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Want to know what’s in book three?

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I’m getting close to finishing the third book in the Sam Osborne detective series, and while there’s still a long process before the book goes to press, it occurs to me that mom and I have given very few hints about the plot of this book.

The title, Fate of the Violet Eyes, does not fall off the tongue as smoothly as Twist of Fate or Wretched Fate, but I think the story is our best and the eyes play a major role partly because they affect the lives of several main characters. One of those characters, Maggie, needed special consideration and crafting because we knew we wanted to give her a precious gift: the love of Sam. It’s a gift because, as we’ve brought Sam more and more to life with each new book, we’ve both fallen in love with him. His gentle, but persistent ways, strong personality and inquisitive mind are easy to fall for, and Maggie needed to be worthy of him.

In Fate of the Violet Eyes, readers will learn even more about Sam and meet Maggie for the first time. In our other books, the characters who hire Sam and work with him fall in love with each other. In this book, Maggie is the person who hires him—a mother mourning her child Jenna, who was kidnapped. Even though the police and the FBI have both conducted investigations, her child is still missing so she hires someone who is not constrained by procedures or resources—private investigator Sam Osborne.

My mom has done a terrific job creating both the villain in this book and the victim (the snatched child). She takes us into the mind of a man who has gone from a religious background to a killer. She shares with us her thoughts on how a small child could survive such a heinous crime as being snatched from her own mother’s arms and delivered into a killer’s grips without showing fear or weakness.

The mystery in this plot is sprinkled throughout the story revealing clues and false clues in layers as you read. Mom designed it that way and we both have worked hard to confuse and surprise you.

Meanwhile, Maggie and Sam begin to work together, and as they do, you’ll see them gravitate towards one another. As readers of our first two books know, Sam’s own child was kidnapped many years ago and that plays a role in how Sam reacts.

This book also travels outside the bounds of Lancaster, which is where our first two books took place. Maggie and Sam hit the road to investigate and love happens along the way.

I can’t tell you much more, but I’ll promise this: If you liked Twist of Fate and Wretched Fate, you will love Fate of the Violet Eyes.

Keep tuned to this site to learn the book’s progress.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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If I had a million bucks

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Have you ever played that game with your friends, your siblings, your spouse where you ask yourselves: what would I do if I were rich? It’s a fun game, an exercise of the imagination that usually nets a lot of silliness. But believe it or not, I think it’s good for us. When we stop playing such games, haven’t we’ve stop believing in the impossible?

When I was growing up, in the Beverly Hillbilly days of the world, “rich” meant a millionaire. Nowadays, I’m not sure you’ve even classify someone who had $1 million as  rich, though the person would certainly be considered wealthy. When you watch shows like Extreme RVs, with double-decker, two-story vehicles, two-person soaking tubs and chandeliered living areas, a million bucks feels like pocket change. But I’m choosing that number, because I don’t want to be rich. I just would like to be more comfortable.

So what would I do with my million bucks?

First and foremost, I’d buy peace of mind. That has meant different things in different periods of my life. In the poorer days, it meant paying the bills. Today, there are crunch times, but far fewer of those paydays when I feel good for 10 minutes, only to realize the money is already gone.

These days, peace of mind would mean more money in my retirement account and taking care of my elderly parents. My siblings and I spend a lot of time side by side, swords in our hands, battling old age issues as best we can. But I would love to see my mom and dad in an assisted living place that would shoulder the day to day worries about falls and not eating enough and finding ways to keep from getting bored.

Second, I’d buy delight. One of my favorite things in life—a gift God gave me when he gave me a kid at 41, was to rediscover how pleasurable it is to delight. With a child, it’s a simple task—a giant sucker or a pretty sticker. In my life today, it might mean presenting my husband with a Mediterranean cruise (okay, okay, that’s for me, too), send my daughter on a backpacking trip to Europe with some of her many friends or work a miracle for one of my sisters (yea, you know who you are): a personal introduction to Barbra Streisand.

Third, I’d buy independence for a short time. I am certainly an independent person, but what I mean is … now that I have discovered how truly wonderful it is to pursue your creativity, I absolutely hate the fact that I have one hour in the morning to do so. It is pure heartache to stop at the end of the hour I’ve allotted myself for creative pursuit in order to return to the reality that there are bills to pay. A million bucks might buy me a period of time when I could spend 8 hours being the true me.

I know myself well enough to know that I’d also give a chunk to Nyumbani.org, a charitable foundation I’ve worked with for many years that fascinates me because I’ve been there to see its phenomenal growth. It sprang from the heart and passion of a priest and a nun that wanted badly to help save a few orphans who had HIV/AIDs. But it’s grown into a multi-country-supported effort that reaches more than 4,000 children.

And I also know myself well enough to know that I would have to buy one purely materialistic toy just to experience the thrill of spending money. A fully-restored, baby-blue Thunderbird convertible would do nicely.

Hmmm, maybe I’m going to need more than a million bucks!

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Lights, Camera, Action?

If anyone had told me five years ago that I would be a television star, I would have called them nuts.

Never mind the miracle of finishing three books, getting published twice, getting offered a contract on a third book. And yes, it’s a small miracle that being an author has brought me out of my shell long enough to speak in front of audiences.

But last week, mom and I launched our official road to celebrity-hood by taping the Rich Massabny show—Conversations with Rich (airing times on this page).

How could I have foreseen before all this began that I would be a television star!! Okay, maybe not a star. Just a twinkle in a few fan’s eyes if anyone tunes into the show. But there we were—mom and I—sitting on black plastic chairs, mike’s clipped to our bosoms, chatting with Rich, who is pretty well known in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, like we were old friends. How exciting to experience the heat and blinding bright of the lighting and be with the guys and gals with clipboards saying all sorts of fascinating things like, “1,2,3 check. Production room? What do you mean you can’t hear us? Is mike four even ON?”rich massabny

I just KNEW at that exact moment that we’d made it—fame at last. Okay, maybe not fame and there really wasn’t a lot of guys and gals. Just a friendly fellow with a pony tail, several youngsters who looked like they’d just left diapers behind last week, and a nervous young man who kept clearing his throat.

But it was our first filming crew. The same crew with which we’d just shared the delicious spread produced for the television crew. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a spread or one of those feasts that unions require for movie crews. It was leftovers from the cooking show that went on just before we did, but we could tell it was delicious by the many ums and ooohs. We couldn’t eat because we were too nervous. Okay, really it was because mom and I too often tend to wear what we attempt to put in our mouths, and we didn’t want to spoil our new blouses.

Then there was the excitement leading up to the taping. You know … that room with a star and the makeup girl fussing to make you look just right. Okay, that’s a downright lie. I sat in a waiting room and made conversation with my fellow author―mom. At one point, I ducked into the ladies room and put on lipstick―which I hate in the hopes that it would make me less pale. It didn’t work.

Nevertheless, there we were, “on stage” for the first time, sharing our hopes and dreams with the whole wide world. All right, maybe our hopes are really that just a few people who might happen to be bored with Jimmy Fallon will flip through the channels at the exact moment we’re on.

But back to my original thought. I could not have imagined five years ago that instead of sitting watching the tube next week, I’ll be watching myself.

Oh wait, does that mean I have to look at my double chin? Ah well, the price of fame …

 

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Doing Old Age the Right Way

??????????This week Genilee and I had a book signing at an assistant living facility—the Emeritus in Manassas, Virginia.  It was quite an eye-opening experience that really showed the difference a good activity director can make in the lives of the elderly residents.  When we got there, everything was already set up for us―table, chairs and about a dozen members ready for us.

??????????For the current signing, we gave our usual background speech about how we got started and a little about the book itself. We were delighted that, with that little bit of background and some enthusiasm from attendees, the director purchased a book for each member and proceeded to set up a book review event. The group decided to divide the reading of the 300-plus pages of Twist of Fate into four sections of 75 pages each—a session for each of four weeks going forward.  On the fourth week, Genilee and I are invited to come back and hear the group’s critique of our work and their opinion of the book in general – good or bad!  Then they may purchase our second book, Wretched Fate, and do the same with that book.

It was a wonderful plan not only for their club but also for Genilee and me.  We need people who have read our books to tell us not only what they like, but where the plot/character/sequences of events might falter so we can strengthen our books going forward.

The experience also was just an uplifting day for two authors who love to hear from readers, and we hope we inspired this particular group of readers as much as they inspired us. One of the reasons we believe there has been so much enthusiasm for us as speakers is that it’s good for older people to hear that life doesn’t have to stop because of advanced years or the reality that they can’t do the things they used to. Old age can be a time of pursuing a dream or a different ??????????hobby; and I firmly believe everyone needs hobbies.  The one thing none of us needs is to sit in front of the boob tube, living someone else’s life.

I’ve always had hobbies – and they changed as I grew older yet became just as important as the ones before them. For thirty years, I wrote a recipe column for our hometown weekly newspaper as I was raising my family.  After the kids were in school, I went back and took a few education classes and then served as a substitute teacher.  When I found the 75-mile trip to school got in the way of completing my education degree, I took a course in accounting and then found a job ??????????doing books, which I enjoyed.  From there, I went into knitting, oil painting, ceramic painting and then genealogy. Each venture lasted about three years – until I could no longer think of anyone to gift with my handiwork. After I retired, I perfected my Bridge game and taught that game to over 150 men and women. I have continued my bridge playing and tried to go back to knitting and ceramic painting, but my macular degeneration means my eyes are too bad for ??????????any close-up detail work. Yet, despite that sad fact, I could see well enough that I decided if I was ever going to write books―a desire I’ve always had―I had better get started. I was 82 by this time (I’m 86 now).

The lesson to other seniors is that, though I don’t do anything perfectly, I have kept the creative juices flowing, which I believe keeps the blood flowing and the mind active.  I may not be gifted enough to win awards for any of my ventures, including writing. Our books are not literary masterpieces. They are meant to entertain and to keep people reading. But what an inspiration it is to bring enjoyment to others! And hopefully, through visits like the one to Emeritus, Genilee and I are also spreading the word that life doesn’t have to stop at 80 … or even 90.

??????????

 –F. Sharon Swope

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Cracking Open the Christmas Nuts

Okay. Okay. I know you’ve seen that word: Christmas, and already you are shuddering. I’ll make a commitment here and now not to lambaste you with yet more Christmas crazy. After all, it’s not even Thanksgiving.

But then … whom am I kidding! I’ve been trying not to say “awwwwwww” at Christmas commercials since Columbus Day; I have half my shopping done; and this past weekend, my husband decided that to save time at Thanksgiving for visiting with relatives, he’d put up the outside lights.

“In that case, honey, bring down some of the inside decorations, and I’ll unpack just one box,” I said.

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The box was empty, its contents in place in ten minutes and what was I to do? I knew it would take my hubby at least two hours to put up lights. So I picked and I picked at the decorations boxes, not able to stop the “awwwwww”ing as I pulled each memory out, dusted it off and found the perfect spot to show it off. Two hours later, most boxes were empty, and I stopped out of pure guilt. My college daughter had already texted twice and threatened ex-communication from the Church of Parente Christmas Nuts if I did it all myself without her expert eye.

So I stopped.

However, when this blank computer screen in need of a blog stared me straight in the face this morning, well … what was I to do? Christmas is on my mind, and the lull that occurs after shopping and before the big day gets here is weeks away yet.

Besides not lambasting my readers (uh, don’t count on that), my commitment to this holiday is to look for simple ways to celebrate that have nothing to do with December 25 and everything to do with making someone feel good. Here’s my ideas so far:

  • Keep a few dollars in my pocket. This is so that when I’m loaded down with groceries or packages, and I hear the tinkling of the bell that so many of us recognize as the start of this season, I’ll always have ready access to the cash. I’m not doing this for the Salvation Army or its many recipients. I think it’s wonderful what the organization does. The cash, however, is for that soul who stands in the chilly weather ringing the bell. The gloved, smiling volunteers are terrific and need a pat on the back.
  • Do my online Amazon shopping at http://www.nyumbani.org. I am not supporting Amazon.com by doing this. But I end up on the Amazon sight a lot during the holiday season. This giant of a retailer has created a program whereby charitable organizations can get up to 4% of the proceeds of a sale from people who link to its shopping through the organizations’ websites. There’s a big brown button on my favorite nonprofit’s site that will see a lot of click throughs from me this season!
  • Do some of my charitable giving at home. I’m not talking about buying my poor rundown dining room windows the new drapes on their Christmas list. I’m talking about looking around at what some of my neighbors, friends and family need. Most of that doesn’t involve money, but rather time. I can spend some time helping my elderly parents put up their decorations (I know. I know. Such a sacrifice). I can ask a neighbor I know is laid up with illness what they need at the store. I can make a few extra calls to a friend who needs my ear to get through a personal crisis.

The list is started and hopefully will grow. Got some ideas to help out? Send them my way and we’ll get the Christmas cheer going. It will help me pass the time as we anxiously await … the printed version of Wretched Fate. That should happen any day now and I’ll let you know as soon as it does.

In the meantime, send me your ideas!

 Parente Christmas Nut Mom Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Things I consider spooky

Walking into the kitchen intent on … now what was I going to do?

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A large glass of water, a computer, and me, all within close proximity. I am bound to reach for the glass, knock it over and watch the water sizzle the electronics.

The large bag of chocolate candy hiding on the top shelf of my closet … and no trick or treaters showing up at the front door. Hello five pounds.

Hitting the “new document” button in Word and watching the wall of white arise. Once my fingers start moving, I know that wall will fill up, but its sudden appearance can be intimidating.

Republicans.

Entering the highway at any time on any day of the week with the intent of getting somewhere at a certain time. This does not happen in Washington, D.C.

Being stuck anywhere for two hours with the knowledge that a bathroom is not readily accessible. I am, after all, an old lady.

Deadlines.

A sea of faces staring at me, awaiting words of wisdom and truth about what it’s really like to be an author.

The thought that I’ll never again be asked to talk to that sea of faces.

Most Democrats.

My daughter’s boyfriends.

My daughter without boyfriends.

My smart phone being a lot smarter than I am.

Spiders. And anything else with hairy legs that is smaller than a mouse. I don’t even mind the mouse. But don’t let me see a spider in my house.

Unintentional bad poetry.

An empty mailbox—be it electronic or metal.

A full mailbox.

A Sunday afternoon with nothing on the schedule. That means it’s time to clean the house.

An unexpected visitor to my home on Sunday night. Oh why didn’t I use my afternoon to clean my house!

And finally, Thursday mornings without an idea for a blog. Whatever will I say?

Happy Halloween folks — Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Letting words flow

I used to be quite organized in my thinking process. I’m good at working things through in my mind, and I think that’s one reason the book writing has gone so well without an outline. My mind just keeps things in their place, which I’m finding is especially valuable when you’re losing your eyesight. However, in trying to keep things straight in rewriting book four in the Sam Osborne, I’m completely mixed up.  I finished the first draft without any difficulty, then decided I needed more about my villain so I wrote a few extra chapters to insert into the plot.  The trouble is I can’t find the chapters I think those inserts should go around. Old age probably plays a part.

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Dreamstime

But it would be much easier if I could just run out printed versions of the chapters. That requires a lot of wasted paper and ink, which probably won’t do me much good anyway―my eyesight makes it difficult to read any printed letters. Now when I write, I have to struggle with listening to what I’ve typed being read back to me. Without a printed copy, my mind seems to be befuddled.  I also have to admit, rewriting is not as fun as writing the first draft.

Meanwhile, I’ve allowed my creative brain to start thinking about a theme for a new book of short stories. Those of you who have kept up with what Genilee and I are doing know that, while going crazy waiting for book two (Wretched Fate, which is due out any day now) to come out, I finalized and Genilee edited a book of stories

 based on the holidays of the year. I so much enjoyed working on those stories that I’m ready to tackle a new series. While I love detective Sam Osborne and what we’ve done with his books, it was wonderful to take a break from him and come up with what was really my fifth book, Letting Life Flow. I took each of the year’s most celebrated holidays and wrote a different kind of story, using different points of view and tones and different types of plots (love story, mystery, sentimental), which made the writing process even more fun. Both Genilee and I are pleased with result. And I can’t begin to tell you how pleased we are that we’ve already got a publisher who is interested in putting out the book by next summer, and has already talked to us about ideas for illustrations and a possible joint launch with one of my daughter Allyn’s children’s books. It certainly is exciting to have someone come to us to offer their backing. I’ll write more about this new book and our stories as developments happen. In the meantime, I’m allowing my befuddled mind breaks from trying to organize book four of the Sam Osborne series by coming up with ideas for what will be my sixth book—more short stories.

Meanwhile, Genilee and I continue our quest to get the word out about our writing. One of our most rece

nt speaking engagements was both a challenge and a thrill. We talked before a large group of senior citizens—the First Choice club—which is an interdenominational group that meets once a month in Woodbridge. It was both exciting and scary to talk in front of a group of about 80 men and women. The excitement won out once we got started speaking about why we write, how we collaborate, etc. The group made us feel very important through their receptiveness and their very good questions, and we came away inspired and proud to be doing what we do. This week, we have a signing and smaller talk at Fairmont retirement community in a new location for us, Manassas, VA.

The speaking engagements we’ve had have been a real surprise to both Genilee and I. Neither of us had done much speaking before writing these books. Getting up in front of a group of people to share your life’s passion has been great for both of us. People really do think it’s wonderful that we are pursuing our life’s passion so late in life.

At the same time, we are going through the inevitable waiting game. Wretched Fate is ready to come out and the most recent launch date we’ve been given is Nov. 4. We are anxious to get the book out and begin marketing it alongside Twist of Fate, and we hope to have time to do that before the holidays. We’ve learned, however, that there are many things that get in the way of our plans.

Emotional ups and downs seem to be life of a writer.  But at least we know one thing for sure (as evidenced by the new publishing possibility): we’re heading in the right direction.–F. Sharon Swope

Coming Nov. 4

Coming Nov. 4

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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