Writerly Wednesday Welcomes C. Hope Clark

Hope is at a BookSigning!

Welcome Hope!  

Hope has had an online presence as far back as I can remember.  She is famous for Funds For Writers.  I remember seeing a lot of her work during my short stent at Women on Writing.  Hope also magically appears in The Writer’s Chatroom on a quarterly basis.  

For all of us who have followed Hope on her writing Journey, we feel like her success is our success!  

 

Go Hope!

 

C. Hope Clark

Author
The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, Bell Bridge Books
Lowcountry Bribe, Feb 2012
Tidewater Murder, early 2013
www.chopeclark.com

-and-

Editor, FundsforWriters, www.fundsforwriters.com
Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, 2001-2012

 

Writer’s website and buy link… ( www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com / http://www.amazon.com/Lowcountry-Bribe-C-Hope-Clark/dp/1611940907 – although all buy links to BAM, B&N, Amazon, and the publisher are at www.chopeclark.com

Bio – . Hope Clark was born and reared in the South, from Mississippi to South Carolina with a few stints in Alabama and Georgia. The granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, Hope holds a B.S. in Agriculture with honors from Clemson University and 25 years’ experience with the U. S. Department of Agriculture to include awards for her management, all of which enable her to talk the talk of Carolina Slade, the protagonist in most of her novels. Lowcountry Bribe‘s manuscript placed in several competitions to include third place in 2009 Alabama Writer’s Conclave Competition, honorable mention in The Writing Show Chapter Competition 2009 as judged by bestselling mystery author C. J. Box, finalist status in the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense sponsored by Romance Writers of America and semi-finalist status (top 100 out of 10,000) in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. In August 2012, Lowcountry Bribe won The Silver Falchion Award at Killer Nashville Conference for mystery writers.
Hope is married to a 30-year veteran of federal law enforcement, a Senior Special Agent, now a contract investigator. They met on a bribery investigation within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the basis for the opening scene to Lowcountry Bribe. Hope also manages FundsforWriters.com, a weekly newsletter service that reaches almost 40,000 writers to include university professors, professional journalists and published mystery authors. Writer’s Digest has recognized the site in its annual 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for a dozen years.

She freelances for trade publications, speaks at several writers’ conferences a year, and is a member of Sisters in Crime, EPIC, Mystery Writers of America, and MENSA. She is published by Bell Bridge Books.

Lowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark

Blurb – Carolina Slade’s a simple government employee offered a bribe by a two-bit hog farmer. She follows the rules, tells the authorities, then all hell breaks loose because she did. She could lose her job and her kids unless she breaks all the rules to solve a crime that’s nobody believes exists.
-or-
Threats, a missing boss, a very dead co-worker, a high-level investigation and a sinister hog farmer: Ag Department manager Carolina Slade is a bean-counting civil servant in hot water. She could lose her job and her kids unless she breaks all the rules to solve a crime nobody believes exists.

Excerpt(s) –

THE OPENING – O-positive primer wasn’t quite the color I had in mind for the small office, but Lucas Sherwood hadn’t given the decor a second thought when he blew out the left side of his head with a .45.

As the office manager, I identified Lucas’ body for the cops, and gave the poor man a quick moment of silence with thoughts to a higher power that he be let through the pearly gates. He died in a place he didn’t like, doing work he wasn’t very good at, having no place else to go. No mother gives birth thinking her child will end up like this. Reading the unexpected note scrawled across his desk pad, gripped me. “Sorry, Slade.” Apologizing for what, I didn’t know.

Damn it, Lucas. What were you thinking?

Lucas Sherwood was death number two. A year ago, almost to the day, my easygoing boss Mickey Wilder drove to one of the islands and never returned. I immediately stepped into Mickey’s job but sensed he continued to peer over my shoulder, my perpetual mentor. His leadership spirit still hovered in the office. The cops labeled his disappearance a probable suicide based on a string of personal factors I wasn’t privy to. The police moved on. We remained behind, shaken in our foundation of Mickey thanks to the whispers and innuendo.

THE BRIBE

Jesse drew me by my stretched sleeve to the truck bed, my face barely a foot from the nearest body. “There’s ten thousand dollars in it for you,” he whispered, draping his arm around my shoulders. “If you find a way to get me the Williams farm. We can iron out the details later . . . in private.” He winked and clicked his tongue. “If you know what I mean.”

Panic coursed through me at the altered state. Like hearing that your churchgoing mother liked bourbon straight and sex on top.

He’d offered me a bribe.

THE PROTAGONIST

My signature line read Carolina Slade Bridges, County Manager, United States Department of Agriculture. I made government loans on behalf of the American taxpayer to the rural residents of Charleston County, South Carolina. Problem was, I spent more time trying to get the money back. Poverty made repayment difficult. My job made for stories the average urban dweller would never comprehend.

Charleston County contains the stylish historic city, which everyone associates with culture, Southern charm, and plantation blue bloods living in antebellum splendor overlooking The Battery. No one envisions small-time farmers scrambling to make a living on Rhett Butler’s stomping ground, but the string of islands along the coastline offered them a reasonable subsistence with the support of federal monies. I admired their pride and tried to ignore their plight, so I could sleep at night.

Slade was my maiden name going back to my great grandmother from Mississippi. Only my Momma and Daddy called me Carolina and nobody who knew me used my married name, Bridges. I loved my heritage, but I didn’t love my husband. Slade was the best title for all concerned.

AN EXCERPT (MEETING THE AGENT)

The IG’s investigator gave me a hard look. “Tell me what Jesse said, Ms. Slade.”

“He said he’d give me ten thousand dollars if I found a way to get him the Williams farm.”

“Did he ask you in those exact words?”

“He didn’t say that precisely, but that’s what he meant.”

“Then let’s start over and you tell me exactly what he said, not what you think he meant.” His pen hand moved furiously across the pad, spreading too much blue ink.

“Don’t toss innuendos at me, Largo. You ought to be glad I’m honest and called the authorities, not dirty enough to take Jesse up on his offer.”

His steel blue eyes held me fast. He leaned back and rolled the pen between his fingers. “Why does he farm if he doesn’t make any money at it? Why do you let him keep farming then?”

My eyes narrowed. “I don’t dictate those half-baked procedures Congress pulls out of the air. I just follow the rules. Farming is damn hard work with ridiculously small rewards. The press eats my agency alive every time there’s a drought, a flood, a freeze or some freak heat wave. We don’t help the farmer enough, or we pour too much money into losing enterprises. I make agricultural loans for a living, and I’m good at it. I follow all the rules to do it.”

He shoved the notepad in his briefcase and stood. Dang, I should’ve mouthed off earlier.

“Tomorrow morning I’ll be at your office around ten with a colleague, Ms. Slade. Tell your staff we’re auditors. After all the agents who snooped around here last year on your boss’s disappearance and Lucas Sherwood’s death last week, a few auditors should mean nothing to them. The less they know the better.”

I saw him to the door. He reversed the car in the driveway and drove off. Overall, I suspected I’d done pretty well chatting with someone who put people in jail for a living, but I didn’t know for sure. And he’d left me with no clue what to expect for tomorrow. Amazing how a farmer’s whims of bribery garnered such quick attention from the IG.

There was a lot more to this than I was being told.

Interview

1. In three days, all power will go off, everywhere for a very long time. What will you include in your author survival kit?

This post is coming out on the heels of SuperStorm Sandy and power outages are very real for our East Coast American readers.

A pack of Zebra fine-tip black ink pens. Tons of spiral notebooks. Thesaurus. A mystery from each of Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich. A Pat Conroy book, probably Prince of Tides. A way to make sweet tea, probably sun tea since there’s no power. That’s it. Everything else is superfluous. It still only takes a pad and ink to make stories happen, and I can do that a long time. I MIGHT take a manual typewriter, because I love thinking while I type and I’m a much faster typist than writer.

2. Where did the idea for the work you are promoting arise?

Real life. Most writers’ first publication stems from something in real life. I was offered a bribe from a client when I was a manager with the Department of Agriculture. The ordeal was rough and NOT fun. My guest post at Friend for the Ride touched upon that part of my life. http://friendfortheride.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/guest-post-3/ . But I didn’t experience suicide and murder, so I took the premise and had a ball embellishing it. Regardless, the adversity and doubt was very real for both Carolina Slade and me. The next two books in the series are pure fabrication, but with such realistic characters, the plotting was remarkably fun.

3. What do you like to read?

Mystery, Southern fiction. I go through at least one a week. I occasionally read/skim how-to books, but they have to be superb because I love my life, and I love to tackle challenges to make it better. I’ve almost quit reading how-to-write books because I’ve read so many and they become repetitive.

4. Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited?

The desert around Phoenix, Arizona where we lived for three years 2003-2005. It was a culture shock from South Carolina but I learned to love it, particularly the desert part outside the city. The beauty is phenomenal, and I love revisiting AZ, NV and NM at least annually. I feel like I must have lived there in another life.

Also, the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany and Mont Sainte Michel in Normandy, France. I visited both of these on the same trip. When you come from the US, with such a miniscule, naive history, walking in places like this dating back centuries before the US was a thought, just steals your breath. I could just stand there and close my eyes, letting history speak to me. Just amazing.

5. What is the most mundane, day to day, thing you can share about yourself?

I hate housework and love being outdoors. My yard will be neat while dust rolls across my floors. The sunshine and trees, the lake and garden, the song birds and my chickens, serve to keep me motivated and richly alive. When I’m down, doubting myself, or frustrated, I go outside and weed, edge, prune or clean chicken coops. My study window faces across my backyard to the lake so every few moments I can glance outside and take it all in, energizing me. I clean the house when someone comes to visit. Otherwise, it’s not a thought.

6. What scares you the most?

Losing my husband. He’s my mainstay and keeps me grounded.
Second? Dark water. I have a phobia about the ocean, lakes, ponds . . . anyplace with dark water. I’ll sit on the bank, beach or maybe the boat, but don’t ask me to get in it. I’m a great swimmer, but if my boat capsized I’d have a heart attack.

7. Tell us anything but keep it G rated.

I’m probably one of the few who enjoys January. It means the holidays are over, and that’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m not a big fan of the flamboyance of holidays. I prefer the everyday life with the exception of birthdays, at which time that person ought to feel special. But regular holidays have become too commercialized for my taste. I love simplicity in my life. Actually will fight for it, making sure I’m not over obligated or over extended. When it comes to being The Shy Writer, I’m it, personified, textbook, to the letter, a fighter of reclusivity and seclusion.

Keywords:

Lowcountry Bribe, C. Hope Clark, mystery, Southern, fiction, Bell Bridge Books, crime, South Carolina, Carolina, Slade, country, agriculture, bribe, Charleston, Edisto, farmer, romantic suspense, FundsforWriters

C. Hope Clark

Author
The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, Bell Bridge Books
Lowcountry Bribe, Feb 2012
Tidewater Murder, early 2013
www.chopeclark.com
-and-
Editor, FundsforWriters, www.fundsforwriters.com
Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, 2001-2012

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