By guest blogger Kim McMahill
I love reading books in a series. A series gives the reader the opportunity to really get to know the characters on a personal level. We get to see the recurring protagonists and antagonists progress emotionally, evolve into better or worse people, and sometimes we see them age. No matter if the story is far outside our real lives, we still often connect to the characters as we share some of the same experiences—a challenge at work, a bully, a crisis of faith, a health issue, or relationship woes or wows.
So, when is it time to let go? It depends on the series. I don’t think there is an easy answer, but there are a number of triggers. Has the storyline fizzled out, has the objective been achieved, or has the protagonist aged to the point that his or her heroics are no longer believable?
I started my Risky Research Series with a clear vision of how the series would develop and end, but I’m starting to realize I may not be in total control. When, and if, FBI agent Devyn Nash dismantles a deadly organization obsessed with controlling the multi-billion-dollar diet product industry and brings them to justice, she’s got more to accomplish. Will her next case be strong enough to carry the series past nabbing Coterie? Will she still have a job with the FBI after A Foundation of Fear? Honestly, I’m not sure yet, but in the meantime she has some very dangerous individuals to track down.
It all began in A Dose of Danger (currently free with Kindle Unlimited), when a call from Wyoming sheriff, Gage Harris, confirmed that someone was behind a string of related crimes happening across the country, forcing the FBI to open an investigation. The cases take Devyn and her partner Nick Melonis from the Salt Lake City Field Office to Wyoming in Book 1, A Dose of Danger. Book 2, A Taste of Tragedy, brings them closer to the killers and to Nick’s ex-wife as they follow clues to a deadly sweetener to Arizona. In book 3, A Foundation of Fear (just released), Devyn closes in on one member of Coterie in Washington, D.C., allowing the reader to get inside the head of an assassin.
In book 4…well let’s don’t go there yet. Devyn still has work and she needs to figure out what to do about the handsome sheriff who has stolen her heart. Until the members of Coterie are brought to justice and Devyn seals the deal with the sheriff, the series must go on. So no goodbyes yet.
[To learn more about the Risky Research Series or to download your copy, visit any of these links:
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Kim+McMahill?_requestid=1007373
Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. Kim currently resides in Colorado, and when not writing, she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, and spending time with family. To get to know Kim, you can find her at any of the following links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimMcMahillAuthor/
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/849945.Kim_McMahill
A heartbreaking finale in a favorite television show left me, as well as the actors, sobbing. A father suffering from the results of a career as a miner slowly drifted from life to death, surrounded by his family. Particularly poignant to me because I’ve had several good friends tread this path recently.
But unlike the people in the program, I was unable to say goodbye to my friends. In every instance, the closest relatives decided to restrict visits. Certainly within their rights, but the reason sometimes was, “I don’t want you to remember her that way.” So I’m left with no memory of taking leave at all.
Funerals and memorial services also frequently seem to be dropped by the wayside these days. No chance to reminisce with others who knew the friend, no swapping of tales good or bad, no exchange of comfort. Just a blank where my friends used to be.
I’m not religious, and these deceased friends weren’t so inclined either. Yet I remember going to a number of services, formal or informal, to say a mental farewell to loved ones. More than that, to offer support to those they’ve left behind, create an emotional finale to a friendship, to ease my own grief. My dad didn’t want a service, so I created a little ceremony in my home for my kids, husband and myself, complete with matzos (my father was a nonpracticing Jew) and a few memories. I needed that.
Funerals and memorials have almost nothing to do with the deceased, but everything to do with the survivors. As humans, we must have rituals of some sort in order to move on or mark significant occurrences in our lives. Perhaps even more important, we require ways to judge, evaluate, measure. If we’re never poor, how do we value wealth? If we never know hate, how do we understand love? If we’re never young, how can we appreciate growing old? Without acknowledgement of the process of dying, where’s our growth in living?
In our contemporary era, everybody’s supposed to be happy happy happy all the time. Books, speeches, health professionals, friends give us advice on how to achieve this exalted state. But by eliminating farewell visits to the dying, along with funerals and memorials, we’re robbing ourselves and our nearest and dearest of an important process. The obese person who primarily gorges on sugar isn’t well. Isn’t this similarly true if we avoid and ignore sad times?
My husband and I have had some end-of-life conversations. He believes in leaving the decision about disposing of remains to survivors. “I won’t be around,” he says. But you can bet your bottom dollar if my husband is first to go, I’ll have some sort of observance, some acknowledgement this person existed, made a difference, and will be remembered.
I remember watching President Kennedy’s funeral on tv. His assassination wasn’t real to me until then. Unfortunately this is now a pattern for me. Death, disbelief, some sort of ritual, reality, then belief. Over and over. The Columbine school victims, 9/11, the dead Santa Fe students, Sandy Hook, victims of floods, fires, famine, and mankind’s evil. Now in my home state, yet another martyred student. I must mourn death and evil to survive them.
I need these aids, and so do many people. Nirvana and paradise are reserved for those who have completed their earthly existence, not for us now.
I find myself turning more to poetry the older I get. Maybe because I’m uncertain about the process of aging. I thought I’d have more answers, but I get more uncertain with each passing day. It seems I can come to grips with that uncertainty, and, by the way, with insomnia, by indulging myself.
Here is a line
Here is a line,
A place, a space,
Where she is and she is not.
Containing finite territory and infinite ether.
Side by side. Both parts are her. Seen and unseen.
How can this be? Yet it is.
“Metastatic breast cancer.”
She speaks with practiced ease from saying the words a thousand times,
Thinking them a million times.
Where she is now will become the reverse,
Where she is now will transmute into a void.
How will I know her shape when she is gone?
Both halves exist now. Her and not-her.
Both halves will continue afterwards. Her and not her.
She walks, a shape, a shade, at the same time,
Her presence, gradually losing substance until she becomes her own counterpart.
I wait day by day.
Grasp the wisps of her
Flowing through my fingers like fog.
Hardly satisfactory, now or then,
Until she is missing.
Only a hollow,
Nothing to be done
Except fill the outlines of both sides of her with my pain
Jump for joy.
Run and throw arms up and out,
Spin, whirl, twirl, hair trailing, blowing.
Always moving, never stopping, somersaulting, kicking, vaulting.
Leap off stairs, roll down hills.
Toss balls and handfuls of grass, even an umbrella if you have one,
Or a little brother.
Pull skirts over butts, shoulders, heads.
Break things—toys, sticks, balloons, but not bones.
Sob when mom says no.
Pick nose, scratch sting, bite sister.
Lick a Popsicle, spit a wad, chew a taffy, suck a straw, munch a cookie.
Scream, howl, whistle, sing.
Skip, race, yell, punch.
Hair and arms and legs flying.
Small last one trying, always failing
to keep up.
Laugh, smile, cry, shout.
Turn, dance, clap in time or out
Hug, kiss, stroke, pinch, cry.
Chase, catch, push, knock down.
Dance, parade, prance.
Faces smeared with ice cream, dirt, chocolate, mustard.
Look up. Clouds, sky.
Look around. Trees, park, people.
Trip, fall, laugh, cry.
Everyone loves someone here.
Yes, even the blond toddler blasting anger.
How long will this last? How long can it?
Harvest energy and life unbound.
A new crop next year.
(I’ve been trying my hand at more poetry, usually grounded in the everyday)