Author Archives: swopeparente

About swopeparente

Genilee Swope Parente and her mother F. Sharon Swope have written the Fate series of mystery/romance novels featuring detective Sam Osborne as well as a book a short stories. Genilee is a freelance writer/editor by trade. Sharon is a retired newspaper columnist who began writing at 82. The plots and characters are Sharon's handiwork. Genilee dresses up the books with description and fine-tuning.

A Blatant Ad for my Sister’s Book

A Blatant Ad for my Sister’s Book

The thing I hate most about being old is dealing with my own grouchiness.

Sometimes I don’t even know what causes it. I’ll be in the middle of a million little tasks (okay, I exaggerate. I’m not a multi-tasker. I can’t handle more than two things at once), and I’ll suddenly get mad because one of those things just isn’t going my way. I mean … unreasonably upset, kick-a-chair-leg pissed off. The printer is out of ink and I forgot to buy some. Adobe Acrobat has crashed (again) and I’ve lost all changes I made in the last hour. I’ve been waiting two days for an interview source to call me back and he chooses to finally do so while I’m in the bathroom. Or my favorite … I’m in the bathroom when the phone finally does rings and I rush to answer it only to get a pre-recorded message about carpet cleaning.

I want to be the cool, calm, collected individual who simply breathes deeply and deals with it. Unfortunately, I am the loud-mouthed grumpy gal who never takes things out on people, but gives holy hell to machines and office furniture. My dogs have learned to accept this situation—they know when I grumble and swear it usually has nothing to do with them. They lift their heads from their paws, give me a bored look and lay back down again with a “it’s-only-mommy-again” sigh.

I am connecting this phenomenon to aging for two reasons: 1) it seems to have gotten exponentially worse as the years have passed, and 2) I tend to blame everything bad in my life these days on how old I’ve gotten.

I have no magic solution for my fellow friends who are in the same boat. If they’re my friends, they are likely as ancient as I am. So I’ll offer a solution to the next generation (or maybe the grandchildren of the next generation. I really am ancient.) Buy my sister Allyn M. Stotz’s latest children’s book, Grumpy Kyle. It’s one of my favorites because of the lesson it teaches you: its all a matter of how we look at life.

And now I’m off to the bathroom to await a really good offer on carpet cleaning. Guess I’ll take her book for some calming reading material. — Genilee Swope Parente



Posted by on September 20, 2017 in Uncategorized


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The Subway Sandwich Generation

I’m a person who has child still living at home and an elderly mom who needs my care. According to the experts, that makes me an official member of the Sandwich Generation—I’m caught between two levels of People to Worry About. I take this idea one more step and claim myself to be part of the Subway® sandwich generation.

What does that mean? It means I’m standing in a line, waiting to be served and pondering what I want. When my time for service comes up, I’m given a general choice. Do you want to be a paid employee or a stay at home wife/mom/caregiver? I’ll take the special of the day: a multi-meat, multi-level combo of the two.

Next, I must decide what kind of bread I want. Well, I guess I can live with the less-calorie version. I can settle for not making the kinds of salaries that many of my friends make.

Do you want that toasted? Yes, I do. I want some of my work time to be spent doing what I really love: creative writing. Stick that sandwich in the oven for a moment and let it turn golden brown.

Your choices in cheese are American, cheddar, provolone or Pepper Jack. Give me the spicy Jack…always. But you better throw on a slice of American as well. I’m part of the generation currently obsessed with How Bad can the Country Get Under Our Pale-Orange-Haired Leader?

I settle back and watch my sandwich get assembled, then after it’s toasted, I’m faced with an open- ended question: What do you want on that sandwich?

Hmmm, let me think: I want some Let-Us to reflect how I feel about being a woman. I think it’s only fair that females face the same challenges and rewards as males in the military and the corporate office. Besides, you know the whole world needs the fiber of feminity.

I’ll take some pickles. What’s life without a few bittersweet moments that add crunch and zest to our everyday routine?

Can you throw on some onions? They’ll make my breath stink like the air does in the summer in the Washington, D.C. area, but the taste of living close to a city might be worth it. I like the flavor of cultural choices.

Put on some salt and pepper to match my hair.

Slather that bread with a glob of white mayo to give it some extra zing. After all, I come from the Midwest, which is as white as it gets and where cooks don’t know how to put a dish together without a little Miracle Whip.

Ring it up and put it in a bag and charge me four bucks. Yes, I want some chips and soda with that. I’ll give the chips to my daughter in hopes she’ll wanna be a chip off the old block (okay, the puns are getting a little thin here). And I’ll give the soda to my dear ma to settle her tummy.

–Genilee Swope Parente


Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Holding your Baby in Your Hands

This entry is dedicated, with the green eyes of envy, to my little sister Allyn M. Stotz, who just released her seventh book: Grumpy Kyle. Being an author is tough, but I think anyone who has been published can tell you that one of the greatest moments in the process is when you open up that first shipped carton of a new book. You are truly holding your own newborn in your hands, with one giant difference: It comes to you already grown up.

You dedicate so many hours and months to formulating your ideas; getting comments from readers, family, friends and anyone who will listen; suffering through endless rounds of corrections; and then worrying that a book will NEVER EVER get into print. With a human kid, that’s done mostly after the birth. With your book, you see your own creation matured when it finally arrives on your doorstep.

Mom and I are working on the book that, by far, has been the most difficult child. Mom came up with a wonderful, but complicated plot that has required a lot of research. I’ve sought advice from the FBI, from a Richmond detective, from my pharmaceutical experts (thank you Rick and Jane) and from readers. I’ve spent countless hours researching some of the issues online. I’m almost through the first draft, and I’ll soon be sending it out to my wonderful editor Tam and my beta readers. But to get to this point has been an arduous process—so arduous in fact that we put out Treasured Fate first, despite the fact it was written after this one. Maybe it’s appropriate that the name is Family Fate. Families can be complicated, challenging and sometimes frustrating. But being part of one is also beautiful, rewarding and fulfilling.

Come to think of it, so is writing any book.

Congratulations to Allyn on getting to the rewarding part: holding the latest addition to the Swope/Parente/Stotz writing family in her hands. Get your copies of Grumpy Kyle at Amazon, Barnes Noble or her publishing house Guardian Angel.




Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Uncategorized


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What’s coming up for Sam Osborne?

Like this author and blog writer, Sam Osborne has taken a little break. But don’t worry readers: you’re in for a very good next book in The Fate Series. I’m hoping to have Family Fate out for the fall season.

It’s just taken a lot longer to get this one out for two reasons:

First, mom’s physical limitation, especially her eyesight, are more of a challenge than ever. But I have to admire her: despite being 89 and barely able to figure a computer out (much less see the screen), she’s still trying. We are working together now to see how we can put out what will come after Family Fate. We haven’t resolved the mystery underlying our entire series. But mom’s head is working on it, and we’re still discussing whether it will happen in five or a new book! We just have to come up with a way for Mom to put her thoughts on paper. She’s learning braille from the Virginia Department for the Blind. And we’re going to have her start recording her thoughts so we can transfer them to the computer.

The second reason for Sam’s break is a good one: the wonderful plot Mom came up with for Family is quite complicated. That requires a lot more research to make it happen. Before her eyesight got so bad, she had gone through this book three times trying to tie together the details. She actually wrote this story before Treasured Fate, our fourth book. We decided together to put out Treasured first because it was a simpler mystery and was further along.



Now that Family Fate is in my hands, I’m doing the same as Mom had to do: spending a lot of time on research and on making the plot smooth, exciting and flowing. I promise you a very good story, readers.

So what is that plot?

It’s about multiple people disappearing. The missing people don’t seem to be related in any way—they are different ages, sexes, geographic locations. Sam comes into the case via an old friend and works with another detective on the first case. Then they both start to see a pattern. Like with Violet Fate, we get a glimpse into the mind of the “villain” behind it all. And like with most of the other books, a romance develops—this time between the detective Sam works with and one of the victims’ good friends.

Wondering why I chose the picture here for this column? Guess you’re going to have to read the book to find that out!

I was inspired by my little sister Allyn M. Stotz to get back into the grind of keeping in touch with my readers so expect more blogs! As always, I’d love to get your thoughts.

Those of you that are local: Join mom and I, June 11 2-6 at the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department, 13511 Hillendale Dr., Woodbridge, VA.

Genilee Swope Parente


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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Finding a book you love

When you become an author, it gets a lot harder to read. You live with a constant ache of hunger for what you’re trying to create: words that can take the mind away from everyday routine. Those words become more difficult to find.dreamstime_m_37529007

Part of the reason is that once you’ve had your work edited, you start to see the errors in other people’s books. This is not limited in any way to works published by independent publishers or those that are self-published. In fact, as the world of publishing settles down from the great upheaval caused by opened channels, I read just as many books with blatant errors and bad editing published by the Great Traditionals as independents. I’ve given up on a few of my favorite authors (John Irving comes to mind) who are published by the established houses because I couldn’t take the lack of editing or copyediting. I haven’t been in book publishing long enough to know why this has happened. In some cases, including Mr. Irving’s, I think the author’s britches got so big, they decided not to let anyone push them around. In other cases, I think budgets have got in the way of traditional good editing, which means the Great Traditionals have become nothing more than the Big Guys.

The other reason my hunger for losing myself in a book is harder to abate, however, is story line. I am tired of formula writing and, believe it or not, I think readers are, too. It’s why I can get into certain well- written series, but only go three or four books before I get bored. The same story told twenty times is not what I seek. Some authors certainly are successful at multiples, and I think that’s because the writer can make you fall in love with the recurring characters while also finding a way to shock you with the crimes or mystery or story line (Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb comes to mind. I can always read one of those books because I love the strong woman hero. The crimes give me the creeps. But they keep me reading because I want my hero to defeat the villain).  The lack of fresh story also is one of the reasons I stopped reading pure romance a while ago. I just got sick of: lonely woman finds man, they fall in love, they get separated or pissed at each other and then they get back together

So when it comes to reading these days, I just look for something that makes me lose myself in the story. We all need this. For me, that means I’m not stumbling over bad editing. It also means the story moves along nicely; I care about the characters. I have tended towards mystery and some mystery/romance the last few years. But I’ve always loved sci fi or fantasy as well. So my thanks this week to C.J. Brightley. I read the first of her Erdeman series: The King’s Sword. And it delighted me. Because I was cheering for the character, understanding his weaknesses and rooting for a new king in a kingdom that doesn’t exist except in a good writer’s mind.–Genilee Swope Parente



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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Fulfilling our dream

Mom and I have had an incredible fall of book events; We’ve come home from almost every one amazed at how many books we sold. This weekend’s event (Gar-field High School) was no exception, but it was special for a reason not based on numbers sold: It showed us The Fate Series has fans.



One woman rushed up to our table exclaiming that she’d come to the fair only because she’d seen we were going to be there, then bought three of Treasured Fate, the latest in the series, so she could complete the sets she’d bought for friends as gifts last year. She and her friends had eaten those books up.

If you think I’m flat out bragging you’d be exactly right. There is no better feeling for an author than to find out a reader loved your books and can’t wait for the next one. This woman was the highlight of the day, but she was only one example. We had more repeat business than any other book event probably because we sold more books at the same fair in 2015 than almost any other event that year. I started to see a common expression on shoppers’ faces: recognition. The minute fair attendees realized we were the “author ladies” from the 2015 fair, they’d walk up to the table, pull out their billfolds and say, “well, I’ve got to get another of your books.”

You do not write books hoping for fortune and fame—it’s very hard to make any money as an author. You DO write books, however, hoping for that kind of enthusiasm. Our goal is to get people to read—we don’t claim to be the creators of the kinds of books that change people’s lives or make them question their existence. We write books for people who love to curl up on the couch, open the cover, and lose themselves for a few minutes in a story. When we accomplish that, we have given the world a badly needed gift: a way for people to live outside their own lives and forget their worries for a while.

When I arrived to pick Mom up that morning, I could see that she was in pain and wondering whether she could even make it through the day. She’s had some lingering problems with one of her legs and she’d had a bad night. In typical fashion, my trooper co-author took a couple of baby aspirins and dragged herself there.

She was still in pain at the end of the day, but the smile on her face was a gift God gave both of us. I am so happy we had this day together, celebrating the joy of having something we love to do rewarded by appreciation.

To everyone who has bought one of our books this season and to the many people who have stopped by to let us know they like what we do: thank you. You helped us fulfill our dream.– Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on December 13, 2016 in Uncategorized


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It’s the littler things …

The tradition of going around the table listing the things we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving is a lovely one and a great way to find out what’s happening with those at our table. But when it comes your turn and you’re being stared down by close friends and family anxious to hear what you’ll come up with, we give into the pressure of the moment and talk about “big, important things.”

© Goody460 |

© Goody460 |

You’re thankful Aunt Bessie’s gout is better, your son somehow passed his finals and graduated, Cousin Heath got his promotion, your brother finally found a woman who would marry him. But what if we threw all the larger blessings into a big basket marked, “Of course,” and required everyone to look at the more mundane, littler reasons we have to be grateful. What would you come up with?

I dug down under the carpet of everyday life and uncovered my own little blossoms. Here’s my thoughts:

The 2016 presidential election is finally over. Doesn’t matter which side you were on or how frightened you are at what is to come, you no longer have to read daily headlines about email servers and racial slurs. You can sit back and peruse everyone’s thoughts on what a crappy system the electoral college is and what radical change is to come.

Gloria Jean’s butter toffee coffee. No need for further explanation. I love the stuff.

Kitty purrs and puppy tail swirls. For those of you who are pet lovers, you know you depend on your daily supplement of cute animal gestures. You know who you are and you know that whenever your beasty does anything remotely interesting, you make up whole conversations about what they’re telling you.

Cold weather. I never thought I’d say those two words in the same light as “thankful.” But after this horribly long hot summer and a fall of amazing spring-like weather, I’m starting to wonder if I should take the money I spend buying Gloria Jean’s coffee and contribute to an anti-global-warming cause.

Time and quiet to write. If I schedule it just right and my husband is at the office (two days of the week) and my twenty-year-old darling child is at school or at work and my mother doesn’t have a doctor’s appointment and I’m not under the pressure of a zillion work deadlines and I’m not feeling guilty that I haven’t touched a broom or dust cloth in several weeks and the new season of Modern or Middle isn’t calling from the DVR—I find the silence and peace to put words to paper. Uh…perhaps I’m a little off balance here.

Carnation sugar-free Italian Crème creamer. It goes very well with a large splash of milk to lighten the color and slightly sweeten Gloria Jean’s Butter Toffee Coffee.

Middle of the day friend calls. As women, we never feel quite as validated as when our best friend calls with a crisis regarding 1) how unresponsive her own husband is 2) how horribly someone is raising her grandchildren 3) her lousy, unappreciative boss or 4) how invasive and unreasonable her neighbor has become. Women will set everything aside for a good friend in need. We simply sit back in our chair, pick up our Gloria Jean’s and stop the world to listen. Of course, it also gives us an excuse not to work/clean/run errands …

Christmas is almost here. We can swing our focus to singing along with carols, decorating our homes, baking cookies, watching Hallmark, praying it will snow, remembering past holidays. And then there’s finding the perfect gifts, fitting the additional events and parties into already hectic schedules, putting up with rude shoppers and pop up ads, praying our snow doesn’t get in the way of travel plans …

Hmmm. I think I’ll go fix a cup of Gloria Jeans Butter Toffee Coffee.

–Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Boo Boy Returns

Boo Boy Returns

Why do people fall in love with animals? It’s not a relationship of equals: you pick up or scoop your pets’ poop, fix your schedule around their hunger clocks, turn off your work brain in time to take them for evening walks, listen to their howls and meowls, fret over what to do when you leave for vacation then worry about them while you’re gone. Their only concern in getting you fed is whether you’ll miss your mouth and leave a morsel behind on the floor.

tara-cats-visit-3-09-030Why do we let ourselves be seduced? That soft slim tail that curls around our neck and pets our head, shaking when we reach out to stroke fur. The soulful pair of honey brown orbs that fixate on our every movement, not breaking their stare until we get up from where we sit, which translates in their minds to either: treat or walk. We tell ourselves that the slow steady motor sound that comes from cats or the sloppy washing from our dogs’ tongues is affection. We are pleased and honored when our dogs throw themselves at us the minute we walk through the door or our cats look insulted and huffy when we return from an absence. tara-cats-visit-3-09-044

When we’re crying, dogs cross their paws and lay their heads down, then look up at us as if they understand our pain. But are they thinking anything other than, “well that’s weird!” Cats appear to select our laps and make us feel special by jumping up, clawing our skin until they get it just right, then gracing us with circular motions that finally result in them settling into the warmth and sighing in contentment. Would anyone’s lap do?

100_3033Why do we fall in love with animals? When I started this blog, my beloved cat Boo was missing: escaped out a door to a grand adventure but too dumb to find his way back home. He’s beside me again—thanks to the Prince William Animal Shelter and some good neighbors I’ll never meet. But I went through three days of hell not knowing what had happened to him. The minute I saw him, my question was answered. We fall in love because they make us fuller, richer, happy.

Boomer lives.


Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on October 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Strolling outside ourselves

What is it about a walk in the woods that fuels our passion and yet brings us peace?

Is it what we see? We gaze out into the forest and spot a spectacularly bright green moss-laden tree that cuts through the brown like a flashlight through blackness. We look to our right and spot a ballooning mushroom invading the trunk of a tree and highlighted by a sun beam that has broken through the canape just to shine on that particular mushroom. The log to our left has holes drilled by nature and made for animal eyes to peer out at us from safety. The leaves at our feet are speckled and pockmarked and remind us of fine lace.


Thanks for helping us find that place, Kim and Greg!

Is it what we don’t hear? A walk among trees shows us how often in our daily lives we live with the sounds of a car, a neighbor, an electrical device emitting a chirp. The vacuum of silence that surrounds us in nature is broken only by our own footsteps, the occasional angry chipmunk, the short musical notes of chirping birds, the mysterious crashes in the distance that could be the heavier step of an animal. Would that animal eat us if it were closer?

Maybe it’s what we smell, an earthy mixture of overturned dirt, aged bark, crushed leaves, fungus—carried on air that is untouched by a daily battle with human machines. Somehow these scents make us ravenously hungry.

When we’re in the woods, the everyday checklists of things we must do are replaced by daydreams of fairies living in those majestic trees, magical winged creatures alighting on its leaves, battles that take place hidden behind foliage, great treasures hidden under rocks. We are no longer individuals with a job, families to support, a commute, schedules to keep. We’ve left those behind to roast on the cement sidewalks and tar roads of home.  In the woods, we enter a state of mind that is both slower in pace and sharper in focus. We’re lost in a world that doesn’t belong to us even when we own a piece of paper that says it does.  We’ve left the collective of man behind to visit the wonder of nature.


–Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Uncategorized


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The golden month of October

Spring’s bold greens slowly dim over the summer, succumbing to the heat and misery of summer days until by August, everything feels faded, and we’re all sick of it. Summer’s long sunny days are gone, vacations are over, the pool is closed.  September arrives as a transition, and the slate is wiped clean by changes in routine and schedule. By October, we’re used to those changes and our world returns to color as rust, red and orange pop out everywhere there’s a tree. Leaves are making one last glorious statement before succumbing to their fate, letting loose of their branches and joining the carpet on the ground.fall-leaf

October also is our gliding month: we’re reveling in the feel of cool breezes while we start to think about holidays. Yet the stress of the holiday season and true cold are a month or so away. October is an early Christmas present, and in 2016 my present contains:

October 12. Sixty years ago on that date “Honey” Palarino Parente gave birth to a long crying bundle of manhood she and her husband Tom named Raymond. The baby grew up to become a stubborn young teen with a heart of gold and a streak of restlessness that could have landed him on the wrong side of the law. He joined the Navy instead, straightened himself out and put his brilliant sharp mind to work. He ran into me at a party 25 years ago, moved in with me after four months and was my husband by the next year.

Saturdays with readers at arts & crafts fairs. Mom and I have a busy month with four days of book events. Those fairs can be hard on both of us: I spend all Friday afternoon lugging books in and out of the house, running off a supply of promotional materials, checking off items on my list to make sure we don’t forget anything. The events themselves are really hard on a 88­-year-old woman who depends on a walker to get her in and out of the venue and who has to sit in a stiff chair all day long and try to keep a smile plastered on her face. Yet neither of us would trade a single ache in our bones to be released from these “duties,” because the high that comes from talking to people about what we do is worth it.

Time with old friends. I’ve reconnected with a few people from my past this year and have several events coming this month as a result. One weekend, I’m headed to Pennsylvania with my husband, my brother Mark and his husband George to meet up with a couple I had not seen for 20-plus years until they showed up at my father’s funeral. They saw the announcement on facebook and knew what losing Dad meant to us. I doubt we can keep up with the beer drinking we did back in the early days when Mark and I originally sought out this couple. But I have a feeling the laughter and shared love of the bizarre tendencies of human beings is still there. I also have a second lunch planned with a former co­worker who moved away for many years then “found” me in the media dust of our book launch last month. I was so glad to see her at our first lunch I just walked up and hugged her and thanked my lucky stars some precious things in life stay the same.

And then there’s Halloween. It’s the only holiday besides Christmas for which I decorate, beginning with setting out a witch figure my mother painted. I don’t know why I love her scary stare and wrinkled hands so much, but it’s one of my favorite hand­­-made gifts from the talented woman who is my co author. The only Halloween trimming I love as much are the two skeletons my husband and I found on one of our shopping excursions. Despite the fact these figures have no flesh at all, they sit comfortably together, the “male” with his arm around the “female.” I don’t even know why you know they are a couple and that they’re happy—they are, after all, just BONES.halloween16

I guess it has to do with the rest of why this month is so golden to me: I’ve filled in the outline of what’s there with my own idea of what makes life special.


–Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Uncategorized


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