Monday, October 31, 2011

Enter to Win a FREE NOOK

Enter to Win a

Three easy steps!

1. Write a review of "The Advocate's Conviction" (It can be as short or as long as the site permits.)

2. Post it on any website such as,, goodreads, etc., or any blog.

3. Send the link to me at

Post reviews on as many websites as you want. You will receive 3 entries per review. You will also receive 1 entry per comment about "The Advocate's Conviction" on Facebook, Twitter, etc.--up to 5 entries per social network site.

All comments and reviews must be
 posted and proof received by
midnight PST on 1/6/12!*

*Review date was extended a month due to reader requests.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Advocate's Conviction--Sneak Peak

The Advocate's Convictions releases this Saturday, 
October 22, 2011! 


 The fourteen-year-old girl struggled to break free from the bindings on her hands and feet. One woman on each arm held her as she fought. Her feet were in stirrups, and the unbearable pain shot through her abdomen. Her blonde hair was wet with sweat. She yanked her right arm away but the heavy-set woman holding her arm threw her body across the teenager, pinning her down on the hospital bed.
            “No,” the teen screamed. “No! Don’t take my baby.”
            “Push,” the body-blocker said. “Just push.”
            The tall, thin woman holding the teen’s left arm spoke calmly. “You need to stop fighting and breathe. Your baby is coming. You need to push.”
            The girl looked around the small, dirty room for help, but all she saw was a man wearing a surgical mask sitting at the end of the bed between her legs, waiting for her to give birth. He would be no help. After all, she had agreed to this. The candles flickered around her, casting soft shadows around the room. The oak tree painted on the wall and the circle around her bed would protect her, or so she was told. But she hurt so badly and no one seemed to care.
            The heavy-set woman was face to face with her. The girl could feel her breathing and smell her garlicky lunch. “Just push,” she said again.
            The girl screamed.
            “This is your child’s fate. Your baby must be sacrificed. Are you a believer?”
            The girl wanted to say no. She didn’t know what to believe, but fear won out. “Yes,” she said.
            “Yes, what?”
            “Yes, I believe. I believe in the power of the oak. I believe in the power of the oak.” She was chanting now and the two women joined her.
            “I believe in the power of the oak. I believe in the power of the oak.”
            The young girl screamed again as another contraction shot through her. She pushed as hard as she could, then stopped.
            “Again!” the man at her feet yelled. “Push!”
            She pushed and screamed in agony until she felt the mass exit her womb. Her body lay limp on the bed as she heard the baby cry. The heavy-set woman continued to hold her in place while the tall woman took the baby to the back of the room and out of sight. The baby's cries still filled the room.
            Then, silence.
            A few minutes later the woman returned without the child.
           The girl turned her head away and closed her eyes. What have I done?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Identity Theft Among Foster Children

Most of you know that identity theft is a real problem complicated by today’s technology. But it’s not all about the cyber space. Identity theft has been going on for years in the real world. What many of you may not know is that children are attractive targets for these thieves. They are even more vulnerable than adults because a child’s social security number hasn’t been tainted by bad credit and the crime is often not discovered for many years.

One group that appears to be particularly at risk is foster children. These children, and their private information, pass through many hands. And when they are emancipated they often have to face this predicament without any family to help them. So, on top of many years of dealing with more losses than any child should ever have to suffer, they often have to deal with the loss of their identity as well, creating problems with school loans, car loans, and other credit issues. One foster child was tagged with his own father’s child support bill because his father used his son’s social security number when applying for a job. He got the job, his wages were garnished, and then he lost the job. The debt continued until the son ultimately had a $50,000 child support judgment against his credit. Any one who has ever had to deal with this problem knows what a horrendous task it is to get something removed from your credit report.

We don’t know exactly how many of these children end up with bad credit due to identity theft because many of them are never reported. The state of California finally recognized the problem and in 2006 a law was enacted intending to clear foster children’s credit records before they left the system. However, due primarily to limited funding, implementation of the law was delayed--and still is. In 2010 a pilot program was put into place in Los Angeles with some success. You can read the complete report here but one of the key findings included the clearing of 247 separate accounts from the credit reports of 104 foster children. The largest was a home loan of $200,000.

So what needs to be done? Federal legislation was reintroduced last month, the Foster Youth Financial Security Act of 2011, requiring annual credit checks on foster children. Perhaps this will help. These children have enough to deal with. They certainly don’t need to start their adult life with bad credit.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Weekend in Torrance at Barnes & Noble

I had yet another incredible weekend in the Barnes & Noble store in Torrance. The staff there is so wonderful and the readers have become my friends. I get hugs from some of the regulars and lots of smiles from readers. There is one special lady (we'll call her Marilyn) who comes in every time I'm there. She always takes the time to stop and say hello and chat for a bit. Marilyn is very sweet and although there isn't that much difference in our ages, there's something about her that reminds me of my mother which makes the visit even more special.

I'm always flattered when people are excited to see me just because I'm an "author." I understand why that is because as a reader I'm always excited to meet an author whose writing I admire. It's just that I'm still surprised when it's me. Sometimes parents will come in with their children and say, "Look, little Hayden, this woman is an author. She wrote this book." Often the kid isn't too impressed and the parent is apologetic because she expected a different reaction. I find it humorous since I've worked with enough kids to know the "Legos" display will get a lot more attention than me. But one experience last weekend is worth noting. A little boy about 7 or 8 years old stopped about ten feet in front of me. He looked at me, then at my 8 foot sign, and then at the stack of books on my table. He didn't say anything. He started to walk away from me glancing back occasionally. Then he disappeared into the store.

About five minutes later he returned with a big smile on his face and said, "Are you the Arthur?"

I so wanted to respond, "No, I'm the George." But of course I didn't because he was too young to get the joke and besides he was so excited about meeting me. I signed a bookmark and gave it to him. His smile beamed across his face.

As he walked away, he nodded his head and said proudly, "I'm taking this to my teacher."

The children, the booksellers, and readers like Marilyn are the things that make the book tours so much fun for me. There's always some very interesting characters...even some fodder for my books. I should carry a warning sign: "Be careful, you may end up in my novel."