the bond of our fathers devoted to careers protecting democracy and world peace.  We shared the roars of B-52s on a strategic Air Command Air Force Base flight line, and the realization that at any moment, an “alert” would scramble our fathers to their positions in response to a world emergency.  We knew our Pledge of Allegiance from the time we could talk and we said it with fervor.

 

Military families were close.  We held our collective breath when orders came through for Southeast Asia assignments.  A year seemed forever for a child to live in limbo while dad did his tour and mom held the family together.  We knew many mothers struggling with the load of temporary single parent. Our family enjoyed the luxury of our father’s presence for longer than most, and feeling lucky in this regard, I became complacent in the knowledge that my father had not received such menacing orders…until 1969.  I froze when Daddy announced his orders for Danang, South Vietnam.

 

Daddy did not serve on the front line as an NCO in fuels maintenance, but his job did not remove him from harm’s way. The Viet Cong shelled bases frequently and fuel was volatile.  Vietnam’s name meant danger in any capacity at any locale. The country’s soil was contaminated with fear and instability.

 

The eldest of two sisters, I possessed a particular closeness to my dad that I did not realize, or share, until after he left.  Daddy stood tall and strong, in my eyes, as the Superman that stopped all bullets. The ache in my heart matched nothing experienced in my short teenage life, and I groped for balance and sought comfort the entire time, never finding peace.

That year was very long and particularly difficult.  Mom tried but never quite filled the void left by my Daddy. She held my hand as he stepped onto the plane to leave – her tears dropping on my fingers but no sobs. I remember her strength.

 

Like shells against our soldiers, the television bombarded us each evening on the six o’clock news.  Few households exempted the torment of knowing someone injured, traumatized or lost. Lists of casualties scrolled slowly down the television screen, and even though we knew we’d be contacted before seeing a loss broadcast to the country, we still held our breath until the alphabetical listing passed our family’s initial. Those were haunting newscasts unlike the theatrical, orchestrated displays of modern day.

 

With Daddy writing Mom daily, and my sister and I weekly, we slowly endured the chasm of time and place.  Gifts of jade, teak and bronze arrived frequently along with photos of green uniformed GI’s posing in barracks, planes and jeeps. In turn, we packaged sweets and treats for Daddy, his buddies, and Vietnamese orphans located near the base. One photo showed Daddy with a group of cohorts; one of which sported a head bandage.  For one horrific moment we envisioned rifle fire, bombs, shrapnel and grenades, until we read the caption stating he had fallen out of his bunk.

 

The year drew to a close.  Shopping for hours in pursuit of the perfect fashions, we wanted Daddy to cast his eyes on three exquisitely stunning ladies.  Mom spent an unbelievable $100 on a pantsuit, a healthy price tag in 1970.

 

A phone call.  A plane carrying troops returning from Danang crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff, but identities of the injured and dead remained unconfirmed.  Authorities said someone would be in touch as soon as possible. We waited in shock wanting the phone to ring yet dreading it, too.

I could not imagine life without my Daddy. I could not understand how a God could protect him from bullets and kill him coming home.

 

For a year he existed on another continent, but at least he lived on my world. The thought of his complete absence from my life was intolerable, and I cried like I had not allowed myself to do for a year.

 

The phone call chilled my blood but only for a moment.  The plane that crashed had preceded Daddy’s flight, and he flew en route to his girls at that very moment. The agony was over, replaced by a rushing thrill made all the more extraordinary by the scare.

 

Daddy retired at the young age of 40 with 22 years service, over half his life.  I recall the pomp and circumstance of his retirement on a breezy, warm December midday in 1974 on Charleston Air Force Base.  In dress blues under a coordinated bright blue cloudless sky, he received his commendation for military service.

 

A handsome man, tall and lean with nary a gray hair at the time, I beamed watching him march, stop, and crisply salute.  Proud not only of him, but of the loyalty, dedication, and service he represented, I thought deeply, as I am sure he did, about this closing chapter in all our lives.  Recalling the people and places, the opportunities and the experiences, the pride and responsibility, I haughtily deduced that now and evermore…I was an Air Force brat.

 

Veterans Day means much more than putting on a uniform. It’s thanks to the families that support those uniforms as well. I understand all their sacrifice, and wish all the best for the current military and their blessed families.

 

C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, from beautiful Lake Murray, South Carolina. Lowcountry Bribe released February 12, with Tidewater Murder coming out in early 2013. www.chopeclark.com

WHEN THE GRASS IS REDDER, WHITER AND BLUER

When the Grass is Redder, Whiter and Bluer

By C. Hope Clark

          My husband and I visited family in Germany several years ago. Since we’re history buffs, we boarded a charter to cross Germany and France, to spend time at Normandy, to walk in the footsteps of World War II soldiers and attempt to understand the intense meaning of that period of June 1944.

The compilation of tourists – of Germans, French, British, Americans and other nationalities I could not recognize, humbled me. I felt foreign, which to most Americans is an abnormal sensation. With thoughts of the proverbial Ugly American in my head, I kept quiet, observing, in awe of folks much more traveled than I.

My introspection allowed me to reach a deeper perspective as we bussed through towns, stopping here and there to savor authentic flavor of eateries and shops. Ignorant of languages other than my own, I learned to ask some questions, but more often copied the person in front of me when it came down to what to eat and how to make change.

We observed an original German coastal battery with its original cannons still in place. We visited sites at Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, including Pointe du Hoc, Verville-sur-Mer, and the American Cemetery. We toured the Memorial at Caen; the Airborne Troops museum at Ste Mère Eglise; the Normandy Museum in Bayeux. So many churches. So much history, giving me such an earnest respect for history so much older than my country’s short life.

Many streets had French names, then secondary names taken from fallen US soldiers, on the same corner signs. My heart caught in my chest. Several tiny French villages still honored American soldiers through homemade museums, filled with memorabilia and dated souvenirs the Smithsonian would adore. The locals recognized Americans in our group, still thankful after all these years for what soldiers older than my father did for their relatives older than theirs.

Only the coldest of hearts shed no tear at the American Cemetery where parallel rows of white crosses overlooked Omaha Beach. I cried for young men who never returned to home soil, home sweethearts, home mothers. But I caught myself feeling ashamed. It took me traveling across the ocean, listening to a German tour guide, to truly understand the sacrifice of my country and its people. . . for me, for my family then, now, and tomorrow.

Somehow, seeing my country’s advances in the world, in aid of others, protecting all I love, from an entirely different perspective, gave me intense pride I never expected. It took me traveling thousands of miles to see that the grass is redder, whiter and bluer once it isn’t growing directly under my feet.

Let us truly appreciate who we are and how far we’ve come in such a short time . . . without having to be reminded by a resident from another country. God bless America.

 

BIO

C. Hope Clark is author of Lowcountry Bribe, Bell Bridge Books, Feb 2012. She is also editor of FundsforWriters.com and her weekly newsletters reach 44,000 readers. Most of her family is affiliated with military or civilian government service, and are true patriots. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com

 

CAROLINA SLADE- GUMSHOE MOMMA

Carolina Slade – Gumshoe Momma
By C. Hope Clark

          The main character of A Lowcountry Bribe is Carolina Slade, a lady near and dear to my heart. I named her after doing genealogy research on the Mississippi side of my family. She’s a compilation of folks I’ve admired in my life, from the white streak in her hair taken from one of my aunts to the brashness of my father. Her last name comes from a great grandmother on my mother’s side, and her first name is where she plants her roots. But debutante she ain’t, and that more or less defines me.

My family is Southern. My grandfather farmed cotton in the Mississippi Delta, and I chased feral cats in his barn as a kid. I spent time in Georgia, Alabama, and then two decades in South Carolina assisting farmers via the Department of Agriculture in my adulthood as a result of those early agriculture experiences.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than nature, and I’ve tried to infuse that sense into these books as well. So many novels these days tend to be urban, and I wanted to provide a taste of rural into the literary world. No car chases through alleys and on Interstates. Maybe along a two-lane back road, but way more than a spitting distance from any city.

But maybe most unusual of all, I defied the unwritten rule of the proverbial female sleuth. I gave Carolina Slade kids. Not grown children and not nieces who really didn’t belong under the same roof. No. I thrust upon Slade the responsibilities, pains, and joys of being an active mother.

Instantly, my sleuth morphs into a lightweight in the minds of many old-fashioned mystery readers. She can’t travel the world undercover up to her pretty neck in espionage because who would pick up the kids from school? How would she ferret out an evasive criminal and be home for dinner? Where would she keep her .38 so the kids didn’t get their hands on it?

The mystery genre does not lend itself to married women, much less women with kids. Women, however, don’t spit out babies and lose their ability to decrypt problems. Quite the contrary. Who finds the soccer ball, blue tank top, missing car payment or car keys? Who juggles work, school, social engagements and finances, solving everyone’s conundrum before making a to-do list for the next day?

In most best-seller mysteries, the protagonist is a damaged, single male with a girl he can barely hold onto or loses by the end of the story. His life is in crisis. Solving the crime is his twenty-four-hour life, and his social world limps into nonexistence as his sidekick tells him to find balance. He’s stressed, probably drinking heavily, with so much on his plate. Oh, please.

The problem is, women detective characters aren’t much different. Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series feature Kinsey Millhone, a private investigator who lives alone, visits her eighty-year-old neighbor for pastries, cleans her apartment for personal entertainment, and fears relationships. The author explains in interviews that Kinsey has to hit the road on a case with little notice, and calling home to make arrangements waters down the intrigue. Thus, no kid baggage.

Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta is a divorced, childless, medical examiner. The closest parental trait she shows is acting matronly around her niece Lucy.

Deborah Knott, the character in Margaret Maron’s North Carolina mystery series, is a judge and amateur detective. No urchins in her house.

Sara Paretsky, who originated the female sleuth, pulling women out of the vamp or victim role in mysteries in the 80’s, is known for her V I Warshawski character, a divorced private investigator. While Sara broke the mold for women authors and their characters in the mystery world, her character may have stereotyped female gumshoes as uninvolved and unattached, just like the men that preceded them.

One wonders if the mystery world envisions the womb connected to the brain, and once one is engaged, the other reverts to neutral. Yes, the story stretches an author’s muse when one tosses in the rug rats. It’s harder to make the timeline work when the principal calls to say Johnny got caught fighting on the playground. Of course, babysitting challenges the flow of events. But in reality, are all crime solvers single and footloose without familial obligations?

Police women have children. Detectives have children. Inquisitive females in all walks of life continue to function with kids, as do the fathers. So why can’t we have sleuths who’ve given birth, or more so, have a family life?

A few female writers dare to incorporate children in their protag’s world. Joan Hess writes the Claire Malloy series involving a teenage daughter. Terris McMahan Grimes created the Theresa Galloway series in which a professional married woman balances two children and an elderly mother. Bravo.

Still, the search for mother gumshoes takes serious search time, and even then, the author names pale in comparison to those who prefer their sleuths single and detached. My own writers’ group told me to think twice about inserting a six-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter in my stories.

“What if she has to leave town?”

“What does she tell her children about what she does?”

“What if she gets hurt?”

“How could she concentrate if her child has an achievement test the next day?”

Yes, those were actual questions from fellow writers. Come on, people. We procreate. We even like the little boogers. If a mother can hold a position as attorney, real estate agent, teacher, doctor or CEO, why can’t she beat the pavement, investigate murders, wade into mayhem, then go home and check homework? What, you can’t imagine someone shooting at her? Ever seen a soccer mom?

C. Hope Clark thrives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina, often reading her chapters aloud to her Federal agent husband, both while sipping on a good bourbon. Some of her best friends are Dominiquers hens and Buff Orpington roosters who keep her company in Hope’s custom-made coops. Find her FundsforWriters side at www.fundsforwriters.com and author persona at www.chopeclark.com . She blogs at www.hopeclark.blogspot.com and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/chopeclark and on Twitter at @hopeclark. Hope has published in Writer’s Digest, The Writer Magazine, TURF Magazine, Landscape Management, numerous Chicken Soups and many other print and online publications. She speaks frequently at writers conferences throughout the country.