Previous Publications & Excerpts

UNSAFE HARBOR CONFRONTS OUR MOST GUARDED OF FAMILY SECRETS

I wanted to write a readable, interesting and honest story about a relationship involving domestic violence, a subject neglected for the most part in popular fiction with three exceptions - "Sleeping With The Enemy" Nancy Price, "Black & Blue" Anna Quinlan & "The Woman Who Walked Into Doors" Roddy Doyle. "Unsafe Harbor" digs deeper than these three, suggesting causes of behavior and emphasizing damage done to each person who experiences such abuse, as a victim, an observer or a perpetrator.

Twenty-seven year old journalist Katie O'Connell seems to be living the perfect life with new husband, Rhode Island Man of the Year. She has it all: a whaling captain's mansion, a job she enjoys and a sailing yacht. Jeff O'Connell, a charismatic business leader, has swept her off her feet and whisked her from California to Rhode Island and a speedy wedding. The marriage is her dream come true until one month after their wedding, to her astonishment, Jeff brings his four children from his first marriage home to live with them. Running contrary to his often stated feminist views, Jeff's expectation that she quit her writer/columnist job at a newspaper to look after them and his rigid control of their finances, stuns Katie. Soon she suspects that her rush to the altar was part of a duplicitous plan to have a mother figure ready and waiting for the previously planned secret arrival of his children. Meanwhile, behind the walls of their historic home, Jeff, a Dr. Jekyl hero to the outside world becomes a Mr. Hyde at home swaying easily from charming lover to raging autocrat. He explodes regularly, throwing objects across rooms, pushing his fist through walls, and attacking and injuring Katie when she opposes him. What follows is a struggle to free herself from Jeff that ultimately drags Katie into his world of deceit, adultery and danger.

Excerpt:
Tiny red veins speckled his cheeks; his forehead gleamed with perspiration. Katie moved away from the upward shove of his shoulders. Backing herself against a closet door, she said, "I was only gone an hour." He slapped his hand to the sliding door just above her shoulder. Ducking under his arm and maneuvering around him she heard his heavy feet behind her as she made a dash for the staircase. Halfway down the stairs, she heard the thud of a shoe smacking hard against delicate banister poles. She let go of the railing, reeled around and stepped back from the sound of old mahogany cracking and the smell of wood being torn apart. Now flattened against the opposite wall, she looked over her shoulder at Jeff whose knee was already bent and raised to land another blow sideways with the sole of his shoe.

 

"Every Effort" St. Martin's Press: One woman's search for her missing husband: a true story. Library Journal: "Extremely moving...A powerful account..." Kirkus; "A warm engrossing story..." Senator Mark Hatfield: "Her story of anger and desperation is a gripping one..." Former Senator Eugene J. McCarthy: "Mrs. Mullen's quest ...lends classical dignity to a most undignified war."

Excerpt:
April 29, 1966 "There were two Marine officers standing in the dim hall light, looking like a photo: unmoving, in dress blues, high necked jackets, red stripes down the sides of their pants, white gloves. The taller of the two had a mouth that was moving as if a tape recorder under his jacket was producing the sound, then words '...we must inform you radio contact with your husband's plane was lost on a flight over Southeast Asia... rescue planes and helicopters are searching.' 'Searching! Searching', I screamed as my body slumped toward a wall and sank limply to the floor....
Spring 1975. And now that it had happened there was hardly a ripple of concern. The worst that happened nationally was a deflated spirit. Our resources had been drained by a surrogate enemy; our real defense capability weakened by our Asian escapade. Yet no one wanted to talk about the conflict afterward. It appeared that our longest war would have the shortest memory. Though some of can never forget.

 

"Dominic's Daughter" Wheatmark Publishers: Told with a generous amount of Irish humor, "Dominic's Daughter" is an honest portrayal of personal foibles and stubborn courage. Pen and Brush, Inc., New York, Sarah Bracey White: "Dynamic storytelling that makes a story come alive... -- Congratulations on your Honorable Mention in our 2006 Pen and Prose contest."

Excerpt:
"No matter how much I grew to fear Ma's strict discipline I understood that three generations of Hogans and Mahaars owed her a debt of gratitude .She worried about our food supply night and day? Would it stretch until spring? Would the coming summer produce the needed vegetables for canning? Would the monthly boarders bring in enough money to buy a side of beef? Would there be enough milk for the children to drink and for making butter? And how many hungry kids would there be at her table during the coming year?" "I'd like some day to write about my family,' said fourteen year old Ruthie Hogan,'men who crossed oceans and carried families across continents to have a better life and about those who failed to measure up to the task and took to the drink and lost wives and children. And to tell about the slow children who got kicked around and were never taught anything worthwhile. And about people who spit into the wind cause the wind had never been at their backs. And yet found much to laugh about. And who go on thanking the powers that be for being where they are which is still better than where they came from."

 

"When You Marry a Man With Children" Simon and Schuster, Pocket Books: With wit and clarity presents real life problems in stepfamilies. Stepfamily Association of America, Claudia Dougherty, Secretary SAA: "We have found that ..."When You Marry a Man With Children" is one of the most requested books in our catalog..."

Excerpt:
"The myth stepmothers encounter is unexpected and potentially damaging. It rests on the faulty premise that a child's only "real" parents are his biological parents. Americans are terrified to acknowledge that adults other than the biological mother and father participate in the rearing of children. Our culture clings to a religious, traditional, almost mythical interpretation of the word parent. Although today's natural parents may care for their children on a joint custody basis, see them on a strict visitation schedule, or have little contact with them, they are considered to be the child's only "real" parents by our society. With half of first marriages ending in divorce, this viewpoint is just plain wrong. Still the public demonstrates little sensitivity for the awkward position of stepparents."