In honor of Veteran’s Day, I’m offering the first book in the Clare Thibodeaux series free Friday, November 9th through Sunday, November 11th!
I am so honored to come from a family of veterans including my father, my father-in-law, my husband, my youngest son and his wife, my brother-in-law, uncles, cousins, and a niece. I was also privileged to serve my country in the Army Reserve for 8 years.
If you haven’t had a chance to read the Clare Thibodeaux Series, here is your opportunity to check it out for free. Go to my Amazon author page for this limited time offer.
Then, watch my blog for more deals in the near future.
Thanks for reading! ~~ Kate
When I woke up this morning, the sky was gray, and it was raining. I burrowed under the covers wishing I had some sunshine to warm my day. I did get up and ventured downstairs in my workout clothes for a healthy breakfast. (I thought I’d be more likely to exercise if I was dressed for it. ((shrug))
Per my routine, I flipped on a news channel and was immediately bombarded with news about Hurricane Michael and its rapid approach towards Panama City Beach, Florida. It brought back memories from twenty-three years ago when my family lived there.
Hurricane season is typically from May to October, and the residents along the Gulf of Mexico pay close attention to the weather reports during this volatile time of the year. In 1995, three hurricanes of varying strengths made landfall or affected our area. I had a tee shirt from the hospital where I was employed with the paths of the storms that year.
October storms tend to be the strongest because the water temperature of the Gulf is at its highest levels after the long hot summer, and hurricanes gain their strength from the warm waters they travel over.
Hurricane Opal was our Category 4.
We’d gotten a phone call at midnight from the Navy base. The base was closing and all military personnel and their families were ordered to evacuate. We got up packed some belongings. My husband filled the SUV with gas, and we packed some of our camping supplies, just in case we came home and found we didn’t have a home.
While my husband packed, I took our other vehicle and proceeded to find an ATM with some cash. He had tried two places without luck. It took me ten more stops before I could find a machine with cash available.
By four in the morning, we had our boys and our dog tucked into the vehicle and proceeded to leave the coast behind. We drove for over 6 hours (about 365 miles) before we found a hotel room in Huntsville, AL.
After we returned home, we found neighbors helping to put the shingles that had been blown off of our roof back into our yard. We were lucky. A few doors down, some neighbors came home to over two feet of water damage inside of their home. According to reports, our huge backyard had been completely covered by flood waters, including our inground pool.
We found our pool half-empty. Odd. We are uncertain if a tornado spawned by the storm damaged the roof and sucked the water from the pool. It remains a mystery to this day. The storm surge had hollowed out many buildings and residences along the coast. We were without power for several days. I cooked our meals on our camping stove, and we slept in the screen porch area due to the heat and lack of air conditioning.
I used these experiences and those I had while living in Corpus Christi, TX to write scenes for my first novel (short excerpt below).
My prayers are with the residents of my former home. Stay safe! ~~ Kate
Excerpt From Exodus (Clare Thibodeaux Series, Book 1
Running back and forth from the closet to the bathroom, Clare stuffed the last item that would fit into her worn duffel bag with a sigh. She glanced around the shamble she’d made in her bedroom for anything she didn’t wish to leave behind. There was one thing she couldn’t forget, she thought, as she reached into the bedside table drawer removing a .45 and some extra ammo. She clicked on the safety after checking the chamber to make sure it was empty.
A sterling silver frame with a black and white photograph of her family caught her eye. After she stripped the back from the expensive frame, Clare removed the photo and shoved it into her purse. Her throat tightened, and she swiped at the lone tear sliding down her face. Abruptly clearing her throat, she returned to the task at hand.
“Oh, my God,” she groaned as she hoisted the weight of the overstuffed bag over her shoulder. The perspiration on her forehead stung as it dripped into her eyes. Clare mopped at the sweat with the back of her hand and headed for the door of the apartment.
“Get your head in the game, Clare Thibodeaux,” she mumbled. She set her bag on the floor and eyeballed the landing through the peephole making sure everything was clear before she opened the door. Not able to see anything she considered suspicious, she bent over and picked up the duffel. The door swung open with a blast of sweltering heat that made it difficult to breathe. Coastal Florida temps often left one feeling like you’re standing too close to a bonfire. It was only 6:30 AM.
Angry, dark clouds littered the predawn sky. Hurricane Emmitt swirled its way across the Gulf of Mexico with The Weather Channel anticipating landfall along Florida’s panhandle. The residents of this stretch of the Florida coast were familiar with the preparations a tropical storm or hurricane required. People were boarding up their windows, getting ready for a hurricane party or hightailing it out of the path of the storm. In the past, Clare had ridden out most of the hurricanes or near misses at the hospital. Any staff able to stay would remain at the hospital 24/7 until after the worst of the storm was over.
Circumstances were different at present. She planned to evacuate with the thousands of other residents as they left their homes and belongings to avoid the devastation the landfall of a Category 4 hurricane would bring. Trees could be broken or uprooted from the ground. Power lines would be downed, and the electricity might be off for days or weeks. With so many leaving the coast, she could get lost in the stream of vehicles heading north. It was probably the best time to disappear. Maybe the only chance she’d have.
The warm red glow of the rising sun peeked through gaps in the clouds as the storm front advanced towards the coast. Its weakened light glinted off the corrugated metal carports. The roaring tide crashed onto the beach, and an occasional car door or trunk closing were the only sounds. Taking the steps down to the parking lot, she looked across the road to the shoreline. Lines of white-capped waves swelled larger rolling with power as they slammed into the shore. Who knew if her apartment building would be standing in another day? Not that it mattered to Clare, she wouldn’t return.
How did the One Million Project come about? Learn more about the brain child of UK author Jason Greenfield and his motivations for initiating what has become a world-wide cause for almost two hundred writers, artists, musicians and media persons across the globe.
Listening to the news this morning, I heard a wonderful story about a homeless vet outside of Philadelphia who had assisted a young woman stranded after running out of gas.
Johnny Bobbitt, Jr. is a homeless vet who saw Katie McClure pull her car over to the side of the road. He advised McClure to get back into her car and lock the doors. He took the last twenty dollars he had and bought gasoline for the young woman.
Bobbitt was a flight medic in the military and wanted to go to college to be a medevac flight nurse after he left the service, but issues with substance abuse and money problems kept him from his goals.
His selfless deed touched McClure and her boyfriend. They have kept in touch with Bobbitt and recently set up a GoFundMe page for him. As of today, it has raised over 306,000 dollars in response to Bobbitt’s good Samaritan act.
Each of us has the ability to change another person’s life. Johnny Bobbitt, Jr. helped countless of wounded service members when in his military role overseas. He helped a young woman in her moment of need so she could get home safely. Katie McClure and numerous donors are hoping to help change Bobbitt’s life.
Make today amazing by helping someone else in need.
Firstly, this isn’t an article about how to grow your social media audience. It is a warning for those new writers venturing out for the first times on the net to market their books. I recently saw a post by another author about her internet troll/stalker, and how frustrated she was dealing with this person.
The author was young and beautiful. In my ignorance, I thought she was the common target for those who are looking to scam a woman on the internet, but I was wrong. At 56 years of age, I have found myself becoming more and more cautious of each friend request I accept. I question if the photographs on the profile are legit or someone else’s stolen for whatever nefarious purpose.
I’ve learned about Romance scammers who look for middle-aged (that’s definitely me) and lonely ( this is something I’m not) women with the thought of flattering them, romancing them and then trying to get money from them. They will use photos of attractive males and females (beware guys!) stolen from real people. Some will use pictures of military men and women with a fabricated story of loss. Widowed with child(ren) and wanting to find someone with a kind heart, these scammers will be texting you and many other potential marks at the same time.
I did some research on the military aspect and found on http://www.cid.army.mil/romancescam.html warnings concerning romance and online dating profiles from service members deployed in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Even military personnel are at risk for these scams. They have a Sextortion brochure that is very informative on this subject.
Some of the “Red Flags” they’ve identified are valid for both civilians who are targeted by scammers posing as US military members, and for active duty military members who have become targets themselves, and they include:
- Unknown persons contact you online and attempt to friend you. You may even have mutual friends or primarily military members as their friends.
- The scammer uses poor grammar and sentence structure when messaging. Their responses don’t always make sense as if they didn’t understand the question or they are awkward sounding.
- The person wishes you to engage in an explicit video chat or exchange graphic images almost immediately after initiating contact.
- They call you by endearments very quickly after becoming friends. This assists them in the multiple messaging they are engaged in. They won’t have to remember your name. Everyone is dear, gorgeous, or babe for example.
- A video call begins with the female in a state of undress or engaged in a sexual act.
- They ask for money so they can visit you, get much-needed military equipment, etc.
Opening your marketing to the public means you will encounter a variety of people from many different walks of life. I’m a cautious individual, and I’ve been surprised at how an innocent exchange about writing can quickly shift as the communications attempt to cross a line.
These are the steps I take to secure my privacy while continuing to interact with the public as I market my books.
- I only post vague information about myself and my life. I don’t post any photos of my family.
- I don’t post personal phone numbers, email addresses or home addresses.
- When I’m asked a personal question about any of the above, I indicate this is private information. Sorry.
- I look at every Twitter page, Facebook page, etc. for the person asking to befriend me. If there are a variety of entries on various topics, especially books and we have multiple mutual friends, I will accept. But if they have one or two posts, the account is new, or they have photos or postings I find objectionable, I delete the request.
- My friend’s list isn’t viewable by anyone but me.
- I don’t allow Messenger calls from anyone. (I have had several attempted calls. Unbelievable!)
- If anyone crosses the line — I block them, unfollow from every platform, and if need be, report them.
I’m cynical by nature, and I do not need flattery to build my self-esteem, so the attempts that have been made towards me have fallen flat. Initially, I thought it was funny and would message a bit to see where the scammer would take it. Not anymore. The frequency of these attempts is sobering. I worry about other people who may through their good natures fall victim to these efforts.
Not everyone is out to scam. Our society isolates so many people, and social media seems like a perfect solution for meeting others and finding new friendships. Just remember to stay aware, keep professional when promoting your business, and if something doesn’t feel right, go the extra step to take precautions in regards to your privacy.