The Novels

From Amazon Reviews…

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Benjamin is a story of love and faith, wrought with all the complications and complexities thereof….

 

 

 

 

“Out of the last 100+ novels I have read, this ranks #1. I loved this book. It has all the elements I enjoy and immersed me in another world. It has love, romance, intrigue, fantasy and beautiful imagery. The quality of the writing and the story is in J.K. Rowling’s league and I’m certain if the author were already famous, this would be on the bestseller lists.” 

From Amazon Reviews…

Journey

 

 

“Another great Kathryn Mattingly novel. Vibrant emotional storytelling that connects the reader to the characters.”                             

                                     

 

 

“Journey is about truth and lies, about relationships and life’s surprises. Reading Kathryn Mattingly’s story is like digging in a goldmine as word-by-word the reader uncovers more about what happened in the past to affect the present and shape the future of these very real and complex characters. This book makes you think. This book is what literature is all about.”  Ina Schroders-Zeeders author of Veritas, Amor & Roads (Book 1 & 2) 

 

From Amazon Reviews…

Oliia

Intense, beautiful……

Heartbreaking relatable…..

Amazing book, incredible author

 

 

 

“From the first pages, Olivia’s Ghost plunges the reader into a maelstrom of powerful emotions and a heart-rending mystery.” Rene Villard Reed, Author of Finding the Magic

“An intricate story of determination, Mattingly has woven a tale with complex, relatable characters that you can both love and agonize with.” Amy Rivers, Author of Best Laid Plans and Other Disasters, and All The Broken People

 

From Amazon Reviews…

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“A story of redemption… as to who is redeemed and who is not, well, therein lies the suspense.” 

 

 

 

 

Natalie (the tutor) is fleeing her unconscionable husband. Matti is fleeing what he witnessed his father do. They end up on the little known island of Roatan, where Natalie’s new friend, Izzy, is fleeing from old island ways that hold women back. Nic, who ends up on the island through a strange set of circumstances, wants to flee his overbearing family. But at what cost will each of them find their redemption?

               Beautiful story of a woman’s journey to empowerment…

                       Love, Betrayal, and Paradise. What more could you want…

                                      Lyrical and suspenseful tale of escape and renewal…

 

books

Disconnected

An Interview With Author Joseph Falank

by Kat Mattingly

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Joseph Falank’s Disconnected is a beautifully detailed study of parental and spousal love placed alongside a suspenseful page-turning plot. As an expert wordsmith, Mr. Falank evokes rich emotion in this impactful novella.

 

 

Mr. Falank masterfully covers a gauntlet of deep-rooted fears and vulnerabilities we all face, along with the mind-numbing struggles of a stress-filled life that can hinder our ability to focus on what matters most… nurturing our children and communicating with our partners. The well-penned tale is not without comic relief and infectious moments of pure joy when experiencing this family’s very human, and hugely relatable behavior while on a vacation they will never forget… or wish to repeat!

Recently, I asked Joe some questions about his latest release from Winter Goose Publishing, which I had the privilege to read before it’s upcoming debut with the public.

Question: First, why this story? What made you feel this was the next story to tell?

Answer: Originally Disconnected wasn’t the next story in my canon. Since March of 2017 I’ve been working on a novel—one I had hoped to have been published already, back in the spring of 2018—but three drafts, then a complete rewrite with four drafts of its own later and I was desperate to work on something new, something fresh—something that got me excited about writing again. Not that I wasn’t loving the novel, but I’ve been ready to move on for a while. And this story came to me all at once—beginning, middle, end, who the characters were, and what their struggles were going to be. I didn’t know if this one would be a novella or a novel when I started, but everything else was crystal clear in my head, and came out white-hot on the page and so much faster than anything else I’ve ever written. Hopefully that’s a good thing in the end.

Question: Everything about this amusingly detailed story you’ve written feels a lot like you’ve lived it, or at least the normal, everyday aspects of it. What was your inspiration for the novella?

Answer: This is where the lines of what’s real and what’s fiction begin to blur a bit. The Price family taking an “unplugged” vacation to a remote house in the Adirondacks is what my family did over Memorial Day weekend last spring. I did not have this story in mind when we traveled to the house we stayed in, but when we left, I had it all. It came to me in the middle of our overnight when I woke up and realized—with this dreadful feeling—just how vulnerable we were being out in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. If something truly terrible happened, what were we going to do? I couldn’t sleep with that question—that fear—making so much noise in my head.

Question: I am inclined to believe that you will periodically have a story bubble up and out of you every few years regarding your growing family, especially since you are so tuned-in to your children, and your lovely wife. I hope this is the case, because it’s so much fun to read your very detailed observations about ordinary behaviors of kids at certain ages. It’s equally interesting to read about the very real struggles parents face while trying to maneuver through their daily routines. I love how your humor absolutely elevates everything a notch! Do you struggle with where to use humor and where to dial it back?

Answer: In my ordinary life, I really try to pay attention to the things going on around me—when something unique, unusual, or funny pops up, I make a mental note—maybe I’ll add it to a future story. As has been the case with my previous three books, I love to infuse some nuggets of my real life because it makes the books more authentic, more personal. I try to make the stories I tell these secret little time capsules of where I was, what I was thinking, and what I was going through at the time they were written. The stories aren’t based on my life in anyway, but there are bits of information tossed in that reference beats of my life.

As for the use of humor this time around, I felt that was something, an element of myself, I really wanted to bring to the forefront and see elevated on the page. My previous three books have bits of humor, but they’re sprinkled in and kept mostly in the background of the drama. This time I really wanted to enjoy the interactions between the characters, and I feel the humor helps us understand and feel their connection. Because the story leans into some pretty dark territory, the natural humor that comes from the experiences of being a parent, from being someone who is quick-witted, and also the children—the awkward things they say or do without a filter (and it really stems out of their honesty)—would make the story more genuine, and also allow for a greater release of the mounting tension. There were a few times I dialed back the humor, preferring to use it at unexpected times, times when it felt most honest, and not wanting it to overshadow but enhance the more dramatic moments.

With each book, I think I’ll always have something to say about marriage and parenthood. The life of a married couple, and a married couple with kids, is especially unique and changes frequently, and I find that fascinating to explore through storytelling. I like to imagine scenarios for my stories that I think almost every married couple can relate in some way.

Question: Have you thought about whether or not it will be difficult to have certain aspects of your life pretty much out there for everyone to see, considering how everyone knows your family is the exact ages of this family in the story? Even though we can never be sure what is true and what is your imagination, everyone who knows you, or reads about you, will be wondering what is made up and what isn’t. (Other than the obvious.)

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Answer: I know the challenge will always exist for readers (especially those that know me even from a distance) to separate the author from the story being told. I can’t tell you how many times a reader has mentioned a place or an event from a previous story that they’ve recognized as something pulled out of my life, no matter how insignificant. The problem then comes in the assumption that nearly everything else in the story is based in truth. I know I didn’t help matters this time around by using a setting my family and I really visited with characters who nearly mirror us. But, in the end, it’s fiction. I made it up. It’s fiction that was inspired by some reality, but still fiction. There’s only so much of my own life I am willing to put into a book. If I put it out there, I’m comfortable with you knowing about it. My own life, though, isn’t nearly as exciting as my characters’, and I’m perfectly OK with that.

I do anticipate readers of this story (who know me) wondering if my wife and I were going through similar marital stresses as the Prices. The answer is no (whether readers believe it or not is up to them). The truth is that my protagonists were going through those issues because having a family without any kind of internal struggle wouldn’t be relatable and wouldn’t be interesting to follow along on this adventure, especially when everything in their world goes to hell. We spend a long time getting to know the Prices before trouble happens. If they’re perfect then we don’t care about them, in which then I ask: why invest the time to read about them? If they’re flawed from the start, then we recognize them as being like us and we’re more apt to care and root for them and hope they can reconcile. The title really says it all—the Prices are disconnected not just in terms of their electronic devices but also each other.

Question: When do you find time to write— do you prefer early morning, late at night— do you need a quiet place and lots of coffee—- or vodka?

Answer: Writing time is a little harder to come by right now (February 2020…the ass crack of winter). I love to write in the mornings, but only weekend mornings are doable (and with two kiddos, it’s hard not to take full advantage of sleeping in when it happens). If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll write during my son’s nap, or when my wife goes to the grocery store. Probably the most consistent writing time is certain evenings of the week when my wife is doing some of her own work. I do have a desk in the office, but I usually set myself up at the dining room table, pop in some earbuds, and listen to a full soundtrack (I’m particularly into the scores for the films Glass, The Village, and A Monster Calls) while I write. The most productive period for me is summertime when I have off with the kids.

When I write I usually have a Coke (the new Cinnamon Coke is amazing) or a glass of iced tea. Sometimes I’ll have an iced coffee—depends on when I’m writing.

Question: Tell me about this novel you’ve been penning for awhile- will you be finishing it soon? Do you have some ideas brewing for other novels? Will it encompass your attention to detail and your lovely humor?

Answer: For the past couple of years I’ve been working on a novel called Renewal(it’s gone through a few title changes, but this one’s stuck). The story is about a man who is estranged from his family but gets an urgent message about his father’s failing health and a plea from his brother to return home. This man, his name is Malcolm, is reluctant, but ultimately makes the trip back to his hometown and the house he grew up in. Malcolm’s father is in the end stages of Alzheimer’s so making amends is difficult because Malcolm never knows what his father will remember, and he doesn’t know what behaviors or moods to expect. The novel is really about a son growing up and taking the place of his father as a caregiver to the person who raised him. It’s about accepting responsibilities, accepting mistakes, and moving on.

Currently I’m doing some light edits on a pass through the manuscript because I haven’t looked at it in a while. My original plan was to have it out in 2018 but that didn’t happen. I became frustrated and unsatisfied with the (then third draft of the) manuscript, so I scrapped it, rewrote it from scratch, and planned to farm it out to agents, but I’m at the point where I don’t know if I can hold onto it for another two years while submitting. I need to let this one go and move on. I love the story, think it’s some of my best work so far, but I am becoming impatient with it and want others to love it too. I feel the longer I hold onto this story, the more I’ll continue to tinker with it (because I’m a notorious tinkerer). My hope is to turn the manuscript over to Winter Goose in the next few months and finally get it into the hands of readers who have been hearing me blabber on and on about it all these years.

Ideas are something I have aplenty. I keep legal pads on a shelf on my desk that are littered with notes and outlines for future novels. Right now there are four pads filled out with complete plots and character arcs and bios. I’m leaning towards two of the ideas to write a first draft of later this spring and over the summer. The first is a story about a retired superhero dealing with a heavy loss and entering therapy (that one’s called Guardian), and the second is a coming-of-age YA about a girl facing her last summer of freedom before going off to college (that one’s titled Among the Lights and Sounds of the Carousel). Time will tell which one I side with once Renewalis finished.

Question: I’m also wondering—— who are your favorite authors? What are the most impactful books you’ve read in the last couple years and what was it that resonated with you? I know I’m influenced by the authors I admire and certain books I’ve read because of specific things that matter to me when reading or writing a novel.

Answer: My favorite authors are Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, Patrick Ness, Angie Thomas, and Laurie Halse Anderson. Their books are Day One purchases for me. Ness’s A Monster Callsis my absolute favorite book (the film version is just as heartbreaking and fantastic). The last couple of years I’ve been expanding my reading tastes and have come across some incredible novels—An American Marriage (Tayari Jones), The Music Shop(Rachel Joyce), The Wonder of All Things(Jason Mott), and The Whisper Man(Alex North), to name a few. What resonated with me through each of the books I mentioned is the authors know how to tell a good, clean story—nothing too complicated. They also know how to instill doubt in the readers that maybe things aren’t going to end the way we would like them to. Their characters feel real and relatable, their anguish and longing feels like our own. Tremblay, King, and North are masters at creating unease and suspense. They know how to reveal just enough and not too much. I, too, am influenced by authors I admire, and can only hope to be as effective a writer as they are. Reading them—and any other book I fall in love with—inspires me to get right back to work on my own.

Question: Finally, who have your mentors been along the way?

Answer: This is a tough one. To be perfectly honest…I’m not sure I’ve ever had a mentor (certainly no one I’ve ever intentionally spent time with for that purpose). In terms of being a storyteller, I’ve learned from the authors I’ve read, and followed my instincts—telling the kind of stories I want to tell. Stories that thrill me, move me, and make me wonder. Would I love for a writer to take me under their wing and fill me up with more knowledge? Absolutely! But I’m also not the type to seek someone out.

When I was in high school and college there were a few teachers and professors who gave me confidence in my writing and encouraged me—some who told me, “go, get published”—and I think of them often when I doubt myself. But none of them ever took me under their wing.

As a person, though…I’d say I’ve had two mentors.

For ten years I performed in a comedy improv group called “The Puzzled Players” and a lifelong friend I made in that group is a man named John Carey. Outside of our shows and weekly workshops, John and I would spend hours and hours just talking about life—our dreams, our hopes, our experiences. Now that I’m doing the family thing, and John’s involved in some film and television projects, our paths don’t cross as often, but when they do, we pick right back up where we left off. I think if anyone was ever a mentor to me as I came into my own and figured things out, John would be it. He’s supported me in every venture I’ve undertaken.

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The other would be my wife. She really is the voice of my conscience. I’ve watched her follow a dream and accomplish it. I’ve seen her strength, persistence, passion, and her bravery and her vulnerability. I was right there beside her both times our kiddos were born and witnessed all she had to endure. I was there when she went back to school to earn her administrative degree. I’ve watched her deal with incredibly difficult decisions on almost a daily basis. How she handles herself so professionally, how loving and caring she is with our children and her students, how she balances everything between the vast spectrum of life and work with unshakable effort, how she manages her staff through any number of difficulties they’re experiencing…I am always in awe and impressed. I look to my wife for approval and advice because I admire the person she is and what she’s made of herself. She’s the only one I care about disappointing. The place she has gotten herself to is the level I am striving for myself.

 

books

The Novels

“Happy release day to the wonderful and talented Kathryn Mattingly! Kathryn has an amazing collection of literary titles that you don’t want to miss. You can find her new release, The Tutor, and all of her books in both print and eBook anywhere books are sold.” ~Winter Goose Publishing~ Visit her Amazon Page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

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In The Tutor Natalie flees San Francisco with her son Matti, whom she suspects was traumatized by witnessing his father do something unthinkable. The socially challenged adolescent becomes mute. Escaping to the island of Roatan, Honduras, with a former student of Natalie’s allows her and Matti to start a new life. The boy slowly learns the ways of the island and begins to heal. Natalie becomes passionate about empowering island women through her tutoring and falls in love with a man hiding his true identity, until one day Matti’s father discovers where they are and the truth come spilling out.

“In her trademark descriptive style, Mattingly paints a vibrant world of crystalline beaches, colorful people, and a vivacious culture. She is an artist at character development and giving the reader an adventure-filled story…” Sarah Reichart, author of the Destiny paranormal series The Beautiful Stuff

Amy Rivers Interview about Kathryn Mattingly’s latest release:  http://www.amyrivers.com/blog/an-interview-with-kathryn-mattingly

Oliia

In Olivia’s Ghost Jackson and Olivia Porter’s daughter Ava is thrown overboard during a squall on Puget Sound. In a flash of lightning Livy sees a nearby boat pull someone from the water and believes their daughter was rescued. Jackson thinks his wife is mentally unstable and falls into dysfunctions of his own. Their marriage is soon torn apart and Livy flees to the Oregon Coast where she encounters a legendary ghost-child in the lighthouse manned by her father. She fears Jackson is right about her mental instability when she bonds with the ghost, who has a message about Ava. It is as if the squall from nowhere came to reside within them, as life unfolds into nightmares of their own making.

“An immensely talented writer, Kathryn Mattingly (BENJAMIN, JOURNEY), has a new novel out. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of OLIVIA’S GHOST and can say this is an absolute must read…” Joseph Falank, author of An Unexpected Visit & Seeing www.josephfalank.com

Journey

In Journey, Kylie Hudson revisits a past that haunts her while fearing a future that seems unclear. Her runaway teenaged sister has met an untimely death, and her few possessions have been delivered to Kylie in a teakwood chest. An enclosed letter reveals that her sister has a young daughter. Kylie wants to adopt her niece, but first she must uncover who the father is. She seeks out the doctor who sent the chest. He lives on a boat in Maui and is also a published poet. Kylie is soon inexplicably drawn to this man, which further threatens her already troubled marriage.  Caught up in a web of secrets and lies about her sister’s past and her own present, Kylie must sort it all out to move forward.

“Journey is about truth and lies, about relationships and life’s surprises. Reading Kathryn Mattingly’s work is like digging in a goldmine as word-by-word the reader uncovers more about what happened in the past to affect the present and shape the future of these very real and complex characters. This book makes you think. This book is what literature is all about…” Ina Schroders-Zeeders, author of Veritas, Amor & Roads inaweblogisback.wordpress.com

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In Benjamin Victoria Agostini has a brief affair with a man who exits her life as mysteriously as he entered it. She makes the difficult decision to have Daniel’s son and raise Benjamin alone. It soon becomes evident her son has unusual gifts. Through a dramatic set of events the boy’s special abilities lead her back into Daniel’s life. Soon thereafter a man named Peter lands on her doorstep and claims Benjamin is his, hoping to profit from the boy’s talents. Victoria struggles to understand whether or not Daniel and Benjamin are mere mortals. The only thing she knows for certain is that she must protect them from exposure by Peter, whatever the cost.

“By turns poignant and shocking, Benjamin is at once a literary romance and a contemporary thriller, rife with spiritual themes and stunning plot twists. A must for readers who delight in a dramatic situation from which there is no apparent escape…” Eldon Thompson, author of Legend of Asahiel series http://www.eldonthompson.com

…Kathryn also has a short story collection entitled Fractured Hearts. 

Fractured-Hearts

 

“These stories are a fascinating look at how to shred love and sprinkle it over the ashes of those who dared to destroy it. If you are so bold as to open the binding and walk into the lives of these characters, you will smile a lot… and maybe stare at the ceiling come 3am…” Rene Villard Reid, author of  Finding The Magic 

 

 

KMattinglyKathryn lives on a mountain in Central Oregon where she divides her time between enjoying nature, writing her next book, and teaching writing at the local college. Five of her short fiction pieces and one of her novels have received recognition for excellence. Aside from her novels and short story collection with Winter Goose Publishing, her work can be found in several print magazines and numerous small press anthologies. She has earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Oregon and a master of arts from Pacific University. You may email her at: kmattinglyauthor@gmail.com 

 

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Kathryn Mattingly Interview by Amy Rivers

Kathryn Mattingly has always had a passion for writing. Five of her short fiction pieces have received recognition for excellence and are included in her short story collection, Fractured Hearts. Her literary suspense novels include Benjamin, Journey, Olivia’s Ghost, and The Tutor. She has earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Oregon and a master of arts from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Kathryn lives on a mountain in Central Oregon with her husband and their two cats. When not penning her next novel, she teaches writing at the local college.

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‘The Tutor’ has a very interesting plot. Where did you get the idea for it?

My daughter lived in Roatan for a few years and I visited often. I wrote a detailed journal whenever I was there, knowing one day it would be the setting for my fourth novel. For psychological reasons I have yet to understand, all of my novels involve a child. My heroines are either trying to protect an unusually gifted child from the world at large, adopt a child in a questionable manner, find a missing and presumed dead child, or hide and heal a child that has been traumatized.  This, of course, sometimes makes my heroines look more like backdoor villains, unless you closely examine their motives.

When constructing the plot for ‘The Tutor’ around a traumatized child, my goals were, as always, to show the resilience, persistence, determination and strength of mothers everywhere, and even more specifically, women. When we set our minds to it, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Men of course have always known this. I think it’s why they work so hard at trying to hold us back.  What will their recourse be once we take over the world? (Visualize an emoji laughing face 🙂

How has your creative process changed with your growth as an author?  

I work a lot harder at having the reader relate to my heroine from the beginning of the novel. It was a little disconcerting to learn that my heroines weren’t especially likable in the beginning of my books. I’m all for Scarlet O’Hara type heroines, but only to a point.

Have you always liked to write, or did this gift reveal itself to you later in life?

I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. I had a reputation for sketching seascapes on my math papers and writing stories on the back.  I guess I was always subconsciously rebellious toward a school system that doesn’t value right-brained thinkers. Vandalizing my math papers was only one of many ways in which I let my creativity plow over their unimaginative curriculum.  Those few teachers who understand me predicted I would write books one day.

Do you know what you’ll be penning next, and can you share a little about it?

My next novel, surprisingly, will also involve a child. This time my heroine wants to get pregnant so badly she overlooks never having loved her husband, just to make it happen. True to my style, a lot of ponderous plotlines are in this book. The story begins in wine country, specifically Napa, California (where we lived the last 2 years until moving back to Oregon). It shifts between there and Central Oregon. All of my books have a couple wildly different settings, and all of them are based on places I have lived or traveled. This might be why settings are considered one of my strengths. There is a little girl in the novel, and I can’t say any more about that without revealing too much. The reader will have to decide if Katia (my heroine) is really in a coma, or has left her physical body and been transported to another time and place. Perhaps both? Part of the suspense involves her villainous husband, and what measures he will take to end her life, whether in a coma, or not.

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THE TUTUR

Natalie (the tutor) is fleeing her unconscionable husband. Matti is fleeing what he witnessed his father do. They end up on the little known island of Roatan, where Natalie’s new friend, Izzy, is fleeing from old island ways that hold women back. Nic, who ends up on the island through a strange set of circumstances, wants to flee his overbearing family. But at what cost will each of them find their redemption?

 

 

FROM AMAZON REVIEWS

Beautiful story of a woman’s journey to empowerment…

                          Love, Betrayal, and Paradise – what more could you want…

​                                                              Lyrical and suspenseful tale of escape and renewal…

 

AUTHOR PAGES

 

Review & Interview For Olivia’s Ghost by author Joseph Falank

olivias-ghost-flat-for-ebooks“An immensely talented writer, Kathryn Mattingly (BENJAMIN, JOURNEY), has a new novel out. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of OLIVIA’S GHOST and can say this is an absolute must read – and a great gift for the upcoming holidays.” Joseph Falank, author of An Unexpected Visit.

REVIEW

While reading Kathryn Mattingly’s newest novel Olivia’s Ghost (for sale everywhere as of Friday) I found myself having a gut-wrenching experience, but in the best of ways. I’ll explain.

Jackson and Olivia Porter go sailing on Puget Sound and lose their daughter, Ava, overboard during a sudden squall. During the ensuing weeks Ava’s parents understandably reside in a constant state of shock and grief. Jackson believes their daughter to have drowned, but with no body recovered, Livy maintains that in a flash of lightning she saw someone on a boat pull Ava from the water. Only their daughter was never returned to them, providing Livy with ghastly wonderings as to what became of Ava following this hope of a rescue. This brings about the first cracks in the otherwise sturdy wall of their marriage.

Olivia believes so strongly that their daughter is still alive, she leaves Ava’s Memorial Service in a panic to chase down a girl that resembles Ava. With her mental capacities now in question, Olivia nonetheless decides she cannot remain with Jackson as long as he doesn’t hold a flicker of belief in her maternal feelings about Ava being out there, likely held against her will. For respite, Olivia returns to a lighthouse on the Oregon Coast manned by her father. It’s there that Olivia, who writes for a magazine, delves into the mystery of a ghost that supposedly haunts the stairwell.

A ghost with a message for Olivia.

In the opening I mentioned having a gut-wrenching experience reading Olivia’s Ghost, and here’s why: ever since a wintry afternoon two years ago, when I learned I would become a father, I’ve had difficulty with stories (of all mediums) that deal with children in peril. My wife and I went to the movies the night we learned our little Peanut would be joining the  family, and Heaven Is For Real was one of the movie previews. It’s inspired by the supposed true story of a boy who dies on the operating table and claims to have traveled to heaven before coming back. I cried watching it. Yes, I cried at a movie trailer.

Mattingly’s opening chapter of what happens on Puget Sound draws you right into the Porter family. You like them immediately, and you clench and wince with dread knowing the looming clouds mean the worst for this family. You know what’s going to happen, and that almost makes it worse. You’re at the mercy of Mattingly’s striking prose, which puts you right there with this family, at the worst moments of their lives, and you can do nothing to help. You can only observe.

Being a parent, I couldn’t imagine how I’d respond to such a tragic event. And that’s how I approached Olivia’s Ghost – by wondering what I would do, wondering what my wife would do in the face of something so unspeakable.

The other gut-wrenching portion of my experience is that while I can see why Jackson would be stubborn in his belief of what happened, just as much as Olivia is with her own belief, it saddened me to read how the two could not find common ground. Or what common ground they did find was not enough, making separation the only answer.

I wanted each side to fight harder for the other, regardless that their traumatic events had taken a substantial toll. Neither side would give or bend. Escape was the only solace.

Then there are the added… distractions to their marriage, but I’ll leave you, dear reader, to discover the rest for yourself. There is a wonderfully rewarding story to be found here, full of twists and turns, cryptic messages from the beyond, love enduring through impossible sadness and trauma, and, in the end…

Oh, no. I can’t go there. Except only to say that you will be hooked right to the very end. To the last line on the absolute last page.

What Kathryn Mattingly has done here, at least for me, is create a truly psychological experience. Her expertly written dialogue, characters with the best of intentions residing in shades of gray, and scenes painted with only the finest of strokes, turn the real questions back onto you.

What would you do if you were Jackson or Olivia?

How strong is your faith?

How far are you willing to go to get the truth? Is the truth enough?

One only needs to open Olivia’s Ghost to begin discovering the answers for yourself.

Just be warned, putting the book down may be more difficult than answering the questions it raises.

Now a little about the author:

Kathryn Mattingly has taught writing at four different private colleges. Aside from her literary suspense novels and short story collection, Kathryn’s work can be found in numerous small press anthologies and several print magazines. She has won five awards for her fiction, and teaches novel writing at a local college.

 

INTERVIEW

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Kathryn ~ First, loved the book. I found it powerful, heartbreaking, and ultimately it created a struggle within my own self as to how I would handle the situation Jackson and Livy find themselves in. To say I found your story effective is quite the understatement. What made you want to write this story? How long did it take to put together that first draft and what was your schedule for writing it?

As a parent of four, nothing I imagined could be more horrific than losing a child before your very eyes and not being able to do anything about it, except watch. I’m sure I pulled from novels and movies that touch upon this theme, because I read a lot of books and am quite the movie buff. Sophie’s Choice nearly destroyed me in that moment of first realizing the implications and far reaching effects of such a dilemma.

I wrote the first draft of Olivia’s Ghost over a decade ago, and only recently completely reworked the book. When I originally wrote it Terry Brooks (author of New York Times best selling series Sword of Shannara) was my mentor. He loved the premise, but feared certain aspects of the paranormal theme might not suspend my reader’s disbelief unless I reworked it a bit.

I also had a New York agent at the time, Tony Outhwaite, with JCA Literary Agency. He sent the original book out to numerous editors at various publishing houses and the feedback was wonderful. They all loved the main concept, characters and setting, but that paranormal thread still needed work. I finally nailed it by doing a major re-haul of the ghost in the lighthouse, at least if my early readers are any indication. I must say it felt immensely satisfying to finally give this book a proper paranormal plotline that draws my readers in and endears them to the ghost.

My writing schedule for this book was literally 8-10 hours a day, 6-7 days a week (I kid you not) for 8 months straight. That’s because once I had decided to completely rewrite it I began to panic that the book wouldn’t be ready for its release date this fall. So, I put my head to the grindstone and never came up for air. (Well, maybe for a glass of wine here and there.)

As I’ve noticed in your other books, your characters aren’t black and white. Here, both the characters of Jackson and Livy are in states of grief, but Jackson plays the head to Livy’s heart in regards to believing what ultimate fate became of their daughter, Ava. Obviously I won’t spoil that here, but I want to talk about these characters. Jackson’s approach is one of, “It happened, it was awful, but for the sake of what we have left – we need to move on,” whereas Livy refuses to give in to that thinking, trusting that their daughter was indeed pulled from the Sound during the squall by a person on another boat. She needs to find Ava and bring her home.

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Joseph Falank

There is a line Livy says to her photographer friend, Andrew, that goes, “I don’t know why I’m suddenly aware of her (the ghost in the lighthouse) but I am. If my intuition is wrong about the ghost, then it might be wrong about Ava… and I can’t accept that.”

Is this a matter of Livy trying to gain some measure of control over the uncontrollable situation they had with Ava on the water? Or is this just guilt for not saving Ava?

You’re right about my characters not being black and white. One aspect of writing that I enjoy most is showing how a character behaves under pressure, when experiencing a difficult situation. Jackson and Olivia’s self perception as responsible and good parents becomes badly shaken, and they deal with it in different ways. Whereas Jackson chooses escapism (into his work or a bottle of booze) Olivia wants to find her child and resume their once happy life as if nothing ever happened.

Neither of them can justify to themselves the unthinkable – letting their daughter drown in a storm on a sailboat where they believed she’d be safe. All parents believe they can keep their child safe no matter what – right? Well, the truth is that neither of them could save their daughter, so while one is trying to escape from that reality, the other is trying to change it. If Olivia perceives herself to be unstable (and she fears she might be) then she cannot continue to believe Ava is alive and well, and waiting to be found. She feels she has no choice but to believe that the ghost is also real, even though a part of her questions it.

Because I’m so caught up with how Jackson and Livy reacted differently in the aftermath of the squall, and I always like to wonder “What if…” let’s say Ava drowned and they – Jackson and Olivia – pulled her from the Sound. How do you envision their lives would have gone on from that point? Would the issue of their daughter’s death still have put them at odds?

I don’t think so. I think they would have grieved like most parents do when losing a child. It’s a myth that most marriages break up over the loss of a child. Most of them do not. But those with extenuating circumstances often do, and that’s what we have regarding Ava – no body, and a possible rescue seen in a flash of lightning through the pouring rain by Olivia. Now we have her parents at odds as to what they think happened, and we have set the course for conflict between them.

Did you learn anything about yourself in writing OLIVIA’S GHOST?

I realized how much I loved living on the Oregon Coast while having my babies. At the time I felt isolated and a bit resentful that there were not more opportunities for me to connect with other young mothers through organized activities. But now I cherish those years of isolation with my four young children, and the unique environment in which we lived. The beach was literally their playground, and all it took to entertain them was a bucket and shovel. When they were no longer toddlers I ran a school for the ‘Creative Expression of Young Children’ where we did everything kinesthetically through art or theater (I have an art degree).

Above all else the school impressed me with the lengths parents will go to for their children’s welfare. They would even take time off work to do their obligatory day as ‘helping hands’ for art and theater projects. This book, ultimately, is about how nothing can compare to or replace the love we have for our children.

Having no knowledge of boats, the water, or sailing, I found it absolutely frightening the speed at which the squall materialized. Can storms over the water really come together that quickly and without warning?

Yes. Squalls are sudden storms that appear to come straight from hell, stirred by the devil himself. You never know when or where they might form in the ocean. Do most people who sail a lot encounter them? No. But they happen often enough that most people have heard of them, or read about them, and they have happened on Puget Sound. Events such as squalls drive home the concept that we are all victims of fate, regardless of how much we think we have planned for safety or security in our lives. It can be stripped away by one momentous act of something unforeseen. In the end it is our courage (or lack there of) in such situations that truly define us.

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You can follow Kathryn on Facebook & Twitter.  Visit Amazon’s Kathryn Mattingly Page and her website: edgy words unleashed

Visit Joseph’s website at:  www.josephfalank.com

A Tribute to a True Angel

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Sara Ann
Kaster

October 14, 1977 –
October 20, 2016

Sara Ann Kaster, 39, passed away peacefully in her Eugene home on October 20th after battling cancer for nearly five years. Sara was a nurse at Eugene Pediatric Associates. She is survived by her husband Eric and four children: Carly (14), Kayla (11), Rocco (9) and Riggins (4). She is also survived by her parents, Doug and Kathy Nelson, and her brother and sister-in-law, Todd and Sara Nelson, and their children: Adelyn (13) and Andrew (6), all of Eugene. 

I give this tribute with a heart that deeply mourns Sara’s loss. None of us who knew her will ever forget that little girl with the white blonde hair and long skinny legs. As an adult, Sara lovingly and tirelessly nurtured her children (Sara had always wanted a lot of kids) and those she served as a nurse. She was taken from us too soon, and is missed by so many. At this time of thanksgiving I am thankful to have known her.

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Even as a little girl, Sara was wrapped in an aura of kindness and warmth. Her smile lit up whatever room she was in. It exuded cheerfulness, that smile.  You couldn’t spend time with Sara and not feel more positive about things. She radiated hopefulness through her sincere joy of living.

It seems like only yesterday when she and her brother ran down the shores of Lake Billie Chinook with our own children. They’d float on rafts beneath the hot sun without a care in the world. Life is made up of moments. Who would ever have thought those summer vacations our families spent together would one day be golden memories, shimmering brightly in the sands of bittersweet time?

Sara had the gentlest of souls. Goodness sparkled in her eyes like mischief might in others. There is something to the expression that the good die young. Perhaps Sara earned her angel wings in half the time it takes the rest of us. Perhaps God needed her somewhere else, for a task only she could perform.

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It is sad that we could not hold her here to fill our earthly arms and that her four children will grow up, not just without a mother, but without a mother who was phenomenal at the task.

Perhaps Sara is light-worlds away championing the weak or needy, just as she did on earth. As full of light and love as ever, but no longer afflicted with a diseased body. Instead, perhaps she is strong and razor focused on her new, knightly endeavors in that next realm.

We will think of her every time we see a shooting star or a full moon. We will know that she is out there somewhere in a faraway world. Perhaps one day we will visit that next world ourselves. Then once again we will see that smile and it will be exactly as we remembered it. Alas, we will smile back and ask Sara how she’s been, and if she’s glanced down upon her loved ones from time to time between battles anew, wrapping them in her unseen arms of complete and utter love.

Oh what a tale she will tell when we meet again. It will be a story for all ages… and one, I daresay, we will listen to around a campfire that crackles and glows with merriment. Much like the campfires our families shared all those years ago on vacations at Cove Palisades. In the meantime our hearts and minds will never forget Sara. We will always think of her when we see a star dancing in the night sky.

We will think about how she is out there, somewhere over the moon, sending kisses on the wind to her children’s cheeks as they sleep.

Click this link to read more about Sara Kaster.

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Lake Billie Chinook

 

Olivia’s Ghost

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EARLY REVIEWS FOR OLIVIA’S GHOST…

Reviews from author friends whom I admire and respect are coming in for my third literary suspense novel, Olivia’s Ghost, recently released by Winter Goose Publishing. Thank you each of them for taking time to read my book and comment on it. All of these authors have wonderful books out that I highly recommend for your reading pleasure.

AUTHOR REVIEWS

From Eldon Thompson (eldonthompson.com) author of the fantasy series The Legend of Asahiel… “A powerful portrayal of love and loss… With Olivia’s Ghost, author Kathryn Mattingly once again uses rich language and a keen interpretation of human emotion (and human frailty) to carry the reader through a poignant adventure of the heart. I can’t imagine the anguish that must stem from losing a child, yet Mattingly’s descriptions in this tale are so frank, so earnest, so heartfelt, that I came much closer than I would ever want to. She made me feel just how empty and devastating such a loss would be. She made me want to be there with these characters to commiserate with them, console them, grieve with them. She made me want to believe, as her protagonist does, that there must be some other answer, some misinterpretation of events that would allow for something more than the harrowing, hollowing truth.

994142_10201488408799215_1511778849_nAs with all of Mattingly’s stories, there is a mystery here that demands resolution. But the true strength of the story, the common thread in the Mattingly books I’ve read, are the questions of love and loyalty. What must it do to a marriage, this greatest of losses? How does each person reconcile it, privately and together? At the peak of our vulnerability, what choices do we make in search of sustenance and support? The moral ambiguities presented in this tale raise dramatic questions difficult to answer. Which in turn heightens the tension. Whichever end you might be rooting for, it becomes hard to blame the characters should they choose an alternate path. Which meant I had no idea how it all might end, and was thus glued to the pages with anticipation.

As inherently, necessarily painful as much of the tone of this story is throughout, I found the ending highly satisfying. Heart-wrenching, yes, but true and organic to the events come before it. As with many writers, it’s been great fun to see Mattingly’s growth and maturity as a storyteller from one volume to the next, and I can’t wait to see what next she has in store.”

Virginia A. Simpson-1Virginia Simpson drvirginiasimpson.com author of The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life…“In Olivia’s Ghost award winning author Kathryn Mattingly has again created a complex and entertaining story with a heroine who makes us question what is real and what is the wishful fantasy of a mother whose child has been tossed overboard in a squall and never found. Despite the challenges to her marriage and the disbelief of friends and family, who question her very sanity, Olivia holds onto her mother’s intuition as she searches to find and bring her daughter home. A riveting story that will keep you entertained from the first page until the last.”

sallyFrom Sally Cook, author of Catch Them if You Can and The Sky is Falling…Wonderful book!  Kathryn Mattingly wrote a captivating story, one of tears and joy. I reached a point where I could not stop reading. Her beautiful descriptions of the Central Oregon Coast took me back to where we once lived. Her books never fail to be a good read. Benjamin should have been on the NYBest Seller List. I easily set aside a book I was reading from the NY Best Seller List to read Olivia’s Ghost.”

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From Amy Rivers author of Wallflower Blooming…“Olivia’s Ghost is the story of a mother pushed to her breaking point by grief, whose unrelenting hope and intuitive strength become the catalyst for untangling the wreckage of profound loss. An intricate story of determination, Mattingly has woven a tale with complex, relatable characters that you can love and agonize with.”

imagesFrom Chuck Barrett Bestselling author of BLOWN…“From it’s tragic beginning to its gripping conclusion, Olivia’s Ghost takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. From never-ending love, to love lost, to rekindled love, Mattingly keeps you entwined in her character’s lives as they search for a meaning to their loss, and in which direction the future will lead them.”

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From Jesse Weiner author of Uncommon Blood… Mattingly uses evocative imagery and stunningly beautiful prose to weave a deliciously tangled web of frustrated and conflicting desires. Livy’s maddening obsession with the quest to find her daughter, the latent sexual tension between Olivia and her first love, and the appearance of a lighthouse ghost keep the reader guessing what will happen next.”

gabriel-valjan-bw-1000x753From Gabriel Valjean author of the Roma series… “Literature is ripe with stories about the loss of a child; the theme of such grief ripples through many of John Irving’s novels. Where most authors would dwell on the simmering, if not open, hostility and recriminations between spouses, Kathryn Mattingly provides a twist by offering the reader two mysteries: the disappearance of one child, the daughter of Olivia and Jackson Porter, and a ghost associated with a lighthouse.

It is not easy writing – and a remarkable accomplishment – that Mattingly conveys the loss of identity in motherhood. Olivia is driven, asking difficult and painful questions. It does not help that both spouses have temptations around them, but Mattingly’s parting note is that love triumphs and mends wounds. The writing is lush and lyrical, conjuring the sights and sounds of the ocean. When the seagull caws, it is a reminder that grief’s answer is in the language of hope and a mother’s abiding faith.”

13239183_277868959213091_8792692907832004041_nFrom Rene Reid author of Finding The Magic… “From the first pages, Olivia’s Ghost plunges the reader into a maelstrom of powerful emotions and a heart-rending mystery.  Mattingly is a superb word artist, who paints the reader completely into the beauty and ruggedness of the Oregon Coast as well as into the lives of her well-developed characters. It’s a thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable read with a great surprise ending.”

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From Linda J. Berry author of Hidden… “Kathryn Mattingly has mastered the art of bringing complex characters to life and embedding them in a story that is hauntingly tragic, hopeful, and tinted with wisps of the supernatural. Add a stunning beach setting and historical lighthouse on the Oregon coast, two tormented men who compete for her love, and you have an emotional roller coaster ride that will leave you breathless.

10847729_813583612018475_4968798852055225684_oFrom Jim Campaign author of Untapped Power and Coming Home Dead…“With Olivia’s Ghost Kathryn Mattingly once again shows her fans why she is an award-winning author. Within the first chapter, during a day that began with so much promise and ends with unimaginable heartache, readers will be captivated by rich characters and suspense that does not end until the final pages.”

12523832_1121088027971172_7803647571123543400_nFrom JC Lynne author of The Esau Continuum Series…Olivia’s Ghost weaves a tale of sadness and hope in equal measure. You’ll find yourself holding your breath as you turn the pages while Mattingly skillfully pulls together the threads of two lives that explore the darkness and near madness of bereavement. Jackson and Olivia question whether they can recover their better selves in time to salvage their marriage, if not their daughter.”

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From  Sarah Reichert author of The Southtown Harbor Series… Haunting and beautifully written, Kathryn Mattingly’s Olivia’s Ghost follows complex and empathetic characters through the pain of unimaginable loss and the uplifting chance for hope. Mattingly writes with the deep notes of tragedy and a mother’s persistent belief, interweaving them through Olivia’s journey into a life without her daughter. The reader is taken, with matching optimism and despair, through the story; willing the unlikely survival of Olivia’s beloved Ava, and rooting for her fight for the truth to not be in vain. Mattingly’s storytelling induces chills and enraptures the reader in this mysterious and sad tale of intrigue, intense in it’s journey through the shades of grief and the possibility of the otherworldly realm. The surprise ending does justice to the book in many thought-provoking ways that stick with you long after the last page.”

14263989_10208588923092998_3983834951770559386_nFrom Eva Huett, author of Elided…Like the ocean she paints perfectly, Mattingly crushes you with tragedy and keeps you turning the page with a glimmer of hope. In this raw tale she dissects the complexity of human emotion that is heartbreakingly relatable.”

 

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Cover art for Olivia’s Ghost is by Ladd Woodland @https://www.behance.net/laddwoodland

 
 
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Kathryn Mattingly

 

 

 

Visit Amazon’s Kathryn Mattingly Page

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Visit WGP author page at: Kathryn Mattingly

Key Elements of a Good Novel

429246_3369649207122_1691916516_nRecently I was a guest author on Patricia Stoltey‘s blogpost. Pat is a locally renowned author, blogger, and member of NCW. I feel honored to be the coordinator for the Northern Colorado Writers Top of the Mountain writing contest associated with the annual conference which will be open to submissions in September. It’s a pleasure working with the wonderful, expert judges and the inspiring entrants who never cease to amaze with their interesting and well-penned manuscripts.

Here is a repost of that article. I hope it helps both inspiring and seasoned writers everywhere either reach the winners circle or stay on top of their game, because whether entering a contest or not – these are the key elements of good writing.

REPOST:

To land you in the finalist’s circle of any contest and possibly win you the first place award, begin with examining your Viewpoint. Did you use a consistent, identifiable, and appropriate POV for the scene, and without any author intrusion? If point of view is confusing or unclear to you, be sure to study up on it because, like tense, it is the glue that holds your book together.

Next, scrutinize those Characters. Have you developed your protagonist and antagonist effectively? Are they believable? Are we sympathetic to your hero or heroine? This means regardless of the mistakes they are making we understand their motives and are rooting for them to eventually figure it out. We want them to succeed, or otherwise accomplish what they have set out to do. If we don’t care, then you haven’t endeared us to them, which means we are going to close the book somewhere before page 25. Not coincidentally, this is the same number of pages you submit to the contest.

10600484_627055100749424_5442419448206135148_nThis leads to Pacing. No matter how clear your point of view, or how consistent your tense, and regardless of our empathy for your main character, if your Plot does not have a compelling reason for us to turn the page – we won’t. Exactly why you must be certain every single scene whether action, narrative, or dialogue moves the story forward. Did the author use a lot of backstory? Did the sequencing of events make sense? Did the author ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ what is happening? Is the overall flow of the novel pleasing?

If the rhythmic and smooth effect of a well-orchestrated storyline isn’t there, it is often because you used too much backstory, and/or did not sequence your events properly. Either issue can cause your effect to be choppy and segmented, bogging your reader down as they struggle to keep everything straight.

If there is too much narrative (which means inactive telling rather than active showing) we are going to fall asleep, or at the very least not remember a word we just read. Which leads to the importance of Tension (or suspense). Tension and suspense begin with an opening Hook… something that fully invests us in whatever lies ahead. And let’s not forget Setting. No matter how surreal, it must be interesting and believable. Setting includes a timeline that carefully unfolds before us in a way that grounds the reader.

Are the action scenes clear and precise so the reader always knows who is doing what to whom? Is the Dialogue appropriate for the person speaking it? Can we be certain who is speaking whether a dialogue tag is used or not? Are you sticking with the standard dialogue tags ‘he said-she said’? Is every scene whether dialogue, narrative, or an action scene necessary to move the story forward?

Do the twists and turns of the plot move progressively to a Climax? Do those twists and turns show growth in your main character? Does the climax give us a clear and concise view of what they ultimately stand for? Do they win the day and if not, why not? Is the Resolution to the story satisfying?

This doesn’t mean you have to tie everything up with a bow, or have a happy ending. It means your reader, upon reflection, will be glad they invested the time it took to read your novel.

Finally, Mechanics do matter. Nothing disturbs a story more than poor sentence structuring, bad grammar (outside of character-appropriate dialogue) or typos. Improper use of punctuation disturbs the flow of your story as much as anything.

The last thought I want to leave you with is this: Who is your Intended Audience? The correct answer to that does not include ‘everyone’ unless your book is required high school reading (such as To Kill A Mockingbird). The rest of us need to define our target audience.

Choose the genre that best describes your work. Your entire stage presence depends on it. This includes your author platform, what section your novel is in at the bookstore, what time of day is best to have book signings, and who will come to your speaking engagements.

Be cognizant of your ‘fans’ (readership) with everything you do and say to promote your work, and yourself. Being true to the image you create as a writer, is key to success.

Consider entering your polished manuscript in the T.O.M. contest. There is no better way to monitor how successfully you’re achieved all of these important elements than to get expert feedback from accomplished wordsmiths!

Submission for the contest will open in September. You’ll find the announcement on the Northern Colorado Writers website and here on this blog.

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Kathryn Mattingly is a college educator, professional editor, award-winning author and public speaker. She has taught numerous writing courses in the English and Communications departments of several private colleges. Her literary fiction novels Benjamin, Journey, and Olivia’s Ghost (2016) can be found at all major booksellers. Five of her short stories have received recognition for excellence and are published in eight different themed anthologies through various small presses, and in her collection Fractured Hearts. Kathryn currently teaches courses she has created for the continuing Ed program at Front Range College. This fall she will be teaching novel writing, novel editing, and short story writing. Find the details regarding her July workshop through the college here.

Learn more about Kathryn and her writings on her webpage, her Amazon author page, and the Winter Goose Publishing website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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10 Hair-Raising Resolutions for 2016

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All of us have aspirations for a better coming year. We might write our goals down, or maybe not choose to admit what they are… even to ourselves. Unfortunately, some of the most important life changing things that could make us happier, better people are never on the countless to-do lists at year’s end. Here are ten I challenge you to consider:

1 – Dance in the rain. The very next time you have a downpour that could cause flashfloods grab someone near you and recreate your own flashdance- just like in the movie. Or if you prefer, pretend you’re in a ballroom or disco bar. Or just hold that other someone getting drenched on your behalf and sway ever so slightly. Savor it. Sear it into your soul. Spend time recalling the invigorating touch of nourishing raindrops, the titillating sound of splashing water on hard earth, and the smell of your immediate world being bathed in love raining down on you from God above.

2 – Kiss like young lovers. Hard. Long. Often. Purposefully. Stare into your lover’s eyes. Even if you’ve been married 50 years or more. Even if you’re exhausted from work. Or the kids are breaking things in the next room. Or you just burned dinner. One day you will be glad you did, and do, and always will until that opportunity passes and you no longer can… because one of you is gone.

3 – Marvel at the stars. Lay down in the grass at night and stare at them. Feel the lawn tickle your skin. Smell the rich earth. Sit out on the porch and watch them twinkle… while cuddling a loved one. Wonder what lies beyond those stars. Wish upon the brightest burning fire in that night-sky. Make note of each moon stage. Make-out in the dark. (Even if you’re 102!)

4 – Commit to a matinee day. Twice a month be inspired by what is on that big screen. Or be terrified. Perhaps angered. Maybe saddened. No matter your reaction, you will be MOVED emotionally. Then think about it all week. Let it fester and grow, and CHANGE you in some small way.

5 – Support the dreams of others. Listen and encourage. Applaud their accomplishments. Make a toast to little achievements. Mention their success, no matter how small. Buy their products purposefully- books they’ve published, CD’s they’ve recorded, produce they produce. Attend recitals of your friends’ children. Go to community plays. Ballgames. Neighborhood gatherings. Be a small part of something bigger. A unique little piece of the puzzle, without which, it isn’t complete.

6 – Converse with store clerks. Cheerfully inquire about their day. Have a happy comeback or an understanding look. Thank them for waiting on you. Even when they frustrate you; fade anger into forgiveness. Realize their significant other may have just left them. They might have recently been diagnosed with cancer, or simply can’t pay the light bill. Be their light for that moment your life touches theirs.

7 – Smile at kids in crowded places. You know, the ones hiding behind an adult but sneak a peek at you? Or the toddlers that toddle after mom while whining nothing translatable in sad little voices? (We can assume they’re hungry or tired, because toddlers are always hungry or tired.) Smile at the wild school-aged kids running down the aisles or trying on the nail polish. Find humor in these under-disciplined, out-of-control, what-is-the-world-coming-to pint-sized people. If you do, you will go more gently into that good night one day.

8 – Send cards to seniors. Not just any seniors. YOUR seniors. Grandmas (whether real or inherited), aging parents, the lady at church that sits alone in the back… the neighbor across the street. Put their birthdays in your phone. Take a minute from your busy day to choose just the right card at Walmart or Target. Write a note inside. Mail it early enough so they receive it by their special day!! (Or hand-deliver with cookies you baked yourself.) Seniors, more than any other age group, truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. Truly.

9 – Hug tighter. Hug tighter when you meet your friends for lunch, visit the folks in Ohio (or wherever they live), see that great aunt in the nursing home, greet your kids after school, or your honey home from work. HUG LONGER. WITH PURPOSE. Every. Single. Time. Let it be the first thing written in your Eulogy. You. Hugged. So. Tight.

10 – Make lemonade. No, really. Buy those lemons you have hand-picked, sniffed, squeezed and lovingly gathered. Measure out the grainy, white, pure cane sugar that is so-not the devil incarnate we have made it out to be. Add water and ice to dazzle the senses with pure delight in the clink and swoosh of it. Fill tall glasses proudly and share with someone you have chosen to honor with your presence and your handmade demonstration of love. Repeat often enough to feed your soul but not destroy your blood sugar levels. (This balancing act, by the way, is the secret to life.)

The resolutions on this list, my friends, will probably extend our time on this earth more than any new gym membership. (;

HAVE A HAPPY NEW Y.O.U. YEAR!

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Compelling and intelligent, Kathryn Mattingly’s characters are imbued with a timely sense of presence and emotional gravitas, which adds significantly to the plausibility of her well-constructed plots. …. Book Viral Reviews Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.10.54 AM

 

Tis the Season…

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I have a very mixed pallet this year for my splashes of color on the wheel of life. They range from bright pure hues of assuredness and joy to dark earth tones of uncertainty and sadness. But then, that is the cycle of life- is it not?

A highlight for me this year was spending 6 months in a mountain house overlooking the Cascade Range. I woke up to the sun reflecting off the Three Sisters every morning. Traveling to the town of Bend from our Eagle Crest home was an adventure in green pastures surrounded by stunning mountain peaks and filled with every type of domestic animal you can imagine.

To this day I see those fields of horses, lamas, and alpacas in my dreams- with a few mean looking bulls and scores of shiny black cattle. (Sometimes I think I never really lived there at all and it truly was just a dream.)

If winter and spring of 2015 was, let’s say, extended vacation, then spring was transition. Coming out of semiretirement to reestablish career expertise is no easy task. Fortunately, my husband (who could not turn down this dream job that awakened us from our Central Oregon dream)  has settled nicely into his position as the director of new business for Trans Aero Helicopters.

I spent the summer trying to remember my (yet again) new address, and how to translate the nuances of my new environment here in Colorado. The Rockies are as different from the Cascades as inland people are to those who live on either coast. If those peaks outside my mountain house were a sublime example of poetic serenity, then the Rockies are a perfect picture of majestic ruggedness.

The people, I think, reflect their mountain ranges. Once I understood these analogies, life got easier. I daresay the state is growing on me! How do I know? Well, for starters, I used to be proud when having to show my west coast drivers license. Now I feel a tinge of shame and remorse for not having replaced it yet.

By early fall I had moved through extended vacation, and transition, all the way to production. And it felt glorious to finally be too busy for much introspection about all of the above. My second novel Journey was released by Winter Goose Publishing October 1, and I taught the novel writing course I created for Central Oregon college at Front Range college here in Fort Collins. I traveled back to where I left my heart- in Bend, OR, to be a part of their Writer’s Guild Harvest Festival as a contest judge, speaker, and workshop host.

They even had a book launch for Journey!

I feel both honored and humbled by the response I am getting to my second novel, which by its very nature is risky, because (according to my reviewers) Benjamin set the bar high. Although I will always write in the same genre (I am listed under literary suspense, literature, and general fiction) the books are set up quite differently. Benjamin runs from top speed right out the gate all the way to the finish line, whereas Journey is a slow burn that suddenly ignites.

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Fall was quite a wild ride, but I think the biggest ride I take this year will happen in a Trans Aero helicopter on December 19th as part of their Christmas party. Hopefully there will be no plot twists and we will land safely!

I cannot write this post without sharing what I have been reading in 2015.

Let’s start with Harry Potter. Yes, shockingly enough, I never picked up a single book or viewed any of the films for that matter, until recently. My grandchildren were appalled that I hadn’t read this beloved series they all grew up with. What do I think of them now that I am waist high in Harry Potter?

I must admit they are addictive entertainment, and on a deeper level, they offer some wonderful food for thought, life-reflecting analogies, and well-worth-studying symbolism. (Not to mention helping me bond with my grandchildren.)

JK Rowling deserves every penny she has made off of them.

If I taught children (rather than adults) you better believe we would be reading and studying these books. I can’t think of any better way to turn children on to literature and reading, or to inspire them to have courage, character, and tenacity. As for those few Christians who think they are unsavory for young minds? I find that type of thinking much more frightening than anything on the pages of Harry Potter.

Tis the season… of Christ’s birth, despite 90 percent of our celebrations having nothing to do with that, even for Christians. Nonetheless I would like to say, on behalf of His birthday, that the Christ at the center of my faith is all about love, forgiveness, inclusion, not judging, not whining, not complaining, and not insisting that the world do as He did or said- rather that through His example of unconditional love and acceptance people would come to Him for sanctuary.

It saddens me to see all the negative press this year in which Christ is misrepresented to be a judgmental know-it-all determined to alienate everyone not willing to crawl into that very small, toxic, and suffocating box a few misguided people have put him in, including those who have picked on poor Harry.

The reputations of the Bible and Harry Potter series aside, two of my standout favorite reads for 2015 were Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (an older novel my book club chose, but just as riveting as anything written recently) and The Goldfinch by Donna Tart (a Pulitzer Prize winner).

Either of these books will transport you to someone else’s stress-filled reality (hence helping you forget your own) if you wish to treat yourself to a fascinating read when all the hustle and bustle of the season has deemed your need for a time out. (;

What does the New Year hold for this writer? Well, for starters, the college has asked me to create and teach a couple more classes since Novel Writing: Fiction & Memoir was such a hit. I will add Editing Your Novel or Short Story and The Art of the Short Story to their winter term. (These are evening classes through the noncredit Continuing Ed program.)

I am also working on my next novel, due out in 2016.

We will conclude the year by traveling back to our Illinois roots, to visit Dennis’s mom and sister. Our youngest daughter Anna is coming with us and we will stay at the Four Seasons in St. Louis (Anna is a sales manager for Four Seasons Resorts). We are looking forward to enjoying a few cultural experiences while there. It should bring back a lot of childhood memories.

Talk about reflection – I’m anticipating quite a bit of that on this last journey of the year…

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Compelling and intelligent, Kathryn Mattingly’s characters are imbued with a timely sense of presence and emotional gravitas, which adds significantly to the plausibility of her well-constructed plots. …. Book Viral Reviews

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