Perfectly Imperfect

Hello! Thursday MorningHello, Thursday Morning readers! Coffee’s on. While I’m waiting for it, how many of you read suspense?

I just read a really good one.

I promised a book review a couple weeks ago, then got sidetracked. Yeah, well  it happens. Elizabeth Noyes, one of my fellow Write Integrity Press authors recently released the final book in her action-packed, suspenseful Imperfect series. I’ve loved every one of them, so of course I was anxious to read this one.

Welcome to the “Triple C” — home of the characters in this series — a beautiful horse ranch in Idaho. It’s not your ordinary home, though. It’s kind of like a compound. The Cameron brothers are not only tall, dark, and handsome, but also somewhat lethal. Each of the books features a different Cameron sibling, including the beautiful twin sisters.

Of all the Cameron brothers, Jonas is the one I thought would never settle down. He’s special forces, haunted by his past. A highly trained, skilled warrior with PTSD. He’s dangerous to be around, or so it seems. Can he really leave his past behind?

Shea Townsend has a chip on her shoulder, but a soft spot for Jonas. She sees right through the heavy armor he wears, even when he thinks he’s heavily cloaked. But he’s a wild card. Can she trust him? She’s been thrown before, so she’s taking it slow.

As the story moves forward, sometimes at the speed of sound with plenty of action, we learn Shea’s past and why she’s so distrustful. And maybe why she’s such a perfect fit for this last Cameron. Maybe.

Just about the time I thought I could take a breath, something happened and the story took off again.

Right up until the end, I was holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. My friend, Betty Noyes is a master storyteller. She writes tight, exciting suspense, and she does her research. That much is obvious. I highly recommend this series, and especially this final book. But I have to admit, I’m a little sad that the Camerons rode into the sunset.

I’ll be watching the horizon to see what’s next from this author.

Have a blessed weekend!

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Back to the Land of Ruth

Happy Thursday morning! Coffee needed and keep it coming! We’ve had an extremely wet week in our neck of the woods. I’m hoping for sunshine and maybe a little more summertime.

I’ve spent several weeks in memory mode, contemplating my future writing. Now, it’s time to return to the story of Ruth. Once again, I’m immersing myself in the beautiful Biblical story. Once I’ve studied it, I’ll re-read Annabelle’s Ruth and Sutter’s Landing.

This past week, I’m also researching my setting for the third and final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. Something caught my interest, and may find it’s way into the story line. If you are of a certain age, and lived in the southeastern region of the United States, you may remember what happened in the late fifties/early sixties.

Jackson, Tennessee, just a short drive south from my rural setting, was often in the news in those days. It’s the home of Lane College, a traditionally all-black college (during that time), associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Several brave young men and women took it upon themselves to force the desegregation issue by staging “sit-ins” at area drug store soda fountains (like the one in my stories).

This, and several other “powder-keg” events happened during the timeline of book three. So, of course, I need to find a way to incorporate it in the story.

Back to the present: the church I attend is culturally and racially diverse. Though comparatively small, our congregation has a wonderful balance. Right now, under the leadership of our pastor, we are studying The Third Option by Miles McPherson. It’s a book about honor and respect, and learning to love your neighbor without prejudice.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. One of the main reasons I’ve been able to handle the racial issues in the first two books in this series with grace, is the balance in my life. I believe it is directly tied to interaction and fellowship with my church family—a vibrant group of men and women united by their love for God and each other.

At one time in the south, it didn’t matter whether a person was Polynesian or Haitian, or African, or even Latin or Native American. They were considered a lesser race. Even a person of mixed race was denied the privilege to marry a Caucasian at one time. So my main character in books one and two had a couple of hurdles ahead of her.

Why even include this in my story? Why did I need the racial element in Annabelle’s Ruth? Consider the original story. If you’re familiar with the book of Ruth, you’ll remember that she was a foreigner, a Moabitess. She left her home, where she was in the majority, and traveled to Naomi’s homeland, where a Moabite was definitely a minority, and subject to prejudice. It is obvious from content that a Moabite looked different.

Ruth earned something dear—God’s blessing—through her loyalty to Naomi, one of God’s chosen.

As I complete this series, I need to finish with a bang and tie up all the loose ends. I believe I’ll find what I need in the pages of the original story. I can’t wait to find out what happens!

Real Life and Romance

Hello, Thursday morning! Have you had your coffee yet? No? I thought you looked a little bleary-eyed. Oh, wait—that’s a mirror—I’m the bleary-eyed-one. Be right back.

I don’t think there’s any way I can top last week’s post. It was a winner. It’s apparent to me, my readers like real life stories, especially when it involves romance. Which may be why I especially enjoyed one of the reviews I found on my latest release, Rebecca’s Legacy:

Thank you, Caroline Gabor!

As a young reader, I enjoyed biographies. The real-life stories of some of my favorite people interested me. That’s the appeal of writing non-fiction, I suppose. Getting to know folks better, especially when extraordinary things happen.

Which is probably why I was always fascinated by my maternal grandmother’s life. I was only two when she died, so I have no memory of her. Only snippets of stories my mother told over the years. For some reason I was never privy too, my grandfather left her and his two daughters behind in Seattle, and moved to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he cleared out their bank account before he left.

Right off, you’ll probably think how horrible that was, and figure the family hated him afterwards, but that’s not really what happened. He was angry when he left, because he wanted to move, and my grandmother didn’t. So he took all his hard-earned cash and went away, probably thinking she would relent.

He should’ve known better.

Grandma and Bernie Alonzo, 1952

Audrie Leon Packnett Christy (Alonzo), my grandmother, was of Austrian/native American descent (both came from her father). I hear she had a strong will. “Sit up straight, Joan.” My mother told me how she’d demand that her girls stand tall. Straight shoulders. No slouching. Walk like a lady. Maybe some of those demands are the reason my mother left home at an early age. She was still in high school when she went to live with a friend in a small downtown apartment.

Mom married at seventeen, her sister married at fifteen. My grandmother remarried around the time my mother left home. There are a lot of blanks in this story. My mother never talked about that time, and I’ve never pressed her to tell. I wonder, though, because my step-grandfather said of my grandmother, “She was the love of my life. I will never forget her.”

I know he was the one who drove my mother to the hospital when I was on my way into the world. My grandmother named me, and was the first, after my mother, to hold me. I think she created a bond that’s never left me.

I look through Mom’s old photographs and dream up stories to fill the holes. One day, I’ll tell the stories.

Henry Earl Christy, my grandpa, lived in Southern California until he died at the age of 75. His health was bad, but every photo shows him smiling, and most photos include a dog. He also remarried. My step-grandmother’s name was Viola, and that’s what we called her. Never Grandma, or any variation of it, just, “Viola.”

She smoked a lot and usually had an alcoholic beverage in her hand. She had a low voice, and she laughed easily. But, she also dictated where they would live. When Grandpa wanted to live in the Santa Monica mountains to be near a hot springs (relief for his Rheumatoid Arthritis), she put her foot down. It was too cold there. She preferred the valley, so they moved to Paramount.

In Paramount, Grandpa met some of the “movie stars” when they visited the hospital. There’s a picture somewhere, of Grandpa with Betty White. I hope I inherit that one someday. 🙂

He spent a lot of time in hospitals, sometimes as a patient, other times, as a volunteer. Volunteering helped pay the hospital bills. He also became a guinea pig, allowing them to try new procedures, hoping to help others overcome RA and Emphysema. After his death, he left his body to research. I try not to think about that. I’m sure he joked about it. Maybe they’d call him “Joe.” He’d hang out with the other cadavers.

That was my Grandpa. I didn’t know him well, because most of my life, I lived over here, and he was over there. But, he wrote almost weekly letters to my mother, so we knew about him.

Maybe someday, I’ll write that story, too. There’s a romance in there somewhere, I just know it.

An Anniversary on Labor Day Weekend

Hello, Thursday morning readers—

Is there anything better than that first sip of that first cup of coffee of the day?

On this first Thursday in September, I thought I’d share a little something personal. We’ve just celebrated Labor Day, which is the Forty-Fourth anniversary of a first date.

It wasn’t a traditional date, however. I wasn’t actually with the guy I ended up married to. But we were on the same date.

I guess you might be wondering what I mean by that. Well, I was on a double-date. It was sort of a double blind date. Now I know for sure you’re wondering about it. 🙂

At the time, I was living in Columbia, Tennessee. I decided to visit a friend (Pam) in Louisville, Kentucky, and I thought it would be nice to invite one of my Tennessee friends (Carol) along for the ride. When Carol and I arrived, Pam told us she had a date on Saturday night, and hoped we wouldn’t mind. Being a kind and very attentive hostess, she couldn’t leave us unattended, so had been trying to set us up with dates of our own.

I was dubious, especially when I heard she’d only been able to secure a date for Carol. How humiliating was that? Pam explained that most of her friends my age were in college or seminary. Since it was a holiday weekend, they’d gone home to visit family. That was her story.

Her plan was for us to go to an outdoor concert at the Iroquois Park Amphitheater. It was a Christian event, and was supposed to be really good.

Carol was shy. Really, really, shy. So she didn’t care if we just hung out in our hotel room for the evening. But Pam was persistent. Once she decided on something, she was going to make it happen.

Mid-afternoon, Carol’s “date” rang the doorbell. Pam confessed to me that he wanted to “get a look at” her before going out. Hmm…

I accompanied Pam to the door, and as it opened, revealing Pam’s friend, Bob, something happened inside my heart. Something like a little bell ringing. No, I’m not kidding—it really happened. Well, either that, or an alarm went off somewhere in the house. I’m sticking with the “bell ringing in my heart” theory, though I didn’t really pay much attention at the time, other than to note it.

The guy at the door didn’t ring my bell. No way. His hair was too long, he had a mustache and “chops” (long sideburns for those unfamiliar with that term). Way too much hair, y’all.

Pam & Bob standing, Donna & Brenda seated. Not sure who the dog is.

I will admit, he had a nice smile and a great personality. We were soon joined by his best buddy, Rick. I knew Rick from school. We’d sat across the table from each other in Physical Science class, and spent a lot of time laughing. The class was taught by one of the school’s favorite teachers, who liked to take us on nature walks in spring. The smokers liked those nature walks, because they were allowed to smoke.

Back to the double-blind-date in process: I suggested we go out with Bob and Rick, and it not be a real date, just four friends going to a concert in the park. The plan was accepted, so Carol and I returned to our hotel room to get ready, and wait for our “non-dates” to pick us up.

When they arrived, Carol and I headed out, but there seemed to be some confusion at the car. Bob was in Rick’s face in some kind of low-voiced discussion. I heard a few words.

(Bob) “What do you think?”

(Rick) “I think we should leave it the way it was planned…wouldn’t be right…”

(Me) Hmm….

Bob opened the door for Carol, Rick opened a back door for me. So far, so good. We arrived at the park, the concert in progress. We sat, Bob and Carol, me and Rick. Bob kept leaning forward and talking to me in front of Carol. I thought it a bit odd.

The next day, Pam took me aside (actually took me into the bathroom and shut the door so no one would overhear). She told me Bob liked me. A lot. And wondered if I was interested.

Gee. He was younger than me. He had a lot of hair. He wore raggedy pants. And really, really short shorts. Actually, those were once blue jeans that had frayed back to almost nothing. The pockets were longer than the shorts. His tennis shoes had holes in them, too. I know, it was the seventies, and it was the style, but I had never really liked that look. Still better than droopy pants, though.

Before I left town, he asked if it would be all right if he wrote to me. I said why not. I think I actually did say that. I was a big believer in God’s perfect will and God’s perfect timing. If God was in a thing, it would come about.

The rest is history, as they say. Bob and I married on December 21st of that same year. Yes, I know that was only a few months later. It was crazy. But don’t ask if it was love. Bob will tell you one thing, I’ll tell you another. That’s because he’s a pragmatist, and I’m a romantic.

All I know, is we’re still a couple and pretty happy about it. And we’re still friends with Pam.

Book Sales and Tour Stops

Hello, Thursday morning readers! I hope you’re having a wonderful week. If not, it’s nearly over. 🙂

I have a short post today, because the blog tour for Rebecca’s Legacy is well under way.  (Hey that rhymes!)

So far, we’ve been to the following blogs (in case you missed them):

Texas Book-aholic, August 11

Remembrancy, August 12

Inklings and notions, August 13

Baker Kella, August 14

proud to be an autism mom, August 15

And later today, we are here:

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 16

Reading is my Super Power, August 16 (Interview)

And the rest of the tour (in case you’re dropping in at a later date)

Janices book reviews, August 17

Bibliophile Reviews, August 18

Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 19

Carpe Diem, August 20

A Baker’s Perspective, August 21

Power of Words, August 22 (Spotlight)

margaret kazmierczak, August 23 (Interview)

Bigreadersite, August 24

NOTE: Some of these are in a different time zone, so may post later in the day.

I’d like to invite you to stop in at each one and enter the drawing for the $50 Amazon Gift Card. When you leave a comment on the tour stop blog, you receive nine extra entries! Wow, that’s generous.

Not only do you have a chance to win the gift card, but you’ll find a recipe for the yummy pie Amy and Matt enjoy at Gert’s Diner, en route to Perry’s Landing. Gert’s Diner may be make-believe, but the pie is real—one of my favorite old-fashioned recipes.

Have you read Rebecca’s Legacy? Please consider leaving a book review at Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews are like gold to writers. There’s no better way to express your appreciation. And it doesn’t have to be long or beautifully written. “This is a wonderful story,” is a perfect review, especially with lots of those yellow stars. Lol.

And if you haven’t read the book yet, the price has been lowered on the Kindle version for a limited time. Click the lovely meme below for more information!

In closing—may your day be blessed, and may you be a blessing wherever you go!

Click to Purchase!

Don’t forget, if you sign up for my newsletter, you get the novella, “Lake Frigid Aire” absolutely FREE! Thanks! Betty’s Newsletter