Expect Betrayal—Print version now available!

MONDAY, JUNE 7, 1943, England

Despite the fogginess of deep sleep, Etta Schnell sensed the hot prick of the energy probe.

She struggled toward awareness as fear danced at the base of her neck and rippled down her spine. A magical nightmare, a foretelling…a warning. Swirling images coalesced in her mind’s eye, bringing clarity. Something evil was stalking her and sought to rip the family grimoire from her care-taker hands. Her heartbeat increased, and her breath took on the nature of a pant.

The Book of Cures is in danger.

Because of decades of precognitive experiences, Etta intuitively recognized the probe’s source—Hitler, and his occult minions. The family grimoire contained hundreds of years of occult recipes for protections against malicious spells. The Nazis coveted The Book. They would surely corrupt the grimoire to bolster their twisted ambitions for the Third Reich. In the wrong hands, the spells could be turned from Good to Evil and reborn as powerful curses.

Her one ray of hope was that—in the magical nightmare—the American flag also chased the grimoire.

~excerpt from the Prologue

In the third Operation Delphi volume, Expect Betrayal, intrepid Lt. Olivia “Livvy” Delacourt, facility manager of The Watch’s Philadelphia headquarters, and her superior officer, the handsome Commander Barrington “Trey” Drew, III, are on assignment in England to retrieve Livvy’s family grimoire—a centuries old spell book in the sights of Hitler’s Der Mumm. Operation Delphi is certain information in the The Book could help the U.S.A. combat stateside mind control  emanating from Hitler’s occult group.

Almost from the moment Livvy  and Trey land at RAF Lakenheath Airfield, Livvy is aware of strange forces. They are met at the plane by Brick Kensington, Trey’s college buddy, currently in England to set up USO troop entertainment. She’d met him before and found him too smooth for her taste. He is hard to read and she dismisses her uneasiness around him as the effects of the long trans-Atlantic flight. Anyway, she has a job to do and it doesn’t include socializing with Trey’s Old Buddy. She needs to find her Aunt Etta and the grimoire before it’s too late, and she needs some sleep before she and Trey set out in the morning. Trey, on the other hand, makes a date with Brick for a play and drinks afterward. It’s over nightcaps the betrayal begins: Brick insists Trey carry his “lucky penny” to keep him safe—and to keep his whereabouts known to Brick. The two headed penny is really Brick’s enchanted tracking tool and Brick is a traitor.

In the morning, Brick shows up to drive Livvy and Trey to the aunt’s last known address. They can’t seem to shake him. Brick tests his psychic abilities on Livvy in hopes of keeping her from finding The Book. He plans to get his hands on it and arrange transportation to Germany on a U-boat. He’s going to buy himself entree into Hitler’s inner circle with the grimoire, but the aunt has disappeared. The chase begins. Brick sends assassins after the Americans, as they hunt for Aunt Etta, criss-crossing England following leads and addresses in Aunt Etta’s address book Livvy finds at there abandoned home. Several asassination attempts are thwarted, but the assassin gets away with the address book, aiding Brick in his chase.

After dead ends, and deadly encounters, Livvy finds a contact able to tell her what is on the missing “K” page and they and David, a psychic from the British counterpart of Operation Delphi, head toward the grimoire, danger following on their heels. But danger doesn’t put this duo off, it brings them together and Livvy’s romantic high school dream might turn into reality—after the war. First they have to beat the Nazi’s to Aunt Etta’s hiding place.

I’m not a sceptic. Read my post from June 2016 on volume two of the series, Expect Deception. According to author, JoAnn Smith Ainsworth, there really was a top-secret U.S. military branch comprised of psychics during World War II. I said it before, and I’m sticking to my story: Ainsworth certainly makes the job of psychic sound exciting, and for readers of WWII novels, she gives a riveting story of espionage and treachery set in an era of polite national determination. Volume three is even better. Some of the “polite” is tossed aside for the cause. And Livvy is more determined than ever. Although she’s never met her English family, this is her blood, and she’s wearing the key to the grimoire around her neck — a  gift  from her mother before her death. The operation is personal.

Ainsworth has again studiously researched her topic. The attention to detail and setting placed me right into 1943, but instead of being filled with wartime zeal, as I was with volume two, I felt the fear, strain, and exhaustion of the characters. People get injured or worse during war. Stakes are high. A manic quality imbues the more innocent and proper times. Livvy is willing to compromise her reputation to her orders — the mission cannot fail — and perhaps to a bit of: live today for tomorrow we may die.

In straightforward language, with well chosen details and not a trace of sentimentalism (okay, Livvy and Trey have soft spots for each other, but they’ve been friends since childhood) Ainsworth develops a suspense filled, historically steeped race against time and evil. The houses have been bombed. People are gone. The trains are delayed for troop movement, petrol is hard to come by, buses run late, phone booths are hard to find. Trey takes a larger role in volume three as he is assigned to lead the operation and protect Livvy. We get to know him better. He’s not a believer in the occult and he has a jealous streak. He also cares for his aide de camp, Livvy, and will do what it takes for a successful operation. Trey’s character is illuminated through the character of Brick, his “Old Buddy.” Trey is everything Brick is not. Brick is smarmy, greedy, deluded and small. He’s betraying his country and his own friend because he fantasizes he’s going to become powerful at the right hand of Hitler. Brick lacks the qualities of a winner, and whether or not he grabs the grimoire, he’ll always be a whiny con man, blaming his failures on someone else. You know the type.

The battle against evil has changed Livvy. She’s less innocent, more self actualized, stronger, yet more relaxed in her role. She yearns for a bath and clean, pressed clothes, but she takes charge with competence and compassion.  She has the eye and action of a pragmatist; theres no time for dithering or dissembling. When Trey is injured, she rips up her own clothes to staunch the blood. When evil looks her in the eye, she stares it down. I can’t wait to see what Livvy does in volume four. If the books were set now, she’d run for president. Livvy Delacourt would get my vote.

 

Congratulations to JoAnn Smith Ainsworth on Volume Three of the Operation Delphi series, Expect Betrayal. The paperback has come out and is available now. If you’ve waited, grab your copy today!

About JoAnn

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth experienced WWII food rationing, Victory Gardens, and blackout sirens as a child. She lived in Philadelphia during the ’50s and she attended the Berkeley Psychic Institute in the late ’70s. She is the author of six published novels: Expect Trouble, Book 1 and Expect Deception, Book 2 of the Operation Delphi series; two historical western romances released from Whiskey Creek Press; and two medieval romantic suspense novels released from Samhain Publishing, Ltd. Ainsworth lives in California.
JoAnn says this about her characters: Fighting may be necessary. My characters fight against Nazi spies, social prejudice, and other worldly events to preserve what they hold most dear.
To learn more about this award winning author, visit http://www.joannsmithainsworth.com.

“The impetus behind my writings lies in a desire to illustrate through the lives of my characters that small moments of courage are all it takes to attain what we seek from life.” ~JOANN SMITH AINSWORTH

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Growing Down with Barbra Hana Austin

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When I was five, my place on line was always in the middle. I was an average height kid. In Junior high and all through high school, my stature stayed a non-issue.

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I recall as girls, we knew we were more mature and smarter than those awful boys. Except, of course, for whiz kid Murray Lifshitz.  Murray never used a pencil; he calculated everything in his head, and it was a considerable one at that. The only thing young Lifshitz could not do was remember to raise his hand quick enough when nature called.

Adolescent females, at least in the ’40s and ’50s were smaller than boys except for my classmate Harriet Shmuckler who had the distinction of being as tall as Grisly Gaynor.  Coach Gaynor could reach up and get a basketball in the hoop almost without standing on her tippy toes.

Harriet had three nipples; two on one boob and one on the other. Her popularity in the girl’s locker room was for all the wrong reasons. You had to give her credit though, because she took the teasing, laughed it off and never got upset. I know I would have.

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In high school it was pretty much the same; my stature was of no consequence; it stayed gridlocked thru my teens and on into my twenty’s, thirty’s and so on. However, at my recent physical, three-quarters of an inch had run off and hid. Also when I look around at the giants shopping in the supermarket and wait in line for my coffee at the Roastery, it is obvious.images-5

Damn it, I am short.

History tells us Jewesses are tall in countries where the women of indigenous races are tall, and vice versa, therefore in Brooklyn where women are not tall, I am average. But in California I am short—and getting shorter.

 What in the world does my future hold, and is there a way to stem the tide? If I continue growing down, I could disappear entirely!

UnknownIt’s obvious it must irk me on some level, because I dreamed of buying a giant red clay flower pot. Could it have been to regrow three-quarters of an inch?

Why, I ask myself, do I want to be taller when I am closer to the bouquet of my favorite Lilly of the Valley?images-8

I can call on attractive, tall men to reach the high shelf.

It’s easier to cut slacks down than to lengthen them.

Most times,  closer to the earth folks look younger.

And just so you know, I heard that Cosmo will be the first to announce:  SHORT IS THE NEW TALL.

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SHORT IS THE NEW GIANT: Rachael Brosnahan is 5′ 0″ tall

 

barbaraBarbra Hana Austin was born on the kitchen table above her father’s linoleum store in Brooklyn. A few minutes after graduation from high school, she married and had two brilliant kids.

Hana-Austin lives in Calistoga, CA and is looking forward to revisiting with you, the place she fondly and oft times hilariously writes about—the Brooklyn of yesterday.

Kosher Style Stories is on iTunes as well as several other apps. If you want to see the stars of her stories, please visit KosherStyleStories.com.

PS:  On the East coast, it’s “on line.” On the West coast, it’s “in line.” In the UK it’s “queue up.”

 

 

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Editors note: Thank YOU Barbra for bring your wonderful stories and SELF to our classes! You brighten the day. Everyone, tune in to Kosher Style Stories—you won’t be disappointed.  ~AM

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Filed under Aging, Humor, Memoir

Sunday morning in the shadow of Sonoma Mountain

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Newly Old

Welcome back , Dana Rodney, today’s guest blogger on the topic of aging.

Dana says, You gotta read my BLOG called ” Insider’s Trip to Publishing.”  I am currently on the long and winding road of trying to get a novel traditionally published, and I am sharing insider’s tips of what I’m learning along the way. Check out my Instagram and Facebook links  for photos of my fine art calligraphy and posts about my ongoing writing journey. And I would be tickled pink if you would subscribe to my monthly reader’s list called “Turning Into a Pumpkin” —tragic-comic observations on growing old. Join me at https://danarodney.com/

Newly Old

 

Getting old is like something that creeps up on you then jumps out from behind the couch and scares the hell out of you. It’s like this: You’re going along minding your young business; you’re twenty, you’re thirty, you’re forty, forty-five… you feel invincible. All your life you’ve been “young”; you look pretty damn good, your butt still looks fabulous in your skinny jeans. Your future seems like a realm of infinite possibility. Men your own age are attracted to you. People refer to you as “young lady” or “miss.”

Then suddenly, that creeping thing makes its move. You hit forty-nine, fifty, fifty-five, and in the span of five or ten years you are now officially “old.” AARP makes its move. All your life you’ve been young, but now, for the remainder of your life you will be old. There’s no turning back, you cannot file an appeal. Wow, that happened quickly! Your future is no longer infinite; your remaining years can now be tallied up quite accurately, according to the Social Security Administration. Now, the men who are attracted to you are twenty years older than you. People refer to you as “ma’am,” or even worse, the dreaded “old lady.”

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As a newly old person I’ve learned there that there are tiers of oldness. When I was young, if I perceived someone as old, they were just old. Old was old. Now, I realize that sixty-old is way different than eighty-old.

 

You see, no matter how old you get, it is vitally important to remember that you are still young compared to people who are even older than you.

Another thing I’ve learned is that being old lasts a really long time. You’re young for thirty, thirty-five years, but then you’re old for fifty, sixty.

Might as well settle in and get used to it.

***

Keep up with what Dana is doing:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danarodneyrealty

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dana_rodney/

Website: https://danarodney.com/

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Autobiographical Writing, Students

Unraveling

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narrative about the years beyond youth, a time in a women’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling and wonderful despite, or perhaps, because of all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. Today she’s offering us some nostalgia over sweaters past, sweaters loved and some inspiration for our own “unraveling.”

 

Unraveling

I’m that old sweater. You know the one. We all have it, in the bottom of the bottom drawer or the very back of your closet. It’s been there forever. You’ve had it forever.. It was your favorite. You wore it with panache and loved how it hugged your beautiful, young, voluptuous and shapely breasts, back then, before they did what they’ve done now. But it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t look like it did and neither do you. You are fond of it for what it represents. It is a memento of who you were once and how you looked in it.

But now it’s unraveling at the cuffs and the collar. The seams are splitting and the shoulders are misshapen. It’s really done. It has lost what it once had and needs to go.

I’m like that too. I’ve lost what I once had. I don’t look the same. Things aren’t as perky, as tight and firm. I’m not as bright or witty. I think differently, my perspective and my opinions have shifted. My emotions still run deep but they are now tempered with a dose of patience. The candlelight doesn’t dance in my eyes as it once did. But I still have a flame.

I am unraveling in places. I’m starting to shed what I once wore so proudly. I’m taking off what I’ve outgrown and doesn’t fit any longer. I’m allowing what is underneath to show through. One strand at a time, slowly I’m unraveling.

I’m being freed from the shrunken and twisted seams that pull too tightly around my arms. They are tearing away and giving me room. I can finally breathe, stretch, allow my chest to rise with a full breath and exhale. I’m not tied up in knots anymore. The threads have loosened in all the right places and I am tugging at the ends, watching as slowly they come away and reveal below a whole other me.

 

I’m unraveling into something else, someone else. A new sweater that suits me, fits my curves as they are now, adorns this beautiful and womanly figure that I live within. I stand straight and strong. I know who I am now. I know what matters the most and where I want to end up. I may not be done unraveling yet, but I’m on my way, I just need to keep pulling the loose threads.

Blog headshot

https://www.theyearsbeyondyouth.com/

https://www.facebook.com/theyearsbeyondyouth/

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Filed under Aging, Essay, Students

How to be Old

Guest blogger, Dina Corcoran is back with her advice on old age for our series on aging.

Dina is a writer of poems, essays, and memoir.  She won the Jessamyn West award for her humorous description of the English teachers she’s encountered along the way. Her poignant story, “Adiós, Francisco,” won another.

The Napa Valley Writer’s Anthology includes a description of her hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

At eighty-two Dina now sees life through the lens of the stroke she experienced a year ago.  Please welcome Dina Corcoran with

HOW TO BE OLD

No one tells you how to be old.  There are no manuals.  But I learn from the old women who are in my life.

Old age has taken most of Dora’s eyesight and given her a walker.   To get around town, she takes the shuttle-bus, which is often behind schedule, and today causes her to be late to our Hat Chat Luncheon

At ninety-five she doesn’t waste time being cranky at the bus.   Dora waits for us to identify ourselves, one at a time, so she knows where we are sitting, and then launches into an animated discussion of the latest political news—both local and national.

She arrives armed with a lighted magnifying glass to read the menu, and gets a little help from those on either side of her.  Before she leaves, this sweet lady has something nice to say to each of us.  She is pleased to be here.

Virginia is another Hat Chat member. She has been enjoying life for 100 years.  But lately her teeth have been troubling her, so we help her select something from the menu that is soft and not tomatoey, because she and tomatoes don’t get along.  She used to be a schoolteacher and has a lively interest in everything and everybody.  Although her hearing is compromised, before lunch is over, she has asked each of us something about our lives.  Sometimes she has to get out of her chair, shuffle close to us, and lean down so she can hear the answers to her queries.

Then there is my old classmate, Noel, who has Macular Degeneration and who was burned out of her home in Paradise.  She has made a new life for herself in Grass Valley.  On the phone she talks incessantly about her houseplants and knick-knacks she’s installed in her new home. The beauty of their arrangement delights her.  All of life delights her.  Her last Email to me concerning the power outages was titled, “Ahh, Life!”

Melinda who lives down on the Big Sur Coast handles country living with aplomb.  We’ve known each other since the third grade and have mutual admiration for each other.   Her house is in the wilds, surrounded by steep mountains covered with redwood trees— which often threaten to burn.  It is worth it to her, because it overlooks the turbulent ocean.  It takes a strong woman to live there.

Her latest housekeeping adventure involved sweeping out the garage and finding a rattlesnake coiled at her feet.  She grabbed the shovel, and taking a deep breath, cut off its head—all in a day’s work.

These women teach me that even with the hardships of old age we can take delight in each other and the world, revel in beauty, and be brave.

 

 

Don’t waste time

being angry at a late bus,

Have something nice to say.

Arrive armed

with a magnifying glass;

keep a lively interest

in everything and everybody.

 

Notice the beauty

of your knick-knacks,

water your houseplants,

Delight in life.

When necessary,

cut off the serpents head;

Be brave, be alive.

 

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Young Again

 

 

Please welcome talented artist and writer

Elizabeth Stokkebye

 

YOUNG AGAIN

Young again

with a past

that

 was my future

I daydream

and I do

as I please

I flirt

and I dance

and have sex

I dress

in layers

and in colors

I write

with seams

and stratum

I look back

by looking

forward

Time

Is

timeless

Elizabeth Stokkebye is a writer and a painter of Scandinavian descent. She lives north of San Francisco. She holds a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in Scandinavian Studies and an MA from the University of Washington in Scandinavian Languages and Literature.

Elizabeth likes to tell stories, whether in words or with paint. She draws from fairytales and literature when writing and painting her figures. Her family, ancestry, and history are the foundation from which Elizabeth’s creativity and imagination spring. She combines her love for art and words on her website.

www.elizabethstokkebye.blog

 

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The Child Garden

SummerhillSchool

In 1965 I read  a book about Summerhill School, a British boarding  school for boys and girls founded in 1921 by Alexander Sutherland Neill, while I boarded at Castilleja School in Palo Alto. Summerhill was everything I longed for in a school and everything my school was not. It had been founded on the  belief that the school should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around. Happiness was foremost. Members of the school community were free to do as they pleased, so long as their actions did not cause any harm to others. This included  freedom for pupils to choose which lessons, if any, they attended. I thought it sounded like the perfect hippie school.

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It wasn’t that I didn’t like my studies, I did (except chemistry), but Castilleja’s buildings enclosed central gardens, sporting greens and pool, turning the site into a prison, complete with pleated skirt and white middy blouse uniforms. Students were controlled and scheduled at all times, and even the tiniest infraction would cause  loss of  weekend off-campus privileges. I hated it. I was too much a free spirit and nature lover to thrive there. An no boys. I yearned for Summerhill.

0005-1I just finished The Child Garden, and found myself reading about Summerhill School gone wrong. It’s called Eden School in the book. Maybe my parents had known what they were doing after all.

The dust cover flap reads: Eden was its name. “An alternative school for happy children.” But it closed in disgrace after a student’s suicide. Now it’s a care home, the grounds neglected and overgrown. Gloria Harkness is its only neighbor, staying close to her son who lives in the home, lighting up her life and breaking her heart each day.

When a childhood friend turns up at her door, Gloria doesn’t hesitate before asking him in. He claims a girl from Eden is stalking him and has goaded him into meeting near the site of the suicide. Only then, the dead begin to speak—it was murder, they say.

Gloria is in over her head before she can help it. Her loneliness, her loyalty, and her all-consuming love for her son lead her into the heart of a dark secret that threatens everything she lives for.

I was hooked by the Gothic looking cover and again by the prologue. Something had happened in 1985 and it was “time to think fast and get it right. Time to make sure only one life ended” that night.

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The story opens with a glimpse of Gloria Harkness in her job at the registry office then with her ancient blind friend, Miss Drumm, and severely disabled son, Nicky, at their care home, the former site of Eden School. Status Quo. Gloria’s days revolved around the job, caring for Nicky and maintaining Miss Drumm’s cottage, Rough House, and her old dog, Walter Scott. (One of her duties as caretaker of the property was to rock the Devil’s stone in the yard of Rough House.) By the end of the visit, a storm had kicked up, puddles deep and visibility was difficult on the deserted  road, twisting through the ten miles of countryside between the home and the cottage. Blinded by headlights, Gloria averts an accident and shakily continues toward home, but the car turns and follows her. Her cell phone has no bars. Locked into Rough House, she knows he’s out there with his lights turned off, but the comfort of Walter Scott and the cats calm her until Gloria hears a sound.

images.jpegIt turns out to be Steven “Stig” Tarrant, an old school chum Gloria had a crush on way back, and he’s in trouble. He’s being stalked by April Cowan, a classmate from Eden. Can Gloria help him?

Little by little Stig reveals the events of that Beltane night in 1985 at Eden School. Gloria is intrigued and feels loyal to an old friend, says she’ll help. They find April’s body and learn Stig is being set up  to take the blame. Gloria, in between registering the county births and deaths, marriages and divorces, caring for Nicky, Miss Drumm, the cottage and the pets, takes on the responsibility to  investigate April’s death and exonerate Stig.

The investigation leads her one-by-one to each of the 15 people who were present at Eden School the night “Mo-ped” died. Most of them are dead, allegedly by freak accident or suicide. Her investigation leads her to both Stig’s father, the founder of Eden School, and her own divorced husband Duggie. The twists, turns, reversals and reveals are brilliant, and the ending is not one that anyone would figure out early on, but makes perfect sick sense when Gloria figures it out.

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This mystery/cold case/thriller with a little horror suspense thrown in, contains a great setting, believable characters—the vignettes of the ex-Eden children are excellent sketches of their varying, mostly sad, lives—and, especially in the final few chapters, a rising tension that will keep you awake.

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Scottish by birth, McPherson has set the book in a small village near Galloway and it’s surrounding countryside. The care home property is a former grand home on an estate with a chapel, a devil’s bridge and a crypt. While the slightly archaic sounding and richly detailed descriptions are Scottish, the feel is decidedly Gothic. Gloria creeps around spooky places through dark and storm; I tensed up at   every twig snap, door slam, approach of creepy character. If you want atmosphere, this book’s got it!

shoppingMcPherson weaves a dark tapestry through vivid, authentic  detail and sharp,  emotionally complex characterization. The sprinkling of Scottishisms and language deepen the flavor to a malted blend of wood, fire, dirt, rubber, leather and the  devil. McPherson’s  inclusion of  ancient folklore:  Devil’s Bridges, hallowed places and rocking stones, lead us to believe it’s not the first time this place has been visited by evil. The death of the boy , the pattern of subsequent deaths, and the folk tales coalesce as Gloria gathers the fragments of truth to unmask the killer.

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I loved everything about this book. It’s cautious pace to start, the unique characters, the shadowed events, the heart quickening suspense, the surprise ending. If you’re looking for a good Halloween-time read, this shadowy, dark mystery will be perfect.

 

 

 

What people are saying about The Child Garden:

A tale that shivers with suspense.”—The New York Times

“A terrific stand-alone that is complex, haunting, and magical.”—Library Journal (Starred Review)

“A stunning combination of creepy thriller and classic mystery.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“One surprising plot twist after another leads to a shocking ending.”—Publishers Weekly

“Catriona McPherson spins webs of intrigue so beautiful and intricate she puts spiders to shame. With The Child Garden, she once again proves why she has rapidly become a star in the thriller genre…This is a book you will absolutely devour.”—William Kent Krueger, New York Timesbestselling and Edgar Award-Winning Author of Ordinary Grace

“An enchanting brew of mystery, poetry, legends, and dreams, Catriona McPherson’s The Child Garden is also an elaborate shell game that will keep readers guessing up until the very end.”—Hallie Ephron, New York TimesBestselling Author of Night Night, Sleep Tight

THE CHILD GARDEN is a scrumptious Scottish noir delight, jam packed with isolation, scenery, old secrets full of lust and greed, jealousy, bullying, and cruelty. The protagonist, Gloria, is an incredible heroine, an individual for whom the Universe seems to have been against from the beginning-yet she found her North Star and held to that anchor through the worst. A dedicated mother, friend, and in terms of animals and her task of care with the Rocking Stone, an earth mother–the kind of person once termed “salt of the earth.” The mystery–twenty-eight years old, but newly erupting in the present day–is cunningly revealed, a matter of smoke and mirrors, now you see it, now you don’t–and the revelation is incredible. Readers, we have here a true Best of 2015.   ~Reader on GoodReads

Contact Catriona:

https://www.facebook.com/Catriona-McPherson-171725286218342/

CatrionaMcPherson@gmail.com

 

Bio

I was born in Edinburgh and lived there, in Ayrshire, in Dumfriesshire and in Galloway before moving to California in 2010. I don’t know how they did it, those early emigrants who set off forever from Leith docks. I’m back home every year for a couple of months and I still can’t watch Burnistoun without sobbing.

A born swot, I finally left school at age thirty with a PhD in linguistics from Edinburgh University. Proper jobs have included banking (hopeless), library work in local studies and fine art (marvellous), and a short burst of academia (miserable). I’m now a full-time writer and hope never to have a proper job again.

When not writing, I’m reading, gardening, cooking and baking, cycling in Davis, running through walnut orchards, getting to grips with this outlandish and enormous country (43 states visited so far!) and practising an extreme form of Scotch thrift*, from eating home-grown food to dumpster-diving/skip-surfing for major appliances.

*when “making a living” as a writer, thrift helps a lot.

 

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Reunions and Other Insults

Aging is top of mind for a huge segment of the population. Did you know there are an estimated 74.1 million Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), or 22.9% of the U.S. population wondering how we got so old so fast?

There are some great things and some not so great things about aging. In this series, several guest bloggers will share their thoughts and stories about getting older. Today, Donald Turner  shares his experience of attending a class Reunion.

Alumni Home Coming

April 20, 2019

 

With heads of white, greyed, dyed, thinned or absent hair topping a body, often more attracted to gravity—we, the PUC alumni of the 60’s, were hoping to recognize youth grown old—youth behind the wrinkles and sags.

Some of us were unrecognized until revealed by our name tags.  Once named, I saw some resemblance to the younger face in the old year book.

I felt a tinge of sadness, realizing the majority of our allotted years were used up.  Hoping for more years to come, I was grateful we alumni had survived years greater than three score and ten.

Goodbye to those who have passed.  Best wishes to us who have yet to pass.

Let us write our memoirs while we can.

 

The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labor and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalms 90:10 (KJV)

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Donald Turner retired to Angwin, CA. after 29 years of aerospace computer programming for the Navy at China Lake/Ridgecrest, Northrop Grumman at El Segundo, and Boeing at Huntington Beach.

After graduating in 1966 from Pacific Union College, Donald taught high-school math, physics and earth science in Fletcher, North Carolina from 1966-69, then math at PUC prep in 1969-70.  He holds an  M.A. degree in Physics from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Davis.

In retirement Donald keeps busy with writing, gardening, exploring the internet, attempting to profit from the stock market, mixing music with Bitwig, and making his two acres more fire resistant. He is divorced with two daughters and four grand-daughters.

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Filed under Memoir, Students

Blogger Recognition Award

I’m grateful and excited to have been nominated by the amazing blogger: Jan M Flynn!

Thank you so much Jan, at JanMFlynnAuthor, for thinking of Building a Better Story and nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award. Jan passed on a quote from another blogger  I can’t top so here’s the quote from Reasons2Stay:

“The award is a way that we recognize and support each other as bloggers, and especially to show that we appreciate how much time, work, energy, and effort goes into producing and maintaining a high-quality blog. It is a humbling experience to be recognized from my fellow blogger.”

I agree with Jan when she says, “It’s lovely when those who share your zeal for a particular form of expression — be it writing, visual arts, dance, or whatever medium — take note of your efforts and extend their regard and support. I gotta say, it feels darn good.” Yes it does! I’m luxuriating in the warm fuzzies right now.

And because this nomination and award supports other bloggers and promotes their efforts, it has some rules  to follow if you want to participate:

Thank the blogger that nominated you.

Write a post to show your award.

Give a brief story of how your blog started.

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

Select other bloggers to give this award to.

Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

How My Blog Started:

I teach creative writing at a local community college. My students, retirees, demanded I stop lecturing on craft and deliver the conventions of writing craft (all genre, mind you) in context of the work brought in to class to “workshop.” Yikes! I still had to bone up on craft and decided to write blog posts on craft commonly misused. Nobody read it, and I stopped lecturing anyway. My first post was on September 14, 2011 on tension in your writing. My readership picked up when I branched out and opened Building a Better Story to student work. Later I added reviews of books I’ve enjoyed. It’s a wonderful platform for writings, reviews and yes, craft.

New to the genre?

Do as I say, not as I do. I’m slothful at keeping to a posting schedule. I get a bright idea, run a little series of posts on a topic and run out of steam or get busy with something else (like revising the 3rd JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventure about to be late to the editor) and forget the blog for weeks. If you want people to read your blog, you need to give it time to build a following and offer regular posts. You can blog about most anything that interests you, but if you don’t post on a schedule, you won’t keep the people who FOLLOW. An expert in WordPress, Linda Lee, and I sat on a panel together recently and the good news is, really we only need to post once a month—AS LONG AS WE DO IT EVERY MONTH ON TIME!

Invite guest bloggers to participate in your blogosphere. It’s fun to share and it promotes others’ blogs AND your own. Anyway, you won’t have to blog as often if someone else does it for you!

My Nominations:

  1. ELIZABETH STOKKEBYE ART AND STORY TELLING
  2. LAURA MCHALE HOLLAND

Congratulations to tow of my most inspiring bloggers! And a million thanks to Jan M Flynn for nominating me!!

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Filed under Awards, Inspiration