• True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The N.C. Murders of Viktor Gunnarsson and Catherine Miller

    North Carolina isn’t exactly the place where one would expect to find a man suspected of being involved with the assassination of the Prime Minister of Sweden hiding out. Nor would they expect the man would be murdered as the result of a love triangle and not his troubles abroad. But that’s what happened to Viktor Gunnarsson in December 1993. On Feb. 28, 1986, Prime Minister Olof Palme was exiting a movie theater on a busy street in Stockholm when he was shot and killed. His wife, Lisbet, sustained injuries during the attack but survived. Because Gunnarsson, known to be a staunch right-wing extremist at the time, was spouting off hate speech about…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Murder of Foy Dixon Cooper

    Author David Aaron Moore shared the story of Foy Dixon Cooper in his book Charlotte: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem. At around 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 20, 1959, a group of young boys gathered in the Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte to play and chase squirrels and chipmunks like they often did. Playing in a cemetery could involve quite a bit of creative role playing for energetic children, so when one boy, Dale Jackson, dared Ronnie McCauley to enter a nearby crypt so he could meet Dracula, the youngster didn’t back down. McCauley stuck his hand and then his head into the opening of the crypt, screaming, “Hey, there’s a real dead woman in…

  • Lifestyle,  Travel

    Time to Get Away

    This letter appears in the June 2021 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. For so many years, my weekends have been filled with “to-do’s.” I must go to the grocery store. I have to get to my kids’ sporting events. I absolutely must clean the house. A Target run is essential. All those things I couldn’t quite get to during the week because of work and weekday activities would be pushed off until the weekend. Before I knew it, the entire weekend would have been filled up with me running around from place to place only to collapse, exhausted, on Sunday evening wondering how it was already time to get back to work the…

  • 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: 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…