Focus Friday: Broken Places, by Rachel Thompson


Broken Places is the new book from the award-winning Rachel Thompson, author of Broken Pieces.



Shame doesn’t like to talk. She prefers to walk through a room, the center of attention, the girl that all the boys dream of, all eyes on her, flash and heels and lips and eyes, and hair. 

Shame is the one everyone talks about but nobody talks to. 

Shame wears pretty, tiny bits of clothes, fancy makeup, and drives a cool, red, fast car, the kind all little girls dream of when they play with their Barbies. She has all the hottest boyfriends, and even the occasional hot girlfriend, who shows up late to the cool kids’ parties as if she’s too good to be there anyway, and besides, “this place blows,” she tells her jock hottie of the day as she sashays her tiny hips poured into her “$1200-a-pop-paid-for-by-daddy” jeans out the door to the next coke-fueled gig. 

Shame has a secret. Shame saturates herself with distractions, partying all day and all night because she’s desperately sad, filled with the loneliness of the lost, her heart a shell scraped so deep because she left it in an alley one night with her pride and her virginity when one large man pinched and shoved and filled and grabbed in in ways she cringes to remember, in tears and rages, in nightmares and flashes she can’t ever discuss with another human. 

Because he was an animal and that makes her one, too. 

Shame carries this animal in her skin, unable to shake his eyes boring into hers as she fought and kicked while he held her down, sticking his furious cock into her. As she watched from above, she wondered aloud why he even need to bother with a live girl; if all he wanted was a hole, he could have just as easily found some sort of household appliance to stick it in. A hole was a hole was a hole. 

But he didn’t hear her mumbled words. 

Nobody hears Shame. They follow her, watching her every move, but they don’t see her. They don’t see her terror, how she shakes alone in her room at night, how she wakes up covered in the slimy sweat of the animal, smelling his stink, flashing on his fetid breath, his flaccid penis finally moving away from her face, forever wiping his semen from her lips in the hour-long, skin-burning hot showers she takes 

every night, 

every night, 

every night 

scrubbing away that which will never fucking die. 

Nobody talks to Shame. They look at her, they stare at her, but they don’t embrace her. She’s this creature, this thing nobody will ever love or soothe, or even acknowledge. Shame knows this. 

She was born out of fear and terror and hurt. She knows that she is nobody’s friend. 

Because, after all, who wants to be friends with Shame?

About Broken Places

Within one week of its release in January 2015, Broken Places, reached the Top Five in Women’s Poetry and #1 on Amazon’s Hot Releases List. Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose and poetry (her fourth book overall). The author bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed.

“A stellar achievement” — Tracy Riva (Top Amazon Reviewer, Tracy Riva Reviews) 

About the author

Rachel Thompson copyRachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…),,,, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse suvivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenom #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, cohosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

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And follow Rachel on Twitter Twitter @RachelintheOC
and her consulting business  @BadRedheadMedia.


Love Is a Mystery, by Caleb Pirtle III



Caleb Pirtle III, bestselling author of Secrets of the Dead and Golgotha Connection

Caleb Pirtle III

As far as I’m concerned, every great story has these elements:

A man.

A woman.

A love story.

A gun.

A murder.

A mystery.

Authors sit around for days, holding their breath, banging their heads against the wall, snapping No. 2 pencils with their fingers, searching through the maze that winds through the back of their minds, slamming into one dead end after another, trying desperately to nail together a plot that reaches out, grabs the reader by the throat, and won’t let go.

It’s tough.

It’s debilitating.

It’s an exercise better off forgotten.

Just walk the streets of your hometown, big or small, listen to the gossip down at the post office, real or imagined, read archived issues of the newspaper from years past.

The stories are there. They’ve been waiting a long time. They’ve been waiting for you to find them.

My hometown was no different.

Tragedy, during the year of our Lord 1939, lurked like a grim shadow in the presence of M. W. McVey, an independent oilman and president of the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce. He had been described in the newspaper as a sportsman from California, was one of the town’s social elite, a man of prominence, an oilman who had the honor of drilling the oilfield’s twenty-five thousandth well in a lot downtown behind the Longhorn Drug.

McVey had borrowed a quarter of a million dollars to drill several wells on town lots, only twenty feet wide and forty feet long, no more than ragged scraps of land barely large enough to hold a derrick.

His wells were jammed together and pumping for all they were worth. But new federal regulations ushered in a new and compromising problem for the oilfield. No one saw it coming, but a revised law ruled that wells must be spaced five to ten acres away from each other if an oilman had any hopes of receiving the money owed him for the oil he produced.

So many of McVey’s oil wells were suddenly earning only a scant fraction of their production. All he had were a bunch of holes in the ground.  And his cash flow began drying up. He began to fear that he would never be able to pay off his debts. He could no longer look at his friends, eye to eye. Frustration set in like poison from a snake bite. He was dying inside but had no place to hide. Not in a small town anyway.

So many wells.

So much money.

And none of it his, not anymore.

He grew despondent.

Then depressed.

His honor had been attacked as only a bad debt could assault it. His pride had been struck down and stepped on. M. W. McVey had been Mr. Kilgore. Now he was a financial outcast.

McVey’s wife and her maid found him unconscious in the bedroom of his home. A bullet had shattered his skull. A .38 automatic pistol lay at his side.

Kilgore was stunned. The questions were the same on every street corner, spoken in hushed tones, particularly among the morning gossips at the post office.

Was his death a suicide?

He left no note.

Or was it murder?

A shroud of stoic silence draped itself around Kilgore, leaving that night a mystery that would never be fully understood. Those who may have known the truth Golgotha Connection, by bestselling author Caleb Pirtle III, cover imageweren’t talking, and those who were talking didn’t know the truth.

In later years, an accountant who had worked closely with the family indicated that McVey had pulled the trigger himself so that his wife could live comfortably on his life insurance. His death, however, could have been an accident, a mistake, or intentional. It still remains an enigma.

Surrounded by the rigors of the boom and the echoes of approaching war, McVey was quickly forgotten, nothing but a faded name in a faded obituary, a story that no one talked about anymore.

The mound of dirt had barely settled down around his grave before the regulations were modified and returned to the way they had originally been before a bullet ended the life of M. W. McVey’s. He had been only six months away from being a rich man again.

The claims on his debts had already been settled for ten cents on the dollar. His creditors no longer had any right to McVey’s oil money.

And the wife he left behind suddenly became a very wealthy widow.

The secret behind her smile has never been answered. Then again, perhaps she smiled only to erase the strain of loneliness, the pain of a broken heart.

It was, of course, a time when the poor went to jail, strangers rode the rails out of town, drifters didn’t hang around for very long, and the rich walked free. A rich widow would never go to prison. She couldn’t. What would she do with her fur coat?

The elements are all there for a great story.

A man.

A woman.

A love story.

A gun.

A murder.

And a mystery.

If I don’t write the damn thing, I should be shot myself.

§ § § § § § § 



Caleb Pirtle III is the author of more than sixty books. He is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He served as sports editor for The Daily Texan and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing.

Pirtle joined Stephen Woodfin to found Venture Galleries, dedicated to publishing books, as well as provide a venue and forum where other authors can promote and market their novels.

Pirtle has written three teleplays: Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, a mini-series for CBS television, Wildcat: The Story of Sarah Delaney and the Doodlebug Man, for a CBS made-for-television movie, and The Texas Rangers, a TV movie for John Milius and TNT television. He wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild. Other novels are Secrets of the DeadWicked Little LiesGolgotha ConnectionFriday Night Heat, and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow.

Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and travel editor for Southern Living Magazine.