The Clock Strikes Midnight
by Joan C. Curtis
The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.
If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.
Hiding behind the façade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.
Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years.
“Daddy, when I get my kitty, can I name him Davy?” she had asked, yanking Marlene’s Davy Crockett mug full of M&M’s from her grasp.
The colorful candy spilled all over the backseat of the car.
“Mama, tell Janie to—”
“Janie, behave,” Daddy said, admonishing her for an instant with his eyes from the rearview mirror.
“Malcolm, look out—!” Mom screamed.
Janie slammed into Marlene. Pain. The world tumbled topsy-turvy. The mug flew across the interior of the car, colors of the rainbow falling all around her.
Then, everything went black.
When she opened her eyes, Mom’s blood-streaked face rose in front of her out of the darkness.
“Wrap your arms around my neck, honey.” Mom lifted her from the wreckage.
Janie clutched her doll by the dress while the rain beat her curly hair flat.
Marlene stood on the side of the road.
“Try to walk,” Mom said, toppling her from her arms.
Her head pounded and blood trickled down her leg. She leaned on her good leg and limped in the direction of her sister.
“Mama, where’s Daddy?” Marlene asked between sobs.
Mom took Marlene’s hand and yanked her forward with Janie in tow.
Marlene lurched back toward the smashed Oldsmobile with smoke billowing from its hood and a big tree lying across the roof. The Davy Crockett mug lay shattered by the back tire.
“Daddy! We can’t leave Daddy!” Marlene yelled, picking up pieces of the broken glass.
They had left Daddy that day and piled into an old Chevy pick-up truck with a bashed in headlamp, belonging to a man with carrot-red hair. Mom pushed them inside the truck and ordered the man to get help. But by then it was too late for Daddy.
It was too late for all of them.
Tips for Dealing with Rejection—My Personal Advice by Joan C. Curtis
Rejection. With trembling hands we open the email only to find the familiar words, “So sorry, but this isn’t for us.”
What do you do next?
When I began putting my words on paper, I was a young English student. I expected rejection and ridicule. I had no lofty belief that my English teacher would read what I wrote and rave at my brilliance. Instead, I expected (and rightly so) criticism. At that point in my life, I realized that writing is fraught with the prospect of rejection.
Never did I realize then what I know now–that rejection is a part of a writer’s life. Each time a perfectly crafted query goes unnoticed or worse still in the slush pile, I cringe and hide my head. More than once, I’ve given up on the project and allowed it to disappear among my long list of Documents, unread and forgotten.
Withstanding rejection is one of the hardest things any artist has to learn to do. Whether you’re a painter, artisan of jewelry, writer or performer, there are people out there who will not love your work. Those people tend to drive us nuts.
As a stand-up trainer I face audiences all the time and I’ve learned a thing or two about rejection.
1) For every person out there who frowns at you, there are fifteen who are smiling.
2) If we focus on the frowns, we will not only become paralyzed, but we will also fail those smiling faces.
3) Sometimes the frowns are misinterpreted. Sometimes even they are smiling underneath the frown.
4) Those who persist win.
I’m trying to adapt these insights to my writing endeavors. When someone rejects my work, I remind myself that agent or publisher or reader is not rejecting me. And, guess what, maybe my timing was wrong. Maybe it was a perfectly crafted query. If I persist, maybe someone will look up from the page and smile.
My best personal advice for handling rejection? Keep writing, keep submitting and set up a rejection file.
- Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, Sea Oats Review, Winter, 2004
- A Memoir Of A Friend, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, 2003 and Flint River Review, 1996
- Jacque’s Story in From Eulogy to Joy, 2002
- The Roommate, Whispering Willow Mystery Magazine, April 1997
- A Special Sort of Stubbornness, Reader’s Digest, March 1997,
- My Father’s Final Gift, Reader Digest, November 1994
Her first place writing awards include: best mystery manuscript in the Malice Domestic Grants competition; best proposal for a nonfiction piece in the Harriette Austin competition; and best story, Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, in the Cassell Network of Freelance Writer’s Association.
Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA 2012.
The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Praeger Press, 2010, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA
Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplace, 2009, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA.
Strategic Interviewing: Skills for Savvy Executives, 2000 published by Quorum Books, Greenwood Press.
“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”
Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.
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