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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Story Behind Time Travel Romance Secret Lady (Ladies in Time)

I've experienced unique inspiration for the story behind many of my stories and Secret Lady is no exception. Overall, the book is based on events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s Mennonite forebears during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. 
Historical accounts from the Civil War are a huge part of the inspiration behind Secret Lady. I grew up hearing about the war and its enormous impact on the family, and knew it would inevitably become the focus of a story or two, but the initial challenge to write this story didn’t come from the war.
My eldest daughter, Alison, told me of the uncanny connection she and her friend, Cristin, have with the creepy closet in our house. It is, in fact, the only closet. Old homes were built without them, and it’s a slightly more modern addition. Throughout her childhood, Alison was terrified of this walk-in, but duck your head space, particularly unfortunate as it occupied the far-right corner of her bedroom. The extra creepy factor is the entry to hidden parts of the house lies at the back corner of the closet. Alison learned that Cristin, as a child, had recurring dreams (nightmares) about a closet in an old boxy white farmhouse that strongly resembled ours. In her dreams, Cristin ventured up the stairs, walked to the end of the hall, and entered the last bedroom. She feared a black antique trunk (check—we have one from my great-grandfather) in the closet at the far right of the room where a disturbing presence dwelled. It wasn't a huge leap to conceive a heroine with similar fears. And I've always been fascinated by time travel so knew that is what this story would be.
Story Blurb:
At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house "warbles" between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she'd paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.
Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?
Against the background of Sheridan's Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?
She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.
This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.
The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.
She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. “What do you want from me?”
There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~
Secret Lady, published by The Wild Rose Press, is in print and kindle at Amazon:
Available from all major online booksellers.
Secret Lady won February 2019 Book of the Month at Long and Short Reviews 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Don't Confuse Living and Being Alive ~ by Judy Ann Davis

How aware are you of the world around you?
Do you take time to hear the song of the birds in the morning or the serenade of insects at night? Do you pause to hear the far off lonely sound of a train whistle? Do you stop what you’re doing to gaze skyward and enjoy a colorful cloud formation floating across the sky? When you see a bed of vibrant flowers that catches your eye, do you stoop to touch their soft petals and smell their fragrance?
Too often in life, we are rushing through the world, heading from one activity to another, unaware of the universe around us. We become so caught up in our personal activities that we confuse being alive with living. True living means we’re connected with the universe around and cognizant of it. Being alive is merely breathing and being functional, and often we erroneously confuse rushing from one activity to the next as living. It's not.
We all need to take time to pay attention to what is around us and make a connection to the world and the people in it. To live means seeing, sensing, and connecting with everything and everyone around us—using our five senses of taste, sight, touch, hearing and smell.  It’s taking time to appreciate our marvelous planet and its people. It’s also a wonderful way to squeeze in a few moments of calmness, awareness, and sheer enjoyment in our chaotic lives...and maybe share those moments with others as well. 

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My First Day Of School--A 6-year-old's Worst Nightmare by Laurean Brooks

How was your first day of school? When I was a child, kindergarten had not been instituted in Tennessee. School started in late August, and our family had moved to Palmersville from Memphis, in June. We were strangers in a rural town, you might say.

Register Day fell on the Friday before school officially began the following Monday. I was a tow-headed child, small for my age. The morning of Register Day, Mama bustled around getting breakfast in the tiny kitchen in our large clapboard farmhouse, which set on a hill. We didn't know what time the school bus would show up, but apparently, Mr. Zack McClure had been told to stop at our house.

We were just finishing breakfast when a loud Honk! Honk! alerted us. Johnny yelled, “The school bus is here!” Johnny, Ralph, Jewell, and I grabbed up our book satchels and raced down the hill where the yellow bus screeched to a halt. I was the youngest and smallest. I couldn't catch up to the others. My brothers and sisters were boarding the bus when Mama hollered from the porch, “Laurie! You forgot your sweater.”

I stopped in my tracks and turned to look. My mother stood on the porch waving my white sweater like a surrender flag. While I dashed back to retrieve it, Mr. Zack geared up and roared off without me.

I began to cry, inconsolably. I had missed the bus on my first day of school. I would be branded for the rest of my life as the girl who missed school on the very first day. Worse, only a month before, my yellow kitten had disappeared. Could things get any worse?

Mama tried to cheer me up, but it was no use. I kept crying We had a car, but Mama had not learned to drive. She couldn't take me the three miles to school. Finally, she said, “Let's pay Mrs. Mitchell a visit.” Pat Mitchell lived on the highway, but we always took the short cut through the pasture behind our house to reach her back door.

Mama grabbed my little brother's hand and we trekked through the pasture sidestepping any...evidence the cows had left. While Mama knocked on the door and waited for Mrs. Mitchell to answer, a small yellow kitten came out from beneath her house. It was so beat-up I didn't recognize it. I picked up the battered little thing and consoled it, squealing when I realized it was my lost kitten.

I was more excited when Mrs. Mitchell said I could take it home with me. While Mama and Mrs. Mitchell talked inside, I played with the kitten on her carport.

Monday morning rolled around again. I determined I would not miss the bus again. Mama handed me my sweater and my birth certificate with the instructions, “Whatever you do, don't lose this paper.” I climbed on the bus, on the heels of my siblings, keeping a death grip on the birth certificate. I didn't know the significance of the paper, only that they wouldn't let me go to school without first seeing it.

Dozens of kids were playing chase or tag in the schoolyard when my sister led me to the First Grade classroom. She left me alone with a blue-haired elderly lady who introduced herself as, “Miss Ayely.

Miss Ayely instructed me to stand next to her desk while the other children took their seats. Then she proceeded to interrogate me. Twenty sets of eyes stared back. “What is your name, child?”

I answered “Laurie,” but it came out as, “Wau-wee” since I couldn't pronounce my “rs.” She must have asked me a dozen times to repeat it. I became more embarrassed by the second.

Miss Ayley had almost despaired when a high school girl pranced into the room to deliver a paper. Miss Ayley stopped her as she was leaving. “Janice, can you understand what this child is saying? I've asked her a dozen times to tell me her name, and I can't make it out.” Then she whispered, to Janice. “Look how small she is. I'll bet she's no more than four years old. And to think, her mother sent her to school?”
I wanted to argue that, “I was too, old enough to be in school,” but the cat got my tongue. Janice smiled sweetly down at me then and leaned over close to my face. “Tell me your name, Sweetie?”

“Wau-wee,” I repeated for the umpteenth time.

She asked me to repeat it again. I did. Then she pointed to my hand. “Look, Miss Ayely. She's holding something. Let's see what it is.”

I handed over the birth certificate as she requested. Both Janice and Miss Ayely read it. Miss Ayely gasped, “Oh... Her name is Laurie.”

I wanted to yell, "That's what I said, a dozen times." I held my tongue. Or rather, the cat did.

Then Janice checked my birth date and exclaimed, She is six years old. Can you believe it?”

I survived the embarrassing experience and all was well. But it may explain my present-day fear of speaking in front of a crowd.

So, tell us about your first day of school. I hope it went better than mine.
Amanda Wilkes is devastated when her unfaithful husband is killed in his sports cart alongside his young secretary. But discovered he's left her a mountain of debt plus gambled away their home is the shocking news that nearly destroys her. She vows to never trust her heart again.

Attorney Jake Tyler is attracted to his new secretary. Something about her brings out his protective side out. her. But, he has vowed to never marry again, following the death of his wife during a simple medical procedure gone wrong. Can Jake's young son bring his Dad and Amanda together and help them learn to trust their hearts?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Kick Butt & Take Charge by Joan Reeves

I've been exiled from the computer for a month due to chiropractor's strong suggestion that I limit my time and give rehabbing my neck, shoulder, etc. a chance to work.

Needless to say, it's been hard to be limited to small blocks of time at the desk.

So my imagination has been working overtime, spewing out book ideas by the dozens. Literally.

One such idea was for a paranormal romantic suspense featuring a woman who's kind of a cross between Penny on The Big Bang Theory and Sarah Connor of the Terminator.

Go ahead and laugh. The photo at right is kind of how I picture her. She's tough and mean which of course hides her vulnerability.

How would a woman like this act? Good question, and I think I have the answer in something a friend sent me a few years ago. You know, it's one of those things that floats around the internet, usually without attribution of who wrote it. That's a shame because I'd love to celebrate the person who made this up. It's so very clever.

Kick Butt, Take Names, and Take Charge

That's what my heroine in Dead Heat does.

I figure a woman like the heroine I have in mind would kick that up another notch.

This is probably how she would feel about her friends. If she had any.
  • When you are sad, I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew.
  • When you are blue, I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
  • When you smile, I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.
  • When you're scared, we will high tail it out of here.
  • When you are worried, I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining like a baby.
  • When you are confused, I will use little words.
  • When you are sick, stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
  • When you fall, I'll pick you up and dust you off.
I'll do all this because you're my friend.

Send this to 10 of your closest friends, then get depressed because you can only think of 4.

Dead Heat is a Kindle Unlimited free read, or buy it and keep it forever.

Takeaway Truth

Happy Friday! Hope you have a great weekend of reading.

* * * * *

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Joan lives happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch at night, look up at the star-studded sky, and listen to the coyotes howl.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Confessions of an English Major by Bea Tifton

I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. I’d always loved to write, so it seemed like a good fit. We’re a peculiar breed, those English majors. We read voraciously. We get twitchy if we don’t write regularly, even if it’s just a grocery list. My first sentence was, “Let’s see. Let’s make a list.” as my mother prepared to go to the grocery store. We love language, and yes, we correct your speech in our heads. I don’t do it out loud. That’s just obnoxious. We quote stuff, too. 

 I was an elementary teacher, then a school librarian, for twenty years. Once when a group of us were hanging paper chains in time for a school event, I found myself standing there with a string of chain lengths. I held them up and intoned, “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard.”  Nothing. Crickets chirped as my companions stared at me. Guess no one else reads Dickens’ A Christmas Carol each year.  Those crazy English majors.

But, oh, my biggest nerdom, well, aside from having books and books and more books. (That’s what a linen closet is for, right?)
I am absolutely obsessed with office supplies.
There. I said it. Oh, those wonderful little things that make our lives so much simpler. Bright
highlighters, pens in a wide array of colors, freshly sharpened pencils, and, oh my word, sticky notes. I should own stock in the company. Lined stickies, neon stickies, pastel stickies. Big ones, little ones. Sigh. 

When I was a librarian, I would go to the annual Texas Library Conference. After a leisurely stroll through the vendors’ arena, my backpack would be bulging with the promotional pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and various office tchotchkes that make our lives so much simpler as we work.
Going into the office supply store, I am like a kid in a candy store. One of my best friend’s daughter is both amused and exasperated by this. Her mother is a teacher, and many teachers share this fetish.  My friend and I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at everything in the store. She’s even forcibly taken packages of sticky notes from our hands and cut us off from our supply by dragging us out with promises of food if we'd just leave.

When I helped the same friend move out of her classroom this past month after sixteen years as a classroom teacher to take another position, I was pleased to see she had buckets of highlighters, freshly sharpened pencils, colorful pens, and yes, baskets and baskets of sticky notes. Now that’s my kind of crazy.
Confession time. Do you peruse the office supply store like some people do a jewelry store? Do you have a rainbow of pens at your disposal? Does the sticky note company send you a personalized card each holiday season? It’s okay. I won’t judge. You’re safe here. Leave a comment below.