Category Archives: #NewReadersWanted

Staying True To My Roots

No, I don’t mean the color of my hair. It’s silver-white by nature. What I mean is I can’t and won’t walk away from the roots of what make me me.

I discovered the world when I went away to college. Even with the Vietnam war lucking in the darkness of my senior year of high school, it didn’t make a huge impact until graduation day. That was when I realized that almost fifty percent of the boys in my class who weren’t going to college–and that was the majority at my high school–were being drafted within weeks of graduation. Fifty percent. Boys I’d danced with, cheered for on the football field, studied with. They were going into the draft. And I was off to college. It didn’t seem fair. Just because I was female, I was somehow safe.

I had already had two run-ins with the reality of the wider world. I had everything I needed to go the college of my choice. I contacted my congressman and asked for a recommendation to the Naval Academy. His response: a form rejection letter. A form letter! I was ineligible. My principal took me aside and explained a painful fact of life. Not in so many words, but he told me I wasn’t eligible for the Academy because I didn’t have a penis. The Academy was still male only. It wouldn’t be until 1980 when the first co-eds entered the Academy.

The second smack of reality was when my high school counselor refused to sign my college applications. She didn’t approve of the colleges I’d chosen. She said I should go to the local junior college (old term, but I’m old) and study to be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary. That’s all she knew; that’s what she counseled all girls. So, my principal stepped in and sound my applications. When I was admitted to UCLA, I walked into her office, wished her a wonderful life, and left a copy of my acceptance letter on her desk.

Once I got to campus in Westwood, I absorbed the zeitgeist. The war in Vietnam. Poisoning the earth. People’s rights. Women’s rights. I marched against the war, sat in at a Federal building and was arrested so many times I knew the sergeant at the booking desk by name. No charges were filed. We spent the night in the drunk tank before being released. The police were so overworked with bigger problems that a few dozen students peacefully protesting the war and doing their homework on the floor of the Federal building didn’t warrant a fuss.

I found a home marching against injustice and give voice to those who couldn’t. I marched for all sorts of reasons, but the one that mattered the most was the Delano to Sacramento march for field workers rights. I didn’t do the entire march, all 340 miles, but I was out there several times. I still have buckshot in my ass from a sheriff firing off his shotgun to chase us off the highway. Forget that we had a legal right to be there. Forget that we had permits to march if we didn’t block traffic. Forget we were right. The sheriffs had shotguns. I recently told a friend about the march. She immediately dubbed me, “Buckshot Betsy.” Never thought about a nickname, but it fits.

In 1967 groups of students stood in silence to protest Dow Chemical, the maker of napalm, recruiting on campus. This went on for weeks. UCLA didn’t experience the violence that University of Wisconsin did, but we did get public attention. I protested the treatment of women and burned my bra for Women’s Rights.

With that as my background is it any wonder that I include injustice in my novels? I had Mad Max confront an crazy doctor who killed women, racial injustice, pastoral malfeasance, a scientist who released pathogens into a hospital. Follow that with a serial killer with her own warped code of “ethics,” and a group of militia that attacked military institutions.

Look for more hints of my activism. Meet me on the street and you’ll see me wearing my “Black Lives Matter” mask over my N95. Scratch my surface and you’ll find the long-time activist alive and well. Instead of marching or standing in the rain holding signs, however, you’ll find me raising my voice here and in my other writings. Join me.

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Filed under #Memories, #NewReadersWanted, #WritingLife, Uncategorized

Breathing Life Back Into This Blog

After an absence longer that I thought it would be, I’m resurrecting this blog. During the pandemic last year, I wrote and never posted a series of essays about what was happening. I didn’t post them because I thought we had enough voices commenting on all things related to COVID.

I talked with a lot of people about what I want to say. Some thought I should write exclusively about my writing life: what I’m writing, where I am in the creative process, what I’ve learned about writing in the process. And I looked at how many blogs I read about these topics. For me to add my voice to this cacophony seemed like hubris. That’s not to say I’ll keep readers informed of what I’m working on. I will, but that won’t be the central emphasis of what I write in this space.

And then there are the advisors who insist that I stay away from anything controversial. “Don’t write about politics, because you’ll lose readers.” Really. I write about social issues in every one, repeat EVERY ONE, of my novels. Unintended Consequences? Abuse of women. Uncharted Territory? Pastoral abuse, child endangerment, immigration. Unsafe Haven? Pandemic. And it goes on. Telling a former activist not to write about controversial topics is a futile activity. This is a woman who still has buckshot in her butt from a deputy sheriff taking umbrage at legal protestors walking along a highway. Might as well tell me not to breathe.

So, what will this be about? Whatever’s on my mind when I sit down to write. It will have updates on my books. It will have announcements of upcoming special deals.

And it will have something new. I review a lot of books every year, both written by my friends and by top-selling authors. I’ll post some of those reviews here, mostly for books written by friends. They deserve another lift up in their writing journeys.

For now, I’m announcing specials on all of my books. Print versions of all six at $10/each. For a limited time, ebooks are $0.99/each.

All books are available on Amazon at https://bit.ly/BetsyAshton.

Until next time, be safe, be happy. Read on, right now.

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Introducing BETRAYAL

It took longer than I thought, but at last I can announce that my latest thriller, BETRAYAL, is days away from publication. It’s nearly a year late, partly because of COVID (no, neither I nor my family have been ill), partly because of COVID malaise. I’d write and write, only to find I didn’t like much of what was on the screen. I found the delete key became my best friend. And then, one day, I woke up and began working in earnest. So, a year after what I’d hoped was my release date, I’m now closing in on it. For real.

My ARC team read the manuscript and gave me so many great suggestions for improvement. I read them all and took the majority. They were truly great catches, mostly of plot holes. My editor, who is also a pilot, edited not only with an eye for misplaced commas but also for bone-headed mistakes about flying. Thanks to her, I don’t sound like an idiot when I talk about following a flight path to a target. My cover designer fought through unanticipated school closures for her young son to come up with this cover.

“[When] a military jet [crashes] at an Army-Navy game, the danger has never been greater nor the investigation more personal.”—DIANE FANNING, NYT Best-Selling Crime Writer

“…a thriller with heart, and the human side of the drama…makes this book a winner.” AUSTIN S. CAMACHO, Author of the Hannibal Jones Mystery Series

Over 70,000 fans gather at the M&T Bank Stadium for the annual Army-Navy game. Three Navy fighters roar into the stadium air space. A fourth lags behind. The plane loses power. Cheers become screams when it crashes into the tailgating parking lot outside the stadium and explodes.

Was it pilot error? Suicide? Mechanical failure? Or worse?

Three couples in the Section Two Fan Club who knew the pilot—or thought they did—join a multi-departmental government task force to investigate.

Coincidentally, cameras capture a mysterious figure they call Fedora Man at a series of attacks on civilian and military targets. When he appears at the stadium, the Fan Club works to discover if the bombings and plane crash part of a larger pattern.

Amazon link coming soon..

What do you think? Is this something you’d be interested in reading? I’ll update with purchase links shortly.

Thanks again for joining me on my writing journey. See you in this space again soon.

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Filed under #AmWriting, #BookTeaser, #NewReadersWanted, #NewRelease, Uncategorized

Pods, Pods, Pods

I’ve been thinking a lot about pods lately. All kinds of pods. Pea pods, to be sure, since the harvest is in and mounds of fresh veggies are available.

Pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Some days I think pod people have taken over the airways. I’ve always enjoyed that movie, but living it gives me a whole new perspective. 

Other pods include learning pods, where groups of parents gather together to hire a professional teacher to augment distance learning.  

My favorite pod, however, is our Saturday at 6P “cocktail pod.” You read that right. Since the middle of March, neighbors have gathered at the end of our cul-de-sac for human interaction and cocktails. Strictly a BYO drinks. Oh, and chair. We do keep our distance but don’t wear masks because we are outside. 

Last week, we had 14, including a few kids and dogs, which provided entertainment by dancing in the circle. We had an unusual event. One home owner is renovating his house and nearly doubling its size. He had grown children, in-laws, and grands at the circle. Another couple came with their 6 yo girl. She usually draws in chalk and leaves her art for us to enjoy. 

The story was complex, but it began with a mention of the university the renovator went to. Two other people who are regulars also went to the same school, although a couple of generations separated them. One woman mentioned that her aunt also graduated from said university. Very long story short, the renovator and his clan and the family with the chalk artist are related by marriage and never knew it. The longer they talked, the more relatives they identified. 

When we broke up, one of the younger regulars mouthed, “WTF was that?”

That, folks, was a moment. Two families who had never met, met. So, we can be physically distanced, but can still interact socially. 

What cool pandemic things have happened to you? 

Peace, out.

#AmWriting
As a writer who is happy as a clam in her writing cave, I glad I turned this time into creative endeavors. I’m making fantastic headway on Betrayal, a suspense story with lots of explosions. I can’t wait to share the cover with you.
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#NewReadersWanted
If you are looking for something a little different, these four books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them. 
Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX 
Uncharted Territory http://amzn.to/1T71q6D
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert 
You can get all three Mad Max ebooks for $5.97 at https://amzn.to/2V4d76v. 
Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it. Thanks, and read on, right now.

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Filed under #AmWriting, #GoofingAround, #NewReadersWanted, Uncategorized

#StayHomeAndRead

Like most of us, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing lately. My most recent book was Heath Hardage Lee’s A League of Women about the wives who refused to stay silent while their husbands were captive in Vietnam.

These women. who were raised in the white-gloves-and-hats era, shed their inhibitions and went public about the plight of their men held in Hanoi Hilton. They faced off with presidents and negotiators, used anti-war groups to get messages to their husbands, and refused to take “no” for an answer. Lee focused on the wives of POWs and MIAs. She could not write about a host of other women who were not recognized by the government.

I was one of those women. I was engaged to an Army doctor who was supposed to work out of a hospital, not in the field. An orthopedist by training, he was in demand to repair major injuries. He went missing one day. No word to his mother. No word to me. I know for a fact that I was listed as his next of kin, even though we weren’t yet married. I know his mother was also listed. We received no word, no visit from a uniformed officer with bad news. As far as the Army was concerned, we didn’t exist.

Lee’s book stirred memories. Anger. Grief. Anger. I was mostly angry while we waited for news. Grief came after 19 months when I finally pestered the Army into giving me information on his whereabouts. His status went from MIA to KIA, from missing to killed. I found myself thinking about what great work he would have done, how he would have lived his life, with or without me. I was angry anew that we women were treated like pesky flies to be flicked away with hollow platitudes.

Lee’s book is more than worth a read by those who didn’t know much about what the women experienced. I knew most of the stories, but having them packaged in a most readable book made them real all over again.

What are you reading?
Peace, out.

#AmWriting

For a writer who loves her writer’s cave, I’ve been filling this stay-at-home period with an increased level of creativity. I’m currently working on a short story, The Return of the Blanched COVIDians, an allegory, or a satire, or just a plain mess. Haven’t decided which.

Another short story, Revenge on the Rocks, will be published in a new anthology, Murder by the Glass. Same folks who brought you 50 Shades of Cabernet.

I’m making fantastic headway on Betrayal, a suspense story with lots of explosions. 

#NewReadersWanted

If you are looking for something a little different, these four books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX
Uncharted Territory http://amzn.to/1T71q6D
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Thanks, and read on, right now.

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Filed under #AmWriting, #Memories, #NewReadersWanted, #StayHomeAndRead, Uncategorized

Musings on Privilege

I used to think that privilege meant you had to have a lot of money, that you had to be born into the “right” level of society, that you had to be a mover and a shaker. I’ve grown out of those beliefs, because in the current environment, privilege has taken on an entirely different meaning.

We live in dangerous times. Millions are out of work. More millions are sick with this terrible virus. Even more are employed but working from home under conditions they never imagined.

I realized how truly privileged my extended family is. All of us can and do work from home. We are fortunate to have professions where we can transfer to online work and still be paid. We have enough food to eat, even though going food shopping can seem like a descent into the hell of the unmasked. We can go for walks, as long as we stay ten feet apart. We can run, play outside (but not in packs), meet in driveways for some human-to-human conversation. Maybe put on some music and do the electric slide. We are so very privileged.

I feel for the hourly employees who have lost their livelihoods. They can’t wait tables from home or clean houses or cut hair. They don’t have nest eggs of three to six months of savings to get through any rough spot. Many don’t have a nest egg at all.

Our government passed laws to help these employees, but when I ask my friends where I live if they’ve received any benefits from the more than $3T, that’s trillion, laws, only two have. The rest wait and eat the food they have at home, live off credit cards, or go to food banks.

I feel for the first responders and health care workers who show up every day, put themselves in harm’s way, and do their jobs. My hat is off to all of them.

What I do not feel is a sense of entitlement to walk around in public without a mask. That is the topic for a different message.

So, please join me in feeling privileged to live in a country where we have food to eat, medical facilities when we need them, and a population that is willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of keeping ourselves and others safe.
Peace, out.

#StayHomeAndRead

I just finished reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, about a pandemic that tried to wipe out mankind. Almost too close to what is  happening now, but I couldn’t put it down.

If you are looking for something a little different, these three books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And Max 3, Uncharted Territory, will soon join the $0.99 club. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Thanks, and read on, right now.

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Filed under #AmWriting, #NewReadersWanted, #StayHomeAndRead, Uncategorized