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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach
in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” ~ Dita
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.
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.
writing career began at the tender age of 15 when she wrote a beautiful love
story as part of her English literature homework...
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.
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.
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.
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
There was no clothes-line so
she placed the damp garments over a plastic chair in the corner and went back
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
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.
Leave a comment and be in the draw to win this pendant.
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.
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
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.”
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.
is that a person in the surf? Whoever it is seems to be going out rather than
swimming in. What do you think?”
they peered, watching closely until an arm was raised. Then a flailing and the
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.
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.
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.