Category Archives: Without Proof

Read an excerpt from Without Proof

Want to read an excerpt from Without Proof? Here’s the start of chapter one: 

The doorbell echoed from the main floor. Amy dropped the square of sandpaper onto the frame she’d been finishing and flexed her aching fingers.

Overhead, light footsteps headed for the door. Michael’s aunt could sign for the delivery, but Amy wanted to check the boxes. She rolled her shoulders to work out a kink, then slid from the stool and brushed a layer of dust from her clothing.

Aunt Bay’s voice met her at the top of the basement stairs. “She may not want to talk to you.”

Not the printer order after all. She, as in me? Amy took a few silent steps but stopped out of sight.

Want to read more? Here’s the link to the rest of the Without Proof excerpt (it’s too long to post here).

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3][ Want the full story? Buy links are on the Without Proof page, and there’s a pre-order sale price for the ebook versions until Nov. 10.]

Without Proof: Meet the Supporting Cast

In getting to know the characters of Without Proof, we’ve met Amy, the heroine, Michael, her boss, and Aunt Bay, Michael’s great-aunt.

Today I want to introduce you to some of the secondary characters:

Emilie Renaud is the youngest sister of Amy’s dead fiancé, Gilles. She’s attending university in Halifax, NS, instead of her home city of Montreal, because she wanted to be near her brother… and to be near Michael, truth told. Emilie’s quirky, fun, and her hair is usually some bright, eye-catching colour.

Luc Renaud is Gilles and Emilie’s father. He owns an elite car dealership with showrooms in Montreal and Halifax, and divides his time between them. Luc has always been kind to Amy, but her questions about the crash turn him hostile.

Ross Zarin and his father occasionally buy Michael’s paintings for their hotel chain. Ross understands grief, and he’d like to help Amy with hers. He knows that sometimes those closest to us are too close to see when we’re ready to move on with life.

Troy Hicks is the journalist who starts it all with his questions to Amy. Troy’s a friend of Michael’s, and he and Michael attend the same men’s group at Troy’s church.

Safia and Dafiq are a mother and preschool-aged son who live next door to Michael’s gallery and studio. I just realized I never learned their surname, or Safia’s husband’s name. Safia is gentle and friendly, and Dafiq is, well, exuberant. Aunt Bay has a special fondness for him, cultivated out of kindness for his mother, who has no family nearby for support.

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Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]

“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.

Idea to Book

Ever wondered how a few scattered ideas turn into a novel? It’s a question I hear every so often, and I suspect the answer is different for every writer. Perhaps even for each book.

Without Proof is my third novel, and I’m still learning what works best for me, in terms of discovering the story. Seeds of this one showed up a long time ago, in a little coil-bound red notepad that I can’t find today. They percolated while I worked on other things, and when it was time to start writing, it looked like this:

Apparently graph paper is the best for my creative process.

Apparently graph paper is the best for my creative process.

For keeping the plot events in order, I played a bit with a great program called Aeon Timeline, but it turns out I need to see a calendar grid. That looked like this:

Sticky notes were so easy to move around!

Sticky notes were so easy to move around!

The writing happened in Scrivener, which is one of my best writing friends. [If you’re doing NaNoWriMo in November and you meet your goal, I think you’ll get discount codes for Scrivener, Aeon Timeline and others. If not, Scrivener gives you a month’s free trial, which should be long enough to convince you.]

I don’t work well with a word count deadline, so I committed to a few hours a day, Monday to Friday, seat in chair, fingers on keyboard, writing. I learned to stop in mid-scene for easier re-start the next day. I’d skim the previous day’s work and make minor tweaks, but instead of editing, I kept following the story.

Until I found my rhythm, the first 100 words were the hardest. Every day. For weeks. There had been such a long period of editing and marketing after writing the early drafts of Secrets and Lies that I was way out of practice. I suspect this will simply be part of the cycle.

The calendar chart helped. One character wanted to do something early, and the chart reinforced my argument that he had to wait. When another character wanted to speed things up, I saw that it could work, so he went ahead.

After finishing the draft, there were revisions, more revisions, and yet more revisions. Professional editing. More editing. More revisions. Early reader comments. More revisions.

Cover and layout design, and the publishing process. [I’m an indie author, so I did this part with the help of Scrivener (ebooks) and CreateSpace (print).]

At the end of the process:

Box of books.

So pleased with the finished product!

The official print launch will be Saturday, Nov. 7, 2pm at Regal Road Baptist Church in Dartmouth, NS. If you’re near enough to know where that is, you’re invited! Otherwise, check out the Without Proof page if you’re looking for preorder links. (Psst… the paperback is already available online through Amazon.)

Do you write short stories or novels? Scroll down to leave a comment telling us about your creative process.

Without Proof: Meet Aunt Bay

"Make the most of every day. Sabotage or not, the plane crash taught us how quickly life can end." ~Aunt Bay, in Without Proof

My editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, joins us again today for a conversation with Beatrice Rockland (Aunt Bay) from Without Proof. Matthew blogs at Probably Nothing Interesting.

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew: We’ve got Beatrice Rockland here, from Without Proof. Beatrice, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?

Aunt Bay: To get us off to a better start, my name is pronounced BAY-a-triss, not the conventional BE-a-triss. If that’s too much of a challenge, you may call me Miss Rockland. I’m Michael’s great aunt, a retired teacher, and active in a variety of volunteer roles. Michael’s parents moved frequently in his youth, so he came to live with me for his high school and college years. When I bought a condo in Halifax, he turned my old house into his art gallery and studio area.

Matthew: And you recently moved back to live with him and Amy, right? What’s it like living in an art gallery?

Aunt Bay: After the plane crash that killed Gilles, Amy needed a place to live while her injuries healed. Gilles’ parents, for reasons known only to themselves, cancelled the lease on his condo while she was still in the hospital. The poor girl had nowhere to go, and she needed to commute to her appointments. Michael has a caring heart and a huge house, so inviting Amy to stay with him was natural. I moved in as well to help.

I wondered about customer traffic in the house, but our bedrooms are upstairs with Michael’s studio. The gallery’s on one end of the main floor, with a separate entrance, and it’s only active during tourist season. It’s actually quite convenient. We can be in the main part of the house, and if a customer comes, we hear the door chime. Nobody has to stay on duty all day if there are no visitors. Of course it’s Michael’s work, and Amy is his assistant, so I’m rarely involved in the business end of things. He does beautiful work, though, if you’d like to buy a painting.

Matthew: I may have to take a look later. My first concern about living in a gallery would have been customer traffic too, but that actually sounds quite nice. How do you feel about having moved in to help take care of Amy? Has it affected your daily life much?

Aunt Bay: We’re on St. Margaret’s Bay, near Peggy’s Cove, and I always loved living here, but truthfully, I do miss living in the city. Especially now that I’m becoming less confident driving after dark. I’m in my seventies, you know. But I do like to drive, so during the day it’s not an issue. I’m on the go a lot.

Of course, Amy doesn’t need care anymore. She’s fully recovered physically, and she seems to be healing from her loss. She’s a fine young woman. Now that she’s working with Michael, it makes sense for her to keep living at the gallery. I’ve only stayed to keep people from talking. Michael and I are Christians, and it’s important not to give the wrong idea about our behaviour.

Matthew: Okay, so you’ve given us a decent picture of your normal life, and I think it’s time for some abnormal talk. Michael and Amy are a bit concerned by this talk about sabotage, albeit for very different reasons. What’s your take on the idea?

Aunt Bay: You’re a direct young man, aren’t you? Much like the reporter who brought up the sabotage notion. I was shocked to think the accident could have been deliberate, and I have to say it’s unlikely. Gilles’ parents would have jumped on any hint of a crime. His mother, especially, wouldn’t have let up on the investigators until they found the truth. I’d like to dismiss the idea, but the reporter, Troy, challenged me to pray about it. After all, God saw what happened that day. I haven’t had any clear answer, but it does seem odd to me that the matter keeps coming up. That may mean something. Do you think it could have been sabotage? And if so, why?

Matthew: I’m direct when it suits me, and in this case being straightforward is the best way to get proper answers. As far as what I think, I’m an outsider to the situation so I don’t know any of the technical details and I never knew Gilles. Even so, I suppose it’s theoretically possible. I think that to be convinced I would have to see a reason for the sabotage. People don’t kill like that for no reason. If there was a logical reason behind sabotaging that plane, I would consider sabotage an option. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, do you think this whole business could be bad for Amy or Michael?

Aunt Bay: It’s definitely affecting them both. Amy’s upset, not knowing what to think, and emotionally on edge, as if it’s thrown her back into grief. Michael says there’s no motive, and he sees it as a waste of time that’s needlessly upsetting Amy. That’s triggering his protective impulses, which of course makes Amy feel closed-in and could cause her to make some less-than-wise choices. What worries me most is, if someone did cause that crash and Amy stirs the pot, will she be putting herself in danger?

Matthew: It almost seems like you understand their relationship better than they do. And I don’t think the question is so much, “will she put herself in danger,” as it is, “if there is danger, what kind is she going to get involved in?” You are in a suspense novel.

Aunt Bay: Child, that is not a comforting thought.

Matthew: No. But if we spent all our time thinking comfortable things we would never accomplish anything. I’m just suggesting care. And besides, no one can be sure about this. There may not even be a problem.

Aunt Bay: My heart says you’re right, though. After all Amy’s been through, and Michael and I have grieved for Gilles too, I’ve been hoping for a happy-ever-after.

Matthew: Well, I think that’s still possible. And happy endings are so much more interesting when they’re preceded by unpleasantness. However, I think we’ve got all we need for this interview. Any parting words you’d like to leave us with, Miss Rockland?

Aunt Bay: Make the most of every day. Sabotage or not, the plane crash taught us how quickly life can end.

Matthew: A good sentiment. Thanks for being here.

[Other Without Proof interviews: Amy SilverMichael Stratton, and the supporting cast.]

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.

Without Proof: Meet Michael Stratton

"Just because there are ways to crash a plane like his without leaving clues doesn't mean it happened. For a crime, you need a motive.

My editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, joins us again today for a conversation with Michael Stratton from Without Proof. Matthew blogs at Probably Nothing Interesting.

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew: We’ve got Michael Stratton here today, he’s one of the main characters in Without Proof. How are you doing, Michael?

Michael: I’m a bit frustrated today, actually. One of my friends is a journalist, and he just reopened an accident I’d like to leave in the past… and suggested to my assistant, Amy, that it could have been sabotage. Just when I’d hoped we were moving beyond this.

Matthew: That accident is the reason you have Amy as an assistant, right? Would you mind elaborating a little on your business and how it’s been affected?

Michael: Amy had just moved here to Nova Scotia to marry my best friend, Gilles. When he was killed in the plane crash, she needed a place to recover from her injuries, so I invited her to stay with me. My aunt moved in, too to help. Amy started helping with my accounts, to take her mind off her loss. I think she felt she needed to pay me back, too, although I never would have asked for it. Helping her was helping Gilles, and I’d have done whatever I could.

Anyway, Amy worked herself into a job. Now she handles the books, promotions, and even some of the framing. I’m a painter – nature scenes, mostly. Anything to do with water, although I’ll do the occasional portrait as well. I’m hopeless with numbers, so gaining Amy as an assistant has been a definite plus.

I’m based in Nova Scotia, which is a bit far from the larger markets. Two years ago, when the crash happened, I was in the process of moving my business to central Canada. When Gilles died, and Amy needed me, I scrapped those plans and came home. It might not have been the smartest thing, business-wise, but I have no regrets.

Matthew: It sounds like you and Gilles were quite close. I’ve heard a bit about him already, but could you tell me about your friendship?

Michael: For our non-French-speaking readers, here’s how to say his name: the “g” makes a zh sound like in “treasure,” and the name rhymes with “hill,” so say “zhil.”

Gilles was everything I’m not. Outgoing, adventurous, athletic, charming. From a wealthy French family. We were paired in an exchange program one summer in our teens. He came here first, and let’s just say some of the antics we got up to – at his instigation – bonded us closer than brothers. I still can’t believe he’s gone.

Matthew: I guess I should ask you this, although you’ve sort of already given an answer. What do you think about this sabotage theory?

Michael: Just because there are apparently ways to crash a plane like his without leaving clues doesn’t mean it happened. For a crime, you need motive. Everyone loved Gilles, and there’s not even a hint of evidence of sabotage. What makes me so angry about this coming up is that Amy’s finally starting to heal. We’re coming up to the second anniversary of the crash, and she doesn’t need anything to stir up her grief.

Matthew: I can understand that. You’re pretty protective of her, right?

Michael: More protective than she likes, sometimes. Amy carries a lot of hurt, from losing Gilles, the way his family treated her afterward, and from something else, something she thinks disqualifies her from a relationship with God. I’d give anything to see her whole again.

Matthew: So how does your business operate? Do you find sales tricky as an introvert, or do you let Amy handle that for you?

Michael: I run a small gallery from my home, conveniently situated for tourists, and I’m building a network of consignment sales through independent gift shops. I also take part in the major craft and gift fairs, and do exhibits in other galleries when I can get them. I let Amy handle as much of the people and paper as possible. She seems to like it. For the public venue events, people really like to meet the artist. I do my best, but schmoozing drains me.

Matthew: Yeah, people are the worst. Well, that’s all the questions I have for you today. Any parting words you want to leave us with?

Michael: Hey, people are fine… the right people, and in small numbers. But crowds? Definitely stressful. I’m getting ready for a major show in Toronto. Amy’s agreed to go with me, which will help. Here’s hoping some time away helps her forget that sabotage nonsense. Thanks for taking time to chat, Matthew.

Matthew: No problem, Michael, it’s been good talking to you. Good luck in your Toronto show.

[Other Without Proof interviews: Amy SilverAunt Bay, and the supporting cast.]

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.

Without Proof: Meet Amy Silver

"Let's just say God doesn't want me in His house. I wish I could be part of His family. The need to belong... Maybe it's because my mom died in my teens, and my father threatened legal action if I contacted him again."

I’m trying something different today: instead of introducing Amy Silver myself, I’ve asked my editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, to do the honours.

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew writes… I’ll call it dark fantasy, but I’m not sure that’s quite right. Some is dark speculative. He’s just started a blog called Probably Nothing Interesting, which often makes me laugh but which is definitely not for everyone.

Matthew: Alrighty then. We’ve got Amy Silver here today. Amy’s the protagonist in Without Proof, a Christian romantic suspense novel. It’s great to have you here Amy, how are you doing?

Amy:  I’m fine, thanks, Matthew. This is the second time someone’s wanted to interview me today. I’m not sure what’s up with that.

Matthew: Your last name is Silver… any connection to Harry Silver, the dangerous offender? Reporters are always looking for new angles.

Amy: He’s my cousin, but thankfully we’ve never met. He wouldn’t even know I exist.

Matthew: Well, I guess a lot of people think you’re interesting. What was your other interview about? Anything exciting?

Amy:  I’m just an ordinary person. My claim to fame is surviving the plane crash that killed my fiancé. That was almost two years ago now, and a local reporter came looking for a human interest story for the paper. It’s really not my thing, but I thought it could give some free advertising for the art gallery where I work. Then at the end, this guy asks if I have any suspicions about the crash. Apparently there are ways to sabotage a small plane that may not be noticed. Honestly, I don’t know what to think about that. Wouldn’t you know, if someone hated you enough to want to kill you?

Matthew: I’d think you would, although some people do extreme things for reasons that don’t necessarily make sense outside of their own heads. You were banged up pretty badly yourself in the crash – how have you dealt with what happened? Did you get much support from family and friends in the aftermath?

Amy:  My fiancé’s parents deserted me in the hospital, and I have no family of my own. His best friend, Michael, offered me a place to stay. Michael’s great-aunt moved in to help drive me to appointments. They’re good people. As I healed, I worked myself into a job in Michael’s art gallery. The crash was tragic, but I’m finding a new life, and I like it here.

Matthew: It’s horrible that they would just walk out on you like that, but it’s nice to see that Michael and his aunt are good enough to take care of you. Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with the two of them?

Amy:  We all live in this huge house, with Michael’s studio and gallery. Aunt Bay is what you might call “feisty.” She’s a good buffer when Michael tries to overprotect me. I’m ready to move forward with my life, but I don’t think he sees that.

Matthew: Sometimes it’s hard to really see when someone else is ready to move on. Now, I know Michael and Aunt Bay are very Christian people. How do you feel, living with them when you’re not exactly someone of faith yourself?

Amy:  It’s usually not an issue. They respect that I don’t want to attend church with them. Sometimes Michael plays Christian music while he’s painting, and that can make me… almost homesick. With this sabotage idea? The reporter asked Aunt Bay to pray for the truth to come out. I still hope there’s nothing to it, but if there is, maybe God will listen to her.

Matthew: What do you mean by “homesick?” Have you considered going out to church with them if you feel that way?

Amy:  Let’s just say God doesn’t want me in His house. I wish I could be part of His family. The need to belong is strong for me. Maybe it’s because my mom died in my teens, and my father threatened legal action if I contacted him again.

Matthew: Wow, Amy, that’s a lot to deal with. I think we have time for one last question, and I’m sure this is the one everyone wants to hear. You’re in a romantic suspense novel. We talked a little bit about the plane crash, so we’ve heard about the suspense, but where does the romance come in?

Amy:  From my perspective, romance is almost as unlikely as that sabotage theory. Michael doesn’t have a clue how I feel about him. It’s like he thinks I still belong to Gilles.

Matthew: Do you think that’s why he’s so protective? What does he think of this whole sabotage theory?

Amy:  You may be right, but I don’t know how to make him see the truth. The sabotage? He doesn’t believe it, and he’s angry with the reporter for bringing it up.

Matthew: Well, that sounds tense and complicated. I’m sure you’ll all have a great time working this one out! This has been an interview with Amy Silver, protagonist of Without Proof.

[Other Without Proof interviews: Michael Stratton, Aunt Bay, and the supporting cast.]

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.