Friday, June 18, 2021
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Sunday, May 30, 2021
There's a memorial in Clovis, New Mexico for all those who died in the F-111.
On Memorial Day, please remember those who have served our country. There are no greater heroes.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
I learned how to crochet at a young age. I've been making shawls and blankets from different patterns for years. However, when I wanted to make a sweater for a baby, I had a problem with the particular pattern I had chosen. Sometimes, the patterns are difficult to interpret--that is not unusual. I wound up ripping out all the work I had done TWICE, which is called frogging. The photo on the left shows what I did wrong. The armholes were too big. I took a look at a finished sweater online and realized I was way off. I didn't give up. I redid all my work and now I'm adding arms to the sweater. I have plans make a matching cap as well.
Whenever I write a book, I have to edit it. I go over and over and over my words. I delete many of them. I add many as well. Basically, that book is written and rewritten. But it sure is easier to delete words and even entire paragraphs on a computer than it is to rip out a complete crochet project--or a knitted project. Pulling it apart is painful. Plus all that yarn must be rolled up, too.
Quitting is always an option. I could go out and buy a sweater. But I am stubborn. Anyone can give up when the going gets tough, but if I want to finish a project--I will.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's not talent. It's PERSISTENCE.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
The ride that day on the river was pleasant. The boat chugged along slowly. What I didn't know was that it wasn't working as it should. It could go very fast, but it didn't that day, which was fine with me. After our ride, we went out for pizza. It was a pleasant date. So, next time he asked, I went out with him again.
The rest of that summer, we went out on that little motorboat a lot. I took the wheel sometimes. We got stuck on sandbars. We endured a horrible thunderstorm on the water. Occasionally, we ate at restaurants with docks on the river. We stopped at Starvation Island, too. The beginning of our romance was spent riding up and down the river in that boat, which was a nice adventure. But we soon gave up boating and embarked on marriage and children. That was the best adventure of all.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
A romance book must have a happy ending. That's the guarantee. Romances without an uplifting ending are not not romances. In real life, the good guys do not always win and there are plenty of tragedies. When I pick up a romance, I want to forget about the real world.
However, to assume that there is a formula or recipe in writing a romance is to dismiss the nature of the art. Yes, romances are genre literature and so they are looked down upon by those who write and read literary novels. Literary novels are considered serious works. To me, they are most often seriously depressing. Romances do have sad scenes. My novel, HEAVEN'S BLUE, has choked up a number of readers--but it ends well.
There is a lot of variety to be found in getting to the end of a romance. While there are only so many plots in the world, romances are character driven novels--and when it comes to people, the choices are endless. I've read my share of cowboy romances, but they are not all the same. Every writer comes to the task with a completely unique set of characters roaming around in his or her mind. Jane Eyre is as real in most readers' minds as Nicole Kidman--maybe more real. The characters I put into my novels are very real to me.
One of my other Christian romances, HOPING FOR JOY, is based on part of I Corinthians 13--so there's some serious spiritual pondering in the story. Still, despite their differences, the hero and heroine will succeed in falling in love by the end. Why bother reading a romance when you know that the two protagonists will end up happy every after? For me, it's the sunshine I feel in my heart when I get to the end. How about you?
Wednesday, May 05, 2021
After years of applying to BookBub for a featured deal with several of my books, Heaven's Blue was accepted. Featured deals do not come free, so I considered it a gamble to pay that much money. However, BookBub has a large subscriber base and most authors are satisfied with the results. I paid the fee and dropped the price of my book to $0.99.
The ad ran on a Friday, which is a very sweet time to be a featured author since it gives the readers an entire weekend to look through the books. So far, I've sold 1,361 ebooks on Amazon, which means I just about broke even for the cost of the deal. However, I also sell Heaven's Blue at Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo through Smashwords.
The chart below shows how many sales I made through Smashwords to Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Those sales are pure profit and while I am not going to be a millionaire, it's always nice to make a little extra. But it will take a while for that money to come in. Barnes & Noble and Apple usually take at least a month to pay.
In addition, I received more ratings and several new reviews, which always helps when it comes to convincing a reader that the book is worth their time.
All in all, I was very satisfied with Heaven's Blue being a featured deal at BookBub. 😀
Monday, April 26, 2021
Here's the blurb:
A new life coming into the world disrupts Susan's quiet life ...
Susan Montgomery is used to a quiet, peaceful life managing her apartment building, where the hardest problem is her grouchy neighbor's leaky faucet. She soon finds herself dealing with a pregnant teenage niece, a mysterious briefcase left behind by a tenant, and two very different men vying for her heart.
A near-death experience gives Mac a new outlook on life ...
Christopher "Mac" MacAllister is trying to figure out how to "do the Christian thing." As a new convert, he's drawn to Susan's love for life and for God. She's nothing like the women he used to date; but can Mac compete with the guy who's come out of nowhere and knows all the right things to say?
Now for the excerpt!
“My point is, a month ago, I wouldn’t have wanted to sit here drinking coffee with you. I mean…” Susan’s blush came on full force now. “Wait. That didn’t come out right.”
“I get it. Why would a sophisticated church lady like you want to have coffee with a heathen construction worker like me?” Mac said.
“No!” Susan said. “That’s not it at all. You think I’m sophisticated? Ha! I spent most days in dirty jeans with either my head under a toilet or a paintbrush in my hand.”
Surprise crossed Mac’s face. “Tell me more.”
“I manage an apartment building, like my dad did before me. Growing up, I followed him around, with my own little tool belt. I became the son he never had. My sister Emily is the girly one. She got out of the apartment life as soon as she could. Went off to college, got herself married to a rich guy, and lives on the fancy side of town. Me, I’m an apartment gal. I love it there. I love solving problems for people, making their apartments into a home for them.” Susan stopped, afraid she was talking too much.
Mac grinned. “Working with your hands, doing something lasting, something you can be proud of. That’s the kind of job I do, too.”
“What I was trying to say earlier had nothing to do with your job. It wouldn’t be smart for me to go for coffee with a guy who wasn’t a Christian I was attracted…” Susan broke off her sentence, mortified she was about to tell Mac she was attracted to him. She tried to hide behind her coffee cup.
A grin spread across Mac’s face. Fortunately for Susan, Adam chose that moment to reappear. He took one look from Mac’s cat-who-ate-the-canary grin to the brilliant red color covering Susan’s cheeks and burst out laughing. “You too seem to be getting along OK without me.”
Susan glared at him. Mac scooted a chair out for Adam to sit. “Susan here was telling me she’s glad you talked some sense into my head at the accident, or else she wouldn’t be able to drink coffee with me.”
Susan’s cheeks flamed even hotter. “That’s not exactly what I meant.”
Where to purchase:
Karen Malley links:
Website (with short-story blog posts)
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Don't miss out on this award-winning story! One reviewer said, "...author Marzec continues to introduce readers to well-rounded characters, deftly crafting their emotions and dialogue into a story of faith and forgiveness - not only of others, but of oneself." (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/390022)
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Selling books is not easy. Whenever another author in the writing community claims to have found a foolproof way to make sure their books get noticed and sell, I listen. Way back, in the early days of the internet, published authors advised unpublished authors to set up a website before getting published. So, I fearlessly learned HTML and set up a site on Geocities--because it was free.
Fortunately, a publisher was willing to send my books out into the world and soon I had lots of news to put on my website--things like contest wins and glowing reviews. But every other author did the same thing. Getting noticed, even with award-winning books is difficult. Along came Blogger. I signed up and started posting regularly. I "met" other bloggers. They commented on my blog and I commented on theirs. It was quite nice, but I didn't sell any books due to my blogging. Next came Facebook. A friend of mine encouraged me to join the new social media site, so I did. I found lots of other authors on Facebook. I found friends from the past who I hadn't seen in ages. I enjoyed seeing what everyone was doing. But I didn't sell many books through Facebook. Some authors started making book videos. This was a good way to showcase your books, they said. So I made book videos and uploaded them to YouTube. I did not sell any more books than usual.
LinkedIn showed promise, so I set up a page there. Twitter came along and I signed up for that as well. I could post my book videos there. I could post my glowing reviews and contest wins. I could help my author friends by posting about their books. Triberr was introduced. What a marvel! I could post on my blog and my tribemates would repost my post on Twitter. Spreading the news became easier.
Pinterest became a terrific place to wander in and get lost. Then came Instagram. Beautiful photos, tons of hashtags. But I signed up for that, too. I was getting a bit weary of all this social media stuff. Tons of new social media sites blossomed on the Internet and I ignored them. Until TikTok came along. One of my daughters showed me some of the funny videos on TikTok, but I didn't think much more about it. Then, out of the blue, the New York Times posted an article about TikTok (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/books/booktok-tiktok-video.html)
Suddenly, authors began touting their success on TikTok.
So I joined TikTok. I am watching what the other authors do. I have not bought a crown--yet, but I might. Have I become an overnight best selling author? No. But TikTok is entertaining. So far, the best way I've found to sell books is to buy an ad on any of a number of book promotion sites. You can read about that here: https://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com/2018/06/my-experience-with-book-promotion-sites.html
I enjoy writing, but marketing is not easy. If TikTok works, I'll let you know.
Wednesday, April 07, 2021
Today my guest is author Kim McMahill. She grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. While she started out writing non-fiction, her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. She has had the opportunity to live in Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa, and Colorado, but has finally returned home to Wyoming. When not writing she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, puzzles, playing games, and spending time with family.
Nearly every woman I know, myself included, educates herself about nutrition, exercise, fitness, diets, etc. in order to live a healthier life, manage a medical issue, or to lose weight. I’ve found there is so much information out there that it is difficult to sort out fact from fiction. The diet and nutrition industries are worth billions, which makes it even more challenging to ascertain who or what to trust. With so much on the line for something that impacts nearly everyone, there is no doubt corruption and crime infiltrate the industry making it perfect fodder for a crime series.
So, about six years ago I came up with an idea that I thought would make an awesome romantic suspense series. I’ve named it the Risky Research Series. The series starts with, A Dose of Danger, which deals with a potential miracle diet pill. Book 2, A Taste of Tragedy, revolves around a deadly sweetener, and book 3, A Foundation of Fear, explores the role of lobbyists and politics in the industry. The latest novel in the series, A Measure of Madness, releases on April 9, 2021. There are also two short-story prequels available for free download, A Formidable Foe and Midnight in Montana. Here’s a bit more on the latest novel, A Measure of Madness.
FBI agent Devyn Nash's pursuit of a deadly organization heats up in this fourth installment of the Risky Research series.
An Excerpt from A MEASURE OF MADNESS
“Where are you?”
“You probably don’t want to know.”
“Devyn, where are you?”
Devyn took a deep breath. She hoped he wouldn’t be too angry. When she left Puerto Rico, she didn’t see any other option. Now, she was so tired she wasn’t sure what to think.
“Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”
“What? Alone? Does your boss know?”
“You heard correctly. Yes, alone and yes, Conroy knows. He wants me on the next plane out of here, and I’m considering it.”
“What do you hope to accomplish?”
“I don’t know. I just couldn’t let Coterie get away with everything they’ve done. Conroy has a friend in the CIA who has a contact here. The best they can do is keep an eye on the group and arrest them up if they screw up or if they overstay their visa. That’s not good enough.”
“You have no jurisdiction.”
“I’m aware of that. I’m pretty certain I know where the head of Coterie is at this moment along with his right-hand man, but there’s not a lot I can do about it. The other little development is that Sofia decided to run, and J.R. is not happy. I may be delusional from lack of sleep, but I kind of had this thought that maybe if I could get to her first, I could convince her to come back to the states and cooperate. If J.R. never followed her back he’d still be free, but he seems pretty obsessed with her, so I’m betting he’d take the bait, and we could lure him to return to the states.”
“You need sleep. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“I know, but without a gun or any authority to arrest anyone, I haven’t come up with a better plan.”
“Get some sleep and call me in the morning when you’re thinking clearer. Don’t risk your life or career for this demented group. I don’t want to lose you.”
Devyn felt like crying. She wasn’t generally emotional. Maybe she was just too tired to have this conversation.
“I’m sorry, Gage. Please stick with me a little longer. This has to end one way or another, and soon. Coterie seems to be imploding. I may not get another opportunity to get to as many as I can while they are in disarray. If we do nothing they may regroup and the killing will continue.”
“I do understand, but sometimes we just have to concede defeat and move on. I’m with Conroy all the way on this, but I’ll not turn my back on you whatever you decide. I love you too much.”
“I love you too,” Devyn whispered as she disconnected the call.
You can find Kim at any of the following:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimMcMahillAuthor/
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/849945.Kim_McMahill
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-McMahill/e/B007IK0EJW/
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
It's a sensible, practical guide to fiction writing. I always had plenty of ideas for books from the time I was young, but getting everything into sensible, coherent order seemed overwhelming.
But, step-by-step as I followed Ms. Whitney's suggestions I eventually I got the hang of writing novels. I still have some unpublished manuscripts, which need tons of work, but I continue to find ideas for more novels.
How about you? Do you have a favorite book about writing?
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Hope Springs EternalAlexander Pope wrote that in 1732, but he certainly got it right. We are always hoping and what better time to hope than spring when the flowers begin to blossom and the snow is gone. In the photo, you see my beautiful Lenten Rose. I love it!
We had too much snow in NJ this winter--at least, I thought so. I used to love snowstorms when I was teaching because invariably--if the snow was bad enough--I got a day off. I didn't mind shoveling snow when I was younger. Now, it's a bit more difficult with my aging bones. In December, when we had our first snow this winter, our driveway wound up with two inches of solid ice on it. I got out the ice chopping tool and was going along quite well until hubby and I directed out energies to the end of the driveway. I chopped up a bunch of ice, put the shovel underneath it, and slipped. I sprained my wrist. I could have broken it or any other part of me, so I was lucky. But it has since made me very wary of ice and snow.
I didn't do as much writing as usual in this pandemic year. I went through one edit of Home Somewhere. A Rush of Light still needs a cover, but other matters have become more pressing--like getting a vaccination against COVID-19. I've gotten one shot, now I need one more, but it's progress.
Fortunately, the New Jersey Romance Writers held their annual JeRoWriMo challenge in February. For the challenge, authors make an attempt to write 30,000 words in the month. I've done it before and with the cheering squad at NJRW, I did it again. Of course, what I wrote was a very rough draft, so now I am fixing it but it was great to start something new.
John Heywood said in 1546, "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good." As far as St. Leo's Prayer Shawl Ministry goes, the pandemic ramped up production to levels I never expected. When women who crochet are forced to curtail their social activities, they simply buy more yarn. Our small prayer shawl ministry supplied blankets to one nursing home and is now supplying another. We gave away shawls to Memorial Sloan Kettering's nearby outpatient facility. We also made preemie hats and blankets for three local hospitals. I had a great time trying out new patterns and seeing what I could do with all the scraps of yarn I have.
I look forward to going to meetings in person again. I look forward to big family dinners. I look forward to hugs. I look forward to traveling.
How about you?
Oh, and don't forget to check out my website at http://www.penelopemarzec.com where you can see all my books.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Today my guest is award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux. She is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of the Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!
Pamela's latest release is Tempered Truth. Here's a quick blurb.
Fate declared them neighbors. Scandal insisted they were brothers.The fact that they looked enough alike to be twins only added fuel to the rumors flying about their parentage. For fifty-plus years Craig Harris and Scott Hensley have enjoyed a bond nothing can sever. Not the insinuations that they share the same father. Not the years of strife and grief and heartache. Not even death. Will the truth set them free or will it destroy the friendship that has lasted a lifetime?
Now for the excerpt!
February 28th, 2005
Craig settled in for the seven-plus hour drive to Scott’s home in Lafayette, Louisiana. His daughter-in-law sat in the back seat so she could take care of his granddaughter should she awaken. Her continued weeping unnerved him. “Lex, please, you’ve got to get a hold of yourself.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do if he dies, Craig. I don’t think I can handle it. He’s my father. I’ve already lost one father; I’m not ready to lose Scott too. Oh, God, I can’t believe this is happening!”
“We don’t yet know how he’s doing. Trina said he’s stable. Whatever the situation, what he and Trina, need from you now is your strength and your faith. Besides, being this upset is not good for you, especially in your condition. Nor is it good for Tamera Joy.”
She sniffled. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”
He glanced in the rearview mirror and smiled as she rubbed her gently rounded abdomen, then returned his gaze to the road. “No need to apologize. Let’s focus on the positive here.” Easier said than done but I hope she can get it together. Neither my heart, nor my nerves, can take much more of her crying.
Craig swallowed the bitter bile of fear in his throat. Hard to believe barely two months ago Scott sat at his kitchen table toasting the holidays, the upcoming New Year, and their joy over their second grandchild. Now he clung to life in a hospital room.
Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pamelasthibodeauxauthor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU
Book Sniffer Author Page: https://booksniffer.com/pamela-s-thibodeaux
Thursday, March 11, 2021
But over the past year, my phone kept insisting it didn't have enough memory. I deleted many of my beloved apps, but it continued to complain. Then last week, after more than three years of faithful service, it kept spitting out error messages. I could get on Facebook, but not Google. I could not send or receive text messages. It was very distressing.
I went to the store and bought a new cellphone--an Android, because I am frugal and a klutz. So, if I step into the bay one day and the phone falls in the water, I won't be too heartbroken.
The new cellphone is great and has lots of memory. It came with a whole ton of games I will never use. I deleted all of them. I have no idea why the phone came with so much junk, but at least I was able to get rid of it.
The best thing is that I was able to return to all my beloved apps that I had to delete from the old phone. I have Pandora once again, which is absolutely perfect to help me dust. I hate dusting, but I can do it with my favorite music urging me on. I had all my favorite station on Pandora--music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I loved country from the 80s, Catholic hymns from the St. Louis Jesuits, Cat Stevens, Mozart, Beethoven, and a whole lot more.
I have Flickr, where I can look at fantastic photos. I have Pinterest, where I can find crochet patterns, recipes, and historical details for my historical characters.
Of course, I have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But I also have NPR, which is absolutely the best place for news as well as our local newspaper, the Asbury Park Press.
I also have the Kindle app on my phone, but I don't have any games.
Maybe you do. What are your favorite apps?
Thursday, March 04, 2021
Hubby and I often sit and look at the bay. It's a convenient place to get some fresh air. It's a calming atmosphere, too. My mother always said it was due to the negative ions, but I don't doubt the repetitive movement of the waves and the sounds lead to a measure of serenity as well.
One day, as we sat there watching the birds, hubby said he thought it would be great to fly as the birds do. Well, I think it might be nice to fly, but not as a bird. Birds can't read or write. The creativity of a gull is focused on food. They drop clams onto the blacktop in parking lots in order to eat the clams. I know some people like raw clams, but I don't.
Birds don't draw, paint, or sew. Some birds don't even build nests.
I like birds. There are many different kinds and they all have different calls, which I love to hear. But I would rather be human. We can't fly, but we can do so much more.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
I LOVE this challenge. I’ve done it several times. Writers cheer for each other and encourage each other. It is the BEST. Of course, what I have is a rough draft, but eventually it will come together. I am so happy.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I took the video above at Cheesequake Park. I needed a break from writing in the JeRoWriMo Challenge. Getting fresh air, seeing other humans, and hearing laughter is always fun. There wasn't any sunshine, but it wasn't too cold.
Watching everyone sledding down that hill brought back memories. Growing up, the hill behind our house was quite steep. If the lake was frozen and it snowed, we didn't have to go anywhere to sled. We just went down the hill in the back of the house and out onto the lake. However, there was only a narrow path between the bushes for the sled. Our sled was one of the old Flexible Flyers, with steel runners. The steering mechanism wasn't great.
So one day, when I went down the hill, I did not succeed in steering the right way, and ran into a bush. My face was badly scratched. My mom took me to the pediatrician who didn't think I broke my nose--but he didn't take any x-rays. I wasn't very fond of sledding after that, though I still loved skating on the ice.
Nobody uses a Flexible Flyer to go sledding nowadays. It looks like a lot more fun.
Wednesday, February 03, 2021
The New Jersey Romance Writers are at it again! They organized their thirty-thousand word challenge for the month of February, the month of 💖. What could be more perfect?
I've joined in on the challenge several times in the past and it's always great. The writers send their internal editors packing so their fingers can fly on the keyboard. There are cheerleaders to encourage the writers to make it to the finish line. The books I've written with the challenge have all been published.
Find out more about it at https://www.njromancewriters.org/jerowrimo.html
Thursday, January 28, 2021
I haven’t given away anything in a long time. Today, one of my daughters reminded me about how delightful short stories are. It doesn’t take much time to read a short story. They are rather like a snack.
Thursday, January 21, 2021
The place was packed--literally. People stood shoulder to shoulder. It made me nervous because if anything happened, we could never get out quickly. Nevertheless, we made our way to the bar, which was no small feat in that crowd. My soon to be hubby ordered a dry martini. The bartender was quite a character. He asked, "How dry?" Hubby told him it should be very dry. So the bartender squirted the Vermouth over his shoulder. We thought that was hilarious.
We edged away from the bar. My friend's drink spilled down the back of the man in front of her. I was not having a good time. The press of people was too much for me. I was grateful when we left.
In these COVID-19 days, I think of the past when everyone crowded together without any cares. I wasn't concerned about germs at the Sea Girt Inn, I was worried about a fire. How innocent we were.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Wednesday, January 06, 2021
|Photo by Jill Wellington|
Rose sat with a sketchbook in her lap and her feet up on the desk while her favorite tunes blasted through her earbuds. Hannah assumed her cousin didn’t hear a word she said. Most likely, Rose was working on a new tattoo design, because she spent all her time involved in drawing—unless she was actually tattooing.
Rose took out one of the earbuds. "He wants to straighten out his sister’s life."
"He says that, but maybe it’s not the truth. Maybe...he got cold feet." Hannah’s eyes grew misty, but she refused to let her emotions get the best of her.
"His sister nearly died." Rose put her feet on the floor, closed the sketchbook, rolled up the wires to her earbuds, and stuffed them in her pocket.
Hannah sniffed. "Yes, she looked terrible in the hospital, but she went right back to her habit when she got out."
Rose shrugged. "From what I’ve read, taking drugs changes the chemistry of the brain, which makes it almost impossible to stop."
"Still, Logan ought to give me some attention—if he loves me." She pouted as she ripped the backing paper off the bulletin board and jammed it into the trash.
"But does Logan love me or not?"
Rose blew a huge pink bubble with her gum and popped it, loudly. "I told Mr. Grimm we’d be at the park before four o’clock."
Hannah sighed. "Everything must be off the floor and in the closet before I leave."
"Should I put the puzzles away next?" Rose asked.
"Yes, thank you." Hannah filled another box with textbooks and hoisted them into the closet. "What if I give Logan some space? Break the engagement, hand him the ring, and later, when his sister improves—"
"If you love somebody you don’t abandon them." Rose started stacking the puzzles in a plastic bin. "Whoa! This is a fantastic image of the cow jumping over the moon. Once a farmer wanted a cow tattoo, but I gave the job to Farrell." She chuckled, grabbed her sketchbook again and began to draw the cow. "Awesome udder thing going on..."
Rose drifted off into her own world, which happened all the time and Hannah didn’t mind it except when Rose forgot to do the dishes or take out the trash. More like sisters than cousins, they shared the small bungalow on Beach Drive where Rose had grown up. When she went to study art in college, she gave her mother, Hannah’s Aunt Deborah, plenty of gray hairs. Then her mother got cancer. Rose quit college and stayed at her mother’s side through the long ordeal.
Hannah originally thought staying with her cousin would be a temporary situation, but since Logan kept putting off the wedding date, she might be there forever— or until she had enough money to rent an apartment of her own. Of course, moving back into her parents’ place was a possibility, but she longed to be more independent.
It was a sad situation, but as Logan’s intended spouse, Hannah didn’t think it was wrong to plan ahead for their new life together, starting with a wedding.
Logan sent Hannah a text message two days ago. He said Nina was missing—again. So instead of Hannah and Logan enjoying a date this weekend, Logan would be out searching for his sister. Hannah’s hope of a beautiful wedding faded away.
Rose held up her drawing. "What do you think? It’s terrific, isn’t it?"
"Should tattooed cows smile?"
"When they’re happy cows they do," Rose pointed out. "If you were a dairy farmer wouldn’t you want your cow to appear delighted eating grass and making milk?"
"Why would someone advertise their business on their arm?"
"It’s cheaper than buying an ad in the newspaper." Rose went back to putting the puzzles in the bin. "Aren’t you almost done? Mr. Grimm saved the best summer job for you. It should take your mind off things."
Hannah studied her list and checked off all the tasks she had completed in the room. "I worked in the amusement park when I was in high school. Don’t you think I’m a little old for it now?"
"Age means nothing when it comes to having fun. One seventy-five-year-old senior citizen works the train ride. He laughs more than the kids."
"Your old car is going to breathe its last one of these days," Rose reminded her. "If you work for a couple months, you might have enough for a down payment on a newer one."
Hannah glanced at the classroom. One entire year of teaching had flown by. It had been a challenge, but one she enjoyed. She already missed the students, but she shouldn’t mope around all summer. Working at the amusement park would give her something better to do than lament her lack of a groom and a wedding.
Rose shoved the puzzles into the closet. "We’re done. Let’s hurry up before someone else gets the water balloon booth."
"That’s the best job?"
"It’s the best spot in the entire park." Rose laughed. "You’ll get drenched every night."
Hannah sighed. "I guess I better keep my hair in a ponytail."
"Cut it short like mine." Rose rumpled her blue spiked coiffure.
Hannah smiled but shook her head. Logan once admired her long, auburn hair and made her promise never to shorten it. While he adored her silky mane, he didn’t seem to miss her much.
Her dreamy plans floated off like high cirrus clouds, thin and wispy and far, far away. "Do you think I’ll wind up an old maid?"
"Our Grandaunt Rose, my namesake, never married." Rose shrugged. "Did she mope around?"
"No." Hannah managed a weak smile. "She was still riding the roller coaster when she was eighty."
"She dated plenty of men, but she never wanted to marry any of them." Rose chuckled. "She said they were too much of a bother."
As the streets of Baywater whizzed by, Hannah closed her eyes. Logan ignored her. Did he love her? Did she love him? Had he forgotten his promise?
Should she dump him?
Hannah stood in the water balloon booth with Mr. Grimm as he explained what she was supposed to do.
"You gotta get the attention of the people who pass by." He held one of the prizes in his hand and shook it above his head. "Say things like ‘I bet you got good aim,’ or ‘You only need two to play,’ or ‘See what you can win. Don’t you wanna give your girlfriend something special to remember the day?’"
"That stuffed monkey is very small." Hannah thought it was ugly—even grotesque.
"If they win three games, they get the better prize, which is this incredible stuffed panda." Mr. Grimm pulled the toy down from the shelf. "Bet you never laid eyes on anything like it."
"You’re right," Hannah admitted. The panda was large. However, instead of being black and white, it was a rather garish purple and the white fur had metallic silver streaks in it.
"Don’t sit down when you’re working," Mr. Grimm warned. "Make sure you wear your uniform every night, too."
"This t-shirt?" Hannah held it up. Emblazoned on the purple cotton were the words, "Baywater Amusements, Fun Times for the Whole Family."
"I only give those out to the employees. Don’t hand it out to anyone. I don’t want somebody impersonating an employee."
"Yes, before I bought the shirts. Some kid opened up the frog pond game one night and ran off with all the money," Mr. Grimm growled. "It ain’t gonna happen again, though."
"But—but you know everyone in the county. Don’t you?"
"Yeah, but the kid picked the day I had to go to my sister-in-law’s wedding."
"Did the police catch him?"
"No. I figure somebody told him I wouldn’t be around." Mr. Grimm frowned at her. "Weren’t you getting married? There’s a diamond ring on your finger."
"Yes, I’m engaged, only...we haven’t set a date...yet." Hannah bit her lip.
"What’s taking so long? My wife and I dated each other for two weeks, I asked her to marry me, and two months later we tied the knot."
Hannah blinked. "You planned a big wedding in two months?"
"No, we celebrated in her parents’ backyard. I came with a keg of beer. We put it in the garage in case it rained, but it didn’t. The guests brought casseroles. My wife laughs and says she had a potluck wedding, but everyone had a good time." He sat on the stool in the corner of the booth, crossed his arms, and smiled. "We skipped out after a few hours and went on our honeymoon. I got us a little cabin up at Stokes. Saw bears, went fishing, and rowed around the lake. We had a great time. Ain’t been on as nice a vacation since. Where you gonna go on your honeymoon?"
"Aruba." She sighed. She would be spending her free time this summer on Baywater’s own small crescent of sand.
"There’s your problem. How much is Aruba gonna cost? Why can’t you do something simple like I did? You’d save yourself a ton of money and you could get married right away."
He winked. "She was a great cook. She was cute, and she was as sweet as pie. How could I go wrong?"
Mr. Grimm showed her where to stash the cash and explained a number of other details about the job. When he finished he told her to grab something to eat, and put on the shirt before he opened the gates.
She hurried across the street to the tattoo parlor where Rose worked. Rose was showing a customer some of her designs, but she looked up when Hannah came in the door.
"Is purple a good color for me?" Hannah asked as she held up the t-shirt.
"Absolutely. It shows off the highlights in your hair," Rose said. "You’ll probably receive several more proposals tonight. Remember not to take them seriously."
"I won’t." Hannah’s hopes were already dashed. Was it wrong to end what had once seemed right? Was she unreasonable to expect Logan to give her some attention despite the difficulties he had with his sister?
Aunt Deborah firmly believed in prayer. The foundation of hope is faith, she often said.
Hannah wondered if her lack of hope meant her conviction needed an extra boost. She prayed as she walked back to the amusement park. After eating a hotdog, she hurried to the water balloon booth. People started streaming through the gates for a night of family fun. At least, she wouldn’t be alone and brooding about Logan tonight.
She did her best to attract attention to her booth and by eight o’clock she was so busy she didn’t have time to think. At one point, every water gun was occupied and people were waiting in line to play.
She gave away twenty-six of the ugly stuffed monkeys but only three of the purple pandas to the winners.
Her feet ached by the end of the night and her stomach rumbled. She regretted not buying fries with her hotdog.
At closing time, she picked up her inventory list along with the cash bag. Part of her proceeds had been collected earlier, but during the last hour she had more business than the rest of the night combined. As she pulled down the gate to close up the booth, a dark shadow startled her. When she turned around, someone grabbed her t-shirt and held a knife in front of her face.
Hannah choked back a cry as panic swept through her. She didn’t move a muscle.
"Nina," Hannah whispered. Logan’s sister was dirty, disheveled, and emaciated, but she had the same impossibly curly brown hair as her brother along with pale blue eyes. Her wild, wide-eyed gaze chilled Hannah to the core.
"Give me the bag!" Nina didn’t let go of her weapon, which gleamed in the beams of the security lights. "Otherwise, I’ll slide this right across your throat." The blade shook in her hand. Her black pupils were small pinpoints.
Hannah stared at the point of the knife. The handle appeared worn, but she didn’t want to find out how sharp the tip of it was. She handed the bag of money to her attacker.
Nina released her grip on Hannah’s shirt, but she did not release her knife, which was still pointed toward Hannah who was cornered between the end of the booth and the fence. Nina hugged the canvas bag close to her chest. In doing so, she pulled her ragged shirt down over her
Hannah didn’t dare move, but she asked cautiously, "Who is Paul?"
Nina spat on the ground. "I hate him." She suddenly threw the knife away, turned, and fled.
Hannah clutched the edge of the counter. She didn’t think her legs would hold her up.
She took a deep breath and screamed for help.
Read more at https://www.amazon.com/Hoping-Joy-Love-Book-13-ebook/dp/B01N2U0XE6