Old Favorites #TuesdayBookShare

Hey, everyone. Since I’m still busy writing, and haven’t had time to read a lot the past month, I decided today I would share three books by one of my all-time favorite authors.

Sometime in the late 1970’s, I was in a book store with my brother. He and I often made trips to the mall. Most often, we only went into two places – Hasting’s Records and B. Dalton Books. We were always looking to add to our collections of music and books.

Most often, I perused the fiction section. One evening a title caught my eye. Where Are the Children?

It sounded interesting, so I pulled the book from the shelf and looked at the cover. On it was a house with a sloped yard leading down to a body of water. Storm clouds hovered on the horizon. But the thing that caught my attention was a single red mitten lying on the ground. I read the back cover:

Where Are The Children

Nancy Harmon had been found guilty in a California court of murdering her two young children, but she was released from prison on a legal technicality. Deciding to make a fresh start, to change her identity, she left San Francisco and sought tranquillity on Cape Cod.

Seven years later, Nancy is remarried and has two small children: five-year-old Michael and three-year-old Missy. Finally she feels that she has been able to reclaim all that she had lost. Then the nightmare begins again.

One day a local Cape Cod paper runs an article about a famous California murder trial involving a mother accused of killing her two children. Along with the article is a photo of Nancy. On that same morning, Michael and Missy disappear. They had been playing in the yard, but when she looked for them, they were gone…all that remained was Missy’s red mitten.

While Nancy becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of her children, no one in the small Cape Cod town is aware of a stranger in their midst — someone whose plans for revenge have been festering for seven long years.

I purchased the book, took it home, and found it difficult to put down. From then on, I was hooked, always looking forward to her next release. Here are a few more of favorites:

Moonlight Becomes You

Set in Newport, Rhode Island, in a world of old money and proud names, Moonlight Becomes You has at its center Maggie Holloway, an independent young woman who has put personal tragedy behind her and become one of the fashion world’s most successful photographers.
Accompanying her date to a party in Manhattan — a kind of family reunion for the Moore clan of Newport — Maggie is reunited with a woman who had once been her stepmother and who remains one of her fondest childhood memories. Nuala Moore is equally thrilled to see Maggie, and the two quickly get beyond old pains and resume their friendship.

Nuala, now widowed, invites Maggie to visit her in Newport, and when Maggie readily accepts, Nuala plans a dinner for a group of friends so they can meet her long-lost stepdaughter. But when Maggie arrives, she finds Nuala dead, the victim of an apparently random break-in and robbery.

Maggie is heartbroken at the loss and further stunned when she learns that, only days before her death, Nuala had changed her will and left her charming Victorian house to her stepdaughter, the only proviso being that Maggie occasionally visit an old friend, Greta Shipley, who lives in Latham Manor, an elegant retirement home in Newport.

It is when she accompanies Mrs. Shipley to the cemetery to visit Nuala’s grave, as well as those of other friends Mrs. Shipley has recently lost, that Maggie discovers that something is wrong. Using her skills as a photographer to aid her in uncovering the secrets hidden on the gravesites, she soon realizes that Nuala’s death may not have been a random killing at all but rather part of a diabolical plot conceived by a twisted and unfeeling mind.

Suddenly it becomes all too apparent to Maggie that Nuala’s killer must have been someone she trusted completely. Then, when Greta Shipley dies virtually without warning of supposedly natural causes, Maggie becomes convinced that there is a connection between these two and other recent deaths among the older women of Newport.

What Maggie doesn’t realize is that she has become a target for the killer as well and that each clue she uncovers brings her closer and closer to a shocking and unimaginable fate.
With a sense of swiftly mounting danger, and with the skill and insight into human nature that have made all Mary Higgins Clark’s books major bestsellers, Moonlight Becomes You is enthralling suspense.

Remember Me

A killer turns a young family’s dream holiday into an unfathomable nightmare.

Menley Nichols and her husband, Adam, a criminal attorney, rent a house on Cape Cod, in the hope of restoring their faltering marriage. The birth of their daughter, Hannah, has revitalized their relationship, but Menley has never stopped blaming herself for the accidental death of her two-year-old son. The serenity of the Cape promises a new start.

In Remember House, an eighteenth-century landmark with a sinister past, strange incidents force Menley to relive the accident that killed her son, and she begins to fear for Hannah’s safety. Then Adam takes on a client suspected of murder when his wealthy young bride of only three months drowns in a storm — and the family is drawn into a rising tide of terror. A confrontation on a dark, rain-swept beach leads to a harrowing climax that only Mary Higgins Clark could have created.

I’ll Be Seeing You

The murdered woman could have been her double. When reporter Meghan Collins sees the sheet-wrapped corpse in a New York City hospital, she feels as if she’s staring into her own face. And Meghan has troubles enough already without this bizarre experience.

Nine months ago, her much-loved father’s car spun off a New York bridge. Now, investigators are saying that there’s no trace of his car in the river, and they suspect he faked his own death. With frightening speed, links start to appear between Meghan’s father and her dead lookalike.

Meghan may be in danger herself, but she’s determined to find the truth to the mystery. In a nightmare journey spiraling from New York to Connecticut to Arizona, Meghan finds that the truth can sometimes be deadly.

I haven’t read any of her recent work, but at the age of ninety-one, she’s still writing. Some of her latest books are co-authored. Since 1975, she’s written a total of fifty-one books, all of which have become bestsellers. Where Are the Children is now in its seventy-fifth printing.

When The Unexpected Happens

A scene from a few years ago on my drive to work.

Hello, Readers. I don’t have a Friday link post this week, and some of you may have noticed I didn’t have one last Friday. I plan to get back to that but in the meantime, wanted to share the reason. Forgive me, if I seem to go about it in a round-about way, but I am a writer after all. 🙂

My fellow authors at Story Empire and I have a board where we share ideas, discuss upcoming posts, marketing strategies, etc. And yes, we often need to rant – sometimes about writing, other times about life in general.

Last Wednesday, September 19, began like any typical day. I was out of the house by 6:30, planning to stop at my favorite fast food joint for my usual sausage and biscuit before making the twenty-mile drive to my place of employment. By the time I arrived at work, I was frustrated. So, I picked up my phone, opened the app to communicate with the SE authors and typed this:

“Okay this day started out ‘lovely.’ It was let’s be an idiot driver day. The power company employee who stops at a green light to converse with his coworker parked on the corner. The umpteen time Aggie mom and ‘my son in law is in the Navy’ driver who won’t pull forward at the drive thru. (Amazing she can see out the back window with all those stickers.) Then the slow poke driving in the left lane on the interstate. Get to work and find I forgot my key. Had to call security to unlock my office. Grrr. (rant over.)”

As you might have guessed, I’m not the most patient person in the world. After the others commented, I replied with “the day has got to get better, right?”


A few days earlier, I had noticed some floaters in my eyes. I’ve had these for years, but there were a couple of new ones and one that went across the middle of my left eye. My supervisor, who is a nurse, encouraged me to get an eye exam, so I made an appointment for two weeks out.

By Wednesday, the floaters were not any better – in fact, new ones appeared. Called my ophthalmologist back, and they were able to squeeze me in for later that morning. He found a torn retina and set me up with an appointment that afternoon with a specialist.

Arrived at four for my appointment. Three and a half hours later, I finally see the doctor. (Think someone is trying to teach me patience?) Not only was the retina torn but had detached. I underwent an emergency procedure to repair it. Failure to do so within twenty-four hours would have resulted in me losing vision in my left eye.

This past week was one of the longest in my life. For seven days post-op, I had to lay on my right side. If I sat up, I had to keep my head tilted to the right. Not the easiest thing to do. I thought I would never make it.

Of course, I couldn’t read (except for a few short messages and emails on my iPhone). Couldn’t write (can’t very well type with my head leaning to the side). I could lay on the sofa and watch TV (not a big TV person but I had to do something)!

I’m happy (and thanksful) to report I went for a follow-up appointment this week and the surgery was a success. The vision in my left eye has improved from twenty/fifty (the day after surgery) to twenty/thirty. I will return to work on Monday.

The point of my post? Not to call attention to myself but to encourage you. Don’t take life for granted. Slow down, and have a little patience. (Talking to myself here.) For those of you who dream of becoming a writer, don’t wait. Get those words out of your head and on paper or into the computer. Seize the day. Live your dream. Hug someone you love.

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to sit at my computer on Wednesday evening and be able to read. Thursday morning, I was back to writing. Yes, my ordeal has put me behind in finishing my WIP which means I won’t have an October release, but that’s okay. I’ll get back to the story and hope for November.

In the meantime, I’m learning to be patient. Somehow, being irritated at those drivers doesn’t seem important. I’ve learned not to take life, or anything, for granted.

Planning to Fail or Failing To Plan?

Participant-2014-Twitter-ProfileIn my last newsletter, I said I wouldn’t participate in NaNoWriMo because I needed to finish the novel I began in April.

Yet I’ve wanted to take part in the event since I first learned of it several years ago. When several of my online writing friends talked about their participation, I felt the urge pull me. And I debated with myself.

Sign up, Joan. You know you want this.

“But I need to finish Willow Lake. I don’t want to abandon it.”

So you’ll wait for ANOTHER November to do NaNoWriMo? What will be your excuse next year?

“Yes, just one more time. I have so many unfinished projects. I started writing Willow Lake at least three times. And I don’t want to talk about how long ago it was when the story idea first came to me. Next year will be the right time.”

Then I received some sound advice from a fellow writer:

“Joan, all I would say about NaNo is that you can still set your own goals, even though they say you need to make 50K to “win.” I don’t need a win—I need words that amount to something of quality. I’m going to get support and enthusiasm by participating…I’m just gonna do it on my own terms. Can you see your way into doing it that way?”

So, I decided this is the year to participate. And rather than starting a new project, I decided to finish the first draft of Willow Lake. I may not write 50K new words, therefore I may not “win,” but I will have accomplished something.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Benjamin Franklin

How does NaNoWriMo relate to planning and failing?

When I decided to dedicate the month of November to finishing Willow Lake, which, by the way has a new title, I knew I needed to plan ahead. I wrote and scheduled blog posts for the entire month as well as my First Friday Fiction stories for November and December.

Rather than panstering my way through the NaNo project, I wrote a brief outline of the story. I went back over my previous draft, cut some parts, changed some others, and better defined the story.

I have blog post topics for the month of December, and have begun to plan for 2015 posts. Having a topic helps me stay focused. It keeps me from sitting down on a Tuesday night to write a Wednesday post without a single idea in mind.

Planning does not guarantee success. We still need to put action to our plans. And yes, there are times when obstacles arise, but having a well thought out plan helps to overcome hindrances. And remember, even if you don’t reach your goals, you’re not a failure.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill


Everyone Needs Encouragment

Fountain PenI’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, hence my absence from the blog last week. This 30-day event is much like November’s NaNoWriMo except writers can set their own word count rather than the usual 50K.

I’ve been steadily working on a novel. Most days things have run smoothly. Yet some days, I’ve hit snags. If you are a writer, you know during those times, it’s easy to become discouraged.

You probably know I love quotes—especially those that inspire and encourage. So, I asked some of my fiction writing friends to share a favorite quote—one that inspires them in writing. Writer or not, we can all use some inspiration and encouragement.

This is what a few of them had to share:

Dede Nesbitt:

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. ~ Arnold H. Glasgow

Stephanie Fishman:

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. ~Louis L’Amour

Devani Anjali Alderson:

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. ~Dr. Seuss

Kath Unsworth:

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. ~Maya Angelou

Helen Martin:

What is more mortifying than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree? ~ Logan Pearsall Smith

Do you have a favorite quote? Please share in the comments. And if you have a moment, stop by my friends’ blogs and leave them a word of encouragement.

When I Was Seventeen

Fountain PenWhen I was seventeen, shortly before my eighteenth birthday, I wrote a novel. I had never taken a creative writing class. Nobody had ever explained plot, structure, and outlining to me. Yet, I had a dream of becoming a writer.

Looking back now, my protagonist had some character traits that may have caused readers to dislike her. However, the story had the right elements—background, situation, protagonist, antagonist.

Even though I knew nothing about writing and publishing, I knew my dream and had the courage to move forward.

That same year, I had an idea for a second novel and spent a good deal of the summer writing. I didn’t complete the second story, but came close. I kept both for a few years, and then threw them away. After all, a teenager wrote them about teenagers.

I had known I wanted to be a writer since the age of ten. My greatest desire was to write fiction. However, after high school, I allowed life to get in the way of writing.

At least, that’s what I told myself. In reality, I lacked courage. I made excuses. When I did write, I wouldn’t share it for fear of not being “good enough.” It took many years for me to allow someone else to read any of my writing. When I did share, the person was very kind, courteous and encouraging.

Several more years would pass before I had the courage to pursue fiction writing. I had ideas, thoughts, and the desire, but old fears kept me from pursuing my dream.

However, this year, I began writing more fiction. Next month I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (a part of National Novel Writing Month.) Through the encouragement of several of my writing friends, I realize I can do it.

Fear can keep us from pursuing our dreams. Discouragement hinders us from achieving our goals. Having someone to come alongside us, to encourage us, makes a world of difference.

I asked myself, “What is the worst that can happen if when I complete this book? The answer? Even if it’s never published, I’ll have a completed manuscript.

Do you have goals and dreams? Has fear or discouragement kept you from achieving those goals? Please share in the comments.