down to the needle

365 Challenge: Day 322 – Compassion (Author Alert: Mary Deal)

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Compassion: (a) sympathy and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others, or (b) 365 Daily Challenge word for today’s author alert — Mary Deal


If you are new to the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog, the 365 Daily Challenge, or the Author Alert segment, check out the About Site section from the main menu. Below are some key things to know about this author, but at the end of this post, you’ll see the permanent page I’ve added to my blog. You can return to check out more on who she is, what she’s writing and how to buy her future work.

I am pleased to present the very talented Mary Deal. Mary and I met about 3 months through our publisher. I had wanted to read a few of her books, but couldn’t decide where to start. Down to the Needle, a mystery and thriller novel, seemed like the best intro to her work, so I took it on last week. You can check out my review here and read all about her in this week’s spotlight.


Hello everyone! I’m Mary Deal, dropping an Author Alert here on Jay’s blog, This is My Truth Now, and am grateful for the opportunity. This is a lot coming from a person whose nickname used to be Greta because I can easily be a writing recluse. Yet, I must get out and experience things in order to write my stories, and I do love to clandestinely people watch!

How many times have you seen an event or an occurrence that touched your heart and left you wanting to help, but you couldn’t? That feeling you had is called compassion. We don’t always have ways to express those feelings, can’t always help others in certain situations. Mostly, we just recognize our feelings and then go on with our lives. In those instances, when we can help another person or do something to set a situation right, we have acted out of compassion. Admittedly, most of the time we feel this emotion, we can do nothing but silently wish the other person or persons well, or that the situation right itself.

Writers in particular have the ability to address nearly every situation of unexpressed compassion simply by attributing their feelings and emotions to their characters in different stories.

In a mystery, the hero or heroine will do something to right a wrong. They do this out of compassion for a situation or to help others.

In a romance novel, what brings two would-be lovers together is compassion, albeit it with a serving of compromise, but even that is compassion.

In a SciFi or fantasy story, there is always someone to save the planet and its people or save the day.

One exception is that in a thriller or crime story, the killer or perpetrator may kill believing that they are saving their victim for one reason or another. It is a form of compassion through a perverted mentality.

All good things are done out of compassion. It doesn’t matter in which genre we create our stories. Compassion is what will endear readers to our characters and bring the readers to our next book.

In my suspense novel, Down to the Needle, compassion is shown throughout the story. There was no other way the characters could carry on. Compassion was the motivating factor. This is the logline that tells what the story is about:

Abi’s heart condition could claim her life before she finds her abducted daughter who just may be the innocent young woman facing lethal injection.

Now tell me, did you feel an emotion for Abi’s plight? For the innocent inmate’s plight? Did you wish to see that everything would come out right? What you felt was compassion.

The seed for this story came about when I read a newspaper article about a man who was put to death by lethal injection though he was not proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, as normally required by law. I read about Sister Prejean, a nun who counseled inmates on Death Row, and who saw a few of them to their end. I experienced a whole load of feelings for these people. Specifically, I wondered how the family of the not-totally-proven-guilty man was affected? I felt their heartache. What I felt was compassion.

From this information, I was able to create my story about a woman who has searched for more than two decades for her abducted child. She finds a young woman who would be her grown daughter’s age, languishing on death row mere months from lethal injection. Vague connections between Abi and the young woman cause Abi to investigate. Abi’s compassion for her daughter forces her to investigate even the skimpiest of clues.

Abi also feels great compassion for the young woman who just may be innocent of the crime she’s accused of committing. The inmate might be her daughter. Even if not, Abi believes she is innocent and feels the need to help get her cleared. Abi’s character is full of compassion. Her love interest, Joe, feels great compassion for Abi’s plight and sticks by her side, through he happens upon a former love interest, gets side tracked in his own feelings of compassion, needing to help her get off the street.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The feelings writers give their characters comes mostly out of compassion. It’s an emotion readers must feel from the story, differently from each character, but it must be there in each character, depending on their importance in the story. Goodness abounds, and we writers have a way of sharing it with the world. We do not have to keep it inside ourselves. We cannot help everyone, but our stories will shed light into others’ lives.

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Buy Down to the Needle



This is a 100 word flash fiction story I wrote that is a perfect example of compassion.

Homeless, Not Heartless

A homeless man, acting like a wounded lion expelled from the pride, foraged in a dumpster behind a restaurant. He looked like he hadn’t eaten in a year.

“Gotta eat, gotta eat,” he kept muttering.

He piled up remnants of discarded burgers on a piece of cardboard. He sampled one patty then laid it down.

“Good, that’s fresh,” he said.

He found some chicken bones and other leavings.

The man seemed excited and sat down and neatly arranged all the food, as if preparing to feast. Instead, he whistled, short and shrill, and his dog came running for its meal.



Mary Deal is an Amazon best-selling and award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, a writers’ reference manual, and psychological self-help. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Artist and Photographer, and former newspaper columnist and magazine editor. She is currently writing the third story in her Sara Mason Mystery Series, as well as a long romance novel, which is a new genre for her. Other books coming soon will include her first poetry book and a second collection of more of her short stories.

She has traveled a great deal and has a lifetime of diverse experiences, all of which remain in memory as fodder for her fiction. A native of California’s Sacramento River Delta, where some of her stories are set, she has also lived in England, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also an oil painter and photographer. Her art is used to create gorgeous personal and household products from her online galleries.

Find Her Online

Her Website

Amazon Author Page

Barnes & Noble



Linked In



Cold Coffee Cafe



{Author Alert: Not only is she an author, but she’s an artist; visit all the links!}

Mary Deal Fine Art

Island Image Gallery

Mary Deal Fine Art & Photography (Facebook)

Local Me



My short stories show people dealing with emotion and compassion in diverse situations. Humor, nonsense, fright, disgust, disappointment, silliness, wonderment, reality, heartache. It’s all here in 30 stories that may leave you a little Off Center in the Attic from a mind that may be a little Off Center in the Attic.

{Author Alert: You must take a chance on this FREE offer below!}

Off Center in the Attic will be free on Amazon from February 3, 2018 through February 7, 2018.

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To see more about Mary Deal on ThisIsMyTruthNow, check out her dedicated author page where future content and books will added as she publishes them and I review them. Thanks for stopping by this edition of the Author Alert.

To see more about Mary Deal on ThisIsMyTruthNow, check out her dedicated author page where future content and books will added as she publishes them and I review them. Thanks for stopping by this edition of the Author Alert.


About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Book Review: Down to the Needle by Mary Deal

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Why This Book 
After reading a few light-hearted mysteries and non-fiction books, I was in need of a strong thriller and suspense novel. I had Mary Deal’s Down to the Needle in my Kindle downloaded book list, as it was recommended by a friend. I flipped through the summary and overview, which convinced me to give it a try last week; I’m quite glad I did.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
There are several plot lines in this book, but they weave together in multiple ways in a typical small American town called Seaport. The book kicks off with Abi and Joe, mid-40s to early 50s, covering a string of fires occurring across the city. We learn that Abi has been searching for her daughter, whom her husband had kidnapped nearly twenty-three years ago. Joe stumbles onto an ex who disappeared many years ago, but they’ve found solace in one another as he makes plans to get her off the street. Abi and Joe have their own separate careers and homes, but they consider the possibility of future marriage, assuming Abi can find out if her husband is dead or find a way to divorce him. News outlets are covering the upcoming execution of a young inmate named Megan, who was accused of torching a house eight-years earlier that killed a man’s wife and children. Then Abi finds a few clues which lead them to believe Megan could be her long-lost daughter. The book navigates the path they each take separately, and together, to find their pasts, as well as determine if they can build a future together. New eye-witnesses to the fires step forward and more fires occur. A lead on Abi’s missing daughter unfolds and the discovery of what really happened to Joe’s ex take center stage during this journey — all ending with some happy, bittersweet and sad news. Let’s just say… ‘Down to the Needle’ is the perfect title for many reasons.

Approach & Style 
I read the 381-page novel on my iPad through Kindle Reader. It took about 5 hours over a few days; there are 62 chapters, each fairly short and easy to digest. The story is told in third-person POV with a perspective mostly focused on Abi and Joe. The setting is vividly described, bringing a clear picture of everything, including fires, character expressions and thoughts, homeless conditions, prisons and medical illnesses.

Key Thoughts 
One of the best things I enjoyed about this book is the approach Deal takes in evolving the entire story. There are tons of facts and background information that need to be revealed, but it’s moderately paced and deliberately methodical, to the point where you find your eyes bulging as you get a tad frustrated because you can’t wait to see what comes next. It’s full of suspense, keeping you hanging many times – and then a curve ball comes out of nowhere, in a very almost nonchalant way – it shocks you had some of these things just pop up in a realistic way. Some may find that style hard to digest at first, but once you realize you’re on this wild ride, and you really won’t know what will be thrown at you next, you just dive in to see what happens to the hero and heroine(s) in the story – there may be a few heroines, I can’t decide how I feel! You desperately want Abi to find her daughter, have absolutely no belief/trust that Megan could possibly be her daughter, and then you get happily slammed with something that makes you change your mind, over and over again. It’s great… and when you finally learn all that happened, it’s a brilliant evolution and clearly shows the art of a slow-burning build before the fire pops. Deal has strong skills in this area. The story has a little bit of everything and every genre. It is never boring; a few times, you might wonder where it’s going, but you hang on tightly because you know the author has a plan in mind on how to connect it together. It won’t let you down… to the needle.

Mary Deal is an excellent writer, and I am very glad I read this book. I will pick up a copy of her latest novel, The Ka, in the next few months. I enjoy her character development, complex plots, methodical approach to laying out the setting and descriptions, and ability to weave in just enough confusion and red herrings to keep the pages constantly turning. Kudos!

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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