A guest post by writer C. Hope Clark about her new mystery, Lowcountry Bribe:
Carolina Slade was a government worker, a solid employee, an attentive mother.
To her a good life meant a comfortable setting, one in which the waves were few and routines many, giving her complete control over the highs and lows. Holidays and kids’ ballgames served as the highlights of her year, with maybe a promotion or an atta-girl or two from her employer. Diligent, she proved reliable at whatever she tackled.
Until fate ripped away her routine with a new challenge – someone offered her a bribe to abuse her position . . . threatening her children if she refused.
The novel Lowcountry Bribe addresses Slade’s personal choices as much as the mystery itself. Suddenly she faces a dilemma with two heads, neither of which is waveless, palatable, or fits into her comfortable life.
I initially designed Slade after myself. I was offered a bribe.
Priding myself on making correct choices and showing remarkable prowess at home and work, I operated by the book, thinking that such modus operandi served as the simple key to a happy environment.
But a sleazy, conniving client disrupted that elementary mindset. Suddenly there were no rules. People wondered if there was a bribe when the client twisted and turned and avoided capture. My boss questioned my loyalty. Some family turned their backs. The only person on my side was the federal agent, and ultimately, few believed him before it was said and done. The simple matter of doing the right thing by calling in the feds to corner a bad guy proved not so simple.
My scenario wasn’t as desperate as Slade’s, but our emotional upheaval ran parallel.
One of the most exasperating and upsetting times in my life, the bribe proved to be the most educational, and I painted those emotions in the story. The main character in any tale is supposed to exhibit growth by the end, endowed with lessons learned. Oh my goodness did she . . . we . . . grow.
Slade learns how the right decisions don’t always end triumphantly. Not everyone sees our decisions as the proper ones.
Not everyone can be trusted in time of need, but yet, we can see remarkable friends rise up amidst the fire.
In chaos, we come to know our inner core of resilience and unearth instinct and talent that can hone us into exceptional human beings. And it’s in these moments that we not only redefine ourselves but also redefine all who know us, and as painful as the journey may be, the end result makes us strong, capable, and oh so wise.
Such journeys are a combination of stimuli thrown in our path, and our decisions in dealing with them. For the most part, wives and mothers, ever in their protective mode, fight to avoid stimuli, at least the harmful ones, in hopes of weaving a pleasant world for themselves and the people they are responsible for.
That mindset sometimes even leads us to watch others from a distance with skepticism as they fight personal entanglements, as we wonder what they did wrong to bring such calamity upon themselves.
We have this misconception that good results are the product of our smart choices.
Until we get thrown into an unexpected battle, we do not understand.
But sometimes life hands you crap. Or we blindly step left when we should have stepped right. Then our substance is based upon choosing the lesser of evils while shouldering the judgment of others who aren’t involved and don’t understand.
We live in a world of blame. We blame others, God, fate, and most importantly, ourselves for all the ills in the world.
There’s something about not having a place to lay blame that drives us mad.
Some of our most defining moments appear, however, when we learn to drop the blame game, dig deep, and deal with the obstacle before us.
Our scars make us proud, but they also open our eyes and create a more 3-D world for us and our own. We fear childbirth before it happens, having heard all about the pain and suffering from others who’ve gone before us. Afterwards, we speak of it through the voice of experience, the pain not so much the focus as the result. We’d repeat the moment all over again. We’re more than willing to help those having their first.
What started as a way to turn my story into a fun mystery, morphed into an exorcism for me and a subtle lesson for other women.
We are better for having lived through turmoil. Even the right choices can land us in trouble, but how we fight our way out empowers us. We may never be the same, but then, we probably wouldn’t want to be.
Brain power is strong. Things get better if we will them to, but most importantly, it’s the proactive manner in which we choose to make them better that turns us into extraordinary women.
And this is how I designed Carolina Slade.
GIVEAWAY!!Leave a comment saying you would like to win by October 5 at noon E.S.T, and TWO winners will be chosen at random for a free autographed copy of Lowcountry Bribe.
C. Hope Clark and her federal agent husband have been married for 20 years and live on the banks of Lake Murray in beautiful South Carolina. From their back porch Hope spins stories from their real investigations, overlooking the water.
Lowcountry Bribe is the first in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, released in February 2012, and the second, Tidewater Murder, is expected in early 2013 from Bell Bridge Books. To visit Hope’s website, click on www.chopeclark.com
Hope is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 12 years. Her newsletters reaches 35,000 readers each week. Learn more here: www.fundsforwriters.com
Hope’s excellent newsletter, FundforWriters, encouraged me to start blogging about menopause. She ran a notice that Woman’s Day was looking for a menopause blogger. I bopped out some posts, emailed them to Woman’s Day, and never heard a word. But the experience told me I love the topic, and Friend for the Ride was born. Thanks, Hope!