If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been a little obsessed with prison reviews for the past week. For all you who don’t follow me, I’d hate for you to miss the fun, so here are three funny prison ratings for a Thursday pick-me-up.
3. False Advertisement
Hey, I’d expect a little more music at a place called Sing Sing too…
2. Looking on the Bright Side
I have to give this guy credit. He’s looking for silver linings.
Am I the only one who’s struggling to buy what Joseph S. is selling? Sounds more like the plot to a Hallmark edition of Prison Break. Also, I wouldn’t mind having a friend named Red who could hook me up with rock hammers whenever the need arose.
I was recently walking with a friend on the Cowboy Trail in Norfolk. Right next to the river, I might add. Every time twigs snapped, I knew for certain a serial killer was hiding in the woods. Usually, squirrels were the cause of my near coronary episodes. Still, there are too many bodies discovered in garbage bags in the river to let my guard down completely. And on the way back, a rather suspicious looking dude was standing on the river bank staring into the void. My friend commented that the guy had probably just thrown someone into the water. Perhaps, I’m passing my paranoia to others, but I’d like to think I’m making them more aware and thus better prepared for dangerous situations.
2. Going to the Circus
I’ve never felt safe at the circus. Why, you ask? I can sum it up in one word… Clowns. There is something inherently sinister about the creepy plastic smiles and forced laughter of clowns. I mean, they’re hiding secrets so dark Dateline hasn’t even steeled their nerves enough to interview these beings. Maybe you think I’m crazy, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but if John Wayne Gacy taught us anything, it’s that murder and body disposal aren’t out of a clown’s wheelhouse. And when those clowns were standing on street corners all over the country a few years back, I was honestly shocked that so many people seemed surprised. Why be surprised when clowns do horrifying things? It’s just typical clown behavior.
This will come as no surprise to my faithful readers. But let’s be honest, a lot of joggers either end up dead on the side of the trail or they have the misfortune of finding a body near said trail. I’m pretty sure that as soon as your sneaker hits the sidewalk wherever you plan to jog, your chances of finding/becoming a dead body increase exponentially. If you choose to take such a risk, bring pepper spray or a baseball bat and make sure you’re in a location with cell phone reception. You’ll thank me later. 🙂
So, the whole Thanksgiving week got a little nutty, and I failed to post November’s Author Spotlight in a timely manner. As penance, I will be gifting three copies of my friend Jennifer’s book Gifting Grace to lucky commenters on this post. But I guess it’s not penance when it’s something I actually enjoy doing… Guess I’m going to have to work on that. I’ll draw names on 12/15. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
Jennifer currently lives in Arkansas with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, Hidden Danger, is a 2019 Selah Award winner, and her second novel, Expecting Danger is a 2019 Selah award finalist. Her third novel, Deadly Connection released on October 20, 2020. Giving Grace, a contemporary romance Christmas novella will release on November 13, 2020. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and River Valley Writers.
What unfinished writing projects do you have gathering dust in a drawer? Do you think you’ll ever try to publish them, or were they just part of the learning process?
Oh my goodness, I have so many. I’ve got several started that I’d love to see through to publication. But I tend to have something shiny syndrome. I’ll work on something a little while and then move to something else. I have a novel that started as a writing prompt for a blog I read. It was “Your one night stand from last night turns out to be your new boss.” I write Christian fiction and didn’t want to have the actual one night stand happen so I changed it to an intellectual one night stand. My characters meet at a club, where they are the designated drivers. They decide to get to know each other better at the diner down the road while their friends party. The female lead has just lost out on a promotion to someone outside the company. She commiserates during their conversation. Unbeknownst to either of them, the male lead is the one that has taken the job. There’s snarky banter thrown through out what I’ve gotten written so far. I have ideas for a couple more romantic suspense novels, a couple YA novels, and a couple contemporary romance novels. Now if I could just choose one and finish it.
2. What do you love about the genre in which you write?
I love suspense and mystery. I personally like to try to guess who the bad guy is when reading a book or watching a movie or show. Writing it lets me try to stump the reader. It’s fun being on the opposite side of it.
3. Do you keep a diary or journal? Do you find this practice helps you be a better writer or process character emotions more deeply?
I do not keep a diary or journal. I’m a paralegal by trade and love crime shows, movies, and books (true crime and fiction). Never put anything down in writing that can be used against you. Lol.
4. In the Bible, do you have a “life verse” that’s significant to you? Do you find yourself exploring this theme often in your work?
My favorite verse is Proverbs 18:10-The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe. I write that verse any time I sign one of my books. I did include the verse in my debut novel, Hidden Danger.
5. Which part of the book creation process do you like best– brainstorming, writing, editing, marketing?
I love brainstorming. I like getting random ideas and thoughts thrown out and then organizing them into a story. Making each piece fit together like a puzzle.
And there you have it! I can personally attest to the awesomeness of Jennifer’s books, and hope you’ll check them out. Here’s the cover image and blurb for her latest book along with the ways and means to connect with Jennifer on social media. Drop a comment below for a chance to win an e-book copy of Giving Grace!
Nothing is more embarrassing than Grace Dixon’s dog peeing on the new mailman. Except maybe when she thinks she’s hit the handsome man with her SUV.
When he’s assigned to cover an injured co-worker’s route, Evan McDonald assumes it will be like any other mail route he’s done. But then he meets Grace Dixon, and he’s thrust into total Christmas chaos.
As Grace spreads the love of God and Christmas cheer to her community, she encourages Evan to join her. The two grow close as Evan learns about giving of not just possessions but of time and grace, setting him back on the path to God. Grace is a force to be reckoned with, though, and when she shows compassion in a situation that Evan disagrees with, he realizes he might not be the right man for her. Will Grace’s lifestyle of giving overwhelm him, or can he muster some of that grace and compassion she so easily spreads?
Not long ago, I hopped on the podcast bandwagon. Yep, I was super late to the game, but better late than never. Right? Here are my three favorites. Do you listen to podcasts? Which do you like best?
3. Someone Knows Something
This podcast works with victims’ family members to investigate cold cases. On the current season, the show looks into Donald Izzett Jr.’s disappearance. He’s been missing for 25 years. The last his mother spoke to him, he called her, crying and asking for money for a road trip, but before she could respond, the line went dead. She never heard from him again.
2. Dr. Death
This podcast covers medical malpractice cases. But I must say, every true crime podcast Wondery puts out is amazing. They’re well-researched and engrossing. You can’t go wrong with Wondery.
Mystery and Murder: Analysis by Dr. Phil
Yes, Dr. Phil tops my list. I love his interviews with the family of victims and even the killers in some cases. The way he breaks the crimes down psychologically keeps me coming back for more.
Since Monk landed in a Top Three Thursday post a while back, I thought I’d narrow down my three favorite episodes. Share your favorites in the comments!
3. Mr. Monk Visits a Farm- Season 5 Episode 14
For some reason this episode makes me laugh out loud more than any other. Maybe it’s Monk’s constant references to ‘Fields of Reefer’ and his over the top fear of getting high by exposure. Or maybe it’s the fact that the poor man has literally no business on a farm. Either way, this one’s a gem.
2. Mr. Monk and the Kid- Season 3 Episode 16
This episode tore me apart. When Monk took little Tommy in after he discovered some severed fingers, the OCD detective bonded with the boy in a way that surprised me. And the grief when he had to return Tommy to foster care made my eyes sweat.
Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty- Season 4 Episode 16
Can you imagine being on a jury with a man who notices literally everything? It would stress and wow me in equal measure. Also, the way he convinced the other jurors to see things his way was impressive.
As a suspense author, my mind tends toward the creepy. Many of the places on my bucket list (other than Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed) are either strangely horrifying or have a historical tie to some famous murderer or other. Here are my three favorite places that have made appearances in my stories thus far. If the books get published, you’ll have a better mental picture of the settings I describe.
3. Meramec Caverns
Meramec Caverns in Missouri get a shout out in the book I just finished. Even though I don’t get to mention the history of the cave network in my story, I’ll share a little tidbit with you. Rumor has it Jesse James and his gang hid out in one of the caves for a while.
2. Starvation Heights
The Purple Nightgown releases in March 2021, and it’s set in Olalla, Washington. It’s a beautiful area near the Puget Sound, but the history is unsettling. I won’t give you any spoilers, but this abandoned cemetery plays a role in the story.
Central State Hospital- Milledgeville, Georgia
The history of this abandoned asylum is terrifying. It was originally called the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Mental Asylum. I’ve included a fair amount of detail in my book, Faces which finaled in the 2020 Genesis contest. I’ll keep this post short by simply saying that the patients were treated inhumanely, and people who believe in ghosts claim it’s haunted.
What are some places you’ve read about in books are were shocked to learn they were real?
I’m so excited to introduce you to an amazing author and my good friend, Gina! Her books are full of vivid characters, amazing suspense, and strong faith elements and they keep me up way past my bedtime and stick with me after I’ve read the final sentence. If you haven’t read her books yet, I highly recommend her work.
Author Bio: Gina Holder dreamed of being a writer from her early teen years and lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter. When she’s not homeschooling her daughter or working on her next novel, she enjoys reading, watching movies, cooking, singing, and playing the piano and organ. Her indie published debut novel released in 2017.
Now let’s dig in and learn more about Gina and her writing process.
What’s the last book that had a significant emotional impact on you? It might be a story that made you cry or one that had you delirious with laughter. Why do you think it had that impact?
The last book that had a significant emotional impact on me was Unveiling the Past by Kim Vogel Sawyer. It definitely made me cry! Kim’s books always touch my heart in both emotional and spiritual ways. I love the biblical applications I garner through the lives and struggles of the fictional characters.
2. What books are on your nightstand (or in a Kindle queue) right now?
I am dying to read The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano. She’s one of my top favorite authors! Also, in my queue is Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman, Backlash by Rachel Dylan, and the entire Harbored Secrets series by Natalie Walters.
3. We all have projects that are a real bear! Which book of yours was the toughest to write? Why?
Forgiven Again, my newest release was the toughest to write. For several reasons. During the editing process, my husband (who is my “editor”) found major plot holes and inconsistencies in the story. And this was after I had gone through the book multiple times and it had been read by six beta readers! I had to do some major rewriting.
Also, this book was hard to write because my main character, Kathleen Phillips, is not a likeable character. She’s selfish and often downright rude to those in her life. I kept wanting to soften her, to make her likeable, but she refused. In the end, I hope that readers will give her a chance. Her personality and prickles make for a strong redemptive “prodigal-son type” story.
4. In the Bible, do you have a “life verse” that’s significant to you? Do you find yourself exploring this theme often in your work?
My life verse is Ephesians 3:20. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…” This verse definitely showed up as the theme in my debut novel, Whither Shall I Go. Maybe someday in the future I will explore it further in another novel.
5. Which character in your books is most like you?
I like to think there’s a little bit of me in all my characters. They do come from my imagination after all. But I would say that Ellie from Whither Shall I Go is the most like me.
Forgiven Again Blurb:
She’s running for governor. He’s a pastor.
Will they risk their lives to keep a secret?
Annie Staten, now known as Kathleen Phillips, has dreamed of pursuing a political career and following in her father’s footsteps. But Richard was a hated man during his tenure as governor and now his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent his daughter from winning the election.
Ryan Whitestone has loved Annie since high school, but his heart is broken by the woman she has become. When the daughter she gave up for adoption comes back into her life, can he help her heal from her pain and remind her of who she used to be?
Will Kathleen be able to forgive herself, put the past behind her, and find love again?
As morbid as it sounds, I want to fill you in on some danger zones. Places I’m convinced are hot spots for either murder or victim disposal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
3. Dumpsters in Back Alleys
I’d recommend avoiding creepy alleys in general, but don’t go near the dumpsters. This was a lesson Batman and his parents learned the hard way.
Some people find boating or tubing down the river relaxing. Maybe it is. But keep an eye open for dead bodies. I mean, have you done a tally of the corpses pulled out of rivers on Dateline? It’s unsettling.
3. Jogging Trails
I’m sure you saw this coming, but jogging trails top my personal list of dead body hang outs. I’m not sure if people get murdered while jogging or if they just drop dead from the sheer craziness of it all. Maybe it’s just a prime dumping ground after the deed is done. But if my carcass ever turns up on a jogging trail, tell the police that I was murdered elsewhere and dumped. I’d never visit a place like that on purpose, because I have no desire to find a dead body.