Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Luke needs a new home

We had an "incident" yesterday. Jacob was petting Luke, petting his face, albeit working around the Elizabethan collar, when for no reason that I could see Luke growled and snapped. Jacob pulled his hand away and no damage was down, except that Jacob was scared. I put the dog in his crate and Jacob in the office and we continued with homework. Late that afternoon, Jordan, neighbor Jay (the handsome one), and I had a happy-hour discussion--it required wine and beer--and after much talk agreed that Luke is trainable and I should hire a trainer. I went to call, made the first appointment for a consultation that I could--October 22. Until then, I was to keep child and dog apart. Then I left a message for a second trainer who has not yet returned my call.
Last night I prayed about Luke--yes, I'm a praying person and I talk to the Lord when I go to bed. The Lord chose five o'clock this morning to wake me--you know how those five o'clock thoughts are--and suddenly it was clear as a bell. Luke needs a new home, without children or other dogs, where he can get the love he craves and the training he needs. I began the process today, registering with sites, contacting a couple of people whose names were given to me.
This breaks my heart because Luke is the sweetest, prettiest, most loving dog ever. His whole body wiggles in excitement when I come near him. But truth be told, he's high energy, excitable, and unpredictable.
My main concern--and I will not give up on it--is to find him a good and safe home. I read a post the other day quoting a dog fighter who told how he gets bait dogs and cats (good gosh almighty, I didn't know they used cats!) and it scared me. His wife dresses up nicely and goes to take a dog offered for free. For that reason, I put a fee on Luke. After all, he comes neutered (newly) and with a crate, plus antibiotics. I don't want him to fall into such hands, and I don't want him to go to another shelter--I got him from one.
This has been a learning experience for me--yes, an expensive one. But it answers the question of whether or not Sophie wants a companion. She doesn't, and she and I were fine alone. We have a house that is open to all and many guests come to my door. I want them to be welcome and relaxed, not on guard. Of course I don't want to endanger Jacob, but I also don't want to endanger the neat teenager who pet-sits...or Sophie...or me. And I don't want to change the wonderful lifestyle I enjoy because of a dog's problems. Believe me, this was a wrenchingly hard decision.
If you know of someone who will love and train Luke, let me know. I will require references, veterinary referrals, probably a promise from God. But I will find him a good home.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday night and the high life

Ah, Saturday night when people party and celebrate the weekend. I'm home with Jacob, who is glued to Fox 4 waiting for the Baylor game. We had wonderful sweet corn (so sweet!) and buttery broccoli for supper--you know it's good when he eats two helpings. I worried about a "meat" or "protein" dish--gave him peanut butter and honey and had tuna left from lunch for myself. A satisfying meal.
Things progress well on the dog front--last night we had the two dogs in the same room. There was no hostility, but an electric atmosphere of excitement...with a measure of jealousy thrown in. Today I put Sophie out for a couple of hours and let Luke in--he wandered the house. Turns out he loves toys, which is okay, and loves to get on the couch, which is not okay.
After all my denial, Luke definitely has kennel cough. Went by the vet's for yet another antibiotic--the dog is now a walking pharmacy. But he gets sweeter by the day. Greg came by to mow today--loved on Luke outside and said, "You can tell he hasn't had much love." Then of course he had to come in and love on Sophie who was having conniptions of jealousy.
Not exactly a lazy day--by eight this morning, I was putting meat and sauce in the crockpot for pulled beef barbecue for tomorrow night's dinner. Still have to do the finishing touches to the sauce and pull the meat (the part that really frustrates me) tonight. Went to the vet, the bank, dropped off a book, and, finally the grocery. Came home and made a Bundt cake--also for tomorrow night when there will be eight of us. I'm a big believer in potluck, so Subie and Phil will bring cole slaw, Jordan will bring potato salad, Jay and Susan will bring sweet northern beans. I have Texas caviar and a block of cream cheese to cover with raspberry chipotle for appetizers. Sounds like a good meal to me.
All that activity called for a long nap. When I woke up, Jacob was sitting in the living room. He said his mom told him not to answer the door for anybody and to wake me at four-thirty.
So now the big dilemma--will I write or keep reading the book that has me so intrigued. It's The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elias McNeal. I'm hooked on that series--so much WWII history. This one leads up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the intelligence that could have prevented it. Guess that settles it--I'll take book and a glass of wine to the deck and visit with Luke (do you know how hard it is to learn to say deck and not porch?).

Friday, September 26, 2014

In defense of Facebook

At dinner last night I was telling a friend how I found my new dog on Facebook and how involved I am in posting about lost and endangered dogs. Her reply was, "I just can't do it. I know there's good stuff, but I'd have to scroll through so much junk. I just don't have the patience for it." I also hear people complain about how FB keeps changing how they do things--I've noticed a few changes but nothing serious. So I'm here to say I really like Facebook a lot. I realize it's a time-suck, and I spend far too much time on it, especially late at night.
But for one thing FB is a place where I learn not only about my friends but about world events--it's often the first place I read breaking news because I'm not inclined to keep the TV on all day nor to check the news. I can't remember now which news but I think, for instance, it was the first place I read about the shooting of the young black man in Ferguson, Missouri. And it may well have been where I learned that we were sending air strikes against Syria. Yeah, it's not always good news and you have to be careful of sources, but it keeps me informed.
Facebook is where I've come to know a lot of people--some who share my political beliefs, many fellow mystery authors, a few random people I've met once or twice and then developed a FB friendship with. I've got a whole world of friends I wouldn't otherwise have.
On a purely practical note, Facebook gives me the perfect place to tell folks about my books--an important tool in my marketing plan--and to share my blog, which now attracts a goodly number of readers daily. When people say they can't do FB, I say it's a necessity for me to advance my writing.
Finally, it gives me a platform. Call me egotistic or whatever, but I like somewhere to push for causes that I care about. A big one is animal welfare, as you may have noticed. I post so many pictures of endangered animals, mostly dogs, that a good friend threatened to unfriend me because they made her so sad. I felt that way once and asked friend Kathy Edwards why she posted so many sad pictures. She replied she simply had to. Now I'm on her team. Proof of the pudding, a week ago I brought home a dog I'd seen on FB. When I saw that he had until eleven o'clock the next morning to live, I promptly went and got him. He has lots of needs--heartworms, neutering, and--most of all--love, and fitting him in with the dog who thinks she rules the roost is not fun. But we're making progress. There are so many pitiful creatures out there.
Finally, I have pretty strong liberal views, and I make no bones about it. I hope that won't stop anyone from buying my books--which do not push my political views. But when I see blatant lies and crude criticisms on FB, I find myself unable to keep quiet. I know, I know--lots of people say they don't discuss politics or religion. I think it's important to stand up for what you believe, and I keep remembering Nazi Germany where no one spoke out. So I voice my opinions, I criticize politicians I think deserve it, and I praise those I think deserve that. I've lost some friends over it, but strangely I've made some friends from the other side of the fence. I think we enjoy exchanging diverse opinions. I'll keep speaking out until November. I can't walk the block, can't donate heavily, but this is what I can do.
What to ask me about religion? I'll gladly be open about that. I'm a believer, a Christian who goes to church often but not regularly but makes God and prayer a central part of my life. My faith is essential to me. Somehow that's not as controversial as politics.
Yeah, I'm a fan of Facebook.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What happened to civility, let alone respect?

A friend of mine is spending the fall in Hungary while her husband fulfills a Rhodes teaching fellowship. I'm vicariously enjoying the entire experience with them, including their European tour before settling down in Debrecen. But she wrote last night that she thinks she will have to temporarily unfriend me until they come home. She is dismayed at the vituperative nature of some comments on my posts and, feeling that she and her husband are representing the United States, doesn't want her Hungarian friends to see how crass and disrespectful some Americans are toward their president.
I know what she's talking about. Recently a photographer caught Michelle Obama in an unguarded moment, playing with some children, with a expression on her face that mixed mock surprise and horror. It was spontaneous and the kids probably loved it, but it was not the most charming picture of our First Lady. Some of the comments were so mean and in such poor taste that I was moved to comment--and the vile comments continued about how ugly she is.
Now the "coffee cup salute" has gone viral on the Web and shown up on TV. I agree--the President should have handed the cup to an aide and saluted properly, but I don't think it's calls for such responses as "He's an ass" to "Don't insult an ass that way." It's turned out to be a tempest in a teapot since there is slight history of the presidential salute (President Reagan started it) and there's a funny picture of George W. Bush trying to salute while holding a dog. All but die-hard critics of the Obamas have dismissed the incident.
But there are those die-hard critics, waiting for one of the presidential couple to make the tiniest mis-step. Come on folks, this is the President and his First Lady, elected twice by a large majority of the American public. In spite of that, he has aroused more hate in a minority than I ever thought possible--and they are loud, crude and rude in expressing that hate. The Ugly American come back to life. Makes me, for one, embarrassed to be an American, especially a Texan.
I said it before in a post but it bears repeating: it's one thing to disagree on politics or policy in a reasonable and polite manner; it's another to attack personally (one person refers to him as a Muslim Marxist, after insisting on calling him the "half-Kenyan" for a long time).
Saddest of all, despite vehement denials, these remarks betray the deep strain of racism that is still strong in our country. Makes me despair!
This has taught me a strong lesson and I'm going to watch my posts more carefully. I have been a little too quick to make a joke or laugh at one--as when Gov. Perry said Juarez was the most dangerous city in Texas. But I hope I've never sunk to using profanity and crude personal attacks. Even so I'll be more careful.
One thing I don't understand: the list of achievements the President has made for this country is impressive: lowering the deficit, lowering the unemployment rate, the Affordable Care Act (hush! it's working in states where it is allowed to). The Republican House on the other hand has offered no credible bills, stalled bills from the Senate, defeated minimum wage increase, equal pay, veterans' benefits. They've been on vacation more than they've worked. Why do people dump on the President for failures in our country? It goes beyond partisanship, though that too is alive and well unfortunately.
Maybe Nancy can just hide my posts so I can still see hers but the lack of class in some Americans won't embarrass her in Hungary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let’s Put Out an Anthology

Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Kaye George, national bestselling and multiple-award-winning mystery writer, who writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy (humorous mysteries), Cressa Carraway (Eine Kleine Murder, Silver Falchion Finalist Musical Mystery - Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Neanderthal Mystery - Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat (Berkley Prime Crime cozies). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.


Does anyone remember the old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies where the solution to everything was, “Let’s put on a show!” Or reruns of them? I wonder if an updated version could be, “Let’s put out an anthology!”

It started innocently enough. My own hubby rode the Megabus to DC, about an eight-hour journey. That’s not bad, because it takes about the same amount of time to drive it. There was one brief stop in Virginia and the rest of the time they were rolling. It got me thinking about the mysteries where everyone is marooned somewhere together. Someone is murdered, and everyone knows that one of THEM is the killer. Would not a Megabus be a great place for one of those?

When I was considering taking the same trip myself, Kathy Waller, a fellow member of the Austin Mystery Writers, told me to be careful of “Murder on the Megabus.” Laura Oles countered with more in the series to be called “Trouble on the Train” and “Mayhem on the Motorcycle.” Things spiraled from there, with more titles than we could possibly write ("Felony in First Class" "Butchery on the Bicycle" "Rub Out on Roller Skates" "Bloodshed in the Barouche-landau" "Scream on a Scooter" to name a few). I don’t think a single one of these was used in the end, but Kathy named the series “Murder on Wheels,” and then Gale Albright suggested an anthology. We were off!

We put together a timeline that we stuck to for a short time. We started writing in June of 2013 with the goal of editing each other’s stories in January. We wanted to have all our rewrites done by end of February 2014, format the ebook and paperback and publish in April.

Somewhere along the line, it occurred to us that we might acquire a publisher. To make the work more appealing, we invited two well-known Texas writers, Earl Staggs and Reavis Z. Wortham. To our surprise, they both said yes and sent in awesome stories with a “wheel” theme. We also hired Ramona Long to edit all of them and suggest a story order.

Gale started gathering names of possible publishers, but we still thought that was a long shot. Since I had done work on the Guppy anthologies, published by Wildside Press, I volunteered to query them first. Lo and behold, they accepted our project! We were a happy group of Austin Mystery Writers! We missed out April pub date, but maybe we’ll make next April—and with a real publisher.

I have an urge to tell Mickey and Judy.



Mickey Rooney Judy Garland picture from Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The dog saga continues

Yesterday I took Luke to the vet to be neutered, micro-chipped, and whatever else needing doing. Because I had a book signing--whole different story--last night, I left him at the vet's overnight. It was, I admit, a vacation from having to juggle two dogs. The signing went well, and lots of good friends came and had a jolly time. Jordan and I were exhausted by the time we got home, and I was grateful to have only one dog to deal with.
But this morning early I went to get Luke who was greatly happy to see me. He was wearing what must people call the cone of shame, but I prefer to call an Elizabethan collar--poor dear has to wear it for 10-14 days. But I had the go-ahead to put the dogs together and decided a small space was best for control. So I put them in the office with me. After some initial play, chasing each other, lots of barking on Sophie's part, things settled down. Sophie hid under my desk, and Luke paced though he eventually lay down and watched me.
I put them outside together and they seemed to have a grand time, but they were both running--Sophie can outrun him. Great exercise for her but Luke is not supposed to run until his heartworm treatment is complete--8 weeks. Of course neither dog would listen to my commands to stop, but I happened to grab Luke on the fly-by and put an end to that game. So they still have to go outdoors separately.
The afternoon did not go as well. Jacob got as hyper-excited as the dogs and yelled at me that Luke was biting Sophie. It was play on both their parts, though Sophie sounded pretty ferocious. Still when Luke would back off, she'd go after him. I figure it's a matter of time until they get used to each other, and Luke still has all his puppy enthusiasm.
Luke, who has shown no interest in toys, found a toy he would not be parted from. At first, the cone kept him from picking it up, but Jacob gave it to him. When he got it stuck under the couch, Jacob went down to get it for him--and disaster struck. That sweet loving dog growled and snapped, caught Jacob on the side of the head and the ear. No serious damage, a small bruise, and a tiny bit of blood, but Jacob cried for an hour. We've always told him not to put his face near a dog's face, but he's surrounded by dogs where it doesn't matter, and I guess he didn't even think about it.
Jay came and talked to him, explaining that we don't know the dog and he doesn't know us, plus he's a bundle of anxiety now. Within a short space of time he's gone from roadside stray to kennel to strange new home with new people, had surgery, and is wearing the cone. His nerves are a bit frayed...as are mine as this point.
Jacob had a great story to tell at dinner at the Grill tonight--he'd brightened by then--and I'm sure will tell it tomorrow at school. By the time I took Luke out tonight, Jacob came out on the deck and loved on him. Feelings do mend...and so do ears.
I have faith it will all settle down, but I admit I go to bed much earlier these days and bone weary. Oh, oops, Sophie's still outside. Got to go get her.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What a lovely day!

I had a book signing this morning at my favorite spot--The Old Neighborhood Grill right down the street from my house. Seven in the morning is kind of early to get there--I was up at 5:30--but that's when readers come in. And a lot of my friend came for breakfast, which is down home and really good.
My younger son, Jamie, and his wife and two daughters came last night for the occasion.
We had a jolly good time at Joe T.'s for dinner. Above, Jamie's wife and my beloved DIL, Melanie on the left, and Jordan on the right. I am blessed with sweet girls who are also beautiful. I thought it was such a lovely evening with a breeze--then realized it was one of their giant fans blowing on us. Three grandchildren loved it--Jacob got to talk "serious" golf with his beloved Uncle Jamie; Eden entertained herself by sketching hands--she is really good and I foresee a career for our fashionista. (When I suggested she didn't need her sunglasses since it was already dark when we got there, she said, "They're part of the look." Eleven years old!). Maddie did what fifteen-year-olds do--busied herself on her phone. Here's me, leaning back at an awkward angle so everyone sees my double chin, with Eden and Jacob. Jacob has his "I know there's a camera" look on and Eden is just plain gorgeous--ok, I'm prejudiced.
This morning, Jordan was, as she always is, an enormous help. She plans my signings, down to flowers and sign up sheets and raffle drawings; she takes the money, gives change, and charms everybody. I was flattered that most of the people who bought books came exactly to do that, so the Grill got some extra business, not that they needed it. It was, as always on a Saturday morning, crowded. If you read my blog often, you will know about my friend Betty and our dinner adventures--here we are together at the signing this morning. She and her husband, Don, came for breakfast, but Don (a restaurateur, was disappointed that his friend Peter, who owns the Grill, wasn't there). I sold a nice number of books, had a great breakfast, and then we moved on--everyone but me went to Jacob's baseball game (they won! first time this season, and he scored a run or did something else wonderful--not sure about that) and I came home. The Frisco Alters came in about 12:30 with Burger King and Ernesto's (Jamie's favorite tacqueria). I ate cottage cheese--Mexican food once a week is enough for me! Then they left, and I did a little work at my desk and took a long nap--5:30 is too early for me!
Three grandchildren at the Grill--Eden, eleven, Maddie, fifteen (who can believe that?), and Jacob eight. With my longtime friend, Margaret, in the background.
But it was still a dog day--let the dogs out in shifts, with Luke second. Gave him a long lecture on not leaving the yard. (He'd been good earlier in the day.) Looked out after 15 minutes, and he was gone. Drove the neighborhood (while my quiche dried in the oven), finally gave up to come home--and found him across the street. When I called him, his look said, "Hi, Mom, am I glad to see you!" and he hopped right into the car. Calling my friendly contractor Monday morning for fence control. Meantime I have to babysit when he's outside, which means he spends a lot of time in his crate. Will be so glad when we're past this transitions period.
But all in all, a great day. My quiche wasn't too dried out--a bonus.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A two-dog day

Last night was deceptively easy. Got each dog out by turns for a potty session, then each in to the proper crate (Sophie even had her belly rub), gave them treats and lights out. They were wonderful. Not a peep all night. Let Soph out first; put her in the office, and let Luke out until time for our vet apt.
Vet apt. was interesting—he weighs 43 lbs., has all the characteristics of a Bernese mountain dog—flat coat, coloring, head shape, bushy tail, intelligence. But he is about half the size. In good health but heart-worm positive so we have the treatment to look forward to. Also on Monday, he will be neutered and microchipped. (Taking in a rescue dog is anything but cheap.) Heart rate is slow and strong, so vet says he’s been a runner. None of us can figure out why he was on the side of the road—best guess? He was a ranch dog, where someone had so many they didn’t think to neuter and they didn’t look for one who ran away. Vet says timing to our last major storm is about right, and he could be thunderstorm phobic—escaped during a storm.
Well, he’s an escape artist—Got home from the vet, put him in the yard, and went to get his breakfast. When I came back, he was on the other side of the fence, in the driveway. Panting to get in and eat. When I backed out to go to the grocery there he was again—in the driveway behind the electronic gate. Went to bring him in, and he was gone—crawled under the gate. Panic! Called Jay. Found him in neighbor’s yard, and Jay lured him in. We think he’s digging not jumping. Jay is going to use rebar to weight down the fence. So we crated Luke, and left Sophie out. I started for the grocery again—and got worried about Sophie picking up on Luke’s digging, so came back. She was waiting by the back door, so I put her in the office. Third time’s the charm—finally did my errands. Luke still in his crate at lunch time but I took him out to potty under supervision. All he wanted to do was climb in my lap.
This afternoon Jacob had friends over—two brothers—and their father, Jay and I sat on the deck while they played. Luke loved it. When we came in I left him while I went to get his leash—by the time I came back he was in the neighbor’s yard. This time Jacob helped Jay bring him back home.
Luke would be the perfect dog is he didn’t escape and he didn’t have kennel cough, which he apparently does. I’ll have to keep them separated probably until the end of next week. He is also not to run, chase squirrels, etc. for six to eight weeks because of the heartworms. Fortunately he is not nearly as frantic about squirrels as Sophie is.
I keep telling myself this will all settle down but when I woke up this morning my first thought was, “What have I done?’ Today, even more than yesterday, though, Luke has wormed his way into our hearts, and we all keep saying, “He’s a good dog!”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A day gone to the dogs

Wow, such a day that I hardly know where to start, but many of you have asked about Steadman, the dog I vowed to rescue last night. I was told to call the shelter (about an hour away) at 8:30 this morning; called at 8:15 and was told they already had someone to take him. Disappointed but relieved. Figured it just wasn't meant to be, but I did get them to promise he would not be put down and take my phone number, just in case. The lady sounded bemused, but she took it, and I went on about my business--principally a quick trip to the grocery. Just after I got home I got a phone call saying that Steadman was available. Called my neighbor Jay, and we hopped in his truck and headed up to Decatur and the Wise County Animal Shelter. I figured the call was karma--this dog was meant to come home with me.
Long story short, we came home with Steadman, now renamed Luke. He is so sweet, so anxious for love. He was a stray, found on the side of the road, so we have no background, but he has obviously known love and had some training--he will sit, lie down, and stay. He and Sophie have to stay pretty much apart for three days, just in case he develops kennel cough. That's hard, but the couple of times they've been together--one going out, the other coming in--they danced around each other with tails wagging. I think it will be fine.
Jacob adores this dog. He said he'd be spending the night a lot more these days. And I once told him a six-second hug releases endorphins, so he has now proclaimed he'll give me 12-second hugs. And he did tonight--One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.
Luke appears to be an outside dog, although right now Sophie is outside and he's lying quietly in the study. Any movement, and he'll be up, wagging his tail, pacing, looking for love. I hope he'll do well in his crate tonight. He has a vet appt. tomorrow morning, and he will have to be neutered. I was amazed at that, but neighbor Jay says he was probably a ranch dog and nobody bothered.
So I've been juggling dogs today, but with lots of help from Jay and Christian. Sophie topped off the day by sneaking out the door when Christian brought Luke's new crate in. Poor Christian chased her probably six blocks until a home owner helped him catch her on his front porch, and Christian had to carry her all the way home. He was pleased that she seemed content and did not squirm.
I have visions of someday soon working at my computer with two dogs lying peacefully at my feet. Meanwhile we're in transition.
And Jamie, his daughters and one of Maddie's friends, are coming to spend the night tomorrow and bring their two dogs. Guest house for them!
I'm exhausted and going to bed early tonight, but I have to say I live a blessed life, and retirement is far from boring. A bonus to Luke's arrival in the family: it was so much on my mind last night that I dreamt about acquiring a dog and suddenly figured out how a dog would play a major part in my work-in-progress. As my mom always said, God works in mysterious ways.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How many dogs are enough?

I thought I was going to write a blog tonight about my indecision over whether or not to get another dog. At various times in my life I’ve had three dogs or more. I have one, and I’ve been wondering how many dogs are enough.

Over the years, both married and single, I have had collies, Irish wolfhounds, Cairn terriers, bearded collies, an Aussie and now a bordoodle (Border Collie and poodle cross). I’m proud to say that each of my children has a dog—I raised them right.

But Sophie, my bordoodle, is a lonely only, and I debate the wisdom of getting another dog. I think Sophie’s pretty happy basking in the love of all who are around—she gets lots of attention, and I’m home most of the day with her. She has her bed, her crate, her chair in my office. She has her routine, including our nightly loving session with tummy rubs. But she spends a lot of time sleeping in the chair in my office. She’s only three, but I’m afraid she’ll age prematurely for lack of exercise—I can’t walk her because at an energetic 30 lbs. she’d pull me down (my balance just isn’t that good).

So some days I think another dog would be a good idea. If you know me, you know I post pictures on Facebook of lost dogs, dogs in danger of euthanasia, pitiful dogs who need love. I’m a sucker for them, and there are more than a few that I want to rush right out and rescue. I haven’t done it because I wonder if Sophie would be happier or angry (and because my kids are firm that I don’t need more than one dog—but two of them have two dogs!).

I concluded the draft of the blog above with the thought that one day I’d see a dog I couldn’t resist. Well, it’s happened. My neighbor, Jay, is driving me to Decatur tomorrow to rescue a collie/Aussie mix scheduled to be euthanized at 11:00 a.m. I’d posted his picture last week, and a friend from College Station expressed interest, then decided it was not the time. When I saw him on the EU list, I just knew I couldn’t let that happen. If you’re on FB, look at my wall—there’s a picture of Stedman, though I may well rename him. He’s four years old, 60 lbs. How can you feel a soul connection with a picture on FB? But I do.

I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, Sophie has had a haircut—a real haircut. She looks so skinny but Kirk, my friend who grooms her, says it’s a doodle cut. She meanwhile is exhausted, and it’s a good thing she’s resting because tomorrow will require a lot of adjustment from her. Haven’t figured out sleeping arrangements or any of that. Winging it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Welcome to Honey Creek, Ohio!

Please welcome my guest, Jennifer Anderson, the last of the authors from the boxed set "Small Town Charm, Love and Mystery." I hope you've enjoyed meeting the authors of these diverse and fascinating books.


Take a walk around town, where there is only one stoplight, one gas station, one grocery story, many churches and one lake. But, oh man, what a lake.
Honey Creek Lake is where a lot of the magic and drama happens in the sweet, little town. Maybe take a dip in our man-made waters. Walk along the edge and watch the boaters zip by sending waves a water to lap the shores. Have a lazy day, cast out a line and wait for the fish to bite. Or maybe, grab the hand of your loved one and step inside our new gazebo. Slip under our famous Weeping Willow and steal a kiss from your sweetie. Every corner of our lake holds a story. When you’re there, create your own.

Head five miles back into town from the lake, stop by our White Cottage Restaurant, and have a slice of strawberry pie, although I’m partial to the lemon meringue. The pie display case and red-topped tables only add to the incredible yummies filling every plate. Catch 22 Pizza sets off the perfect Italian mood with soft lighting and scents of garlic, warm bread and spicy sauce. Grab a slice or an entire pizza pie. It doesn’t matter because after one bite, you’ll be back for more.
If you’re only here for a short while, maybe plan a trip back during our summer months. We host a Strawberry Festival with music and booths full of berry fare. July plays host to a Fourth of July celebration with a parade and fireworks at the lake. Rent a cabin and stay awhile. You’re sure to find whatever you’re looking for in our charming town and rural county.

Honey Creek sets the stage for a sweet Young Adult novella, Ice Princess. In it, Mya wants to shake things up in her small town. But once she’s given what she wants, will she change her mind and craves normalcy.
Here’s an excerpt from Ice Princess, Honey Creek Royalty Book 1:

“Okay. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A farmer and a pig….”
“Stop,” I yelled without looking up.

“I already told you that one?”
“No, but any joke starting with a farmer and pig can’t be good.” I rolled over on the large towel we’d spread across the sand. It was the last day of summer vacation, and Michael and I agreed to spend the day together doing nothing but enjoying the sun. Living in Ohio, we weren’t sure how many more days we had left. Soon the leaves would fall, showing off snow-covered cornfields.

“Can you toss me a Dr. Pepper?”
“Sure.” Without looking, I reached into the small red Igloo cooler we brought and produced a cold dripping can. I knew it was for him since I preferred bottled water to soda. Not Michael. The kid lived on caffeine and sugar. Which made the lack of fat on his body hard to explain. Not that I’d ever noticed. Michael Graves was my best friend. And nothing more.

“So, you ready for tomorrow?”
“Sure, I guess,” I answered. “How’s it any different than the last three years at Fayette County High? Really, we’ve known the same people and gone to school with them for the past twelve years. We all know who we’re gonna eat lunch with or who we’re gonna sit with at opening assembly. Boring.” I wasn’t a pessimist or a Debbie Downer, but Honey Creek needed some excitement and I didn’t think our senior year would prove to be any different unless something unusual happened.

“Ok. So why don’t we spice it up a bit.”
“Like what?”

“Let’s start a nasty rumor or sit at a different table at lunch.”
“Ooh, Michael, you’re so scandalous! Have I been rubbing off on you?”

“Hardly. I think the most daring thing you’ve ever done was streak across my yard when we were five because you’d heard wearing your bathing suit gave you tan lines. Even though you had no idea what tan lines were, I might add,” he said with a smirk. The afternoon sun danced across his blonde moppy hair, intensifying his golden highlights. He sat next to me in a short beach chair staring out at the water. Everyone we knew was out enjoying the last weekend of August. All of the rental cottages were empty from the few Honey Creek vacationers that came to visit the lake. It was a manmade watering hole, but that didn’t take away from the fun we had there. Boats skidded across the water pulling skiers or tubers in their wake. The sand was dressed with towels and blankets full of half-clothed bodies soaking up the sun like Michael and me.
“So word around town is there’s a new kid coming to school.”

4 Star LASR Review: Great Read!
It is a wonderfully emotional short story with just the right balance of sweetness and sadness. I recommend it to anyone who relishes a charming story of love and friendship.”

"The emotional scenes in the hospital and day of funeral are great - I know I cried when I reviewed initially, and I cried again in both read-throughs this week - I'm such a sap :-)" -Wendy on GoodReads

Mya Newman never minded the routine or quiet that came with living in Honey Creek, Ohio. For her senior year, she craves something exciting to happen instead of it melting into a cookie cutter routine like the previous years.

When a new girl, Audrey Moore, moves to town, Mya finds herself caught in a triangle. She discovers hidden feelings for her best friend, Michael Graves, but he seems to have eyes for the new girl.

After Mya's father becomes ill and eventually passes, she turns to her best friend, Michael. He never leaves her side, but she wonders if he'd rather be elsewhere. With fear of rejection and loss of friendship, Mya decides she can't confess her recently discovered feelings.

When Michael and Mya share a dance at the Winter Formal, does she open her heart to him? Or does she shy away, forever longing to be the princess who finds her prince?

About Jennifer Anderson:

I'm a mommy, wife and author. Even though I've spent many years on either coast, I've spent a majority of my life in the Midwest. Here is where my heart grows with the love and support of my family and friends and here is where I find inspiration for my stories.

My complete list of releases:
Ice Princess, Honey Creek Royalty Book 1
Prince Charming, Honey Creek Royalty Book 2
Queen Mean, Honey Creek Royalty Book 3
King of the Lake, Honey Creek Royalty Book 4
Spider, May 2013
My Brother's Wedding, August 2013

Print edition of Books 1-3 from Honey Creek Royalty Series are now available!

You can visit me at www.jenandersonauthor.com and www.musingsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com

Twitter: @JenniA8677


Monday, September 15, 2014

Blue Monday--or is it?

Mondays are often sort of dull days for me--I rarely have lunch or dinner plans, and if it weren't for Jacob and his homework, I could well go through the day without any human contact. But Jordan pops in when she drops Jacob off at school, and we have a short visit when she comes to pick him up. He has baseball practice on Mondays, so they never linger long and he and I move at a frantic pace to get homework done. Today we did a find-the-word puzzle with his spelling words--both of us stumped by "collision" and "sculpture." Jordan took one look and found them right away!
I do work on Mondays, which is good--today I finished a book and wrote a review, worked quite a bit on my next novel, did some marketing. And to my astonishment, got a letter asking for some quick material on the chili book I probably submitted three years ago to a university press. I thought their board was meeting this summer and, having heard nothing, dismissed the project once again. But it turns out their board meeting was postponed...and could I supply a CV, synopsis, and suggested 30 pages in the next two days. I haven't had a formal curriculum vitae or resume in years--wasn't looking for a job. I'm not sure I've even kept my list of publications up to date. But I wrote a biographical sketch, took a stab at a synopsis, and suggested the first 30 pages. Got it all off tonight.
I'd been wondering lately about all those young girls kidnapped in Nigeria, so I was interested and yet appalled to read that most of them are still missing. Some have escaped but relatively few, and Boko Haram has taken over other towns and taken smaller bunches of captives. Yet it has faded from the headlines. The international forces that were looking for them, including American, have about given up, and there are hints that corruption and bribery are involved. Meanwhile think of those poor girls and their families. Their story has been replaced by the horror of ISIS,
We live in a global world. Isolationism is not possible as it was in 1900. Technology has changed all that, and yet how do we decide what bad guys we're going after, which ones we're going to throw up our hands about and give up. I'm glad I'm not commander in chief, and I support President Obama who deals with these difficult decisions every day.
Lord, let their be peace--seems a bit of a futile prayer, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A city girl discovers small-town Texas

I’m thrilled to have Murder at the Blue Plate Café included in the boxed set, “Small Town Charm, Love and Mystery,” published by Turquoise Morning Press. But it strikes me there’s some irony in a lifelong city girl writing about small towns.

Coming from Chicago, where I’d been raised, I thought I’d met small towns when I moved to Kirksville, Missouri (pop. 1960s about 12,000). But I didn’t really know about small towns until the late 1970s when I started visiting Ben Wheeler and Edom in East Texas (some say not far enough east to earn that designation). My good friends, Charlie and Reva Ogilvie, had a guest ranch outside Ben Wheeler, and we ate at The Shed in Edom frequently.

Ben Wheeler bothered me. It was then almost a ghost town, with boarded up store fronts, though I understand it’s had a renaissance, thanks mostly to the man who bought Arc Ridge Ranch from the Ogilvies. It was like many small towns I had driven through: it needed a coat of paint. We went once to a dilapidated roller skating rink (my kids loved it) and more often than I liked to a dismal grocery store, since boarded up, where I trusted neither the cleanliness nor the temperature of the refrigerator and freezer units. Don’t even talk about the freshness of the vegetables. For real grocery shopping, we went to  Canton, but I guess that’s a feature of small-town life—going to the nearest good-sized town for a lot of things.

Edom, on the other hand, delighted me. We went several years to the annual craft fair, and other times we wandered the main street which featured craft shops—pottery, leather workers, jewelry makers, and a wonderful women’s clothing store. I was amazed that the main street, a state highway, had neither stoplight nor stop sign. You took your chances, and you ran like hell.

The best thing in Edom to my family was The Shed. I suppose The Shed isn’t much different from lots of small-town cafés with chicken-fried steak, fried catfish, glorious meringue pies (Charlie told me it was all air so no calories, and  I reminded him about the pudding bottom), and huge breakfasts. The thing I loved most was that everyone knew Charlie and Reva and greeted them happily. We basked in a small afterglow of fame because we were their guests.

Once my youngest daughter and her husband were with me at The Shed for Sunday breakfast, after a visit to the ranch, and Christian said he wanted to drive around Edom to look for his grandmother’s house. He’d spent many happy days there as a child. We drove, and it didn’t take long to find out that he didn’t recognize a single house. When we got home, his grandmother told him it’s right next door to The Shed.

That café and that town became so firmly embedded in my mind that they formed the setting for the Blue Plate Café Mysteries. I changed the town name to Wheeler, but no one from that part of the state will be fooled, and I was careful to note that the murders there were from my imagination and reflected in no way on Edom or its residents. But the fictional counterpart of The Shed is central to the story.

A friend who grew up in Granbury, Texas wrote me, “You nailed small-town life.” It was the biggest compliment I could have gotten.      


About Murder at the Blue Plate Café


When twin sisters Kate and Donna inherit their grandmother’s restaurant, the Blue Plate Cafe, in Wheeler, Texas, there’s immediate conflict. Donna wants to sell and use her money to establish a B&B; Kate wants to keep the cafe. Thirty-two-year-old Kate leaves a Dallas career as a paralegal and a married lover to move back to Wheeler and run the café, while Donna plans her B&B and complicates her life by having an affair with her sole investor. Kate soon learns that Wheeler is not the idyllic small town she thought it was fourteen years ago. The mayor, a woman, is power-mad and listens to no one, and the chief of police, newly come from Dallas, doesn’t understand small-town ways. Kate is suspicious of Gram’s sudden death, “keeling over in the mashed potatoes,” as Donna described it, and she learns that’s not at all what happened. When the mayor of Wheeler becomes seriously ill after eating food from the café, delivered by Donna’s husband, Kate is even more suspicious. Then Donna’s investor is shot, and Donna is arrested. Kate must defend her sister and solve the murders to keep her business open, but even Kate begins to wonder about the sister she has a love-hate relationship with. Gram guides Kate through it all, though Kate’s never quite sure she’s hearing Gram—and sometimes Gram’s guidance is really off the wall.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Turn off that cell phone!

This morning there was an interesting article on Facebook about a restaurant that consistently got bad reviews. They served the same number of customers daily but the wait was longer, service slower, and reviews much more negative. They compared monitor tapes from ten years ago and today. Ten years ago, no one had a cell phone. Today, people turn to the phones are soon as they are seated; it may be 20 minutes before they're ready to place their order. Some call wait people to the table because they can't get wifi and want it fixed. When served their food, they spend minutes taking pictures of it and of each other. Then they ask their server to take pictures of all of them. All of this distracts the server from other customers and adds to the time customers spend at the restaurant. Ten years ago, diners were fed in an hour and five minutes; today it is only five minutes shy of two hours. So think about that...and about the server's time...next time  you whip out your phone. The world probably won't stop if you don't get a call immediately.
We are getting the message over and over that technology is separating us from our fellow man. We dine together for companionship or should, but too many of us isolate ourselves by turning on the phone. I've been to dinner with different branches of my family when all four--parents and kids--were on their phones and I was left staring at the ceiling. (One family is an exception--their poor deprived children don't have phones.) My daughter arrives every afternoon to pick up her son and often as not is on the phone. When we sit to visit, she's on the phone.
The article this morning got me to thinking--if you take the dimmest view, we are on the slippery slope to becoming a nation of isolated individuals, with nothing in common with our fellow man. It may be a long slope, but it's out there.
In the short view, cell phones and email may account for an increasing lack of collegiality in our society. We don't take time to put down the phone and listen, really listen to other people. Even families. We're on our phones, our iPads, watching TV. What happened to good old-fashioned dinner time conversations and story telling (my kids can tell wonderful tales about family dinners in their childhood--they had the example, for sure). Maybe today we're forgetting how to listen.
Political scientists and other such types tell us we have the most polarized political panorama in history. There is no middle ground, just two extremes (I'm as guilty as anyone). Our leaders are either conservatives or liberals, and the Grand Canyon stands between them. Could technology be part of the problem? What would happen if we put twelve senators, six from each side of the aisle, in a locked room for twelve hours? (With food supplied of course but no phones, computers, TV, etc.) Would they kill each other or is it too much to hope for that they'd begin to listen?
I'll have the roast salmon with my texting, please.

Friday, September 12, 2014

That first taste of fall

This morning it was still muggy and hot, but as Texas can do, the temperature fell all day. By the time I went to supper, it was almost chilly and I took a light wrap. Definitely not a patio evening. Tonight, when I let Sophie back in, it struck me as really cool. That's what they say about us Texans--we can't wait for the heat to leave and cool weather return. And then we complain that it's too cold. I will say mid-afternoon it felt great out, even with spitting rain and cloudy skies. Tomorrow it will warm up and continue to do so until we hit 90 mid-week, but everyone seems to believe that triple-digit days are gone. And we can live with 90.
It's early for weather this cool. I always think it comes the first few days of October. And even more interesting, alarming, or whatever word you choose, the far northern states have seen their first snowfall today. I think I read that it's a record--earliest on the books. These dramatic weather changes are alarming to many of us--portending environmental change and a bleak future for the planet, even if not in our lifetime. Many scientists and environmentalists have been saying that for a long time, only to be dismissed by industrialists as fear-mongers and alarmists. I'm not sure how you can dismiss an increase in violent storms, drought, and severe temperatures. But I guess if business and profits control your thinking, then you're for strip-mining and off-shore oil rigs and pipelines through everywhere. One aspect I finish particularly sad is the diminishing native environment for polar bears. But perhaps even more serious is what pesticides are doing to our bee population--how many believe that we can live...and eat...without bees? Don't fool yourselves. (Oops, I just got preachy!)
I did read that the effect of greenhouse gases seems to be diminishing and the solar cover of the earth is repairing itself. Maybe the efforts of those of us who use long-term light bulbs and conserve energy in other ways are paying off. To me, it's sort of like voting--don't believe your small individual doesn't pay off, because it does!
Environmental concerns aside, I ate my way through the day--lunch with a longtime good friend at a local café where I haven't been in a long time. Great pimiento cheese sandwich, and they always add a small Andy's mint to the plate. I think I eat there for the tiny chocolate. Tonight, my "Canadian daughter" and I went to a new tapas place and shared bacon-wrapped dates, smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese on baguettes (for some reason it was drizzled with honey and our hands got so sticky!), and quail with quail eggs--I should have known better than to expect the eggs hard-boiled but still I was a surprised when they were poached. So good! And so nice to visit with her. Lovely evening.
Now I'm back at my desk but not really ambitious. Looking forward though to a weekend of cooking and writing.
Happy cool weather everyone. I heard it's going to be a cool, wet winter. We're ready for it. No ice please--snow is acceptable.

Is it a dream or a premonition?

Suzanne Lily, author Shades of the Future, is my guest from the Small Town Charm boxed set today.  Suzanne is a teacher and a writer who occasionally takes time off to zipline in Alaska, teach in China, and traipse around Rome. She writes sweet stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending.

Daydreams, night dreams, dreams of the future, dreams of the past. They all affect us in some way. Everyone has dreams of what they want in their own futures. But what if you could see the future and it wasn’t what you wanted? That’s the question that inspired my book, Shades of the Future.

You see, I’ve always had inklings of things to come. I might be driving down the road and realize that I haven’t seen so-and-so in such a long time, and wouldn’t it be funny if I ran into her today? If I get little goose bumps down my spine, I know it will happen.

There was the time I was driving home from work and I just knew I was going to have a car accident. I brushed it off as stress, but sure enough, at the top of an overpass, I was accordioned along with six other cars when the driver of the car in front slammed on his brakes. Fortunately no one was hurt. The weirdest part of that one was my husband knew I’d been in an accident, almost as soon as it happened, even though he was miles away.

Then there was a time a friend told me she was going on a weekend visit with someone she’d met online. I immediately thought of her getting pregnant, and goose bumps quickly followed. She laughed at me and told me it was nothing like that, there wasn’t going to be any hanky-panky because they were just friends. I think you can guess the ending to that story.

The thing is, although I sometimes get these inklings, there’s never a darn thing I can do about it to change them. I’ve often wondered, “What’s the use of knowing about things in advance if you can’t control the outcomes?”

That’s exactly the situation my heroine, Mariah Davis, finds herself in when she puts on a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future. She sees some good things and some bad things coming down the road. She tries to do everything she can to stop the bad things. Instead of avoiding fate, she faces it head on and has to learn how to deal with the hard times, as well as how to trust in those she loves.

You can read Mariah’s story in Shades of the Future, one of the eight books included in the Small Town Charm, Love and Mystery boxed set for only $.99. This video trailer of  Shades of the Future will get you in the mood for box full of love and mystery.

In the meantime, care to share stories? Have you ever known about something before it happened? What was it, and were you able to change it in any way?

What reviewers are saying about Shades of the Future
This is ultimately the coolest YA book I've ever read. You don't have to be a teen to love this book! ~~~LAS YA Reviews Long and Short Reviews
This is a charming YA book! The character of Mariah is someone you would love to hang out with--and the town of Honey Creek--let’s just say I would love to have grown up there! ~~~Judy Thomas
Find Suzanne Lilly online at these sites:

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Lilly/e/B006HY79IY

Author website: http://www.suzannelilly.com

Author newsletter: . Sign up for her occasional newsletter to find out about upcoming books before anyone else. You’ll also get exclusive bonus materials and contests just for subscribers. One subscriber is chosen to win a $25 gift card each time the newsletter comes out.

TeacherWriter blog: http://www.teacherwriter.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SuzanneLillyAuthor

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5258804.Suzanne_Lilly

Twitter: @suzannelilly http://twitter.com/suzannelilly

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a5a5a59d2/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is 9/11 fading from memory after 13 years?

This morning a flag flying at the foot of my driveway reminded me, as if I didn't already know, that this is the anniversary of 9/11. The flag is courtesy Fort Worth South Rotary, through a program I enrolled in, and I was grateful to see it all day.
I found it hard though to recapture the emotion I felt that day thirteen years ago. Every one of us remembers where we were--I was at my desk, with the TODAY show on as background while I worked. Suddenly I was riveted to the TV, though even then I found it hard to wrap my mind around the stark horror of what had happened. Today I grieve intellectually, and I feel emotional when I see interviews with survivors and families of those who died. So many have moved on to do such good in this world--good does indeed come out of evil. But somehow I have distanced myself a bit from it.
One of the most moving things I saw was a 15-year-old Golden Retriever who is believed to be the last surviving rescue dog from that day. Her handler talked us back to the post-tragedy days when they were on duty, and I found myself staring at an incredibly loyal and brave and well-trained dog. I admire both dog and handler.
A friend, whose husband is teaching in Hungary, said that over there the day is nothing special. It carries none of the emotional impact it does for us in the U.S. Last year, when she taught freshmen in this country, few had any memories of the day, and she surmised that it is becoming like December 7, a day of infamy that lives in the minds of our parents and grandparents but is rapidly forgotten by younger generations. A colleague, a fellow historian, answered that is the way of history and maybe it's a good thing, it's human beings movin' on. But there's also something very sad about it.
I would agree, but I also agree with all those posts on Facebook today that said, "Never forget." Today we face more threats--who knows if they will reach our shores or not, but who expected Al Qaeda to touch us in such a catastrophic way? I, the liberal peace-monger, think it's important to teach younger generations what these days mean in our history, lest they fade into total obscurity. They remain object lessons for us, lessons again complacency that are hard to balance against a desire for peace.
When we came home from school Jacob asked about the flag in my driveway. "Do you know what day today is?" I asked. He didn't, and I explained. He didn't seem remarkably impressed, but I'm not sure an eight-year-old can grasp the enormity of what happened on 9/11. I'll keep reminding him.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One of those nice days

My day started off well. Jacob had spent the night and I got him off to school--can't believe I used to get four off, because I was so nervous about not having him ready when friends walked by to take him to school. As it turned out, he had a little TV time. But the little bugger plays possum for me on school mornings--lies there like the dead. Finally this morning, after turning on bright lights, I said, "Okay, I'll just go eat your waffles." He popped up and said, "No!" loudly, then confessed he'd been awake the whole time. Retribution is coming!
When I got to my computer I found a reprint of a nice review of The Perfect Coed (http://bookbrowsing.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/the-perfect-coed-by-judy-alter/) and a personal reply on FB from my favorite Texas chef, Terry Thompson-Anderson. She has another of her wonderful cookbooks out from the University of Texas Press, Texas on the Table, and I had written congratulations and said that I was still trying to get up nerve to try her quail with pepper/coffee gravy recipe. Got a lot of work done this morning--but no writing. Mornings seem to go to business matters, household chores...and I'm back at yoga. So far my back feels great, and I am so thankful to walk without a constant ache in my hip.
Jacob threw me for a loop this afternoon when two friends invited him to go home with them. I insisted he had to ask his mom, and a frantic time ensued. He went, which means I escaped homework and he has lots to do tonight. But Jordan and I agreed we don't like being on the spot like that. Jordan came by to get his book bag and occupied herself with "organizing" my closet.
Jordan's big news is that she's going on a "fam" (familiarity) trip to Florence, Venice, Milan, Rome, Lake Como, and the Amalfi Coast in November. She's culling my wardrobe for suitable clothing and reminding me I have lots of cute outfits I don't wear.
Topped the day off with supper at Winslow's Wine Café with my good friend Betty--crab cake and a cup of tomato basil soup. Crap bake was superb; soup okay but not the best I've had. House chardonnay good. Fun--priceless (though it is a noisy restaurant).
Now to write my thousand words for the night. I actually look forward to it.
One reason for this post (second today) is that somehow I really messed up my Judy's Stew page. This morning I thought it was fixed, except for a size problem with one image. When I tried to fix that, it messed up again. So now we'll see if it's fixed.

Five lessons of forgiveness

Please welcome another guest from the Small Town Charm boxed set. After a career in the telecommunications industry, Cheryl Norman turned to writing fiction and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort.  Her debut with Medallion Press, Restore My Heart, led to a mention in Publisher's Weekly as one of ten new romance authors to watch. Running Scared, a romantic suspense set in Jacksonville, Florida, and Washington D.C., received a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today. Reviewer Harriet Klausner calls her writing "Mindful of Linda Howard." She currently writes the Drake Springs series romance novels for Turquoise Morning Press.
Her passion for cooking and healthful eating led her to write four cookbooks and an award-winning blog, The Hasty Tasty Meals Kitchen--http://www.hastytastymeals.com. She also offers writers grammar help via her Grammar Cop blog, newsletter articles, and workshops. In addition to writing fiction and cookbooks, Cheryl works with other breast cancer survivors to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of the disease.

Cheryl Norman lives in the Suwannee River Valley area of Florida, near her fictional Drake Springs. She writes romance in several genres: romantic suspense, time-travel, inspirational, and sweet series romance, including the upcoming Drake Springs category romance series. For more about Cheryl, follow her on Twitter (@cherylnorman) and visit her site (http://cherylnorman.com ) or her author blog is at http://cherylnorman.blogspot.com.

Rebuild My World is romantic suspense, but its theme is forgiveness. In the course of the story, several characters must learn the power and peace of forgiveness. It isn’t a preachy story or a religious one; rather a lesson in mental health.

You read that right: Forgiveness is good mental health.

How can Taylor Drake forgive the man who attacked her and murdered her roommate? How can Adam Gillespie forgive the man who contributed to his family’s financial ruin? How can Taylor and Wil forgive the person responsible for their mother’s death? How can Adam forgive the man who abandoned his pregnant sister and later forgive a startling betrayal within his own family?

Yet, ultimately, they do forgive, and that’s the heart of the story. Have you had to forgive someone when it went against every fiber of your being? Or have you had to forgive yourself?

I’ve watched television programs about people who visit the killer of a loved one in prison and forgive them. I’ve asked myself repeatedly, “How can they? Could I do that?” Frankly, I hope I never have to test myself on that one!

I remember after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when ministers called on their congregations to forgive those attackers. How’d you do with that one? I struggled. I was angry and shocked. I wanted swift justice. Forgiving those responsible for all those innocent lives asked too much. Yet I finally made peace with myself and forgave them, thanks to the five lessons I learned (and share below).

Forgiveness isn’t easy. It can be one of the hardest emotional decisions you’ll make. If you aren’t able to forgive, the price you pay is high. The Drake and Gillespie families find this out for themselves until they learn these five lessons:

1. Forgiveness isn’t earned: You don’t forgive an offender because he deserves it.

2. Forgiveness isn’t necessarily wanted or requested: The offender need not ask you for forgiveness. In fact, he may be indifferent to your feelings.

3. Forgiveness isn’t approval: You aren’t endorsing the behavior by forgiving the offender.

4. Forgiveness can be anonymous: Just because you forgive an offender doesn’t mean he or she will know about it (i.e. he may even be dead).

5. Forgiveness is healthy: It relieves stress. (Remember, resentment is an acid that eats away at its container).

In conclusion, forgiveness is about the forgiver, not about the forgiven. Do it for your own health.

I hope you enjoy the mystery and romance that unfolds in Rebuild My World. Although its theme is forgiveness, the story is much more. Enjoy.

Books by Cheryl Norman (Amazon):                                                               

RUNNING OUT OF TIME (Turquoise Morning Press)
REBUILD MY WORLD (Turquoise Morning Press)
RECLAIM MY LIFE (Medallion Press)
RESTORE MY HEART (Medallion Press)
RUNNING SCARED (Medallion Press)
ROMANCE ON ROUTE 66 Anthology (Highland Press)

Short fiction by Cheryl Norman:
A Little Faith (Highland Press’s anthology)
Hometown Blessings (Highland Press’s Christmas Blessings anthology)
The Christmas Prayer (Highland Press’s The Heart of Christmas anthology)
Veiled Threat (Turquoise Morning Press’s The Wedding Day Collection)
Twilight Time (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)
Bad Moon Rising (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)