• Book Review

    The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

    Synopsis: Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name—and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help. The new season of Rachel’s podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: William Dathan Holbert

    He was known to his friends as “Wild Bill Cortez” on the small islands of Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean enclave in Panama popular with tourists and expats. But what no one knew was that “Wild Bill” was actually a fugitive from North Carolina who had found the perfect paradise to fund a lifestyle he felt he deserved. In reality, the man was named William Dathan Holbert and he grew up in Hendersonville, N.C., where he played football at North Henderson High School, started up his own landscaping business after graduation, got married and fathered three children. In 2004, while working at a fitness chain in the Asheville area called The Body Shop,…

  • Lifestyle

    Observations from a Mom

    This letter appears in the May 2021 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. My mother and I have always had a complicated relationship, and I think that’s true for a lot of mothers and daughters. But as I’ve grown older and become a mom myself, there are so many things I would like to tell my mother. I understand that you can tell yourself that you may be the type of person who doesn’t need to have children, and then you hold your child for the first time and your heart becomes a messy puddle. You will realize there’s a huge difference between the ages of 1 and 2 years and become that person…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Murder of Christina Maria Matos

    Christina Maria Matos was just trying to help out a friend, but the generosity she was so well known for likely caused her death. Matos had just turned 20 and was living in an apartment in Raleigh, N.C. and working as a server in a couple of different restaurants. Last semester she had taken courses at nearby Wake Tech Community College. Her parents spoke to her on her birthday, Fri., April 2, 2021, and she was excited to be going out with friends. When they didn’t hear from her for the rest of the weekend, they grew concerned, because it wasn’t like her not to respond to their calls or texts. When she…

  • Lifestyle

    Get Refreshed

    This letter originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. When I was twelve, I moved from Central Texas to the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where I spent much of my time outdoors, hiking on nearby trails, taking long drives on the parkway with my parents, eating berries straight off the bushes the bloomed in our yard and playing in the icy rivers. I’ve come to realize nature has always been a big part of my life, even if I consider myself a homebody who probably spends too much time indoors reading, working or simply trying to cover off all the household chores. It’s hard to…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: An Update in the Kristin Smart Case

    In January of last year I wrote about the podcast, Your Own Backyard, which Chris Lambert created and produced. Smart’s disappearance has always been a sad mystery to me, because she went missing from her university in California at the same time I was attending college in North Carolina. She was a 19-year old student at Cal Polytechnic State University attending an off-campus party when she became intoxicated and walked home with two classmates, one being a young man named Paul Flores who was questioned after she went missing. I always had a sinking feeling harm came to Smart and because she was inebriated, she was unable to defend herself properly (FYI–Paul Flores…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Craft of Writing on the Strange and Sinister

    In addition to writing about true crime here, I’ve also shared my story of honing the craft over at WOW! Women on Writing. Here are a just a few of the posts I’ve written on the topic, and it’s fun to see my progression go from just a spark to a fully-developed project or idea. How to Write Compelling True Crime. In this post I share how I came up with the idea to start up Missing in the Carolinas, and how it evolved from being just a missing persons podcast to one that mixes in solved cases and reviews of other true crime shows and books. I also used this content to…

  • Creative Writing

    Review of Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Class

    When WOW! Women on Writing asked me if I’d like to review the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course I jumped at the chance. I have several novels in need of revision and thought a more structured program might give me the help I’ve been needing, plus I have a copy of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody and it’s one of my most treasured writing tools. See below for more information on the course and my review. First, what is Save the Cat!®?  Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily…

  • Mystery,  True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Who Was Mecklenburg Jane Doe?

    Did you know Mecklenburg County in North Carolina has a cold case featuring an unidentified deceased woman whose loved ones may be missing her? Investigators with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have given her the name of “Mecklenburg County Doe.” On March 17, 2011, the incomplete skeletal remains of a female were found in a wooded area on Statesville Avenue in Charlotte. The woman, who was estimated to be between the ages of 20-30 years old, was white or Hispanic. She weighed around 110 pounds when she died. The manner and cause of death have not been released at this time. She was wearing a small white t-shirt with the words “Virginia Beach, Virginia”…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: What Happened to Bruce Ruffin of Charlotte, N.C.?

    The murder of Bruce Ruffin remains an open cold case for Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. Although he went missing on April 19, 1986, investigators assumed pretty early on that the 50-year-old had met with foul play. Ruffin was a resident of Midland, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte. At the time of his disappearance he was a married father of four who owned Dart Enterprise, a real estate firm located in uptown Charlotte. Ruffin had moved to Charlotte from Greensboro in the mid 1960s. He was a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and had started out his career running a construction company with his brothers. While he was in college,…