Monday, January 28, 2008

The Liar's Diary - Patry Francis

On January 29th The Liar's Diary, a suspenseful novel by Patry Francis, is being released in paperback by Plume. The hard cover edition was released February, 2007 by Dutton and was followed by a publicity tour which took Patry to various places across the country. It was my pleasure to meet her and her husband, Ted, in Seattle and to spend an evening with them. As delightful in person as she is in her blog posts at Simply Wait, Patry is a source of inspiration and remarkable story telling.

When a book is released the publisher and author design a publicity campaign for promoting the new book. Patry's book tour in 2007 was exciting and fun as she traveled to parts of the country she had never been, browsed interesting, new bookstores as she traveled, and saw her first novel being sold. She enjoyed meeting blogging friends and total strangers as she shared stories and promoted The Liar's Diary while doing readings and answering questions. Unfortunately, she is unable to promote the paperback release because she is recovering from cancer related surgery. Her prognosis is very good, but she is unable to travel about at this time and faces one more surgical procedure in March. Blogging friends have decided to join together to promote the release of the paperback, The Liar's Diary, by blogging about this fascinating book on January 29th. I could not possibly let the day go by without adding my two cents!

What fun it was to receive my copy of The Liar's Diary from Amazon in early 2007. I was unable to put it down once I opened the book. I reminded myself of those commercials about potato chips, the ones that say you can't stop eating them once you begin. Well, I just could not stop reading this seductive mystery with its twists and turns. I sat in my recliner for hours at a time turning pages and thinking, trying to figure out where the plot was really headed. Midway into the book I began to try to cast the movie in my head! I was enthralled with this thriller Patry had written about the relationship between two women who became unlikely friends, about loyalty, betrayal, secrets, and truth. I am sure you will enjoy it, too. The paperback edition is available on Tuesday, January 29th, at Amazon among other booksellers. Give yourself a reading treat. Then buy a copy for a friend!

Library Journal
"Kudos to Francis for this chilling study of a deeply disturbed, dysfunctional family, its crimes, and its fate."

New York Daily News
“Outright chilling.”
"Patry Francis has written a great first novel. Completely pulling the readers into the storyline, this journey takes you through self-reflection, sensitivity and empathy....It's a cruel world out there, but the author excels at exposing the world within."

Patry Francis's writings, both poetry and short stories, have appeared in the Tampa Review, Colorado Review, Ontario Review, and The American Poetry Review among other national publications. She is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has twice been awarded the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant. The Liar's Diary is her first novel. You may visit Patry's website to learn more about her and read a synopsis of her novel. Her blog called Simply Wait is surely worth a visit. The Liar's Diary is available in hard cover, paperback, CD audio, Cassette audio, and MP3 CD audio.

Congratulations, Patry! Many good wishes for your return to good health
and more fabulous writing! Your public awaits you!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What Is Lost

Since late New Year's day I have followed a local Atlanta story, one that became a national news event within 48 hours. Meredith Emerson, a resident from Longmont, Colorado who had graduated from the University of Georiga and was employed in a small community just north of Atlanta, was missing. She had taken her Lab mix pup, Ella, on a hike in Vogel State Park, a beautiful state park in the north Georgia mountains. Its lake and forested trails make Vogel popular with outdoor enthusiasts. It is here that hikers are connected to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, a trail that winds from Georgia to Maine.

Eventually those of us who read the updates learned Meredith had last been seen walking along the trail with a 61 year old male whose dog frolicked with hers. They were seen walking and talking while their dogs scampered along the trail. He carried a backpack and an expandable police baton strapped along his leg. Several people noticed them and eventually reported these viewings to police. Soon this man, Gary Hilton, became a person of interest.

Time passed and searches continued for Meredith, none successful. Many volunteers and professional search teams scoured the area where her car was found; mittens, dog leash, a bottle of water, and a baton were scattered close by. Search areas expanded across a very large expanse of Vogel State Park, then switched again to a small, targeted area.

Over the weekend Ella walked into a grocery store in Cumming, Georgia, a small town in Forsyth County north of Atanta. She walked into the same grocery store where our friends shop each week. A shopper picked up the pup and took her to a Vet two blocks away hoping to find a place of safety for her until her owners could be found. The Vet identified Ella via the implanted ID chip she wore. Ella was now about 40+ miles from where she and Meredith were last seen. Police swarmed the area and found Meredith's wallet, UGA ID, a piece of bloody seatbelt, and 3 fleece tops like those Meredith wore, saturated in blood, all in a dumpster across the street from the grocery store. A telephone near the dumpster contained Hilton's fingerprints.

Within a few hours Hilton was spotted about 25 miles away within the Metro Atlanta area in DeKalb County. He was in the parking lot of a convenience store cleaning his van with a vacuum and a solution of bleach and water. A rear seatbelt of the van was missing. He was taken into custody and booked on "kidnapping with intent to do bodily injury" charges. GBI questioned him, but he did not cooperate. A surveillance tape in another GA county, northwest of where Hiton was located, revealed Hilton using Meredith's ATM card.

More search teams were dispersed, some near the grocery store where Ella had been found. Plans were developed to send other teams to the multiple locations now involved in the case. Another recent crime case, an hour from Vogel State Park, came to the attention of authorities, a case where an older couple, hiking in NC's Pisgah National Forest, went missing. The woman had been killed by a blow to the head; the man was still missing. A man wearing a yellow jacket like Hilton's was seen on surveillance tapes using their ATM card.

With a promise by police not to pursue the death penalty Hilton agreed on Monday to help them locate Meredith Emerson's body. She was found in a huge wildlife management area called Dawson Forest in yet another north Georgia county. Based on the autopsy, she had been killed by a fatal blow to the head on Friday and then decapitated. She had lived 3 days beyond her kidnapping.

I am grieving. I did not know Meredith Emerson. I did not know the killer. I grieve for a family who lost a young daughter with a full life in front of her, for a puppy who lost her mom, and for Meredith's friends and loved ones who will miss her always. I grieve for all the Georgians who no longer feel safe in a beautiful state park in the north Georgia mountains, a park where I spent many hours enjoying my youth through middle age.

I am sad that danger like this lurks in nature, sad that exploring the peaceful forests, walking the hiking trails, and taking in the beautiful mountainous landscapes now carry significant fear. This issue moves beyond the Georgia mountains. I have never been able to enjoy the Cascades alone for just such reasons. In October we found a beautiful spot in the Cascade Mountains, a spot perched by the river and perfect for summer outings. I thought how nice it would be to take my visiting girlfriends there for picnics on lazy summer days and show them the magnificent Cascades. Immediately I began assessing how safe the area might be, determining where I could park the car so we could easily access it if anyone came near. I resent the need to think this way, to plan and be prepared. I enjoy spontaneity. But, my husband and I try to remain aware of our surroundings and anyone who encroaches when we are out exploring.

We live near an area where Ted Bundy kidnapped 2 women and dumped some of his victims 30 years ago during his killing spree in the Seattle area. These are facts I keep in mind. After moving to the Pacific NW I wondered about the serial killers (Bundy, Ridgway, to name 2) who roamed this area. The topography, the evergreen wilderness and undeveloped mountains, provides a screen of privacy and freedom for the criminal mind. I grieve that this is part of the world in which we all live. When I was young we were not afraid in the forests except perhaps of stepping on a snake we might not see.

I am angry that violent death has come to the mountains I've loved in my home state, angry that violation and murder have splashed them with fear, eroding the tranquility which resided in nature's glorious home. I am sorry my nieces who are only now discovering this area will never have the same sense of safety in these mountains I have loved so much.

I grieve for what is lost.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Gifts to Ourselves

Fireworks over Shanghai, photograph used with permission, courtesy of photographer, 
Jian Shuo Wang.

Choose a word, or two or three. Make them yours. Give them to yourself in 2008. Let me offer them as wishes in this new year as we greet this day.

Passion, Joy, Peace, Adventure, Love, Insight, Happiness, Wealth, Luck, Endurance, Prosperity, Understanding, Patience, Balance, Laughter, Flexibility, Health, Strength, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Nurturance, Play, Temperance, Risk-taking, Wisdom, Growth, Discovery, Celebration, Triumph, Amusement, Inspiration, Pleasure.

Happy New Year!