Friday, November 25, 2011
There's a new blog on Forbes, Crime, She Writes. The six contributors are women with expertise in an area of criminal activity. We are Kathryn Casey, best-selling true crime writer and author of the Sarah Armstrong crime novels; Stacey Dittrich, a former police detective media consultant and co-host of Justice Interrupted; Susan Murphy Milano, non-fiction author, violence expert and victims' rights advocate; Dr. Gina Simmons, a psychotherapist who's been helping individuals, families and organizations for 25 years; Cathy Scott, journalist, pet rescue advocate and best-selling true crime author; and of course, me.
My first post for Forbes is on line: Neonaticide: A Distinct Crime or Just Another Murder. It's about the Lindsey Lowe case that raised a lot of questions in my mind. I think you'll find it food for thought, too.
Monday, November 21, 2011
|Joe, Diane, Maurice and Chris in Diane's front yard|
Friday, I welcomed this bevy of Aussies into my home--the crew from Beyond Productions. They interviewed me for an episode of Behind Mansion Walls, the show that stars the quirky British-born New Yorker Christopher Mason as host and airs on the Investigation Discovery channel.
We talked about Dean Faiello and the death of Maria Cruz, the subject of my true crime book, Under the Knife. Dean was facing charges of practicing medicine without a license at the time he treated Maria Cruz. An injection caused Maria to go into convulsions. Instead of getting her the help she needed, Dean gambled with her life and Maria lost.
If you haven't seen Behind Mansion Walls, you ought to give it a try. The host is a distinctive character and really grows on you after a few episodes. I think Christopher Mason is a perfect fit for the job and love seeing him on each of the shows.
(No fashion advice on the footwwear, please. The camera was not interested in my legs or feet so I ditched the heels and hose and went for comfort instead. :-) Wouldn't you?)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The highlight of our week at Negril, Jamaica was a return visit to the Happy Hearts School for 3, 4 and 5 year olds. We visited there last year as a part of a Sandals Foundation tour group. The Sandals corporation operates one Sandals, two Beaches (including Beaches Sandy Bay where we vacationed) and the Grand Pineapple Beach resorts in Negril, as well as many others throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.
We fell in love with the students and the environment created by a dedicated Principal and teacher at this tiny, struggling school.
It is a nurturing, safe haven in a sea of poverty. When we look out at the smiling happy faces, it is hard to believe how difficult life is for many of these kids. Some of the children's homes are so dysfunctional that little guys cry at the end of the school day because they do not want to go home.
Wayne read a story to the class, we listened to the children sing songs to us and shared a whole lot of hugs--those kids just couldn't get enough hugs. We also got the details on the school robbery. Just before the beginning of the instructional year, unknown people broke into the kitchen area and stole the freezer that stores the children's food, the propane tank holding the gas to cook it, the large water igloo that held the kids' supply, two fans, a food container and other small items. The loss was devastating and heart-rending.
The school is really little more than a one-room shack. At places you can see the sky through the walls. Getting enough supplies necessitates extreme creative effort accompanied by a lot of prayers. The building is off the road a bit behind a cluster of trees and cannot be seen from the street. The location combined with the ramshackle nature of the structure make it very vulnerable to heartless thieves.
They want to build a new school. They have property and managed to raise enough money to put in the foundation slab. They need to raise more funds to continue the construction. If you would like to help with a donation of money or supplies, contact the principal, Helen-Ann Clarke at helenannclarke@yahoo
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Today is exactly a week since we said goodbye to Beaches Sandy Bay on Negril Beach in Jamaica. How much do we love that resort? I think our nine visits in the past ten years speak for themselves. It is not a glitzy place--it's comfortable, homey, intimate and located on a seven mile strip of white sand, the best beach I've ever visited. It's perfect for full-out relaxation and we did a lot of it.
|The island where I nearly lost it|
My first full day at there, I opted to do one of my favorite things, snorkeling. My quiet little excursion out on the boat turned more adventurous than I'd planned. I had snorkled so many times here that I got a bit complacent and was not as cautious as I should have been. I lost track of where I was and ended up being sucked into a current. I should have headed the other way the moment I felt it but I didn't. It intensified and smashed me onto the reef around a tiny island. When I tried to get back, I panicked. Instead of swimming across the current, I headed straight into it. The waves were breaking on my face. For a moment, I thought I would not make it. Then I had one of those silly thoughts that often race through your mind in a crisis: if I didn't get out of this mess, I would ruin my husband's vacation.
That was all I needed to give me the drive and energy to surge forward again. Suddenly and surprisingly, I was free of the current but exhausted. I saw the boat ahead and didn't look forward to the long swim back but knew I was capable of doing it. That's when my rescuer arrived. I didn't object when he offered to tow me back with the strap of a life jacket. The result of the experience, two skinned knees, scraped legs and embedded black sea urchin spines. It took me a few days to get the courage to go back to snorkeling again but I did it and it was worth it.
When I arrived, I had a mission: find the two women I knew from the Facebook page, We Love Beaches Sandy Bay. I spent a couple of days asking every blonde I saw if her name was Emma. I'd just about given up when I found myself sitting at a table for eight outside by the ocean. Across from me was a blonde with a British accent. At first, I thought that it was too much of a coincidence. It couldn't be her. But I asked if her name was Emma and she responded with a question: "Are you Diane?" Ahh, at last... Unfortunately, I didn't have the same luck locating Stephanie and we never did meet.
Stephanie was there for a wedding--as were a lot of people. Most of them were very happy. But we met the mother of a groom who was stewing. After all the family--including some from the UK--had arrived, the bride announced that she wasn't ready to get married yet. Then, she stayed at the resort--in the room with her fiance--and told everyone to have a good time. Personally, I can't criticize her for calling off the wedding. If it's not right, it's just not right. But to have the audacity to stay there and not slink home after everyone else had incurred so much expense--I just didn't get it.
|Photo Op with the Lobster guy's catch|
Most of our time was spent swimming in the Caribbean and lazing in lounge chairs reading books under a thatched hut. At one point, we looked like the Jason Pinter promotional book tour. My husband was reading The Guilty and I was reading The Stolen, side by side. On the plane and on the beach, I also read Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais, The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid, Still Life by Louise Penny, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larson and started Confessions of a Modern Dentist by Dr. Sherman Shinn, founder of ForWorldwideSmiles.org. A copy of the latter was given to me by the author-dentist from Gig Harbor, Washington, who was staying at the same resort while volunteering at free dental clinics on the island.
|Massage on the beach|
In between books, we squeezed in a couple of massages--my favorite was the one right on the beach. But the highlight of our trip was our return visit to Happy Hearts School--I'll tell you about that adventure in my next post.
Friday, November 11, 2011
|Rose McGowen as Mary Winkler in The Pastor's Wife|
I am not alone in that assessment either. Variety called "a small luxury" and "eminently watchable." The New York Daily News wrote:
|The real preacher's wife, Mary Winkler|
But I imagine the folks in charge of tourism in Orange Beach, Alabama, are gnashing their teeth right now. The ugly beach depicted in the film bore no resemblence to the beautiful white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. I don't know how anyone could attract tourists if their so-called beach looked like the rocky mud wallow portrayed on the television screen.
And the title of the book and movie? My, I've gotten a lot of email about that since the book was published in 2008. I titled the book THE PREACHER'S WIFE. The publisher insisted on changing that title to THE PASTOR'S WIFE. I argued that the new title was inaccurate. The Churches of Christ do not call the head of their churches pastors--they call them preachers. I lost that battle and thus the faulty title.
Regardless, THE PASTOR'S WIFE is a fascinating story whether told from Mary's perspective as seen on the Lifetime movie or from the more objective presentation in my book. In addition, to presenting the facts as clearly as I could in the body of the story, I wrap up THE PASTOR'S WIFE, as I do all my true crime books, with an afterward reflecting my opinions and experiences in writing about the case. The movie is now available for viewing on line. And my book is available in paperback and ebook on line. I hope you enjoy them both.