Sunday, July 14, 2024

Sunday Scenes: HEAVEN'S BLUE




HEAVEN'S BLUE won the EPPIE Award in 2005 for Best Inspirational Fiction. It is the story of Samantha Lyons who works as a research scientist in Clam Creek, a sleepy little town on the marsh in New Jersey. She needs an assistant to complete her mosquito research if she wants to continue living at Field Station Number 37, the first real home she has ever had. When David Halpern drives into town, she is sure he is the answer to her prayers. David is out of options when he and his son find sustenance in the basement of Holy Redeemer and a job offer from Samantha. David assumes he'll be safe from discovery in the backwater town and accepts the position.

In this scene, David has made up his mind to leave the field station and move on. Samantha knows she won't be able to finish her research without him. When they pull up to the field station, Fish, Samantha's neighbor is waiting with a bucket of crabs.


James climbed out of the back of the car and stared down into the bucket with an air of resignation, an odd emotion in one so young. Samantha's heart ached.

“Do they bite?” he asked in a dull tone.

“Oh, they snap at your fingers something terrible with those claws.” Fish pulled out a can opener from his overalls and dangled it in front of the crabs. One crab lurched at it and hung on, even as Fish lifted the creature out of the bucket. “Make a grown man cry if one of those held on to his finger.”

James’ eyes widened in interest for a moment. Then David came around from the other side of the car and the youngster's shoulders sagged. Samantha wanted to hug James and never let go.

“Um, this is David Halpern, Fish.” Her heart felt wooden as she twisted a stray lock of hair around her finger. “James’father.”

Fish dropped the can opener with the crab still attached. He stuck out his hand to David. “Pleased to meet you.”

A few seconds passed by before David reached out to grasp Fish's hand. The reluctance on David's part seemed awkward and obvious to Samantha, like a social snub, but apparently it didn't bother Fish.

“You got a nice boy there,” Fish noted, grinning at James.

David cleared his throat. “Thanks.”

“Neptune stopped swimming in the can,” James stated quietly.

“That can happen,” Fish rumbled sympathetically. “But I found you some new friends. A whole bunch of ‘em. They're as lively as any of God's marvelous creations.”

James lifted his face, and Samantha saw the light of hope spark ever so faintly.

Fish lumbered back to his truck.

“We aren't taking any souvenirs with us,” David warned in a low voice.

“Miss Samantha will keep them for me,” James responded with confidence.

“Yes, I will,” Samantha said firmly. “Forever.”

They followed Fish to the truck. He slid another big bucket out of the back, and then lowered it below the level of James’chest.

“Hermit crabs,” Fish said. “Crazy little things. They don't have a home of their own. They go creeping around looking for empty shells that some other animal left behind. Then they crawl inside and make it their own.”

“Squatters,” David commented, giving a sardonic twist to his mouth.

“Nah.” Fish shook his head. “They're just using shells that are already empty. Doing what the good Lord wants ‘em to do. Nothing goes to waste in His creation.” He stuck one hand down deep into the bucket and picked up one of the small creatures.

“Here ya go, son. They don't bite. Open up your hand and let this little guy tickle you.”

Samantha saw eagerness shining in James’ eyes as he reached out for the hermit crab.

“What's his name?” James asked as the animal sat in the middle of his palm with all of its spindly legs drawn up inside the shell.

“Why, that one there you can name yourself, son,” Fish decreed.

James’ smile spread slowly. “He's gonna be Kyle, like my friend.”

“Any man with a true friend is a king,” Fish said.

Samantha saw the old man's eyes water a bit, and found a lump welling in her own throat. Fish had the tender heart of a poet, and Samantha wished she knew what had hurt him so badly that the pain still plagued him. Undoubtedly, any probing questions would upset him further and she would never do that.

The little animal in James’ hand gingerly stretched its tiny legs out from under the shell and started to scurry across James’ palm.

James giggled. “He's tickling me.”

“Now don't let him fall down.” Samantha cupped her hands beneath the young child's.

“Hey, Kyle,” James laughed. “You're so funny.”

Fish pulled a red bandanna out from his pocket and blew his nose. “Well, I better get moving,” the old man said in a gravelly rumble. “I was up at three this morning.”

“Why don't you join us for supper?” Samantha offered.

“No, thank you. But it's mighty kind of you to ask.”

“Oh, Fish,” Samantha sighed. “You've given me so much, it would be nice if you would help me eat some of it once in a while.”

Fish gave her a shy smile. “Those are from God's bounty. You best be thanking Him and not me.”

“Miss Samantha always thanks God,” James piped up.

“She's a good woman.” Fish nodded. “A special gift for some lucky man.”

Slowly, Fish's gaze turned to David. He stared long and hard, without saying a word for several moments. Samantha watched as David shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.

Then Fish, obviously finished with his assessment, scratched the beard on his chin and turned to push up the tailgate on his pickup.

Samantha stole a quick glance at David. His eyes had a stony resignation in them that chilled her. Tension crackled in the air as she watched David's jaw stiffen.

The old fisherman shuffled around to the front of the vehicle and pulled himself up into the driver's seat. “Won't be any rain now for a good long time. Gonna dry up the marsh, keep an eye out for smoke.”

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and other distributors.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Irons In The Fire Now On HOOPLA!

 

     Draft2Digital put IRONS IN THE FIRE on HOOPLA, the library app. I am delighted. I often use Hoopla to borrow books. It’s free with your library card. Irons in the Fire was the first book I finished, though the second one to be published and was a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award.
     Long and Short Reviews gave it 4 1/2 Stars and said, "The twists in this one were totally unexpected. There are surprises all along the way to the final revelation of who was behind all of the evil in the town. I did not expect some of this at all. I like that in a mystery--not knowing is the best kind of plot. The romance builds slowly, and for each step these two take toward each other, they take two steps back. I loved it when they finally acknowledged their feeling were real, and the passion they finally let loose was wonderful." 

     So please sign up for the Hoopla app and borrow Irons in the Fire! 


Thursday, July 04, 2024

The Bay Beach on the Fourth of July

 


Pictured above is the bay beach where I spent my childhood. It’s not a fancy beach. There aren’t any big waves. There aren’t any lifeguards either. But the beach is free and the water is far cooler than the air. Today the parking lot was full, but there were a few spaces left on the other side of the creek where the short boardwalk has been repaired with all new wood. I stood on the boardwalk for a while and watched the red-winged blackbirds flit back and forth over the marsh. But it was hot, so I didn’t stay there long.

Hoping everyone enjoyed the day at the beach. Happy Fourth of July! πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Guest Post: Pathlight to Praise by Kristi Neace

 My guest today is Kristi Neace. She holds an MDiv and BA of Biblical Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City. 

Kristi has 18 plus years of experience writing faith-based books, blogs, articles, and devotions for both women’s ministry and law enforcement spouses. By day she is a real estate professional, but her true passion is teaching God’s Word. Kristi hosts a weekly Bible study throughout the year for both in-person and zoom participants. She and her husband/family reside in the greater St. Louis area of Missouri.

You can find her online at Instagram: Kristi_Neace

or on TikTok: @kristi.neace

 PATHLIGHT TO PRAISE is Kristi's new release from Pelican Book Group. 

 Christians often speak of giving God praise for this or that, but for a person new to the faith or even a seasoned believer longing for encouragement during personal struggles, praise can seem like an overwhelming even unattainable task.

 Yet, in the very last verse of Psalms we read, "...everything that has breath praise the LORD (Ps. 150:6)." Why? Because He is worthy!

 Within the pages of this book, you will find 150 days' worth of devotions filled with God's unending love and care for His children. Though the various psalmists experienced fears, temptations, and strong emotions such as anger and betrayal, God proved that there is always something to be thankful for. He is forever worthy of our praise!

Kristi said, "I have multitudes of favorite Psalms, the overall theme verse that describes this book is probably Psalm 119:105, 'Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.'" 

Links:

My Review of Pathlight to Praise

Kristi gave me an advanced reading copy of the book and I found it to be insightful and thought provoking. While the actual psalm excerpts are short and the commentaries after each are also brief, the questions she provides get to the heart of the matter, relating each psalm to difficulties we all have in contemporary life. She noted the authors of the psalms along with the time and circumstances of the writing, which helped to bring the psalms into focus. As a devotional aid, I thought this was exceptional and worthy of reading often. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

THE KEEPER'S SECRET Is Coming In October!

I am so delighted to announce that THE KEEPER'S SECRET will be released in October. As someone who grew up in New Jersey and who has visited many lighthouses along the coast, I always wanted to write a book featuring a lighthouse. So, I did. πŸ˜€ And Pelican Book Group has given me a fantastic book cover as part of their Prism Lux line. I love it. πŸ’– 

As soon as I receive the ARCs, I'll be asking for readers to review it. It is a Christian romance and faith is a very important part of the theme. You won't want to miss this one!



Here's the blurb:

Shucker' s Point, New Jersey never had a murder until now. Jack St. Marie, a well-known research scientist is missing, and Trooper Bryce Johnson believes the worst of Jack' s wife, Evie. 


In high school, Bryce loved Evie--enough to want to marry her, but that was before he witnessed her phone in a bogus bomb scare. And only two months before Jack disappeared, Bryce saw Evie aiming a gun at her husband. Can Bryce believe in Evie's innocence when her husband' s body is found in a fishing dredge twenty miles out at sea? Could the most beautiful woman in Shucker' s Point be capable of such a heinous crime? He doesn't want to believe it.


Bryce refuses to let his heart guide the investigation...until someone shoots at Evie. Then he must protect her. But can he protect his heart?

πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’—


 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Be a Part of Your Community

I stood in the foyer of the church one Sunday collecting donations for Ukraine one day. Everyone who donated was offered a prayer square or a sunflower. I was very cold because the door was open, but I was very happy with all the donations received from our parishioners. Our parish's prayer shawl ministry crocheted all the giveaway items. 


I've always been a joiner. I like being a member of a group. When I was a teacher, I belonged to the NJEA. As a romance writer, I have been a longtime member of a few writing groups.  I am a member of an art society plus I attend a painting workshop every week. But I am also a cradle Catholic and I have been actively involved in my Church forever. 

I was in the folk group when I was younger. Later, hubby and I ran the Pre-Cana team in our parish. We hosted Renew groups in our home. I started a prayer shawl ministry in our parish. It's been a busy life, but it's great to know the people in our community, to be a part of it, and to help out in some way when we can. 

There are reasons many people have left religious institutions. However, it is not because they no longer believe in the religion's teachings. "But sizable numbers also leave because they believe religion has become too politicized."

Unfortunately, this is true. There are member of our parish that do not have the same opinions I do. However, we can ignore that fact when we are working on other goals. But to leave the Church doesn't help anyone. 

There was this statement in the article, "The disconnection from our neighbors, the fostering of distrust and the lack of belonging further imperil our society."

We need each other. We need to work together. Be a part of your community. You'll find the benefits are worth it. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Guest Post: SHELTER IN THE NIGHT by Loree Peery

My guest today is Christian author LoRee Peery. She wrote fiction for many years before her first novella was published in 2010. She thrills at the writing process when ideas, words, or character voices resonate in her mind. Jotting notes in the middle of the night or trailing toothpaste across the floor on her way to pen and paper, gets her pulse pumping. She often notices character quirks and conversation while she’s out and about, and is invigorated when she spends time outside. She believes the desire to write should never be ignored and is so glad she kept returning to the blank page. She feels blessed to live under God's redeeming grace, and to experience Nebraska's sense of place.

Her latest release is SHELTER IN THE NIGHT, the first in a series of worship through verse. It's available from Pelican Book Group.


Loree asks, "Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night, beset by thoughts of the worries of the day? Do you ever awaken with the feeling that God wants you to pray for someone or some thing? Do you pray, flounder in your prayer or immediately fall back to sleep?

Through the verses of Shelter in the Night, volume 1 in the Worship through Verse devotionals, the author pours out sorrows and joys much like the Old Testament psalmists. Whether you need shelter or reassurance, this collection can bring peace, hope and solace.

https://www.amazon.com/Shelter-Night-Worship-Through-Verse-ebook/dp/B0D2PMQG8X/ref

 

 

Psalm 30:5

…Weeping may stay for the night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning.

 

Night Song

 

The sky may be black

But my heart is white

 

With the light of Your presence

You are my hiding place

 

The song of cicadas hums life

Clouds break for the moon and stars

 

Providing cover like wide spread wings

You shelter my heart from fear

 

I call, You promise to listen

Mellow peace floods my soul

 

My joy is new in the morning

You took the night watch.




The second in the series is Looking Beyond Self .    


God has asked us to lay our worries at His feet so that His grace and compassion can get us through troubles. Reflection during the midst of pain is often cleansing, giving us a different perspective in our walk with Jesus.

In Looking Beyond Self, join the author as she pours out her worries, sorts through her feelings, reflects on worldly things, and through verse, worships the strong, stalwart Presence Who brings peace in troubling times.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Looking-Beyond-Worship-Through-Verse-ebook/dp/B0D34HL51F/ref

 

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends

all understanding, will guard your hearts

and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Joy Unfettered

 

Much about God is a mystery

How can Jesus live within?

 

I thank God for working in me

That good work that continues

 

Good news of great joy has come

In a Babe to be glorified always

 

Jesus, a Name above all names

Believe and be right with God

 

Joy is serving in the Spirit

Unexplained peace is the result

 

His undeserved gifts are blessings

Blessing brings freedom of joy

 

Joy is belonging to Jesus

Glory to God for my freedom.



 

COMING SOON on June 14th will be GRATITUDE FOR ALL MOMENTS.

Meeting the Lord through modern-day psalms prompts heart gratitude and worship through verse.

 









On June 28th Finding Peace and Strength, which is volume 4, will be released.   Where else to turn when strength is gone and peace is fleeting, but God’s Word?

 

 








You can find Loree's website at http://www.loreepeery.com.  

Thursday, May 16, 2024

New Bookmarks!


I don't have a release date yet for Love's Gift, but I have bookmarks! I ordered a bunch of them. They are better than business cards in my opinion. The URL for my website is on the back. In case anyone is really interested in finding out more about my books, they can easily find information at my website. When I sell books at book signing events, I usually give the customer a bookmark along with the book. I have to order another bunch of bookmarks for The Keeper's Secret, which will also be released in the near future. 

Of all the marketing things I must do to get the word out about my books, putting together bookmarks is my favorite. I go to Canva to design the bookmark and then upload them to Vistaprint. I've been using Vistaprint for a long, long time. So even though there are plenty of other printing companies out there, I plan to stick with Vistaprint.

Do you like to use author's bookmarks? Should an author sign the bookmark? What do you think?

 

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Worst Book Signing Ever

A Beautiful Book Signing at a Library

I have gone to many book signings in the hope of selling some books. In the photo above, at a library, I was treated royally by the librarian. But nobody showed up. πŸ˜•

I have discovered that there are good days and bad days to hold a book signing. The day before Mother's Day is a bad one to sell and autograph romance books, at least that has been my experience. Many years ago, I was scheduled--along with three other authors--to do a book signing at a bookstore in northern New Jersey. When I arrived, the store did not have any of my books. I had some in the car, which I put on the table, but it didn't matter. I did not sell a single book.

Of the three other authors that were supposed to be there, two showed up. They sold a total of three books.

Not many people were in the store. It was a glorious day outside. If I had been at home, I would have done some gardening. I suspect that is what many people were doing. Others were probably enjoying family time with their children and grandchildren, which is a wonderful thing to do on Mother’s Day. Or go out to eat. 😁

As unprofitable as that book signing was in northern NJ, I believe the worst book signing for me was in a small bookstore in a local town where the road outside the store was being repaved the night of the book signing. It would have been better for the owner of the bookstore to reschedule the event, but she didn’t. There is a municipal parking lot in the back, but for those who like to park on the street, it would have been impossible. The noise of the repaving was constant and loud. The smell of hot asphalt permeated the air. Not many people came into the store. However, even that night, I sold some books. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

Still, I just haven't had many good experiences with book signing events, which makes me hesitant to sign up for them. 

Make me feel good. Tell me your worst booksigning experience.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

When I Was Young and Single

     Summer is coming. When I think of summer, I think of traveling. When I was young and single, I traveled quite a bit. One of the best trips I went on was a summer study course through Trenton State Collcge, which is now the College of New Jersey. It was eight weeks long, with one week in Paris, six weeks in Florence, and one week in Germany. I took two courses and got six credits, which went toward my Masters degree.

     At that time, I took photos with my little Kodak Instamatic camera. As you can see, any cellphone nowadays takes much better pictures. Technology has made great strides since that time. 

   


     The cost of the trip was a little over $1000, which was a lot in those days. Especially when you consider that my salary as a teacher was about $8000 a year. But I was still living at home with my parents and I was quite thrifty, so I was able to save enough money for the trip. The cost of the trip did not include any beverages. 

    Healthy and strong, I climbed to the top of Montmartre and the Duomo. I walked everywhere. 

        I spent so much time in Florence, I didn’t feel like a tourist after a while. Learning about history and art while looking at the work of the artists who created stunning masterpieces made an impression on me that I never would have gotten from a book.  

     My high school French was not very useful and I did not learn Italian. Fortunately, there were other people in the study group who knew how to speak those languages. 


     Rome was the only city where my usual sense of direction was confounded. But I put my feet in the Trevi fountain, saw the Pieta, and the Roman Forum. 

    I liked Florence better. It wasn’t that big. I’ve never been a fan of big cities. Even cities like New York City, which isn’t far from where I live. Although, at least in Manhattan the streets go either north and south or east and west. That makes it easier. 

    

     That’s me at the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was very strange to walk up to the top. Since it leans so much, sometimes the stairs weren’t really going up. 🀨

    I was very fortunate to have such adventures and see other countries. I thought of setting book in Florence. I started one but never finished it. Maybe one of these days I’ll get back to it. 

πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— 

    



 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Kiss from SEA OF HOPE


SEA OF HOPE was my first published book and an 2002 EPIC Award Winner for Best Inspirational Novel! Originally published by AweStruck Publishing, I reissued it along with a new cover by the incomparable Taria Reed. 

The story is about Doria Hanrahan who returns to her hometown, jobless, paranoid, and expecting to cash in on her father's fishing trawler. When she discovers the trawler has been willed to Murray Santoro, who cared for her father during his final illness, she is filled with anger and guilt. Desperate for cash she joins the crew of the Merrichase. On the ocean, far from land, she learns Murray is not only a doctor, but suspected of murder and awaiting trial. She cannot comprehend how her father trusted Murray. She suspects Murray coerced her father to change his will. 

BUT it is also a romance. So, grab a cup of tea, and read one of the sweet parts of the book. 

πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’—

He had grown so fond of her that it hurt him now to think of them each going their separate ways. Yet, it had to be that way. He had no future.

A hollow emptiness spread inside him. Doria had come into his life like a hurricane, but at her center he found strength, loyalty, and true courage.

She stirred. Her eyes opened slowly, vague from slumber.

“Hey,” she said and lowered her eyelids again, fanning the dark brown lashes on her cheeks. She sighed and smiled.

“Hey,” he echoed softly.

Two creases formed between her brows, marring her smooth complexion. Then her eyes flew open.

“What?” She ran her hand through her wild ringlets and moved to sit up.

“Everything’s fine,” Murray assured her. “We’re docked in New York, waiting to unload the porgies. The storm decided to move up to New England.”

Doria flopped back down on the bunk. “You look good.”

“So do you,” Murray said. “How do you feel?”

“Like I could sleep for another decade,” she replied.

Murray lifted up his digital thermometer. “Do you mind?”

Doria looked at him suspiciously. “I’m not sick.”

“You were cold,” he said.

“So were you.” She pulled the covers up higher, under her chin. “And you nearly drowned.”

“I already checked my own temperature.” He grinned. “After a half dozen cups of hot coffee, I am almost normal.”

“Too much coffee is bad for you.” Her eyes narrowed.

“If you have hypothermia, it can work wonders,” he countered. He turned on the thermometer. “This is not an invasive procedure. I put this in your ear and it gives a readout in seconds.”

“I know how it works,” she huffed.

“Your fingers are still blue,” he mentioned.

When she looked down at her fingers, he placed the thermometer in her ear. She tensed.

“Can I talk?” she whispered.

“Yes,” he whispered back.

“I-I’m glad you didn’t drown,” she said softly.

Regret weighed down on him. He had misjudged her at first, and hurt her.

“I’m glad you didn’t let me drown.” He found himself straining to keep his voice level. He took the thermometer out of her ear and glanced at the readout.

“We have got to get some hot drinks in you,” he stated as he frowned at the numbers.

“What’s with this ‘we’ stuff?” she asked.

“Nurses talk like that all the time.” He shrugged. “I’m pretending I’m a nurse.”

Doria laughed. “You look so much more like a pirate.”

He bent his head and stared at the floor, letting her merriment warm him with waves of happiness. It felt good. Healing. He had wanted to see her smile, to make her laugh, and he finally had succeeded. But why did it leave him with a lump in his throat? With an effort, he lifted his head.

“You will always look like an angel to me, Doria Hanrahan.” He could barely hide the emotion in his voice. “Thanks for saving my life.”

She placed her hand on his. He tightened his fingers around hers.

“I would have saved anybody.” Sincerity rang through every word. “Even George.”

This time Murray had to laugh. “Should I let George know that?”

She gave him a puzzled expression and then pouted. “You know what I mean.”

The delicate moue formed by her lips drew him. He dropped the thermometer on the blanket and reached out to cup her chin in his hand. Her eyes, the color of bittersweet chocolate, widened in surprise.

His lips came down on hers, slow and gentle. The tender fullness of her mouth had him drowning again, but this time from the forgiveness he found in her response.

He pulled away. Though brief, the kiss left his heart ramming against his rib cage.

“Why-why did you do that?” she asked, her lips still moist and rosy.

He shrugged and traced the generous curve of her mouth. “It’s part of the prescription.”

Her cheeks flushed even as she glared at him. “You made that up.”

“I bet your temperature rose a few degrees.” He lifted up the thermometer again. “Shall I check?”

“No!” She threw the blankets over her head.


 πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’—


You can read the entire first chapter at AMAZON! Check it out. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Some Old Technology Still Works


I decided to attempt to get rid of a box in the garage and at the bottom of the box, I found this. Our old CB set. I went out to the car to plug it in and see if it works. It does. I heard some garbled speaking on a couple channels, but nothing clear. 

Hubby and I never used the CB much at all, but my Mom and Dad had one and used it frequently on their trips out to Pennsylvania to see my grandparents. Mom told the truckers to clean up their language and they laughed at her. 

But I was very glad I had the CB with me one time when I drove down to Stockton to pick up my daughter and bring her home for the weekend. As we drove toward home on the Garden State Parkway, we wound up in a traffic jam where the traffic wasn’t moving at all. I set up the CB and found someone who knew exactly what was happening. There had been a horrific accident and the traffic was stopped so helicopters could land on the Parkway and take the injured to the hospital. 

We sat in the car, not going anywhere for a long, long time and listening to the CB. I didn’t have a cell phone at that time. I wish I did because I could have called hubby and told him why we would be very late getting home. 

I am going to keep the CB just in case I get stuck in another traffic jam.