Katy's World Blog 2003-12-13T18:30:02Z Kathleen Walls https://katywalls.com Katy's World Blog https://katywalls.com 2021-02-13T18:30:02Z A little about me. Katy's World Blog
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Welcome to Katy's World Blog where I talk about my books and  how I came to write them. I'll also talk about other books and thing of interest to both readers and authors. I have the comment section right under my latest blog post so you can ask questions or make suggestions.  

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Do TV series crime stories tell it like it is?

Now that Netflix has created a Man Hunt series about Eric Rudolph, get some facts from someone who lived in the area and followed the REAL story. Even the news at the time presented a different image of the bomber. Does Netflix come any closer to portraying Eric Rudolph? This book will give you a look at the little-known background that produced Eric Rudolph.
Did you know he was not originally from North Carolina?
Did you know his brother is gay and Rudolph and his mother visited with him in New York peacefully prior to the bombings?
Did you know he had some college education and read German philosophy?
I lived in the area and followed as a local. I spoke to people who knew Eric Rudolph before he became the bomber. I stood outside the little jail in Murphy and waited for hours to see him brought out and moved to a more secure facility, I missed the move by hours but experienced the atmosphere of both supporters and opponents. I shopped in the little mall where he was finally captured. I hiked in the Natahala Forest where he hid out. I visited the small school where he attended for a short time.
I wrote this book just after the capture, faster than I had ever written any other, because I wanted to capture the mood of the time and place.
No matter how unbiased an image of Eric Rudolph I try to present based on what people who knew him had to say, this book is necessarily based on much “hearsay.” In all cases, I have tried to substantiate things by using more than one source.
Perhaps the most important thing I want to make clear is my own beliefs in this matter. On finding that I was writing on Eric Rudolph, one person asked me “Would you write about him if his beliefs were the opposite?”
The answer is decidedly “yes.” In actual fact, my personal beliefs do not in any way coincide with those supposedly espoused by Mr. Rudolph.
No. I am writing this book because the contradictions in Eric Rudolph are so glaring as to create a character as complex as any fictional hero or villain I could create. His ability to evade the law in such a way for over five years, his unusual family background, the many contradictions in his personality and the polarization of belief about him are all larger than life. People either idolize him or detest him. Few people are neutral on the subject. I am trying to provide an understanding of a man who may see things very differently from you or I. Unless you understand all the characters in a play you will not fully comprehend the story. Think of it as the ultimate “reality show.” The events of his capture are so unusual that if I created a character like Jeff Postell in a fictional novel, readers would scoff.

Get your copy of ManHunt: The Eric Rudolph Story

 

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Cold Case: Haleigh Cummings

Misty Croslin-Cummings in court
Some cold cases touch closer to home than others. For me, the Haleigh Cummings case was that kind. I had lived in Putnam County, Florida where it happened not long before that. I was familiar with the horror drugs can create.  I remember watching the news on the morning of February 10, 2009 and hearing that a little five year old girl had gone missing sometime during the previous night in neighboring Putnam County.

Ron Cummings
Watching the interviews with the family and the missing girl's father's 17 year old girl friend, it screamed "Lies" and "Drugs" loud and clear. The girlfriend seemed still under the influence. Her story had changed at least twice already. The maternal grandfather was accusing her on the air. More ominously, he was using the past tense, "Haleigh WAS..." The father was ranting.

The basic story was Misty Croslin, the girlfriend was home with Haleigh and her little brother the night of February 9th. The father, Ron Cummings, aged 25,  was at work. The first story Misty Croslin told was that she awoke around 3am to use the bathroom. For some reason she walked back to the guest bath rather than the one adjourning the master bedroom in the mobile home Ron was renting.

Crystal Sheffield, Haleigh's mother
The story changed to that she woke up to get a drink when the police arrived.  When she either went to the bathroom or got the drink of water, she saw the back door propped open with a cinder-block and Haleigh missing.  When Ron Cummings arrived home at 3:37, she called the police to report the child missing.

Cummings and his wife, Crystal Sheffield. were divorced. Ronald had gotten custody after Crystal failed to appear at a hearing and had not been keeping Haleigh's doctor's appointments. She had also been arrested for drug use. Both were known drug users, but Ronald had a job so the court ruled he was the better custodial parent.

Another theory that floated around was that Haleigh had been taken by drug dealers that Ron owed money to for drugs.

Misty Croslin family, from left father Hank, mother Lisa, brother Tommy

Greg Paige,
AKA White Boy Greg

 

As detectives searched and investigated, they discovered Misty Croslin had been on a drug and sex binge with a mixed race drug dealer known as White Boy Greg several days before Haleigh went missing. Two friends of her claimed she had been at a party that night and one story was that Haleigh had accidentally gotten a drug and died of the overdose.  Misty  insisted she had been at home at the time of the abduction.

Cousin Joe Overstreet
Misty's brother Tommy Croslin claimed a cousin of theirs, Joe Overstreet, who was staying with another brother, Timmy Croslin, had come to the house looking for a shotgun Cummings was supposed to have and was lending to him. When Overstreet could not find the gun he got furious and took Haleigh while Misty and the other child, Junior cowered under covers in another bed. In one version of the story Tommy said he accompanied Overstreet to the river where Overstreet threw the child into the water tied with an orange rope and weighted down with a block.

Another story Tommy told was that Haleigh had been thrown into a pond near the house. Accusations were tossed all around. One was that Chrystal Sheffield took the child because she could not pay back child support she owned.

Police drained the pond and searched the river but no body was found. It might be noted the Saint Johns River has many alligators in this area. 

Cummings and Misty Croslin married a few weeks after the abduction. He and his new bride appeared on nationwide talk shows where he raved about  finding his beloved daughter. Crystal Sheffield also appeared on rival shows and both parties cast suspicions on the other parent. Crystal started a fund supposedly to raise money for searching for Haleigh but was later accused of misusing the funds for personal expenses. Shortly afterwards Cummings and Misty were divorced.

Ron Cummings, Misty Croslin-Cummings, Tommy Croslin, and both Misty's parents are currently in prison serving time for drug trafficking and other drug related charges as are several other members of Ronald's family. Haleigh has never been found and the case remains technically open.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children had done age progression photos. This is what she would have looked like at twelve. She would be 17 now.

In my book, I have detectives Claire Alexander and Jon Capono say what I feel really happened to Haleigh, but I would love to hear your opinions in the comment box below.

Missing-Gone but not Forgotten

In my book, Missing--Gone but not Forgotten I have fictionalized this case by using different names and adding fictional detectives. Other than that I had kept to the facts as they were unraveled. Here's an excerpt of the dialogue when the detectives answered the missing child 911 call:

Jon unsnapped his gun from its holster but didn’t remove it. Clair reached toward the Colt Official Police Pistol strapped at small of her back and nodded at her partner to let him know she was ready and prepared for anything. Jon rapped hard on the door, “Sheriff's Department responding to your call. Please open the door.”

When the trailer became silent and the door swung open, Clair's first thought was this was another child in the family. The person standing in the doorway was about five foot three or four, thin to the point of emaciated, with long brown hair straggling in her face. She was wearing a rumpled tee and a pair of skinny jeans and tennis shoes. Her large blue eyes with a totally blank expression gave the only hint that this was 17 year old Autumn Daily, the person reporting the missing child. She looked like she was stoned out of her mind on some strong chemicals.

Behind her loomed a man a bit over six foot in his mid-twenties. He had dark short hair, a small mustache and weighing about 160 with enough muscle to take on either detective. His knuckles were bloody as if he had been punching something, or someone.  He clarified that by slamming his fist into the trailer's side. “It's about damn time you get here. Some fucker took my daughter! If I find ‘em, I'll kill 'em so you better get them first.”

“Calm down, Mr. Shatner. We're going to find whoever took your daughter but we need some background "

Missing-Gone but not Forgotten is available as an ebook and an audiobook.

Next stop you will visit Heidi Angell's Blog  about Fionna Johansson, the psychic who helps solve cold cases. Johansson has had this gift since she was a child and had helped many police departments to solve cases where there were no leads .

 

 

 

Books Take a New Path

A few years back I discovered a great new way to expand the audience for my books. ACX, an Amazon affiliate, offered me the chance to have my books turned into audio books read by a professional narrator.

KudzuAt first I was skeptical. Were there any catches? Any downside to this venture?  Well, yes. I had to sign the rights over for seven years. But was that really a downside? I had no plans for those audio rights anyway. Worst that could happen is I had no sales and made no royalties. As thighs were, I had no audio books and thus already no royalties for those rights. Farther, I had no money to hire a narrator privately and pay a huge fee. And if I did where would I market them? So I took the plunge.

For my first venture I used Kudzu, one of my earlier novels that does pretty well as a print book and as a Kindle version. I looked for a great female narrator who could do a Georgia accent, Kudzu is set in the north Georgia mountains in the present and goes back to the 19th century as my protagonist reads her Great-Grandmother Weezy’s diary. Especially for my characters in the past, accent was important.

Now the way ACX works is you can sign up for an exclusive so they offer you books on Amazon.com, Audible.com and Itunes. You can set up, if the narrator is willing to accept, a shared royalty plan where each of you earns half of the royalty paid on each sale. Lately they have a new option where you pay a little to help share the narrator's production costs but it is your choice.

Last StepI was lucky enough to find a great narrator that exceeded my expectations, Lee Ann Howlett. The experience went well and there were some sales.  So I added my Last Step to the queue.  Last Step was my first novel and had done well. It even has a movie made based on it. I asked Lee Ann to narrate and she accepted. Last Step  was a difficult thriller that had many different characters of different races and backgrounds, male and female, young and old.   It’s set in Jacksonville, Florida and deals with drug addiction. Some of the realistic scenes portraying life on the streets were not pretty. Once again Lee Ann came through and did a fantastic job. 

By then I was sold on the idea. I posted Under a Bloody Flag and its sequel, Under a Black Flag. These books are very heavily researched historical novels. Under a Bloody Flag begins in Kansas in 1858 when Kansas was still a territory. It traces the roots of the War Between the States and continues until Kansas is ready to be admitted to the Union as a Free State. Under a Black Flag picks up then and continues until about a year after the war ends.

Bloody Flag cover smMy main characters are all have unique accents. Daniel, is from Louisiana, his half-brother and former slave, Andre is able to switch from speaking perfect English to slave cabin slang at will, Becky, who marries Daniel, is from Massachusetts. You can see the problem with fining a narrator for these books just based on that.

Added to this is the fact that I have tons of lesser characters, most of them based on real people. The accents here are literally all over the world. A narrator here needed to switch form General P.T. G Beauregard to Harriett Tubman, from General  Ulysses Grant to General Robert E. Lee. I have Creole Frenchmen, Irish immigrants, Scottish inventors and the list goes on.

It took a while but finally I came to an agreement with Samuel R. Jones. He held up his end of the game beautifully. His accents are so accurate you feel you are listening to the real historical character he is narrating throughout both books.. I was truly impressed by his talent.

Black_Flag_Front_cover_SmThe third book in the War in the West series, For Want of a Ship is now being narrated by Dr. Tony E.Medlin. It's waiting approval form ACX.   I had Missing-Gone but not Forgotten done by Lee ann Howlett. It came out great and is doing better than my Kindle version. She recently finished The Tenant from Hell and I just got final approval on that also. It already had a few sales after just two days.

As you can tell, as an author, I am happy with ACX. It opens up a whole new audience for my books. For readers, it offers a new experience. Many people have spoken to me at events where and told me how much they like my book as an audio book. Some were experiencing vision problems and could no longer read the printed books. Others like the audio book experience as they travel a lot and it is a easy way to listen to their favorite books while they drive.


Missing and Last Step: A common bond

Looking at similarities between my "Last Step" and two of my new books, Missing--Gone but not Forgotten and The Tenant from Hell . Drugs are a big part of all three. In Last Step, the dead daughter is a young adult who has become hooked on drugs. In Missing-Gone but not Forgotten, Starr is a young child, and it is the parents and relatives who are involved with driugs.Both are victims of drug abuse.
In The Tenant from Hell, the focus is on those who profit from selling dangerous drugs. Still this leads to multiple deaths.

Here's a little about Last Step: Vickie's daughter is dead. Just one more dead druggie among the hundreds that die each year in Jacksonville, Florida's drug-infested slums. The police aren't concerned about her drug-related death.

VICKIE needs to know. Was it an accidental overdose, or murder? To find the answer, she must leave her safe life behind and plunge into the terrors of the drug culture. Will the search lead her to love? Or will she end up on a morgue slab, just one more casualty in the war against drugs?

HANK His mistakes caused the death of those he loved most. Drug addiction is his sworn enemy. His chosen life has no place in it for love until he meets Vickie.

JOE His money and power haven't been able to save his marriage or his son's love. He seeks Vickie's love but what are his secrets...
It's available as a spring, Ebook, audiobook, and had been made into a movie.

Here's a blurb Missing-Gone but not Forgotten when Starr is reported missing by her father and his girlfriend, later wife, and still later ex-wife:

Jon unsnapped his gun from its holster but didn’t remove it. Clair reached toward the Colt Official Police Pistol strapped at small of her back and nodded at her partner to let him know she was ready and prepared for anything. Jon rapped hard on the door, “Sheriff's Department responding to your call. Please open the door.”

When the trailer became silent and the door swung open, Clair's first thought was this was another child in the family. The person standing in the doorway was about five foot three or four, thin to the point of emaciated, with long brown hair straggling in her face. She was wearing a rumpled tee and a pair of skinny jeans and tennis shoes. Her large blue eyes with a totally blank expression gave the only hint that this was 17 year old Autumn Daily, the person reporting the missing child. She looked like she was stoned out of her mind on some strong chemicals.

Behind her loomed a man a bit over six foot in his mid twenties. He had dark short hair, a small mustache and weighing about 160 with enough muscle to take on either detective. His knuckles were bloody as if he had been punching something, or someone.  He clarified that by slamming his fist into the trailer's side. “It's about damn time you get here. Some fucker took my daughter! If I find ‘em, I'll kill 'em so you better get them first.”

“Calm down, Mr. Shatner. We're going to find whoever took your daughter but we need some background .

Here's a blurb from The Tenant from Hell.
I scooted over to it and lay still hardly daring to breathe. I did remember to turn my phone off. It wouldn’t do to have it ring now.

It seemed like hours but I knew it was only minutes. I heard Hiram’s footsteps coming towards the bedroom. Then I heard another set of footsteps coming from the front. I could hear voices but not make out the words. They sounded like two men arguing. I picked up a few words, “Mess” or “meth,” “Hank,” “Chief,” or maybe it was “handkerchief.” Then the unmistakable sound of a shot, a thump, footsteps walking away, and a door slamming.

For a few more seconds I froze waiting for a shot to pierce the ceiling and kill me. Reason kicked in. The shooter had left. Whoever he shot might be bleeding to death right under me. Even if it was Hiram, I had to help. I pushed the ladder back down and descended. A man lay face down on the floor. Blood was pooling. Overcoming my fear, I tried to turn him, to see if there was a pulse. Logic told me there would be none. There was too much blood and it was coming from a very large hole in his head.

I needed to call 911 but my purse with my phone was in the attic. Before I could start back up, there was a loud crash in front and a large deputy was pointing a gun at me. “Hands up! Don’t make any sudden moves.”

These themes, drugs, their users, dealers, and innocent victims, run through all three books.

 

It's like a Battle 


Lots of things are like battles today. Writing a book is like a battle. Writers need to make their characters do what they want but sometimes the characters rebel and make the author do it their way. Reading a book is an escape from battling everyday trials.

Welcome to Katy's World. After the past year, I think we all feel like we are in the midst of a battle. Reading is one way to escape the frenzy. Pick up a good book and you can be in a new world instantly. You can go back in time as relive history. You can go to imaginary worlds. You can become so involved in solving a mystery or finding a killer you can forget your present-day troubles.

Indie Book Store Owners: I have marked many of my books down and will give you an even better discount when you purchase for your stores.

To combat the battle fatigue here are a few free books to help. One is the latest in my War in the West series, For Want of a Ship. This offer is only going to be available for a limited time so act now.







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