Here’s the back cover blurb for Answering Sarah: After a fire destroys their home when she was a girl, Sarah’s family rebuilds their lives, yet the echoes of the fire’s damage remain. Sarah learned to turn inward, and keep her curious mind to herself, asking God all the questions that her own father used to delight in. But the fire silenced her father, and spread the stillness to the rest of them. Yet Sarah longs to express herself, to find answers to all her questions. A new, young pastor arrives, and captivates her heart. The prospect of a challenging and unexpected life dances before her, but then is held out of her reach. And with the new possibilities come questions she’s never asked herself before. Is she ready for the answers? And here’s the front cover first, then the front and back cover together: This is my fourth book release, and there will be two more of my books released by the end of this year! I remember wondering when my first book, The Right Ingredients, came out, if I’d have more books published. Guess I know the answer to that by now. I’m thankful to Prism Book Group, my publisher Joan Alley, and to my editors Jacqueline Hopper and Susan Baganz, and all the wonderful authors at Prism Book Group. What a great group of people to be connected with as I travel through this writing journey of mine. If you’d like to know more about Answering Sarah, just click on the page with that title, and I’ll tell you how to read a preview which includes the prologue and the first chapters. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did while writing it! Thanks for visiting my page!
There’s something cooking outside the kitchen….
They’ve worked together for two years, but that’s all they have in common. Like oil and water, they just don’t mix. Julie thinks he’s a shallow flirt, Mark thinks she’s a cold fish. Despite their mutual dislike, they’ve carved out a civil work relationship at the restaurant. But after each of their inner worlds suffer a jolt; the careful, polite kitchen routine becomes a stew of conflicting emotions. Things are about to get interesting.
Yippee! My third book is out now!!
This one is part of a series from Prism Book Group, called the Love Is… series, and all the novellas are based on one of the characteristics of love written about in First Corinthians chapter 13. My novella is called A Work in Progress, and is based around the concept that love does not boast itself.
It’s got a lot of dimensions to it. It has some light-hearted moments, thoughtful and dramatic ones, some soul-searching, and plenty of chemistry between the two main characters! It’s all about love and the many twists and turns it creates, especially between two people who didn’t plan on even liking each other. Buckle up for a fun ride!
Now here’s the first chapter, followed by some reviews:
What a glorious day. Julie indulged in a slow walk to the steakhouse, reveling in the autumn breeze and its hint of chill. No need to hurry. She’d be early as usual. The sight of the varied trees lining the sidewalk, sporting their vibrant colors, with a bright blue sky above them, ignited a sudden desire to skip.
After a humid summer, there couldn’t be a more magnificent time of year than harvest time in the Finger Lakes. Cool air, clear skies. She glanced at passersby and wondered about their response if she did skip down the walkway. So what if she was almost thirty?
A grin spread. Why not? Joy was way more fun than heartache, after all. She launched into a series of skips. Laughter bubbled up, as much at herself as the scandalized reaction of a nearby cat, who shot off a porch and into the shrubs. She couldn’t help giggling at the frantic exit, with the cat’s tail fluffed out to twice its size. Too bad the poor thing couldn’t appreciate her joy.
She gazed upward. Who could fail to take delight in such a perfect day? God deserved some recognition for creating all this beauty. She almost sang, but figured the skipping would do for now. She beamed in response to the few odd glances she received from pedestrians, and strolled on.
The familiar scent of the steakhouse greeted her as she drew near the back door. The outer exhaust fan blew a warm, aromatic breeze into the back lot, laden with hints of caramelizing onions, simmering soup, and grilling meats. Better advertising than any media spot or food photograph could be. How many customers had said they first showed up just from the inviting aromas?
She sniffed the air and grinned before she shrugged out of her coat, hung it, and curbed her spirits to prepare for focusing on work. Though demanding, she enjoyed the job. Showing up at three in the afternoon hadn’t lost its charm, even after two years. After a long stint of morning-shifts at diners and cafeterias stressed her night-owl blood, this place was a true blessing. Day jobs left too much evening time for brooding.
Mark and Chris trimmed out steaks at their stations, while a rack of ribs wearing a shiny coat of sauce sizzled on one of the grills, and a large tray of shrimp waited at her station. Time for prepping. The two nodded a greeting at her. Chris’s big bald head shone, and he chewed on his ever-present wad of gum. Mark openly teased Chris about his “oral fixation” and said if he wasn’t chewing or smoking, he was eating or asleep. The two loved to harass each other in ways that seemed rough to Julie. But they obviously delighted in the practice.
Strands of Mark’s crop of thick dark hair shifted onto his forehead before he swiped them in place with the heel of his hand. He really should wear a headband or his chef’s hat, to make sure no strand of hair got on the food. And the boss ought to insist Mark wear it every day, not just when an inspection was due. Forget saying anything, to Mark, though. The first time she mentioned it, he’d fixed her with a displeased look and said, “Don’t concern yourself. I know what I’m doing.”
His dismissive tone offended her. Maybe she hadn’t cooked as long as he had, and wasn’t a chef, but everywhere she worked before, people were expected to cover their hair. If he did, he wouldn’t need to scrutinize each finished plate with such intensity. She gave her almost invisible hairnet a few quick pats to assured her of its proper position.
She tied on an apron and got to work. “Hey guys. I smell something different today.”
Mark grinned at her, his dark blue eyes holding a delighted twinkle. “I added Thai spices to the sauce for the shrimp in tonight’s surf and turf.”
Julie stopped peeling shrimp to glance at him. “Barlow okayed that? I thought he didn’t want us to use anything more exotic than a spicy barbeque sauce.”
Chris, large and burly as a bear, let out a snort. “You know how he listens to customers.”
Julie rolled her eyes. “Not all of them.”
“Just the rich ones who come in a lot.” Mark gave a wry laugh. “Anything they want is A-OK. So I got the go ahead for Thai-spiced shrimp.”
Mark stepped over to a simmering pot, his athletic form moving with quick grace as he stirred, then dipped a spoon into the concoction. He nodded and smiled. “Oh, yeah. This is good.”
He turned to Julie. “Grill some shrimp, will you, and we’ll all try a sample of it later with our meal.”
It tickled her that she ate lunch when most other people were preparing or thinking about their dinner. After ten years in food service, she relished having work she loved. Something to look forward to. The hard work and fast pace suited her, while providing excitement at the same time.
Thanks, Lord. I appreciate this job.
* * *
In a second, with no warning at all, everything changed inside Mark. He swallowed, blinked his eyes and breathed in. A strong wave of disorientation chilled through his body and prickled the skin on the back of his neck. Panic rose like bile in his throat. What on earth was going on?
His frantic gaze traveled the familiar terrain of the restaurant. He inhaled the warm, fragrant air, and flicked his sight to the half-eaten food arranged on the shiny plate below him. He’d planned to hurry and finish his meal before the dinner preparation began and hectic hours would pass before he’d get another chance to eat.
He wanted to ask Chris what he thought of the sauce he’d created, but the strange sensation overcame him and stopped his motions, his question, his life. Chris continued to chew his own portion, eyes trained upward while he sampled the food and let his palate analyze the flavors. After five years of cooking together, the two men were each other’s best critics and supporters.
Mark’s attention diverted from Chris’s upcoming verdict, eclipsed instead by the overpowering chilliness consuming his brain. Why did everything look different, and feel so odd? Was he on the verge of some sort of collapse? A stroke or something? No, people in their early thirties didn’t have strokes. At least, he hoped not.
The uncomfortable, vulnerable sensation refused to leave even after a few slow breaths. He glanced at the light coming from the window. Were these his last moments? No. He needed to move, and escape from this feeling. Now. He popped off the chair, and like a leaf blown by the wind, he swept to the front door and scooted outside. As the door closed, he heard Julie’s voice raised in a quizzical tone. “Mark?”
He gave a quick glance through the window as he strode past it. Julie stood near the table he’d left, her face and Chris’s wearing the same puzzled expression as they stared at him. He looked away. It didn’t matter. He had to leave.
The cool early fall wind failed to jar him back to his familiar internal terrain, that comfort zone that seemed a million miles away now. The street sounds of traffic and people hurrying and conversing fell on muffled ears. He almost screamed help in order to test his hearing and try to halt the creepy, doomed sensation, but quickened his pace instead.
God, please help me. Something’s really wrong with me.
Desperate to make sense of his plight, he cast about for something, anything similar to connect the experience with. Perhaps the time he got in the fender-bender with Grandma. He’d slammed his head on the door frame of the car, followed by a rush of adrenaline that numbed his skin and blunted his senses. The odd disoriented haze had taken a while to clear.
But he hadn’t hit his head, or anything else. Had he suddenly become allergic to the food he’d been eating? A spontaneous shellfish or spice allergy? And why did he feel like running? The car accident years ago made him dazed, not poised to flee like a spooked deer.
This same street he walked down every day now sported details he’d never noticed. Numerous cracks in the sidewalk’s uneven surface, the aged, brick facades of buildings with signs he’d ignored perched across their tops. Somebody worked inside each of these places, trying as hard as he did to make a living, and really get somewhere. Funny how he’d never thought of that before. They were mere buildings to walk by on his way to work, while his thoughts percolated on the day’s challenges.
“Hey, Mark.” A short older man gave him a nod and a quick smile as Mark hustled past him. Bob, that’s who it was. He came in for dinner sometimes, always sat at the same corner table and ordered a medium-well strip steak. Mark remembered because once he’d undercooked it and needed to re-fire it for him. He’d been polite about it, not like some customers who talked to him as if he were stupid if their food wasn’t just right.
By the time he turned his head to acknowledge Bob, the man was far down the sidewalk. He stopped to watch his retreat, wondering at the odd impulse to talk to the man, connect with someone who knew him. The wind gusted, and he crossed his arms, wishing he’d put his chef’s jacket on over his t-shirt. At least he could sense temperature on his skin again. The numbness had receded somewhat.
A small brown and white dog with short fur came to a stop in front of him. After staring up for a long moment, it blinked its round hazel eyes and scuttled past him. The novelty of an unleashed canine caught Mark’s attention, as well as the intent eye contact. The animal seemed to grasp his unease. As though borrowing direction from the dog, he followed it.
While he scanned the storefronts and tracked the dog’s progress, the nearby “Free Clinic” sign stood out. He walked in and sank onto one of the empty plastic chairs. He should get examined. They’d figure out what was wrong with him.
I should be at work. Poor Chris and Julie.
He patted his pocket, but his phone was back at the restaurant, in his coat. Still disoriented, he slumped his shoulders and clasped his hands together near his knees. Why was he sitting here? A round, dark-haired woman in blue scrubs sat at a desk, brows pinched while she scribbled on a sheet of paper, eyes darting to the face of the slender woman seated beside her, holding a wiggling little boy.
A rumpled man of indeterminate age who had an unhealthy appearance slouched in a nearby chair, head down, while a slight snore sounded from his nose. Dark stubble covered his sallow cheeks. Mark wondered what disease the man might have. At least he was comfortable enough to sleep.
The skinny woman and restless boy rose from the desk and disappeared behind a long rectangular curtain that bisected the room. The nurse caught his eye and beckoned to him. He shuffled over and parked in the chair.
“Been here before?”
“Two years ago for a flu shot.”
The woman glanced up from her paperwork and gave him a quick once-over. “What’s wrong today?”
Mark paused, stifling a surprising urge to laugh, and took in a breath instead. “I don’t know. Something.”
One of the woman’s brows spiked upward. “Can you be a tad more specific?”
He stared at her. “All of a sudden, I felt really weird. Sort of cold all over, and my skin felt numb.”
“Are you on any drugs?”
She leveled a searching gaze at him, pen poised above the paper. “Any other symptoms? Pain anywhere, nausea, double vision, dizziness?”
“Has this happened before?”
He fidgeted in the chair, wondering if he should mention the childhood car accident. “Not really, no.”
“What were you doing when it started?”
She pursed her mouth and emitted a slight humming sound. When she straightened up, he caught sight of her nametag. Cindy. She asked, “Any food allergies?”
“Not that I know of. Could I have developed one all at once?”
“It’s possible. Did you experience swelling or itching of the tongue or lips, or hives anywhere?”
He shook his head.
“Difficulty breathing, swelling in your throat?”
“No. Nothing like that. Just a strange, disoriented feeling all of a sudden.”
Cindy set the pen down and scrutinized him. “Have you had a lot of caffeine today, or energy drinks?”
“Only my usual two cups of coffee.”
A squeal from a small child interrupted the interrogation. The cry ended in a broken sob, followed by a woman’s soothing tones from somewhere behind the curtain. A male voice murmured, “All done, all done now.”
Cindy turned her head from the room divider back to Mark. “And how are you feeling right now?”
Mark turned his senses inward, trying to introduce some sort of focus to the drifting fog inside him. He seemed to have lost his anchor somewhere, but how would he describe that? “I feel strange. Like I’m not myself.”
“Have you ever been treated for mental or emotional disorders, or recently stopped taking anxiety medication?”
He gave her a slight smile with a head shake. “No.”
“And you’re not on any prescriptions presently?”
She pressed her lips together and shot him a quizzical look. “Well, that in itself is rather unusual. Most people I know are taking medication for something.”
He supposed that was a good sign. Maybe there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with him. But something was off.
Cindy scribbled more information on the sheet. The slender woman, carrying the little boy, emerged from behind the curtain. Cindy shot the woman a nod, sighed, and handed the paper to Mark.
“Go on back. Doorway on the left,” she said.
Mark glanced at the sleeping man. “Isn’t he next?”
“No. He’s waiting for his son.”
“Oh.” Mark rose and stepped around the room divider, paper in hand. Echoes of childhood doctor visit nerves rippled through the inner numbness while he regarded the door to his left. He drew in a breath. Might as well go in.
Now, for the reviews:
By Julie C on February 26, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
I have read Nancy Shew Bolton’s other novels, so I expected this one to be great as well. Yep. it is! It has all the right ingredients for a sweet romantic story, with a little of spice added as two opposites attract and mix things up. Somehow,like any great dish, despite their combination of ingredients you’d think would always clash, it comes out made to perfection in the end. Another great Love Is Series novella.
By LW on February 27, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this story, especially the intimate view of each character’s inner life, which is a hallmark of Nancy Shew Bolton’s writing. She has a talent for guiding us deeply into the thinking and motivations for each person’s responses, feelings, and choices. Then when her protagonists connect in a scene together, you can feel the fireworks of all that is going on from the core of truth for each one. Also, I so admire the subtheme of freeganism (very cool). A lot to hold your interest, and the characters are believable and engaging. I highly recommend this entertaining, thoughtful book!
By Lisa J. Lickel on February 26, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Nancy Shew Bolton, author of other Prism novella favorites of mine, Hidden Storms, and The Right Ingredients (both on sale at 99 cents each), adds another winner to the Love Is line, based on the apostle Paul’s famous biblical passage in I Corinthians 13. “Love does not boast” means gifted, talents chefs Julie and Mark, who work at the same steakhouse restaurant, each with their special creative abilities to turn out new special dishes, should not let stress affect their work. When Mark visits a clinic for troubling symptoms, he meets new friends who help him put his life into perspective. But when he learns about Julie’s secret outside-of-work life, his sense of duty wars with his curiosity. Used to getting the attention of girls, Julie is a puzzle Mark is determined to unlock. When their lives circle around and a mutual project brings them a fresh purpose, these cooks definitely sizzle.
Told from contrasting viewpoints, A Work in Progress follows two individuals with strong passions as they learn to meld and help each other grow.
Well, there you have it! A preview! Here’s the Amazon purchase link:
If you enjoy the story, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads! Thanks!
HURRAY!! My second book is out, and I’m very happy. This book is a bit of a departure from the first one. The Right Ingredients is a contemporary Christian Romance. Hidden Storms is historical Christian fiction set during the year 1938. A storm-tossed year, and a life-changing one for Lilli Clarke, the young woman who tells her story as it happens. I will include the endorsements here, and an excerpt to give you an idea of this unique story.
Here are the endorsements:
She believed the lies which scarred her more than the marks on her neck. Almost poetry, Hidden Storms is a novella to be savored. The words roll in the mouth and find their way to the heart. A young girl spurned by her parents and feared by strangers feels unworthy of love, even the love of God. Go with her on the search for life, for validation to be happy. Hidden Storms will stay with the reader long after the last page.Lee Carver author of A Secret Life, and Love Takes Flight
Hidden Storms addresses issues most of us, like those around Lilli, would much rather avoid—those we’d rather hide than deal with. A suspicious, superstitious, and prejudicial upbringing ingrained in young Lilli that she was marked by God and the cause of disaster wherever she went and whoever she touched. We might all feel that way sometimes without a champion or a kind word that triumphs over our self-doubt and pity. Nancy Bolton gives us an enduring story that will mark our hearts.
Lisa Lickel, author of The Last Detail
Nancy Bolton’s gripping tale of a young woman’s overwhelming shame is set against the tragic dust bowl years. Nancy’s descriptive voice sends you right back to that difficult time period as you struggle right with Lilli Clark as she strives to recover her health. Yet it’s not just health that Lilli needs. It’s redemption—God’s redemption.
This story, Hidden Storms, molded after the fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling, really exemplifies how God takes us, sinful, filthy, ugly and unacceptable, and wipes away all our hideous flaws and makes us whole. Follow Lilli as she trudges towards God’s truth, learns to accept her imperfections, and embrace a new life free of shame.
Peggy Trotter, author of Year of Jubilee
Hidden storms took me back to the dust bowl era, a place I’d never want to live within. The imagery was so vivid, though, I felt like I was there. I followed the character through her trying ordeals and when I wasn’t reading, I thought about her. I’m a mother of two young girls and I don’t get a lot of reading time. This book was time well spent in every way. The characters were riveting and the important themes underlying the plot took center stage by the end. My biggest question is, can there be a sequel? I want to see what happens to the young girl!
Brooke Williams, multi-published author
Nancy Bolton weaves an amazing, timeless tale, told through the eyes of a teenage girl in pre-WWII America marked by tragedy as long as she lets past injustices define who she is. Bolton’s descriptions are so rich and vivid, they yanked me into the plot at the first sentence and never let go.
Julie B Cosgrove, freelance Christian writer and multi-published
And now the excerpt:
Southwestern Kansas, 1938
My time grows short, while my fevered brain wonders if I’d ever existed to begin with. The inevitable stands before me. The world consists of nothing more than wind and dust, endless storms swallowing all life with their voracious appetites.
If I want to, I can rise from my bed and struggle outdoors in my threadbare, flour-sack dress to stand and release the spark of life within me. To let mind, body, everything, disappear into the whirlwind. Its ceaseless roar can consume me at last and perform the final conclusion left to my imagination. My sixteen years of life at its end. Six years of dust storms had almost done the job anyway. Might as well let them finish it.
But I can’t go. I won’t. I don’t know why.
One more breath. A rattle and rasp scrape in my chest while I fight to draw in air through the wet cloth covering my face. I’ve lost the remembrance of the former blessing of easy breathing. Now, my entire will bends toward the intake of air that will feed the tiny flame of life inside me.
My grandmother’s hands adjust the cloth. I know she sits by my bed and wills me to breathe while the duster pummels our home. She and I, the only ones left in the howling world, are cut off from everyone else as though we lived alone on the moon.
Is Cousin Gerald’s house really down the road, he and Bert hunkered inside? Is the town still there somewhere, standing against the shrieking monster clawing at it? Perhaps, once the sounds cease, anything left alive will creep out to view an endless brown world of dust, all signs of human habitation wiped away. Why do I try so hard to stay alive? Let me go, Gram. Ask me to give up.
But her fingers smooth back wisps of my hair, and the low sound of her murmured prayers gives me something to focus on, along with my labored breaths. Anything but the sound of the wind and the dust scouring the house, trying to destroy our tiny lives and meager possessions.
Gram’s voice rises when she takes my hand. “When you’re better, Lilli, I’ll send you somewhere pretty. Somewhere with trees and grass. Until the land comes back. Then you’ll come back to me, too. And I’ll be here and we’ll plant a garden again.”
Another lifetime ago. Our garden. Greens, corn, and potatoes to have with side meat. Cucumbers for pickling. Berries for dessert.
Oh, Gram, those days are long gone. Swallowed in the dust. I don’t care if there are trees or grass somewhere. I can’t leave you. The only one who ever loved me. I’ll die here, with the sound of your prayers disappearing into the wind, along with my last breath. I’m sorry, Gram.
* * *
Maybe the silence woke me. Had I finally died? My eyes blink open and the ever-present grit hurts my eyeballs while I survey the room. The weathered clapboard walls and roof still stand. I lift a pale hand and study it. I’m still here, too.
The front door yawns open, and the two windows on either side are un-shuttered. A portion of cloudless blue sky shines above the flat, brown landscape. I draw in a shaky breath, relieved that only a slight rattle sounds in my chest. Voices flutter in from somewhere on the porch.
Gram says, “I decided. When she’s strong enough, I’ll send her to my sister.”
“What if Aunt Margaret don’t want her?” Cousin Gerald clears his throat. “Lilli’s bad luck. Cursed. Everybody knows that. She’s marked.”
If I had enough damp in my eyes, I might cry. How unfair people are. It always surprises me, though by now I should have wised up.
Gram’s sweet voice calms my flush of anger. “It’s wrong to blame her for things that happened. It’s not her fault. And I don’t believe in luck.”
“Aunt Helen, open your eyes. When bad things happen, you got to ask why. Cousin Sally lost her wits after she birthed Lilli. She was fine after she had Frank and Jasper. Then, after Lilli, there goes her right mind.”
“It’s not Lilli’s doing. I’ll never believe that.”
“Well, you’re the only one who don’t. This family’ll never live down what happened.” A chair leg scrapes and Cousin Gerald’s boots sound on the porch steps. “I’m glad she’ll be going, though, for your sake. You ain’t had a moment’s peace the years you’ve had her.”
My heart breaks for Gram. Maybe he’s right. Nothing has gone well for her since I came. The few pleasures she did enjoy have been stripped away. Invitations to social gatherings and friendly drop-by visits have dried up like the creek in our back yard. People avoid her, even at church, because she brings me there. They say God marked me, like Cain, though I never murdered anyone like he did. But murder followed me anyway, so they say.
God can smile on her once I leave. The slight, rhythmic thump of her rocker punctuates her humming of “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
His eye is on you, Gram. But He doesn’t care a lick about me. Why do I have to go live with Great-Aunt Margaret? I hardly know her, but she’ll hate me like everyone else does. Everyone except Gram and Bert. I heave out as big a sigh as I can manage and drift back to sleep.
The smell of food cooking wakes me and Gram’s soft singing from the porch makes me smile. Bert will come by soon, like he does every afternoon. I roll onto my side and sit up on the edge of the bed. Dust plumes up from the mattress and settles on the floor, coating my bare feet. I stifle a cough. If Gram knows I’m up, she’ll leave her singing and come see about me. Let her have a few moments of enjoyment.
“Lilli? You awake, hon?”
Oh, well. “Yes, Gram. I’m okay. Don’t need anything.”
She hustles in and settles her tall, spare frame next to me. Dust motes dance in the sunlight from the windows. The sight of her heart-shaped face and gentle, blue eyes always cheers me. I get my baby-fine, brown hair from her, and my blue eyes, but not her calm, even temper. Or her hopeful faith. She studies me and pats my left shoulder. Nobody else except Bert ever touches my marked shoulder.
“What you need is some water and food. Your cousin, Gerald, brought us a jackrabbit this morning and I fixed some stew. Think you could manage some?”
I nod. While she fetches a bowl and wipes the dust out of it, Bert’s tall body comes into view across the yard.
“Best dish up some more, Gram. Bert’s coming.”
He stands in the doorway and grins at me. Though adopted by Cousin Gerald as a toddler, Bert acts more like family to me than my own ever did. “Well, well. She lives, after all. You finished scarin’ Auntie?”
Gram clucks her tongue at him. “Let her eat something before you rile her with teasing.”
“She must be better if she’s up to getting riled.”
Gram chuckles. “Sit down and have some stew with us. Your daddy brought us a jackrabbit.”
Bert pulls out one of our chairs and parks himself. Heads bowed, Gram gives thanks while I peek at Bert’s dusty head and shoulders. Years of short rations had carved any extra flesh off his sturdy body. We all look the same now, rangy as starved wolves.
The watery jackrabbit and turnip stew is devoid of fat, like we are. Fat. The days of butter melting on vegetables, glasses of creamy milk, and stews made with fattened meat, are the stuff of fond memory now. The crispy fat of a pork chop haunts my dreams. If it weren’t for food relief, we’d live on thistles.
Bert slurped his stew and thankfully refrained from any jokes about how dust improved the flavor. “Sam Gordon up and left. Must have gone before this last storm.”
Gram nodded, her face drawn down in sorrow. “I figured, once he lost his boy, he’d leave. He looked mighty sick at the funeral. Poor soul.”
Though hungry, I had to force down the stew. What’s the sense of hanging on? How many more awful stories can I bear, how many more storms? If I had the strength, I’d jump up from the table and run, past all the dust. Faster than an automobile. I’d outrun all of it. But not without Gram or Bert. Does she hang on for me, the way Sam Gordon had for his last living child? With my family gone, she wants to leave the farm to me. She says someone with our blood has to remain.
But there is no farm. Only acres of dust. Once she sends me from here, will she give up? No, she’ll still have Cousin Gerald and Bert. And all the folks in town will come around again once I’m gone. I can see that. They’ll greet her at church the way they used to, with big smiles, not the careful nods they dish out now.
I’m tired of it all. Tired of being judged. When I go, Bert and Gram won’t have to stick up for me anymore or try to keep me alive. At least I have that much to hold on to.
END OF EXCERPT
Here’s where to go to get your copy:
Barnes and Noble:
Scars from Jubilee’s past keep her in constant fear of her new husband. Can she learn to trust again?
Hi everyone! My friend and critique partner, Peggy Trotter launches her debut novel today! It’s a historical Christian romance that I greatly enjoyed reading.I hope you enjoy this chance to learn more about Peggy, and her book!
Let’s get started with the interview!
This is such an interesting story. Where did you get the idea for it?
Wow. This is such a hard question. A form of this story has been in my head for years, but I finally wrote it down about six years ago. It started with an idea of a woman trying to make it on her own before modern conveniences.
How much of yourself is in Jubilee and your other characters?
Jubilee has fears, both real and imagined. I think I overthink things too much, much like Jubilee, and allow fear to creep in where it doesn’t belong.
What’s your favorite part of creating your story and characters?
I love the sparring scenes between the hero and heroine. Right where it twists from witty or angry words to a realization of attraction. That silent realization that there is something deeper. The part that warms your belly. That’s my favorite part.
What was the first story you remember writing?
Well, I wrote one about, “A Puppy’s Surprize” in grade school! LOL Yes, misspell and all. But I suppose you are talking about adult years. My first serious book is called Three Gifts of the Heart. I’ll be re-editing that someday for publication. It’s also a historical.
How do you feel about being a published author?
Blessed. I don’t know what other word to use. Being published is something I’ve dreamed of since being a young girl. Now, knowing the difficulty of publishing first hand, I know it wasn’t anything I did. God lined out the steps in perfect order. There’s just an extreme sense of accomplished fullness inside me. Much like a person’s first ride on a huge Ferris wheel.
Do you have a main theme or goal for your stories?
Always my stories start with someone who is beaten down with life. Who sees no answer or option. That’s where I pull in God’s healing and guidance. Once the characters start to realize they need to go God’s way, the pathway starts straightening out. It often happens before a person recognizes it, and it’s only after they’ve scaled the mountain of hopelessness that they look back agape with thanksgiving to God. At least that’s the way it seems to happen in my life. God leaves me with my mouth hanging open all the time when I trail back and see his orchestration of removing the difficulties in my life. Amazing. I want people to always feel there’s hope, no matter what.
Do you write with or without an outline?
Yowza! Confession time! So without. So, so! LOL As a matter of fact, I have to do the synopsis after the product is finished. Not my fav.
What’s the biggest misconception you had about being a writer?
The hermit life. I thought I would sit at my computer and punch, punch, punch! LOL Even the movies make it look that way. It is NOT! So much editing, networking, advertising, event planning, conferences, contests, etc. Lately, I spent very little time actually, “writing.”
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind?
Nope. And I adore music!!! But I like it fast and fun. So I use it instead to motivate me to clean!! J No, I prefer a total empty, quiet house.
What do you want your readers to take away from your stories?
Hope. Faith. Jesus. Pretty much explains it all. Entertainment, as well. Life is so busy, demanding, and hard. I hope it takes them away a bit, but gives them so much more. Hope. Faith. Jesus.
What are you working on now?
Editing one, writing two. Working on social networks always. Helping other writers. Trying to keep up! LOL Can’t complain! I love the rush! Praise, God, it proves I’m alive!
You certainly are alive! And it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog! Thanks, Peggy!
Here’s an excerpt from Year of Jubilee:
“Come in.” Jubilee had to utter it twice to be heard then caught her breath as Rafe’s huge form filled the doorway.
“Mornin’,” He removed his hat and hung it on the peg near the window.
The table was a simple trestle with two bench seats on either side. Rafe chose the one against the wall in front of the only glass pane. Jubilee fidgeted nervously by the stove.
“Okay if I sit here?” He gestured.
She nodded and shrugged one shoulder. The man owned the place yet asked her where to sit. She snatched up a fork, a knife, and a clean cloth napkin to lay them on the table close to the lone plate.
He sat and stared at her. “Is this my plate or yours?”
She cleared her throat. “Yours.”
He glanced around the table before spreading his search to the kitchen area. “Where’s yours?”
“I…thought I’d eat later. This way I can get you anything you need and such…” She gnawed her lip and looked away from him, but not before she caught the half-smile that crossed Rafe’s face.
“So you’re just gonna stand and fetch while I eat?”
Jubilee made the mistake of letting her gaze wander back to his. There he sat with that quirky grin, eyebrows lifted, humor lighting his eyes.
Makes you want to keep reading, doesn’t it? Peggy’s a wonderful storyteller! Here’s a short bio about her:
Peggy Trotter has been writing something for over 30 years. The empty-nest syndrome set her to groping for a new direction, and wow, did God answer! Year of Jubilee, a Christian Historical Romance set in southern Indiana, will debut in April of 2015 through Prism Book Group. A second, a Contemporary Romance entitled, Reviving Jules, will follow in 2015 as well. She loves to reveal God’s miracles through the world’s underdogs and mix in a little love and happy endings.
She finaled in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest in 2013 in the inspirational Category, and is a 2014 ACFW Genesis Finalist in the Novella Category. Seldom does she stand still, but when she does, it’s to praise her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Creator of all gifts and Bestower of all blessings!
Here are Peggy’s social links and the purchase links for her book:
To purchase Year of Jubilee:
Barnes and Noble:
Prism Book Group:
Leave a comment after the interview for a chance to win a free copy!
Hi Renee! Bet this is quite a day for you. Congratulations on a milestone. Release Day for The Beast of Stratton. Here’s a little about the book. We’ll have an excerpt later!
He appears the beast but she sees his heart.
Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.
He’s been betrayed by his best friend. Miles would rather hide than help, especially his daughter. But it isnt over. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A war veteran, he knows how to defend his own, the Beast of Stratton can do it again.
Let’s get to the interview and find out more about you.
Describe how you feel about seeing your book published.
I guess I’m still in shock. I think when I hold the book in my hands, it will become real. I’ve seen the e-book on Amazon and the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) on my Kindle, but it’s still a dream for me. LOL God’s so good and He’s made all this possible. Right now, all I can do is praise His name and wait for reality to set in.
I hear you! What got you started on writing fiction novels?
The truth? My husband. I’ve written poetry since I was a teenager, but a novel? I’d never even thought about it! One day, I bought a Christian romance off Amazon…or so I’d thought…and wasn’t very happy. James—that’s my husband’s name—took the brunt of my frustration for almost an hour. I ranted about everything from the sex scenes to the profanity (and I hadn’t even made through half of the book before it landed in the cybernetic trash bin!) He nodded and grunted. The usual male response to a wifely tantrum, I guess. He looked up from his prone position in his recliner (he was watching football), and said the words that changed my life, “If you don’t like it, do something about it. Write your own.” So I did. That was almost five years ago.
A big thanks to James for getting you started! What’s your favorite genre to read and to write?
What a question! Well, let’s see…I love to read almost anything. I’m pretty eclectic. Science fiction, mystery, romance, you name it. The only thing I don’t have in my library? Horror (shudder), and you won’t find me with very many children’s novels. That’s not saying I haven’t read them. I used to when my son was young. I just don’t anymore.😉 My favorite? I love a good suspense and Scottish romance. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a tall highlander.
Although I like to read everything from historical to sci-fi, including dystopian, I write Contemporary Romantic Suspense sometimes with a touch of mystery.
What do you want to convey through your stories?
All of my stories contain a spiritual message….a simple one. Life’s real and it’s hard, but we aren’t alone.
With trial comes baggage…and every person clings to something. Sooner or later, we must face it. We can choose to face it alone or with the Almighty at our side. Either way, He’s waiting for us to ask for Him. However, the choice to hope and trust? That begins with us—yes, even the Christian.
Very true. Did you find it easy or difficult to let other people read your work when you first began writing?
I needed people to read my work. I’d never written a book in my life. Reading wasn’t writing… at least, as far as I was concerned. I wanted advice, feedback, HELP! I approached writing the way I did pharmacy school. Fail, learn, fail, learn…the best part of this learning process was that when I screwed up, no one could get hurt!
I handled the rejections and cruel comments like I always do, shrugged them off and kept going. Wondering what I’m talking about? My skin’s thick. I’m a pharmacist, remember? Need to learn how to take some crap, work in a pharmacy for a day.
My daughter-in-law would heartily agree. She was a pharmacy assistant for a while. Lots of paperwork and grumpy folks to deal with. .Rough work!
What does the process of writing do for you personally?
Writing has brought me closer to the Lord in so many ways, Nancy. The spiritual messages in my books aren’t just for the readers. They’re for me too. Hope, faith, love, trust…God is speaking to me while I’m writing these stories. The struggles my characters are facing and overcoming lift me high into the heavens. It’s a wonderful experience.
I agree completely! Do your characters ever surprise you?
Oh yes. I’m not a plotter in the sense of the word. I have a rough idea as to where the story is going at the beginning but the twists and turns of the book are a complete surprise to me. The characters and their changes throughout the story sometimes hit me upside the head. I have to praise God for those moments because they are purely His doing.
It’s fun, isn’t it? What work of fiction would you say affected you the most? And what was the effect?
You may not have heard of this one…but then again…I read this book a long time ago. I wouldn’t proclaim it for a rendition of Scripture. It’s not. The author wrote this book to portray a vision he claims he had from the Lord. It changed the way I thought of the spiritual realm. It was Rick Joyner’s The Final Quest.
I’ll have to read that one. Sound interesting. What are you working on now?
I’m finishing a novella for Prism Book Group called Racing Hearts. It’s very dear to my heart. I’m almost done with it and I’ll be shooting it off to my editor soon. When I’m done with that, I’ll start editing the second book in the Snowy Range Chronicles. The first book, To Soar on Eagles’ Wings is due to be released in July.
Busy lady! What are your plans for future writing?
As soon as I finish editing the second book in my series, I start researching the third! I’m really excited about this one. I may need to plan a trip to Montana or Idaho for the research project though. We’ll see. I’d also like to write a Christmas story. I attempted it during NaNoWriMo this last year, but alas, other things reared their heads. We’ll see…we’ll see!
I know you’ll do well with whatever is in store. Congratulations again on your release day! Now here’s an excerpt from The Beast of Stratton:
She’d called his friends, the family. She’d even tried her stepmother who’d hung up on her. Well, okay, maybe that wasn’t the brightest idea.
A red rose rolled across her father’s tattered note, caught in the breeze from the open window. Sliding the pane down, she picked up the flower. The words on the page blurred as she buried her nose in the soft petals.
Instead of saying goodbye to his wife in his last letter, he’d simply left explicit instructions not to follow him. Aimee snorted. Like the woman would care. He’d sent it with the rose and an antique necklace. She held the thick chain aloft and peered at the golden key spinning in the light. The jewelry had probably cost a fortune.
And her stepmother was nowhere to be found. Scratch that. According to her, she wanted to be left alone. It didn’t make a difference to Aimee what the letter said and to whom, she’d follow. A small smile worked its way to her lips as she fastened the necklace around her neck.
The zipper stuck on the edge of the suitcase and she gave it a hard jerk. Dragging the bulging bag off the bed, it hit the floor with a thunk. She slid her arms into her jacket and looped her purse over the handle. She dropped the rose, and it landed beside her plane ticket next to her wallet. Before latching her fingers around her bag, she tucked the key under her shirt out of sight. “Stratton Industrial, here I come.”
Here’s the purchase link for this exciting story:
Available for purchase: Amazon
Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy! Now here’s a little bit about Renee:
Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to Laramie and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you to check out her website, blog, and social media.
Group Blog: The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction
I thought last winter was rough! My husband John had leg ulcers and awful pain, our furnace needed repairs, our plumbing needed repairs, our van got totaled, and we had no car all winter. Then spring came, John’s legs healed, he started a healthy diet and vitamins and mineral supplements, lost 100 plus pounds, and his diabetes and high blood pressure were gone by last fall. Things were looking up, and I could finally hope my husband would stick around for us to get elderly together.
Then January of this year. Our pipes froze, and we both got the flu. John still hadn’t stopped smoking altogether, and even though he was sick, he smoked. Then, in the middle of January, his lungs went south fast, and he spent a long day with bouts of coughing and shortness of breath. Finally it got so bad, he said to call the ambulance. The battery on our car had given up from the extreme cold, so this was our only option. He was rushed to one hospital, and transferred to another because he had not only a collapsed lung, but had suffered a heart attack. He was on a respirator and sedated for four days, while I was home, too sick to do anything but pray and call the ICU nurses for updates.
I can’t begin to tell you how much God’s spirit kept me glued together. I look back and marvel at that. He really does carry you in those desperate times. John recovered so fast, he came home eight days after he was admitted, after being about as close to death as you can get. I got shingles from the stress, but because I’ve been taking my vitamins and minerals every day, and leaning sideways on God for the last month, I’m recovering well. And so is John. It’s quite clear to me that its time for us to move to Ithaca. I’ve loved living out on a dirt road in the boondocks, but it’s too hard for us to try and keep an older home in repair. Too stressful, especially for John. As a writer, I can do that anywhere, and John will be happier in town where he can talk to people. He’s the social one. I’m kind of a recluse, and it suited me to live out here. But I think we need to have a less difficult winter next year, so changes need to be made. I’ve been the one dragging my heels over leaving this place, but I can see it’s time for a change.
So, is this the winter of my discontent? Nope. The winter of my acceptance, and my hope of future contentment for John and I. I’ll turn 60 next month. Guess it’s a good milestone for making a change! Funny. In my head, I’m still in my thirties, except for having more wisdom and experience. Hope that doesn’t change!!
Well, back to edits! My next book comes out May 6th!!! Stay tuned! And have a good winter everyone!
Thanks, Renee, for thinking of me! This looks like fun!
First, before I get started, here are the rules…
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions they’ve sent you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.
1. How is your blog different today versus the day it began?
Although I still don’t post enough, I know a little more about how to interact with others in this way. I just wish I was computer-savvy enough to make it look better.
2. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
Fly like a bird!
3. Who or what would be your ultimate post?
When I think of ultimate, it makes me think of God’s kingdom. I want to be part of that!
4. In 2015, what are your plans?
Writing, of course! Seeing more of my books published, and taking care of my health, so I can do more and help others more.
5. Do you have a favorite day of the year?
Thanksgiving. I usually get to see all our sons and grandchildren. What could be better?
6. Why and how did you start blogging?
I started because when I got my first book contract, I found out it was good for authors to have an online presence. So here I am!
7. What do you like about blogging?
It’s so open-ended. It can be about anything.
8. What have you discovered through blogging?
That even though I’m an introvert, it doesn’t really bother me anymore to know people are reading my inner thoughts. At first it kind of embarrassed me, but I’ve gotten over it!
9. Who or what is the one thing that means the most to you?
My relationship with God and His Son. Every other relationship is enriched and enlarged through that one.
10.What do you want the readers of your blog to know about you?
That my relationship with God and His Son has held me in a state of awe, and I learn more every day. These are precious gifts that everyone can have.
- Okay, now I nominate: Peggy Trotter, Kim McMahill, Jacqui Hopper, Sharon McGregor, Rachel James, Carole Brown, Laura V. Hilton, Mary Ball, Brooke Williams, Amber Schamel
Here are my ten questions for the ladies I nominated:
- What did you learn this week?
- .What always makes you laugh?
- If you were only allowed to own one movie to watch, what would it be?
- What was the dumbest thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s your earliest childhood memory?
- When do you remember first being aware of God, or wondering about Him?
- Which quality do you find most necessary in a mate? Kindness, Humor, Consistency, Strength, or a Quick Mind?
- What would you like to be remembered as?
- What human quality do you dislike the most?
- What gives you hope when times are rough?