Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Children

I felt as if an invisible fist had punched me in the stomach, knocking my breath out and bringing tears to my eyes. It was an April 29 news report, one that most people in this area would not soon forget.

Gloucester, Virginia deputies served a search warrant on Shannon Gore, only to find something very different than the stolen gold they were looking for. They found a child, a little girl, left in a cage and starving. Outside, buried under the shed, were the remains of another child.

After the horror of the situation sank in, my first reaction was pure anger. “That’s my daughter!”

Now, let me be clear about something. I know that the little girl is not my biological daughter. I understand the difference between my kids and someone else’s kids. I am not that far gone that I am about to go snatching children from their homes or dementia ridden with the belief that my children are wandering around out there.

But my initial reaction, the outrage I felt, was tied to a very strong instinct I believe most parents have, and that is the instinct to protect.

Obviously not every parent feels this way, or deputies would not have found the little girl living in those deplorable conditions. But many of us do have those feelings, that natural inclination to nurture and care for the kids we know.

Consider this: if everyone felt that each child, whether they are biologically yours or not, was “their child”, things might be a little bit different.

Maybe as a society we would direct more attention to the needs of our children, instead of allowing them to waste away in a foster system that clearly does not work. Maybe we would address the fact that there are more than 115,000 children in this country available for adoption, children who are older or have serious medical needs, children who may very well never find a “forever home”. In the state of Virginia there were more than 106,000 cases of reported abuse in 2010, and children all over the United States die from neglect and abuse every day, regardless of race or income level.

Maybe we would reach out and help the children that desperately need our help instead of not facing the reality of what is happening in our neighborhoods.

Neighbors who lived next to Shannon and Brian Gore were outraged. They had no idea that a little girl was living there, much less that she was being starved. There is no doubt that someone would have stepped in to help.

The little girl (dubbed “Sunshine” by a special online group committed to helping victims) is doing much better. She is still hospitalized but shows signs of significant weight gain (she was believed to be six years old at the time of her discovery and weighed 15 pounds) and has been reported to be doing as well as could be expected.

Just because these monsters have been caught doesn’t mean there aren’t more abusers out there, or that we can look the other way when we see child neglect, or that we can ever forget how a child should be treated.

As a community we can make a difference in the lives of so many kids. After all, they really are “our children.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Signs of the South

A new job, a new home, and a ghost that won’t let her sleep until she solves a murder.

This is not what Ella Giancetti has in mind when she accepts a college teaching position and relocates. Moving from Connecticut to Virginia, Ella quickly learns of the many cultural differences separating the North from the South, from her first taste of sweet tea to the true meaning of ‘bless your heart’. Adjusting to all this while dealing with incessant phone calls from her sister Lisa and trying to figure out why someone is spray painting spiteful messages on her new house is a little overwhelming. At least there’s a handsome police officer hanging around.

When Ella wakes to find a ghost in her house she decides enough is enough. She’s going to need to find out how the ghost became a ghost if she ever wants to have a peaceful night in her new home. Unfortunately, finding out why is going to take more than a few Internet searches. Unearthing the mystery of this ghost means delving into a town’s long ago past where racial lines were sharply drawn and injustices were a way of life.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What I Will Do On My Summer Vacation

This summer, I will be...

...working on the final edits from the publisher for my debut novel, Signs of the South.


The contract has been signed and we are ready to move forward. As all my friends in the writing world know, getting your first (or second, third or fifteenth) novel published is no easy feat. But I've managed to find a great publisher that I am very excited to work with that really loves what I've written.

Pulse Publishing is the traditional publishing division of Urban Echoes Entertainment, a multimedia company. The CEO, Marcus Harris, is friendly, approachable, and best summed up by the line in his bio that reads, "Marcus has become highly respected for his ability to relate universal truths that span the boundaries of race, color, creed, and gender and address the everyday lives interwoven throughout the global community." How could I not work with someone like that?

This summer we will be working on final edits, cover design, and an exciting contest that involves all of you.

More information regarding the contest and release dates will be posted as they become available.