Gail's Book Nook

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Winner of Fatal Frost



Wow! This was difficult!

We drew a name and the winner is...

Hats...Horns...

Congratulations, Connie!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Looking Out the Window: Award-winning, Best-selling Author Nancy Mehl Talks About Fatal Frost, Book One In Her New Defenders of Justice Series




A Warm Welcome to Nancy Mehl

Nancy will give away a print copy of Fatal Frost. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address below. (U.S. Residents Only)


Hi Nancy, lots of writers loved to read as youngsters. How about you? Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read?

I read all the time. During the day, at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. A flashlight under the covers works great! My tastes were varied. Nancy Drew, Dickens, Little House on the Prairie. I’d read almost anything.

Let's talk about your writing. Why do you write?

Because I’m called to, and because I love it. It’s just part of who I am.

What themes do you write about?

I love to write about the battle of good against evil. This is the heart of mystery and suspense. Also, in each plot I include at least two battles. The main battle from outside forces and the inner battle that comes from personal trials and conflict.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?

I have a room designated as my office. I really need a private place to work. As far as my schedule, Mondays are for organizing, scheduling, and getting other things done that have to do with my writing life. (Like this interview!) Tuesday through Friday, I get up at 6:00 a.m., have breakfast and spend some quality time with God. Then I write until 12:30 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. After lunch, I go back to the office for a while and work on whatever I didn’t get done on Monday.

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?

Sure. All writers do. During the week I try to be done with all things “writerly” by dinner time. I spend the evening with some quality recliner time and a little TV or reading. I also try to keep my weekends free – especially Sunday. I’ve had some emergencies when I have to work through the entire weekend, but I really don’t like to do that. When I keep my weekends free, I have lots of time for my hubby, my kids and my grandkids.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

Both, actually. I’d love to plot out an entire book before I start writing, but it just doesn’t work out that way for me. I like to be able to go another direction if something pops up I hadn’t originally thought about. I usually have a rough idea as to where I’m going when I start writing. Usually about half way through I’ll plot the rest of the way so I can wrap everything up successfully.  

Does your faith affect your writing? If so, how?

I wouldn’t want to write if I couldn’t share the love of God. Writing is more than my career, it’s my ministry. I try to write about people who aren’t perfect. Who need a touch from God. I pray over every book, believing that something within the pages of my books will touch my readers personally.

Do you put yourself in your books?

Absolutely. All authors do. We can’t possibly leave ourselves out. We understand life through our own eyes and interpret the world through our own experiences. You can get to know an author when reading their books if you read between the lines.

What are you working on right now?

Blind Betrayal, book three in my Defenders of Justice series. It’s about a woman named Casey Sloane, a Deputy U.S. Marshal who is given an assignment to transport a reporter from St. Louis to Washington D.C. The reporter has been called to testify before a grand jury investigating a U.S. Senator with ties to terrorism. She is working with two other deputy Marshals, not knowing that they are not only being tracked by men working with the terrorist, but they’re also being betrayed by someone close to them.

Wow! I can't wait to read it. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes. First of all, don’t become a writer because you envy someone else, or you think being a writer might be exciting. Make sure you’re called. If you’re not, it won’t work out. You won’t be happy. Find out what God has called you to do. That’s where your joy will come from. I’m not talking about people who write for their own pleasure. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to be published, be sure you’ve heard from God. This job will take more from you than you realize. It’s not easy, trust me. You must be sure that God is with you and that He’ll bring you through to the end.

Also, you must be willing to stay strong during disappointments, failures, jealously, bad reviews (some of them really mean-spirited), and other authors who may not treat you well. Then there are agents who reject you, poor sales – the list goes on and on. Yes, there are great rewards as well, but if you can’t take the hard knocks, you’ll never get to the good parts. I’ve watched writer after writer turn back when things got tough. Once when I was complaining about an unfair situation, God asked me if I really wanted to write - that if so, adversity was part of the deal. I had to repent, suck it up, and get back up on my feet. Every day I have to trust God and believe that He has a good plan for my life.

Thanks for sharing with us!



About Fatal Frost





Mercy Brennan followed in her father's footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she's assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis's most powerful gang.

When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent--a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy's ex-boyfriend--to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety.

Initially unaware of the danger she's in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy's frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn't until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive--if help is even coming at all?

Buy on Amazon

Barnes and Noble Nook

Barnes and Noble Paperback

Bio

Nancy Mehl is an award winning author who lives in Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her puggle, Watson. She’s authored over twenty-five books and is currently writing a new series for Bethany House Publishing based on the U.S. Marshals. The first book, Fatal Frost, in her Defenders of Justice Series, released on November 1st, 2016. The second book, Dark Deception, will hit store shelves in June of 2017. She is also working on a new cozy mystery series for Guideposts.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Website. She is part of  The Suspense Sisters Blog, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Looking Out the Window: ACFW February New Releases




More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.



Biblical:


redeeming-graceRedeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith -- When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech's family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law's homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it. (Biblical from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



Biblical Romance:


building-benjaminBuilding Benjamin by Barbara M. Britton -- Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her own tribe. (Biblical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])



Contemporary Romance:


grace-and-the-rancherGrace and the Rancher by Mary Alford -- Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])



capturing-beauty Capturing Beauty by Brenda S. Anderson -- Photographer Haven Carlysle is a changed man. He returns to Duluth to capture the North Shore's beauty ... and to recapture the love of his son. But that means making amends with his ex-girlfriend too. Enter Callie Beaumont. All her life, Callie has longed to work outdoors soaking up God-breathed beauty, and the opportunity is finally on the horizon. But being the liaison between the handsome photographer and his son has thrown her dreams, and her heart, into chaos. Can Haven capture her heart when she won't let him capture her image? And will his poor choices cost Callie her dream job and him the love of his son? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

the-lawman's -secret-sonThe Lawman's Secret Son by Lorraine Beatty -- Suddenly a Father Police officer Seth Montgomery knows all about order—but his world is thrown into chaos when he learns he has a five-year-old son. With little Jack suddenly in his care, Seth turns to neighbor Carrie Fletcher for help. Given her checkered past, Carrie prefers to keep to herself, but there's no denying she cares for the boy—and her feelings for charming Seth are rapidly developing, too. When someone from Carrie's past shows up threatening to jeopardize the life she's worked so hard to build, Carrie will have to fight for her future with the new family she's found...or risk losing everything. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

maybe-it's-youMaybe It's You by Candace Calvert -- Micah Prescott's goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive ER nurse, Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane's past. Can hope spring from crisis? (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

a-second-chanceA Second Chance by Alexis Goring -- Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with her “best friend,” Traci resigned herself to being a bachelorette for life. Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. But his widowed sister Gina Braxton appreciates his compassion and kindness, since she's raising her two kids alone. With God's guidance and the help of Gina's matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, Traci and Marc find hope for their broken hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances)

the-amish-wandererThe Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton -- After her daed, the bishop, is admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community, Bethany Weiss is ready to get away from Jamesport, MO—and away from God. Silas Beiler, dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, is hitchhiking toward Pennsylvania in hopes of stability. He sleeps in barns where he can and works for food when possible. When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago, full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Can their old love overcome both this new pain and the hurt and rejection of their past? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

avalancheAvalanche by Gayla K. Hiss -- Set in the North Cascades National Park of Washington State, Avalanche is the inspirational story of one man set on revenge and the woman who risks everything to help him find the fugitive who killed his partner. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)



the-doctor's-texas-babyThe Doctor's Texas Baby by Deb Kastner -- When Carolina Mason shows up in Haven, Texas, after a three-year absence, no one is more surprised than town veterinarian Wyatt Harrow. Especially when he sees Carolina's two-year-old son, Matty. Their son. How could she have kept his child a secret? Carolina doesn't deny the boy is his. She thought she was doing what was best for everyone when she left, but she realizes she was wrong. Though Wyatt is eager to make up for lost time with Matty, Carolina's not so sure that extends to her. Can these former sweethearts navigate their complicated past to make a family for their son? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

spring-raineSpring Raine by Delia Latham -- A last-minute decision sends a young woman to a seaside community and lodging at Paradise Pines...where life takes a whole new path. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])




finding-joyFinding Joy by Melanie D. Snitker -- A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. He returns to his family's ranch, the scars on his face a daily reminder of all he's lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, and he'll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. Only deep desperation could force Chelsea Blake to work on a cattle ranch. But if she's going to avoid her parents' judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker's efforts at forcing her to leave. Surprisingly alike, will the two set aside their disapproval to find immeasurable joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



General Fiction:


the-secret-heartThe Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu -- After a whirlwind romance, beautiful Shawna Moore marries Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee. Now, she wonders if the governor ever loved her or only hoped to avoid a scandal. In this modern re-imagining of the biblical story of Bathsheba and King David, an investigative reporter is asking questions--the wedding took place only six weeks following the death of Shawna's first husband in Iraq. If he discovers the truth about Shawna's baby, Hunter's chances for reelection, as well as Shawna's reputation, will be ruined. But keeping their secret is destroying their marriage. Will Hunter's choice mean the end of his political career or his family? (General Fiction from Write Integrity Press)

home-at-lastHome at Last by Deborah Raney -- All her life, Shayla Michaels, owner of the Coffee's On bakery, has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite--well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts? Everything changes one icy morning when Portia runs into the street and Link Whitman nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with Shayla. Can they overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? (General Fiction from Abingdon Press)

baggage-claimBaggage Claim by Cathe Swanson -- When Ben Taylor, widower and single dad, gets caught up in a dangerous insurance fraud network, he has to learn to take a stand for right - and make a leap of faith: can he trust his nanny - who isn't quite what she appears to be - and his newly-discovered biological father to hide and protect his four young children? (General Fiction, Independently Published)




Historical Romance:


the-matchmaker-brides-collectionThe Matchmaker Brides Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens and Liz Tolsma -- Meet nine women of the late 1800s who have found themselves in the role of matchmaker. They think they have mastered the art of recognizing romantic potential in others, but when it comes to their own lives they have been unlucky in love. In small communities from Tennessee to Colorado, Wyoming to Indiana, love unexpectedly enters the women's lives with men they never imagined marrying. But what will it take to get these ladies to say "I do"? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


the-reluctant-guardianThe Viscount's Proposal by Melanie Dickerson -- Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society's shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She's determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents--or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage--alone and after dark--the ensuing gossip may force them together.Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety and he certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall's coach "accident" was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged. Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career--and his life. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

the-reluctant-guardianThe Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze -- When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she's rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her... Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he'd be. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

shine-like-the-dawnShine like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky -- In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother's millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. An even which...might not have been an accident. When Nathaniel Harcourt returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father's vast estate, Morningside Manor, he also assumes partial control of his father's engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend. Will the search for the truth about her parents' death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah)

the-bounty-hunter's-babyThe Bounty Hunter's Baby by Erica Vetsch -- Bounty hunter Thomas Beaufort has no problem handling outlaws, but when he's left with a criminal's baby to care for, he's in over his head. And the only person he can think of to ask for help is Esther Jensen, the woman whose heart he broke when he left town. But can he convince her to put aside the past until he tracks down the baby's outlaw father? Esther is ready to run Thomas off her Texas ranch--until she spies the abandoned newborn in his arms. Soon, working together to care for the precious babe stirs old hopes of a family. With trouble heading to their door, they could overcome it together--if she'll entrust her wary heart to this sweet, second-chance family... (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Thriller/Suspense:


raging-stormRaging Storm by Vannetta Chapman -- When a massive solar flare wiped out all modern technology across the globe, the small town of Abney, Texas, was thrown into chaos. Shelby Sparks and her diabetic teenage son, Carter, have found refuge, but Shelby knows Carter can't survive without insulin--and Shelby will risk her life traveling to Austin to make sure he gets it. Shelby's best friend and high school sweetheart, Max Berkman, won't let her make the journey alone. Together, they reach the capital--only to discover that Austin has turned into an urban nightmare on the brink of anarchy. Now the only thing more uncertain than finding what they need is the hope of making it out of the city alive. (Thriller/Suspense from Harvest House Publishers)


Speculative:


long-time-goneTime Search by Danele J. Rotharmel -- While the TEMCO staff searches for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for his targets--it's anyone's guess whose search will be completed first! (Speculative/Time Travel Fiction from Prism Book Group)




Western Romance:


long-time-goneLong Time Gone by Mary Connealy -- Rancher Justin Boden is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn't help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on. With her and the doc's timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It's clear now that everything that's occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine? (Western Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Looking Out the Window: Danele Rotharmel Talks About Time Search, Book Three In The Time Counselor Chronicles Series. Gives Away a Sunflowers and Butterfly Prize Package



A Warm Welcome to Danele Rotharmel

Danele will give away a Sunflowers and Butterflies Prize Package. (U.S. residents only)

The prize package includes the following items:

A lovely teacup and saucer painted with sunflowers
A set of 10 butterfly note cards with envelopes
A Philippians 4:8 journal






Gail, I am so honored to be here! Thank you for having me!

It's my pleasure to have you. Let's talk about your new book. What inspired you to write this particular story?

Time Search is the third book in The Time Counselor Chronicles, and one of the things that inspired me to write it was a horrible case of cabin fever. I was extremely ill at the time, and I wrote it in the middle of a seven-year stretch of quarantine. The four walls of my house were closing in on me, and my only way of escape was through my imagination. I longed to travel, and since I couldn’t, I became an armchair traveler. I’d always wanted to visit Europe, so I read travel books and watched online videos of tourist spots. My desire to travel ended up manifesting itself in Angelina’s concert tour through Europe. I lived vicariously through her. Researching Europe was my way of traveling even while being locked in quarantine.

Is Angelina a main character in your new book?

Yes, she is, Gail. My readers have had brief glimpses of Angelina Ableman in both Time Tsunami and Time Trap, but she comes into her own in Time Search. Angelina is Dan and Alex’s sister, and she is incredibly brave. When she was a teenager, she became ill and almost died. Rather than giving up on life, she lives each day to its fullest. She is also a wonderful violinist who is beginning to achieve world acclaim. In Time Trap, we learn that her brother, Alex, gave her a list of silly, challenging tasks to accomplish in each country. In Time Search, she is working to complete that list. For instance, in Ireland, she has to kiss the Blarney Stone and dance with a leprechaun. In Rome, she has to ride a scooter and high-five a gladiator. I had a blast with Angelina’s European tour! Her scenes were so much fun to write. I also enjoyed the glimmer of romance that is beginning to stir between her and Andrew Hamilton—but that’s a story for another time.

What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it?

One of my favorite themes in Time Search is forgiveness. All of us have painful things in our past, and all of us deal with hurtful situations in different ways because of our pasts. In Time Search, Crystal, Zeke, Phoebe, and Alex all encounter situations that are hurtful. Each of them must decide how they will handle that hurt. Will they forgive the person who sinned against them? Will they become bitter? Will they try to get even? Each of them reacts a little differently because they are unique. In Time Search, I tried to show that our pasts can color how we view offence. I also tried to show that no matter what we’ve been through, the only real victory comes from forgiving those who have sinned against us.

How do you get to know your characters?

I hold late-night conversations with them. I know that sounds strange, so let me explain. When I was ill, there were lots of times when I couldn’t sleep. Rather than lying in the dark peering up at the moon shadows on the ceiling and worrying about my health, I would deliberately think about my characters instead. What made them tick? How would they react to different situations? What events in their past shaped their personalities? Sometimes, I would pretend to talk to them. Other times, I would scrunch my eyes closed and think up scenes from their past. What had they been like in middle school, in high school, in college? Who had been their friends? What tragedies and joys had overtaken them? My late-night musings helped me understand my characters from the inside out. It made them my friends.

Sounds like time well spent. What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

Oh, Gail! That’s hard to say! I’m a certifiable klutz, so embarrassing things are ALWAYS happening to me. I actually used one of my clumsy moments as inspiration for a scene in Time Search. When I was a teenager, I was taking a bowl of milk outside. Since my hands were full, I hooked my foot around the door, pulling it closed behind me. Unfortunately, my ankle turned and I slipped. As I fell down the steps, I flung the bowl in the air and grabbed for the doorknob. All I managed to do was slam the door shut as I fell. I had incredibly long hair, and it became trapped beneath the door. The milk spilled all over my face so I couldn’t see, and no matter how hard I tried to reach the doorknob, I couldn’t touch it because my hair was pinned. I was stuck until my mother saw my predicament and freed me. She said it gave her a horrible scare seeing my hair on the wrong side of the door.

When I wrote Time Search, I included a similar incident in the book. I exchanged the bowl of milk for a bag of apples, and I turned Crystal’s rescuer into Marc Kerry. I had such a great time writing the scene. I was giggling the whole time I was typing. Here’s a glimpse of how Crystal felt after Marc freed her:

Crystal drove down Science Avenue, chewing her lip and squirming.

“It just had to be Marc who found me!” she muttered. “Out of all the people who could’ve opened that door and seen me looking like an utter idiot, it just had to be him!”

Groaning, Crystal curled her bare toes around the accelerator.

“Heaven knows what he’s thinking right now.” She glared at her reflection in the rearview mirror. “Probably something along the lines of Klutzy Crystal strikes again.”

She gave a halfhearted attempt at whistling “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” but gave up in disgust.

Rolling her eyes expressively at her reflection, she grumbled, “Whistling may help you fend off your fear of a murderer, but it’s absolutely worthless when it comes to fending off the embarrassment that an extremely cute guy has just caught you trying to open a door with your toes!” She scrunched down in her seat, trying to disappear. “The only bright spot in this whole stupid situation is that at least I have freshly painted toenails.”

That's a cute scene. Does your faith affect your writing?If so, how?

In a very real sense, faith affects everything in my life—especially my writing. During quarantine, I questioned everything I knew about God. I couldn’t understand why a “loving” Savior would allow me to experience so much pain. I was angry with God for quite a while, and I tried to kick Him out of my life completely. I had served God faithfully for years, and I felt betrayed. I felt that when I needed God the most, He had abandoned me. One thing about quarantine, it gives you lots of time to think. As the months and years rolled by, I examined every aspect of my faith and all of my questions about God. Eventually, I came to the firm conclusion that God is real, God is good, God is interested in every aspect of my life, Jesus must be kept in the center of my faith, and God is trustworthy in spite of hardship. Those five conclusions have become the cornerstone of my life, and they have become the cornerstone of my books. My characters face hardships and question God—just as I did. But eventually, they all come the same conclusion I did—God is real and trustworthy. I want my books to strengthen people’s faith. I want my stories to point people toward God.



About Time Search—The Time Counselor Chronicles #3

A nameless evil lurks in the shadows…

In the wake of a recent wave of violence, TEMCO employees are left reeling. While some of the staff are put into hiding, others are left behind to discover the true identity of the mysterious nemesis who is determined to destroy them all. While Crystal, Marc, and Zeke search for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for TEMCO’s missing leaders. It’s a race against the clock! And as the hours and seconds tick away, it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first. It’s a classic battle of good versus evil, and the stakes couldn’t be higher!

It sounds suspenseful.

Buy on Amazon
Paperback copies here

Thank you for allowing me to talk about Time Search, Gail! I’ve had such a great time! This has been so much fun!

You're very welcome, and the fun's just begun. Danele shares her great-grandmother Anna’s oatmeal cookie recipe.




Anna's Oatmeal Cookies

2/3 c. Shortening
3/4 c. Brown Sugar
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/3 tsp. Salt
1 ½ c. Flour
3 c. Oatmeal
1/2 c. Nuts
1/2 c. Rasins

Cream shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add oatmeal, nuts, and raisins. Drop on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.


About Anna

Anna was an amazing woman. She was born in Russia, and when she was a child, a great famine hit the land. She and her parents immigrated to the United States. They landed in New York and traveled to Colorado. Later, she married my great-grandfather who was an immigrant from Germany. My great-grandparents homesteaded on the Colorado plains and raised fifteen children. With all of those mouths to feed, it would take Anna a whole day to bake enough bread to last the family a week. She would spread a clean sheet over a bed and fill it with loaves. She was a strong, amazing woman who saw many things during her lifetime. She lived through World War I and II, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression. She followed the news as Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, and later, she watched on television as a man walked on the moon. She is an enduring reminder that faith and hard work can see a person through all of the storms of life.

One of Anna’s Favorite Bible Verses

Anna lived most of her life surrounded by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. She had many favorite Bible verses, but she especially loved Psalms 121:2-8. “My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains! And the heavens too! He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For He is always watching, never sleeping. Jehovah Himself is caring for you! He is your defender. He protects you day and night. He keeps you from all evil, and preserves your life. He keeps His eye upon you as you come and go, and always guards you."

Bio: Danele Rotharmel

Danele Rotharmel grew up with a love of the literary word, and by age five, she knew she wanted to be a writer. However, her life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a low-level carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace in her home was slowly poisoning her. This poisoning triggered severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and partial amnesia.

During this time, the hardest thing she faced was a crisis of faith. She had to quit her job and stop going to church. She couldn’t write, couldn’t drive, and could barely remember who she was. To say she was upset with the Lord was an understatement. She began reexamining her faith in light of her illness, and eventually, she came to the firm conclusion that God is real, God is good, God is interested and involved, and God is trustworthy regardless of tragedy.

When her illness became even more severe, she was put into quarantine and could only talk to friends and extended family through the glass of a window. This quarantine lasted for seven years. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles.

Danele currently lives in Colorado where she continues to write. Although her journey back to health was long and difficult, it provided her with the opportunity to grow closer to God and to write her books. For that, she is forever thankful.

You can learn more about Danele by visiting her /blog

And social links

Danele's Testimony

Danele's Books

Goodreads

Facebook


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Looking Out The Window: Julie Cosgrove Talks About Her Latest Book, Baby Bunco. Shares An Excerpt.




A Warm Welcome to Julie Cosgrove




Hi Julie, tell us about Baby Bunco, your latest book.

Janie Manson suspects a murder of a young woman at the convenience store across the highway and the abandoned newborn in a bathtub of a vacant garden home in Sunset Acres, her retirement community, are connected.

Now to convince her son-in-law, Chief Detective Blake Johnson…as soon as he calms down over her breaking into the morgue, that is.

This sounds like another Julie Cosgrove fun read.




Here are a couple reviews for Baby Bunco:

Cosgrove wove the story with such humor, I found myself laughing out loud at the antics these sleuths got themselves into as they went to great lengths to help in the investigation! Not only dishing out information with each other, but dishing up amazingly delicious comfort food...totally in character with the elderly. Christian Book Reviews

Cosgrove does an excellent job of leaving a breadcrumb trail of clues that leads you in circles right along with the characters. I laughed at and fell in love with the charming trio of women would-be-sleuths in their stubborn and relentless resolve to figure out who killed their neighbor. Sometimes authors shove a Christian message in between crime scenes and car chases. However, Cosgrove seamlessly threads her message throughout the book…the characters exemplify what it means to live a life of Christian love. Beautifully done! A
mazon reviewer

Buy on Amazon




Excerpt from Baby Bunco

Chapter 1


“Did you say she found a baby?” Janie stopped mid-roll, the pink and white dice warming in her clutched fist. “Here in Sunset Acres, a retirement community?”

Babs, seated to her left at the Bunco table, nodded. “That’s what Mildred told me as we were walking up to your front stoop tonight. Right, Mildred?”

“I went to collect a few more of my things since I’m staying with Ethel, and no more than three minutes later the leasing agent pounded on my door. ‘Come see,’ she motioned to me. Her eyes grew as wide as those mega donuts at the Crusty Baker.” She thumped her pencil against her score pad and groaned. “It took every ounce of gumption to follow her into that—ugh!—place next door.” She quivered her shoulders.

Janie shifted her gaze to the woman sitting across from her. “Ethel, you knew about this?”
“I did.”

“And you didn’t tell me?” Her voice elevated to echo-off –the-ceiling volume. She humphed and pivoted to face the storyteller. “Mildred. What happened?”

The other eight ladies halted their Bunco round. Each swiveled to listen in, their eyes fixated on the first card table.

Mildred leaned. “I paused at the steps, determined to not go inside. Only peek in from the front door. Then high-pitched, frantic cries came from the direction of the bathroom. Well, I had to rush to its aid. Every motherly fiber in my being dictated it.”

Murmurs and head bobs filtered through Janie’s living room.

 Mildred sniffled. “Poor little thing. Alone, scared and red as a beet from wailing so hard. That house is cursed, I tell you.”

Janie patted her hand. “Now, dear. Just because someone murdered Edwin soon after he moved in there doesn’t mean...”

Mildred shot from her seat and paced, her arms flaying in circles, resembling the duck windmill on top of the antiques barn down the road. “Ever since I relocated into Sunset Acres it’s been one thing after another. Edwin murdered, then my nephew Bobby arrested, and now an abandoned newborn in a bathtub? This is supposed to be a quiet retirement community.”

“Maybe because you live on Solar Boulevard.” Annie huffed. “Nothing weird ever happens on my street, Sunrise Court, except for an occasional stray golf ball. Then again, if you kept your nose out of everyone’s business...” Her voice trailed off with a smug cock of her head.

“My nose?”

The other ladies mumbled to each other.

Ethel blew a whistle through her teeth. “Okay, everyone calm down. We all lived through the ruckus of one of our neighbor’s brutal murder last month. It’s not Mildred’s fault. Nor mine or Janie’s that this happened...”

Betsy Ann raised her hand, as if her legs once again dangled from under her desk in Ms. Everett’s kindergarten classroom.

Janie rolled her eyes. “What?”

“Well, it is sort of our fault.” She pointed to Janie, Ethel and herself. “We helped solve the case and Bobby did wind up in the middle of all of the commotion. That’s why he threatened you and tried to break into your house.” She folded her hands and gazed down at them. “I’m just saying...”

“Duly noted.” Janie felt the healing, pinkish wound on her neck where his knife grazed her skin. “I must add, my dear son-in-law, Chief Detective Blake Johnson, appreciated all of our...” her hands encircled the room...”research, sleuthing and cunningness. He told me so.”A smile curled along the edges of her mouth. “Besides, it did beat back the doldrums a while, right?’

A few silvery head bounced in agreement as the condo sprinkled with giggles. Annie crossed her arms and harumphed.

Janie eased over to Mildred and led her back to her designated chair. She patted her on the shoulders and scanned the room, making certain every slightly glaucoma-pressed or cataract-corrected eye fixated on her. “Now we must figure out who placed a newborn baby in a vacant garden home bathtub and why?”

Babs cocked an eyebrow. “We do?”

“Absolutely. Let’s face facts. Someone put the little thing in a home in our community so she would be discovered. Therefore it is our responsibility...”

“Well, now. I’m not sure...” Mildred frowned.

“We are all over fifty-five, correct? The child certainly doesn’t belong to one of us. If so, we should be renamed Sarah after Abraham’s elderly wife in Genesis.”

“Or Elizabeth in the New Testament.” Betsy Ann added, this time with a forefinger, not a full hand, aloft.

“Exactly. Therefore, unless one of you wants to confess...”

Cackles ensued.

Janie allowed the cacophony to settle, her eyes glimmering with escalating excitement. “I, for one, do not think this is a coincidence that this wee one ended up in Edwin’s old garden home. There may be a connection we overlooked. Blake never discovered who left long, black hairs in that comb or ruby red lipstick on those empty beer cans when the police searched his place for clues.”

Ethel scoffed. “Pffft. We all can guess what she was, even if we don’t know who.”

The women eyed each other and chuckled.

Annie shook her head. “But the officials only released him from prison a couple of days before he died, right? Last I heard it takes nine months to make a baby.”

Mildred arched her eyebrow. “I thought it only took one night.”

Several of the elderly ladies laughed so loud Janie’s china tea service jiggled.

Janie pumped her hand toward the floor. “All right. All right. Even so, someone knew that home remained unoccupied.”

Babs flipped up her palms. “His demise dominated the local news for several weeks.  Which means thousands of readers learned it.”

Roseanne Rodriguez spoke up. “More than that. Hundreds of thousands. It was all over the news, too.”

Mildred flayed her arms. “That narrows it down a bunch.”

More laughter.

Janie tapped her fist to the card table. The hum of comments faded. “True, Roseanne. However, I don’t recall them specifically giving out the address, even if everyone heard Betsy Ann and I discovered him in the community dumpster here at Sunset Acres.”

“So, whoever dropped the baby girl off cased the joint and determined no one lived there anymore.” Ethel, the one with the massive catalogues mystery paperback collection, offered the proverbial gumshoe response.

“Which means they planned to leave her at that garden home.” Janie snapped her fingers. “Yes, that has to be it. So a person or persons unknown, who wouldn’t attract attention as they wandered around our senior retirement village, knew about this pregnancy and somehow persuaded the mother to give up the poor thing.”

Babs clucked her teeth. “Well, it does happen.”

“Yes, but what gets me is they figured someone would find the infant fairly quickly.”

“A ‘For Lease or Sale’ sign is planted plain as day on the front lawn.” Annie shoved the last bite of butterscotch brownie into her mouth.

Janie gave her a nod. “Good point. Still, there must be homes all over this area for sale or rent. Why our little corner of the world? A fifty-five plus community. Why not a neighborhood with young families? That’s what we must discover. Something tells me the answer might be the key to the whole dilemma.”

Ethel leaned into Betsy Ann. “Get a load of Janie. Proud as a peacock and giddy as a school girl. She’s in her element. A new game’s afoot.”

Betsy Ann lowered her auburn, curly head into her hands. “Here we go again. Bunco Biddies to the rescue whether anyone wants us involved or not.”

To learn more about Julie's books and devotionals visit her website

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Looking Out the Window: Second Chances, A Love Anthology Featuring Five Sweet Romances and a Rafflecopter Giveaway


A Warm Welcome to the Second Chances Authors

E.A. West

Pravina Maharaj

Patricia Kiyono

Kathy Bosman

Leenna Naidoo




Two Book Bundles will be given away. Enter the Rafflecopter drawing below to win!




When a couple falls in love, sometimes their relationship doesn’t work out and they part ways. One day they may meet up again. The sparks fly. The hurtful memories rise to the surface. Is it possible for them to heal the rift between them and start all over again? Can they have a second chance at love? Or is it too late? Find out in this feel-good anthology of five unique, sweet romances. All proceeds go to charity: HIC Children's Home, Newcastle, South Africa.




True love never dies, but can it overcome mistakes of the past?

When Felicia Coronado’s soon-to-be ex-husband kidnaps her daughter on a remote mountain road, she must rely on the assistance of a group of soldiers in the area for a training exercise. She’s stunned to discover the soldier in charge is the high school sweetheart she never thought she would see again. Lieutenant Mark Benson never stopped loving Felicia, even after she dumped him before their senior prom. Now, six years later, he learns the truth behind why she left him. Can he forgive her for the past and give her a chance for the future once her divorce is final, or will he help find her missing daughter and leave Felicia behind?



E. A. West Writer 
Author of sweet and inspirational romance.





Giovanni’s Christmas Bride:

Mistletoe Magic: Two Passionate Hearts. A Christmas Wedding to Remember.

Italian billionaire Giovanni Ferruccio had sworn never to forgive Brennan Shaw for breaking off their engagement and marrying his cousin Anthony.

Five years later, when fate delivers a widowed Brennan and her young son Luca to Giovanni's door, he is determined to discover the reason for Brennan's betrayal. But after one too many kisses under the mistletoe, Giovanni realises he can’t let go off Brennan and wants to make her his Christmas bride.




Pravina Maharaj

 Writer of: Passionate, contemporary romances.




Flowers for Maddy

Sometimes the roadblocks in your life aren’t as high as they seem.

Maddy Benning’s life has been full of missed opportunities. She’s had to settle for commuting to local colleges rather than attending the school she and her high school boyfriend had chosen, and spend all her time either working or taking care of her mother. She’s resigned herself to a life void of excitement and love. Meeting Jake again opens new hurts—but can it lead to new joys?

Jake Warner gave up his teaching position to return to his Lake Michigan hometown and care for his father. But it looks like the job is more than he can handle on his own. While looking for appropriate care, he runs into a girl from his past. Years ago, their parting had been painful. But was there more to the story than he’d realized?



Patricia Kiyono

Writer of both contemporary and historical sweet romance. She likes to incorporate the lakeside setting of her West Michigan home in her contemporary works.





What Treasure from the past will Dale find?

Bridget is the new chairlady for the Treasure Hunter’s Club, a hobby she’s taken up to fill the loneliness after breaking up with her boyfriend Dale. The magic has left her life too, or so it seems, because the magic matchmaking photo album told her Dale was the right man for her. So when her ex-boyfriend walks into the club meeting, she’s barely able to make her speech. Dale can’t believe he’s in the same room as the woman who broke his heart and made him lose interest in dating. Being together for a night might be too painful to bear.




Kathy Bosman

Writer of sweet contemporary and fantasy romances and occasionally other genres like fantasy or women’s fiction.




 3 Million eyes, 2 desperate hearts, 1 second chance.


Munro Calliston needs to win a few million. Vivian Francis needs to win back Munro. The TV reality show Treasure Seekers seems the perfect route to a win-win situation...But can two so very wrongs ever make things right?




Leenna Naidoo

Writer of contemporary suspense with a dash of fantasy and romance. She also dabbles in science-fiction and fantasy, and blogs at www.leennanaidoo.wordpress.com


Story Excerpts:


Escaping the Past
by EA West

Rain poured from the dark clouds, making the winding mountain road slick. Felicia Coronado’s hands tightened on the steering wheel as she fought back panic. Ramon’s truck hugged the rear bumper of her car. Speeding up didn’t increase the distance between them; it only made the car harder to control. She glanced in the rearview mirror, meeting her five-year-old daughter’s frightened brown eyes.

“Mama, why is Papa chasing us?” Raquel’s quivering voice sent an arrow straight through Felicia’s heart. Her daughter had already endured far too much fear in her young life.

“I don’t know, mi hija.” Yes, you do! He wants to kill you and take your daughter to Venezuela for who knows what horrible reasons. She would never let that happen. No matter what it took, she would protect her daughter from Ramon’s cruelty.

Felicia slowed to round a curve, and Ramon fell back. Her relief was short-lived as the road straightened again. She glanced back in time to see his pickup truck shoot forward.

“Hold on, Raquel!”

She barely had time to brace herself before the truck connected with the back of her car. Raquel screamed as the car lurched forward, but Felicia couldn’t reassure her. She had all she could do to keep the car on the road. Ramon rammed the back of her car again, sending it sliding across the wet pavement. A huge tree loomed ahead. She fought the wheel, but it was no use. The car slammed into the tree, crushing the right front corner. A second impact from behind smacked her head against the steering wheel, and blackness crept into the edges of her vision.

“Mama!” Raquel’s shrill voice penetrated the fog in Felicia’s mind.

Before her sluggish thoughts could form into any kind of reassurance, Ramon had wrenched open Raquel’s door and was pulling the girl out of her booster seat. Felicia tried to protest, but Raquel’s screams drowned out anything she said. Adrenaline rushed through her veins, and she forced her way out of the car as Ramon carried her daughter away.

“Ramon! Let her go!” Felicia shouted into the storm. “You have no right to take her from me!”

He turned his cold eyes on her. “This child is my daughter. I have every right to take her.”

“You’re breaking the restraining order! Give Raquel back to me or you’ll face more charges.”
Ramon laughed, his expression full of hate. “Stupid woman. You think a piece of paper and empty threats will stop me from taking my daughter with me? You are a bigger fool than I thought.” He picked up his pace as he headed for the woods.

“Ramon!” Felicia’s scream didn’t stop him, and she watched helplessly as he disappeared into the forest with her daughter in his arms.


Giovanni’s Christmas Bride
by Pravina Maharaj

She looked up, stunned to see the man she’d never thought to face again. Not after five bitter years.

Giovanni Ferruccio. Italian billionaire, philanthropist and jet-setting playboy.

At thirty-five, Giovanni was one of the most eligible bachelors in New York. Brennan had followed his life and career through the media. She knew he was never short of female company—often seen with actresses, models, and wealthy heiresses.

As Giovanni’s dark gaze locked with hers, Brennan forgot to breathe. Her mind flew to ten years ago when they’d first met. She’d been a twenty-year-old waitress, paying her way through college. Giovanni had been twenty-five with a steely determination to succeed in the world of business. He’d just launched his first Information Technology Company and was in the process of expanding his business when they’d met.

Brennan’s life changed forever when Giovanni had stepped into the café where she worked. It was five days before Christmas on a snowy Saturday afternoon. Giovanni had insisted she sit with him while he had a coffee and pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. Her boss at the café was shocked when Giovanni laid down a bundle of notes.

“I’m buying more than your food and drink. I’m also buying the company of your pretty waitress,” Giovanni had told the man, with an air of arrogance.
If it were any other customer, Brennan would have been incensed by such audacious behaviour but immediately there was something about Giovanni that tugged at her. It was more than his darkly handsome features or his Italian accent. She’d served many handsome men at the upmarket Manhattan café, but none had made her pulse race.

Intrigued by the stranger, Brennan agreed to sit down with him, and thereafter Giovanni began visiting the café often, always paying a small fortune for Brennan to sit with him. Their encounters fed the gossip mill of the restaurant staff and had the female staff mooning over Giovanni’s sex appeal.

Soon Giovanni began seeing Brennan away from the café. Brennan suddenly in a relationship with Giovanni discovered she was helplessly in love. She graduated from college and Giovanni was blazing his way through the business world. Then one Christmas Eve, Giovanni stunned her by proposing. It had been the happiest moment of Brennan’s life. But her happiness was short-lived because ten months later she broke off their engagement. Her world had come crashing down around her ears. Giovanni was left gutted by their breakup and Brennan’s heart broke into a million tiny pieces.

“Brennan Shaw,” Giovanni said, the deep timbre of his voice sending a shiver down Brennan’s spine and jerking her back to the present.

“Welcome to my home,” he added, sounding anything but welcoming.

“I didn’t know you lived here.” Brennan dragged her gaze away from Giovanni’s face. Luca stared at his mother with wide, dark eyes, sensing the tension in the room.

Giovanni entered the room, his gaze never wavering from Brennan.

She bit her lip self-consciously. She knew she looked a mess. Her usually lustrous honey-blond hair hung limp and damp, her woollen dress smudged with mud was molded to her thin frame, and her face lined with exhaustion.

Drawing breath, Brennan met Giovanni’s obsidian gaze. “Please, can I use your phone? I’d like to call a taxi,” she said, grateful that her voice was steady.

“I insist you stay the night,” Giovanni said like the spider might have said to the fly.

Brennan gritted her teeth. “Thank you but I’d rather go home.”

“It’s not a night to be out with a child,” Giovanni pointed out, glancing at Luca.

Brennan wanted to scream with frustration. How could fate be so cruel to deliver her on the doorstep of the man who hated her most?


Flowers For Maddy
by Patricia Kiyono

Jake nearly stumbled. He’d just been thinking about needing someone who’d understand, and now Maddy was here, going through the same struggles. Someone had been listening.

She turned her soft gaze to him. “What about you? I heard you and your choirs have been winning all sorts of awards. I even saw you and your group perform on one of the morning news shows.” She frowned. “Is your school on break now, or did you retire already?”

“I resigned. Dad’s got health problems, and someone had to take care of him, now that both Mom and Sarah are gone. In fact, he’s in Rest Haven, too.”

Those expressive eyes glistened. “I’m so sorry, Jake. That had to be so hard, losing half your family in an instant.”

He nodded. “Dad hasn’t been the same since then. I didn’t realize until I came back how much it affected him. It’s like he has no will to live and sees no reason to care for anyone, including himself.”

“I’m so sorry. Your dad was always such a strong man.”

“Yes. I used to hate that about him. Now I miss that strength.”

She opened her mouth, and Jake expected she would say something about her mother, but she clamped her mouth shut and nodded. He decided to change the subject away from parents. “How’s Jeff?”

She frowned then, and he wondered why the question would bother her. “Jeff died eighteen years ago,” she told him.

He stopped in his tracks. “I-I’m so sorry. What happened?”

“Cancer. We were going through fertility tests when they found it. He was gone two months later.”

“Maddy, I’m so sorry.” She’d been a widow all this time?

She nodded her acceptance of his sympathy, and they continued their walk. “Thanks. It was rough, but he made me promise I’d get my degree. He knew how much I’d wanted to go, and he made that possible.”

Jake digested that. “I always thought you’d changed your mind and didn’t want to go to school.”

“Never! I cried for days each time mom told me I hadn’t been accepted.”

“Each time? How many schools did you apply to?”

“U of M, Eastern, and MSU, as well as several private schools. Actually, I was accepted at a few of them, but I couldn’t get any financial help, so I couldn’t afford it. That’s why I went to Community College, and then commuted to Grand Valley.”

He walked in silence for a few moments. What she said didn’t match with his memory of events, but he wasn’t about to argue. “Why didn’t you tell me about any of this?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I did. I wrote to you.”

“I never got any letters from you.”

“Never? I wrote almost every day. Mom said we couldn’t afford that much postage, so I’d put a week’s worth of letters in an envelope. I wrote for weeks before I finally gave up. “

He ran his free hand through his hair. “I swear I never got those letters. If I had, I would have called you. I could have transferred or taken some time off until we could find a place to go together.”

She pursed her lips together. Did she doubt his sincerity? “I guess it doesn’t matter now. We can’t change what happened, and eventually we both got what we wanted.”

Maybe you did. I settled, and my poor wife knew it.


His Treasure
by Kathy Bosman

Since Bridget had told him it was over, he’d turned into some kind of Cookie Monster with women. He chewed them and spat them out within weeks of their first date. Could it be something to do with the gnawing feeling of being not good enough? If Bridget didn’t want him, there must be something intrinsically wrong with him. They’d grown so close in a space of a few months, and then she’d told him “enough.” Her reasons still didn’t make sense. He’d bared his soul to the woman, but she didn’t seem to care.

Swallowing a sudden lump in his throat, he closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the tension release out of his clenched fists and jaw. He needed to forget her. He’d always been outgoing, had plenty of friends, been rather popular. Some quiet, studious, poetry-obsessed college student shouldn’t destroy his self-esteem so easily. Nope, she wouldn’t. He’d forget about her. He wouldn’t give her the joy of making him miserable.

“Why did you think I’d help you, though?” he couldn’t help asking Ebon. “You know I don’t talk much nowadays.”

“You’re still a chick magnet despite often acting like a forty-year old with six kids and no time for fun.”

He pursed his lips. He didn’t want to be a chick magnet anymore. Why did he have to be born with such good genetics—broad shoulders, tall, good hair, flat abs, “sparkling blue eyes” as the girls would say, and a charming, dimpled smile?

For once, he wished he could be like Ebon, plain and ordinary, medium-height, skinny arms, bit of a paunch, ash-brown hair. He looked at his friend and punched him in the arm.
“Hey, why did you wear that stupid golf shirt again?”

Ebon picked up speed and glared at the traffic in his way. “You don’t look any better in that stupid white T-shirt. What, you think you’re Adonis or something?”

Dale laughed and his mood picked up as Ebon joined him in cackling.

They soon arrived outside a chapel which seemed to be teeming with life. Several women had gathered by the entrance, all young and hip-looking with their skinny jeans, sleeked hair, and shiny lipstick. He sighed inwardly. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

“Too many chicks,” he muttered, but Ebon didn’t hear him. Instead, he headed for the entrance with a confident stride. The guy had suddenly grown in boldness. He’d hide behind Ebon, then.

He desperately tried to spot some male company in the crowd, but nothing. Maybe the guys were inside. How to weave through the crowd of girls? He saw a path and headed straight for it, for once not caring about introducing Ebon to everyone as he usually did. Once inside, he could breathe again and sucked in several calming breaths while looking for a place to sit. He found seating near the back. If Ebon complained, he’d say it was to get a good vantage point to see all the women. The plastic seat wasn’t too comfortable and the buzz from the doorway made his heart-rate climb again, especially seeing that buzz heading inside. He tried to take in the traditional décor of the chapel and imagine he lived in medieval times and had chosen to be a monk. A smile filled his face at the thought. His thirst for adventure wouldn’t make him a good monk, though. But the thought calmed him. Phew, he really had developed a dislike for girls.

The swarm came down the aisle and hovered around, giggling over their seat choices. One of the bees headed for the front and fiddled with the projector set-up. Fuzzy, dark-brown curls at the back of her head caught his eye and his palms grew sweaty. She looked a lot like Bridget. Great. Now the leader of the club was a Bridget look-a-like. Turning around, she scanned the room with all seriousness.

He blinked.

No-o-o!


Three Million’s A Crowd
by Leenna Naidoo

Before the reunion of Team Academia was complete, another car hurried down the drive and into the car park. Munro took a deep breath and steeled himself. This was Vivian, he knew. The car door took almost a minute to open, Munro imagining Vivian frantically searching for something she’d deemed vital and had forgotten. Or was she losing her nerve and on the verge of thumping the chauffeur on the back and screaming at him to, “Drive! Just drive!” He held his breath. She’d done that before, and Vivian was nothing if not predictable emotionally.

The door opened too fast, swung back alarmingly, and was pushed back again. She was still curvy, her skin that natural olive, looking respectable in her glasses as she stepped out in Capri cargoes, a cotton shirt, and hiking boots. Then she stumbled as a familiar backpack tumbled out behind her. She stuck her head back in the car, and emerged a few moments later with a shawl, closed the door, opened it, then slammed it shut again. She looked nervously around as the car pulled away, before hefting the backpack onto her shoulders, balancing precariously as she did so.

Munro breathed in, not realising he’d been holding his breath, then shook his head. That Woman hadn’t changed a bit. His grin was pure wickedness. He wouldn’t have to create any drama, it still followed her around like a dog on a leash. All he would have to do was drag her along and make sure they were always in the Top Three. He glanced at the other four teams and the sixth team’s lone member – a dumpy man with veldskoene boots who looked liked a miner. He could do it, he had to.

I’d only just arrived and my nerves were shot. Where was Munro? Already breaking out in a sweat, I walked along the burning beige walk towards the odd-shaped tower of Maropeng’s entrance. I’d never visited this museum and discovery centre celebrating palaeontology and astronomy. All the other contestants were standing in the shade of the entrance, making their faces hard to distinguish. I should have worn my sunglasses.

And there he stood, feet apart, arms crossed with his sun-bleached, tousled hair making it appear like he’d just left the beach. He’d always made me feel safe and protected before—my rock in a crazy, unpredictable world. He’d been the one who’d always caught me when I fell, the one person in the world who’d thought I’d been more than enough for him, who’d loved me just as I’d been, though I’d known I was far from perfect ‘cos everyone else told me so.
I couldn’t breathe. My stomach lurched and crashed like an alien trying to birth itself. I gulped in air as I met his smile and brilliant eyes with their hostile expression.

Who was I kidding? I had absolutely zero chance of winning Munro back, not after what I’d done. So why had he agreed to Audrey’s suggestion, even welcomed it?

“You made it,” he said. “No change of mind?”

I cleared my dry throat and tried to unwind my hands from my shawl. “No, of course not.” My voice was a croak. I cleared my throat again. “How are you?”

“Never better.” His eyes were as feral as his grin though his voice was as smooth as ever.

My stomach heaved. I couldn’t figure out if it was fear, lust, or nerves. I dropped my bag and ran off to the ladies, certain my breakfast wasn’t going to make it to the starting line.


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