I do not read every book/author I spotlight or book tour I host!
Readers, Please research and use wisdom before buying

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

#TuesdayTreasures with Janet Lynn!

Good Morning Friends!

I pray your Memorial Day weekend was blessed, happy and safe.

Today's guest has visited before and shared Thoughts, Treasures and our Spotlight so we'll just jump right in and welcome Janet Lynn back to our blog! Take it away Janet.....

The Drive-Ins
My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mystery series, a hardboiled detective series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the west. SLICK DEAL begins in L.A. with clues that lead to Avalon, on Catalina Island.
Partnering has been a wonderful way to work. Each of us are independently published authors  and now co-write.

As we research each book in the 1950s, memories of the era come flooding back. Unfortunately,  drive-in theatres are a thing of the past. I was the oldest of five children and going to walk-in theatre movies would have been expensive  for a young family. So many families opted for drive-ins.  I remember getting there early so we could  play on the swings provided for the young ones before the movie started. I also remember the gravel platforms we drove and parked on.
And one cannot think of drive-ins without the window speaker that hooked onto the driver's window so all in the car could hear. Finding one that didn't crackle was a feat in itself. The snack shops were full of goodies, I saw my first Coke in a huge paper cup there and the biggest box of Jordan Almonds I had ever seen. It rivaled some of the biggest boxes of theatre candy today.
I think I was nine or ten years old when my family went to see the movie Lady and the Tramp at a drive-in. We were close to the screen and the characters were bigger than life to me. The Bella Notte (spaghetti scene) so impressed me. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in the car, looking at the screen, enthralled with the two dogs eating a spaghetti dinner with a Concertina playing.
Those drive-ins, a thing of the past, will always be associated with growing up in the fifties, an American treasure that is just a memory now.

For a waltz down memory lane go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbzEOQLOAWw

What a cute post, Janet! Thanks for sharing.

Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn write individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has three plus a couple of short stories.

Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The latest Skylar Drake Mystery, fourth in the series, SLICK DEAL was released April 16, 2018 and yes...we are still married!

Links for Janet:
Contact info for Will:
Twitter:  @Will_Zeilinger

Slick Deal can be purchased at Amazon.

Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll drop by weekly for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Raquel Byrnes and Chasm Walkers

Good Morning from lovely Sam Rayburn Lake in SE Texas!

Been a beautiful couple of days if you don't count the severe UTI that had me down for the count yesterday. All is well though and a shot + 10 days of antibiotics should have me good as new before long.

You may recognize today's guest. Raquel Byrnes who visited us in March and April, returns with Chasm Walkers, book 3 in her Blackburn Chronicles so please welcome her back!

Charlotte Blackburn—Legend, traitor, the Order's worst nightmare—she escaped the torturous experiments by the villainous Viceroy Arecibo, but is forever changed. Now, she battles to retain her humanity as she fights to survive among the wild sky settlers of Outer City. But an old threat emerges and Charlotte must choose between revenge and redemption.

Ashton Wells has one purpose: Stop Europe's Coalition forces from slaughtering the citizens of The Peaceful Union to prevent the spread of the Trembling Sickness. But his plan to overthrow The Order from within is thwarted at every turn by his ex-love, Charlotte Blackburn. A woman he betrayed. His treachery resulted in her capture and now she will stop at nothing to destroy the Order—even if it means all-out war with Ashton.

Hunted by the brutal Viceroy and struggling to regain memories of the pat two years wiped by The Order, Charlotte must fight to master the devices and startling abilities thrust upon her as a result of her capture. As Charlotte and Ashton endeavor to discover the real reason for what was done to her, they uncover an unfathomable plan against the most innocent of outer City's citizens.

With ruthless enemies mounting against the struggling citizens of Outer City, Charlotte must brave the terrors of the churning sea and face her darkest truth to retrieve a strange submersible machine—a device that may very well be humanity's last hope of survival.

Excerpt: A man infected with the sickness, a Trembler, writhed in a large cage near the gate. He gnashed his teeth and flailed his blue-skinned arms through the bars at the terrified passersby. Black eyes roving, a shudder wracked his body breaking bone. Keening with pain, he fell to his knees, still clad in the trousers and fine shirt he’d been wearing when the strange affliction overtook him. At least a dozen more cages lined the fence leading to the entrance.

A soldier wrestled with a screaming woman as he tried to shove her into an empty cage. She shook in his arms, her low moan a dead giveaway of her condition.

“They check for signs of the Trembling Sickness in the camps now too. All of us daily, even if we are already cleared,” Cephas muttered next to Riley. “They dragged a poor woman out yesterday because she was shivering from the cold. We haven’t seen her since.”

“It will get worse.” Riley turned at the grating sound of an iron-clad ship pulling into port. A stream of Peaceful Union citizens poured out of its hold. More refugees from the failing nation come to seek aid and shelter in Europe after the massive Reaper attack crippled half of the city-states of their country. “Won’t be long until it is not just Spain and Portugal, but all of Europe that starts to turn entire ships away on the rumor of sickness.”

“That is my fear,” Cephas muttered. “Or worse. Why waste time going through each camp person by person? How long until they slaughter all of us just to be sure?”

Fear eroded the fabric of decency. How long until it ripped apart humanity entirely? The line moved up, and Riley turned to show the guard his armband.

“Face.” The guard demanded, stepping forward and shoving Riley in the chest with his rifle. “Show me your temples.”

“What?” Cephas asked, startled.

Before Riley could remove his hat, the guard knocked it off. “Your temples and your fingers. Now.”

Riley stepped forward, nearly nose to nose with the guard, and held up his hands.

“No blue, see?” He stared him down, his anger barely contained. “I’ve been cleared.”

“You present every time you enter, or leave the camp,” the guard snarled. “Or you get shot. You choose.”

“We do not have a problem here.” Cephas picked up Riley’s hat, handed it to him, and then held his hands up as well. “I am not sick. He is not sick.”

The guard glanced at Cephas and then back at Riley. He turned, muttered something in Spanish to his man at the gate, and then motioned for them to enter.

Riley stepped past him, his gaze locking with the man as he went. Out of habit, Riley’s hand went to his hip, where his weapon would normally rest in its holster.

Cephas’s mouth twitched nervously as they side stepped the row of guards into the camp.

Walking through the gates, Riley paused, taken aback by how much had changed in the two months since he’d been here. Hundreds of new tents filled the area, makeshift shelters made out of sails and sheets and whatever else the refugees could find. Thousands more people had arrived. How would he locate one man in this sea of people? More importantly…how would he do it in time? He blew out a breath of frustration.

“You know for sure your contact is here?”

“Well, yes, I believe so, but that is what I wanted to speak with you about…” Cephas pulled a roll of crumpled aethergraph paper from his pants.

“Is he here or not?” Riley eyed the missive, waiting. “What are you not saying, Cephas?”

“Yes, he is here or he was a few days ago. I believe he is in the northern quadrant but there is something you must read first.”

Riley shook his head. “No time.”

“You will want to know this, Sheriff. Please, it is news from back home.”

“I just left Outer City a week ago. What could have gone wrong in the time it took the dirigible to fly here? Besides, Deputy Kiril is capable of handling whatever it is.”

He tried to continue, but Cephas stepped in his way.

“But it is why you are here. The reason you came all this way, Sheriff.” Cephas shoved the paper in Riley’s hand. “It is Dr. Bartlet. She sent this aether missive a few days after you left Outer City to come here. It is coded, but I deciphered it. Sheriff, it says they found Charlotte Blackburn.”

Riley’s world stopped. His pulse rammed in his ears, and all sound fell away. He took the message from Cephas with shaking hands. Gaze traveling the etching left by the electric rods of the machine, he traced the words on the paper with his fingers. Not believing, he read it again, making sure he understood every word.

You were right, Riley. She was exactly where you thought. We found her. We have her.

“They…” Riley tried to form words but his mouth was dry, his breath coming in hitches. He staggered, gripping the paper, unable to think. “She’s safe?”

“Go,” Cephas said, patting Riley on the shoulder. “Hurry back to Outer City. She is waiting for you.”

A deep ache in his throat made it impossible to answer. He nodded mutely, blinking rapidly as he tilted his face to the sky. Fine flecks of snow fluttered onto his skin, melting in the heat of his exhaled breaths. Two years in the grip of a madman and she had survived. His mind churned with anguish at the terrors she must have endured, but right now all that mattered was one thing.

Charlotte was alive.

All three of the Blackburn Chronicles including The Tremblers, Wind Reapers and Chasm Walkers can be found HERE

Raquel Byrnes writes across several genres including YA Steampunk, Fantasy, and Gothic Mystery. Critically acclaimed for her edge-of-your-seat stories with complex characters and heart pounding thrills, she is always looking for another adventure in which to partake. She is the author of the romantic suspense series, The Shades of Hope trilogy, which sold into foreign translation and garnered international acclaim. Her fourth and fifth books, a Gothic series called The Noble Island Mysteries, were hailed by critics as, "a perfect blend of suspense, intrigue, and creepiness that will draw you into a dark world...keeping you frozen until the final conclusion..."

When she's not writing she can be seen geeking out over sci-fi movies, reading anything she can get her hands on, and having arguments about the television series Firefly in coffee shops. She lives in Southern California with her husband, six kids, and various reptiles.

Find her on the web at: http://raquelbyrnes.com/ or https://twitter.com/raquelbyrnes and on Amazon on her  Author Page

Sign up for Raquel's newsletter!

Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll check back each week for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

#ThursdayThoughts with Susan Coryell

Good Morning!

You'll notice there was no Tuesday Treasures this week. My scheduled guest could not make it and I was busy visiting with dear friends and colleagues and travelling that I did not have time to improvise.

Never fear though, we'll get back on track ASAHP.

Anyway, today's guest visited us last month to share her new book so please give Susan Coryell a huge "welcome back!"

Take it away Susan.....

“Something uplifting,” Pamela said. Oddly enough, I have just returned from my father-in-law’s funeral and I have to say it was amazingly uplifting. He lived past his 99th birthday, and even though he spent his last ten years in a “memory unit” at an assisted living facility, the man remained a full-on optimist. He once said, “Losing your memory is not so terrible; I have no recollection of anything bad that happened to me.”

At the celebration-of-life service in the chapel of the facility, speakers remembered him as loving, giving, hard-working, thoughtful and faithful to his beliefs. But I shall always smile fondly on his never-ending positive view of life. Days before he passed away, he had stopped eating. Looking at a care-giver who was trying to entice him to sample his lunch, he smiled and said, “You are a very attractive young woman, but I’m not eating that.” This is what I will remember about my father-in-law.

Fascinated by the grandparents I have known, I like to include older characters in my writing. In my Southern Gothic/cozy mystery Overhome Trilogy, I rely on my elderly characters to be archivists of the history that backs the contemporary action in an historic Virginia plantation. In A Red, Red Rose, http://a.co/5kbhtmD

Abe Murley and Miss Emma Coleville, both of whom have lived on Overhome estate most of their lives, are key to the young protagonist’s mystery solving. Both are active, canny seniors.
For the second novel of the series, Beneath the Stones, http://a.co/hPHeCNP Abe has passed away, but Miss Emma continues to guide protagonist Ashby in her quest to resolve the conflicts of dealing with an angry ghost.

Miss Emma appears in the third novel, Nobody Knows, http://a.co/46qyM2d to reveal a past Ashby had never considered possible.

The main character for my new release, A Murder of Principle, is a somewhat jaded, but still empathetic middle-aged high school teacher whom I contrast with her wide-eyed rooky intern. http://a.co/az2wMVN  

Though I read many books involving solely new-adult characters, I will always include in my writings those who have been tested by time and survived to live a rich and interesting life.

Thanks to Pamela for inviting me to share my thoughts on her awesome blog!

Thanks for sharing, Susan!

About Susan: A career educator, Susan Coryell has taught students from 7th grade through college-level. She earned a BA degree in English from Carson-Newman College and a Masters from George Mason University. She is listed in several different volumes of Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in Teaching.  Coryell belongs to Author’s Guild, Virginia Writers, and Lake Writers. She loves to talk with budding writers at schools, writers’ conferences and workshops. Her young adult anti-bully novel EAGLEBAIT is in its third edition for print and e-book, updated with cyber-bullying. EAGLEBAIT won the NY Public Library's "Books for the Teen Age," and the International Reading Association's "Young Adult Choice." Find out more by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook.

Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll check back weekly for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God bless.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Emily Conrad and Justice!

Good Morning from OK City, OK!

I am with my friend Nona Cross at a Donald Maass workshop put on by OKRWA and so very excited to be here!

A couple of months ago I introduced you to a brand new Pelican Book Group author, Emily Conrad with her debut title, Justice. Emily shared treasures and thoughts with us but, today we're getting a sneak peek into the book. And, since it is my birthday I'm giving away an E-copy of the book to one lucky person who leaves a comment!

Take it away Emily.....

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.

Excerpt: Brooklyn’s mouth pulled into a tight grimace. For two months, sadness had infused her expression whenever she didn’t seem to think he’d notice, but this was the first time she’d failed to tuck it away when he was obviously watching.

This could be the answer to his prayer that she would open up again. He led her a few steps away to a space by the display shelves. “You want to talk?”

A collection of tears glittered in her eyes. “I haven’t been as good as I’ve been acting.”

He would wrap her in the hug of her life, but their friendship rarely crossed the border of touch. He tried a gentle smile instead. “That’s a problem. Because you haven’t been acting very good.”

A laugh caught in her throat.

He put his hand on her shoulder and guided her to the rear corner of the first floor, where she could sit with her back to everyone.

Even wrapped in privacy, she stared toward the wall and picked at her fingernails. “I planned what to say to you.” Her voice quieted. “But I don’t think I can do it.”

His relief morphed into dread. What could be this bad? Father, don’t let me mess this up. “Just tell me the script. What’d you plan to say?”

“I need a ride to a doctor’s appointment.” She spoke in a flat tone.

He wanted to play along and say his lines, too, but all this over an illness? If she’d been sick since her mood froze over in January and couldn’t drive herself, it was serious. His dad’s problems had started this way—an appointment followed by a cancer diagnosis, months of treatment and supposed remission, and, finally, a funeral.

Brooklyn searched his eyes, tense sadness weighing down her features.

He kept his gaze trained on her beautiful, worried face. Maybe this appointment was something simple. He had to believe it, or he couldn’t ask. “What kind of appointment?”

Brooklyn swallowed, neck ridged. “I’m three weeks late.”

“To the appointment?”

“My body. My body is three weeks late.”

“Your body…” Then it hit him. She thinks she’s pregnant. How had he not understood sooner?

Oh wow, wow, wow...I can't wait to read this one Emily!

Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence her debut novel is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.

Justice can be found at Amazon, B&N and PBG!

Remember friends, I am giving away an E-copy of Justice to one lucky person who comments so good luck to each of you!

Hope you enjoyed today's post and that you'll join me each week for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time take care and God bless.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

#ThursdayThoughts with Katie Clark

Good Morning from Durant, OK!

I drove up on Tuesday to spend a few days with my friend, Nona and to attend a writing workshop this Saturday with Donald Maass. SO looking forward to it, but enough about me!

Katie Clark has shared our spotlight and some treasures with us so today let's see what thoughts she has to share.....

Have you ever felt God’s tug on your heart? His whisper in your ear? His gentle push to make a change?
Have you ever squared your shoulders, gritted your teeth, and stubbornly insisted you want it your way? I am always ashamed when I find myself in this very situation. As much as I want and intend to follow God’s leading in my life, sometimes it’s harder than other times to give my will over to God.
Often, I find the need to remind myself to “die daily”. I know, I know. That can be so much easier said than done! But we are blessed in that we have a merciful and patient Heavenly Father. What helps me get through these times of tug-of-war with God?
I find a few things helpful. First, I remind myself of why I’m on this earth. Is it to do this or that? To have this or that? No, it’s not. I’m here to bring glory to my Creator—He’s the one who gets to choose my path, because I’ve given Him that rein. Second, I pray. Sometimes a lot! I have to pray that God will give me His desires. That He will help me be who He wants me to be. (This isn’t always easy, especially when I don’t want what I feel Him pushing me towards!)
But when I actively work on changing my attitude in a situation, a mysterious thing always happens. I find myself changing my mind. I don’t want the things I thought I wanted, after all. And what’s more, I find I can live without those things I so desperately wanted just a short while ago.
Is it always so cut-and-dry? No, not always. Some problems are bigger than the average “thought” can deal with. Sometimes people are taken to Heaven before we’re ready. Sometimes people lose jobs, or find out they’re terminally ill. Blessedly, many problems aren’t this enormous—we only think they are for a little while.
And so, the next time I feel that tug on my heart, I pray I can be more receptive to the message attached to it!

Bio: KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! 

She writes inspirational romance for adults as well as young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural novel, Shadowed Eden, and The Enslaved Series

You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

The Rejected Princess can be found at Amazon for Kindle and Paperback & at Pelican Book Group in Ebook and Print along with Katie's other titles!

Hope you enjoyed today's spotlight and that you'll check back weekly for more Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and as always, Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time take care and God Bless.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#TuesdayTreasures Guest post by Tyndale Author, Heidi Chiavaroli

Good Morning!

Last year I introduced to you a new-to-me and our blog author, Heidi, Chiavaroli with her new (at the time) book, Freedom's Ring. Today Heidi returns with her latest release, The Hidden Side so please welcome her back!

An Unexpected Treasure in The Hidden Side
Heidi Chiavaroli

One of my favorite lines in literature is said by Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He explains to Scout that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”
This is what the power of story gives us, and as my latest novel, The Hidden Side, is released into the world, I can’t help but dwell on the unexpected treasure it brought me.
Truth be told, I did not at first want to go to the places this story would take me. After my editors gave me the green light to write about a family torn apart by the unspeakable actions of one of its members—a teenage son who would not only bring a gun to school but use it—I was in a bit of shock. I didn’t know how I’d get through it emotionally. How would I write from the point of view of a mother whose son faced the possibility of life in prison because of his horrific actions? If I were honest, when I viewed these stories in the news, I wrote off the parents as unfit, the children as unloved. But reading the memoirs of mothers who had gone through similar situations proved that my presumptions were not always valid.
Both the research and the writing of this story stretched my humanity, my empathy, and my faith. So often I look at a situation, or a person’s actions, and judge it. And while some things are, quite simply, plain wrong, I think it’s worth peeling back the layers of things unseen . . . things we may not even want to see . . . the hidden side, the gray area of those difficult trials and the people who are enduring them.
There lies the treasure I found in The Hidden Side. This story grew my empathy and my compassion. It expanded my view of Atticus Finch’s admonition to climb in someone else’s skin. It was hard to go here, but finding this treasure was absolutely worth it.

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends. Available at Tyndale & Amazon.

What a lovely testimony, Heidi. It always amazes me how God uses tough situations to grow US up spiritually. Thanks for sharing. Good luck and God's blessings to you.

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing eleven years ago, just after Jesus grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a 4½-star Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut, and her latest novel, The Hidden Side, is scheduled to release in May 2018. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fourteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle.

Hope you enjoyed today's guest and that you'll drop by each week for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Mary Alford & Heart of Texas

Good Morning Friends!

Fellow Pelican Book Group Author, Mary Alford has been in our spotlight, twice, and shared some treasures with us so please give her a great big Welcome Back this time with her novel, Heart of Texas!

Laney Winters gets the biggest shock of her life when she learns she's pregnant...on the same day she finds her husband in bed with his secretary. With her blissful life exposed as fraud, and her husband wanting nothing to do with raising a child, Laney faces divorce and her greatest fear--moving back home to live with her two eccentric old-maid aunts.

Hiding the demise of her marriage and helping to manage the family diner should be uneventful, but a new man in town has the gossips speculating. Laney's two aunts create an exciting mystery around the stranger, and Laney is sucked into an entertaining game of "Save Jake Montgomery from Aunt Thelma."

When her aunts' latest victim turns out to be the town's new family doctor, Laney must entrust him with her secrets, and along the way, discover that when your life flips upside down it's God's way of giving you a different perspective...and a fresh start.

Excerpt: Ignorance is highly underrated.
 It was the picture-perfect day, except for the rain, the bumper-to-bumper traffic, and what was about to take place in just a few hours that would shift the outcome of my life forever. Little did I realize as I prepared to read aloud to the small group of fans who had braved the rain to gather at the bookstore, that come this time tomorrow I’d be rethinking my career.

 But here, for a little while, my life seemed perfect. Perfect husband—even if I had only been married for less than two years. Perfect house. And my newly-released romance, Fast-Moving Train, was getting good reviews. I had no idea my faith would be tested in a major way. And the test would leave me bloodied, bruised, and begging God for answers that would take a whole lot of prayer to understand.

 If I could sum up what I’ve learned about life and love, it would be this: There are good men, there are bad men, and then there are men of the worst possible kind—the ones who steal your heart and leave you wondering—the kind who can’t love.

 But every once in a blue moon, there are men who turn out nothing like you believed. Those are the men who amaze you the most—the Tim Summers of the world. Tim was my miracle—a man who had never been taught how to love, but was capable of giving so much of it.

 I could almost swear as, I sat listening to my best guy talk to my best friend about me, that at last I heard the freight train I’d been expecting from the beginning.

 When I least expected it, I looked up and caught Tim’s gaze as he smiled back at me across the crowds gathered at church that day—just as he had the first time we met. That crazy little lopsided grin of his sent my heart spinning out of control. I was happy. I wasn’t afraid anymore. For the first time in a long time, I had faith. And just like that, just like love—bam—it hit me. That fast-moving train.

 I paused a moment for effect, then whispered quietly, “The End.”

As I closed the book lovingly, I glanced around at the dozen or more people staring back at me in silence. A second later, the room erupted into applause.

 At the back of the gathering, I spotted my agent, Tippy Jennings-Johnson, as she mouthed, “Brilliant.”

The manager of the bookstore had been kind enough to set up a little table for me in the corner of the reading room, close to the coffee shop. While Tippy worked the room, I sat at my post and greeted the fans who stopped by. I still couldn’t believe these people had actually come out to meet me—me. Even now, after five years in the business, I found it hard to fathom there were people out there who would actually buy what I wrote.

 Two hours later, as the last of my fans thanked me for signing her book, Tippy waited patiently for the room to empty.

“Good news, Lane.” Tippy loved to shorten everyone’s name to three or four letters. “I got the word earlier today, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on you before the reading. Your publisher called. They want two more Lois and Tim stories this year. They feel there’s enough material in the story for a three-book series.”

 “Oh... my... goodness.”

Tippy and I jumped up and down with our arms wrapped around each other like a couple of schoolgirls. This was huge for both of us. Tippy and I had pretty much learned the business together.

 My first thought was to share the news with my husband, Tom, the man in whom all of my romance novels had found their beginning. I couldn’t wait to hear his reaction to our good news.

“Tippy, would you mind terribly if I took a rain check on dinner tonight? I’m so excited I can’t wait to tell Tom the news.”

 “Of course not,” she offered with a magnanimous wave of one well-manicured, bejeweled hand. “I’ll just go back to the office and bang out the details for your new deal. We’ll chat more about that in a few days. Call me tomorrow, and tell me all about Tom’s reaction, OK?”

Tippy made a grand exit, and I felt the first pang of guilt. Tippy didn’t know the whole truth. I hadn’t told anyone the other good news I’d learned that day. I was pregnant. I couldn’t wait to share my happiness with my husband, Tom.

 Unfortunately, Tom had not reachable earlier. It wasn’t unusual for him to be difficult to get hold of. My husband was one of the foremost attorneys in Dallas and his client list was made up of elite members of Dallas society. Tom worked terrible hours, sometimes not coming home for days at a time. A few years before we were married Tom took a small apartment close to the office for just such occasions. He kept it after we were married for when he had to work late. Over the past weeks, I could count on one hand the number of times we’d actually shared a meal together. But even though we’d go stretches at a time without seeing each other, I could always reach him on the phone. Not today, though.

 I tried his cell phone and his office several times with no success. There was no answer at either the house or the apartment. I decided to rush back home, where I’d pack an overnight bag, then head over to the apartment to prepare the perfect candlelight celebratory dinner before sharing my good news.

 But throughout the long, congested, rush-hour drive home, an unfamiliar uneasiness in the pit of my stomach continued to grow. I remembered all those times recently when Tom worked late.

 As I pulled into our driveway off Strait Lane, I noticed Tom’s prized black luxury sedan sitting there as well. Not in the garage or even in the driveway, but next to the curb, as if he’d arrived in a hurry. Oddly enough, it didn’t occur to me until much later that there was another car parked behind Tom’s. I slipped the key into the door, hoping to surprise him.

 The house was unbelievably quiet, but strange and confusing signs of life littered the foyer and the hallway leading to the living room. A purse. A jacket. Red stiletto heels. I grew more suspicious with each step.

 I quickly opened the door only to see my forty-year-old perfect husband embracing his secretary.

 His secretary? How cliché.

“What are you doing here, Miss Manning?” No doubt this was the most ridiculous question ever asked, since it was painfully obvious what she was doing here.

 The next few minutes passed in a blur.

 Miss Manning promptly rushed into my recently-remodeled, Italian marble guest bathroom, leaving Tom alone to face his angry wife.

“Laney, I wasn’t expecting you home so soon. Didn’t you have dinner plans with Tippy?”

 “You weren’t expecting me home so soon? That’s all you can say? How long has this been going on, and why is she hiding in my bathroom?” This part I yelled so Miss Manning could hear me clearly.

“Laney, I’m sorry you had to find out like this, but you’re not really surprised, are you? We’ve been drifting apart for a long time.”

Drifting apart? We were still newlyweds in my book.

 I thought we were the perfect couple. All our friends said so. Perfect marriage. Perfect house. Perfect life. So what if our romantic life had been experiencing some dry spells over the course of the past few weeks. There was more to life—right? Besides, how dry could it be? I was standing here, pregnant!

“What are you saying?” I asked in shock as I followed Tom to the foyer of said perfect house. I heard the sound of Miss Manning moving around in my bathroom, and with super-human strength, I managed to resist the urge to drag her bodily out of my perfect house.

“Laney, I’m sorry. I know how hard this must be for you. Believe me, I didn’t mean for it to happen. But Suzanne and I love each other. I’ve never felt so alive before. She makes me want to do crazy things--”

 “Like bringing your girlfriend into our house?” I blurted out, dumbfounded. “You couldn’t just keep her at your apartment?”

Tom at least had the good grace to look embarrassed. “Laney, we’ve had a good run, but things have not been good between us for a while now. You know that.”

I do? Funny, wasn’t I the one who just a few hours ago couldn’t wait to share my good news with my husband?

“How would I know this? Is there some time limit on marriage in your book? One year, you’re fine. Pushing two—oops, time’s up. How would I know this, Tom?”

Wait. Did he just say he loved Miss Manning?

“You love her? How can you love her, she’s only worked for you for a month? Besides you love me, remember? Isn’t that what you told me on my birthday? You can’t love two women at the same time.”

At this point, Miss Manning rushed past us on her way out the door, and Tom went after her like a puppy dog.

 I followed them out the door just in time to see Miss Manning speed away in her bright red compact car, presumably to go wreck someone else’s life.

 Tom spotted me and hurried to start the car, but I managed to catch up before he could get away.

 I stepped in front of his vehicle with my arms crossed.

 Reluctantly Tom cracked the window. He didn’t get out. “Laney, what are you doing?” He did a quick sweep of the area, no doubt to be sure none of our neighbors were watching.

“You are not just walking out on me without hearing what I have to say.”

 “Laney, I wanted us to do this like two civilized human beings, but I see there’s no reasoning with you. I want a divorce. I’m engaged to Suzanne now. It’s time to move on.”

 “You’re engaged? Tom, you’re still married to me.”

 “Not for long. I’ve had the divorce papers drawn up for several weeks now. I was waiting for the right moment, and I guess this is it. How soon can you be out of the house? Suzanne has some decorating ideas she’d like to get started on.”

Dear Lord, please give me strength...

“Suzanne has decorating ideas for my house?”

 “The house is mine to do with what I want.”

Suddenly, I remembered Aunt Selma’s warning the day I’d married Tom.

“Laney, any man who wants you to sign a prenuptial agreement isn’t a Christian, and he’s clearly planning on divorce. You mark my words. You’ll live to regret marrying that man.”

 “Well, I don’t want a divorce and I’m not moving anywhere. I’m pregnant.” I announced it to Tom and the rest of the neighborhood, and then watched as he slumped back against the car seat in shock.

“If this is a ploy to keep me with you, Laney, I have to tell you it won’t work. I won’t stay. I’m not the fatherly type.”

 “What do you mean you’re not the fatherly type? You’d make a wonderful father.” OK, given the present circumstances, this probably didn’t come anywhere near the truth, but still, I had to try. This was the man I loved. The father of my child. I couldn’t just let him go, could I?

“Laney, I don’t want children. I thought I made that perfectly clear to you. I’ve never wanted them. We discussed this in the beginning, remember?”

I racked my brain, trying to remember that discussion, but I came up blank. “We never talked about children, Tom. Not at all.”

 “That’s it, then. Didn’t you get the message? Laney, I can’t be anyone’s father. You’ll have to do whatever you think is best. I won’t be part of it.”

Well, there you have it. Couldn’t be any clearer than that.

“Now, how soon can you be out of the house?”

Heart of Texas can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Pelican Book Group! Now here's a little about Mary....

I grew up in a small Texas town famous for, well not much of anything really. Being the baby of the family and quite a bit younger than my two brothers and sister, I had plenty of time to entertain myself. Making up stories seemed to come natural to me.

As a teen, I discovered Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt and knew instinctively that was what I wanted to do with my over-active imagination.

I wrote my first novel as a teen, (it’s tucked away somewhere never to see the light of day), but never really pursued a writing career seriously until a few years later, when I wrote my first inspirational romantic suspense and was hooked.

Today, I still live in Texas, and still create people facing dangerous situations. In fact, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

Learn more about me at www.MaryAlford.net, or send me an email at maryjalfordauthor@gmail.com. You can also find/follow me on FacebookTwitter (@maryalford13, Google+PinterestYouTube and GoodReads.

Hope you enjoyed today's guest and that you'll join me each week for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

#ThursdayThoughts Guest Post by Robert Jones

Good Morning!

You know how much I enjoy sharing new authors with you! Before I get into  my guest, I hope you'll take note of the "Love Them Cowboys" contest in the margin of my blog. I along with 14 authors are giving away lots of prizes so check it out!

Now on to my guest.....

Although I've mentioned Healthy Life Press before, today's guest is brand new to our blog so please give Robert a huge welcome!

Taking the 'Trane to School

I drive my eldest daughter to kindergarten every morning. It is the best part of my day. We spend most of our time listening to music and talking about what's special in our lives. I am continually surprised by the music that appeals to her at five years old. The Beach Boys' seminal Pet Sounds is currently unremarkable to her. Meanwhile, she is enthralled by hard bop and free jazz. John Coltrane's spiritual awakening, embodied in A Love Supreme, is as much a masterpiece to her as it is to jazz critics.

Coltrane wrote in the liner notes of this album that:

"God breathes through us so completely...so gently we hardly feel it..." 

After I drop off my daughter and as I make my way to work, I often think about Coltrane's “Psalm”, the fourth and final piece on the record. On the track, he speaks a devotional prayer – also in the liner notes – through his saxophone. I think about the peak experiences in my life, the moments in which I've been able to offer just the right silence, just the right word, or just the right action. To the extent I've shared something good with the world, in my writing or otherwise, I am not the author. It has been my experience again and again that it is only when I step back that He works through me, and that I do good.

What a lovely post, Robert and definitely moments and memories to treasure! Thanks for sharing.

Robert Jones, like most parents, is a developing storyteller. He reads to his daughters nightly (and whenever they ask) and draws on analogies to explain complex ideas. He has also learned to improvise silly characters in even sillier situations to wrest his children from otherwise inconsolable moods. His stories are becoming books because of the insistence of his children that his characters be brought to life. While he wishes he could spend his days engaged in such important endeavors, he supports his family by working as a general manager for an eCommerce company.

Robert's first book, Happiness: A Lesson with Lulu, is available through Healthy Life Press, amazon.com, and wholesale to booksellers at Ingramcontent.com/retailers.

Watch the Book Trailer HERE!

This sounds like a wonderful book for children and grandchildren so I hope you'll support this young father and new author by grabbing a copy and I hope you'll join me each week for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless!