Thursday, January 3, 2013

Identity Issues by Claudia Whitsitt :Guest Post and Excerpt


I teach.
I raise a gaggle of kids.
And my husband's out of town . . . most of the time.
This is my normal, and I'm used to it.
I can handle the missing passport . . . the threatening letter . . . the late night phone calls . . . even the potential stalker.
No problem. I've got it.
Then my life takes a sharp left turn, and I'm speeding down a one way street to hell. No longer sure who is friend and who is foe, one truth remains--I've placed myself and my family in mortal jeopardy. Trust me, I'll do whatever it takes to save my family.




Thanks for having me guest on your blog, Laurie! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your devotion to readers and writers alike!

My latest novel, IDENTITY ISSUES, first in The Samantha Series,, was released on November 30, 2012. A labor of love, the first seed of the story was planted twenty-one years ago when my youngest daughter was an infant. I was nearly forty, and still fooled myself into feeling that I had power over my life.

There was the theft of my husband’s passport, a threatening letter from Botswana, and mysterious late night phone calls, also from this foreign land. But the real icing on the cake appeared some six years later! Arriving in the form of a mysterious parent in my line at parent-teacher conferences (yes, I’m a  schoolteacher with a gaggle of kids), the woman claimed to be have been married to a man who fit all of my husband’s vital statistics, a man whose body she had never viewed after his death, and whom she believed was still alive.

She spent the next twenty-four hours contacting law enforcement, pursuing them to get in touch with me, visiting the secretary at my school armed with photos and a long list of questions in a frantic attempt to rule out the possibility that her husband was still alive, and…MARRIED TO ME!

Thankfully, it turned out I wasn’t married to her dead husband. And thankfully, that poor woman, even though she flipped my mostly manageable life on its head, instilled in me a desire to write. I owe her big time!

Writing IDENTITY ISSUES proved to be just a feverish attempt to put my life in order after an outsider attempted to turn it upside down.


Please enjoy the excerpt from IDENTITY ISSUES:

Parent-Teacher Conferences

“I sensed a presence though and glanced up to find a timid-looking, unfamiliar woman in my line. Ugly beige metal folding chairs were placed about twenty feet from our tables to offer the illusion of confidentiality. That’s why I didn’t notice her right away. A polite woman, I decided, she’d waited patiently until I finished my reading.

I’d met most of my student’s parents at Open House, but I didn’t recognize her. My confusion must have been evident. She approached my table and explained, “You shouldn’t know me. I’m Mrs. Stitsill, Emilio Vieira’s mom. Emilio is a student on your team, but he’s not a special student.”

MRS. STITSILL? Shocked, I stared at her for a long moment. “How do you do, Mrs. Stitsill? Please, sit down.”

“I’ve wanted to meet you for years,” she explained, “but you know how busy children can keep you.”

I nodded, still a bit off-balanced.

“When my sons attended elementary school, Mr. Davis, the principal, told me that a teacher in the district shared my last name.”

More like she shared my last name.

She looked much older than the typical parent of a twelve year old, wearing what my mom would’ve referred to as a sixties shirtwaist dress. It had buttons from the waist up, tight little pearl buttons, a Peter Pan collar, and a full-flowing skirt which covered her plump middle. A simple gold cross on a fine linked chain circled her thicker neck. Not much over five feet tall, she appeared to be Hispanic, with a round face, black eyes, and thick, curly hair, cropped short.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I managed, offering her my hand. Finding her hands cold and clammy, I continued to take mental notes. Her grasp felt tentative for someone who claimed she wanted to meet me.

“Is Stitsill your last name, or did you marry into it like I did?” I asked.

“My husband’s name,” she replied in a soft voice.

She looked gentle, but a deep sorrow spilled from her gaze. Not unusual for me to see parents in grief over their children’s disabilities, but her pain seemed to come from a different place. I already knew that Emilio was bright, had impeccable manners, and was a great-looking kid to boot. Didn’t seem the sadness had anything to do with him.

“Where is your husband from?”

“Canada,” she said quietly.

“Really? I’m not familiar with any Stitsill’s in Canada.” Click. A woman called Jon a few years back and claimed he was her father. From Canada.

I recalled that Saturday morning while Jon and I had lazed in bed after setting up the kids with cartoons. The phone rang, I answered it. A woman asked for Jon, and I handed the phone to him. The woman had apparently traced her father to the Midwest, and she claimed he had the same name as my Jon. Jon spoke with her at length, finally persuading her that they were too close in age to be father and daughter.

“Yes,” she said as she looked off.

“What does your husband do?”

“He’s deceased,” she answered, her voice flat.

That explained the sadness. “I’m so sorry. Was he ill?”

She hesitated. “Yes,” she said. Then, finally looking directly into my eyes, serious and intent, she continued, “He worked for a firm in Worthington Hills as an engineer.”

“That’s a coincidence. My husband is an engineer, as well. I guess we have even more in common.” My thoughts led me back to the letter from Botswana, the phone calls, Jon’s missing passport. Bell. Whistle. Ding.

“Yes,” she whispered.

“What was your husband’s first name?” I asked.


That stopped my breathing for at least sixty solid seconds. “My husband’s name is Jon. How did he spell it? J-o-h-n, or J-o-n?”


“Jonathon?” I asked. I wanted it to be Jonathon.

“No, just Jon,” she said.

“And your husband’s middle name?”

“Lyon. L-Y-O-N,” she spelled.

“That’s an interesting middle name,” I observed.

She nodded. “A family name.”

Whistle. I willed my still heart to begin beating again. Lyon is my Jon’s middle name. “Your husband must have been young,” I said, craving more information.

“Let’s see. He was born June 25, 1962.”

Totally spooky. My husband’s name is just Jon, middle name Lyon, his birth date, June 25, 1972.

“How did you meet him?” I asked, interviewing her now.

“It was summertime, and we met at a cantina near Oaxaca. Jon was passing through Mexico, returning from a tour in the Peace Corps. I fell in love at first sight.”

I noticed a softer look on her face. Then, fear replaced it, as if she’d braked hard for a deer that had darted out onto the road in front of her car.

“After just three weeks, he asked me to come with him to the United States. I could not refuse such a handsome man.” She spoke now as if gripped by that same spell.

“It must have been difficult to leave your country.”

“Everyone wishes to come to the United States,” she said without pause. “Emilio and I lived alone and were barely making ends meet, so we welcomed the gift of a man who wanted both of us.”

“He must have been very special.”

She nodded.

I watched as she appeared to struggle with what to say next. My mind cranked a four minute mile. Who was she? What did she really want? Why had she approached me?

“What did your husband do in the Peace Corps?” I tried to help her along.

She looked pleased by my question. “He taught children at a primary school in Botswana.”

I stared at her, then nodded, trying to keep my eyes from saucering. “How fascinating!”

“Yes, Jon was born in New York, but he grew up in Toronto. He has four grown children there. We married just two years before he died.”

The hair on my nape stood at attention. “I’m so sorry you lost your husband. How long has it been?”

“He died on June 6, eight years ago.” She looked down at her hands. Her gaze drew mine to them as well. She wrung them, squeezing her fingers to an unnatural shade of white.

“It must be difficult, raising your children by yourself.” I did that all the time. Active listening, they call it. It’s what got me into trouble more often than not, accounting for the SUCKER sign flashing on my forehead.

We wrapped up our conversation, more than enough said to absorb at one sitting. Silly as it sounds, I felt a strange bond with her, combined with suspicion. She hugged me before she left, and my heart went out to her. After all, her impulsive decision to marry this man had resulted in widowhood. She was now a single mother with two young boys in a country not her own…”

"Claudia Whitsitt’s writing is tight, filled with emotional depth, a mixture of tension and humor, and plenty of mystery and adventure."
— Robert Yehling, co-author, The Champion’s Way

"One sassy schoolteacher confronts identity theft, an unexpected attraction, a supposedly dead murderer, and threats against her children in IDENTITY ISSUES, a delicious romp sure to delight mystery, intrigue, and suspense readers from talented writer Claudia Teal Whitsitt. 5-Stars!"
- Laura Taylor, Multiple RT Award Winner, 2-Time Maggie Award Winner, & RWA RITA Finalist

"Claudia Whitsitt writes suspense that will keep readers turning the pages far into the night. Leave the lights on, readers!"
- Charles Redner, author, Terror Travels the Devil's Highway


Claudia Whitsitt is the proud mother of five children who has devoted herself to a rewarding career in Special Education spanning thirty-seven years. Her new life’s goal is to become a full-time author, after she’s sipped coffee on her front porch for an hour or so each morning, of course! The second in The Samantha Series, INTIMACY ISSUES, will be released this spring.

Claudia has also penned THE WRONG GUY, a mystery loosely based on the Michigan Murders of the late 1960s.


Enter for a chance to win a Kindle formatted copy of Identity Issues.
2 Winners
More information can be found on Claudia's website:
You will just need to retweet the following to enter:
eBook giveaway: ID thief, stalker, murderer and one teacher fighting to protect her family. IDENTITY ISSUES @claudiawhitsitt. RT.

The giveaway will conclude Sunday, January 6.

 The two winners will be contacted  via twitter for information on where to send their books.  
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