Thursday, August 9, 2018

Blog Tour l Author Interview l Michael McMenamin, Author of Appointment in Prague



APPOINTMENT IN PRAGUE by Michael & Kathleen McMenamin, HistoricalThriller, 160 pp., $12.95 (paperback) $4.99 (Kindle)

Title: APPOINTMENT IN PRAGUE: A MATTIE MCGARY + WINSTON CHURCHILL WORLD WAR II ADVENTURE
Author: Michael McMenamin & Kathleen McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Pages: 160
Genre: Historical Thriller


In the novella, Appointment in Prague, one woman, a British secret agent, sets out in May 1942 to single-handedly send to hell the most evil Nazi alive—SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the SD, the domestic and foreign counter-intelligence wing of the SS; second in rank only to the head of the SS himself, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler; and the architect of  “The Final Solution” that will send millions of European Jews to their doom.

When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill authorizes the SOE—the ‘Special Operations Executive’— in October 1941 to assassinate Heydrich, he is unaware that the entire operation has been conceived and is being run by his Scottish goddaughter, the former Pulitzer Prize-winning Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The SOE is Churchill’s own creation, one he informally describes as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and, at his suggestion, Mattie becomes one of its Deputy Directors.

Mattie has a history with Heydrich dating back to 1933 and a personal score to settle. In September 1941, when the man known variously as ‘The Blond Beast’ and ‘The Man With the Iron Heart’—that last coming from Adolf Hitler himself—is appointed Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, the remnants left of Czechoslovakia after the Germans had dismembered it in 1939, Mattie is determined—now that he is no longer safely within Germany’s borders—to have him killed. She recruits and trains several Czech partisans for the task and has them parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December 1941.

An increasingly impatient Mattie waits in London for word that her agents have killed the Blond Beast. By May 1942, Heydrich still lives and Mattie is furious.  The mother of six-year-old twins, Mattie decides—without telling her godfather or her American husband, the #2 man in the London office of the OSS—to parachute into Czechoslovakia herself and  “light a fire under their timid Czech bums”. Which she does, but her agents botch the job and Heydrich is only wounded in the attempt. The doctors sent from Berlin to care for him believe he will recover.

On the fly, Mattie conceives a new plan to kill Heydrich herself. With forged papers and other help from the highest-placed SOE asset in Nazi Germany—a former lover—Mattie determines to covertly enter Prague’s Bulovka Hospital and finish the job. After that, all she has to do is flee Prague into Germany and from there to neutral Switzerland. What Mattie doesn’t know is that Walter Schellenberg, Heydrich’s protégé and the head of Foreign Intelligence for the SD, is watching her every move.

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Excerpt:

KEEPING SECRETS from her husband, Bourke Cockran, Jr., was nothing new for Mattie McGary as she gently kissed her sleeping husband goodbye before she left for her office where she had to prepare two pieces of correspondence. One was an ‘eyes only’ letter to her godfather, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, telling him everything about her new mission, one he never would have approved had he known beforehand. The other was a letter to her husband on the same subject where she most definitely would not tell him ‘everything’. The second letter would be much more difficult to write than the first.
When she had been a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Hearst organization in the 20s and 30s, she often had promised confidentiality to her sources and kept their identities a secret even from Cockran, both before and after he became her husband. He understood because, as a lawyer, he never disclosed to her privileged and confidential communications he received from his clients no matter how newsworthy and interested she might be in that information.
Once her godfather, Winston Churchill, became Prime Minister in May 1940 and, at his request, she joined the SOE—the ‘Special Operations Executive’—Mattie’s entire professional life became a secret from Cockran, courtesy of Great Britain’s Official Secrets Act. The SOE was Churchill’s own creation which he informally, albeit accurately, described as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
A year later, in June 1941, at the behest of his law partner, William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, Cockran began work for a new United States government agency that became the OSS—the ‘Office of Strategic Services’—so that his entire professional life became a secret from her thanks to the America’s Espionage Act of 1917.
Now, Cockran was the #2 man at the OSS station in London and she was the Deputy Director of the SOE for Central Europe. It had certainly complicated their marriage, Mattie thought as she softly closed the door to their suite at the Savoy.

Inter-Services Research Bureau
64 Baker Street
London
Saturday, 2 May 1942

MATTIE STOOD up from her desk in her office at SOE headquarters, the outside of which carried on a brass plate the innocuous name of Inter-Services Research Bureau, and walked over to the sideboard. She made herself a cup of tea and looked down on the traffic below on Baker Street where it was raining and pedestrian umbrellas were out in full force.
A husband and wife being spies for different Allied governments raised more than a few eyebrows in the SOE and the OSS, but each spouse had their own high-ranking patrons, Mattie with her godfather as the British Prime Minister and Cockran with his old law partner Donovan as head of the OSS. Nevertheless, they never brought work home to their suite at the Savoy and never discussed with each other what they did.
Mattie was in a dilemma today, however, because they had made each other a promise that she was about to violate. For the sake of their two six-year-old children, fraternal twins Nora and Eric, they had promised not to volunteer for any dangerous assignments in the field. At the time, it seemed like a safe promise as both were sufficiently high-ranking in their respective organizations not to be sent into any countries occupied by the Nazis.
That was all before Operation Anthropoid—the assassination of SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the ‘Butcher of Prague’—went off the rails. No one else at SOE knew the reason why, but she did. The operation was her idea from the outset. She had conceived it; she had personally trained the three Czech SOE agents involved; and she was their handler now that they were in the field.  They had been in Czechoslovakia for almost six months and nothing had happened. Others might disagree, especially if they knew why she had pushed Operation Anthropoid so vigorously, but she thought she was the only one with the necessary background to get the show back on track.
That was why she was not flying to Stockholm tomorrow for her bimonthly interview with the SOE’s most highly placed asset in Nazi Germany—her former lover Kurt von Sturm, a high-ranking aide to the head of the Luftwaffe, Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring. Instead, she would be resurrecting from storage the leather flying outfit she had first worn over ten years ago—a shearling–lined sheepskin flying jacket with matching sheepskin trousers, boots and helmet—when she had flown across the country in Cockran’s autogiro in her attempt to break Amelia Earhart’s coast-to coast autogiro record. Then, that night, she would parachute into Occupied Europe to kick-start an assassination plan that should have been completed six months ago.
Travel outside Great Britain came with the job descriptions for her and her husband. Typically, they told each other when they left the country unless the destination itself was mission critical. Well, her destination this time was most definitely mission critical and she would be breaking her word to Cockran by doing so—she not only had volunteered for the mission, she had created it. Still, she didn’t want to lie and telling him she would be away for a month on assignment without adding that she would be out of the country would almost be the same as a lie.
Finally, Mattie settled on the least deceptive option. She would tell him the truth, just not all the truth. Isn’t that what lawyers did all the time? She would tell him she was going to Switzerland on assignment. Which she was, eventually, if she survived the most dangerous part of the mission. She just wasn’t going there first. She went back to her typewriter to finish her letter to the Prime Minister filling him in on her mission and instructing him on what he was to tell her husband if she didn’t make it back. She knew Winston wouldn’t like what she was doing any more than her husband and indeed likely would have forbade her to do so had he known. But her godfather had a war to run and he could not possibly keep track of every SOE or MI-6 mission abroad. From her days working for Hearst, Mattie had always believed begging for forgiveness afterwards was better than asking for permission beforehand.  After all, it wouldn’t be a violation of the Official Secrets Act for the Prime Minister to know what her husband could not.
Over nine years in the making, an old score was about to be settled. Reinhard Heydrich was about to discover that, just as Death once had an appointment in Samarra, Mattie McGary had an appointment in Prague.



 




Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

Before I became a full-time writer, I was also a lawyer specializing in First Amendment and Media Defense with clients like Readers’ Digest, CNN, Ted Turner, FOX television stations, the Associated Press, Harper Collins, Clear Channel, 20th Century Fox and James Cameron. I once defended the last two clients in a federal copyright lawsuit against the film Titanic [a really great film] where they paid me to watch the film, rather than the other way around. Twice.

Now, when I’m not writing, I read, play tennis and travel.

When did you start writing?

For publication? In college at Western Reserve University, I wrote a weekly column on national politics for the campus newspaper.

For money? 1975. A cover story for REASON magazine (where I became and am still a Contributing Editor), “Milk Money & Monopoly” which formed the basis for my first book Milking the Public: Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

As a novelist, the most pivotal point was when, in 2009, Enigma Books in New York bought the trade paperback rights to my biography of the young [age 20-45] Winston Churchill—Becoming Winston Churchill, the Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor—the hardcover version of which had been published in the UK and the US in 2007 by a division of Harcourt.

Enigma specialized in non-fiction books on 20th century European and US history. I got to know Enigma’s editor quite well when I would come to New York at my expense whenever he could arrange a venue for me to talk about my book because all three of my children lived in the city and their mother and I could visit and stay with them.

At that time, I had written with my son Patrick two unpublished historical thrillers set in the 1930s featuring Winston Churchill as a catalyst for our main characters like Mattie McGary, Winston’s fictional goddaughter and intrepid  Hearst photojournalist. We were in the middle of writing a third. Our agents [different ones for each of the first two books] had secured for us quite a few rejection letters from well-known publishers praising our work, but alas no sale. I noticed in the backlist for Enigma that, while almost all of its 50+ books were non-fiction, it had also published 3 historical thrillers. I asked Enigma’s editor if he would like to read our first two Churchill historical thrillers. He did and, after he read them as well as a synopsis of the third novel, we signed a three-book deal for them shortly thereafter and became published—and literary award winning—novelists.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

To start writing? My study in Shaker Heights, Ohio with all my biographies, history books and reference materials close at hand. I couldn’t write without them.

To revise an already complete manuscript where I wouldn’t need to have all my biographies, history books and reference materials close at hand? A palazetto in Venice off the Grand Canal in late October, early November, NOT in the summer with all those tourists.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

2 hours writing; 2 hours reading or watching the documentary segments on the DVDs of ‘The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles’. Fantastic series, based on solid historical research.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

Any countries/cities I’ve visited and not yet set any scenes in. For Western Europe, only Oslo, Norway and Barcelona, Spain are left. I’d do Barcelona first. In South America, I’ve already set a scene in Buenos Aires so that leaves Chile and Brazil. I can see doing Brazil first. In Asia, I’ve only been to Japan and I have no idea how I would fit a scene there into one of our books.

Back to your present book, (Appointment in Prague, a Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill World War II Adventure), how did you publish it?
Well, the book began life as the Epilogue (set in 1942 Prague) to our novel The Berghof Betrayal where my son Patrick was my co-author. The novel was set in 1933 Germany where the evil Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich, gives our heroine Mattie McGary more than enough reason to want him dead. We eventually cut the Epilogue and found a more immediate way for Mattie to put the fear of God into Heydrich.
I hate to waste good writing, however, so I was inspired to expand it into its present novella form to provide a platform for a six chapter preview of our next Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill 1930s Adventure, The Liebold Protocol, a full length novel that will be published in October 2018 where my new co-author will be my daughter Kathleen McMenamin, who has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from NYU. I did so by adding additional scenes after Heydrich dies focused on Mattie’s capture by SS Counterintelligence as she attempts to flee to Switzerland

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

It turned out that I did—Prague—but it wasn’t planned that way.

Why was writing Appointment in Prague, a Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill World War II Adventure, so important to you?
I was in Prague for a legal conference when I noticed a sign on the street pointing to the ‘Reinhard Heydrich Museum’. I was taken aback. A museum to Heydrich?? In Prague?? Czechs hate Heydrich!! So I had to visit the museum, which was located in the basement of a church where Czech partisans had hidden after the murder and where the Gestapo found and killed them all. So the museum is more a shrine to them than homage to Heydrich. I knew the general details of Heydrich’s assassination by agents of Britain’s Special Operations Executive [SOE] but at the museum, I bought several books on the assassination and learned three new things. First, the SOE agents had been in country for nearly 6 months before they finally did the deed. Second, doctors from Berlin thought Heydrich was going to survive [and he would have except for the fact that the Germans didn’t have access to penicillin]. Third, he lived for a full week after he was wounded and finally died from septicemia.
That extra week in Heydrich’s life was all I needed. Mattie McGary may have put the fear of God into Heydrich in 1933 in The Berghof Betrayal, but, given what Heydrich had done to her, I couldn’t pass up the chance to let her have revenge as well by taking out Heydrich herself.  So, I envisioned what Mattie would be doing in 1942. Then I put her in the SOE, the personal creation of her godfather Winston Churchill; made her the SOE control officer over the Heydrich assassination mission; parachuted her into Czechoslovakia to find out from her agents why, after six months, Heydrich was still alive; and, when Heydrich initially survived the assassination attempt, I had her come up with a new scenario on the fly where she would gain access to the hospital and poison the bastard herself. Then SS Counterintelligence would capture her as she tried to escape to Switzerland. To go further would be a spoiler. Read the book! It’s not that long.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

From reading lots of books on history.

Why? Because, like I did with the books I bought in the Heydrich Museum, that’s where I find little known historical facts that I think can form the core around which to set an historical thriller. Appointment in Prague is one example. Other examples are below:

The DeValera Deception was based on the little known fact that Weimar Germany and the Soviet Union were Allies during the 1920s where, in violation of the Versailles Treaty, Germany developed modern weapons systems which they shared with the Russians. The real purpose of the two countries’ alliance was to invade and divide up Poland that had been carved out of both Germany and Russia at Versailles.

Suppose the plan to divide Poland is set in motion in 1929? Since France will not march to defend Poland without Britain’s help, what if the Germans finance an IRA coup d’etat in the Irish Free State to distract the English with arms they buy in the United States?


The Parsifal Pursuit was based on the little known fact that both Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler believed the ’Spear of Destiny’ [that allegedly pierced the side of Christ on the cross and is on display at Vienna’s Hofburg Museum] had magical powers that great leaders in the past like Charlemagne and Frederick the Great had carried into battle.

Suppose the Kaiser has agreed in 1931 to have the Crown Prince placed on the German throne after President Hindenberg is assassinated so long as the Spear of Destiny—now missing and hidden away in the Austrian Alps—is returned to him? Hitler wants the Spear also as does Churchill and three teams set out for the Austrian Alps to find it.

The Gemini Agenda was based on the little known fact that America led the world in eugenics studies in the 1920s and 1930s. By the time Hitler came to power in 1933, America had forcibly sterilized over 60,000 ‘feeble-minded’ women and Germany none. The Nazis then copied the model U.S sterilization statute and began its own campaign of sterilization. The U.S. also led the world in eugenics studies of twins, a matter of great interest to the SS doctor Josef Mengele who would go on to conduct gruesome lethal studies of twins at Auschwitz in 1942 in the name of science.

Suppose U.S. eugenicists and the SS team up in 1932 to conduct Mengele’s lethal experiments in Germany with kidnapped American twins whose names were furnished to the SS by the U.S Eugenics Records Office?

The Berghof Betrayal was based on the little known fact that rumors were widespread in Berlin in early 1933 that the Nazis were planning a fake attempt on Hitler’s life as a pretext for declaring martial law and imprisoning their political enemies.

Suppose Hitler’s enemies inside and outside the Nazi Party hijack the fake plot and turn it into a real one while Mattie McGary is by his side after an interview?

The Silver Mosaic was based on two little known facts: (1) The German economy was very weak in early 1933 when Hitler came to power and, in the face of spontaneous violence against the Jews, a world-wide boycott of German exports almost crashed the economy, taking Hitler with it; (2) the Nazis, in order to defeat the boycott, were secretly negotiating with the Jewish Authority in Palestine for it to buy German exports in exchange for allowing German Jews to emigrate to Jewish Palestine and take more money with them that German currency controls permitted.

Suppose a journalist—Churchill’s goddaughter Mattie McGary—sets out to discover how the Nazis’ secretly plan to defeat the boycott and both the Nazis and Palestine Jews are determined to stop her?

Any final words?

Sure. Here are the best ways to connect with us or find out more about our work:




The following two links have some really good stuff, but they are not current. It’s more fun to write books than to update the links. Volunteers to do so will be gratefully accepted.





Michael McMenamin is the co-author with his son Patrick of the award winning 1930s era historical novels featuring Winston Churchill and his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The first five novels in the series—The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal and The Silver Mosaic—received a total of 15 literary awards. He is currently at work with his daughter Kathleen McMenamin on the sixth Winston and Mattie historical adventure, The Liebold Protocol.

Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover, Greenwood 2007; Paperback, Enigma 2009] and the co-author of Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]. He is an editorial board member of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society and a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work also has appeared in The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012] as well as two Reason anthologies, Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993] and Choice, the Best of Reason [BenBella Books, 2004]. A full-time writer, he was formerly a first amendment and media defense lawyer and a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent.  


Kathleen, the other half of the father-daughter writing team, has been editing her father’s writing for longer than she cares to remember. She is the co-author with her sister Kelly of the critically acclaimed Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality [Sterling, 2017]. The two sisters are professional organizers, personality-type experts and the founders of PixiesDidIt, a home and life organization business. Kathleen is an honors graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The novella Appointment in Prague is her second joint writing project with her father. Their first was “Bringing Home the First Amendment”, a review in the August 1984 Reason magazine of Nat Hentoff’s The Day They Came to Arrest the Book.  While a teen-ager, she and her father would often take runs together, creating plots for adventure stories as they ran.

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#BookSpotlight: I Am The Product of Rape: A Memoir by Catherine Wyatt-Morley & Jalyon Welsh-Cole @cwm_women



I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE: A MEMOIR by Catherine Wyatt-Morley & Jalyon Welsh-Cole, Memoir, 194 pp., $15.95 (paperback)


Title: I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR
Authors: Catherine Wyatt-Morley and Jalyon Welsh-Cole
Publisher: Four Pillars Media Group
Pages: 194
Genre: Memoir


The phrase “secrets and lies” takes on terrible new meaning in Catherine Wyatt-Morley’s devastating book, I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR.

Wyatt-Morley’s shocking story traces the repeated patterns of rape and incest that plagued four generations of her family, including Wyatt-Morley’s birth in a filthy basement to her 12-year-old mother, who was sexually abused by her step-father.

“…In the process of writing this book, an extremely difficult journey that has taken years, I was taken to unfamiliar destinations and exposed to unfathomable pain,” Wyatt-Morley relates. “Part of that pain was learning that I was created through the atrocities of incest by a brutally manipulative monster and, while only moments old, (I was) denied by a heartless grandmother who never bothered to look at me.”

Wyatt-Morley wrote I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR, she says, “as my way of dealing with my personal healing. But through conversations with many diverse women, I quickly began seeing I was not alone. So many had never told anyone of the abuse that has happened to them; yet they have a need to heal, to not feel isolated.”

Wyatt-Morley’s daughter, Jalyon Welsh-Cole, also suffered the terrible legacy of her family when she was abused by her eldest brother. She wrote the epilogue to I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR, an essay she called BURNING HOUSE, in response to the continued pattern of abuse that formed her familial legacy.

“Most of my family members who have learned of this are dealing with it as well as one can,” Welsh-Cole says. “However, others are still in disbelief and struggle to understand. For over two decades I kept this heinous secret to myself. I have had time to bury it, cry over it, and finally seek therapy and come to grips with it.

Welsh-Cole’s mother’s story “made me feel as if our bloodline was full of secrets and lies that I wanted to expose,” she continues. “I knew after learning of my grandmother’s story that I wasn’t alone. Today, I cannot allow this to continue to happen in our family.”
As dark and unrelenting as it is, the story told in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR leads to a conclusion of overcoming tremendous odds, leaving readers riveted, inspired, and empowered.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

https://www.amazon.com/Wyoming-Tryst-Front-Range-Book-ebook/dp/B07B8NK5WC

Excerpt:

A ferocious human predator ripped through our family, drooling over the innocent―leaving none untouched. Generations of child predators have devoured their vulnerable offspring and siblings, molesting our family’s youth unconcerned about the magnitude of their actions. Silence has become the gateway to mental health issues throughout our lineage.  I Am the Product of RapeA Memoir exposes generational secrets, lies, cover-ups and denial and their consequences. Told from my perspective, this is my family story, a glimpse into four women irreversibly scarred by traumatic abuse.
            The family matriarch, my grandmother, a prolific mother of ten, sets the tone for all of us women who would place our feet in the footprints of her journey. Her decisions transform her ancestry for generations to come. Refusing her child love, protection, safety and happiness for material wealth is significant to her legacy. Her story sheds light on the transgressions she not only allowed but participated in.
            Next, there is the vulnerable, shy girl who endured the death of her childhood at the hands of her stepfather. Incest, abuse, betrayal, humiliation, and rape inhumanly tore through her seven year old body. Well before puberty she was sexually exploited in her own home, her childhood, mind and body all repeatedly violated. While her mother, my grandmother, lived in denial of the events taking place in their home, this innocent child was consistently, savagely tormented by her stepfather who exercised power and control over her. To survive she separated her two worlds, disconnecting from the brutality she incessantly endured. Inevitable, at twelve years old that vulnerable, shy girl gave birth a child. She gave birth to me!
            Then, there is me, born on a filthy basement floor to a twelve year old. I Am the Product of Rape. I am an adoptee, I am a daughter, and I am a mother of three. In search of my future, I found the weighted baggage of the past. Catholic Social Services documents helped to chronicle my life, as did the many conversations I have had over the years with sometimes very reluctant people―relatives, social workers, and paper pushers, all of whom seemed to guard my past as it floundered aimlessly, leaving lingering, unanswered questions. Through the process of connecting with my past much was revealed. I came to learn that from my first breath I was discarded, unwanted, unloved and homeless. My journey through foster homes the adoption system, and the intense emotional peaks and valleys concluded with me being adopted becoming the fourth member of a middle class Catholic family.  The mother of the family had love enough for one of her children and I was not that child.
            Finally, along this sexual-abuse sojourn, I unfortunately discovered my daughter's devastating experience. Crushing my very core, this revelation sent my life careening in another unexpected direction, straight through my children's lives into a fourth-generation nightmare. The ripple effects of demoralizing incest, the sexual slavery of serial rape, and the brutality of molestation go beyond their impact on the direct victims, transmitting a trauma that oozes intergenerationally. This story intertwines the DNA of my family's bloodline.
            In conclusion, I Am the Product of Rape―A Memoir initiates family table talks that have kept incest secrets silent for generations. Our goals are to make I Am the Product of Rape ―A Memoir and our other materials available to everyone, have I Am the Product of Rape ―A Memoir translated into the worlds languages and make I Am the Product of Rape ―A Memoir and our other materials part of the global platform for eliminating disparities. My daughter and I conclude by saying you are not alone.





 







Catherine Wyatt-Morley is the founder, chief executive officer and heartbeat of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organization for the at-risk and HIV-positive community. In 1994, Wyatt-Morley founded Women On Reasons To Heal (W.O.R.T.H.), the first and what has become the oldest HIV-positive women’s support group in Middle Tennessee.

Wyatt-Morley has appeared in countless media outlets nationwide, including SELF Magazine, the Today Show, A&U Magazine, POZ Magazine, CNN, Voices of America, MSNBC, Talk America Radio, FX Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the Palm Beach Post, the Indianapolis Indiana Recorder, the Los Angeles Times, the Canadian Sun, Nashville Scene, and the Tennessean.

Jalyon Welsh-Cole has been director of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit social service organization, since 2010. Welsh-Cole began writing when she was very young, starting with short stories and poems. As a teen, she was inspired to draw, finding comfort and creativity in her art. She joined forces with Wyatt-Morley to share her story in I AM THE PRODUCT OF RAPE – A MEMOIR. Together, they also have created #HealingSecretHurts workshops, which bring the spectrum of traumatizing sexual assault into the light.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

First Chapter Reveal: Wyoming Tryst by Charlene Whitman


Title: WYOMING TRYST
Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 360
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance

BOOK BLURB:
Two ranching tycoons. A decades-old feud. A sheriff bent on ridding the town of lawlessness . . .
In the midst of the trouble brewing in Laramie City in 1878, Julia Carson yearns to be free of her parents’ smothering and wonders whether she’ll ever find a man worthy to love in such a violent town rife with outlaws.
But when Robert Morrison sneaks onto her ranch the night of her sixteenth birthday party, Cupid shoots his arrows straight and true. Aware that their courtship would be anathema to their fathers, who are sworn enemies, Robert and Julia arrange a tryst.
Yet, their clandestine dalliance does not go unnoticed, and forces seek to destroy what little hope their romance has to bloom. The star-crossed lovers face heartache and danger as violence erupts. When all hope is lost, Joseph Tuttle, the new doctor at the penitentiary, is given a letter and a glass vial from Cheyenne medicine woman Sarah Banks.
The way of escape poses deadly dangers, but it is the only way for Robert and Julia to be together. It will take the greatest measure of faith and courage to come through unscathed, but love always conquers fear.

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Chapter One

November 5, 1878
“I don’t care what it costs—get it done! Stop lollygagging, and make Morrison sign that paper. Rohrbach has other offers, and he knows I’m chomping at the bit—”
Julia Carson cringed at the sound of something heavy smashing against the wall adjoining the sewing room, but a glance at her mother showed that Lester Carson’s histrionics ruffled her not at all. When did they ever? But Julia knew that was the only way her mother could successfully navigate around her husband’s outbursts.
Her mother, with her lustrous back hair piled atop her head in perfect fashion, pulled another straight pin from between her teeth and said, “Stop wiggling, Julia. How will I ever get this hem pinned if you keep swiveling about?”
Julia sighed, feeling the familiar constriction and barely telltale rattle in her chest. But thank the heavens autumn was here. A glance out the wide windows showed a bright, crisp morning, though menacing clouds were gathering in the distance. She wouldn’t be surprised if the first snow fell later that day.
This summer had been the worst yet, and twice her parents had flown into a panic when Julia had awoken in the middle of the night unable to breathe. The tonics the doctor had given her did little else but make her woozy, and though Reverend Charnel urged her to give her burden to the Good Lord, it seemed He wasn’t all that keen on lifting it from her shoulders. Predictions over the years said she’d never make it to her sixteenth birthday, but yet, here she was.
“—Get out! Just git!”
Her father’s boorish directive followed on the heels of two short, fastidious men in three-piece suits making a hasty exit from her father’s study. Upon noticing Julia standing on the round dais and her mother squatting with pins in her mouth, the solicitors nodded brusquely from the hallway and muttered their farewells, their hats clenched in hand.
Julia’s mother muttered, “Heavens, your father is putting those poor men through the wringer.” She shook her head and finished pinning the last section of hem of the elegant white satin party dress. Then she took a step back, her petticoats swishing under her toile skirt, and admired her handiwork.
Though her mother could easily afford to hire the finest dressmaker in Wyoming Territory, she made all of Julia’s dresses and blouses, spending her quiet evenings, especially in the winter months when snow piled up the windows, bent over her tiny stitches. The sewing room in which they stood overflowed with bolts of lace and strings of seed pearls that her mother painstakingly added in beautiful detail to Julia’s party dresses.
And this dress would be the most magnificent yet, for, as her mother kept reminding Julia, “No one must outshine you on your sixteenth birthday.”
But there was more in her mother’s eyes than admiration for her handiwork and pride in her only child—her only living child, Julia noted. Because, wasn’t that at the heart of this celebration? That Julia was the only child of Danielle and Lester Carson to have survived into adulthood.
And that was what Julia read in her mother’s eyes. Pain and loss. Three stillborn babies lay in the nearby family graveyard. Alongside the small coffin containing Julia’s older brother, who’d succumbed to the influenza when he was four—two months before Julia was born.
Julia could never be free of her mother’s loss, never be absolved. Her parents stifled and smothered her with love and protection and worry because, as her mother often lamented, “We couldn’t ever bear to lose you. It would kill us both.” Though her father never voiced such sentiments aloud.
And it was hard to interpret his heavy hand and unfair restrictions as fear of loss. No, her father’s actions seemed anything but fearful, and his protection anything but loving and concerned.
But no matter. She would soon find a man to wed, and though she’d been so sheltered, hardly even permitted to say hello to any unhitched young man, even at church, she secretly hoped she’d get her chance at her party. A party that would make the high-society columns in papers all the way to the Mississippi, if her mother had her way. Her parents were sparing no expense for an event that would no doubt be hailed as the most extravagant gala Laramie City had ever seen.
Julia’s throat tightened at the attention that would be heaped upon her that night, for crowds of people made her terribly claustrophobic, often exacerbating her asthma. Her rigorous protests for a small family gathering had been lost on unresponsive ears. Though, why was she surprised? This party really wasn’t about her, or for her, for that matter. It was, in essence, a way for her father to show off his opulence and success as Laramie’s foremost cattle rancher. And to flaunt that success before the Morrisons, who, as a matter of course, were not invited and never would be.
“Oh, you are such a beauty,” her mother crooned. “Spin around and show me.”
Julia dutifully spun, the layers of eyelet-lace-edge skirts whirling and fluttering like snowflakes on a breeze. Wearing such a gorgeous dress made Julia feel beautiful indeed. But she wondered if any dress could negate her flaws. Her pale complexion that freckled terribly in the sun. Her long lifeless hair the color of bark that constantly slipped out of her pins. And worst of all—her height. She stood over her mother by four inches. What man would want to look up to his wife? At five feet eight, she was taller than most of the ranch hands on the farm. Except Ty, her much-older cousin, who was like a brother to her. And, of course, her father, who towered a head above every man in town. The Carson men had always stood out prominently in a crowd—due to both height and propensity for bluster. But, unlike Julia’s uncles, Lester Carson was more the quiet but intense type who believed in an economy of words. Except when someone sparked his anger.
Julia stepped down from the dais and turned so her mother could fuss with the button loop at Julia’s neck. The spacious sewing room with its floor-to-ceiling windows spilled warm light across the thickly varnished oak floorboards that shone like glass. Dust motes danced on the air.
“Mother, why has Father been meeting with his lawyers so often? And what is he so crotchety about?”
Her mother’s sigh blew warmth onto Julia’s neck, making a shiver run down her spine. “It’s nothing to concern yourself with. Another land deal. He wants to acquire the thousand-acre parcel to the northwest.”
Julia shook her head. “But why? Doesn’t he own enough land? Aren’t fifty thousand acres sufficient for his purposes?”
“It’s the water access. You know in late summer Dead Man’s Creek is the only source of water for the cattle. That property has the only year-round spring for miles around.”
“So? Father has always moved the herds north in the fall.”
“And it appears he doesn’t want to be bothered to do so any longer.”
Julia fell silent. Once her father got a hankering in his craw, there was no pulling it free. But this was something different than his normal dealings. He’d been downright perturbed these last months, working himself into a frenzy, more apt to snap at Cousin Ty and Sheldon McManus, his ranch foreman, than ever before.
“Is . . . Father ill?”
Her mother turned Julia to face her. Julia saw close up the tired lines etching her mother’s still-beautiful face. Dark splotches sagged under her eyes, and her mouth drew into a tight line.
“No,” she said, then hesitated. “Though, I daresay if he keeps up like this”—she gestured to the now-closed door to the study, where Lester Carson was tromping across the floorboards so loudly, Julia feared he might bust through them—“his heart just might succumb from the aggravation.”
But there was something her mother wasn’t telling her. Something—Julia knew—whose source went way back, before Julia was born. Something neither parent ever mentioned, but on occasion Julia caught a whiff of, like the scent of a moldering dead carcass carried on the wind. In the late hours Julia sometimes heard terse words spoken behind closed doors. Words that often included the name Morrison.
Her father hated Stephen Morrison. That was a fact everyone in Wyoming Territory knew well. And Morrison hated Julia’s father. But no one seemed to know what had started the feud that had been going on between the two men—and that had dragged both families through the mud of hate and threats—for decades. Ty had once let slip words that hinted at a card game and someone cheating, but for all Julia knew, his words were little more than grist for the rumor mill in town.
And she’d heard her father tell his lawyers to make Morrison sign the papers. Did Stephen Morrison own that land her father coveted? If so, he had to know Morrison would never sell—not on his life.
Oh, all this land wrangling and vying for power made Julia more than weary. She felt like a prisoner in her own home. Her upcoming party was the only bright glimmer of hope on the horizon. If only it held the promise of escape. Would she ever be free of her father’s heavy hand?
The door to the courtyard swung open, and Ty came in, a grin on his sun-baked face, his unruly wheat-straw hair splaying out from under his floppy hat. He touched the brim and said, “Ladies,” then knocked on the door to the study. As Julia’s mother gathered up her scissors and pins and spools of thread, Julia felt a sudden urge to change out of her fancy dress, throw on a riding skirt and blouse, and race across the range on Little Bit. The house seemed to be closing in on her, and the glorious late-autumn day was passing her by.
Her father opened the door and exchanged quiet but terse words with Ty. Then, without another word or a glance at his wife or daughter, he strode past the open doors of the sewing room and down the hallway, his footfalls echoing loudly.
Ty turned to Julia and her mother, his soft gray-green eyes thoughtful and intense. “I’m headin’ to town with the wagon to pick up supplies at Harold’s. Need anything at the mercantile?”
“Milkman Mary should have our order ready for pickup,” her mother said. “I’d be obliged if you stopped in and picked up the milk and cream.”
“May I go with you?” Julia asked. She’d rather stroll the shop windows than saddle up her mare and ride, alone, with no one to talk with. And Ty, always so funny and cheerful, was just the company she needed right now.
“Dressed like that?” He pointed at her. “You’d ’bout give every fella apoplexy if’n they saw you saunterin’ down the street.” He sashayed around the room, making Julia laugh, as he stroked the wiry goatee on his chin.
Though Ty was her cousin and fourteen years her senior, he had come under the wings of her parents when he was twelve due to a mudslide that had left him orphaned. The two of them had been raised like siblings, and Julia couldn’t imagine having more affection for Ty if he’d been her brother. Or Ty having a fiercer sense of protectiveness for his younger relation.
“There’ll be no town visit today,” her mother said sternly.
“Why not—?” Julia tried to keep the whine out of her voice. It wasn’t fair.
“Because I said so.”
Ty frowned. “I’d keep her safe, ma’am—you know that—”
“No, Ty. It would be highly imprudent . . . at this time. This discussion is over.”
Ty promptly shut his mouth, as he was wont to do when her mother spoke in that tone.
Her mother hastily stuffed the remaining notions into her sewing box and latched the cover. She looked over at Julia. “Have Edna help you out of that dress, and hang it up in my parlor so I can hem it.” Her tone brooked no argument or even a reply.
“Yes, Mother,” Julia said anyway, keeping her tone even and respectful, though she held back what she really wanted to say. I’m a grown woman. I can take care of myself. I’m not your sick little baby anymore. How will I ever live in the world if I’m sheltered from it?
Ty stood and watched as Julia’s mother exited the room, then turned to Julia, kneading his hat in his hands.
“She’s only bein’ protective.”
Julia scoffed. “I know Laramie’s a rough town, but surely—”
“You didn’t hear the news? What happened last night?”
Julia shook her head as a chill settled on her neck. She’d seen the Daily Sentinel lying on the credenza in the dining room, but she hadn’t glanced at the headlines. Fights and trouble plagued the streets of Laramie, always had. Most people—decent folk—knew to stay away from Front Street at night, where the brothels stretched for blocks and drunken men poured out of saloons to fight, cheered on by equally drunken crowds. And no decent woman would wander the streets of downtown past dark unchaperoned.
“Two fellas were shot, right in the middle of Grand Street. One o’ the fellas had a woman on his arm, and in the brawl that ensued, she was . . . trampled to death.”
Julia felt the blood leave her face. “Was . . . she someone I knew?” She swallowed at the reticence evident on Ty’s face.
“Lola Peterson—”
“Mrs. Peterson? The school marm?” The young woman who’d taught Julia her letters and read her first primers with her had recently wed. Oh, Lord, it couldn’t be . . .
Ty nodded. “Your ma hadn’t told you.” It was a statement, an observation. His lips quirked in an expression of empathy. “I’m so sorry. I know how much ya liked her. I did too.”
Julia had a flash of memory—of Ty putting a frog on their tutor’s chair and guffawing when she squealed in shock. A rock lodged painfully in her throat.
“And her husband?” Julia brought to mind the sweet-faced man with the thick black hair and beard who had a little gap between his front teeth—a grocer by trade.
Ty shook his head slowly. Julia’s throat clenched, and she struggled to draw air into her stubborn lungs.
“Why doesn’t that blasted sheriff bring order to this town? He and his hooligan deputies don’t seem to do anything but drink and cause their own kind of trouble.”
Ty’s severe expression said it all.
If there was someone her father hated even more than Stephen Morrison—if that were possible—it was Sheriff Thomas Jefferson Carr. And it seemed the feeling was mutual. Julia had only met the beefy unpleasant sheriff on a couple of occasions, at public affairs that she’d been allowed to attend, such as the Christmas concert at the Grange Hall and the Fourth of July picnics in the park, where all the politicians and public figures made their appearances—especially on election years.
When Sheriff Carr was elected, he said he would “put fear in the hearts of evildoers,” and he’d certainly made true on his claim. But from what Julia gleaned from overhearing the men on the ranch, the sheriff was a scoundrel and as corrupt as they came, always flanked by his posse of Irish thugs. Which contributed to Laramie’s reputation as the most lawless town in the West.
Julia’s heart weighed heavy as her thoughts drifted back to Mrs. Peterson. The news sucked out her restlessness and filled her with melancholy. Now she just wanted to run up to her room and bury her face in her pillow.
“I reckon I should git goin’,” Ty said quietly.
Julia nodded, glancing down at her white satin gown with the lyrical waves of shiny pearls and layers of lace. It felt so wrong to be standing there, wearing something so pristine and pretty, when the news couldn’t be more gloomy and dark. She couldn’t wait to get out of the dress. Maybe a long gallop across the prairie would do her some good. Maybe being unmarried wasn’t so deplorable a condition.
How horrible to finally find a man to love and wed, only to lose him—and your own life—to such senseless violence. Like many women, Mrs. Peterson had come to Wyoming, and Laramie specifically, because of its radical views of equality for women. Not ten years ago, Laramie became the first town in the West—maybe in the whole country—to let women serve on a jury and vote in elections and hold jobs as court bailiffs and other county positions.
But, judging by the way Julia’s father smothered his daughter with his overbearing protectiveness, you’d never know she lived in such a progressive community. Oh, she was so tired of being kept in a box.
“I’ll bring ya back a licorice stick,” Ty said with a wink, then slipped out the courtyard door, leaving Julia alone, silence filling in the space around her. She could hear the beating of her heart as she stood and looked out over the Front Range through the windows. A few flakes of snow swirled around the glass.
Someone had named Laramie “The Gem City of the Plains” because at night, when a person gazed down from atop the Black Hills to the east, the lights of the town looked like precious stones nestled in a black velvet jewel box.
Julia wondered if that person had ever walked the streets of Laramie at night, when the whoring and shooting and drunken brawls erupted. She doubted the person who penned that sublime description would be inclined to give her town such an appellation then.
Thinking about her lawless town made her thoughts settle back on her father and the never-ending feud between the Carsons and the Morrisons—a feud Julia neither wanted nor understood. Yet here she was, in the midst of it, her party just one more piece of wood to throw on the fire of contention. She hoped it wouldn’t add to the blaze and worried that rather than enjoy her sixteenth year celebration, she would suffer the heat of her father’s ire for Stephen Morrison, and it would leave her scorched.

About the Author

The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. 

The
Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in the 1870s) includes Wild Horses, Wild Hearts, set in Laporte and Greeley. Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, Colorado Dream (Greeley), and Wyoming Tryst, set in Laramie, WY.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Feature: Home Coming by Charles Lansford and Irene Nickerson






Title: Home Coming
Author: Charles Lansford and Irene Nickerson
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: Coming of Age
Format: Ebook
Homecoming is that surreal feeling that a soldier has when he has returned home. For our heroes, each is facing new challenges, hopes, and fears. Ti is worried about what the shape-shifter major told him. He wonders what other secrets might be hiding in the shadows and what dangers they might hold for his family. Beary and Crew have returned home to build a new warship to face the growing threat to the Bearilian Federation. It is one that is pointed directly at his family like a dagger to his throat. Angelina and Octavious have discovered that old enemies have joined in the vendetta against their family. Old secrets may surface. Old threats may appear. All the pieces are now in place. It has been a month since everyone has returned.


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Monday, August 6
Book featured at I'm Shelf-ish

Thursday, August 9
Book featured at Review From Here

Tuesday, August 14
Book featured at Write and Take Flight

Thursday, August 16
Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

Monday, August 20
Book featured at A Book Lover

Wednesday, August 22
Book featured at From Paperback to Leatherbound

Thursday, August 23
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Book featured at Voodoo Princess

Friday, August 31
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