Writing

I Am a Hypocrite (Word Wednesday: Hypocrite)

Ancient Greek mask of Dionysus.

 

Greek Dionysus mask at the Louvre.

Recently, I was accused (rather unjustly) of being a hypocrite. I had said nothing to warrant said name-calling. The only thing I can figure is that, because I shared some information from the Bible and admitted to being a Christian, this person (a Wiccan) decided right out of the gate that I must be a hypocrite. We all know that Christian/Bible-believer = hypocrite, right?

See, the thing is, though, I AM a hypocrite, and I told her so. We are ALL hypocrites, whether we want to admit it or not. Do you REALLY live according to what you believe EVERY DAY, unswervingly? Really? If you do, you’re a much better person than I am! Since this is “Word Wednesday”, let’s look at the definition of the word from Merriam-Webster.

Hypocrite (n): a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs; a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.

 

The original Greek word Hupokrites, from which “hypocrite” is derived is even more simplistic and in-your-face when it comes to its definition: an actor, stage player, a dissembler (one who hides his/her true feelings or opinions), pretender.

  • If I say I hate what God hates, yet I practice the sin of sexual immorality, I am a hypocrite. (I have, and I am).
  • If I say I want to want to obey the greatest of God’s commandments (to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength), yet I spend my early morning hours browsing Facebook instead of spending time reading His word and talking to Him, I am a hypocrite. (I have, and I am).
  • If I say I follow the second greatest commandment to love my neighbor, yet I pass homeless people on the street without even offering a dime or an encouraging word, I am a hypocrite. (I have, and I am).
  • If I say I’m against abortion because God Himself is against the taking of innocent lives, yet I stand silent as millions of unborn children die under the knife every year, I am a hypocrite. (I have, and I am).
  • If I say I trust God, yet when the rent’s due and there’s not enough money in our bank account to cover it, I get all panicky and filled with anxiety instead of praying and believing that God will provide for me because He provides for the sparrows and the lilies, and I am so much more important to Him than they are, then I am a hypocrite. (I have, and I am).
  • If I believe that belief in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross is the only way anyone will be saved, yet I back down from sharing that truth with others because I don’t want to offend anyone, I am a hypocrite. (I haven’t, though I’ve wanted to, but I’m still a hypocrite at heart).

I didn’t continue that Facebook conversation with that Wiccan woman because I felt like it would only dissolve further into argument and abuse, and I didn’t want to subject myself to that. I can only pray that the truth of my words (and their true intention) will one day pierce her heart and that she might, one day, start seeing things in a different light.

See, I understand how she feels. I understand where she’s coming from (although I’ve not ever been a practicing Wiccan, thanks to the marvelous grace of God!). When I was younger, I thought the same thing about the people in churches. I’d see marriages that were instituted in the sight of God falling apart in infidelity; I’d see people judging and condemning sinners “greater than they were” sight unseen. I’d see people in the congregation who were supposed to be worshipping the One True God and thanking Him for all He’s done for them not singing along with the worship music at all, and if they did, their faces were so contorted with bitterness and/or boredom and/or sadness and/or apathy, that you couldn’t tell whether they were singing hymns of praise or a funeral dirge. Where is the fire? I wondered. Where are the passion and the joy that they say they have? They’re a bunch of hypocrites!

Well, yes, they were. Probably some of them still are. But now that I’m older, I understand that to be human is to be a hypocrite, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. We all fall so short of the glory of God that we’re naturally going to fail Him – every day – even if we belong to Him. We’re all going to mess up and do something we said we’d never do, or we’re not going to do something we know we should do. That’s just part of the human experience. Unfortunately, those who don’t belong to God see us Christian humans behaving in very unholy human ways, and they use that against us. They use it as an excuse to not come to God.

Truth is: I’m no better than anyone else. I’m not. The only thing that sets me apart from people who aren’t Christians is that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s it. I have been changed on the inside because now I have God’s Holy Spirit living inside me, but I’m still human. I’m still going to sin against my God daily. The only difference now is that I know I need someone to save me from my sins because there’s no way I can do it on my own. Thank God He’s already arranged for the salvation of the world through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son! I wouldn’t be who I am without that gift, although I would still be a hypocrite – maybe even a worse one than I am now.

Author Interviews, Writing

Author Interview: Jessica Ferguson

A few months ago, I answered a call to join an exciting new series from Helping Hands Press called Kathi Macias’s 12 Days of Christmas. Kathi herself wrote the first book in the series, set on December 13, 12 days before Christmas. It’s called RULES OF ENGAGEMENTand it’s available right now for only 99 cents.

The story for “Day 2” (December 14) was written by Kathy Bruins and is called THE PLAIN UNEXPECTED GIFT.

Up next, for “Day 3” is a story called IF YOU BELIEVE by Jessica Ferguson. She very graciously agreed to visit my blog today to talk about that story (released October 1, 2013) and her novella, THE LAST DAUGHTER. Both are available on Amazon.

 

IF YOU BELIEVE CoverTHE LAST DAUGHTER Book Cover

Hi, Jessica. Welcome to my brand new Blue Brown Books site!

Hello, Mishael. Thanks for having me on your blog. 

1. Let’s talk about IF YOU BELIEVE. How would you describe your story to someone who has not yet read it?

I would describe the short story, which is part of The Twelve Days of Christmas series by Kathi Macias, as a fun read. It’s a romantic comedy that’s a tad serious.

2. Is there a message in it that you want your readers to grasp?

I support the theory that if we believe and want something bad enough, it will happen. The title of my story, I think, reflects that. Of course, I also believe in God’s Timing and that sometimes He temporarily gives us over to our dreams so that we’ll learn they aren’t right for us.

3. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your books, what would the theme of the show be?

What a wonderful question! I think I’ll ask myself this every time I start a new story. It’ll help me identify my theme. For my romantic comedy, the theme might be marrying too young or couples who have lost each other only to find each other again years later.

For the show focusing on THE LAST DAUGHTER, Oprah would probably invite those searching for birth families … or the theme might be abuse.

4. How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?

My Christmas short story is a fluffy, fun romantic comedy. None of it is based on real life… just sweet fantasy.  My novella, THE LAST DAUGHTER, is based on so many horrific cases of abuse I’ve read about in the newspaper. How humans can be so cruel to each other, I don’t understand.

5. How did you get the idea for the story?

My idea for the Christmas short story came when I interviewed an ice artist for a regional magazine and learned of the elaborate life-size sleighs he’d carved for the Christmas holidays. Ice art is fascinating. The story was originally supposed to be a novel, but I took  a portion of it and turned it into a short story.

 6. Which came first, the title or the novel?

I have trouble with titles. They seldom come first. Usually a character comes first–in this case, it was the ice artist. IF YOU BELIEVE just seemed right for the short story.

My daughter and some of her friends came up with the title for THE LAST DAUGHTER, and I loved it immediately.

7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I’m just glad I could write IF YOU BELIEVE by deadline. It was a tight deadline. I work best under pressure though, even if my stomach is in knots the entire time. 

In THE LAST DAUGHTER, I’m most proud of the last chapter or two–the ending. My first reader is always my daughter and when she read and critiqued, she said, “Mom, this story deserves a better ending.”  And it did. I treasure that she’s honest and that she loves to read. I trust her comments because she reads across the board–classics, literary, Christian novels and commercial fiction.

8. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book?

In my short story, I’d change the deadline. I’d love to have been able to put the story away for a while so I could go back to it and read it with fresh eyes.

9. What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was a romantic comedy that came out in 1996. It was about an Elvis look-alike. My daughter inspired that book. She was about four. Jailhouse Rock came on TV, and she saw Elvis for the first time. It was love at first sight. She was so taken with him it was unfathomable. I suddenly got a glimpse of what Elvis fanatics were really like. My book was born.

10. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

The most important thing I’ve learned is not to watch the other guy or gal. We can’t, and shouldn’t, gauge our success by their best sellers.

Secondly, I’ve learned that a writer should never quit learning. Once we do, we’re in trouble. The market is ever changing. We can’t afford to slow down when it comes to educating ourselves about writing, publishing or marketing. There are a lot of opportunities out there for all of us, but we can get into trouble if we don’t know what we’re doing.

11. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?

My favorite thing is when I realize “This story’s going to work! This story is going  to be worth the blood, sweat and tears.”  My least favorite thing is the marketing. I despise it! I’d like to be up in the attic, so to speak, writing away … or reading. 🙂

12. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?

I’ve written and published a romantic comedy, a romantic suspense and now two sweet romance short stories. I’m a staff writer for Southern Writers Magazine, so I write nonfiction too.

IF YOU BELIEVE was just released on October 1st. It’s my first Christian publication–other than my nonfiction. I come from the world of secular writing (I believe the word “General” is preferred now) but wherever I land, wherever God plops me in this publishing world. I want to write family-friendly books that are clean enough to appeal to the Christian market and secular enough to appeal to the mainstream market.

But, to answer your question, I want to do it all!

13. What book are you reading right now?

I just finished a novella called THE KEY TO CHARLOTTE by E. A. West. It was wonderful. I was blown away by this story and can’t quit thinking about it.

14. What’s up next for you?

Right now I’m just promoting THE LAST DAUGHTER and IF YOU BELIEVE. My husband just retired, and we’ve moved from our temporary home in Oklahoma back to Louisiana. So far, everyday is like a Saturday, so I’m trying to adjust.

15. Do you have any advice for other writers?

I have a lot of advice. I give so much advice I usually overwhelm new writers. But, in a nutshell, do this:  Educate yourselves. Know what you’re doing. Write. Read. Never give up. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Hang out with other writers. All those things will get you somewhere.

16. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Would love to meet you on FB, Twitter, Goodreads and Google+  You can always find me as Jessica or Jessy Ferguson. You’re more than welcome to follow my blogs too, because I love my followers.

http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com and http://realwriter.blogspot.com

Author Jessica Ferguson

 Thanks, Jessica. It was a pleasure getting to know you better. 🙂

Author Interviews, Writing

Author Interview: Kathy Bruins

A few months ago, I answered a call to join an exciting new series from Helping Hands Press called Kathi Macias’s 12 Days of Christmas. Kathi herself wrote the first book in the series, set on December 13, 12 days before Christmas. It’s called RULES OF ENGAGEMENTand it’s available right now for only 99 cents.

The story for “Day 2” (December 14) was written by Kathy Bruins and is called THE PLAIN UNEXPECTED GIFT. It was just released September 15, 2013. She’s graciously agreed to visit my blog today to talk about her story.

Image

Hi, Kathy. 🙂

1. How would you describe your story to someone who has not yet read it?

THE PLAIN UNEXPECTED GIFT is an Amish Christmas story that shows that a gift may not seem wonderful at first, but can turn into the most precious thing … unexpectedly.

2. Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?

Definitely, that their value is great, no matter what has occurred in their lives.

3. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?

Bringing deep hurts into the light for healing.

4. How much of this is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?

The circumstance is fictional, although I understand the deep hurts that we try to hide.

5. How did you get the idea for this story?

I have always been interested in the Amish culture, I love Christmas, and my passion is people discovering their true value and being free from the wounds of the world.

6. Which came first, the title or the story?

The story … I always have a hard time with titles.

7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?

The scene where the wound is discovered and the response of the family to it.

8. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book?

I would make it longer and add more to the characters and process of healing.

9. What inspired you to write your first book?

When I believe there is a message for me to share, that’s when I write. It mostly comes from life experiences. My first book was about how to set up a drama ministry in a church, because that’s what I was doing. My first books I wrote for clients. Ghostwriting became a large part of my service.

10. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

That you don’t need to walk the writing journey alone. Connecting with other writers is essential.

11. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?

My favorite part is setting the story up … outlining and dreaming about the different scenes. My least favorite? … Promotion.

12. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?

Mystery

13. What are you reading right now?

Mostly nonfiction, biblical

14. What’s up next for you?

Finishing up projects with clients and writing more of my own books.

15. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t take yourself so seriously. Writers are normal people that have a job to bring forth a message.

16. Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I truly enjoy helping my readers grasp the fullness of God’s love, so I would say to live each day with the thought: This is going to be the best day, because God made it just for me.

Image

Thanks, Kathy, for visiting my blog today. I hope everyone checks out THE PLAIN UNEXPECTED GIFT. It’s such a great story!

Author Interviews, Editing, Writing

Author Interview: Fran Veal

A few months ago, when I got involved with the Share An Excerpt Saturday Group, run by author Tammie Clarke Gibbs, I had the honor of meeting a lot of great folks, but one person, in particular, stood out from the crowd, Fran Veal.

Fran and I quickly learned that we are, in fact, what Anne Shirley called “kindred spirits” in Anne of Green Gables. And, much to my delight she even referenced that connection in one of our online conversations.

I also read and reviewed her first book, FINDING MY ESCAPE, during this period, and LOVED it! So, when I found out that Fran was looking for people to host her to help promote the long-awaited sequel, FINDING MY WAY BACK, I readily agreed.

Here’s a look at the book, as told from the main character, Hannah Jordan’s, perspective.

Three weeks ago, I walked in while my parents were being murdered.  I escaped, but I need to put my life back together again. There’s just one problem – I don’t know where to begin.

 

My parents weren’t who I thought they were.
My best friend isn’t who I thought he was.
The killer isn’t who I thought he was.
And scariest of all, I’m not who I thought I was.

FINDING MY WAY BACK is a Young Adult tale of adventure, self-discovery and romance, with a twist of the paranormal. It’s the sequel to the Kindle bestseller FINDING MY ESCAPE.

Here’s my chat with author Fran Veal about her new book, Finding My Way Back:

1. How would you describe Finding My Way Back to someone who has not yet read it?

Finding My Way Back is very much a coming of age story.  It’s the sequel to Finding My Escape, where Hannah Jordan walks in to find her parents being murdered.  In the first book, she’s dealing with the after-effects of loss.  (I strongly recommend reading the first book since this is a trilogy.)  In the second book, everything in her world is shaken when she learns that her parents had been keeping a very important secret from her.  She realizes virtually nothing in her life – her parents, her best friend, the killer, and even herself – is what it appears to be.

2. Is there a specific message in Finding My Way Back that you want your readers to grasp?

That’s a tough one.  I guess if there’s a specific message, it would be to trust your instincts.  There are people in your life you know you can trust.  You just know it.  There are also people you want to trust, but you have that nagging feeling that there’s something more there.  Don’t trust blindly.  If you have that nagging feeling, listen to it and get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

3. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?

Whoa!  Me on Oprah.  “Thank you, Ms. Winfrey, for having me on your show.  Please excuse me while I faint from stage fright.”  Sorry, I was digressing a little.

Hmmm, if I were on Oprah, I think the theme of the show would be either dealing with grief, or empowering young women to stand on their own.

4. How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?

That is an interesting question.  Because this book is the second in a trilogy, I’ll address the series as a whole.  When I was writing Finding My Escape, I lost my father, so Hannah’s grief at losing her parents was very much mine.  There’s a lot of me in Aunt Laura (except for the red hair).  Hannah is a combination of several teens I know.

5. How did you get the idea for the series?

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams, and I had a very vivid dream one night that got me thinking about how dreams occur, and the magical worlds our dreams create.  I wanted to write about another world that could be accessed through our dreams – a world as real as our own.

6. Which came first, the title or the novel?

I was probably halfway through the first book in the series before I had the name, but it just clicked.  I had the title for Finding My Way Back before I started it.

7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?

There’s a scene where Hannah blows up at another character who has been consistently keeping things from her and sending her mixed messages.  The story had been building to this for several chapters, but ironically, one of my betas pointed out I’d never written the big blow up scene.  So my favorite scene was actually a bit of an afterthought!

I’m pretty tickled with the end, too, but I won’t even hint at what that is here.  I’ll just say that it will have people chomping at the bit for the third book, which I plan to have finished early in 2014.

8. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about Finding My Way Back?

I really don’t think I would change anything.  I love the way the story flows and sets everything up for the final resolution in the third book.

9. What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always wanted to write, but I was at the pool with a group of moms and our kids one day, and I was talking about the quality and subject matter of some of the stories that my daughter was bringing home to read.  Some of the stories that were touted as Young Adult seemed more adult in subject matter.  (I believe the fairly recent book category, New Adult, solves a lot of this.)  One of my friends suggested I write YA novels.  I put it off for a couple of years, but finally, after some nagging by a couple of people I know, I took the plunge.

10. Thinking back to the very beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

How much time and space do you have?  I really feel like I stumbled onto most of what I’ve learned accidentally.  I did some research on writing, got involved with a writing forum that was geared primarily to traditional publishing, and knew nothing about marketing.  I guess if I’ve learned anything, it’s to write from your heart, listen to others, but don’t let them change the heart of what you’re trying to say.  Focus on the writing first, develop strong relationships with other writers, and try not to stress over sales.

11.  Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?

I love seeing it finished on the shelf, but I love the writing process too.

I also hate the writing process.  I learned the hard way (maybe I should have added this to question 10) that I need to really have a strong outline from start to finish to avoid writer’s block.  I love sitting down and plotting with my white board, outlining characters and scenes.  I despise writer’s block.

I’m not crazy about editing – which is why I have you.  I’m always a little nervous when the first betas get the book.  I despise formatting, but it’s a necessary evil!

What was the question again?

12.  What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?

I really enjoy YA, but I think I might like to try fantasy.  I have my cousin, Ken Ward, to thank for that.  Ken was several years older than me, but he always treated me more like an equal, rather than just a kid.  We talked about books and music, he taught me to play chess.  When I was about eleven, he gave me The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and I was hooked!  Ken is gone now, but every time I see a fantasy novel, I think of him.

13.  What book are you reading right now?

I just finished an ARC of JJ DiBenedetto’s Waking Dream.  It’s book five of his Dream series.  Excellent book and series.

14.  What’s up next for you?

Selling a million books and moving to Hawaii.

Okay, seriously.  I’m working on Finding My Way Home, the final book in the Finding My Escape Series.  I’m also collaborating on a comedy with Bryden Lloyd entitled Five Strikes about a single dad with five daughters.  The dad is trying to date, but the girls are finding ways to thwart his efforts.  I’m also starting a series based on the actual Grimm Fairy Tales.  The stories we read as kids were pretty watered down.

15.  Do you have any advice for other writers?

First, write from your heart and don’t try to write to fit the trends in the market.  For one thing, by the time you finish your story, the trends may be very different.  For another, trend stories are a dime a dozen.

Second, please, please, please make sure the story you are writing is top notch in every way.  Be sure it is well-plotted, be very careful of your grammar, have it edited by someone other than yourself, and make sure your cover can compete with any traditional book on the market.  As an indie author, I hate to say this, but way too much work that is put out there is sub-par and rushed.  The grammar is poor, there are too many typos, and the books are poorly formatted.

Finally, treat your writing as a business.  Always be professional when you are online.  Have a professional, well-thought-out platform.  Learn to brand yourself.  Find online groups in Facebook and Goodreads to join and learn from seasoned authors.  Learn to manage your time.  Very few authors are able to make writing their full-time job until they have several books out there, and juggling job, family, writing, and marketing can be difficult, but it can be done with careful planning.

16.  Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I just want to thank everyone who has purchased a copy of Finding My Escape and Finding My Way Back.  I appreciate all your feedback and support.  You are all a blessing to me.  I love interacting with fans and readers.  You can connect with me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/franvealauthor, on my website http://franveal, on Twitter @franveal, or on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/franveal/boards/

 Thank you!

Bestselling author Fran Veal

 

Editing, General Book Stuff, Writing

Sneak Peek at THE FADING SUN

THE FADING SUN (the first book in a three-book series called Sunset’s Hope, which covers the last 47 years of a Civil War widow’s life) has been a long time coming. I first got the idea for the novel a few years ago while I was doing some of my own genealogy research.

I didn’t actually start working on the novel itself until much later. And I still have about 7K-8K words that I want to add to flesh out the story with a little more historical detail and maybe a bit more plot/character development.

Here’s the synopsis a brief synopsis of this first book, which covers the years 1862 to 1866.

Jane’s husband (a blacksmith, not a soldier) is gunned down by Confederate soldiers on their eighth wedding anniversary. She must pick up the pieces and move on, now the sole head of the household and single parent to three young children. But Jane soon faces a problem when she meets, and falls in love with, her husband’s married childhood friend, Cole, who tries to help her take care of the farm until it becomes obvious to Jane that staying in that house is just too dangerous. And Cole discovers that, because of his growing feelings for the young widow, staying around her is getting too dangerous for him.

He enlists in the Union Army. Jane moves in with her father and mother and struggles to maintain a civil relationship with them, which becomes even harder when her oldest brother enlists in the Confederate Army.

THE FADING SUN is the story of loss, unrequited love, and unstoppable hope, set against the turbulent backdrop of the American Civil War.

I had hoped to release this book on August 14th, but it really doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now.

For one, as I said, I’m not quite finished writing (or editing) it. And, two, I haven’t quite decided on the cover for it. So, for now, THE FADING SUN is still in limbo. But here’s a sneak peek at how the book opens and sets the main character, Jane Addison, in a tailspin right from the very start.

Without further ado, here are the first 1000 words:

August 14, 1862

Jane hummed an upbeat Stephen Foster tune as she swept the dirt off the front porch steps for the fifth time that day.  The hot August wind whipped the dry red Kentucky clay into a frenzy at her feet. She smiled as she remembered the first time she and Ben had danced to the tune as husband and wife. Eight years ago today.

She stopped humming as she glanced over her shoulder. Little Bill squatted down on the floor of her kitchen, banging her good wooden spoon against her cast iron skillet. The plank floor underneath the skillet already showed signs of returning dirt. Jane angled the broom to more carefully sweep dirt out of her house.

Noting the position of the fiery August sun in the sky, Jane knew Ben would be home from the smithy soon, and she hadn’t even started frying the nut cakes for their anniversary supper. She turned to go into the house, but a distant sound stopped her short. Horse hooves, coming at a fast clip down the lane.

Who would come out here on horseback at this time of day? Jane waited and watched. She recognized the imposing figure on the gray gelding, silver badge gleaming in the sunlight. She gasped, and her broom clattered to the porch.

Her first thought was to protect her children from any news the county sheriff would bring, for a personal call from the county sheriff could only mean something bad. She called to her two oldest children, who were happily playing out in the field behind the house, oblivious to the impending crisis. “Martha! John! Come get in the house with Bill. Right now.”

Jane knew she sounded harsh, but at that moment, she didn’t care. Martha and John jumped at the tone of her voice and obeyed without question, merely casting one curious glance in the direction of the big man on horseback before silently scurrying into the house. They didn’t even look up at their agitated mother, who quietly and deliberately closed the maple wood door behind them.

Minutes later, Jane faced the sheriff alone. She tried to stifle the dread sitting like a rock in the pit of her stomach. She smiled and straightened to the most hospitable and welcoming posture she could muster.

“G…good afternoon, sheriff.” Jane’s voice quavered a little as she forced her gaze to meet the sad eyes of the lawman.

The big man dismounted and removed his hat as he approached Jane. “Afternoon, ma’am,” he mumbled. He lowered his head to stare down at his hat, twisting its brim in agitation.

Jane was a little perturbed at the man’s reticence. He had, after all, come out here for some reason. What was the reason? But Jane was her mother’s daughter, and the great southern matriarch had taught her a thing or two about manners. She waited a moment before deciding to engage the man with some southern hospitality. “Sheriff, may I offer you a drink of water from the well? Or there’s some coffee inside.”

The sheriff started at the offer. His hand never did leave the brim of his hat, though, and Jane feared that he would tear it right off. A shame. It looked to be an expensive hat. The sheriff shifted his bodyweight from his right leg to his left and back again. Jane began to wonder if he’d just headed out here to ask to use the outhouse, when he finally opened his mouth. “Mrs. Addison, this is not a social call.” He paused for a moment, and his top teeth tugged at his bottom lip. “Aw, hell, ma’am. I ain’t no good at this sort of thing, so I’ll just come right out and say it. Your husband is dead.”

Jane blinked and stared at the sheriff for a moment. The world spun around her at an alarming rate. The earth beneath her feet felt dangerous, as if the ground would swallow her up and take her down to meet Lucifer himself. For surely this was the hell her father had preached about all her young life. Not fire and brimstone. No. Something much more frightening…. Disorientation and oblivion.

The sheriff hurried to Jane’s side and helped her sit down on the top step. He rushed past her into the house and came out again in a matter of minutes. Through her haze of grief, Jane saw the sheriff run down the porch steps, through the yard, and to the well. He was back at her feet in seconds.

When the big gentle man returned, he knelt down in the red dirt and forced the cup into Jane’s hands. She stared at the object in her hand for a moment, unsure of what it was. Then realization dawned, and she took one quick, delicate sip. After the first taste of the cool crisp water, she regained a little of herself and took a second, much bigger, swig. When she’d had all the water she wanted, she put the cup down next to her and met the sheriff’s uncomfortable gaze.

“Forgive me, sheriff. I…I was not quite myself there for a moment. I believe you said that I am now a widow.”

The sheriff nodded once. He hesitated a moment before saying, “Maybe I should ride out and go get your father and bring him back. I should’ve done that before. You need someone here with you.”

The young widow jumped, ever so slightly, at those words. She hoped the sheriff hadn’t caught her reaction and quickly shook her head. “Sheriff, you told me my husband is dead, but you haven’t told me any of the circumstances surrounding his death. I should like to know what happened to him.”

“Hell, ma’am. You beat all I ever seen!” The sheriff clamped his lips together for a moment and started again. “It’s this damn war, ma’am. It’s coming right to our back door, so to speak.”

“The war? What does the war have to do with us? Ben’s not a soldier.”

The sheriff shook his head. “No, but that don’t matter anymore.”

————————————————————–

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief excerpt of THE FADING SUN. Keep coming back to the site to check for more excerpts, official cover releases, and news of the book’s release. 🙂

 

General Book Stuff, Writing

Cover Reveal: Estelan by Trace Broyles

One of the best things about being involved in the Virtual Ebook Fair Facebook event is all the fabulous authors you get to meet. Trace Broyles and I are connected in at least one other Facebook group, thanks to the amazing Melissa Foster. But she put the call out in the networking group for the Virtual Ebook Fair for people to host her new cover reveal, and I quickly agreed to help her. What goes around comes around and all that…

It’s no secret to most any indie author that your cover will either help sell (or not sell) your book, depending on how it strikes your potential readers. For that reason, the cover is most assuredly one of the most critical elements you need to consider when it comes to publishing your book.

One of the great things about being an indie author is that you can choose to change your cover whenever you want, and no one can stop you. That’s what Ms. Broyles has done. She’s changed her cover to more accurately fit her story and to more effectively appeal to readers.

This is her “cover story” in her own words. And look below to see her fantastic new cover. Let’s all welcome Ms. Trace Broyles…

Sometimes a book needs a face lift.  After some discussion with my incredibly talented cover artist we decided ESTELAN was in need of a little nip/tuck.  However, I had no idea that this procedure would result in something so magical.  There are not words to thank my dear friend, Barbara Ivie Green, for her amazing work on my new cover.  Her depiction of female warrior Kitin is better than anything I could have imagined and I cannot wait to see her larger than life on my banner at Fandom Fest at the end of the month.  For now, I am VERY pleased to present the new cover for ESTELAN featuring Kitin.

 

ESTELAN is available in ebook format where ebooks (AmazonBarnes&NobleSmashwordsSony) are sold and in paperback via Createspace Store and Amazon.

Fantasy author Trace Broyles

Trace Broyles spent her childhood writing plays and short stories. Unfortunately works like “Adventures of Super Cookie” were never released to the masses. When not writing, Ms. Broyles often was found with her nose in a book or on a softball diamond.

She graduated from Miami University with a degree in psychology and minor in criminology. After several years in the professional world, she stopped brainstorming in journals and started writing again. ESTELAN is Ms. Broyles’ debut novel and first in the young adult epic fantasy series of the same name. The sequel, ECHO RISING is in progress.

Trace Broyles resides with her family in Seattle, WA, where her two children keep her active and entertained.

General Book Stuff, Writing

SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME: The Story Behind the Story

Shadows of Things to Come by Mishael Austin Witty

It all started back in 1986. I was nine years old, and The Monkees were having their big revival tour, complete with old TV episodes re-run on Nickelodeon. I fell instantly in love. I watched every single episode I could and immediately ran out to the record store (remember those?) and bought every single cassette tape I could find. I soon became one of the biggest Monkees fans ever.

 

Fast forward a year or so…In addition to being a big Monkees fan, I was also a huge book nerd – and an avid writer. One day, I was listening to Mike Nesmith sing, “The Kind of Girl I Could Love”, and my warped young brain took that song lyric and turned it into “The Kind of Girl I Could Murder”. Just like that, I had (what I thought) was a great story idea. So I wrote it.

 

The first incarnation of that tale (printed out from my parents’ old Apple IIe on dot matrix printer paper) is long since lost in the dark recesses of my parents’ basement (or maybe it’s languishing in a landfill somewhere. Who knows?). But the original story idea stayed with me. For years.

 

Twenty years later, I heard about Nanowrimo and I read Chris Baty’s book, NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! Being the kind of warped individual that I am, I thought: ‘I can do this. I can write a book in 30 days. Why not?’ So I took that original story idea of THE KIND OF GIRL I COULD MURDER, plotted out some scenes, and started writing.

 

Thirty days later, I had an almost completed novel. I edited it and added some things and, in a few months, I had (what I thought) was a pretty darn good Christian thriller. It’s mainly a CHRISTIAN thriller because the MC is a Christian (and she’s a very committed one). I tried shopping it around to different publishing companies (not even agents – I went straight for the publishing companies). But I didn’t have much luck. I got impatient to see that thing in print (even though I was probably going about things the wrong way). And then I found out about Lulu.com (this was in 2007, and Amazon hadn’t quite developed CreateSpace). I uploaded my book, bought a few dozen copies, and called myself a published author.

 

Five years later, I decided to switch my Lulu to Amazon, to join the digital book revolution. And, a year after that, I finally figured out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing as an indie author of both print and digital books.  Well…at least, I now know more than I did then…way back when.

 

So. That’s the full “story behind the story” for SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME, and it’s really the story of how I became an indie author. I was driven by more own impatience to have a book in hand. Life as an indie author certainly is not easy, but it’s well worth it. I’m glad I gave it a try!

Want to see more? Check out my SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME book page. There you can read the whole first chapter of the book and watch the awesome book trailer I created using Animoto.

Can’t wait? No problem! You can buy the book on Amazon right now in either ebook ($2.99) or paperback ($8.75) form. Thanks so much! Happy reading.

Book Reviews, General Book Stuff, Writing

BELIEVE IN ME: The Story Behind the Story

In recent weeks, following the amazing free Kindle download days for BELIEVE IN ME (June 1 and 2, 2013), I’ve gotten several new reviews on it, including two one-star reviews from people who seemed to not really get what I was trying to do with the story. I thought the story description – especially the tagline – said it all: Reconciliations can occur. Broken hearts can be mended. If you believe. But maybe I was wrong.

 

BELIEVE IN ME is, at its core, a story of RECONCILIATION. The dictionary definition of “reconciliation” is “the condition of being reconciled”…which is not very helpful unless you understand what “to reconcile” means. The Merriam-Webster definition is this: “to restore to friendship or harmony”.

 

Why would a friendship (or, in this case, a marriage) need to be restored? Because something’s broken. Something destroyed it, and now it needs to be repaired…or else abandoned altogether. People in today’s society are often way too eager to abandon a marriage (or, indeed, most ANY relationship) when it ceases to “work” for them.

 

The fact is that people are imperfect. Everyone makes mistakes. And when you put two imperfect people together in a close relationship like marriage, you’re going to have problems. Ultimately, it’s how you deal with those problems that dictates the success (or failure) of your marriage. You have to be completely committed to each other – and to the relationship – no matter what the personal cost.

 

Here’s what one of the one-star reviewers said (in part), “Everybody is basically self-centered and doesn’t do anything with any common sense. If my mother sided with my husband and sister and treated me like I was the bad guy, why would I go to her house for Christmas? Didn’t take too long to read but I stuck with it hoping for someone in the family to come to their senses; didn’t happen”.

 

I mean, maybe I didn’t do a good job (as the author) of explaining the obligation. In the opening scene, Trina didn’t want to go to her mother’s house, and she certainly didn’t want to meet with her sister. But she felt a certain sense of duty that pulled her into that situation. The family relationships were more important to Trina than her own desires…so I find it particularly interesting that this reviewer thought every character was being self-centered.

 

The other one-star review? I seemed to really touch a nerve with this person. “I am so pissed at this family that I am trying to see where the sweet romance is going to come in. Unlike Steve Harvey, I believe once a cheater always a cheater. Besides, the mother sets her up, has her drive 5 hrs for Christmas without telling her the soon to be ex-husband is also staying for the holidays! REALLY, you would do that to your own kid? That would be one ex-mother for me!” An ex-mother? Once a cheater, always a cheater? Seems like this person really doesn’t understand the meaning of the word forgiveness.

 

And that’s what BELIEVE IN ME really is. It’s a story of love – real, sacrificial love – and forgiveness. It’s a tale that shows the magic that occurs when two people realize that they both played a part in making a bad situation worse, but they can both change their attitudes and turn things around to make it right again.

 

This book is a romance story, but it’s not a romance in the traditional sense of the word. There’s very little sex (really, none at all), but there is a happy ending. Sort of like a fairy tale with no real heroes/heroines and a very Christian message (even though there is some mention of adultery and premarital sex – big “no no’s” in the Christian market).

 

As the author, I can honestly say that it hurts that these two individuals didn’t like the story, but I loved the fact that they hated it enough to share their thoughts on it. At least I elicited some emotion from them. Still, I can’t help wondering if I failed in some way by not getting the true message of the story across in a more completely.

 

Now that you know the story behind (and the true theme of) the story, maybe you’d like to view some excerpts of BELIEVE IN ME. Those can be viewed by clicking here. Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just leave me a comment (or a review on Amazon, if you’ve already read the book).

Mishael Austin Witty

 

Author Interviews, General Book Stuff, Writing

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK/PROMOTE MINE BLOG HOP

The purpose of this blog hop is to promote Charlene Raddon’s latest release, The Scent of Rosesas well as the work of each of the participating bloggers. Be sure to read to the end of this page so you don’t miss out on the grand prize. Also be certain you visit each blog and comment to qualify for the individual giveaways, and the big prize.

Charlene Raddon has been writing historical romance novels for over thirty years. Her work has won several awards and much well-deserved praise. Here is what she has to say about her newest release.

Any day when a new book is released is exciting for the author. I’m thrilled to announce that my eBook, The Scent of Rosesis now available.

The Scent of Roses is a sequel to my last eBook, To Have And To Hold, but stands alone and does not need to be read in order to be enjoyed. Whip Kincaid, from The Scent of Roses, is the half-brother of Buck Maddux from To Have and To Hold. Whip also has a twin, Cale, who readers met in Buck’s story, which gives me an excuse to write a third book for this series.

The added touch of paranormal elements made The Scent of Roses a fun story to write. Who doesn’t enjoy haunted houses with hidden passageways? When I first moved to Utah, I lived in this house. No, there weren’t any secret passageways, but in every other way, my description of the old house is accurate. The third element new in this book is the subject of polygamy.

Rosalyn Delaney came to Whisky Ridge, Arizona expecting to receive aid from her estranged husband, Josiah Bullock, in escaping the crazed leader of a polygamist cult determined to have her. She’s broke and has nowhere else to go. But Josiah is dead, murdered the very evening of her arrival. The town is in uproar, searching for the suspected killer, Josiah’s business partner, Whip Kincaid. Rosalyn also learns that Josiah has taken a second wife.

Whip is innocent but to prove that, he needs to stay out of jail. He hides in secret passageways in the old house he and Josiah shared. Smythely, the elderly butler who came with the house, is the only other person aware of the passageways. Lurking between spiderwebbed walls and using the abundance of peepholes provided allows Whip to keep up with what’s going on. Sneaking out at night allows him to investigate. He’s particularly interested in Rosalyn Delaney, and for more than one reason. Besides being attracted to her, he’s sure she knows something about the murder.

But does she? Is she safe at Rose House? Will she be safe from Whip Kincade?

I hope you enjoyed this peek into The Scent of Roses. Find it here, at Amazon.com.

BE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT WITH CONTACT INFORMATION. AT THE END OF THE HOP, A NAME WILL BE DRAWN FROM THOSE WHO VISITED AND COMMENTED AT EVERY BLOG. PRIZE IS A $45 GIFT CARD FOR AMAZON OR B&N, WINNER’S CHOICE. Other bloggers are also offering giveaways so make sure you hit them all. See below for the full list.

And one lucky winner who comments on this post will receive a free copy (your choice – paper or eBook) of my latest release, CAMPANULA.

CAMPANULA: A zombified retelling of Rapunzel

Zombies, angels, and everlasting love.

 

Cami and Mac have been in love with each other practically all their lives, but there’s a problem. Cami’s life is in danger because of a desperate deal her father, Zed the Zombie Killer, made with the local witch, Gert, before Cami was born.

Gert kidnaps Cami as soon as the girl starts menstruating and locks her inside the little used, much haunted tower of the old Waverly Hills Sanitorium. Cami will be the mother of many more zombie children for Gert unless Mac can find her and save her from the zombies and the witch’s clutches…with a little help from some heavenly friends.

Zombies, angels, and everlasting love await you within the pages of Campanula.

 

BRIEF EXCERPT

“The only way to stop these zombies is to get that bellflower from the witch’s garden and make oil from the dried leaves. I’ve run out of all the supply I had,” Zed told his pregnant wife one evening while he gazed out the window toward the garden that contained his zombie-killing treasure.

“Zed, I don’t want you to do this. I’m scared,” his wife said, an audible tremor in her voice.

Zed looked back at her. “Of course you’re scared, honey. Those zombies want to eat your brain, but I’m not going to let them. I’m going to go over there and get some of that bellflower. It has to be tonight. We can’t wait any longer. Their forces are getting stronger, and the poison will take at least two days to make.”

“But what if the witch sees you? She’ll turn you into a frog or something.”

Zed laughed. “Honey, she’s not that kind of witch.”

Zed’s wife frowned at him and reached for the can of Tab sitting on the end table next to her.  She took a quick sip. “I still don’t like this. I’m due any day now. What if something were to happen to you? Who would help me take care of the baby?”

Zed’s mouth quirked at the self-centered comment, and his hazel eyes twinkled. He chocked it up to pregnant hormones, even though he knew better, and chose to ignore it. “Everything will be fine. I promise. Don’t you know by now that you married the world’s best zombie killer and herb thief? I’ll be back before you know it.”

Zed’s wife opened her mouth to protest, but the look on his face stopped any further comment from her. She watched quietly as he gathered his flashlight and his black leather jacket. He crossed the room to kiss the top of her head before walking out the door into the chilly, dark night.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mishael Austin Witty is an editor and the internationally bestselling author of SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME, a Christian thriller/suspense novel, and BELIEVE IN ME, a sweet contemporary romance/women’s fiction novella. This zombie fairy tale marks a departure from the usual for her, but it was great fun to write, and she already has plans for another.

She lives in Louisville, KY (where most of the action of this story takes place), with her husband, cat, and two daughters. Connect with her online in the following places:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MishaelAustinWitty

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/woweditor12


FULL LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS

(Visit these and comment for more chances to win!)

May 31,  http://www.heartoffiction.blogspot.com/giveaway

May 31  http://www.hurricanereads.blogspot.com

June 1  http://www.charleneraddon.blogspot.com – Official blog tour for Kat Flannery (not part of PUB/PM blog hop)

June 2, http://authortammieclarkegibbs.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 3  http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 4  http://writingdreams.net/giveaway

June 5  http://ciaragold.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 7, http://peggylhenderson.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 8, http://alisonhenderson.blogspot.com /giveaway

June 9, http://www.pamelaforeman.com/giveaway

June 10 http://annettedrake.com/annettes-blog/

June 11, http://elizabethdelisi.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 12, http://www.patyjager.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 14 http://www.wittyonlineeditor.com/giveaway

June 15  http://blog.cathymansell.com/ giveaway

June 16, www.katerobbinsauthor.com/giveaway

June 17 http://tinafosterspageturner.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 18  http://ccrawley210.wordpress.com/giveaway

June 19, http://lynhorner.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 21  http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 22, http://www.raintrueax.blogspot.com/giveaway

June 23, http://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/giveaway

General Book Stuff, Writing

New Release: CAMPANULA

Available NOW on Amazon – eBook or paperback!

I had never considered writing a zombie fairy tale before in my entire life. Why would I? It’s not a genre that comes up very often, and so it definitely doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

Except, one day last year, I was looking at Entangled Publishing’s open submission calls, and one of their upcoming books was going to be a collection of zombie fairy tale novellas. Even though this was completely out of the norm for me, the idea sounding intriguing, so I thought I’d take a stab at it.

A couple of months later, I finished the book and sent it to the publisher. They rejected it, saying that the writing was good, but the tone of the story just didn’t fit the rest of the books in the collection. Okay.

I tried again…submitting it to another publisher, who also rejected it, saying that the story didn’t seem to start in the right place for a romance novella. So, a bit dejected, a put the story aside for a time until I figured out what to do with it.

By now, I’m no stranger to self-publishing, so it was only natural for me to take this book and publish it myself. As I’ve done with my previous books, I edited it and designed the cover and everything – all by myself. This is the final result, and I’m pretty proud of it.

To capitalize further on its new release status, this book is being featured as one of the giveaway books for this Saturday’s Virtual Ebook Fair. So I’m offering the first chapter here in this blog post. But first, please enjoy this brief video trailer I created on my own (with a little help from Animoto).

ONE

Louisville, KY                                                  Halloween, 1984

“The only way to stop these zombies is to get that bellflower from the witch’s garden and make oil from the dried leaves. I’ve run out of all the supply I had,” Zed told his pregnant wife one evening while he gazed out the window toward the garden that contained his zombie-killing treasure.

“Zed, I don’t want you to do this. I’m scared,” his wife said, an audible tremor in her voice.

Zed looked back at her. “Of course you’re scared, honey. Those zombies want to eat your brain, but I’m not going to let them. I’m going to go over there and get some of that bellflower. It has to be tonight. We can’t wait any longer. Their forces are getting stronger, and the poison will take at least two days to make.”

“But what if the witch sees you? She’ll turn you into a frog or something.”

Zed laughed. “Honey, she’s not that kind of witch.”

Zed’s wife frowned at him and reached for the can of Tab sitting on the end table next to her.  She took a quick sip. “I still don’t like this. I’m due any day now. What if something were to happen to you? Who would help me take care of the baby?”

Zed’s mouth quirked at the self-centered comment, and his hazel eyes twinkled. He chocked it up to pregnant hormones, even though he knew better, and chose to ignore it. “Everything will be fine. I promise. Don’t you know by now that you married the world’s best zombie killer and herb thief? I’ll be back before you know it.”

Zed’s wife opened her mouth to protest, but the look on his face stopped any further comment from her. She watched quietly as he gathered his flashlight and his black leather jacket. He crossed the room to kiss the top of her head before walking out the door into the chilly, dark night.

#####

Gert stood in her darkened living room, staring out at the street in front of her house. Children of all sizes passed by, dressed in full nightmarish regalia, although some of the younger children were dressed in cute Disney character costumes–Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, etc.–with a few Strawberry Shortcakes and Care Bears thrown in among them. And some of the more daring girls had donned their Wonder Woman and She-Ra costumes to complement the boys’ G.I. Joes and He-Mans.

A familiar pang pierced her heart. She’d always wanted a child of her own. That, of course, had never happened. No man would even look at Gert, with her missing teeth, misshapen nose, and asymmetrical eyes. Not to mention her impossibly stringy hair. No. Having children the old-fashioned way was certainly out of the question for Gert.

That was why she created the zombies. They were her children–mindless souls in need of  guidance and protection. True, the original zombies had been created by that happy radiation accident, but she had learned the trick. She had harnessed the power for herself, and she’d discovered the one herbal remedy, angel’s trumpet flower, that could simulate the radioactive effect, just as there was only one herb, campanula, that could serve as the deadly antidote to the spell.

And, Gert thought with wry amusement, there was plenty of campanula in her garden, as well as the angel’s trumpet flower. She’d originally planted it in a desperate attempt to increase her attractiveness. She’d heard that, by drinking tea made by boiling the bell-shaped flowers in water,  her appearance would naturally be improved. All the old folk medicine books talked about how bellflower tea would soften, smooth, and beautify the complexion.

By the time Gert realized that no special tea was going to do anything to enhance her looks, it was already too late. The plants had overtaken their portion of the garden at an alarming rate. She couldn’t keep up with tending them. And she couldn’t even get rid of the plants, even though she knew they posed a grave danger to her zombie creations.

The prospective zombies were easy enough to find. Louisville’s homeless population was a large one—and growing every year—and most of the men who fit into this category congregated in the same spots. The hobo camps. Gert learned the locations of all the city’s hobo camps. She’d wait until the camp was nearly empty, and then she’d offer one or two of the desperate men some of her fermented angel’s trumpet flower tea and seedpod cakes.

Very rarely did anyone ever refuse these gifts. And, once the men were under Gert’s spell, it was easy to get them back to her home. She’d established a bunkhouse, of sorts, for them in the huge two-story shed out back. The city had zoning laws against keeping cows in the backyard, but the law books said nothing about housing zombies. Fifteen men, in all, had joined her family more or less willingly. No one questioned what had happened to these men—not even the other hobos in the camp. Death and disappearance were everyday occurrences for them. No one batted an eyelash if a hobo went missing.

So far, no one else had discovered that the campanula that was so plentiful in her own garden could destroy the zombies she’d worked so hard to create. Gert smiled. Her secret, and her children, were safe. It was unfortunate that her zombies had such a craving for human brains, just like the radioactively created zombies. This, of course, struck fear in the hearts of all the adults in the city, so no one came to visit her anymore.

Those trick-or-treating children–young and innocent as they were–weren’t afraid of the zombies, although they were afraid of her. Gert knew there would be no child brave enough to come knocking on her door for trick or treat that night–or any night in the future, for that matter. She’d heard the hushed whispers as she walked through the aisles of Winn-Dixie, and as she filled up her Ford LTD at the Exxon gas station. To the childish imagination, a witch was much scarier than any brain-eating zombie, thanks to the nightly fairy tales the children heard before falling asleep. Bedtime stories featured witches. Not zombies.

Gert sighed and turned her back on the frolicking youngsters. She would keep her zombies inside tonight, even though it was Halloween. She wanted to let the children have their fun, free from any danger. She knew, though, that the people of Louisville would pay dearly for the temporary confinement. Her children would be especially hungry after twenty-four hours of not being able to roam. There would be mass slaughter in the overnight hours of All Saints Day.

A nice cup of chamomile will take away the stress, Gert said to herself as she walked into her kitchen. She gazed out the double window over the sink as she pulled out a small old teacup from the stained oak cabinet above. She gasped. There was a light flashing in the

“What…?” she asked. “Who could that be at this hour?” And what do they want with my garden? Gert set the cup down with a clatter on the Formica and lunged toward the back door.

When she saw Zed, she instantly knew who he was. He was a threat–her main enemy. He wanted to destroy all her children. “Stop right there!” she commanded.     

The moonlight shone down on the intruder in her garden, and Gert saw his whole body tense. The flashlight quit moving.

“I won’t bother asking who you are because I know the answer to that already. What I don’t know is what you’re doing here.”

Zed fumbled with the flashlight in his hand, making a move to turn it off. “I…I…uh, that is…My wife…”

Gert turned her head slightly to the left and narrowed her eyes. “Your wife what?”

“My wife…is pregnant.”

Gert huffed. “I know that! You don’t think I do? I know every pregnant woman in this city. I watch them all through my crystal. I know every single labor pain–every single water break. I watch it all. In fact, I think there’s another baby about to be born in a few minutes. You’re interrupting my evening entertainment.”

Gert watched the fear and uncertainty cloud the brave man’s face. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

Gert laughed. “You’re sorry? Oh, now, isn’t that just rich? I catch you burgling in my garden at night, and you say you’re sorry for interrupting my baby-watching?” She took a step forward and pointed her right index finger just inches away from his nose. “What is it you want?”

Zed took one deep breath before he spoke. Gert watched his eyes. They shifted slightly down and to the right. “My wife has a terrible craving for a salad, but our car broke down. It’s too far to walk to the nearest grocery, and I knew your garden was right here…so I thought I would just pick some greens and take them back to her.”

Gert frowned. “I don’t have any spinach or lettuce.”

Zed shook his head. His permed brown hair didn’t move. “No, but you have campanula. The leaves make a deliciously healthy salad. They’ve been eaten that way for centuries.”

Gert’s frown deepened. Zed the zombie killer wants my bellflower? He can’t know, can he? She rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. Of course he could. Gert nodded once. “All right. Say I let you have some of my campanula. What will you give me in return?”

Zed blinked. “In return?”

“Yes. A fair trade. My campanula for something of yours…”

“But what do I have that you could possibly want?”

The witch smiled. Her mud brown eyes stared straight into his hazel ones. “Your wife, as you say, is pregnant. She should be due soon, yes? In another couple of months?”

Zed took a step back, staring at the witch and shaking his head. “You can’t mean…?”

The witch began to laugh. “How much is it worth to you, zombie killer?”

Zed dropped to his knees. “I can’t. My child?

“Your child for my children. A fair trade.”

Gert watched as Zed weighed the options in his head. He wrung his hands. “A fair trade? All right. Take me instead of my little girl. Please.”

Girl. The word filled Gert with a fresh new longing. Her zombie children were all male. She’d been lonely for feminine company for a very long time. A little girl was just what she was missing. Gert smiled. “Ah, so you know it’s going to be a girl? Good. I’ve always wanted a little girl.” She laughed. “I would treat her as if she was my own–my own living, breathing, flesh-and-blood little girl.”

Zed stared at her for a long time, his mouth agape. She had a good idea of what he was thinking. Killing zombies was his profession. It was how he made his living. If he didn’t get this bellflower now, he would have nothing to make the zombie-killing potion. He would be out of a job, and his family would be homeless and would, most likely, starve to death. Not to mention the fact that hundreds of thousands of innocent people would die as a result of his failure. Her zombies might even take his precious wife and child. Yes, he would lose his child as part of this deal, but he might lose his child, anyway, if he didn’t get the campanula.

“I could pay you…My wife and I have a decent sized nest egg saved up. You can have it all…in return for your trouble,” he offered wearily, but Gert could read on his face that he didn’t think she would accept his offer. And she was sure that she wouldn’t.

Again, she laughed in his face. “Money! What would I do with money? I have all I need right now…except a daughter. Your little girl. Your child for my children. That’s my price, zombie killer. Take it, or else get out of my garden.”

Zed stared into her eyes for a few minutes, gauging how serious she was. She watched as he chewed on his bottom lip. He flicked the flashlight in his hand off and on. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Finally, he nodded. “All right.” He gulped and swallowed. “A fair trade. But I would appreciate it if you said nothing of this to my wife just yet.”

The witch chuckled. It was a low, rasping, gravelly sound. “No, dear. Of course not. We wouldn’t want to cause her any undue distress that might harm the child inside her. Your secret is safe with me. My lips are sealed. Now, pick your bellflower and go. I’ll be in touch soon enough.”

#####

When Zed returned home that night, his wife was already in bed asleep. For once, he was grateful that the pregnancy hormones made her so exhausted. He needed to be alone to formulate his plan–and to start on the potion. There wasn’t much time.

 

Like what you see? Click the image below to go buy the book!

Book Reviews, General Book Stuff, Writing

Review Tour: Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard

3DCoverWelcome to the next stop on the review tour for The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard.

“A charming, unexpected, and decidedly different view of the Revolutionary War.”
Publishers Weekly

Book Description: The Midwife’s Revolt takes the reader on a journey to the founding days of America. It follows one woman’s path, Lizzie Boylston, from her grieving days of widowhood after Bunker Hill, to her deepening friendship with Abigail Adams and midwifery, and finally to her dangerous work as a spy for the Cause. A novel rich in historical detail, The Midwife’s Revolt opens a window onto the real lives of colonial women.

Jodi Daynard’s historical fiction The Midwife’s Revolt has eared a 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon and praise from libraries, historical associations and is even featured at The Museum of the American Revolution.

“This humorous, exciting and touching story retells the familiar saga of the Revolutionary War in a stunning new way that feels fresh and alive.”
Kirkus Reviews

Amazon.com ~ Barnes and Noble ~ GoodReads

book cover headAbout the Author: Jodi Daynard is a writer of fiction, essays, and criticism. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice, The Paris Review, Agni, New England Review and in several anthologies. She is the author of The Place Within: Portraits of the American Landscape by 20 Contemporary Writers (W. W. Norton). Ms. Daynard’s essays have been nominated for several prizes and mentioned in Best American Essays. She has taught writing at Harvard University, M.I.T., and in the MFA program at Emerson College, and served for seven years as Fiction Editor at Boston Review. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The National Women’s Book Association, and the Author’s Guild. The Midwife’s Revolt is her first novel.

Prizes! And now for the best part, the prizes! Because who doesn’t love awesome book themed gifts? Jodi is offering A Kindle Fire to one reader as well as a Artemis Cameo Necklace, an American Flag Folk Art and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. All you have to do is leave a comment and enter the rafflecopter! Of course, there are plenty of other ways to enter to win just by helping spread the word about The Midwife’s Revolt.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tour: Follow along and read more reviews of The Midwife’s Revolt. You can see the full list of participating reviews HERE.

Writing

Five Tools to Organize Your Research (Guest Post)

Research is the most important aspect of writing. Whether you are working on a paper for class or writing a blog post you hope will catch the right kind of attention, you must have facts to draw upon. That means a huge chunk of your time is going to be invested in finding and recording references, then setting up your bibliography.

Keeping all of that organized can be a nightmarish job. That is why having the right tools can make all the difference in the world. Here are five fantastic helpers that can turn your computer into a fact-curating machine:

1. Citelighter

Citelighter

This is a free website that acts as an online highlighter for any webpages. You highlight the facts you want (or the entire page), and it saves it to your collection. There is a feature to let you comment on or edit the fact, and it creates an automatic bibliography that can be printed out or copied for your reference. All information stored can be accessed from anywhere, just sign into your account on a supported browser. Because of this, it is accessible from most smartphones and tablets, as well as other computers.

2. Diigo

Diigo

Diigo is another collection tool that works in a similar way to Citelighter, but it is a little bit more feature heavy. It offers a number of categories like Bookmarks, Notes, Images, Docs, Sticky Notes and Highlights. So you can truly gather all of your materials in one place, unlike other sites that claim to provide that ability. It is accessible through your PC or Mac, or through apps for both the iPhone and the Android models. If you are an educator, they have a free upgrade to the Diigo Education Edition. This means everyone in your classes or groups will automatically be signed up with a basic edu account without you having to do it manually.

3. Mendeley

Mendeley

Part research collector and part social network, you can actually share the facts and resources you curate here over the course of your research, all while getting advice and suggestions from others who know the topic you are studying. Papers can be imported from other software, and you can access it from any computer or through an iPhone app. Plus, Mendeley has a bibliography generator.

4. Zotero

Zotero

If you want something a little simpler that just lets you gather, store, track and share your facts without having to go overboard on the social networking aspect, Zotero is a nice alternative. There are groups, people, forums and documentation if you want them. But, mostly, it is a storage site to keep you organized.

5. Evernote

Evernote

Everyone has probably heard of Evernote, the cross-platform productivity app, and you might not have made the connection when looking for research tools. But this is a simple tool you may have already that can be used. Just collect the facts, pages and information you need. Tag it so it is easy to find, such as by project. Then access it from your phone, media device, computer or tablet.

Conclusion

While I would be careful of double checking to make sure all of your references are in any automatically generated bibliographies, these tools are really solid and helpful. They keep everything you need in one place, make it easy to access the information and otherwise provide sources without having to fill up a doc file and search through it later. Some are even searchable to make it that much easier.

Do you know of any good programs that allow you to organize your research notes and sources? Let us know in the comments!

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned

Michelle is the editor behind Manifest Connection, the self-improvement blog for everyone!

General Book Stuff, Writing

Share An Excerpt Saturday Believe in Me 4

For several weeks now, I’ve participated in this amazing Facebook event with more than 100 other authors. Want to know more about the event? Visit the blog Tammie Clark Gibbs set up here.

I wanted to make my participation in the event easier for me (and more user friendly for my readers), so I’ve set up a brand new page on my website dedicated just to excerpts of Believe in Me.  Here you’ll find both the previous weeks’ excerpts, which I posted online plus a very special video excerpt where I myself am reading from my own work. I just love hearing authors read something they’ve written themselves, don’t you? So I wanted to do my readers (and future readers) the courtesy of providing that to them. I hope you enjoy it.

Here, though, I’ve decided to post the start of a love scene in Believe in Me. It is, after all, a contemporary romance novella. I hope you enjoy it, and remember: the Kindle version is only 99 cents. The paperback version is only $4.99. Check them out! 🙂

————————————————–

Kurt grinned again. “I know. I remember. How many times did I sit through your VHS copy of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir?”

Trina nudged her shoulder into his as they both stepped onto the bottom step. “You know you loved it. You thought Gene Tierney was smokin’!”Kurt laughed then, and the sound was infectious.  As Trina laughed with him, she remembered how much she’d always loved the sound of his laugh. He put a hand on her shoulder as they rounded the corner into the formal dining area, and Trina didn’t even flinch. It felt natural, like his hand belonged there.

Dinner at the B&B was always a formal affair, so the two were surprised when they walked into the room and saw that the table wasn’t set. There wasn’t even a cloth draping Mim’s prized cherry table. The casserole dish rested on a multicolored ceramic trivet. There was a jumble of silverware next to it on top of a handwritten note on yellowed memo pad paper.

“You two kids have fun. I had to go to a friend’s house,” Trina read as she picked up the silverware and handed some across the table to Kurt.

“A friend’s house, hmm? Sounds like Mim has a hot date tonight,” he said.

Trina frowned and slowly shook her head. “I don’t think so. More likely, she went to Mom’s house to talk about me.”

Kurt pulled out a chair. “You? Why would they be talking about you?”

“Because I’m refusing to go home and talk to Walt.”

“So? Why do you need to talk to Walt?”

“I don’t!” The words came out more forcefully than Trina meant for them to. She felt her cheeks flush and lowered her eyes to the table in front of her. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled. “I’m just a little touchy about it. Still.” She saw that there weren’t any plates on the table. “Mim forgot the plates. I’ll go get some.”

Kurt glanced down at her still wrapped ankle and reached a hand out to stop her. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get the plates. You just sit back and relax.”

Trina smiled at him, trying to hide the pain she felt. Except now the pain was more emotional than physical. Mim was really upset with her for not running immediately over to make up with Walt.

But why didn’t Mim understand? She’d been married and divorced at least three times. Why was she being so judgmental? Why is everyone pushing me to be with Walt? Trina closed her eyes and sank down into her chair, wishing that she could be back in her nice, quiet apartment in the city, getting things ready to go back to work the next day. She was ready for this vacation to be over.

A few minutes later, Kurt returned, carrying a couple of vintage blue-flowered Corelle dinner plates under his arm. In his hands, he held an unopened bottle of red wine, a corkscrew, and two wine glasses. Trina sat up and raised an eyebrow. “Wine?” she asked.

“Yeah. I had some stashed in my suitcase, and I thought it might be a nice addition to our meal. It will definitely help you relax.”

That’s what I’m afraid of, Trina thought, but she said, “I don’t drink. Not anymore. I gave it up a couple of years ago.”

It wasn’t really a lie, but it wasn’t exactly the truth, either. She and Walt had been talking about trying to start a family, and Trina read everything she could get her hands on about fertility and pregnancy. Alcohol was never highly recommended as part of the process. In fact, everything she read told her it would be best to abstain completely, so she did…except for an occasional glass of wine here and there.

After six months, the conception attempts proved to be unsuccessful, and Trina gave up all hope of getting pregnant. Instead, she turned to making the most out of her career as she could, and she worked her way up to the higher echelons of the station. Sure, it meant more commitments and more time spent away from home, but it was also more money. And it gave her a sense of accomplishment and security that she hadn’t really ever felt before.

Walt said he understood, but Trina never really believed him. He was always complaining about how she was not spending enough time with him. She knew she wasn’t. The truth was, she just couldn’t help it. He was part of the unsuccessful baby making team. She didn’t want to spend much time around him. He reminded her of their failure.

‘“Come on. Just one little glass. It won’t hurt, and it might help.”

Kurt’s voice startled Trina out of her painful memories. She glanced up at him in alarm. His bottom lip was stuck out in a mock pout as he uncorked the bottle and poured.

Trina sighed and gazed into Kurt’s green eyes. There was something in them that she couldn’t place—some hint of what he was thinking and feeling. But what was it? Trina shook her head slightly. I am a little too tense, she thought. Maybe a few sips of wine will do me good.

She smiled her best, most confident, smile and took the glass from Kurt’s hand. After one sip, she felt the tension in her neck muscles easing away. After three sips, she knew that she needed to eat something. Her tolerance wasn’t as high as it used to be. She reached for the old silver serving spoon that, she knew from experience, Mim polished on a weekly basis. The casserole was a broccoli and cheese with little pieces of baked chicken breast thrown in. It looked and smelled amazing. Her stomach grumbled noisily and she flushed, embarrassed.

Kurt laughed. “Don’t worry about it. Just eat.”

They chatted while they ate. Trina felt herself relaxing more, and she didn’t think it was just the wine having that effect on her. Being here with Kurt like this just felt so natural. So right. That was why it didn’t feel at all inappropriate when Kurt leaned over, grabbing her thigh under the table, and said, “Do you mind if we skip the movie tonight?”

“Oh. Are you not feeling well?” The wine was dulling Trina’s mental processes.

“No. I’m just not so much in the mood for it now. I’d rather stay here and spend some time alone with you.”

Trina felt a flash of heat run through her body at his words. She raised her eyebrows and gave him a nervous half-smile. “You want to stay here?”

“Yes.” Kurt grinned. “I’m sure there are plenty of old Christmas movies on TV right now.”

“TV.” Trina sighed in relief. The only television in the house was in the parlor—the nice, public parlor, into which Mim could walk at any moment, even though Trina knew she most likely wouldn’t. That note she’d left was clue enough. Mim was going to leave the two of them alone. If Trina knew Mim at all (and she did), she might not even come back to the house that night. She would, however, be back in plenty of time to fix breakfast in the morning. Mim would never leave her guests hungry, no matter how irritated she was with them.

Trina followed Kurt into the parlor. She sat down on the steel blue Georgian loveseat, tossing one of the matching throw pillows on the ground at her feet. Kurt turned the TV on at the set and then sat down beside her, setting the remote on the raised arm on his other side. He shifted her body slightly and pulled her injured ankle up on his lap, rubbing it gently with both hands.

“See. I told you I could find an old movie for us to watch. Miracle on 34th Street, it is.”

The movie was already well underway, but Trina didn’t mind. She’d seen it enough to know what was going on. She wasn’t that focused on the movie, anyway. The motion of Kurt’s hands on her ankle was sending her into a hypnotically erotic state. The pain of the injury melted away.

“You’re good at that,” she murmured.

“That’s not the only thing I’m good at,” he replied with a wicked grin, lowering her foot to the floor and scooting in closer.

The loveseat was just big enough for two people to sit thigh to thigh and shoulder to shoulder. Trina felt the warmth of Kurt’s body next to hers and longed to sink herself into it. She leaned a little closer and sighed.

Kurt tucked his right arm around her shoulders and pulled her in tight, shifting his body slightly so that Trina’s left shoulder was up against his chest. Gently, he placed his left index finger under her chin and turned her face toward his, claiming her mouth with his a second later.

The kiss sent electric shockwaves of desire and need coursing through Trina’s body. She turned her body toward him, encircling her arms around his neck, pulling him in even deeper. Kurt’s hands moved down her shoulders, to her arms, and around to her back. He rocked his body into hers with a passion that she remembered from their high school days. All the old feelings came rushing back to her in a flash. Trina wanted him as much now as she had then. All thoughts of restraint vanished in the engulfing fire of passion that coursed through her.

“Kurt,” she breathed, breaking away slightly from the kiss.

“Yes, Trina? My beautiful, beautiful Trina,” he murmured, running his lips lightly down her ear and neck, sending pleasant shivers down her spine. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she knew she should have balked at his use of the possessive, but she pushed the thought aside. This wasn’t the time to quibble over word choice. There were no words necessary to describe what was happening between them. So, then, why did Trina felt the need to say something?

“I want to go upstairs. To your room.”

He drew in a breath and released it in a relieved huff. “I thought you’d never ask.”

They raced up the stairs like a couple of horny teenagers, caught up in the excitement of reconnecting with an old flame—one that neither one of them had ever really wanted to let die in the first place.

Mishael Austin Witty

 

Writing

Word Wednesday: Ambivert

Ambivert (n.):

A person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

At times, this individual may appear introverted. And, just when you think that you’ve found a nice, quiet shy introvert who just wants to stay home and read or watch TV, this same person will shock you by suggesting you go to a big noisy concert or a party at a friend’s house that promises to be the social event of the season.

Surprise! You’ve met an ambivert!

When I was in college, they gave me the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. That was my first introduction to this whole introvert/extravert issue. I never did find out my results, but some years later, I took the online version and came out as an INFP.

Later, I found Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me (and Please Understand Me II), and I was introduced to the Keirsey temperament sorter, which is closely related to the Myers-Briggs indicator. I still came out as an INFP, although I was able to gauge my own answers, and I saw that my extravert/introvert answers were pretty even. I just had to pick one or the other, so I went with what I knew…the INFP Healer (Idealist). I was young and naive enough to love the idea of being an Idealist. 🙂

Then I funny thing happened…I found the Keirsey temperament sorter online, so I tried it again. This time, I came out as an ENFP Champion (still an Idealist, though. I think all NFs  are Idealists).

I was confused. Did I suddenly change from an introvert to an extravert? It didn’t seem likely. From all I’d read about temperament in my psychology classes, it didn’t change. You’re born with your temperament, and you just can’t change it. You can learn to deal with it and adapt to situations in a different way, but you can’t change who you are. But, from what these results were telling me, I had changed myself from an introvert to an extravert. How was that possible?

But I remembered that my scores on that E/I scale were fairly well balanced, so I thought that might have something to do with it. I was able to change how I interacted with the world based on what was needed at the time. This, to my way of thinking, was not a bad thing.

Fast forward ten years or so….

There I am, calmly being my introverted self and sitting at the computer checking my email, when suddenly a new blog post notification pops up from Kristen Lamb (author of the amazingly helpful book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media). The blog post was titled, interestingly enough, The Myth About Introverts & Extroverts: Could You Be An Ambivert? 

I immediately clicked on the link, not really sure what an ambivert was, but knowing that I was one, since there was so much temperament sorter/personality test confusion over whether I am an introvert or an extravert. I didn’t even have to take the test to know that I would come out as an ambivert (as did Kristen herself and many of the other people who commented on her blog post).

And this made me wonder: Are all writers really ambiverts, instead of heavily falling on one side or the other? It would make sense. We writers love to share stories with people – and usually as many people as we possibly can (the extraverted part), but we also love to sit in our offices/coffee shops for hours on end, typing away on a computer keyboard and not saying a word to anyone (the introverted part).

So…my question to you is: Are you a writer? Are you an introvert or an extravert? Or are you an ambivert? Go look at Kristen’s post to find out more. And, if you leave her a comment, tell her I sent you. 😉

General Book Stuff, Writing

Special Book Spotlight: Melissa Foster’s Have No Shame

The fabulous Melissa Foster has written and released yet another book. This one is called HAVE NO SHAME, and it is unlike any of her other books. Check out the promotional details below:

HAVE NO SHAME

When civil rights and forbidden love collide

“This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett’s, THE HELP, Julie Kibler’s, CALLING ME HOME, John Grisham’s, A TIME TO KILL, Sue Monk Kidd’s, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and Kathleen Grissom’s, THE KITCHEN HOUSE.”

Buy it Now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/16TaOSZ

Buy it Now on B&N: http://bit.ly/12WGCYD

Within moments of starting to read, you will be transported back to the Arkansas of 1967 – hot, dusty, utterly rural and edgy. Poor white farmers dependent upon cheap black labor who, due to their superior numbers, are constantly suppressed, living on the wrong side of town, ghettoised and terrified. You will remember scenes from `In the Heat of the Night’ and `Easy Rider’; you will remember that, less than fifty years ago, if you were black, you could be beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you died at the hands of a white youth, justice would almost certainly be denied you.” Author Roderick Craig Low

SUMMARY

Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother’s Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.

When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.

****

“A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society.” Hagerstown Magazine

“Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening.” Midwest Book Review

“A historical novel of love and its triumph, told with a unique and compelling voice.” Bestselling Author Kathleen Shoop

“Have No Shame is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their must-read list.” Readers’ Favorite

“A dynamic and heartwarming tale of young love, giving testament to those who struggled so we can live in an integrated society.” Author Rachelle Ayala

“[HAVE NO SHAME] Perfectly catches the South at the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement. Melissa Foster takes us on an adventure that twists and turns unpredictably to a tense climax that renders this novel a true page-turner. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in a long time.” Roderick Craig Low, Author of ‘Promises of Love and Good Behaviour’

“This book is not just a story; it’s an experience.” Author G.E. Johnson

Buy HAVE NO SHAME on Amazon: http://amzn.to/16TaOSZ

Buy HAVE NO SHAME on B&N: http://bit.ly/12WGCYD

 

 

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women’s Nest, Fostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Awards

Megan’s Way

2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)

2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women’s Fiction)

2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)

2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality)

Chasing Amanda

2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women’s Fiction, Mystery)

2011 Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)

Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink

Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running

Indie Reader’s Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)

Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda
Come Back To Me

2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist,

2012 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist

2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist

2011 Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards, Finalist

Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader

Top Ten Books of 2011, Tea Time With Marce

IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post

Website: http://www.MelissaFoster.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Melissa-Foster/240064542695303

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Melissa_Foster

The Women’s Nest, women’s social network: http://www.TheWomensNest.com

World Literary Café: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com

Fostering Success: htto://www.fostering-success.com

Facebook Melissa Foster: http://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor (Fanpage)

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3023973.Melissa_Foster

Writing

5 Tips for Writing Speech Essays in College (Guest Post)

5 Tips for Writing College Speech Essays

Speech essays are different than regular essays, but the difference is not that great. Still, every little bit of essay writing help is important, especially in the event that you are not doing that well with writing.

 

A speech is definitely more complicated than any other type of writing, as it needs to capture the attention of the person attending almost instantly. Plus, it needs to maintain that interest. When you are writing a speech essay in college, there are some things you have to remember. Follow the tips below, and you will increase the quality of all your speeches!

College Students and Teachers Are Easily Bored

 

This basically means that your speech essay should never be too long; however, it should also not be too short. College students are bored. They are usually not interested in your speeches at all, so you need to make them interested.

 

Similarly, teachers have heard it all before, so you need to bring
something new to the table in order to grab their attention.

 

The First Paragraph Is Vital

 

While with a regular essay you can usually get away with some paragraphs that are not interesting, this is never the case with speech writing. The first paragraph and the first sentence should be written carefully, and you need to make sure that the attention of the person attending a meeting would be gained with each statement made.

 

Leaving Room for Debate

 

In a regular essay, you are interested in making a point. In a speech essay you are
interested in making a point and leaving some sort of room open for discussion. If you manage to create a desire to ask a question in someone who is listening to the speech, you will surely cause that person to remain interested in what you are saying for a longer period of time.

writing-hand-creative-pen-finger-paper-1128687-pxhere.com

 

Writing Will Only Get You So Far!

 

This is something tricky that few people actually understand. You can have the best written speech essay in the world, and the result might still be pretty bad if you have no idea how to actually express your ideas with speech skills and body language during the speech. In the event that you are not good at giving a speech, it is a very good idea to let someone do that for you whenever possible.

 

Knowledge Is Power

 

The more knowledge you have about a topic, the better your speech about it will be. This is vital since you cannot actually give a really good speech about something that you know nothing about.

 

When you write your speech, make sure that you choose a topic with which you are familiar. In the event that the topic is imposed, first learn as much as you can about the topic and start the writing only when you believe that your knowledge level is really good.

 

College is difficult due to the work that you do, but everything becomes even more complicated when it comes to speech essay writing. Since not all people know what has
to be done, this list of 5 tips was compiled to improve your speech essays and increase your academic success.

 

For more information on how to write all sorts of academic essays, you might want to check out this book. Written by a college professor, it gives you all sorts of concrete information you can use to improve your academic writing.

———————————————

John Kravz is a representative of http://www.proessaywriting.com. This site provides professional help for all your writing assignments, including essays, research papers and dissertations. 

 

General Book Stuff, Writing

Share An Excerpt Saturday: Believe in Me 3

This is the third week in a row that I’ve participated in the big Share An Excerpt Saturday Facebook event with more than 100 other authors. Want to know more about the event, visit the blog that Tammie Clark Gibbs set up here.

I wanted to make my participation in the event easier for me (and more user friendly for my readers), so I’ve set up a brand new page on my website dedicated just to excerpts of Believe in Me.  Here you’ll find both the previous weeks’ excerpts, which I posted online plus a very special video excerpt where I myself am reading from my own work. I just love hearing authors read something they’ve written themselves, don’t you? So I wanted to do my readers (and future readers) the courtesy of providing that to them. I hope you enjoy it.

Here, though, I’ve decided to post the first few pages of Believe in Me. You won’t find these in the copy that’s currently available on Amazon (yet), but you will soon see them in the new, re-released version of the book.

So, here it is: a sneak peek at a never before seen scene in Believe in Me. 

————————————-

1.

Trina Gray snapped her newly monogrammed Louis Vuitton suitcase closed and patted the hard side of the bag down, just as she used to do to the cheap set of soft-sided luggage she’d used before she’d decided, on a whim, to purchase the $5000-plus travel case. It was an extravagant expense. Not something Trina would have ever done before. But she’d started a new life within the past six months, and the new Trina wanted to make a big impression with her designer luggage.

That’ll show Tammy, she thought smugly, even as the personalized initials on the neutrally-colored tag taunted her. TAG. It wasn’t merely the irony that her initials spelled out the word “tag” that bothered her so. It was the fact that, until just a few months ago, those hadn’t been her initials. At least, they hadn’t been for five years. For that length of time, the maiden “G” had been replaced by her married “M”.

Maybe I made the switch back too soon, Trina thought as she gazed at the letters. Then she shook her head. No. Her marriage to Walt was over. They weren’t officially divorced yet—only separated—but there was no going back. Not after what he had done.

In spite of her steely exterior, the bridge of Trina’s nose buzzed, and her eyes ached. She closed them and leaned her head back, taking in a few deep breaths of the honey vanilla scented air freshener she’d sprayed just a few minutes earlier. That particular scent always helped to calm her nerves and comfort her in a way that no other scent had ever done. It reminded her of Mim’s kitchen. She’d always felt safe there.

That was one good thing about going home. She’d get to see Mim again. It had been too long since she’d talked to the woman who was like a second mother to her—better than a mother, actually. She felt more comfortable talking to Mim than she did to her own mother. She always had.

Trina smiled, remembering Mim’s warm green eyes and her always frizzy, frazzled silver gray hair. She almost laughed out loud, not caring that she was the only person in the room who would hear the happy sound. Trina was just extremely grateful that the urge to cry was fading.

She moved the bag to set it on the lush forest green carpet on her bedroom floor before limping over to the matching weekend rolling bag, which had set her back another three-and-a-half thousand dollars.

Trina cursed aloud as she set her foot down on the floor and the pain shot up through her calf and down into her toes at the same time. If she hadn’t been in such a hurry to get out of the office and get on the road tonight, she never would have twisted her ankle by slipping on that patch of ice.

She hadn’t bothered to take the time to wrap it. It wasn’t broken. She knew that because she could still walk on it. What Trina didn’t know, though, was if it was an actual sprain or just a little strain. Either way, she should have been resting on the couch in front of the television with her foot propped up on the light brown suede ottoman she’d recently bought to add a touch of class to the place.

But she didn’t have the luxury of sitting and resting her foot tonight. Trina had to get on the road right now. Her mother had already been calling every fifteen minutes for the past three hours to see when she was starting out. Trina didn’t want to delay the trip any longer than she already had.

She winced as she took a few more steps toward the front door, and she felt her Blackberry buzz in her pocket. “Oh, Mom!”

Trina fished in her pocket for the buzzing instrument and gasped. It wasn’t her mother’s number that showed up on the LCD caller ID screen. The number was unfamiliar, but the name above the number was not. Tammy Gray. Her sister.

“What? You little…How did you get this number?” Trina fumed as the phone continued to buzz. Then she took a deep breath.

She’d told her mother that she would come home for Christmas this year…and she knew there was a chance her sister would be there, too. A very good chance. It was only natural that their mom would tell Tammy that Trina was coming.

Of course she would. Ever since Trina had made the decision to quit talking to her sister last year, their mom had been on a crusade to repair the relationship between her two daughters. This, in Trina’s mother’s mind, was going to be the first step in that process—the two sisters being under the same roof again. Trina had told her mom that she would suck it up and play the dutiful daughter, and she assured her mother that everything would be fine.

Except Trina wasn’t at all sure that it would be.

She sighed again—in relief, this time, as the call switched over to voicemail. Well, I didn’t say that I would talk to Tammy before I got to the house. Trina justified her decision to ignore her sister’s phone call and pocketed the Blackberry.

True, they hadn’t talked for almost a year. But there was a very good reason for that.

Trina winced again as she forgot to not put all her weight down on her injured foot. She quickly shifted position and picked up both her bags. She was only planning to stay for a week at most, but she wanted to be prepared anyway. Weston Falls wasn’t exactly known for its vast array of convenience and clothing stores…especially not during the holidays. The whole town practically shut down from December 23rd to January 6th.

Trina frowned at the thought. That was another reason to not jump at the chance to go home for the holidays. She and her sister would be under the same roof for the duration with practically no way of escape.

“Mom, I can’t do this.” The spoken words reverberated throughout the empty apartment. Of course there was no response. Her mother was five hundred miles away, and Trina seriously doubted that her words would have had any halting effects on her mother’s reunion plans, even if she was within earshot. Trina resigned herself to her fate and headed out to her car.

Mishael Austin Witty

 

Author Interviews, General Book Stuff, Writing

Author Interview: Mishael Austin Witty

Over the past few months, I’ve featured several authors on my Friday blog posts. I did this mainly to help authors in their promotional efforts since my book reviewing time is currently very limited.

For a while, I’ve been putting the author interview feature on the back burner as I try to deal with some other things that have been going on in life and as I try to work on my own writing and editing (which is really my first love, far above and beyond blogging).

If you’ve sent me an email with the answers to the interview questions I have published on the site, thank you. I have seen it. I’ve just been ignoring it until such time as I was better able to devote more of my time and attention to focus on. I apologize that I have not yet gotten back to so many of you.

I think it’s high time I got back to doing what I said I would do. I said I would feature authors, and so I should. And I’m going to again. Starting next Friday.

To get things rolling again (and getting something up and active on my blog), I’m going to post an interview I conducted with myself. I hope you all find it to be entertaining and informative, and not too annoyingly self-serving. Thanks!

This particular interview concentrates on my novella, Believe in Me. 

1. How did you get the idea for the book?

This novella actually got its start because I was responding to an open submission call from Entangled Publishing for a holiday-themed novella collection entitled “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree”. The idea was to take one line from either that song or “Santa Baby” and center a romance story on that line. I accepted the challenge.

My pick was “Santa Baby”, and I picked the line, “Let’s see if you believe in me”. In fact, that was the full working title of the novella for quite a while. One of my beta readers (or maybe more than one) advised me against it. I took her advice.

Anyway, I started wondering why someone in a romantic relationship would need to say that to someone else. The most obvious thing I could think of was broken trust, and nothing breaks trust in a relationship like infidelity (even if it’s only assumed). So…the germ of the story idea was born, and the rest of the story naturally progressed from there.

2. Which came first, the title or the book?

Obviously, as I mentioned before, the title did. In a sense, anyway. The working title came first, and I centered the story on the title. This is one of the very few times I have done that. I’m notoriously bad about coming up with titles to fit my books. I almost always wait until the last possible second to come up with what I think is a decent title. From now on, I think I’m just going to let my friends help me with titles. I have a few who are much better at it than I am!

3. How would you describe your book to someone who has not yet read it?

This is the story of Trina Gray, a high-powered career woman who comes home for the holidays at the urging of her mother. What she’s not suspecting, though, is that her mother has invited her soon-to-be-ex husband to spend the Christmas holiday with them.

The minute she sees Walt, Trina runs back out the door. She can’t deal with the anger and other emotions that come immediately to the surface at the sight of him. She goes to her friend Mim’s bed and breakfast where she runs into her old high school boyfriend, Kurt. Kurt and Trina talk and discover that they still have feeling for each other after all these years, and the sparks start flying.

Believe in Me is, ultimately, a story about the rebuilding of important relationships – both romantic and family relationships.

4. What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?

I’m definitely interested in writing a romantic thriller. I’ve written a thriller and I’ve tried my hand at writing romance (although this particular work borders on women’s fiction). I would love to combine those two together. I enjoy reading books in that genre, so I’m sure I would enjoy writing one.

5. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?

Men who cheat and the women in love them. 😉

Just kidding (sort of). In all honesty, I’d like for there to be a much more positive spin put on the topic than that. The whole idea of this story is that it takes two people to have a successful relationship – two people who are communicating openly with each other and who are willing to work to make things right.

Love is more than just warm, gushy feelings (or intense sexual attraction) – especially within a marital relationship. I should know. I’ve been married for five and a half years (I know that’s not much to some, but many marriages don’t last even that long). The point is: Sometimes I don’t feel all warm and gushy toward my husband. Truth be known, sometimes I don’t even like him very much. But I’m committed to him, and he’s committed to me, and so we’ve stayed together against all odds and we will continue to stay married until one of us dies.

And, even in the face of something cataclysmic, you can make the choice to repair the relationship. Forgive (this doesn’t mean you excuse the behavior) and move on, and don’t let anything break up your marriage (as long as it doesn’t endanger your life, like spousal abuse).  

6. Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?

My favorite part, honestly, is the editing/rewriting phase. I love going back and reading what I’ve written. Sometimes I don’t even remember how good certain bits were. I don’t always remember the bad parts either, but it seems that those aren’t as prevalent as the good parts. I guess sometimes it does pay to leave your “inner editor” on.

I’m also developing a fast fondness for cover design. 🙂

My least favorite part of the process would have to be the planning phase – before any real writing takes place. I know that a certain amount of planning has to be done. I just can’t stand to do it. It drives me crazy, especially when my characters often take the story in a completely different direction from where I planned ahead of time that they would be going. It makes me feel that the planning part really isn’t that necessary at all – except when I act under that assumption, things turn out very badly!

 

7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of and why?

I really love the flashback scene (which takes place in Trina’s memory) where Walt and Trina are talking in bed after the first time they’d made love. It’s so romantic. In fact, it’s one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever written.

Well, it’s practically the ONLY romantic scene I’ve ever written, but I think I did it very well…with a little help from my friends. 😉

8. Which fictional character do you have a secret crush on?

I’ve always been a fan of the dark, brooding Victorian type. Think Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Or Jane Eyre’s Rochester. There’s something about those Brontes and their taste in men that I can really identify with!

9. Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?

Actually, several years ago I wrote a flash fiction story about an old man giving his grandson marriage advice just before he walked up to the altar and said “I do”. A pastor read that story and wrote to me, asking if he could use it in his marriage counseling sessions. Just the thought that my words were going to be used to help other people in that way? Amazing!

More recently, though, I had the opportunity to hand sell books at a women’s clothing store. Just being with all the other women there was so much fun. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m going back to do it again on May 11 (which is one of the reasons I need to buy several hard copies of this book)!

10. What’s up next for you?

I’m currently (in addition to improving this novella) reworking my first novel, Shadows of Things to Come. I’m hoping to re-release that book the same time I re-release this one, on May 1. >>UPDATE<< It’s available NOW. Only $3.99 for the Kindle version. To buy, click here. 

I’m also finishing up the first historical fiction novel I’ve ever written, The Fading Sun, which is Book One in a trilogy that I’ve named Sunset’s Hope. I would really like to self-publish this one too, but I’m not quite sure. I might shop it around a little bit before I definitely decide to go the self-publishing route. I do, however, like the freedom and control that come with self-publishing!

——————————————————————

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little interview. If you’d like to connect with me, please do consider following me on Twitter and becoming my fan on Facebook. Also, I’d love to hear what you think of this interview or the blog in general. I can’t improve this blog if I don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Thanks so much!

Mishael Austin Witty

 

Editing, Writing

Word Wednesday: Omniscience

This is one word that has been on my mind a lot this past week – ever since Easter Sunday evening. The dictionary definition states that omniscience is “the state of being omniscient – of having infinite knowledge, awareness, understanding, and insight”.

Let’s look at that word “infinite” for a moment. What, exactly, does that mean? A Merriam-Webster definition of that word includes, in part:

1. extending indefinitely : endless <infinite space>
2. immeasurably or inconceivably great or extensive :inexhaustible <infinite patience>
3. subject to no limitation or external determination
Whose knowledge is immeasurable and without limitation? Well, that definition only applies to the knowledge of one being that I know of, and that being is God. There is no beginning to what He knows, and there is no end to it either. There is nothing that God doesn’t know. Or is there?
My pastor shared an interesting little bit of information with us Sunday night. It was something he heard at some point in the 1980s, I think he said, so it’s been circulating for a while. It’s a sermon called “The Five Things God Doesn’t Know”. The very idea that God doesn’t know something just blows my mind, although I don’t really think this sermon was arguing against the omniscience of God. It’s a mere illustration more than an actual, literal truth.
Here are the five things that God doesn’t know, according to my pastor (backed by scripture):
1. God doesn’t know a sin that He likes. (Isaiah 59:1-2; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23)
2. God doesn’t know a sinner that He doesn’t love. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8)
3. God doesn’t know a sinner that He won’t save. (Romans 10:11, 13; 1 Timothy 1:15)
4. God doesn’t know any way for anyone to be saved but through Jesus. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10)
5. God doesn’t know any other time to be saved but today (right now). (Psalm 95:7-8; Isaiah 1:18; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7-8)
————————————————————-
All right. So how does all this relate to writing? Well, in a sense, the writer is God of the story world which he or she creates. The author knows everything that happens within the story world, and sometimes he/she lets his/her readers in on it too. The way this is accomplished is by writing in the omniscient point of view.
Omniscient POV is a third person point of view that is dictated by an all-knowing narrator.
Here’s one example of how this works:
“I’d like to go out to that new sushi place with you tonight,” Susan said, thinking that she’d rather die than have to eat raw fish one more time, especially if it had to be with him.
“Great,” Chuck replied. He was sure to get her to take him back to her place following the meal for a little after dinner entertainment.
Do you see how this works? Neither character know what the other is thinking. The author knows what both of them are thinking, and the reader (because of the omniscient point of view) also know what both the characters are thinking.
Omniscient point of view is very difficult to write, and many people think it is difficult to read. But it’s been in use for a very, very long time and continues to be popular with some writers. I’ve never really used it myself (at least not well). So I’m curious: How many of you have ever used the omniscient POV in your writing – either novels or short stories? How many of you think you might do so in the future?

 

General Book Stuff, Writing

Muse Monday: Playing with Pictures

I recently discovered how much I enjoy playing with pictures. By this, I mean that I take an image that I find (for free use, or use with attribution) and work with it to make it what I want.

I started doing this for Facebook posts. I was posting daily scripture verses as my status every day after my daily Bible study, and I realized how boring that must have been for most people – to just see a text verse up on the screen. People like pictures. That’s a fact. So I thought it would be so cool if I could incorporate the scriptures with some awesome pictures…And I set about doing so. Here are a few examples:

This actually wasn’t made from an image I got from Google. It was made by using Quozio.com and editing the Quozio image with PicMonkey.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, since I’m a writer, I thought about how cool it would be if I applied my new found knowledge to my own book covers. I’d been using the free Amazon covers, and I just wasn’t that thrilled with them.

Like it or not, covers sell books – even Kindle books. I’m a reader as well as a writer, so I know this to be true in my own selecting of reading material. You CAN judge a book by its cover…and people do. So…I started toying with free online images that I thought were relevant to my books.

These are easily accessible by doing a Google search for images and then clicking on the little tool icon up in the right hand corner of the screen. You just select “Advanced search” from the drop down menu and then change the usage rights to “free to use, share, or modify, even commercially”.  Especially in my case, I know I’m going to try to be selling these books, and I know I’m most likely going to be editing the images I find.

It took me about a day or so of finding the images and fixing them to meet my own tastes, but I finally came up with I thought were fantastic covers for my already published books and my WIPs. Here they are, in their full glory:

I’ve posted this one before, but I just couldn’t resist sharing it again. I love it so much! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, by now, I’m sure you’re wondering how all this is supposed to help you spark your own creativity (or maybe you already have guessed).

If you’re an author, the sky is the limit when it comes to publishing these days. Self-publishing is easier and more popular than ever before. If you have made the decision to try and publish your own books (as I have), you can make your own book covers too.

Just think of how much money you’ll save! Not to mention how much better your own cover creations will look than Amazon’s free cover offerings…

I also believe that having your own cover image in front of you as you are writing will help you through the writing process. You’ll have a constant reminder of where you want your story to go and how you’re planning on getting there. And the writing comes so much easier (I think) when you have an idea of where it’s headed.

What do you all think? Have you tried coming up with your own covers before? Care to share some examples? Leave a link in the comments.

Writing

Share An Excerpt Saturday: Believe in Me (2)

I logged onto Facebook last Saturday to find that I’d been invited to an event hosted by the lovely Tammie Clarke Gibbs called Share An Excerpt Saturday. I jumped at the chance to be a part of that week‘s celebration, and I thought I would continue on for as long as I possibly could.

It is, after all, a fabulously easy way to introduce my current readers (and future readers) to my books that have been published and those that have yet to be released.

Last week I started with my contemporary romance which is available right now for Kindle, Believe in Me. I am, however, currently reworking this book in the hopes that it will be better (and longer) when it’s done, and the projected release date of the new version (with a new and improved cover) will be May 1, 2013.

**UPDATE** The book is available now. Click on any of the book cover pictures below to buy!****

I might actually release the new version sooner, if I can get it done faster than I think I can. That would be nice, anyway. 🙂 In my experience, though, things usually take much longer than I think they will to get done.

But I’ve already started stepping things up a bit when it comes to this little novella. I’ve at least uploaded the new cover. You’ll see it on Amazon now, if you click on the link above, or if you click on this picture.

It looks so much better than the old cover did (see this photo link for the currently out-of-print paperback version):

But this isn’t a post about book covers. I’ll need to write another post for that. This is a post about a book excerpt.

This excerpt is taken straight from pages 75 and 76 (about the middle of the story). This is just after the turning point, but I don’t want to give too much away. Oh, and if you’re looking for this scene in the older version of the story, you will be disappointed. This is one of the scenes I added during the revision process. I think it’s a good one, and I hope you will too. 🙂

————————–

6.

Trina heard a knock on her bedroom door some time later. She thought it might have been Kurt trying again for his one night of passion, but then she heard Mim’s muffled voice call through the door.

“Trini? It’s me, dear. Please open up.”

Trina groaned and rolled out of bed. She hadn’t been asleep. She’d been too keyed up. True, this emotional chaos was exhausting, but it was also bothersome to the point where Trina couldn’t shut off her brain long enough to get any rest.

Mim wasn’t really one of the people she wanted to see right now. In fact, there wasn’t really anyone she wanted to see right now. She felt both betrayed and used by pretty much everyone with whom she’d come in contact for the past few hours.

Still, it was Mim’s house…

She crossed to the door and opened it slowly, peering around the edge as she did so to make sure Mim was alone. She was.

“Why did you tell him I was here?” Trina asked before she realized what a stupid question that really was.

Mim brought a hand up and opened the door wider, pushing her way inside. Her facial expression told Trina just how insane and irrational she thought the accusation was. “I didn’t. You did, remember?”

Trina nodded and sank down on the bed. “I know. I’m sorry. I…I’m just so confused right now.”

“Confused about what?”

“All this—you, Mom, Dad, Walt…Kurt.”

“I’d leave all thoughts of Kurt out of this, if I was you.”

Trina ran her right hand over her forehead, rubbing her eyes as she lowered it. “Why?”

“Because he’s bad news.”

Trina laughed lightly. “’Bad news’? What do you mean?”

Mim took a few steps closer to the bed and reached out her left hand to clasp Trina’s shoulder. “I mean you really shouldn’t trust him.”

Trina blinked. “Why not?”

“He lied to you. That’s why not. He isn’t divorced. He’s still married.”

“What? Why would he lie about a thing like that?”

Mim shrugged. “Why do you think? He was looking to get some.”

The somewhat crude phrase coming out of the older woman’s lips shocked Trina. “How do you know?”

“Because I know his wife. She owns the flower shop on Main Street. He doesn’t live in Chicago. He lives right here. In town. In his father’s house, which he told you he’s trying to sell. That was another lie. He lives rent free in his father’s house, and he sponges off of his father-in-law’s money and his wife’s earnings from her shop. He’s no good, Trina. Leave him alone. Give Walt another chance.”

Trina shook her head to try to clear it. She was more confused than ever. “Why didn’t you mention all this before…when he was downstairs chatting me up?”

Mim shrugged and shook her head sadly. “I didn’t think it was my place.”

Trina bristled. “Oh, but you did think it was your place to tell me that I need to get back together with my ex-husband who cheated on me?”

“You were about to cheat on him with Kurt,” Mim said gently.

“That’s different! We’re separated!”

“But you’re not divorced. The marriage vows haven’t been completely dissolved.”

“The marriage vows were broken when he kissed my sister!”

“Trina…”

Trina was tired of hearing it. Really tired. Suddenly, all she wanted to do was escape. And the best way she could think of to escape right now was to get out of this room. To go to the one person who could offer a few minutes’ pleasure with no strings attached.

Kurt said he wasn’t married. Mim said he was. Neither one of them had ever lied to her before, to Trina’s knowledge. She wasn’t sure who to believe. Who had the most to gain by lying to her? All Kurt would gain was a one night stand. How much dishonesty was that really worth? Mim stood to gain a whole lot more…

For some reason, Mim had joined in this little conspiracy against her with her mother and her soon-to-be-ex-husband. She had a much better reason to lie than Kurt did. Trina nodded her head.

“Mim, I think you should leave now.” Trina said it as calmly and neutrally as she could.

Mim cocked her head and frowned. Trina knew she was trying to gauge the abrupt emotional shift.

“I’m not so sure I want to. I’m not even sure I have to. This is my house, after all.”

Trina’s ire spiked once more. “Well, then, don’t. I’ll leave.”

Before Mim could say another word to try to talk her out of it, Trina was out the door, walking in the direction of Kurt’s bedroom. She wasn’t sure if he’d be there. He could have left for a night out on the town, since Trina had told him he wouldn’t be able to get anything from her tonight. But she had to at least try.

Mim didn’t try to follow her, and Trina was instantly grateful for that. She wasn’t exactly proud of what she was doing. She wasn’t even quite sure why she was doing it. All she knew was that she hurt. She still hurt from the fact that Walt had kissed her sister a year ago. An eye for an eye. Adultery for an act of adultery? She knew it didn’t make sense, and she knew that it wouldn’t actually fix anything. But, in this moment–in her anger and doubt and fear—it just felt right.

Trina took one deep breath and knocked on Kurt’s bedroom door. Within minutes, he was standing there in the open doorway. He was still wearing his jeans, but his shirt was off. Trina inhaled sharply.


BELIEVE IN ME

A contemporary sweet romance novella

$2.99 on Amazon.

Available Now!