Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 2014 in Pictures

With September right around the corner, here is my August 2014 wrap-up college. Here's to Awesome August! A visit from my best friend, Linda & her fun daughter, Hayley...vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina...the very first day of school for our granddaughter, Aubrey (she's growing up so fast, oh, my! Can't you stay little for a bit more, my sweet baby?) and a brand-new addition to our kitchen--a Keurig coffee maker.

Hope your summer has also been peaceful & joyous!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

From UNTITLED to TITLED

You may have noticed, over on the sidebar of this blog, the little WIP bar for my next book, which now has a title. CRYSTAL WAVES will be my next release, with the third and last book of THE JOYFUL NOISE SERIES to be published after that.

CRYSTAL WAVES has a very interesting story behind it, one that I'll be sharing right here in the coming weeks. This is a Christian mainstream novel which I'm very happy to be sharing with my readers.

In the meantime, enjoy both Books 1 & 2 of my new inspirational romance series!

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Walking

It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. - HENRY DAVID THOREAU

A pleasant morning walk in Myrtle Beach, SC
At some point in our lives, those of us who love to walk find that we no longer think of it as any old, mundane exercise. That's something I learned in the short time during which I flirted with running--that runners feel the same way about taking to the pavement. There comes a time when walking, like running, becomes a part of our lives.

I have a confession to make, and that is that I haven't been to the gym in months. That's not to say that I've been a couch potato for all this time, because I haven't. Anywhere from three to five times a week, I have tried to squeeze in anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half of walking. Sometimes even more, if time allows.

The weather has just been so pleasant in North Carolina that I couldn't bare to spend my walking time indoors, on a treadmill listening to the mechanical sounds of machines around me. The outdoors, whether it was in the park or on the greenway, or even a long road in our suburban town, called to me each time. I listen to my music through headphones or I use it as my prayer time to meet with the Lord in silent prayer.

Or I listen to the sound of the birds or the wind rustling through the trees on the greenway instead of the sounds of gears moving within a machine.

Maybe that's why walking has become so important to me. Not that I have anything against the gym, either. I haven't quit my membership and I don't intend to, since I love catching up on my reading on the treadmill. When it's cold or rainy, the gym comes in handy.

And it's not that walking doesn't have amazing health benefits, way beyond just helping with weight loss and maintenance, because it does. A lower impact activity than either running or Zumba, walking also burns fat, builds muscle, strengthens the heart, and relieves stress. There have been studies done that point to walking as being beneficial to reducing the risk of cancer, including colorectal and breast cancer. Even, it's been said, walking can relieve constipation!

Those are all great reasons to walk. I think about those reasons sometimes when I'm deciding if I have enough time to tackle one more mile, either in the park or on a mountain trail. None of those are my main reasons, however, for walking.

I walk because I can. Because God has blessed me with good bones and muscles so far. Because I don't want to take my health for granted, especially because I'm not guaranteed it'll be there next year.

I walk because I have a little time to spare. A half hour, twenty minutes, or two hours. I can take my best friend or my honey (he's another best friend!) with me and share a great conversation along the way. Because my dog enjoys my company. Because the birds will serenade me. Because God is there, and I look forward to praising Him with each step.

I walk because I like the feel of my feet in my running shoes. I like the way my shoes feel when they hit the dirt trail or the pavement. Because I might catch sight of a pretty cardinal flitting from one branch to another or of happy kids whizzing by on their bicycles.

I walk because I love it. Because it gives me pleasure. It's great that, in the process, my heart is made stronger and my weight is maintained and my muscles are built up. But I'm really walking because it's something I do for me. Because it's ultimately more rewarding than sitting in front of a TV for that hour. Because inspiration will often come to me along the path and I'll mysteriously understand what happens next in Chapter Seven.

I walk because walking is a part of my life. Because it would break my heart to be told that I could never walk again, so I gratefully savor my physical ability to do so. Because it costs nothing and it is a blessing from God's hand.

Now...have you taken your walk today?

You can think of it as just physical exercise, as a chore, or you can let it become much more to you.

Happy Trails!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Special Offer

From now until this Sunday, get my most recent Christian mainstream, ONE SWEET DAY, for FREE at Smashwords.

Have you not read it? Here's its teaser. This is my novel about the rapture. May you enjoy it & may the Lord bless you!

In 1976, a precious baby is neglected and left to die in the trash...a young girl dreams of a better life for herself and her divorced mother...a funeral director is engaged to marry the love of his life...and a man sentenced to prison sends his confused and troubled daughter to live with his rancher brother and his family. They are strangers to each other, hailing from the mountains of North Carolina, a crowded New Jersey city, rural Montana and California, yet they are connected by their faith. Each one, in their own way, is struggling, also watching and waiting, through the span of forty years, during which some have had mysterious dreams and visions that are not of this world. They are about to be brought together by a day, an hour, a heart-stopping moment, that was foretold in prophecy over two thousand years ago. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Excerpt from DISTANT FIRE

ENJOY!

That morning, in church, Drew thought he’d seen the same beautiful girl looking back at him with those loving eyes. And something else that had totally caught him by surprise; she had looked at him with yearning, even allowing her gaze to rake over him.
With desire. The way a woman hadn’t looked at him in so long.
He had only been standing there long enough to watch the next bunch of children and their parents board the carousel, in that familiar, mad dash to find a painted horse with a seat to fill. The breezes carried the unique scent of the ocean that he loved so much, mingled with the aroma of boardwalk pizza and other Jersey shore delicacies.
That was when Linda appeared, stepping lightly through a crowd of teenagers and young families. Drew could see that she was looking around for him, dressed in a long pair of brown shorts with a purple top, a mini purse dangling from a long strap wrapped around her shoulder. Her brown sandals dressed up her casual outfit.
Oh, boy. Here we go, he told himself, taking a deep breath and pushing away from the railing.
I don’t know if that’s really what she was feeling this morning, Lord, but she still brings up those feelings in me as a man.
Having admitted the truth about his thoughts, Drew pulled himself together and waved to get her attention.
“Hey, Linda! Over here!”
More as a greeting than anything meant romantically, Linda reached forward to initiate a hug. Drew let her fill his arms, unable to stop his eyes from closing, and probably holding her a second or two longer than he should have.
At the same time, unbeknownst to him, Linda was also closing her eyes. He’s the musical guy at church, she thought. I probably should let go now.
Yet, music director or not, he felt better than he should have, there in her arms. She’d hugged men since her divorce; men like Pastor and male friends at church, and also recently, her now-former boss. Those had been chaste embraces, greetings between believers, expressions of unfeigned affection for a man who had been a good, decent employer who had helped her put food on the table for her daughter and herself.
This was a different sort of embrace. One she hadn’t expected to enjoy as much as she did.
“The carousel,” she murmured as she reluctantly pulled away. “That was easy to remember.”
It was as if he had to remind himself to withdraw his arm from around her, at last dropping it to his side.
“You didn’t forget that,” Drew sounded surprised.
“No, of course not. Not since it was always our meeting place. Whenever we were at Seaside Heights.” She walked beside him, not sure of where they were going and not caring. “I haven’t been there since before Hurricane Sandy…and then there was that fire.”
“Is it still there? Because there were two carousels. But we always met by that one, the older one.”
“The newer one was destroyed in the fire. I read that in the paper. Our carousel survived.”
Our carousel. Linda hoped it didn’t sound too forward, but then Drew commented on it.
“That was our carousel, that’s right,” he said softly. “So many times meeting there. Riding it. Shame about the other one, though.”
“It is, yes.”
He stopped walking and handed her the gift in his hand. “That’s—that’s not much. Just a little something to thank you for coming out today. You probably had something else to do.”
“I had absolutely nothing else to do!” She flashed one of those playful smiles that were still familiar to him. “My Valerie has met a young man, so Mom is on her own these days. But thank you, Drew. I should have gotten something for you, too.”
“Nah. I wanted to do that. You can open it now or—”
“Oh, no, you know me and suspense.”
Linda had an inkling as to what was in the small, rectangular box, judging by its size. Undoing the bow, she opened it and found that she was correct. Inside was a simple red, baby rose.
Just like the one he had given her years earlier. It may have been tiny and delicate, but it emitted its sweet perfume, and she didn’t know why but she felt her throat tighten with a sudden urge to cry.
Lord, Jesus, what’s happening? She avoided Drew’s gaze, which seemed to be awaiting hers.
“That’s as beautiful as the one you gave me years ago.” Somehow, she managed to keep her voice steady.
“Uh-huh. I was happy to find a florist who had one.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, want to take a walk? Catch up?”
“That’d be great.”
“Ride the carousel. Later, maybe.”
Whenever you’d like. After so long, she felt shy saying those words. As if shyness had ever been a problem for her, when it was in Linda’s nature to speak up for herself or others.
“Later, if we get a chance, that’d be nice,” she said. “But, okay, let’s walk.”
This was a date. She hadn’t been sure before, when he’d invited her to meet him on the boardwalk, but the carousel, the tiny rose, the tender looks—everything was pointing to this being a date.
“On the beach? On the boardwalk?” he specified, giving her the impression that he, too, was out of practice, date-wise.
“On the beach. It’s less crowded. Or at least we can make our way better.”
“On the beach, it is.” At the nearby ramp, one of many along the boardwalk, he turned to her.
“Leave our shoes up here, right? By the boardwalk?”
How strange, yet how familiar! They were behaving as if no time had elapsed between them. Doing what they’d done as young people.
Except she hadn’t kissed him. Or he hadn’t kissed her. Lord, she wanted to kiss him so badly, like a teenager in love, with that crazy, now-or-never urgency of a teenager.
This was the music director at church. At True Vine, her home church, with her pastor and Maribel, and her friends. Where she was fed spiritually, where she attended service and worshipped and fellowshipped. The place she would have to leave if things went awry this time with the man who’d been her boyfriend years ago. And finding a new church was always a daunting task.
“Let’s leave them up here,” she said and slipped off her sandals. “Andrew Lingerfelt…what happened to your guitar?”
Drew was bent at the waist, pulling off his shoe when he squinted up at her. “I told you. It got burned up in a fire.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, both of us know that’s not what happened. Now, if it’s something that’s none my business, Drew, then just say so. But don’t tell me something that I know in my heart isn’t true.”
Was he offended? And if he was, would he put an end to their first date? Unless he had changed, he’d always been even-tempered. Unlike her ex-husband, he had never been snippy, either.
“That must’ve been bothering you,” he grumbled.
“It has been bothering me. Again, if it’s none of my business—”
“I sold it. I didn’t get much for it, because someone had...put a lot of little flowers all over it. But I got a few bucks for it at a time when I needed money.” He had slipped on his sunglasses, which effectively hid his eyes, and lifted his chin in defiance. “So now you know the truth about my guitar.”
Or part of the truth. Because there was more to the story than what he was telling her. Linda began to walk beside him, both of them barefoot on the sand. She knew she couldn’t press him further.
“How did you used to do that? How do you still do that?” Drew sounded more amazed than irritated.
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s instincts after having been a mom.” Not a very romantic response, and she doubted it was what he wanted to hear on a romantic date. She decided to change the subject in an effort to lighten the mood. “So you know about where I’ve been these years. Tell me about you, Drew.”
“Actually, I have a question I need you to answer.”
They had been making their way down to the water. Linda watched a young family—a dad and mom in their late twenties, with two boys, toddlers, in the water.
“What's that?” She pushed past her fear to ask.
“Why did you leave me, Linda? Why did you marry someone else, a guy you barely knew, when we’d been together for years?”
It wasn't quite an accusation, though there was a trace of anger in those words. No—not anger, but hurt.
“Excuse me, but you were the one who broke up with me,” she reminded him sharply. “You were the one who left me.”
That wasn’t the conversation that she wanted to be having with him. What had happened to that carefree afternoon they were supposed to have been sharing? Chatting with an old friend, catching up with each other’s lives.
What they were doing was dealing with the proverbial elephant in the room. Questions that had gone unanswered for years. Linda turned to Drew, who stood with his hands in his pockets, looking out at the water. In the distance a party boat of leisure fishermen and women chugged along, past the waves.
“I can understand you wanting him,” he said without looking at her. “He was a young guy with a future. I was—I had no direction back then. I just wanted to play music—”
“My father pushed for that. And that ‘young man with a future’ got me pregnant. I was responsible for what happened, too, except he wasn’t the perfect guy my father made him out to be. He proved that by walking away from me and his child.” There was no bitterness there; it was only the truth. The truth wasn’t always pretty or neat.
Drew removed his glasses, nodding. “I would’ve married you. I wouldn’t have done that to you or the baby.”
“No? She was another man’s daughter.”
“She would’ve been my daughter, Linda. Or at least I would have raised her that way. I would’ve loved her. Because I loved you.”
His voice was hoarse. She pressed, “Still, it was you who said goodbye—”
“Because your father said I was a loser.”
My father? What he thought about you didn’t matter to me, Drew.” Linda tried not to raise her voice with emotion.
“That’s how you feel now. Back then, he controlled you, Linda. And we were also fighting a lot. I thought you didn’t want me. That you didn’t love me. And then I went to the church on the day of your wedding and I would’ve—”
Linda stared at him. “You were there?”
“No.”
“Drew, you just said you were!” Her patience was dwindling. “Now which is it?”
“All right. I was there. And I was going to ask you not to marry him. To marry me instead. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t want to ruin your wedding. Or your life, Linda. It was June 11, 1988. It was a Saturday. About two in the afternoon. St. Joseph’s of the Palisades. West New York, New Jersey.”
Stunned, she touched her throat with her hand. “Oh. My Lord…you were there.”
Drew shrugged. “I just want you to know. And I wanted you to know that’s what happened.”
She didn’t know what to say. Apparently, he didn’t, either, though he gently took her forearm and led her down the beach along the wet, darkened sandy. On an impulse, more to see if he would accept the gesture of affection, she let her hand slip through the crook of his arm.

That was when he looked at her. Intensely, without rancor or anger.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hot Off the E-Presses!

DISTANT FIRE, which you probably know by now is Book 2 of THE JOYFUL NOISE SERIES, is available NOW!

Get your copy at Amazon

Get your copy at Smashwords

Linda Cuthbertson doesn't pay much attention when she hears the news that her church has just hired a new music director. That is, until she comes face to face--again--with Drew Lingerfelt. Years, miles and life itself have come between Linda and the man she has always thought of as her first love. Having married and divorced the father of her child, she's made a life for herself with only her daughter, her work, and her faith in God.

But now Drew is back...and so are her feelings for him. He also realizes that he has never totally forgotten about Linda. Has The Lord brought him to the town of Hathaway solely for the purpose of using his musical talent at True Vine Gospel...or is God giving them a second chance to find happiness in each other's arms?

The second book of JOYFUL NOISE, the Christian romance series by the author of THE LARKSPUR VALLEY SERIES.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 2014 in Pictures


Summer has been awesome! A visit to Pennsylvania for a family gathering, where we saw son Joey and Lake Erie...a visit from good friends, Andy and Carol, who came up from Florida...a Phil Wickham concert...driving through Kings Mountain and sharing appetizers and a bluegrass band with friends at Rodi's. Great month!