Sunday, September 28, 2014

Free Ebook for ONE WEEK

If you haven't already read ONE SWEET DAY, my novel that spans four decades about a group of believers awaiting the rapture, it's going for FREE (the ebook version) from now until next Saturday.

I should add: It's free on Smashwords, and now apparently on Itunes and Kobo, too.

Very few of my books are in paperback version, but ONE SWEET DAY, which is a longer length book at over 70,000 words, happens to be one of the ones that is. So if you read the ebook version and would like to purchase it as a gift for a friend (Christmas is coming, just sayin' :D) or your church library, you can find it here on Amazon.

Enjoy! Hurry, because the ebook version returns to full price next Sunday!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Excerpt from ONE SWEET DAY

(Though this book has been out since January of this year, I realized I've never offered an excerpt. In anticipation of the release of LEFT BEHIND, starring Nicolas Cage, here it is.)

Why was he driving the hearse? That was Jason Nolan’s job. Tremayne worked in the office, consoling families and helping them with the arrangements. Mark Wagner had also been training him to do other things, but driving wasn’t one of them. Now, for some reason, he had the keys to the hearse.
“Tremayne, come here—look at this! Something’s wrong.”
He followed his boss’ voice to the rear of the vehicle. What was Mr. Wagner doing there?
Even stranger, the funeral director and three other people Tremayne didn’t recognize were surrounding an open casket, which had been tossed unceremoniously onto the floor. The carriage that was supposed to transport it to the grave was nowhere in sight.
“Oh, Lord,” Tremayne said as calmly as he could manage. “Where is the deceased?”
“He was in the casket.” One of the other men sounded nervous. “You saw him, didn’t you? I know I saw him. He was in there. Now he’s not. He’s not there, but he was…”
Tremayne squinted at him. What sort of roundabout, nonsensical talk was that? And who was the man, because he didn’t recall ever seeing him before?
Was this even really happening? Or was it a dream? It couldn’t have been a dream because a woman on a bike swerved just in time before colliding with him. A biker disrespecting a funeral procession? So, so strange.
“Hey!” he hollered. “Be careful!”
An older gentleman passing him stopped and pushed his hat further back on his head.
“Hurry, son,” the man urged him. “He’s coming, He’s coming! Hurry.”
“Who’s coming?”
Tremayne didn’t wait for an answer, and even if he had, the man was gone.
And he knew the answer. He knew it instinctively.
With the funeral forgotten, he followed the crowd. His heart beat faster with fear and anticipation. Anticipation, because he was starting to understand what was happening. Fear, because he couldn’t believe his eyes: Several of the graves he was passing had been disturbed. Headstones had been toppled over. Graves were open, revealing fresh, soft earth, with rocks strewn in between. Caskets, long buried, torn open.
Open…and empty.
This was it. Tremayne knew it in his heart. He moved from a fast walk to a sprint.
He recognized that hill. It was actually nowhere near the cemetery; it was the same hill that had been behind his childhood home, where he and his brother had been raised together. By his estimation, there were tens of thousands of people—or more—on that hill, hurrying to climb it. Even with all those people, he spotted Lita in the distance. She smiled and waved at him.
“Wait for me, Lita!” he cried. Her face was almost angelic, beaming, and she was dressed in a pristine white robe.
“The blessed hope, Tremayne!” she called back. “The rapture. Oh, Jesus, my Lord—”
For that moment, he looked away from her to the sky.
It looked like the heavens were opening like a scroll. That brought to mind the words of an old hymn: “And Lord, haste the day, when my faith shall be sight; the clouds be rolled back as a scroll…”
It was as if the clouds were pushed away by an invisible hand and ribbons of color appeared in the sky. Ribbons of gold, of red, purple, every shade of blue, green.
Tremayne couldn’t move. His feet might as well have been bolted to the ground. He had never seen anything so beautiful in his life as that sky.
The rapture. This was the rapture.
The blessed hope.
The day that had come, as Jesus had told His disciples, as “a thief in the night.”

Abruptly, Tremayne opened his eyes. He swallowed hard and found that his throat was dry. His right arm was hanging over the side of the bed, and Duke was licking his hand. The puppy wanted to be let out in the backyard to do his business.
“Okay, boy, okay. Give me a second,” Tremayne mumbled with a sigh.
He always wore his checkered pajama bottoms and a short-sleeved T-shirt, that one bearing the name of a local apple orchard, to bed. Tucking his feet into his slippers, Tremayne shuffled down the stairs with the dog in tow.
Opening the back door, he let Duke out and looked out into the backyard. He and Lita had talked about buying a grill for the patio, along with one of those outdoor table and chairs, so they could have friends and family over for hot dogs and cheeseburgers. Eventually, they’d put up a swing set when their children came along.
No rapture yet, he thought, surprised by that flicker of disappointment.
No rapture. Just that present life, with its pain and its suffering, with its wars and hunger and violence and hatred.
But that life wasn’t without its blessings, too. Life on earth had brothers whose big dreams sometimes managed to come true, and mouth-watering, seven-layer cakes were baked by loving, beautiful future brides. And a job that perhaps wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but which he enjoyed because it allowed him to help families, treating them with respect and kindness, during a difficult and heartbreaking time in their lives.
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend; even so, it is well with my soul.

“Not time yet, I guess, Father,” he prayed under his breath. “But maybe in our lifetime. Only You know.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

(Almost) One Whole Healthful Year

Around this same time last year I got a new pair of running shoes (replacing this funky, cute-but-highly uncomfortable pair. The intention was to start running--something I'd always wanted to do, and friends on Facebook who DID run at my age had just fueled that fire. Ultimately, I'm glad that I gave it a wholehearted try, but it seemed just a bit too high-impact for me. Afraid that I would injure myself and that would impede on running and hiking, I dropped running, and instead became more dedicated to walking. (And hiking whenever I can get to a mountain!)

A friend from work, one of our wonderful midwives whose passion is yoga, told me, "Connie, high-impact is good, but exercise doesn't have to be high-impact to keep you healthy and feeling good. It just has to be something you love." This is a woman who's been doing yoga for years; she even goes on yoga retreats. She's also healthy and in great shape.

I took her advice. And here is the result: a brand new pair of running shoes to replace the ones I've worn out, both on pavement and on mountain trail.

Something clicked this year for me. Besides making a point to walk--or do some form of exercise, including bowling, hiking, Zumba, or biking--three to five times a week, I've begun eating more healthfully. More mindfully. Despite what I said earlier on this blog, I did return to Weight Watchers for a few months and dropped a little over 12 pounds.

I sort of hit a plateau at that point. My weight got "stuck" at 124 - 127 pounds. It was frustrating at first, since I was doing "all the right things."

So I decided to just maintain. Just combine what I'd learned in the past, between Weight Watchers, Intuiting Eating, and even Intermittent Fasting.

What ensued was one whole healthful year. Almost one whole year.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Background on CRYSTAL WAVES

As promised, here is the background story for my upcoming book, Crystal Waves, which is a Christian mainstream novel.

A book that started out with a "what-if" premise, it also has the distinction of being the first book I wrote back in the early 1990s, when my kids were small and I was a secretary for a brokerage house, and I decided that finally I would try to get my work published. Before my YA books, before my romance novels and Christian inspirational novels, before my short stories published by the confessions magazines, I wrote a Christian novel entitled Crystal Waves, which was roughly about 320 pages long (about 80,00 words, I believe). Someone back at the time suggested I send it to an agent in Texas, a man I'd never heard of before, but remember--I was a total newbie at the time, a complete tenderfoot tossing my hat into the ring. There were a lot of people I'd never heard of. Neither did I think of researching the person to whom I was trusting my work.

Eventually, I was repped by two terrific agents whom I'm proud to have worked with: Jean Price, who is no longer in the business, and Meredith Bernstein of New York. Today I work on my own. This guy, whoever he was, basically kept my book for months on end (though I suspect he just tossed it upon arrival, even though it had been sent with a SASE), and when I worked up the nerve to call him he callously said, "Oh, did I not send that back to you? I'll do that."

He never sent it back. Surprise! Boy, do I miss those days now as a self-pubbed author. Not. Anyway, that's okay. At least I had enough common sense to keep the original, which was written on Multimate. (Yes, it goes back THAT far.)

Crystal Waves then languished in my drawer for a while. In the meantime, I received rejection after rejection on other books and stories, like most new authors Back in the Day of Traditional Publishing, with my YA projects that almost made it but then ultimately didn't. I lost faith in the project and then eventually was published in other genres including romance. At one point, I deep-sixed the floppy on which the book was written and the original hard copy, believing it was just an early work with no potential and no prospects of ever being published. Besides, I was finally a "pubbed" writer who'd found some measure of (slim) success as a midlist author working in other genres.

In recent years as an indie publisher, I've been able to come back to my roots: the Christian/inspirational and mainstream genres. It's been a real pleasure to work on two series, namely Larkspur Valley and now my current series, Joyful Noise. With two books done and one to go in that series, I found myself remembering my "firstborn" baby, Crystal Waves.

I believe the Lord put that on my heart, to remember this what-if story, this big, sprawling novel with a big cast that includes--well, I'm getting ahead of myself.

But I couldn't publish the book. I threw it out, floppy disk and all. I've even gotten rid of computers that USE floppy disks. Besides, it had its share of warts, as most First Books.

Which means the book would have to be rewritten...from scratch.

From memory.

With a 54-year-old writer's memory, no less.

Much of the book is lost to me. Again, it's been years since I first wrote it. I remember key points, even parts that I KNEW wouldn't fly (and have since been eliminated from this new version). And yet the desire to rewrite and publish the book, to share it with my readers, became stronger and stronger.

So I am now rewriting Crystal Waves. Every author, I believe, has a Beloved But Forgotten Book. This is mine.

I'm writing it with the skill I've gained over the years, which I didn't have as a tenderfoot. I'm writing it not timidly or with the will-it-ever-see-the-light-of-day fears of an unpubbed author, but rather with confidence and with love. I could leave it there, in the Past, in the Revolving File, with all the newer irons I have in the fire.

Yet there is something to be said about something that was forgotten by the world, even by the "parent", that is resurrected and is given a second chance, that truly makes me want to return each day to work on this project and to nurture it and see it to the words THE END.

I'm hoping to publish Crystal Waves sometime in late October or early November, depending on its length, which will determine not only its writing but editing time frames.

Now to any authors out there...have any forgotten babies out there you need to take a second look at?