From 1976-1982, I was the victim of sexual abuse. My abuser (who was a paedophile, rapist and killer of animals) was sentenced to seven years in prison on the 25th February 2013 – a full 30 years after the fact. I flew to New Zealand on the 25th of February 2013 to witness the sentencing of my rapist – a journey toward justice 30 years in the making. His conviction and inclusion on the sex offender registry was a victory like no other. I want to emphasize the all-important message that you do not have to put up with abuse. Children are so easily manipulated and coerced by adults. They are so easily silenced and paralysed by threats, especially threats of violence against loved ones or beloved pets. They are the perfect victims – naïve, gullible, terrified and defenceless. Therefore, we must protect our children and make sure we are leaving them in the care of people we absolutely trust.
Yet abuse happens all too frequently around the world, and children need to tell someone – anyone – other than the parent or caregiver who is the abuser. A teacher, priest, neighbour, a policeman… no matter the manner in which your abuser has threatened or intimidated you, there is someone out there who will and can help, if you only take that first step and ask. In cases of paedophilia, nine times out of ten the victim knows the abuser, who is often a family member or close friend. Parents need to be more vigilant and watch for the signs of abuse, for paedophiles operate within a sick and clever mentality of their own, brilliantly disguising their actions, shifting blame, and twisting the facts. Simply put, children do not stand a chance against a determined paedophile. I certainly didn’t.
Whenever the bad stuff would happen, I would zone out and try and pretend it was happening to someone else. I was determined not to let him break me – not to let him drive me insane and in the back of my mind I kept telling myself that one day I would be old enough to leave and start a life for myself. I would be in control then and never let anything like this happen ever again. I always believed that I would have a better life than the horror I was living and fought to survive long enough to make it through to that time.
I wrote this book to inform abuse survivors that they are not alone, and that they are worthy, and that they can seek justice. Yes, justice can be dispensed many, many years after the crime has been committed. It may not be for everyone, and I will not lie and say it is an easy road. It requires years of emotional investment and takes toll on you and your loved ones. But it can be done. The closure it has given me to see “him” behind bars is amazing. I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I have been shown to be worthy — at last.
The sentencing of my rapist was a vindication and also gave me some small sense of consolation. I know that at least for the next few years, other children will be safe from a monstrous paedophile – something that caused me many sleepless nights over the past 30 years. Can you imagine the lingering horror of wondering what “new” child he was abusing at any given time, and not being able to do a damn thing to stop him? I wanted to get him off the streets, away from children, and registered as a sex offender. After many years, I have achieved that.
Also, writing a journal is extremely therapeutic. In fact, this is how the book began. Rather than keep it bottled up inside, push aside your feeling of shame and talk about the abuse. Share your story with anyone who wants to listen, because getting it out there and not hiding it away is the key. It need not be a dark little secret. Tell the world, which is what I am doing here. It gets the burden off your shoulders and may just help someone else in the process. The truth is, the more people who talk about it, the less victims there will be.
Even after everything I went through as a child, I am a happy and well adjusted adult, thank God. I am in love with the man of my dreams, have four beautiful children, and many wonderful friends. I have already reached a lot of the goals that I set for myself – getting my stepfather convicted for rape being at the top of my list. I had always wanted to write books and have done that now too. I enjoy writing and have written a series of Paranormal Romance books in The Dream Series, about a vigilante vampire that kills rapists and child molesters….
I also wrote this book and a short story about my health. I have fought to get my health problems sorted and not just let doctors fob me off like they have tried to do for years. I never want to be a doormat like my mother; I want to take control of my own fate and fight to be in charge of my own life. I now have a very good and happy life, a life where I am in control of my own destiny. The life I always knew was out there waiting for me, if I could just escape the horrors of home.
An horrific true account of abuse told simply yet cuts right to the core. The lack of care given to innocent children resonates deep within. Gladys Quintal is to be commended for her courage and dignity in telling her story.
IF YOU CAN’T GET PUBLISHED PERHAPS YOU NEED A CRITIQUE PARTNER (OR TWO) by Virginnia De Parte
I would never have become a published author if it weren’t for the suggestions and corrections of my critique partners.
Several years ago I decided to follow a lifelong urge – and write. I took a couple of summer classes and dragged out a ten-year-old novel and began to rewrite it.
Writing contemporary novels can be very daunting because of the advances in electronics. All sorts of appliances are overtaken by new gadgets and by the time you finish rewriting, several years later, the world has moved on even further. (I now write futuristic novels instead. This way science and technology can catch up to me, instead of my trying to keep up with them.)
A year later I submitted my rewritten novel with its contemporary setting, and waited. After a request for the whole Ms, I waited once more. I received an email that, while praising the plot, pointed out there was too much telling, not enough showing and advising me to get several critique partners.
I ‘got the pip’. I sulked for six months before I realised that the publishers could have simply said ‘no thank you’ and not bothered to give me any advice at all.
Eating humble pie I set out to find critique partners and brushed up on my ‘showing not telling’ techniques. I joined New Zealand Romance Writers because they have a critique list amalgamated with the Australian Romance Writers, and they also produce a very instructive monthly newsletter.
I joined the Romance Writer’s Community on line, and enrolled in their critique list. I approached several people on both lists through the moderator, and began my career as a critique partner. I call it a career because I have learned so much, and have progressed as a writer by critiquing other people’s work. It is also a job. I must set aside time to do this for others if I want them to invest their spare hours in reading my prose. It aids my career as a writer and I take my role as a critique partner very seriously.
I find my own errors now jump out at me, providing I leave them alone for a week or more, and they become a ‘fresh read’. I’ve learned about point of view and how one small word will switch a reader from one person’s head to another. I’ve made friends with people I’ve never met, but I know their skills and weaknesses.
We are writers. We know how to express our thoughts. To critique someone else’s work you must always consider their feelings, the effort it has taken to produce their work and how the piece you are critiquing is like a child to them. Accordingly you must apply tact and offer suggestions – not tell them that their ‘child’ is untidy and bad mannered, but suggest that a little discipline and a good scrub could improve the image of their manuscript and make it more appealing to a publisher. I sometimes volunteer to critique someone’s work, as a one-off effort, because I learn so much by having to concentrate on the content and not skim read for pleasure.
Critique partners come and go. Not for any reason of personal affront or dislike but because their life intervenes. You may be able to produce chapter after chapter, but they may have written one novel, and once you have critiqued all of it, they may have nothing else to send you. This is when you offer your thanks and best wishes, and search for another partner. My ideal number of critique partners, to read a novel, is three. Sometimes I am down to two. At one stage when I started I had five! Each critique partner will have different skills and will zoom in on different aspects of your writing. I struggle with grammar. I have a partner who is a whizz. It took several years to find her and I cherish her comments. Another is great on point of view, and showing versus telling. I am proud that her red comments in my chapters are becoming fewer as time goes by. I accept that I’ll always have some red marks to check because as authors we become ‘word blind’ when reading our own work.
I once read a self published novel with a great plot, but I’m sure it hadn’t been critiqued. It may have been proof-read for grammar and typos, but the head-hopping in it drove me crazy and I never finished reading it. In one scene there were five people, and the author hopped from head to head with everyone’s thoughts and feelings, page after page. He did this in most chapters to a lesser degree until it destroyed the enjoyment of the plot. Had he used critique partners, one of them would have picked this up and he would have been able to correct this fault and concentrate on the various scenes from a single point of view, making it an easy and exciting read instead of creating a form of mental indigestion.
There is no harm in having different points of view within a chapter, as long as the move to another point of view is clearly defined. The maximum number suggested is three different points of views per chapter, if you are writing in the third person. (He/she thought….). This can vary from publisher to publisher, and the genre in which you are writing.
When writing entirely in the first person (“I thought…..), an author wouldn’t have this problem. However, there appears to be little enthusiasm among publishers for books written in the first person, despite the popularity of one book, (Fifty Shades…) originally self published before being taken up by a publisher. I submitted a 15,000 word story to a publisher and had it returned with a request for me to rewrite it in the third person, past. I duly did this during one wet cold winter and it was published. However, I still consider it read much better in the first person. My critique partners had to reread it again in the third person and yes, I missed changing the tense in a lot of places.
My best piece of advice to any author, hoping to dive into the publishing world, is to be brave. You have to be brave to put your ‘child’ out there for the world to read. You have to be brave to send it, piece by piece, to another person, hoping against hope for their praise, while being prepared to see lots of red comments on its return.
I didn’t know Track Changes existed in my Word programme (Ctrl+Shift+E). What a great tool. I use it all the time, as do my critique partners. You can add your comments, change the wording, delete words or sentences, and the original document remains with the changes in red (or any other colour you choose to use). I would suggest you take a page of prose, find Track Changes on your computer, and have a play. I don’t use the ‘balloon’ option, but some of my critique partners do. It’s a matter of personal choice how you place your comments in a document, but your comments are essential feedback to your partner.
If you’re serious about becoming a published writer I recommend that you get serious about finding critique partners. Without them I would still be hopeful and unpublished.
Virginnia De Parte's Latest Release
Stella Corban’s choice is hard - fall in love and endanger her genetically altered family, or lose the one man who makes her heart joyful. For three generations they have avoided the notice of the Department of Defence and its compulsory conscription, but Matt’s acquaintance with the Minister of Defence frightens Stella into avoiding any further contact with him.
Matt Saunders is not a man to be thwarted. He knows Stella is the woman he wants, and he pursues her from the outback to the city and beyond.
The battle between protecting her family and attaining her heart’s desire turns Stella’s world upside down. Would discovering her talents shatter Matt’s passion? Can he be relied on to keep a secret? Can she risk her safety and the whole family’s security by falling in love, or will a life-threatening event remove any choice she had?
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” ~ Dita Von Teese.
This quote can be helpful when dealing with criticism of one’s writing. No matter how polished or professional your work is, a reader may take exception to your style, subject matter or presentation. Not everyone will like what you’ve written or how you’ve written your story.
The best piece of advice for a writer is to firstly write for oneself. That way, the writing will come from the heart. Of course, many changes will be made from the first draft to publication but the story will remain true. Never allow the possibility of criticism stifle your artistic nature. There will be those who like peaches.
Tara Ford lives in Hampshire, UK with her husband, children and a naughty husky called Meika. In between writing she enjoys taking care of her numerous Koi fish but occasionally she also has to live with a frustrated heron that frequents the garden fence and peers longingly into the well protected pond.
Tara’s writing career began at the tender age of 15 when she wrote a beautiful love story as part of her English literature homework...
Her writing career came to an abrupt end at the tender age of 15 when the teacher tore up her story, exclaiming that the content of the essay was highly unsuitable material for school. Although it had not been in the realms of 50 Shades of Grey, Tara’s first attempt at a short story had been shunned.
Over 3 decades of child-rearing, fish-fostering and dog walking later, Tara has realised her dream of writing. Her first book, Calling All Services, a women's fiction/humour story, was released in July 2013. She has always wanted to write in this genre but until a couple of years ago, she could never quite think of a good storyline. Then a sudden and frightening illness and some time spent in hospital gave her the beginnings of a novel which would eventually turn out to be the first book of four in the Calling All... series.
Tara has completed the second book in the series, Calling All Dentists, which she hopes to publish, early 2014. Her third novel, Calling All Customers is currently an early stage, work in progress and her plans are to release this in 2015. Tara has ideas for a further series, again in the women’s fiction/humour genre, to be written in the future. Her ultimate dream would be to write a new book each and every year.
Tara’s debut novel, Calling All Servicesis a peep into the lives of one family, over the course of one unusually, eventful week. A rollercoaster of emotions will have you laughing, crying and cringing as the week unfolds to reveal one disaster after another. Will the members of the Frey family ever be the same again?
Alex Frey, successful businesswoman, wife and mother to a busy and demanding family, doesn’t find it easy to take a break. So when she’s hospitalised with a mysterious illness, paralysed and afraid of what the future might bring, frustration meets fear and she can’t wait to escape the hospital, get back in control of things and return her family to the normality of salmon paste sandwiches.
At home, her husband Grant is determined to manage the kids, Alex’s parents, his sister and anything else life can throw at him while his wife is away recuperating. But what else can possibly go wrong while Alex is in hospital? The Frey family is about to find out. . .
This is a short excerpt from my Work-In-Progress. It's still in the editing process.
Tell me what you love or hate about it and be in the draw to win an Heart of the Ocean Pendant. See below.
“And it seems we will be in for another scorcher tomorrow,” said the woman on the TV screen.
Unexpectedly, the small room closed in on Susan, and she struggled to breathe. To distract herself, she walked quickly out to the balcony.
As the full force of the heat hit her again, she gripped the balcony wall and tried to concentrate on the view. From this angle, all she could see was the hotel’s swimming pool. It was flanked by a couple of palm trees and was oddly comforting. She let herself be lulled by the calm blue water and wished she had a swimsuit to change into.
The warm gusty breeze brushed over her skin and she thought of what she had overcome. Soon, her breathing returned to normal.
She re-entered the room and moved to the bathroom where the reflection in the mirror showed her tousled blonde tresses. She shrugged at her unruly appearance, undressed, and wrapped herself in a fluffy towel. Turning on the tap, she washed her underwear in the basin and wrung it out before moving to the balcony. With this heat, her clothing should be dry in no time.
There was no clothes-line so she placed the damp garments over a plastic chair in the corner and went back inside.
She sat on the edge of the bed and pondered the days’ events. It had been a long journey and the airport terminal had been chaotic. There had been so many people and so many different nationalities. She hadn’t expected that. She’d always thought of Australia as some sparsely populated, distant land.
And here she was without any luggage. ‘Twenty-four to forty-eight hours’, the woman behind the airport desk had told her. What would she do until then? Thank God, she still had her handbag.
Everything suddenly seemed surreal. Had she really done it? Was she really, finally, on Australian soil?
“Join us tomorrow at Myers and grab a bargain,” said a voice on the TV. The distinct Australian twang hit home, and she knew no dream could be this vivid.
She longed to sleep but she was so wound up she knew it would be pointless to even attempt it. Instead, she channel-trekked and marvelled at the difference of the Australian culture to her own.
An hour passed quickly and her gaze moved to the balcony. She remembered her underwear and pulled the towel tight around her as she made her way outside.
She gathered her dry lingerie and turned to go back inside when she heard masculine voices. Intrigued, she walked to the edge of the balcony wall and peeked over but she couldn’t quite see. As she leaned over, her towel began to slip and she grabbed it but the quick movement loosened her grip on her underwear.
A strong gust of wind took hold of her panties and she grasped at the air to no avail. “Oh, no!” she cried as her panties floated gracefully below. When they landed at the feet of a passer-by, she recoiled in horror.
The man reached for them, looked up, and she was rooted to the spot, her face aflame, as their eyes met. The pull of his gaze made Susan gasp. She stared wordlessly as she took in his darkly arresting appearance. Every muscle was defined under his close-fitting white shirt, and his blue jeans revealed the strength of his limbs. Everything about him screamed masculinity. Susan closed her mouth.
A smile spread across the man’s face as he held up the renegade panties and she wanted to…she struggled for breath…she wanted to die! She did the next best thing and ran into her room, slamming the door shut. Her heart beat wildly. She wanted to cry but began to laugh instead.
As she thought of her predicament, she was instantly quiet, and hugged herself with trembling arms. She was alone in a strange country with no friends, no luggage, and now, no panties, what had she done?
Rubbing her temples where a dormant migraine was stirring, Susan moved slowly back to the door of the balcony and peeked out. She couldn’t see anyone which was probably just as well because what would she say? ‘Excuse me, Sir, may I have my panties?’She shook her head. It could only happen to her. What now?
She collapsed onto the bed and the image of a tall, dark-haired, extremely masculine man, clutching her silky, hot-pink panties sprung to mind. That image would forever be burned in her memory. Great!Just what she needed.
Sleep! she ordered. She closed her eyes tight and let exhaustion overcome her.
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Virginnia De Parte writes futuristic fiction, spiced with romance and adventure. She has three romances published as e-books and the fourth in the series about the genetically-altered Corban family is called ‘A Stellar Affair’ and is due for release in August/September. These are published by Secret Cravings Publishing.
Her other love is writing poetry and she is published in this genre as well, both on line and in hard copy. She has an erotic piece called ‘Memoirs of Lady Montrose’ just released with Total-e-Bound.
A love of words, and changing the way they are arranged, drives her writing. She endeavours to insert poetic prose into her fiction. Setting her stories in the future allows her imagination to run riot and she waits for the world to catch up with her inventions, instead of having her work dated by the constant, present-day advances made in technology.
Virginnia belongs to writing groups and on-line critique lists, all of whom help to keep her on-track and well edited.
She lives in the aptly named Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, a land of beautiful scenery, four million people and a number of hobbits.
Talents come in many guises.
William and Belinda, two genetically altered individuals meet years after leaving the government-rearing nursery for genetically altered infants. Their late development allowed them to escape a life devoted to the government's defence departments. If their skills are now discovered they are in danger of conscription by the government.
William, whose talent is to move through space between locations in the blink of an eye, has devoted his life to protecting other ex-nursery adults. Belinda occasionally uses her talent, lifting objects of great weight with her thoughts. Their meeting leads to love and a raft of problems both struggle to overcome.
Can they trust each other enough to allow love to bloom? Can they risk the renewed attention of the Defence Department?
A Talent for Loving explores an alternate reality and discovers the one talent neither Belinda nor William can control - love.
She looked at him as he gazed out to sea. His thick brown hair hugged his head and small curls tucked around his ears. She tightened her arm around his waist and leaned into his chest. So far the day has been lovely. The view from the touring bus was so much better with higher expansive views than travelling the Great Ocean Road by car. There’d been several stops for photo opportunities, but this pause in the journey allowed everyone an hour to walk and explore, to feel the sand between their toes, and fill their lungs with ozone-laden sea air
“The surf’s building. There’s a blow on the way.” He pointed to the south. “See the breakers out there? They’re coming closer by the minute. I bet the wind gets up when they get closer to shore.”
She followed his gaze and looked out to sea before glancing back to the surf below them. Could that black dot be a seal? Or was it a surfer in a wetsuit? Oh God! No! She shook his arm and prodded his shoulder.
“Wills, is that a person in the surf? Whoever it is seems to be going out rather than swimming in. What do you think?”
Together they peered, watching closely until an arm was raised. Then a flailing and the dot disappeared.
“I think it’s a child. Here.” He pulled free, tore off his jacket and tossed it to her. In a second his shirt came off and he’d stepped out of his trousers and shoes in one fluid movement. Another breath and he’d gone. All that remained beside her were his dropped clothes.
Sure enough when she looked there were now two black dots in the surf, one larger than the other. Already the surf had grown and running through the waves a channel of calm water cut its way out past the breakers. Its smooth surface looked deceptively calm to anyone who didn’t know how to read the surf. This strong strip of undertow would have pulled the child out and she could see William moving across the surf, parallel with the breakers, away from the slicing strip that threatened to pick them up and carry them further out.
She hadn’t even known he could swim. Surely he must be a strong swimmer? Why else leap into climbing surf? Another hole in the knowledge she had of William’s abilities.
Alone on the cliff edge she stared in horror, realising the danger he’d put himself in and she locked her gaze on the two black dots and concentrated as hard as she could. Would it work? Anything was worth a try, because standing here, windswept and abandoned, clutching the wooden railing with her one free hand wasn’t going to be of any use to William if she didn’t try and do something. With everything to lose if it didn’t work she locked her gaze onto the spot in the roiling water where he’d been visible a second beforehand and took her consciousness into the surf to search for him.
I’m often asked what inspires me to write. I’d have to say anything and everything. It could be a newspaper article, a photo, an obituary, an overheard conversation, an event, a person. There is no limit to my imagination.
Sometimes all it takes is a thought, usually on the cusp of sleep. It seems that when I’m relaxed my mind is most active. I’ve written many a marvellous scene in my head just before sleep and it is entirely gone by morning. If I really want to keep it, I get up and write it down, which I’ve done often. Inspiration can come at the oddest of times.
People, their circumstances, and their reactions to life events help to inspire my writing. There is no end to the remarkable courage of people in the harshest of times. Nor is there an end to malevolence. I think these two facets of human nature inspire me the most.
At times, places inspire me. It could be the history, scenery, splendour, desolation or despair of an area that invokes a tale ready to be told.
On a recent journey I spotted a road sign and thought it would make a great title for a book. It seemed to have ‘stuck’ and within days another story was writing itself in my head. Book number six, perhaps? I won’t reveal the title just yet. I’m still working on book number five.
I think perhaps there will always be something to inspire my writing and therefore, the stories will continue.
Dionne hails from Sydney, is an author, editor, has studied creative writing at Southern Cross University, writes fantasy, and suspense/thrillers, co-hosts Club Fantasci book club and the Tweep Nation podcast, is an advocate for professional self-publishing, has recently presented at the Sydney Writers Festival and has grand dreams of riding on a dragon.
Having received rejections from publishers and agents, Dionne, determined to realise her dream (the publishing one, not the dragon-riding one), set out on the path to publishing her own book. After studying writing, employing a professional artist to do her awesome book covers and getting her books edited, Dionne has achieved her dream. She has spoken at the NSW Writers Centre and the Sydney Writers Festival after being discovered by Kate Forsyth. Shadows of the Realm (e-book) has reached #1 on Amazon in two categories. She is currently writing the third book in the Circle of Talia Series.
Shadows of the Realm
Bronwyn and Blayke are two strangers being drawn into the same war. Their world is facing invasion from the Third Realm. While they move unknowingly toward each other, they are watched, hunted, and sabotaged. When the Dragon God interferes, it seems their world, Talia, will succumb to the threat. Can they learn enough of the tricks of the Realms before it’s too late, or will everything they love be destroyed?
The young Realmists’ journey pushes them away from all they’ve known, to walk in the shadows toward Vellonia, city of the dragons, where an even darker shadow awaits.
Contemporary writing is a composition that is set in the ‘here and now’. This is where the setting, characters, and dialogue etc are modern.
For example, in a contemporary setting we would have the technological advances of the day. These would include cars, telephones, and computers to name a few.
The characters would dress in modern clothing such as jeans and sneakers, and would possibly have piercings, modern hairstyles etc.
The dialogue would carry the popular sayings of the day, common words, euphemisms and expressions, such as ‘whatever’, ‘no problem’, ‘babe’, ‘what-the-hell’, ‘Google’, ‘LOL’ etc.
All these things need to be taken into consideration. It is easy to revert to the speech an author may have used in a different era, so the writer needs to be vigilant in these matters when writing a contemporary story.
I liked the authors take on the Angel of Death and enjoyed learning about the individual characters. The story was interesting and I liked the way the author simplified the subject matter. With a little more editing and polishing, this ...
An intricately woven vampire tale that keeps you wanting more. The historical and scientific content was unique and engrossing. I particularly liked the way the author separated each character's story in the beginning and then tied the...
diversity, 4-stars, and from-dec-2011-to-now