Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Reading in 2021
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
This is a photo from Christmas 1953. That's me sitting on my mother's lap in the center of the photo. My brother is on the floor on the right. My paternal grandparents are on the left and I think the legs must belong to my uncle because I am sure my father took the picture.I don't really remember the dollhouse or the baby carriage in the picture, but I'm sure I loved the doll my mother helped me unwrap. I enjoyed pretending to be just like Mommy.
Back in the fifties, gifts for children were always specific to gender. Fortunately for me, I happened to like "girl" toys. However, I was lucky because I had a brother close in age and I played with his toys, too. I got to run his trains, fill up his dump trucks with dirt, and shoot him with his own cap guns. :-)
Sharing is a good thing.
Thursday, December 09, 2021
Indie Authors Giveaway for a $25 Gift Card
Make sure you check out the Indie Authors' Giveaway at https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/post/a-rush-of-light-iabe before December 15, 2021.
You can read an excerpt of A RUSH OF LIGHT and enter to win a $25 gift card to Amazon. Don't miss out on this offer.
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Guest Post: PROTECTING ANNIE by Jodie Wolfe
Her latest release is PROTECTING ANNIE. It sounds terrific. Here's the blurb:
After twenty years of living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem, she no longer requires his protecting so he's unsure of his next step.
Annie McPherson needs a change after the death of her father. She accepts a position as schoolmarm, hoping her past won't catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky sheriff who continues to question her ability to adjust to life in the west and creates confrontations at every turn.
When the irritating schoolteacher's past and present collide, dragging him into the turmoil, Josh has to decide who he's willing to defend.
Enjoy the excerpt!
Burrton Springs, Kansas
August 1, 1876
Death paced close enough for Annie McPherson to smell its rotted breath. A menacing growl rumbled in the beast's throat. The animal bared his teeth when she attempted a tiny step. Perspiration trickled between her shoulder blades. She cocked her head a fraction of an inch, hoping to spot a bystander, but only a small glimpse of a barren street stretched between the tight alleyway. Her heart hammered beneath her polonaise.
Not a single soul in sight. “Where’s help when you need it?”
Her movement and words caused the monstrosity to circle closer. If Annie’d been on speaking terms with God, it would’ve been a good time to send a plea for someone to come to her rescue. But she’d fallen out of practice of praying over the past years, ever since—
She released a silent breath, shifting her foot in the dirt. The deranged creature snarled and snapped, just short of capturing her wrist in his jaws. Annie tried to swallow but her throat muscles refused to contract.
The wolf settled on his haunches, two feet in front of her. A glistening tongue protruded from his face. His beady eyes stared at her, unmoving. Was the beast contemplating how she would taste, like the one in the tale of Little Red Cap she’d read as a child? A shiver ran down Annie’s spine. She had no desire to be wolf chow.
“Easy, fellow. Don’t eat me. I’m sure I’m not very appetizing.”
It was time to take charge of her fate since no assistance was coming. Annie took a step sideways. Her back scraped against the rough boards of the building.
Why had she chosen to saunter through the narrow passageway and follow the jumbled directions the blacksmith had given her after she’d exited the conveyance? The other townsperson she’d asked had stared at her as if she’d spoken a different language, as if the man didn’t understand English when he heard it. Annie hoped he wasn’t an indication of what type of people lived in town. She’d have to make the best of it since returning to New York wasn’t feasible, not after that louse—
An ominous snarl snapped her back to her current situation. How many times had Mama warned her about focusing on the situation at hand? While she’d been woolgathering, the wild animal inched his way closer. He leapt.
Buy it at:
Wednesday, November 03, 2021
Scene from A RUSH OF LIGHT
Her customer regarded her with a measure of surprise, which made her feel as though he could look right through her. Putting one hand up to touch the buttons of her white shirt, she reassured herself that none had come undone. Her gaze wandered to his lips and lingered there. Few men had a mouth so generous.
What am I thinking? The room warmed—as if she stood in the middle of a street during a July heat wave directing traffic. She grabbed an icy bottle of water and went in search of the broom. Everything about him puzzled her. Why did she have a nagging sense that she had met him before this?
Two months ago she returned to town. Very little changed in the area during the eight years of her absence. Her customer may have grown up here as she had, though she judged him to be slightly older. It could be possible he knew her sister.
She cooled down, located the broom and the dustpan, and heard the front door open again. Another customer joined Mr. Dirty Fingernails. The two appeared acquainted with each other and moved to a booth in the corner. Leaning the broom up against the bar, Callie stepped on plenty of peanuts as she made her way to the table.
Her newest customer wore a vested suit. Judging from his leather attaché, she guessed he was either a lawyer or a securities broker, but since he was talking to Mr. Dirty Fingernails, the lawyer idea seemed more plausible.
“May I get you something?” she asked.
“Dewars on the rocks.” He hurled the order at her with words clipped, cold and exact.
When she announced the price, he slid a credit card onto the table. He didn’t even give her a glance—as if she were less than human. A spark of anger ignited deep down inside her.
Definitely a lawyer. She hated them all.
“Cash only,” she said, unable to eliminate the contempt from her voice.
The man turned, narrowed his eyes and gave her a sharp look. “I don’t carry cash.”
Mr. Dirty Fingernails hurriedly reached for his wallet again.
“I’ll get it.” He handed her the money.
Deliberately stomping the peanuts under her feet, Callie went back behind the bar, finding it nearly impossible to stifle her hostility. She should have taken the lawyer’s credit card and shredded it into slivers.
She chose a glass, scooped up the ice, poured the Scotch, snatched up a cocktail napkin, and started back to the table.
She discovered crushed peanuts are far more slippery than whole peanuts. As she rounded the end of the bar, her feet slid out from under her. The drink went flying and crashed against the gleaming brass bar rail. She snatched at the broom, hoping to break her fall. The long handle landed on a chair and prevented her from breaking the same arm she mangled last year. Her bottom landed with a resounding thud on the floor, miraculously missing the busted glass by inches.
Mortified, she winced as the heat blazed in her cheeks. This whole entrepreneurial experiment could turn out to be a disaster if she made pratfalls the regularly scheduled entertainment.
The two men rushed over to her.
“I know a great workers' comp lawyer...”
“Cut it out, John.” Mr. Dirty Fingernails reached out to her with one of his contaminated paws. “Can you get up?”
She glanced up into his face and found concern gentling his rugged jaw. A crazy flutter tingled inside her chest. She held out her hand, completely ignoring his unwashed state, and that’s when he gave her a genuine smile—one that deepened a dimple in his cheek. Once again, an odd sense of déjà vu came over her.
She had seen him before. Yet, for some reason, she could not recall where or when, which for her seemed very strange.
The calluses on his warm hand rubbed against her skin. That summertime heat wave-on-the-asphalt feeling came over her once more and she could barely breathe as the man who remained an enigma in her memory helped her to her feet.
“Nick, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t be so ready to lend a hand. One of these days, you’re going to get sued,” the vested lawyer grumbled.
“Have you forgotten the good Samaritan?” Nick—or Mr. Dirty Fingernails—asked the lawyer.
Callie could have sworn something magnetic kept her hand in his. She had to force herself to draw away from him, to edge away from his potent attraction, one millimeter at a time. Once she broke away, she leaned against the bar with her mind racing, searching for some scrap of recollection. The lawyer called him Nick, and though that did not help her memory, she easily envisioned meeting him in some dark alley in the city where she used to work. She wondered which crime he committed. She wondered if he recognized her.
“A good Samaritan would be taking a deposition,” the lawyer insisted.
“Please tell me that someday you are going to turn into a human.” Nick sighed.
The lawyer aimed a look at Nick capable of slicing flesh.
Unfazed, Nick threw a glare right back at John. “The courts cannot solve everything, as you well know.”
Callie tried to surreptitiously dust off her derriere. Men like Nick and his friend could smile at you as they pointed a gun at your heart. She did not trust either of them.
The animosity between the two men charged the room with tension and Callie’s anxiety increased. She believed by moving back home she would leave all the dark alleys behind her, but here in her father’s old inn she sensed danger.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Nick laid his hand on her good arm and the impression of menace diminished while soothing warmth shimmered up from his touch. If someone zapped her with a Taser, she would not be more surprised.
“I landed where there’s plenty of padding. No problem.” She wanted to sound flippant and tough—like the hard-bitten cop she once was. However, her voice came out a little wavery—which was his fault, not hers.
“What padding? You could use some of my Aunt Bella’s pasta.” He gave her hand a tender squeeze before letting it go. Callie found ice creeping back into her soul.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
King was presented to my brother and I as a birthday present. I was six at that point and my sister was one, but as the years went by she loved that dog so much that at the age of three she proclaimed that she was going to marry him. :^)
The dog catcher incarcerated King when he was nine years old. We got him back, but he died shortly afterward. Dad buried him on the hill behind the house.
We had other pets over the years, but King lived the longest and was much loved. When I put dogs into my stories, I always think of him.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Guest Post: ARMS OF FREEDOM by Kathleen Neely
My guest today is Kathleen Neely, a retired elementary principal who enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, The Least of These, Arms of Freedom, and In Search of True North. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.
Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
Kathleen's latest release is ARMS OF FREEDOM.
With each page of the age-old journals, Annie discovers all that unites her with a woman who once lived in her farmhouse. One lived with wealth and one with poverty, but both knew captivity. Both longed to be free.
Miriam yearns to escape her life as a super model. She drops the pseudonym and uses the name she gave up years ago—Annie Gentry. Then she alters her appearance and moves to rural South Carolina to care for her grandmother. Can she live a simple life without recognition? Can she hide a net worth valued in the millions? Love is nowhere in her plans until she meets a man who wants nothing more than Annie Gentry and the simple life he lives.
Charlotte lived in the same farmhouse in the tumultuous 1860’s. The Civil War was over, but for a bi-racial girl, freedom remained elusive. She coveted a life where she wouldn’t bring shame to her family. A life where she could make a difference. As she experiences hope, will it be wrested from her?
The journals stop abruptly with a climactic event, leaving Annie to search for information. What happened to Charlotte? Did her life make a difference? Did she ever find freedom?
Intrigued? Read an excerpt to find out more.
The key turned in the lock, but the attic door still required a strong arm to open it. Years of dried paint scraped the door jamb. The bottom rebelled against the threshold, clearly in need of a carpenter to sand it down or re-align it. She propped it open, hit the light switch and immediately met years of stagnant air. A musty smell caught in her throat activating a gag reflex. She coughed, then hoisted the cardboard boxes to shield her nose and mouth. As the still air began to dance in its new freedom, the disturbed dust mites floated in dull light beams. She’d have to deal with this sometime. She’d take the boxes and drop them upstairs. The attic needed a good airing out before she could look around. With the boxes held high in her arms, Annie climbed the steep wooden stairs.
The dim light cast shadows, enough to know that the room wasn’t empty. Annie plopped the boxes down and felt along the wall for another light. Instead, she found a string dangling from a single bulb mounted on the ceiling. She tugged the string and the room came to life revealing a lightly-cluttered attic. Sheets covered surfaces in their attempt to protect them from years of dust. Her initial inclination was to leave this for another day. Or another year. Low priority with all she had to do.
Yet something compelled her to stay. A few boxes and a storage chest. You would expect those in an attic. But a large section of the room held an air of familiarity. Children’s furniture had been stacked against one wall. A wooden table, four chairs, two turned upside down to nest on the other two, and a bookshelf. A carpet, about six-foot square, spread out on the floor in front of the furniture. Why was everything so familiar? She had only visited here twice when she was around five years old. And she was certain she’d never been in the attic. Eleanor would not have allowed it.
Annie opened an old chest that sat on the carpet. She lifted the dusty lid and saw the toys, mostly wood and metal. A toy tea set, a sorry looking stuffed teddy bear, and wooden building blocks with faded alphabet letters. A smaller chest sat beside it. She picked up a yo-yo, the string discolored and stiff, marbles in a cardboard box, a metal spinning top, void of color. These were definitely old, perhaps antiques. She lowered the lid, puzzling over this discovery. Another box held two items, both wrapped in cloth. She lifted one and removed the flannel to discover a baby doll. An image formed in her mind. She had seen this doll. She was certain of it. She could see a vision of the doll sitting on one of the wooden chairs. She knew she’d find another when she unwrapped the other flannel—one with red, curly hair.
As she unpacked the second doll, it all came back to her. A picture. She’d seen the items in a painting at Nana’s home, the home she had in Pittsburgh before she moved to Roswell House Assisted Living. The painting mirrored Andrew Wyeth’s style of down-home realism with rustic details. The table and chairs on the same carpet where Annie stood today, the tea set in the center, and two dolls seated with teacups before them. The gritty window in the background of the picture with its yellow-gold curtains matched the window a few feet away. The gold had faded to a drab shade and held years of dust, but it was the same curtain. The same window. That meant a child’s play area had been in this attic. Why would anyone set up a playroom in an attic? Or perhaps this space served as an artist studio, the dolls and tea set staged for a picture. But another thought marched to her brain. Her grandmother’s words. Those walls hold secrets.
You can find Kathleen at:
You can find Kathleen at:
Website – www.KathleenNeely.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/kathy.neely.98
Twitter - https://twitter.com/NeelyKneely3628
Instagram – www.Instagram.com/KathleenNeelyAuthor
You can find ARMS OF FREEDOM at:
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The Reissue of A RUSH OF LIGHT with a New Cover
One of the things I set off to do during the lockdown was to reissue A RUSH OF LIGHT. My inspirational romance was originally published by AweStruck Publishing at the end of 2005. When AweStruck folded, Mundania Press added the book to their catalog. After a while, I requested a return of the rights fully intending to add it to my other orphaned titles on Amazon. But I simply didn't get around to it. The pandemic provided the impetus for me to jump into this project, but--as always--I was distracted by other projects. I had edits to complete for Home Somewhere and I began working on another book. Meanwhile, A RUSH OF LIGHT got lost in the shuffle.
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Guest Post: NO LONGER A CAPTIVE by Carol James
My guest today is Carol James, an author of inspirational fiction. She loves creating Redemptive Romance. She lives in Lilburn, Georgia, a small town outside of Atlanta, with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell Terrier, Zoe.
Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she'd been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.
Her debut novel, Rescuing Faith, was an Amazon number one best-seller. Visit her website to sign up for her newsletter to be the first to learn about new releases: www.carol-james.com
Just recently, Carol allowed Zoe to start an instagram page with two of her dog friends. Follow them at 3DogsandtheirAuthors to learn the behind the scenes info about being a writer.
Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And most days, in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.
NO LONGER A CAPTIVE is the story of Ethne O'Connor. When her brother, Sean, tells her of father's unexpected death, he asks her to do something she promised herself she'd never do. Come back home.
A victim of childhood abuse, Ethne left her father and the small Texas town of Crescent Bluff ten years ago on the night of her high school graduation. She's determined to end the cycle of abuse and believes the only way to do that is remain single. If she has no husband, she'll never have children that can be abused.
Then she meets Daniel Spenser, a handsome doctor with chocolate-kiss eyes. Daniel understands her past in a way no one else does. He's lived it.
Will Daniel be able to help Ethne break the chains of captivity around her heart?
And will God release her from her past, to be free to trust the man she comes to love?
Excerpt for No Longer a Captive
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
The gravel crunched beneath the tires as Ethne O’Connor steered the box truck onto the shoulder of the narrow country road. Today would be a scorcher. The clock hadn’t yet reached nine in the morning, and already the numbers on her dashboard read ninety-two. The birth of another lovely summer day in Central Texas.
The heat waves rising from the pavement in front of her mirrored the waves of nausea that had steadily intensified since she’d left Fort Worth. She shifted the truck into park, flipped on the emergency flashers, and turned the air conditioning on high. Closing her eyes, she pushed her head back against the seat and begged the cold air to rush across her face and relieve her churning stomach.
She couldn’t believe she was doing this. One May evening ten years ago, with her suitcase already packed in the trunk of her car, she walked across the stage in the high school auditorium, received her diploma, and made a promise to herself, a vow that had never been broken…until today. Sean’s pleading phone call on Monday had changed everything. She was returning home.
The nausea somewhat under control, she shifted the truck into drive, pulled back onto the roadway, and turned off the emergency flashers. One last mile to go. Anticipation was a funny thing. When she wanted something to happen, it took forever to come. If she dreaded an event, it arrived before she knew it. These last several days had gone by way too fast.
Slowing the truck, she turned left and began the journey down a meandering river of asphalt. As she rounded the final curve and her childhood home came into view, she gasped. In the ten years she’d been gone, absolutely nothing had changed. The two-story farm house was still painted white with black shutters. Large Boston ferns hung from under the edges of the front porch and swayed in the ever-present Texas wind. Even the flowers waving in the pots beneath them were the same—purple petunias.
Nine o’clock and no Sean, but she wasn't surprised. Punctuality had never been expected of him. On the other hand, Vaughn had always demanded she be on time. Even early. That requirement had served her well over the years, birthing in her the organizational skills that helped her successfully start and run her business.
She parked the truck at the top of the circular drive, and despite the heat, slipped on her sweater, and inched across the pavement and up onto the porch. She grasped the doorknob. As she expected, it was locked, and she didn’t have a key. Years ago, she’d thrown hers away because she would never need it again. If she’d kept it, she could have at least gone inside and escaped the heat.
She turned and walked toward one of the rocking chairs. A forgotten green turtle with a chipped front leg smiled at her from underneath one of the pots of flowers. She picked it up and slid back the door on its belly. A key fell out into her hand. When she was a little girl, she always believed the key was there for Sean and her—in case they got locked out and Vaughn was still at the office. That was certainly one of the reasons, but when she was eleven, she’d discovered another.
She returned the oblivious little turtle to his home and then inserted the key into the lock. Taking a deep breath, she turned the key and pushed the door open. Cool, silent darkness greeted her as she stepped into the spotless—Vaughn would have it no other way— foyer.
She set the key on the console table beside the door and then tiptoed, for some unexplainable reason, further in. She paused and glanced first toward the living room to her right and then toward Vaughn’s home office to her left. There was only one choice to make. She headed right and walked to the wingback chair next to the fireplace. Sitting, she nestled into the cushions. She pressed her nose against the fabric. Even after all these years, she could imagine the soft fragrance of Mother’s perfume lingering in the ivory brocade.
Heavy draperies hung closed over the living room windows. A shaft of light shot out from the middle space where the panels failed to meet completely and illuminated a flock of dust motes as they floated in the bright morning sun. When she was five, Mother told her the particles were tiny fairies dancing in the sunshine, but they were usually invisible. Only the magic of the sun unveiled them.
One day, Ethne had asked Vaughn if she could borrow his magnifying glass to see the fairies, but he’d refused, saying Mother had filled her head with nonsense. Fairies weren’t real.
Turns out, that was one of the few truthful statements he’d ever made to her. She now knew the ‘fairies’ were nothing more than a combination of dead skin cells, fabric fibers, pollen, and dirt. He was right. Nothing magical about that.
As she walked over to the window and threw open the curtains, the fairies disappeared.
“So, the prodigal sister hath returned.”
She jumped and spun to face the foyer. Her little brother spanned the doorway. He had grown up. The last time she’d seen him at his college graduation three years ago, he was at that stage where the calendar said he was a man, but his body was trying to catch up. He had certainly filled out, and he now sported a short, precisely-trimmed, chestnut beard. His hair, unlike hers, had deepened from bright copper to rich auburn.
“Sean. You’re late,” she snipped. This was not the way she’d envisioned their first meeting after all this time. She took a deep breath, reined in her emotions, and smiled. “Or maybe I’m a little early. I have a reputation for that.” She pulled him into a sisterly hug.
His grin answered hers. “Early, late, whatever. I’m just glad you came. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever see you again.”
“The road runs both ways, you know.”
“Yeah. Sorry.” He held up the key she’d placed on the console table. “I see you remembered the turtle. I figured I’d find you sitting on the porch in one of the rockers.”
He set a small, black gym bag on the floor. “Where’s your suitcase? Need me to get it out of the truck?”
“I’m not staying here. I’ve got a room in town.”
“Eth, I can see how hard this must be for you.” Tears filled his eyes. “Believe me. I know.”
He really had no idea. The man he knew as Dad was not the same one she knew as Vaughn.
Book Links: Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/56pdpzmy
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Our Pandemic Theater
Do you have any historical series you'd like to recommend?
Thursday, September 23, 2021
All People Make Mistakes
|Wooden Cross on the Beach at Ocean Grove, New Jersey|
All people make mistakes. Some won't admit their mistakes. Some make excuses for their missteps. A segment of the population seeks to blame their errors on others.
On the other hand, there are those who spend their lives crippled by guilt, which isn't healthy and there are people who are burdened with mental heath issues. A lot of us are in very sad shape. This makes it easy for a writer--in any genre--to find characters for their novels. The characters could be tortured heroes or depraved villains or anyone with a checkered past.
But I find it rather satisfying to write Christian fiction because--in the end--there is hope. Christ died on the cross for everyone. God really does love us--imperfect though we all may be.
If you're looking for a dose of hope, buy a Christian novel. Pelican Book Group publishes my books under their Prism imprint. but they offer many others, too. There is a large variety and there are plenty of sales as well. Many are available through Kindle Unlimited.
Buy a good book today!