Author of Firestorm, A New Psychological Thriller Available Now

Solange Ritchie

When Orange County, CA attorney Solange Ritchie isn’t practicing law, you can usually find her penning her next psychological thriller. Solange’s first novel, The Burning Man, featuring FBI forensic pathologist, Dr. Catherine (“Cat”) Powers, will hit book stores in September 2015. The Burning Man promises to have you on the edge of your seat from the first page.

Cruise Control

Cruise control is one of the best things about living in South Florida. No, I’m not talking about cars. I’m talking about the fact that I live near two of the best cruise ports in the United States—Port Everglades and PortMiami. You can experience everything from a three-day cruise to the Bahamas to a month-long world cruise. The ships are literally right outside your front door.

I recently returned from a five-day cruise to the Bahamas with Celebrity Cruises. The ship, Infinity, was a modern masterpiece. The staff was top rated in service and attention to detail. The food and drinks were fabulous. I think I put on five pounds in five days!

Cruising is a great way to get as little or as much vacation as you want. If you want to stay aboard the ship when it docks, that is no problem. If you decide to be more adventurous and Jet Ski or zip line, no problem. If you just want to be lazy and hang out in a cabana on the beach, no problem. You can do as little or as much as you choose. You can go full speed ahead or mellow out. It is up to you.

I also love cruising because you don’t lose any vacation time in the air. When I lived in California and used to visit my parents in South Florida, I would lose two days of vacation time to air travel. That was no fun. Now, my family and I can head off at a moment’s notice without that stress.

Cruising is so relaxing too—just being out on the ocean. For me, that is something special. Those of you who regularly read my blog know the ocean is near and dear to my heart.

So, the next time a three-day weekend rolls around, ask your boss for an extra day off and book a three-day cruise. You’ll return rested and relaxed, ready to jump into work with a newfound productive and positive attitude. Your boss will be happy you took that extra day.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of danzil raines (CC BY 2.0)

Dying Declaration

That’s right. You heard it here first.

The next novel in the Dr. Catherine “Cat” Powers series is on the way. This third novel in the series is called Dying Declaration. I am especially excited about Dying Declaration because it is my first legal thriller featuring Cat and Joey. For the first time, I draw on my background as a civil trial lawyer to describe some of the characters and the scenes in this novel.

Often at book club events and signings, fans who have read The Burning Man and Firestorm tell me that they are surprised to find out I am not a doctor or medical professional but a lawyer. This statement makes me proud because it means that I did the research and got the medical details right in both novels.

With Dying Declaration, I hope to take readers into a new world. Here is a rough version of the back cover synopsis:

FBI forensic pathologist Dr. Catherine “Cat” Powers and her young son, Joey, are enjoying a beachside vacation in Belize, when Cat’s phone rings. Nate Conners, the southern regional head of the FBI, is on the line. His voice is full of tension. Cat knows what this call means. It is time to come in.

Women’s dead bodies are turning up in the Florida Everglades—victims of a sex slayer. One of the bodies does not fit the killer’s modus operandi. Unlike the other victims, all runaways and prostitutes, this victim was a legal secretary for an international law firm based in Fort Lauderdale called Black and Knight. Even more puzzling, this victim appears to have been one of the first. Why was she killed? What did she know?

Cat teams up with Nate Conners to put the pieces of the puzzle together. As Cat digs deeper into the inner workings of Black and Knight, she uncovers a secret world of international sex trafficking, prostitution, extortion, racketeering, money laundering, political corruption, and murder. As Cat uncovers the truth, innocent people die and lives are changed forever.

The partners at Black and Knight will do anything to stop Cat from exposing their crimes—even murder. Will Cat bring these criminals to justice? Or will she be the one caught in the cross hairs?

I hope that you will pick up a copy of Dying Declaration when it is released in the spring.

Until next time.

Solange

PS: The fourth novel in the series, “Bomb Blast,” is coming soon too!

 

Image courtesy of marc carpentier (CC BY 2.0)

Who Remembers The Six Million Dollar Man?

I’m going to date myself with this post.

Who remembers the Six Million Dollar Man television show? It was one of my favorites. The show, which starred the handsome Lee Majors, ran from March 7, 1973, to March 6, 1978, on ABC.

The Hollywood News summarizes the show as follows: “Steve Austin is an astronaut who is seriously injured when his spaceship crashes. Handsome and athletic, Austin undergoes a government-sanctioned surgery, which rebuilds several of Steve’s body parts with machine parts, making him cyborg-like. When Steve recovers, his machine parts enable him to have superhuman strength and speed, as well as other powers. With these powers, Steve goes to work for the Office of Scientific Information, battling evil for the good of mankind.”

My brothers and I stayed up late to watch this show every week.

I remember the theme song. I remember the introduction at the beginning of the show: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better . . . stronger . . . faster.”

I wonder now what I found so compelling about The Six Million Dollar Man.

I think I liked that the show’s premise was ahead of its time. I mean, The Six Million Dollar Man was basically an earlier version of The Terminator. In addition, Steve’s superhuman powers were fantastic. He could run faster, lift heavier objects, and see farther than ordinary men. The idea of good versus evil always appealed to me. It is a constant in my books and characters. I have always loved science fiction. The show certainly had a little of that. Finally, The Six Million Dollar Man opened with something incredible—a spaceship crashing to earth and the person inside miraculously surviving.

My brothers had the Steve Austin doll. He was quite the charmer in his red jumpsuit. At least, my Barbie doll thought so. As soon as Steve showed up in our house, Barbie ditched Ken and got a new boyfriend. Steve Austin was way more interesting.

Most of all, I remember spending time with my family watching The Six Million Dollar Man. Those are special memories.

What was your favorite television show growing up? Why did you love it so much? What attracted you to it? Would you still find it appealing today? For me, the answer to the last question is a resounding yes.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

Out of Many, One People

“Out of many, one people.” This is the national motto of Jamaica, my birthplace.

This motto fits the mix of many cultures and ethnicities in Jamaica perfectly.

Several years ago, my family hosted a family reunion in Jamaica. Over a hundred family members attended. My cousin Tanya devoted much love and many hours of time to creating a giant family tree with photographs representing each branch of the Levy family. Because of my grandfather’s many brothers and sisters, the tree was astoundingly large.

I was amazed at the diversity in the Levy family. Every color of skin, eyes, and hair was represented—from blonde hair and blue eyes fairer than mine to the darkest skin and eyes. Chinese Jamaicans. Black Jamaicans. White Jamaicans. Jewish Jamaicans. Anglican Jamaicans. It did not matter what you looked like. You were a Levy.

It was so wonderful to see the next generation of Levys playing together at the beach and the pool during the reunion.

As we all posed on a giant staircase for a group photo, I thought, “How lucky am I to come from this? Out of these many people? Out of this Levy clan?”

My family has achieved a lot in Jamaica, and we have given much back to the island and its people. I am proud of my heritage. I am proud to have Levy blood in my veins. I am proud of the cultural diversity my family represents. I am proud of my sweet Jamaica.

Remember, when all else fails, family will be there.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of rickpilot_2000 (CC BY 2.0)

I Have Always Loved Halloween

I’m not sure why, but I have always loved Halloween.

That may be because Jamaicans do not usually celebrate it. I can remember only one of my classmates throwing a Halloween party. I went as a little Dutch girl because I had recently played one in a school play. Of course, being blonde and blue eyed helped sell the part.

Now that I am an adult, I love Halloween. Watching the little trick-or-treaters come to the door gives me a treat.

My first husband, John, who was six feet nine, would dress up as a space alien on Halloween, complete with a full head mask (which made him appear even taller) and gloves. His costume covered his whole body, so kids honestly could not tell a person was inside. He would wait for the older kids to come to the front door, then jump out of the side yard and scare the cr——p out of them. It was too funny. He never scared the little ones.

I also have a list of horror movies that I love to watch during this time. Halloween, the classic starring a young Jamie Lee Curtis, is always a favorite. It still scares me. Did you know that the movie was panned until the creepy soundtrack was added? Then critics and audiences could not get enough. And did you know the mask that Michael Myers wore was actually a mask of actor William Shatner?

Halloween is just pure fun. What other day of the year can you go to work in costume? What other day of the year can you obscure your face and pretend to be somebody you are not? Isn’t that part of the fun of Halloween? What other day of the year can you scare the pants off of someone and get away with it?

And of course, we get to eat lots of chocolate and candy and other treats. Need I say more?

So, whether you choose to trick-or-treat or stay home, happy Halloween.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of sagesolar (CC BY 2.0)

Goodbye, Last Days of Summer

I’ll admit it. I hate to see it go. Goodbye to the last days of summer.

I love summertime. I love everything it represents. Vacation time. Time outdoors with family. Barbecues. Cookouts. Lemonade. Making s’mores by a campfire. The smell of the ocean. The feeling of the midday sun beating down on your skin. Swimming in the ocean. Hanging out by the pool. Watching summer thunderstorms in the late afternoon.

The days are longer and the nights shorter.

Life is good and slow and easy in the summer.

In Jamaica, summer is a special time. Families spend time together, often taking two weeks off to enjoy life. Some businesses close down during this period.

In the fall, we go back to school, back to work, and back to the hustle and bustle of life. Back to reality. Back to stress. Back to clocking in and out. Back to a regimented life.

I’ll admit it. I hate to see it go. Goodbye to the last days of summer.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Adrian Scottow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Power of Water

While watching the news coverage of Hurricane Florence as it battered the coastal areas of the Carolinas and Virginia, I was struck by the power of water. Just an inch of rushing water can take a full-grown person down. A few inches can sweep away a small car. A few more inches can sweep away a truck or an RV. The power, force, and destruction of Mother Nature is both amazing and terrifying. I pray for those in the hurricane-affected areas—for their health and safety and that they will rebuild.

Rebuilding is not easy. The law firm that I work for handles homeowner property damage claims. This means that every day, I see a certain date—September 10, 2017. This was the day that Hurricane Irma barreled through the state of Florida. It ripped through the middle Florida Keys and caused massive devastation. Further north, homeowners were left with leaking or damaged roofs. Just drive around any South Florida neighborhood a year after Irma, and you will still see blue tarps covering roofs until permanent repairs can be made. Of course, some of the insurance companies don’t want to pay for these repairs. Those homeowners are the folks I represent.

As damaging as water can be, it also brings us great beauty. I love living on a lake. Watching the water is soothing and tranquil. Because I grew up in Jamaica, I am an island girl. I’ve always loved the ocean and been drawn to the beauty of the sea. To me, a perfect vacation is lounging on the beach, sipping a mojito, curling up with a good book, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin, and listening to the sound of the surf.

I also love the rain—the cleansing quality and life-sustaining force of it. Florida gets a lot of rain despite being nicknamed the Sunshine State.

So, next time you feel low, think about all the natural beauty we have here in Florida. The rain, lakes, rivers, and ocean are marvels to be thankful for. Like hurricanes, they are all part of God’s plan.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of marc falardeau (CC BY 2.0)

 

The Changing of the Leaves

It’s that time of year—the time when the leaves on the trees change from green to orange to fiery red. The air turns a little crisper and you find yourself wandering the house and wondering where you put your fuzzy slippers. The days shorten. The smell of suntan lotion no longer lingers at the beach.

It’s the time of the changing of the leaves.

I remember that when I attended law school in Chicago, I enjoyed the scenery while driving in September and October. The trees turned from green to brilliant orange, bright yellow, and deep red. Some even turned a shade of purple as fall’s cold temperatures took root. I remember marveling at all the colors. In South Florida, we don’t get such a dramatic change, but you can still see it if you look.

My oak tree that I spoke of in my last blog post loses some of its green color. Some of the leaves turn golden as if to remind me, “Summer is over, my dear. Time to slow down. Time to linger over fall things—cinnamon, sage, roasted turkey, fresh baked cookies, and hot chocolate. Time to curl up with a good book under a blanket.”

I used to hate it when summer turned to fall. Now I enjoy the changing of the leaves. I enjoy each season for its special and unique qualities.

I hope you do the same.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of D. Brandsma (CC BY 2.0)

My Life-Sustaining Oak Tree

When I was looking for a house in Florida, I knew instantly when I walked through the front door which house was the one for me. I wanted a house with three qualities: (1) lots of natural light, (2) a layout that allowed me to stand at the front door and see out the back, and (3) natural beauty. Well, in the house where I write this blog, I got all three.

The third quality comes primarily from a beautiful old oak tree that can be seen from my living room and master bedroom. The tree is the largest on the lake where I live. It hosts and provides shade for a veritable menagerie of creatures, including squirrels, bluebirds, pea doves, blackbirds, white swans, ducks, iguanas, and possums, just to name a few.

I look out the sliding doors in my bedroom at that tree sometimes and wonder how old it is. I am not an arborist, but I would guess the tree is over a hundred years old.

During Hurricane Irma, which barreled through Florida on September 10, 2017, I watched the oak’s branches sway in the strong, gusting winds. I looked at that tree and wondered, “How many hurricanes have you been through, my beautiful tree?” My tree gave no answers, but I know it has been through many storms and hurricanes.

My oak tree is much like life. We can survive and weather any storm if our lives are firmly rooted in love, hope, family, and respect. We can live to be a hundred years old if we live with love in our hearts and provide shelter to others. We can nurture those we live with if we provide a strong trunk of support and guidance.

Be strong, be brave, be free, and always live and love with respect.

Then you will be like my beautiful oak tree.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Beatrice Murch (CC BY 2.0)

 

To Be, or Not to Be—That Is the Question

“To be, or not to be: that is the question” is a famous quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Many of us studied Hamlet in high school, and I would guess that this quote still rings true for us today.

To be, or not to be. To me, this means how self-actualized are you? Do you know what makes you happy? Really happy? I know I do.

For me, happiness does not come from possessions but from inner peace. It comes from doing what I am doing right now—writing. It comes from helping clients in my chosen profession—law. It comes from seeing the beauty of a flower that I have nurtured. It comes from feeling the gentle sunshine on my face in the morning. It comes from watching the simple beauty and infinite grace of a monarch butterfly fluttering gracefully through my backyard. It comes from family time, especially time spent with my brother Andre, who has Down’s Syndrome. Music makes me happy. Singing makes me happy. Animals make me happy (especially dogs).

These are simple things that cannot be bought with money, simple things for which there is no monetary value or equivalent.

I did not feel this way when I was younger. I guess you could say my wants and needs have mellowed over the years. I no longer need nor want designer items. They don’t matter to me.

How about you? I want to encourage you to do an exercise. Sit down in the morning with your cup of coffee, and write down ten things that make you truly happy deep down in your soul. When you are done writing, think about how you can integrate as many of these things into your week as possible. For instance, when you get home from work, don’t turn on the TV right away. Instead, pop in a favorite CD or open the music library on your device and listen to your favorite song. Dance if you feel like it. No one is looking. You are allowed. Instead of taking a quick, hot shower this weekend, take a long, luxurious bath. Really reflect on your life, your loves, your happiness, and your salvations.

Only then will you know what it is to be.

Until next time.

Solange

 

Image courtesy of Chris Waits (CC BY 2.0)

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