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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Guest Post: Gail Pallotta with STOPPED COLD

My guest today is award-winning author Gail Pallotta--a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s a former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, a 2013 Grace Awards finalist and a 2017 Reader’s Favorite Book Award winner. She’s published six books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. To learn more about Gail and her books visit her website at https://www.gailpallotta.com

Her latest book is STOPPED COLD. It's gotten terrific reviews. What's it about? Well, things aren't what they seem in peaceful Mistville, North Carolina.
Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school swimming and hanging out with friends—until the day her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking steroids. Now he's lying unconscious in a hospital.
Anger sets a fire for retribution inside her, and Margaret vows to make the criminals pay. Even the cop on the case can't stop her from investigating. Looking for justice, she convinces two friends, Jimmy and Emily to join her in a quest that takes them through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture they discover deep in the woods behind the school. Time and again they walk a treacherous path, and come face-to-face with danger.
All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

Now for an excerpt. Enjoy!


 Something urged me to go inside (the hospital chapel.) Maybe it was because I had nowhere else to turn. Maybe it was because Reverend Hopewell’s visit made me believe God would do something about Sean’s condition if I kept asking him to.
A cinder of hope sparked inside me as I walked in the tiny, narrow sanctuary with mahogany paneling and one pew. If only God would make Sean well and lead me to the drug dealers. Did God do that sort of thing? Maybe I didn’t know enough about God to be in here. He wouldn’t approve of all the hate I had for the drug dealers. Jesus preached a Gospel of love. My heart beat so fast.
How could I explain my deep despair to God? Did He care about Sean and me? Through the blur of my tears I peered at the stained glass cross embedded in dark paneling behind the altar, the soft lighting washing over it. I didn’t need to tell God how sad I was. He already knew. Of course, He cared. He sent His only son to die for Sean’s sins and mine.
But did I know the right thing to say to God, especially in my angry state? Reverend Hopewell’s prayers sounded so eloquent when he said them for the youth group. If I ever wanted a prayer to be good enough for God to answer, it was now.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Condolences on the Beach

My father's brother was a Marine in World War II. He was killed by a sniper during the battle for the coral atoll of Palau.

A considerable amount of time later, my father, a sergeant in the Air Force, had just waded onto a Philippine beach 800 miles west of Palau when the officer commanding his advance party came up to him with an envelope. He opened it and handed my father an American Red Cross message reporting the death of his brother. Then, while troops and equipment kept coming ashore, the officer handed Dad a cup, opened a whiskey bottle and poured it into the cup.


After a few words of condolence, the officer moved away and Dad went on with his work but he never forgot that brief moment of empathy shown by his commanding officer. 


Pray for peace.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Artistic License ... Or This is the Way I See It


Spring is in full swing. Nice weather reminds me of the fun I used to have on sketching expeditions with my mother. I sketched this picture of a rickety old dock in Belford the last time we went out sketching together. Dad had come along to read his newspaper while we drew. My daughters were there, too. Everyone insisted I had invented the bird at the top of the pole, but I was equally insistent that he had been there for a little while, but flew off.

My drawing is not a masterpiece, just a sketch. The fun was not so much in the finished product but the company--along with the fresh air and sunshine.

My daughters looked at the same scene, but each of their sketches came out quite different. My mother's was not the same as mine either.

That's the way it is with anything artistic. What's important to the artist is what ultimately winds up on the paper. Every artist can view the same scene, but one may concentrate on a boat in the foreground, another may concentrate on some coil of rope hanging on a nail, and someone else--like me--won't miss that bird on the top of the pole even if he's only there for a minute. That was the way I saw it.

In many ways, drawing is like writing. The creative process is similar. Every writer comes at a story from a different angle.

I write romances and there are plenty of other romance authors. Nevertheless, while we write in the same genre, we all have a different voice, a different way of handling the story. We see particular details, emphasizing those that are significant to us and our characters.

There is no formula for a romance other than a relationship and a happy ending. No two romance books are the same and that's because each writer is recording what is important to him or her in their story.

Artistic license is not only for painters. Every artist sees the world through a unique pair of eyes. El Greco did not paint like van Gogh. Eloisa James does not write like Hannah Howell.

The world is full of variety and that's part of the fun.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Guest Post: Katie Clark with Whispering Tower

Today my guest is KATIE CLARK. She started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, a supernatural survival series including Shadowed Eden and Whispering Tower, which is available now, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website as well as InstagramFacebook, or Twitter.

What's Whispering Tower about? It's the story of Skye Humphries who is stuck in London for one of her mom’s work trips. Skye can’t help holding a grudge when she ends up roped into a summer tour group with Philip-who-crushed-her-heart. But when Skye and Philip find themselves barreling through time after unsuspectingly opening the veil between the past and present, they’re thrust into a world where Skye’s very life is in danger. If she’d known her choices were between summering with Philip or being sacrificed to the god of the skies, Skye might have changed her attitude. Now she must figure out what’s most important to her—getting even for the past or having a future.

Now read an excerpt!

Present Day 
Skye 

Skye stared at Big Ben in the distance, watched it tick away the time, taking her life with it. A few blocks from her hotel window, the London Eye Ferris wheel rose toward the sky. Tourists and locals mingled in the streets around it, preparing to start their day. Too bad she wouldn’t be starting hers down at the London Eye, instead of with breakfast in the hotel restaurant. 
“You’re not ready yet?” Mom’s impatient voice came from the door between their plush hotel rooms. 
Skye kept her mouth shut. She hated these trips, but she tried not to take it out on Mom. Most kids at school would kill for a parent who travelled the world and took their teen along, but long hours away from home, while Mom worked eighteen-hour days? Not fun. At least at home, she had the soup kitchen where she volunteered and the people who volunteered with her. The people who had become her friends. 
Here? She was on her own. Dad had offered to let Skye stay with him, and she’d almost said yes. Almost. 
“I’ll be ready.” She turned back to the window, her gaze going back to Big Ben. 
“Still working on homework?” Mom moved into the room. She glanced over Skye’s shoulder. Skye looked at her laptop screen. She’d been working through a lesson on ancient Mesopotamia from Mr. Kilpatrick’s class. Now, that was something to smile about. The rituals of the ancient peoples fascinated her. She’d gone over the information a few dozen times with her history teacher. He was great about video chatting with her, delving deeper into the customs, languages, and religions used four thousand years ago. He’d even helped her narrow down the best college choices if she planned to pursue archeology. Someone had to help her, since Mom never had the time. 
“I’m about halfway through.” Really, she should have been done hours ago. The time difference between Tennessee and London had jarred her, and she’d been awake forever. Besides, last time she’d slept was on the plane, and she’d had a bad dream she didn’t want to repeat. But Mom had mentioned breakfast with her business partner and his son, Philip Matthews, and Skye was hoping Mom would let her skip if she hadn’t finished her school work yet. 
“You’ll have lots of time to finish it later,” Mom said. OK, not skipping breakfast. “Go get ready,” Mom called over her shoulder as she moved back to her own room. 
Skye stayed put, her gaze going back to that clock. Big Ben, telling time for a hundred and fifty years. If only those fancy clock hands could wind backward. Back to a week ago, when Mom had announced the London trip. Back to just before she’d told Dad, and he’d invited her to stay with him and his new wife, Gloria. She’d asked Mom, and Mom had freaked. Yeah, she definitely would stop herself from asking that question. 
Besides, Dad had only invited her out of pity. His eyes had been anything but welcoming. She winced at the painful memory and quickly turned back to her laptop. After saving her work and shutting down the computer, she moved to the bathroom for a shower. Thick, plush carpet softened every footstep, and floor to ceiling windows lined an entire wall of her room. Three different shower heads blasted steamy water against the fancy tiles, and Skye took a deep breath. She would make it through this breakfast. Make it through this trip. As always. She’d already contacted All Nations Church, for whom she’d done benevolence work on past London trips. Keeping busy was the best way to keep her mind off of things like Mom yanking her around, and Dad patronizing her. And staying on the same hotel floor as Philip Matthews—for an entire summer. 
The hot water was good at burning away the bad feelings, allowing her body to relax and her mind to wander. Steam swirled through the bathroom, and Skye took another deep, cleansing breath. Everything would be fine. The billowing steam fogged up the mirror. It reminded her of something. Billowing sand? She frowned. The dream. She had been somewhere dry and dusty. Alone? No, not alone, but she couldn’t remember who had come. Mrs. Garrison, one of the women who frequented the soup kitchen where she helped out back home, would call Skye’s dream déjà vu. Skye always smiled along with Mrs. Garrison’s crazy beliefs, but she didn’t go for stuff like déjà vu. Seeing into the future--or past? A little too hard to believe.

Check out the book at Pelican Book Group, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

I Finished!

I finished my Christmas novella. The story starts with a lone figure skater on a lake--in New Jersey. It's a contemporary romance. 

I sent the manuscript off to the publisher. Now I have to wait. That's the hard part. However, I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy in the meantime. 

Inspired by Daughter #2 and her Marie Kondo method, I cleaned out half of the junk drawer in the kitchen. I got rid of plenty of extraneous stuff. But not everything. I discovered my husband had a collection of 3 prong to 2 prong grounding adapters for wall outlets. I didn't think I should throw them out. There have been times when I have needed one of those things. I decided to put them inside a box inside the junk drawer. At least, I know where they are. 

In anticipation of cleaning out the other half of the junk drawer, I bought some small, plastic storage boxes which I found in the Dollar Store. That way, if I come across another collection of odd objects I can put them all together. Marie Kondo would throw them out--and maybe next time I clean the junk drawer I will. But for now it will be organized.👍

I also have a talk to prepare about plot driven or character driven inspirational stories. I've got a bit more than two weeks before the talk. That should keep me out of trouble. 😁