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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Pacific Between -- Review


The Pacific Between
By Raymond K. Wong
Behler Publications
January 2006
234 pp.
Fiction
$14.95
ISBN 1-933016-32-9
Amazon.com price: $10.17
Highly recommended.


Raymond K. Wong’s debut novel, The Pacific Between chronicles an Asian-American man’s attempt to discover himself and the world around him.

The ups, downs, twists and turns of a two-minute roller coaster ride are nothing compared to the gamut of emotions Wong’s characters experience in his compelling novel.

The opening line “Betrayal makes us do strange things,” leads you head on into a boiling pot of love, death, betrayal and deception.

When entrepreneur Greg Lockland arrives in California to attend his parents’ funeral, his world begins to unravel. Pictures of a brother he barely remembers and letters discovered hidden in his father’s safe deposit box suggest an illicit affair between his late father and Greg’s ex-lover Lian Wan.

Confused and angry, Greg visits Kate Walken, a young woman with whom his relationship has taken an unexpected, romantic turn. Greg hates secrets and the hurt they cause. Yet, he tells Kate only of the pictures he found. Greg battles with his mixed emotions and can’t bring himself to tell her about Lian. Does he still love Lian? Does he love Kate? Can he love Kate?

Greg is like a boy who never grew up. He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Though he can be affectionate, he can be obnoxious, deceiving and secretive–all the things he loathes.

Seething anger, growing suspicion, and inescapable jealousy accompany Greg on a transpacific journey to Hong Kong in search of Lian and the truth about the affair.

Greg has no idea he’s about to unlock a secret that has been kept closeted for years. One after another, people return from his past, each adding another roadblock to Greg’s mysterious puzzle. With each piece of information, Greg is forced to re-examine his beliefs, feelings, and relationships with old friends and family.

Among those who help Greg is Agnes, the Director of Nursing where his father had worked. She is a bossy, mannish, British nurse whom Greg never liked. During his relentless search to uncover the truth, Greg is surprised to find Agnes with his happy-go-lucky friend Old Chow and realizes Agnes has a passionate side. Agnes and Old Chow prod Greg to explore his feelings and their secret plans push him into another situation of doubt.

There is more to Wong’s astonishing novel The Pacific Between than a gripping plot. Each chapter opens a part of Greg’s life. The witty dialogue is smooth and believable and portrays the dynamic and fascinating characters, keeping them and the reader in suspense and a whirlwind of emotions.

Greg’s elusive and perfect ex-love Lian adds to his anger, jealousy, and confusion when she avoids him and refuses to discuss the letters. Just when Greg thinks he has all the answers he uncovers more questions and finds more deep-rooted deception.

Wong’s story reaches into the heart, mind, and soul of readers with a robust Asian voice. His story melds two cultures so eloquently that he has you walking beside his characters and places you in the center of Hong Kong’s beautiful culture and picturesque landscape.

Those who aren’t familiar with Hong Kong will dream of visiting, and those familiar will see their surroundings in a new light after Wong writes,

The ferry sounds its long horn, edging its way toward
the island. Piers, docks and row houses pack tightly together in a stretch along the shore. Twirls of smoke ascend from a temple at the far end of the village. On the near side of the island, the rocky hills give rise to a green plateau on which tiers of red-roof condominiums and houses spread out like icing on a cake. (74)


The Pacific Between is more than a story of love, death and betrayal. It’s a superb tale of deception, relationships, sacrifices and unconditional love. It is filled with nostalgia, wit, humor, and triumph. This book is not a casual read. The plot leaves the reader waiting to turn the pages. It’s unpredictable to the end.

Wong will leave you laughing one minute and crying the next, and in between, awestruck by dead-ends that lead to a satisfying finish.

The Pacific Between is a book readers will want to place on their bookshelves to be read over and over again.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE PACIFIC BETWEEN



Joanne Kiggins has published more than 2,500 articles. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer’s Digest, Absolute Write, and Moondance.

An excerpt from the mystery suspense novel she is currently writing, Unearthed, placed her in the top ten finalists of the Absolute Write Idol contest. Her co-authored romance novel Unforgettable Journey placed fifth in the Grand Beginnings romance contest in March 2005. Her essay,"Perseverance," is published in the Absolute Write Stories of Strength anthology written in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, for which 100% of the profits will be donated to various disaster relief charities.


Part of the review was posted on Behler Publications site.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Words Do Matter

...From the Heart to Truth
On December 14, I read a post at AW that disturbed me. The poster said she’d done something stupid and she proceeded to call herself a “retard”. I immediately wrote a PM to the poster to inform her that her choice of word usage was considered crude and it would be insulting to our host, Jenna Glatzer. Jenna’s brother, Paul, has Down syndrome. I knew Jenna would be upset when she saw this person's post, but rather than state my thoughts and feelings on the thread, I tried to make the poster aware of the situation in private.

I posted a comment on the thread that stated “I won't begin to list blunders I've made. The board may go down again.


It was my way of trying to show the poster she’d blundered. Mentioning that the board may go down again was an additional hint that the board is Jenna's house, and my disappearing smilie was my way of showing I would disappear if I’d said what she had.

I’m not able to be online as much as I used to be and my attempts to PM the poster failed because her in box was full. I didn’t want to make an issue publicly about her choice of words, for one reason and one reason only: I’m lousy at defending myself, and normally end up in tears by letting others stomp on me and hurt me by their words and actions. I defend by truth, and the truth hurts those who refuse to accept it. I speak truths and stick up for myself and I am ridiculed more because of it. So, I threw in the towel and quit speaking to those who continue to twist my words and judge me simply because the truth hurts them.

Tonight, I feel horrible. Instead of standing up and stating the truth for someone I respect, and responding publicly to something I knew would hurt Jenna, I simply responded with what I thought might get the point across to the poster. I tried to be nice once again, when in my heart I knew I should open my mouth. I let past personal attacks on me, to stick up for the truth, those I respect, and myself, prevent me from pointing out a wrong done to someone I care about.

After logging into AW this evening, I went straight to the freelance forum, where I am moderator. I saw Jenna’s name listed as the last poster on the thread I speak of. My heart sunk knowing that I hadn’t softened the blow for her. When I read Jenna’s comment, I smiled. I clicked on the link she provided and signed her petition and pledge “My Words Matter”.

Words do matter. Regardless of what they are, who they’re about, or the subject at hand, words can hurt. And that is the TRUTH. Please do not use offensive words. Thank you, Jenna for posting your pledge. It reminded me to continue to speak the truth, continue to stand up for those I care about, respect, and love, and continue to stick up for myself. It also reminded me to continue to follow my heart…which strangely enough I’d written about earlier this afternoon. My "Following My Heart" post was inspired by a picture and hurtful words said to me recently. See my post below. ;)

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Following My Heart - Tagged by Paint - Photo Meme



I’ve been tagged by Paint to use this photo as a prompt for a 2-paragraph statement/story or 2-stanza poem. She was tagged by Unique who found the picture while reading blogs. I’ve chosen to write both.

My first thought when I saw this picture was two tornadoes crossed paths. Instead of giving rise to destruction, it lifted and formed wings of love. Love comes from the heart, and there’s nothing truer than the heart. That is the optimist coming out in me.

What comes from mother earth can be devastating at times. Life has its tribulations, but the outcome is all in how one chooses to perceive what is in his or her path. I choose the truth because it speaks for itself.

Following My Heart

Whether a natural disaster,
an everyday occurrence,
or something,
or someone,
tries to throw me
out of
my
center

I
will
follow my heart.
For my heart
has never
lied.
And
the
truth
has
set
me
free.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

AW Meme # 2 Holiday Songs

Dec. 12th AWMondayMeme: Holiday songs

List the holiday songs you know by heart, but only the ones where you know more than just the first verse.

I used to drag my daughters, Angel and Stacey and a few of their friends out Christmas caroling every year. I also used to belong to a choir and sang in the cantata each year, so I knew a number of holiday songs from start to finish. Now that you’ve asked to make a list and I have to be totally honest, I had to sing all day today to actually find out how many I still remembered. Mom and I played Christmas music all evening.

Here we go.
1. All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth – 6 verses
2. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire – 4 verses
3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – 4 verses
4. Jingle Bells – 5 verses
5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer—4 verses
6. Rockin Around the Christmas Tree – 3 verses
7. Grandma Got run Over By A Reindeer – 10 verses
8. Silver Bells – 5 verses
9. White Christmas – 3 verses
10. Twelve Days of Christmas – 12 verses
11. Oh Come, O Come Emmanuel –7 verses
12. Let It Snow – 4 verses

That’s good for now. I’m all sung out for tonight. :) But as soon as I have time, I'll write down all the words to a beautiful song I sang the solo for many years back. Wish there was some way to record it here to hear, it's an absolutely beautiful song.

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Ten Most Poignant Moments in Horror History Meme

I’ve been tagged by Matt (emeraldcite)to list the Ten Most Poignant Moments in Horror History. What a great meme!

1. Psycho—1960, I watched this movie at the Brookside Drive-In Theatre with my mom when I was eight years old. She hates horror and gore and read a book, holding a flashlight, while I watched the movie with wide eyes. It scared the heck out of me back then. For years, all I could remember was the scene of the skeleton in the rocking chair and I couldn’t remember the title of the movie. Several years later when I watched it again, I realized this was the movie title I’d been trying to remember. It wasn’t as scary the second time around.

2. Thinner—1984, The book was much better than the movie. The scenes of the movie weren’t all that disturbing, but the aspect of the curse Gypsy Tadzu Lempke placed on Billy Halleck and the type of revenge he used to avenge his wife’s death was. Halleck, after all, did so badly want to lose weight. Be careful what you wish for is a good moral for this movie.

3. Pet Sematary—1989, You all know I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I can’t say that one particular scene stands out, but the concept of bringing someone back from the dead and the uncertain results of what might be lacking in their return…now that is frightening. The tag line for this movie is quite true… Sometimes dead is better.

4.Boogeyman—2005, Though this movie wasn’t all that scary, the scene that stood out the most to me was when the father was jerked into the closet. The sliding in and out from one door to a different dimension in time was a bit strange.

5. Saw—2004, This movie had a lot of twists and turns. The Jigsaw serial killer hand picked the victims he kidnapped and the psychological torture he put them through was chilling in itself. Two scenes in this movie stood out more prominently than others: the man who tried to force himself through the barbed wire and the girl who did make it out alive who had a jaw-ripping mask locked on her head. Watching the terror each of these people went through was bone-chilling.

6. Intensity 1 and 2—Maybe this is cheating, Matt. These are not horror, but psychological thrillers tend to have a few of their own scary moments. These movies based on the book by Dean Koontz portray their title. They are intense from beginning to end. Chyna Shepard got a bit more than she’d bargained for when visiting her friend's home during Thanksgiving. Memories from her own past haunt her as she attempts to rescue a 15-year-old girl named Ariel from a completely insane serial killer Edgler Vess. Again, not horror, but they are excellent edge-of-the-seat movies with wonderful plot twists.

7. Texas Chainsaw Massacre—1974, I watched both versions of this movie. The remake was even better than the first. Every scene when a meat hook stabbed through the skin and bones made me cringe. The scariest part of the movie is that it is based on a true story. Oh the horror of knowing that there are people in this world who are capable of performing these dreadful deeds.

8. Wrong Turn—This 2003 movie where six people find themselves trapped in the woods of West Virginia is quite haunting and gory. The thought of being hunted down by disfigured cannibalistic mountain men is enough to make you not want to venture onto unfamiliar country roads.

9. Stir of Echoes—1999, Kevin Bacon plays a great part in this film. The scene that still gives me the creeps is the girl’s fingernail breaking off when she’s clawing at the floor during her brutal rape. Not the most horrible of horror films, but that scene made me “feel” the pain.


10.The Last House on the Left—1972, This movie ranks #1 for being the most grotesque, disgusting, and powerful. The chilling and brutal rape/murders scenes make you feel like you're there. One of those movies where you pull the blanket over your face and peek out, wanting to, but not wanting to see the next scene.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Maltese Sweetheart


This is my little sweetheart. I miss her so much. She visits me a few times a week. :)

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Perfect Spider Web


This is a perfect spider web and absolutely beautiful. The spider wasn't real happy I took its picture.

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Wishing for Camping


Wishing I were here right now, with peace and quiet and my laptop. :)

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Alligator Eyes...Really close


Here's an up close and personal picture of an alligator. I was standing on a rocking dock within a foot of his bright shiny teeth. :) If you look close you can see his eye.

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Alligator


Here I got up close and personal with a 16 foot alligator.

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Maggie Valley, North Carolina












Maggie Valley, NC. Absolutely beautiful view.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

AWMondayMeme: December 5

Dawno’s first AW Monday Meme: Feeling rather holiday-ish tonight I thought the first AWMondayMeme should be: what are the 10 books or sets of books you most wish you could find under/beside/in your {insert appropriate holiday decor/object}?

Get creative - whether it's a signed first edition or a illuminated manuscript, anything goes!

Dawno, could you have made this any more difficult. Not that I can’t think of ten books or set of books, it’s just that there are so many I’d love to have.

1. The only book I do not have by Stephen King is the limited edition of My Pretty Pony. MY PRETTY PONY, illustrated by Barbara Kruger, a short story published in limited edition by Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. I read somewhere that it has a silver cover with a digital clock on the front. I’d love to see this book in my collection of Stephen King books. An autographed copy would be great! And Stephen King handing it to me would be even better!

2. I mentioned in my 15 things about books meme that I no longer have the Nancy Drew collection. I’d love to find a box full of the entire set under my tree.

3. A Stephen King bookmark signed by Stephen King in an autographed copy of his next book would be nice. (Can you tell I love Stephen King’s writing?)

4. Is it too much to ask for a new bookcase with the complete collection of H. P. Lovecraft?

5. Can I wish for my granddaughter’s stocking to have an autographed copy of Hattie, Get a Haircut by Jenna Glatzer?

6. The fourteen volume leather bound collection of Charles Dickens complete works.

7. The complete works of Agatha Christie. (Are you getting the hint that I love complete collections?)

8. The first edition of Gone With The Wind.

9. I’d love to see a package under my tree wrapped in really neat blue paper covered with this. That would tell me William Haskins published all his poetry in one book. Hey Haskins, keep this wrapping paper idea for future reference. *Hint Hint* I’ll buy the book, just get the darn thing published, autograph it, and send it to me wrapped in that dark, mysterious skeleton wrap. :D

10. It would be wonderful to see a UPS truck pull into my driveway full of MY six books. It would help if they were published. Of course, it would help if I submitted them. ;)

I’m tagging Jeff, Kira, and Vanessa.

Please add the tag below to the bottom of your meme so it will appear in the list of tags.
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

For those who read the excerpt of “Unearthed” in the Absolute Write Idol contest, I thought I’d give you a hint of what the barren patch on the slope by the barn looks like. Of course, the barn hasn't tumbled and isn't covered in poison oak, but the barren patch is to the back right of the picture. It’s still there…

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Mom, Daughter, Dog and Tree



What is a post about putting up the Christmas tree without showing a picture of the very thing that put a smile on Mom’s face?

This is my daughter, Angel, sitting on the couch behind Mom. Woo Hoo! She’s finally beginning to “show”. She’s due to have her first baby on May 25. :)

Of course, Mom's little buddy couldn’t resist jumping up on her lap to be part of the festivities.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bringing Christmas Back Home

I just realized I haven’t posted much in the past two weeks. Guess I was more wrapped up in regaining the Christmas spirit than I’d thought. I believe one’s environment can make all the difference in the world in attitude and emotion. I’m a sentimental fool. I’ve been doing my best to lift Mom’s spirits and bring back the old ways my mom and dad celebrated the holidays. Everyone used to come home, to the homestead, to visit Mom and Dad, exchange gifts, and sit around the antique dining room table for dinner. There used to be a lot of chatter, and laughing, and reminiscing. After Dad passed away, that “coming home” got lost. I continued to visit with Mom on Christmas in her home, and then took her to my house for dinner. Others invited her to their homes rather than visit her in hers. She quit putting up the larger tree and purchased a tabletop tree for her end table in her living room. No one ever saw it but her and me and my daughters when they visited her. And on occasion, my one brother. Some years I had to dig out the small tree and put it up myself because she had no interest. It was no wonder…no one came anymore. “What’s the sense?” she would ask.

Everyone’s life has changed but it’s a shame some have become too busy and wrapped up in their own activities to make that extra effort that means so much. My daughters, Angel and Stacey, and I have always been a constant in Mom's life. Regardless of what was going on, or where we lived, we always made it home for Christmas.

This year, the old ways are coming home. I’ve extended the “come home” for Christmas to the entire family.

My oldest daughter, Angel, came in for Thanksgiving and spent several hours visiting with Mom and me. On Friday, my tree, ornaments, and decorations were moved from my basement to Mom’s house. On Saturday, Angel came and spent the entire day helping me decorate the tree and living room. We didn’t place the tree in the corner where Dad used to; we moved Dad’s chair and placed the tree in honor of him; where he used to sit. The tree represents his presence and the good old days.

Mom used a half roll of film taking pictures while Angel and I trimmed that tree. Her eyes glistened and constant creases of a smile stretched upward as she watched the ornaments being hung. Very few ornaments are store bought. Many are ones she and I made together when she had a ceramic business. Others are ones she’d taken time to make for each member of the family.

Once the tree was completely trimmed we turned on the lights. The smile on Mom’s face as she watched the lights sparkle was worth the extra effort! “That’s a beautiful tree!” she said.

Every day since we set up the tree Mom walks into the living room and sits in her chair. She scans the tree from top to bottom and smiles. And every day she says, “That’s a beautiful tree.”

Each day she points to several ornaments and comments on their beauty. When I tell her she made them, I see a sense of pride and accomplishment on her face. She giggles when she says, “Wow, I made that. I must have been pretty smart.” I answer, “You still are, Mom.”

Yesterday I placed the nativity beneath the tree. It is the bright colored ceramic nativity I’d painted while Mom painted her set in pearl colors. We scratched the year on the bottom of the green ware set before it went into the kiln. That was 30 years ago.

Last night as we sat in the living room, feeling the warmth of the flames from the fire in the fireplace my dad built, she said, “Thank you. That’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had in this house.”

I can’t tell what’s on Mom’s mind anymore like I used to, but I know that bringing Christmas back home is the best present I could give her this year.

Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

MEME TAG: 15 Things About Books

I’ve been tagged by Ray to list 15 personal facts or preferences about books. I love this MEME! Thanks Ray. Only 15? I could go on and on about books, but I’ll try to restrain myself.

1. I once owned the entire collection of Nancy Drew mysteries. (Wish I still had them.)
2. I read Black Beauty in the fourth grade. I still have it!
3. I like reading almost every genre.
4. I love to read horror, mysteries, thrillers, and crime books.
5. I’ve never had an interest in fantasy or science fiction book.
6. I have every one of Stephen King’s books. He’s the only author I collect in hardback. My daughter’s buy his newest book for me for Christmas. I used to start reading them as soon as they were unwrapped, but somewhere along the way I quit doing that. So I have several to catch up on.
7. I have every Patricia Cornwell book, but I haven’t read them all, yet.
8. I also have every Dean Koontz book.
9. I love the feel of a book, the look of the words on the page, and the different styles of chapter headings. I love the smell of a brand new book, too. No, I don’t smell the used books. LOL
10. I won’t watch a movie unless I’ve read the book first.
11. I used to read even while cooking dinner, washing clothes, and vacuuming.
12. I have the complete works of William Shakespeare.
13. An antique 1956 6" thick unabridged Webster New Twentieth Century Dictionary sits on a speaker’s podium in my office at home.
14. I have a very old book of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. It’s a very small green hardback entitled Poe's Poems. The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe with Memoir by J. H. Ingram. I believe it was published in the late 1800s or early 1900s. There's no date listed.
15. If I begin reading a book, I will read it to the end, whether I like it or not or become bored with it. That’s just the way I am.

Jill, just so you know, the book you loaned me is in fact interesting and I’m almost finished. It will be returned soon. ;) Tagging Jill , Julia, and Unique for this MEME.

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