Rowing Together

Living in a resort community, in a little mountain hideaway, is this writer’s dream come true. Nothing calms the soul like a caramel swirl Americano and a laptop, while staring at The Three Sisters between word epiphanies. 

And why would my soul need calming? 

Maybe because the world itself is a ball of continual stress. Conflicting ideas and philosophies are ever present, regardless of your place in time or country of origin. America is no exception. Consider the popular Yellowstone television series about Montana ranchers versus Native Americans and environmentalists, all vying for the same land to manage as they see fit. 

As if that wasn’t eye opening enough, there is the 1883 prequel about hopeful minorities on a westward bound wagon train looking for a new life, while fighting off gangs of robbers and various indigenous tribes defending their homeland. 

But then, hasn’t every person who ever walked the face of this earth dealt with ongoing unrest in their country? 

America is a lot like a marriage relationship. It started with a passion that could not be denied, followed by focused compromise for compatible coexistence, before entering a romanticized era of seemingly endless power, strength, and productivity. Now it is dealing with disillusionment and irreconcilable differences. 

Our country has lost sight of that compassionate and idealistic hope for a bright future. It’s contemplating divorce from its significant other half. At least it would appear so, when considering the escalated arguing, shouting, and inability to listen to one other respectfully. 

You can’t save a relationship unless both parties want to peacefully resolve their grievances. You either row together or you capsize. This is something I have learned over the years from personal observation and experience.

I have no idea how, or if, our country will settle its differences. No crystal ball here, but united we stand, divided we fall comes to mind.

I am encouraged, however, when I come down from the high desert to shop at my local grocery store. People in my little corner of the world are good, and they are smiling, despite everything. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by their friendliness.  

This week when a shopper and I both reached for the last eight pack of a popular drink, we spent five minutes insisting the other person take it. Then we enthusiastically discussed all the new flavors. I smiled and cooed at her baby. She complimented my sandals. 

Everyone at the local Freddie’s is displaying the best side of human nature, and I love this. I’m encouraged that my neighbors are genuinely friendly, helpful, and kind. That inherent good nature in most Americans would be our redeeming grace, our redemption for the future, our reason to believe that we will work out our differences at some point, before it is too late.

At least, this is the raft of hope I am clinging to.  

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Katia is coming soon…

A moment in time…

A cold shower slammed into my umbrella as I walked down Franklin Boulevard. It was large and black, and my father had insisted I pack it. Rainwater ran along the curb beside me and sloshed into my sneakers.

There was nothing unusual about June rain in Oregon or students in hooded sweatshirts heading toward the university. I don’t know why on that day, of all days, I didn’t rush across the street to the Art building.

Maybe it was the ominous cloud hovering over the campus that caused me to hesitate. An old Beatles tune floated on the breeze from a popular brewpub half a block away. Eleanor Rigby… Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been… Lives in a dream… Waits at the window… Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door… Who is it for?

The song whirled faintly about my head while I stood there wet and shivering, despite my father’s efforts to keep me dry beneath a large black umbrella. Eleanor Rigby floating on the breeze lured me toward the brew pub. When I reached the entrance part of me wanted to dash back down Franklin Boulevard and into my art history class, but then someone opened the heavy glass door.

I slipped inside and found myself looking at a dark-haired stranger. I could only presume he was a fellow college student, judging by his approximate age.

“Did you skip class too?” I asked, immediately embarrassed for having accused him of such a thing, but then he smiled. We lingered awkwardly in the entryway until the dark-haired boy asked if he could buy me a beer. Right at that moment thunder clamored in the distance, startling us both. I took it as a sign. 

“I’d love to have a beer with you.” It was an uncharacteristic response for me. I was a reclusive art student. Having beer with a stranger wasn’t what I normally did. Something about him enticed me. Admittedly he was appealing to look at, but it was more than that. His confidence perhaps, or his low, husky voice which I found quite sensual.

Looking back, I believe more than anything it was how the light danced in his eyes. 

He said his name was Parker and I told him I was Katya. We sat at the end of the bar where I couldn’t help but marvel at what opposites we were. I was fair skinned and petite, with blond clouds of hair that moved about my head in the slightest breeze. Parker was tall with angular features and shiny raven hair. We discussed our college majors and future goals as the hours sped by and the rain stopped. He’d grown up in St. Helena, California, where his parents owned a winery. I shared about my childhood on a small ranch in Central Oregon.  

At nearly dusk we left the bar and had a few more drinks at a house he rented with several other students. I became helplessly inebriated by my attraction to him. At midnight Parker and I stifled laughter over spilt beer, so as not to awaken his roommates. Together we wiped it up, with his hand and mine intertwined on the kitchen towel until our eyes met, and we froze.

There was something sobering about Parker’s hand on top of mine. I sensed we both felt it. He leaned forward to kiss me and when our lips touched it felt as if the room had begun to spin. Parker’s hands were soon tangled in my hair and mine were holding his face, as if I feared letting him go, only to discover this was all a dream. If it was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up.

We still held each other when the kiss ended, and I could feel his breath tickle my cheek as he whispered let me walk you home

Without hesitation I whispered back which room is yours?

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure.”

Until that moment I’d never slept with anyone but Miles, who was an on again off again boyfriend. Being with Miles did not compare to my night with Parker, who had awakened something in me I didn’t know existed. It was as if, when our hands touched, a fire ignited that could never be put out.

I like to believe our souls had fused together.

We’d failed to exchange last names or phone numbers on that random night in my otherwise very ordered world. Maybe we would have, but I’d slipped into my jeans and sweater at first light of day and tiptoed out the door.

I could still taste Parker on my lips while sprinting across campus to my dormitory. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t push away my guilty thoughts for such impulsive behavior, nor could I regret it.

The only thing I knew for certain is that if there really was such a thing as destiny, we would meet again.

*************************************************

“If you crave a good love story with an unusual twist, Kat Mattingly’s Katya captivates from the opening scene to the final page. The story is filled with lush descriptions and poignant characters…” ~MJ Kuhar, author of In Vitro (2023)   

Katya is an artfully written mash-up of romance, mystery, intrigue, and fantasy….”  ~Ned Randle, author of Baxter’s Friends, Down Cemetery Road, & St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club

In Katya, Kat Mattingly does a superb job of developing a story around a chance encounter so captivating it supersedes every relationship that follows…. ~Ginger Dehlinger, author of Brute Heart and Never Done

Book Summary – Katya creates etchings and silkscreens from sketches drawn above a vineyard, when not busy as a micro farmer growing produce behind her Napa home. Both are a distraction from her unhappy marriage. A series of unpredictable events turn her world upside down, landing her in a coma. While unconscious Katya lives in an alternate state, which depicts her ideal life. If she can solve the meaning of what she dreamt while in a coma, it might reveal the answers to everything that matters.

Author Bio – Kat Mattingly enjoys teaching novel and short story writing at her local college. She has won recognition for outstanding fiction in both long and short form. Other books by Kat include Benjamin, Journey, Olivia’s Ghost, The Tutor, and a short story collection entitled Fractured Hearts. Kat lives on the high desert in Central Oregon with her husband Dennis and their Maine Coon cat, Atticus. 

Visit Amazon’s Kathryn Mattingly Page

Kathryn Mattingly ~Edgy Words Unleashed

 

Katya coming soon…

Katya is an artfully written mash-up of romance, mystery, intrigue, and fantasy….”  ~Ned Randle, author of Baxter’s Friends, Down Cemetery Road, & St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club

A moment in time…

A cold shower slammed into my umbrella as I walked down Franklin Boulevard. It was large and black, and my father had insisted I pack it. Rainwater ran along the curb beside me and sloshed into my sneakers.

There was nothing unusual about June rain in Oregon or students in hooded sweatshirts heading toward the university. I don’t know why on that day, of all days, I didn’t rush across the street to the Art building.

Maybe it was the ominous cloud hovering over the campus that caused me to hesitate. An old Beatles tune floated on the breeze from a popular brewpub half a block away. Eleanor Rigby… Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been… Lives in a dream… Waits at the window… Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door… Who is it for?

The song whirled faintly about my head while I stood there wet and shivering, despite my father’s efforts to keep me dry beneath a large black umbrella. Eleanor Rigby floating on the breeze lured me toward the brew pub. When I reached the entrance part of me wanted to dash back down Franklin Boulevard and into my art history class, but then someone opened the heavy glass door.

I slipped inside and found myself looking at a dark-haired stranger. I could only presume he was a fellow college student, judging by his approximate age.

“Did you skip class too?” I asked, immediately embarrassed for having accused him of such a thing, but then he smiled. We lingered awkwardly in the entryway until the dark-haired boy asked if he could buy me a beer. Right at that moment thunder clamored in the distance, startling us both. I took it as a sign. 

“I’d love to have a beer with you.” It was an uncharacteristic response for me. I was a reclusive art student. Having beer with a stranger wasn’t what I normally did. Something about him enticed me. Admittedly he was appealing to look at, but it was more than that. His confidence perhaps, or his low, husky voice which I found quite sensual.

Looking back, I believe more than anything it was how the light danced in his eyes. 

He said his name was Parker and I told him I was Katya. We sat at the end of the bar where I couldn’t help but marvel at what opposites we were. I was fair skinned and petite, with blond clouds of hair that moved about my head in the slightest breeze. Parker was tall with angular features and shiny raven hair. We discussed our college majors and future goals as the hours sped by and the rain stopped. He’d grown up in St. Helena, California, where his parents owned a winery. I shared about my childhood on a small ranch in Central Oregon.  

At nearly dusk we left the bar and had a few more drinks at a house he rented with several other students. I became helplessly inebriated by my attraction to him. At midnight Parker and I stifled laughter over spilt beer, so as not to awaken his roommates. Together we wiped it up, with his hand and mine intertwined on the kitchen towel until our eyes met, and we froze.

There was something sobering about Parker’s hand on top of mine. I sensed we both felt it. He leaned forward to kiss me and when our lips touched it felt as if the room had begun to spin. Parker’s hands were soon tangled in my hair and mine were holding his face, as if I feared letting him go, only to discover this was all a dream. If it was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up.

We still held each other when the kiss ended, and I could feel his breath tickle my cheek as he whispered let me walk you home

Without hesitation I whispered back which room is yours?

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure.”

Until that moment I’d never slept with anyone but Miles, who was an on again off again boyfriend. Being with Miles did not compare to my night with Parker, who had awakened something in me I didn’t know existed. It was as if, when our hands touched, a fire ignited that could never be put out.

I like to believe our souls had fused together.

We’d failed to exchange last names or phone numbers on that random night in my otherwise very ordered world. Maybe we would have, but I’d slipped into my jeans and sweater at first light of day and tiptoed out the door.

I could still taste Parker on my lips while sprinting across campus to my dormitory. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t push away my guilty thoughts for such impulsive behavior, nor could I regret it.

The only thing I knew for certain is that if there really was such a thing as destiny, we would meet again.

*************************************************

“If you crave a good love story with an unusual twist, Kat Mattingly’s Katya captivates from the opening scene to the final page. The story is filled with lush descriptions and poignant characters…” 

~MJ Kuhar, author of In Vitro (2023)   

In Katya, Kat Mattingly does a superb job of developing a story around a chance encounter so captivating it supersedes every relationship that follows…. 

~Ginger Dehlinger, author of Brute Heart and Never Done

Book Summary – Katya creates etchings and silkscreens from sketches drawn above a vineyard, when not busy as a micro farmer growing produce behind her Napa home. Both are a distraction from her unhappy marriage. A series of unpredictable events turn her world upside down, landing her in a coma. While unconscious Katya lives in an alternate state, which depicts her ideal life. If she can solve the meaning of what she dreamt while in a coma, it might reveal the answers to everything that matters.

Author Bio – Kat Mattingly enjoys teaching novel and short story writing at her local college. She has won recognition for outstanding fiction in both long and short form. Other books by Kat include Benjamin, Journey, Olivia’s Ghost, The Tutor, and a short story collection entitled Fractured Hearts. Kat lives on the high desert in Central Oregon with her husband Dennis and their Maine Coon cat, Atticus. 

Visit Amazon’s Kathryn Mattingly Page

Kathryn Mattingly ~Edgy Words Unleashed

 

Amidst a Pandemic

latteAmid the beginnings of a new normal, my mom died suddenly on March 30th. We knew she only had 6-12 months to live unless she could get the surgery she needed for a heart valve replacement, but unfortunately the hospital in Portland canceled her surgery date to prepare for the forthcoming pandemic. We hoped she could hang on until they resumed regular surgeries again, but that did not happen. She died 6 months after being diagnosed.

My mom and I were very different people, and we certainly weren’t as close as I think both of us would have liked, yet in some ways we were silently bonded, and I believe she knew that. It took her death, however, for me to realize it. Fortunately we had wonderful closure in a Starbucks parking lot, where I’d bought her a latte. We’d sat there drinking it, just as social distancing was gearing up and all businesses had closed – except for carry out and drive through windows. How fortuitous that God gave us this visit I’d somehow felt compelled to follow through with, despite warnings to begin isolating from aging parents.

Something about those two hours was magical. We didn’t say anything profound, heart wrenching, or pivotal. It was bigger than words. It was a feeling… like she knew. Like I knew. Love and understanding was in the air. It settled peacefully between us in the from seat, and when I dropped her back off at assisted living I gave her a big hug – despite employees monitoring the lobby to nix such displays of affection in these troubled times… when we need hugs most.

me & dad 2

Dad and Me

I’d like to say I grieved her loss, but honestly, I didn’t have time. The week she died I was quarantined with my 90-year-old father who is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, while we waited for his COVID19 test results so I could place him in memory care. I’ve been face-timing him weekly ever since, in rotation with our children and my brother. Nonetheless he is declining rapidly. After living with Mom for 72 years, he is lost without her.

The man is my super hero. He has influenced my life more than any other person on earth. His sweet, gentle spirit is still alive and well within him, despite not knowing who he is, where he is, or why he’s there. I don’t think he is long for this world, especially considering he can have no visitors. Although he is in an excellent care facility, without regular visits from his children and grandchildren, what does the man have to live for? Of course, the catch 22 is that, amid a pandemic, such visits could also cause his demise.

My mother’s sudden loss was a game changer in many ways, causing me to reflect upon my lifelong relationship with her — how it formed and shaped me in so many admirable ways, yet was a conundrum in other ways. I miss talking to her on the phone, and I miss her unconditional love, which I somehow knew I had, even though words were not her strength. I think my biggest takeaways are to be sure and use my words to uplift and inspire, and to reassure my loved ones about what makes them special.

Watching my father slowly decline in mind and body is more agonizing than life changing. No one ever believed in me as much as he did, not even me. So while sorting through wills, estates, and powers of attorney, I have been reflecting upon the true meaning of life — which I have decided is love in the form of faith, family and forgiveness… especially for ourselves.

And there is one more thing…. the most difficult thing of all.

The Friday after Mom died, my husband Dennis had a heart attack while mountain biking. The paramedics saved his life. They took him out on a stretcher behind a quad. Four stents later we learned that he’d had a 90 percent blockage. The man is lucky to be alive. He called me after dialing 911. Couldn’t breathe. Me or him! So I called his cell phone every 2 minutes until the paramedics arrived.

Me & Dennis

Dennis and Me

When he was finally in the ambulance, I drove to the Redmond hospital where they took my temperature before entering, and asked me questions regarding possible virus symptoms. It was there I found out they had bypassed our local hospital for St. Charles in Bend. When I arrived, they wouldn’t let me out of the car at the emergency entrance because of the corona virus. Someone wearing what looked like a spacesuit said I could wait in the parking lot and they would call me about my husband’s condition. My view from the car was of temporary tents set up for patients with the virus.  Time went by very slowly waiting for that phone call.

This man is my whole life.

I know I have had moments of taking him for granted, moments of frustration for having met and married so young, moments of angst from us being very different people, yet in all honesty, he completes me. Someone once said you should find someone you love and then hold on tight because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. I believe there is a lot of truth in that. I am grateful that our almost 50 year ride has been more smooth than not. He is recovering nicely, and we are enjoying our time together. We are definitely not taking it for granted.

On the same day as my husband’s heart attack, I found out I’m going to be a great grandmother. The call came through as I was racing to the hospital. Once again, God’s timing! I couldn’t help but think about the circle of life and how he had taken my mother just as a new generation was forming, and my own generation was suddenly vulnerable in so many new ways.

And just like that, my life was forever changed.

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Hailey

My husband and I can no longer think of ourselves as invincible or that we will live forever. Instead we are updating our will. I can no longer pick up the phone and talk to my Mom about everything and nothing. I am now in charge of my father’s care, which is a daunting responsibility, and if God is willing, late this fall I will hold my first great grandchild in my arms. I have somehow transitioned from a carefree slightly rebellious daughter to the matriarch of my family. In. One. Week.  —and during a global pandemic.

In truth, everything happening within my family lately has consumed me more than a virus ever could. There are many more blessings in all of this besides Hailey’s announcement about our soon-to-be great grandson, but the most immediate that comes to mind is how our children have been there for us. Our oldest son Ryan was always available with wise and much needed counsel for decision-making regarding all the legalities of an estate. Our oldest daughter Sasha stayed with me while being quarantined with Dad and it was a godsend to have her there, while our youngest son Jonathan ran frequent errands for us.

They were a wonderful support system, as was our youngest daughter Anna, who was laid off from her job in Colorado and chose to quarantine with us here at Eagle Crest. We spent our time cooking healthy meals and mixing fancy cocktails, when not reflecting upon everything that happened, and everything that needed to be done in a practical sense, when dealing with a death, and my father’s end of life care. Everything would have been much more difficult without her company during this trying time. Needless to say Dennis’s heart attack brought us all even closer together. There is nothing like two heart attacks in one week to make you appreciate how precious and fleeting life is.

Mom & Dad

Mom & Dad

 

I hope that in this difficult time for our whole world, you have been safe and well. I pray that 2020 will not be the darkest winter in modern history, as the epidemiologists believe. But regardless of what any of our futures hold, cling to those you love. They are your life raft in troubled waters.

 

 

AUTHOR PAGES

 

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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 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 

Kathryn lives on a mountain in Central Oregon where she divides her time between enjoying nature, penning 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. You may email her at: kmattinglyauthor@gmail.com 

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‘The Tutor’ 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…

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AUTHOR PAGES

 

‘Olivia’s Ghost’ Interview by Joseph Falank

Oliia“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

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

 

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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