Thursday, April 18, 2019

Masquerade Ball Bloghop: Day #1

The release day for Masquerade: Oddly Suited is fast approaching! We, the authors, thought it would be fun to have a bloghop leading up to the book's release on April 30th! Let me tell you how this works.

Today I'm hosting one of my fellow authors. My guest will remain anonymous as this is the "masked" part of our masquerade ball. Each author will "unmask" his or her own character on April 30th. What a way to celebrate release day! Welcome to the Masquerade Ball Bloghop!

Are you curious about who today's author is? To help tide you over, here are a few facts the author decided to share about themselves. "Not long ago, I dreamed about traveling the world while never believing that I would. Then, on a whim and avoiding an ‘empty nest’, I moved overseas to take a new job. Today, I have been to every continent except for South America and Antarctica and it was all thanks to an offer I never expected. Now, I have so many memories that I reflect upon for inspiration in my writing. It was simply meant to be."

That sounds exciting, doesn't it? Now here's a sneak peak teaser that you will not find in the publication. Think of it as a little bonus scene to acquaint you with the characters. Enjoy!


From my vantage point atop this hill, my eyes stroll the landscape from the distant South Mountains, the Round Tops, and Culp's Hill. I imagine war machines ejecting their missiles of destruction from those very summits. I hear the echoes of the clashing of arms, the report of musket fire, and the thunder of cannons. The images I conjure seem so real.
While I am caught up in my daydreaming, a fast-moving fog settles around me and a chill races down my spine. I am not one to ignore my intuition, so I stow my binoculars and zip up my backpack. Just as I turn to leave, a sudden burst of brilliant light blinds me. As the light sparks and flares, burning brightly and then dimming, a shadow settles in the distance. I blink and my vision clears. Even though it is impossible from this distance, I see a soldier standing just inside the doorway of a small building, beckoning me to him with a raised hand. One moment I am miles away and the next, I am standing in a small room before the beckoning soldier.
I turn in a full circle and then ask, “How?”
He doesn’t answer. Instead, he dips his chin toward a wounded soldier lying upon a cot in the corner, an old woolen blanket covering him from chin to toes.
I glance down at the soldier’s face framed by the frayed edges of the blanket, and my breath leaves my body in a loud whoosh! I know that face, those eyes. They are his face and eyes. And when he glances my way, his familiar smile causes my heart to skip a beat. It’s a smile I can never forget for I see it every night in my dreams.
I turn to question the soldier, but he has vanished. Glancing around the room, I take in its sparse furnishings, and then I move closer to the injured man.       
“Is it really you?”
His brow furrows. “Have we met?”
A wave of sadness rushes over me. I wait for it to dissipate and then nod. “Yes. I believe we have.”           
He dips his chin and says, “You look familiar, but I am certain I would remember you if we had met.”
I don't know what to say, so I ask, “Is your injury a bad one? Are you in pain?"     
He shifts under the blanket and groans, his blue eyes dulling to gray. “Yes, it is pretty bad, miss.” My breath catches when he calls me miss. He has called me that before. I know it.
“Savi Jo...My name is Savi Jo. Are you suffering much then?”
“I am now, Savi Jo, but come morning I'll be better. And I'm Sam.”
I think, Sam. That sounds just right. Please, Sam, What can I do to help?” I need to do something, anything that might ease his pain.
Our eyes lock and the calmness in his blue ones soothes me. He asks, “Will you promise me one thing?”
“Yes, of course I will. Anything.”
Will you remember me, Savi Jo?”
“I will. Always, Sam.”
Then that’s all the medicine I require.”
I nod and without forethought or intent, I lean down, touching my lips to his cheek and whisper, “Bye, Sam.”
“Goodbye, Savi Jo.” I turn and walk away, down the steps and through the brilliance, straight into the darkness.
I feel Sam’s eyes follow me into the void, and a faint whisper wafts all around me. Round and round it blows. “Don't forget your promise, Savi.”
My heart whispers in response, “I never will, Sam.”        

Wow! Wasn't that great? I hope you all enjoyed it! Can you guess which of the Masquerade authors I hosted? No peeking! "Don your mask and join the party!"


Thur. April 18th: L.G. Keltner

Fri. April 19th: Jennifer Lane

Sat. April 20th: Deborah Solice

Mon. April 22nd: CD Gallant-King

Tues. April 23rd: Elizabeth Mueller

Wed. April 24th: Chelsea Marie Ballard

Thurs. April 25th: Carrie-Ann Brownian

Fri. April 26th: Myles Christensen

Sat. April 27th: Anstice Brown

Mon. April 29th: Angela Brown

Tues. Apr 30th: Book Release and The Unmasking (Just follow links above)!                            

Friday, April 12, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-April 12, 2019

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

First of all, I'd like to celebrate a quick recovery. My son Lyle fell off his bike last Friday night and hurt his finger. I took him to the emergency room and found out he had something called a buckle fracture. That means that the bone bent but didn't completely break. It's a common injury in kids since their bones are still pretty flexible. He was in a lot of pain for a couple of days and had to keep his finger buddy taped, but now he's acting like nothing happened. He also wasn't afraid to hop back on his bike after the fact.

Weather in my neck of the woods has been less than pleasant the last couple of days, but I'm grateful for the fact that we're not in the middle of the blizzard conditions people to the north and west of us are experiencing. It looks awful in those parts, and I hope spring finally decides to stay.

Sign-ups for the April WEP Challenge are happening now! The prompt for this month is Jewel Box. If you'd like to participate, head on over and make it official! There are sure to be lots of great entries, and the encouragement you get from fellow participants is invaluable.

Lastly, Masquerade: Oddly Suited comes out on April 30th! That's less than three weeks away! I'm definitely excited. Are you?

What would you like to celebrate?

Monday, April 8, 2019

WEP/IWSG April Challenge-Like Rubies

It's time for the April WEP Challenge! This month the theme is Jewel Box. Here's my take on it. I hope you enjoy!

Like Rubies

A layer of dust covers the top of the box, obscuring the dainty painted flowers that adorn its surface. I haven’t opened it in more than twenty years, and even laying eyes on it sends a shiver down my spine.

It doesn’t matter how much time has passed. I recall each item in there. Mom’s jewelry box used to be one of my favorite things to look through. As a little girl in pigtails, I climbed up into Mom’s lap with the gorgeous wooden box in hand. With a soft smile on her face, she sorted through each piece of jewelry and talked about the history behind it.

I close my eyes and picture the emerald necklace that used to belong to Grandma Lucy. She grew up dirt poor, as did Grandpa Wilbur. When they got married, they had only pennies to their name. “Who needs money when you’ve got love?” she used to tell us grandchildren. Nonetheless, Grandpa Wilbur felt guilty he couldn’t afford to buy his wife fancy things. He saved up for years to buy her that necklace. “The jewels may be the same color as your eyes, but they’re only half as beautiful,” he said when he gave her the gift.

I think I based my earliest ideas of love and romance around that story.

Then there’s the sapphire ring Mom received as a graduation gift. It came from her parents, another expensive item they must have saved up for, sacrificing frivolous extras for months on end. The jewel was small, but the blue depths resembled those of an ocean.

Then there were the ruby earrings. They were gifted to her by a beloved aunt who passed away soon after. I loved them once. I even begged Mom to let me wear them to my first school dance when I was twelve. Red used to be my favorite color, and the rubies perfectly matched the dress I bought. The dance didn’t turn out nearly as magical as I’d dreamed it would be, but I did have fun with my friends.

Unfortunately, that dance isn’t the main memory those earrings trigger for me. Not anymore.

Less than a year after that dance, I was in the car with my mother. We were out buying groceries to prepare for an incoming snowstorm. We didn’t want to go out in the bad weather, after all. It wouldn’t have been safe.

Neither of us expected the semi driver who fell asleep at the wheel. He crossed the median and barreled toward our car. Mom swerved so the impact was on her side only. I blacked out briefly.

When I opened my eyes again, I couldn’t look directly at her. I tried, but some instinct deep within me resisted. Instead I focused on other things. Droplets of blood clung to the windshield, though they appeared to be suspended in midair. The sun shone through them, and they glittered like rubies.

From that day on, I could no longer look at those ruby earrings without thinking of her blood sprayed across the glass. It was nonsensical, really. She wasn’t even wearing the earrings when she died. It’s just an association my brain made in a single traumatic moment, and I never could shake it. From that day forward, I couldn’t stand to look at any item of jewelry in that box. Too many memories were tied to it.

More than two decades later, my body trembles as I reach out and lay my hands on it. The dust coats my fingers as I lift it from the dresser where I’ve kept it safe for all these years. I settle on the edge of my bed and carefully lift the lid.

I’m a child again. The familiar colors of the jewels unearth something deep inside me. The sapphire and emerald sooth me with their presence. Warmth envelopes me as I think about sitting in my mother’s lap and the stories she told me time and again. I linger in that feeling as long as I can, though it’s only a matter of time before the ruby earrings tear it away.

I pick the earrings up and let them rest in my palm. That terrible day replays in my mind all over again. Once upon a time I thought nothing could blindside me like the sudden loss of my mother. For twenty years, that thought went unchallenged.

Then the cancer diagnosis came. Stage 4. Terminal. After weighing my options and listening to my doctors, I decided to forego treatment. I have no family left alive to protest that decision. My grandparents died long ago. I’ve never even met my father.

I never married and had children.

I thought I would have more time. Then again, so did my mother. Nothing in life is guaranteed.

With a sigh, I place everything back in the box and replace the lid. My appointment with the funeral director is in less than an hour. Hopefully I can get all the details hammered out with minimal fuss.

I cradle the box in my arms as I walk to my car. These jewels are going to be buried with me. There’s no one left to inherit them, and I can’t stand the thought of them being sold at auction.

No. When my coffin closes for the final time, this jewelry box will rest alongside me. Some things are best buried.

Word Count: 900

Friday, April 5, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-April 5, 2019

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

First of all, I'd like to start by wishing my oldest son Jude a happy birthday! He's turning ten tomorrow. I can't believe I've been a mom for a decade now. That's crazy to me.

I'm also celebrating the fact that I only have a few weeks of pregnancy left. Not only am I eager to meet my new baby, I'm also ready to be done with the physical discomfort. Doing the housework and getting a good night of sleep are becoming more difficult by the day. I just need to keep reminding myself that I'm almost there.

Finally, I would like to celebrate the fact that, while we had a little bit of snowfall during the week, it melted off again quickly. Having lived in Iowa all my life, I know snow in April is to be expected. Sometimes it even happens in May. I'm just happy that it didn't stick around for more than a few hours this time.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: April 2019

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has gathered another cohort of co-hosts for this month: J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for great writerly resources!

This month is starting out with an odd mix of excitement and insecurity for me. One reason for my excitement is my oldest son Jude is turning ten on Saturday. That's an important birthday, and he's looking forward to it. I'm also excited because Masquerade: Oddly Suited is coming out at the end of this month! It's hard to believe the time has gone by so quickly! 

Then I'm feeling insecure due to a combination of writer's block and story rejections. This is all part of being a writer, but it can be discouraging nonetheless. Still, I'm trying to focus on the positive things.

And now for this month's optional question: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

This is a great question. Right now, I have a WIP that's about 95% written, but the ending is giving me so much stress it's ridiculous! It's gotten to the point that I've gone back to the beginning to start editing in the hope that the process might give me the inspiration I need to get the ending done. Does anyone else ever have this much trouble with endings? There's a lot of pressure to get the ending of a book just right, and that might be part of my problem.

Which part of your WIP is giving you trouble?

Friday, March 29, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-March 29, 2019

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

The weather this week has been wonderful! I've been taking the kids to the park on a regular basis, and the boys have also been riding their bikes a lot. This also means I've been getting some much needed exercise and fresh air.

We took a spur of the moment trip to get ice cream as a family earlier in the week. I'm always going to celebrate an opportunity to eat ice cream!

Finally, I'm also celebrating the fact that the release day for Masquerade: Oddly Suited is a little over a month away. April 30th will be here before we know it! I can't wait for everyone to have a chance to read it!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, March 22, 2019

Celebrate the Small Things-March 22, 2019

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain! I am her co-host.

The weather is definitely feeling more springlike. We've had a decent stretch of warm, dry days, so flooding where I live has become less of a concern. The boys have been able to spend their spring break riding bikes and playing with sidewalk chalk. Zoe likes to join in on the fun, though she hasn't quite got the hang of her tricycle yet.

My husband and I have a date night scheduled for next week. We figured we should find a way to fit that in since we have a baby coming in two months. Once the baby comes, it'll be a little while before we get another chance.

I'm also celebrating the fact that I've made some progress in editing my WIP. A troublesome spot kept tripping me up, but I finally like what I've done with it. Hopefully things continue to go well there and I can get some good work done over the next week.

What would you like to celebrate?