Once Upon a Time…

…four little words that deliver instant peace. Am I alone in this? Perhaps for me, they spur a pleasant, long-ago memory of being read to before sleeping.

As you can see in this photo, I’ve been reading for a long time.

This simple phrase opens a gateway into my imagination. Sleeping Beauty lies just beyond the gate, or Cinderella, Rapunzel, or Belle in Beauty and the Beast. As a child, I could easily imagine myself in one of those roles.

Once upon a time, I started a little story, having no idea where it would go. But writing it was fun and by the time I had mapped it out, the ending surprised me. I suppose that may be the reason I love to write. So, here is how it began:


Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a tiny house on a large hill. Her name was Adelaide Thornton, and every weekday morning at exactly seven-ten, she said goodbye to her mother and began the long walk down the large hill. She stopped at the mailbox, where she waited until exactly seven-twenty-five, when her school bus arrived.

She greeted Mr. Augustus, who always answered, “Mornin’ Addy,” and then she made her way to the fifth row and sat in the seat on the left. This particular seat was always empty as if someone was saving it for Adelaide.

Though the bus was already filled with youngsters, no one else spoke to Adelaide, or even acknowledged her. And she was okay with that.

She scooched over, sitting close to the window, which left plenty of room for someone else to sit, but there was never anyone there. At least, no one that anyone else could see, other than Adelaide.

On this early spring morning, the bus made an unexpected stop before continuing on its way. Adelaide watched the front as a new kid climbed the steps. He seemed to be about her age, but he was taller. He had scruffy red hair and lots of freckles.

His eyes searched the bus and then, to her chagrin, stopped on the empty seat beside Adelaide. The only empty seat on the crowded bus.

As he made his way down the aisle, Adelaide noticed that no one was talking. The kids on the bus had gone completely quiet, as though they waited to see what would happen when the new boy tried to sit next to “Crazy Addy.”

The boy stopped at the fourth row and stood looking at Adelaide. “Is it all right if I sit with you?”

She heard a whooshing sound, as though everyone on the bus gasped at the same moment. And then she heard a whisper, “He’s very polite. I like him. Let him sit with us.”

All she could do was nod.                                                                              

The boy smiled and sat down.

Adelaide scrunched over, even closer to the window, so there would be room for everyone.

The other children on the bus began to titter and chat, but Adelaide knew they were watching…and waiting…and wondering. She also noticed Mr. Augustus’ eyes on her in the rearview mirror. He gave her a smile and a nod before setting off.

As the bus rolled forward, Adelaide heard, “He’s new in town. You should tell him your name and ask his name.”

She frowned at the empty spot in the middle of the seat, where someone sat. Someone no one else could see, except for Adelaide. But what he had said made sense to her. After all, the boy did seem very polite and had asked her permission to sit.

She cleared her throat.

Again, the other children hushed.

Adelaide ignored them and focused on the new kid. “I’m Adelaide Thornton. What’s your name?”

The new kid looked at her. “Nice to meet you, Adelaide. I’m Matthew Sommers, but everyone calls me Rusty.” He ruffled his dark, red hair and grinned.

Adelaide smiled back at him. Rusty was not only polite, but he was kind of funny, too. No wonder her brother liked him.

Oh yes, her brother. Adelaide was a twin. Though her brother had only lived two days on this earth, he had never left her. Some folks thought she was nuts and that’s why they called her, “Crazy Addy.” Others, mostly older folks, smiled and said she had an invisible friend. Only Adelaide knew the truth. He might be invisible, but he was not just a friend. He was her twin brother, Paul.


To be continued…

Last Days – A Book Review

Nike N. Chillemi – Mystery & a Merry Heart

According to Nike’s website, her novels contain “Grace and Grit” and she likes her bad guys “really bad” and her “good guys fighting for justice against steep odds”.

I have known Nike Chillemi for some years now. We are both members of an ACFW critique loop, so I have been involved with the writing of several of her detective novels. We have both weathered a few storms in our personal lives along the way–a positive, bonding experience for sure.

This may lead some to believe my review of her latest book might be biased. But I would like to be honest about her latest work, because in my humble opinion, it’s her best yet.

Last Days – A Katerina “Kat” Andruko/Dimitri Garmonin Novel

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son.

Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.


Like most good detective stories, Last Days begins with a crime that needs solving. Detective Andruko is on the case. In the beginning, all the roads lead to dead ends. Chillemi keeps the action high and the story moving forward. She also keeps a constant battle going as Kat Andruko deals with doubt and anxiety surrounding her upcoming marriage to Dimitri Garmonin.

Though the two seem perfect for each other, the future mother-in-law is not at all pleased with her son’s choice. So, our main detective, Kat Andruko, is off-kilter and questioning herself in every way. Add in a liberal dose of whodunnit, and you have a winning recipe for a riveting story.

Chillemi keeps her readers guessing till the end. Even me. I thought I’d predicted the outcome early on, but I was wrong. I love that! This was a quick, fun read. One of the things I enjoyed most was Chillemi’s inclusion of characters from her Ingles/Hughes series. The familiar “faces” made me feel at home in the story.

Keep ‘em coming, Nike!

Nike N. Chillemi has a passion for crime fiction. She writes detective stories and mysteries with a national security twist. Some have called her novels “classic whodunits,” while others think they’re “cozy thrillers,” loaded with taut suspense with a healthy dose of wry humor. She’s known for compelling main characters, zany and quirky secondary and tertiary characters, and dangerous villains. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is the founding board member of the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight (formerly Grace Awards).

Find more information here: NikeChillemi.com and Nike’s Amazon Author Page

Of Princes and Kings

I watched one of those Hallmark movies about modern-day princes. It was a cute love story, though clichéd, of course. I was reminded of my younger days when there was an unmarried prince in Great Britain. He was often featured in the news and made the covers of many of our magazines. Young ladies everywhere dreamed of marrying the man who would be king one day.

Why do we dream of marrying a prince?

There are the obvious reasons, of course.

  • fame
  • money
  • a beautiful storybook wedding
  • crown jewels
  • a title
  • servants to meet our every need
  • we’d get to dress up a lot
  • we’d get to wear a tiara
  • love

Oh yeah, love. Probably should have put that in first position. Of course we’d fall head-over-heels in love with “his handsomeness.” The romance would be over the top.

We imagine carriages drawn by white horses…

In our fantasy, we’ll wear elegant ballgowns and waltz the night away…and of course, any objections to our ordinariness, our lack of a royal pedigree, will be disallowed. Just like in the movies.

Back to real life. I have to admit, some of those movies are fun to watch. This latest one made me think. Maybe our longing to be wooed by a prince isn’t so far off base. After all, as a Christian believer, I have something similar–no–greater to look forward to. The return of the King.

He is the rider on the white horse, described as “Faithful and True,..”. “His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems…” Revelation 19:11 & 12 ESV

"Hallelujah! 
For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, 
for the marriage of the Lamb has come, 
and his Bride has made herself ready; 
it was granted her to clothe herself 
with fine linen, bright and pure"--" 
Revelation 19:6-8 ESV

We long for a prince while a King is preparing a place for us. The getting ready part is up to us. It was granted her to clothe herself…

While we can’t make ourselves righteous any more than that “ordinary” girl can make herself royal, we are able to do what it takes to “put on righteousness” and open the door that allows entry to His Kingdom. How?

Believe.

Too simple? Surely, it has to be more complicated than that. However, the beauty of this love story is its simplicity.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 ESV

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

John 6:37 ESV

And finally,

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12 ESV

Energize Me!

How has it been a month already since I last posted on here? Where did the time go? Well, I’ve been typing away, working to finish that first book in a new series. It’s a different genre for me, so it brought along a learning curve. I ran into a few snags along the way. Toss in a pandemic, and a couple of serious medical dramas in the family…but I won’t bore you with those details. We have all had some life changes this year.

So, I’m really late in doing this: updating my calendar.

For some, replacing the old year’s calendar with the new one is enough to awaken their senses and renew their hope.

For me, it takes a little more planning and lots of coffee.

First, coffee, then planning…

Nothing inspires me like reading from the Bible everyday. I read, meditate, and pray. That’s my foundation. From that point on, the rest of the day seems to fall into place. Most of the time.

Setting goals is hard for me. I’m not really a planner and my writing style is “seat-of-the-pants” — I don’t always know where the story will lead, but I love to follow the trail.

Rabbit trails are my specialty.

However, a little structure helps guide me through my days. So, I usually jot down a list of things I hope to accomplish monthly, weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly. Drawing a line through an accomplished task is one of my favorite things!

I’m still working part-time, doing the bookkeeping for a small business. So, I’m always learning in order to keep up with the latest upgrades to the program they use. Not to mention the “t” word (taxes).

And then, I’m a writer. Like many other pursuits in life, writing requires constant work and study just to keep up with the basics.

For that, I receive newsletters and blog posts from some of the best teachers. I attend a local writers group monthly and try to attend one or two conferences each year. These are valuable for continuing education and connecting with other writers.

Other writers.

Yes, they are out there. This can also be challenging. I’ve learned that they are not as rare as they once were. Interaction with them takes skill and training. They speak a different language–it’s called book-speak. It includes acronyms like POV and SOTP. You have to learn the language to survive among them. If you join a group, it may be called a crit group. They express opinions about your writing and include things like IMHO and MOO.

You’re laughing, but it’s true.

Once again, I’ve headed down a rabbit trail. There are some important points I need to make here. In the coming weeks, I’ll wrench myself free of that deadline rabbit hole and get back into the habit of communicating with my readers. I know I’ve been threatening to do that, but I really mean it this time. 🙂

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my silly post. I hope this year is treating you well so far. There is hope out there. For some, it may be a tiny thread. For others, a full blown sunrise, flooding the horizon with gorgeous colors. For me, that’s the most energizing of sights, if I can drag myself out of my warm bed in time to observe it, fully armed with a cup of hot coffee and a fresh prayer for all of you. Joy comes in the morning! May your days be blessed. May God arise with healing in His wings for all of us.

And All Creation Sings

A New Year

Today is the last day of 2020. I wonder what tonight will bring. Instead of fireworks, will we hear the sound of a collective sigh?

My message at the beginning of 2020 was Choose Joy. What a challenge it would become. But whenever I did choose joy, life became so much easier to bear. This fine year has brought many losses to me and those I care about. Too many to count. If I tried, I’d truly become depressed.

I’m a romantic with an optimistic nature. I tend to look for the good in whatever is happening. There are times when that becomes…difficult. But today, I choose joy. And I choose to count my blessings. I’ll be counting for a while…

Now I can turn the page. My phrase for 2021 is:

Photograph by Aleksey Kutsar via Pixabay

I love this.

If I have learned something well, I can then recreate it. For instance, when I find a favorite recipe, I continue to follow the directions until I have it memorized and can create it on my own, without using the recipe.

That will be my goal. To take what I have learned this past year and share it. As an artist, I love to create. I don’t draw or paint (well), but I love to create stories. The possibility of creating a sense of joy in my writing inspires me!

And I hope this simple message will inspire you, too.

Happy New Year!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Psalm 98:4 ESV