"That's the way things come clear. All of a sudden.
And then you realize how obvious they've been all along."
- Madeleine L'Engle
Mrs. L’Engle is my favorite author. She has a way of turning phrases, turning pages, and inspiring my deepest breaths. Her writing packs a punch, if you will. What writing do you remember? Why do you remember it?
No matter what you write, use all those glorious tools in our writing tool boxes to create your best writing possible. I’ve provided a checklist, which will help you quite a bit, but I want to extend this thought to you:
Make your writing memorable.
How do you do this?
One way to make writing interesting is to move up a level from the basic sentence. Re-think ideas and make them personal to you.
How do we identify “basic sentences”?
In my own writing adventures and self-editing, I have found some tricky words that make me stumble, stutter, and fall into lame sentence writing.
Here is my list of Boring Words:
Make your own list! What words do you use too much? What words do you use incorrectly?
Sometimes these words are helpful. See right there? But I am aware that I used ‘are’ and know that possibly I could use something more effective. What is a more effective word than ‘are’?
Question your writing.
Each sentence offers possibility or boredom.
Avoid cliché and instead create your own word pictures.
Here is an example of a way to make your writing interesting:
Example: Having my sister come for a visit was heaven on earth.
Example: I like when my sister visits.
Those sentences are okay and whatnot. Sure, they convey a basic idea. How can they be more interesting, detailed, intrinsic, and thought-provoking?
Revised Example: Having my sister show up on my doorstep, one bright smile and hearty hug, greeting me with her unique flair and cinnamon scent brought tears to my eyes. Her presence was chocolate cupcakes. Her hug crammed the room full of sunlight. Her smile filled my soul with bubbly, pink sweater fuzzies.
See how that helps you experience the sister?
You would write this sentence completely different from me. How would you get to your version of this revised sentence?
Start by re-thinking what is your ‘heaven on earth’? What makes you happy?
If you are inclined to write, “I liked doing that,” instead explore the why and what behind what you were doing. What did ‘like’ feel like? Your ‘like’ is different than mine, and isn’t language the beautiful tool to explore how it compares?
This is where imagery meets metaphor. This place is fun. This is one reason I love writing.
Example 2: Have a good day!
Revised Example 2: May your day be sunny, life-affirming, and lined with laughter!
Example 3: The baby cried, looking so sad. There were no words to capture his wail.
Revised Example 3: Shadows shimmied away from the wailing toddler, his bald head wrinkled red with frustration and hunger. Tears dripped in large droplets down his scrunched up cheeks, pooling with sighs and hopelessness in the gnarled blankets by his feet. Paci had disappeared.
Give life to inanimate objects. If one object seems too difficult to explain, then illustrate objects or people’s reactions.
Give an object personality. Is it warm? Soft? Cheerful? Threatening? Prideful? Scornful? Lonely?
I hope you can take these ideas and carry them with you into all of your writing. Pack these ideas up, put them in your wallet, and take out as often as you need.
Warning: Be careful, as this, if taken to heart, will change your communications forever. People will suddenly pay attention because you wrote or said something interesting. Be memorable. Use those gifts God has given you to communicate light, power, and passion to the darkness.
Today I wanted to host a fellow Clean Reads author whose debut novel just dropped! I thought my readers would be interested in her young adult novel, packed with action and fascinating characters.
Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory's arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.
With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.
Some things are better left in the shadows.
“Her mind was a tornado, unforgiving and pure destruction. Memories, images, noises swirled around her mind, battling to find the truth, each one trying to find its place once more in the timeline of her two very different lives. It was like dropping a pebble into an ocean—Memphis watched his added memories fight against the tide of her consciousness. He relived every moment with her.”
Mallory McCartney currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their two dachshunds Link and Lola. Black Dawn is her debut novel, the first in a series. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found dog grooming, book shopping and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.
Follow Mallory on
Carl Wayne invited me on his morning radio show on KOXE and we were able to chat about the Insurrection series and *Incomplete*'s release. I'd love to share the moment with you! Feel free to listen in for about ten minutes of fun.
Power within her. War without.
Between the lines of flirtation and justice, Saylor must seize the missing pieces of her fate. While harnessing her ability to communicate with deadly weapons of mass destruction, attending the annual gala, and fighting her growing feelings for the hunky Australian soldier, Saylor’s instincts become increasingly distressed. Tempted by greed and independence, she must determine what she stands for and on whose side she belongs.
Volume Two of the Insurrection trilogy is NOW AVAILABLE! Get your copy now for only $4.99, and continue Saylor's adventure on Isla Barina!
Join me for a fun celebration on Facebook, the Incomplete Release Party. We'll have confetti, games, and an hour of clinking virtual sparkling drinks, and freebies. RSVP HERE and hang where all the party people roll. :D
I am thrilled to share the heart-pounding trailer for Incomplete! Check it out, and be sure to turn up your volume!
Click HERE to watch now!
Please feel free to share if you think it's fun. Sharing is caring, yay! <3
And also, grab your copy of Incomplete TODAY so the book downloads onto your ereader on February 28th. Only $4.99 on any device you got. Snag one for you and a friend who needs a hero to root for. #girlpower #strongandsassy
Not a fan of ebooks? I understand. Order one for a friend and give it as a gift. Consider it a building block in helping it get to print. :D And thanks for reading, friends. You're fabulous. Remember that.
Huge shoutout to Addison Multimedia for creating the trailer.
Call for submissions! Members of the military and law enforcement, we need your amazing stories. You get to learn, see, and do remarkable things, and us civilians would love to read your wisdom and experiences. Submit a 250-300 word paragraph illustrating an important moment, piece of wisdom you learned during training, or a memorable experience you've had in training or on the field. What kept you going when times got tough? What made you keep those boots on the ground? We'd love to hear it!
Please send your stories to email@example.com by March 1, 2017. I'll make them available in a blog mid-march and have my readers vote for their favorite. The top five will receive a free copy of Insurrection, and the grand prize winner will also receive a free copy of Incomplete.
Please try to keep the language clean! And let me know if you have any questions. I cannot wait to hear your stories. Keep 'em coming! And thank you so much for all you do.
Oh, a big moment arrived last night, readers, and I want to share in a megahappy dance right now. Let's just take one break....nah, let's listen in!! Saylor's adventure unfolds now on audiobook!!! Get your copy from Amazon.
The greater part is that you can start a 30-day free trial with Audible and download it for free right now. So GO, click click click and listen to this fantastic narrator reading with brilliant inflection, a bouncy tone, and furrowing into the enjoyable camaraderie of friends on the adventure of their lives.
Download here from Amazon.
Check out the Insurrection page.
And remember that Incomplete is on its way, so pre-order your copy right now! You won't want to miss a moment, I guarantee!
My family and I went roller skating last weekend. I hadn’t used real roller skates since middle school. So after more than fifteen years of standing on my feet, the wheels beneath me shuddered. And then they flew.
As I rolled around the rink, oh soooo wobbly at first (or, well, the entire two hours) by the end I was able to take a hearty look around me at the crowd and muster an exhilarated sigh. I’ve missed skating. Skating is not entirely cardiovascular, as my iWatch didn’t notice I’d spent two hours wheeling around a flat floor and instead noted eight whole minutes of activity. Womp womp. But skating is a task of wonder and thrill. It made me pause and observe, and note just how much life is like a skating rink.
Skating is a challenging activity.
Balance. Wobbling. Fear. Chaos! Total fun. Cramping shins. Let’s accent that last one. Within five minutes on the floor I had to take a break because my shins burned like a thousand fires of Armageddon. And I do sprints regularly! All around me on that floor, kids, teens, and adults alike ate dirt, toppling and tumbling to the ground.
My daughter is learning to skate and she’s frustrated. It’s a mix of balance, freedom, carefreeness, and knowing how to hold your center in just the right way. And then swinging those arms crazy as the balance shifts around the corner. Ah!
There’s no one single “this is how you skate” tutorial. Skating feels different for everyone. Some people catch on quick, some need this magical contraption the rink owners rent out, of something like a walker on wheels, to give the littles something to hold while rolling. To skate is to know the feel of your foot along the sole of the shoe; to skate is to fly free and yet hold just so. Each skater will learn in a different manner, in a different timing, in a different location, after a different amount of falling.
Get back up. Find your poise. Compose your grace.
People fall down.
Simply observing when I had to sit and rest, and even amid the crowd on the floor, there was one constant in the rink: People fell down. There was never a single person not on the ground. At any given time, more than one person lay sprawled on the wax. Skating is a game of falling down. And learning how to navigate around those who do.
Several times, children sprinted before me, wrapped around the pillars, and splattered along the floor. I had to navigate the open waters, like a minnow in a shark pool. The fallers couldn’t always help it. They are learning. They are discovering. They are stumbling over things on the floor.
The falling is embarrassing. The falling hurts. The falling causes a domino effect.
Their actions affect everyone around them. The skater who wishes to remain vertical must look ahead, look around, and be prepared to stumble. When another skater falls down, everyone has two options: either help the other one up or skate around them. It’s easy to be angered by the faller downer. It’s easy to gripe and cast angry glances, but often these lead to the falling down of one’s own self.
Instead of wasting time and energy being frustrated at those who fall, know they are part of the game. Know that the person stumbling is dealing with the floor. The floor isn’t so friendly. But you can be. So since you’re still on your feet, be kind and move along your merry way.
You have to observe the big picture.
The more people fill the floor, the harder it is to navigate the perils of the rink. Little kids bob around, wobbling, tossing their fists every which way, while teens dart and dash and topple like marbles on a slip-n-slide. You have to keep your eyes up, watch for the open path, and navigate even those last-minute adaptations and pivots to the plan. Be ready for change. Because you’re rounding the corner, friend, so expect someone to shoot in front of you.
The more I kept my vision above the horizon, beyond my own feet, the more I could easily maneuver the scene. Getting caught up in wheels and feet and legs is easy. Seeing that it’s only four other bodies in a large room puts it in perspective. There’s more to the story than the skates in your way.
People sit on the sidelines.
You either skate or you sit on the sidelines. You can laugh all you want at the people skating -- their balance, their wobbling, their stumbling, their sporadic waving of the arms -- but at least they’re on the floor. At least they are attempting to do the Y-M-C-A while rolling around the rink. Who cares if they look like a monkey on a frozen pond? Applaud the skaters, cheer them on, for they’re operating vividly and fully engaged. What’s life on the sidelines but a hard bench and a noisy crowd? The floor is much more open and inviting, my friends.
Don’t be hatin’, just keep skatin’.
I noticed as the time wore on that the floor grew emptier. Exhaustion, sweat, sore muscles, and celebrating birthdays drew out the engaged from the spent. It’s crucial to know when you’ve met your limits. It's also crucial to enjoy cake. But also, know that limits are invisible. And cake makes you tired. If you want to skate, then skate on my friend. The best ending to a day in the rink is time on the rink. Shake until the last song. Don’t snicker at the weary, don’t slight the onlooker, but roll on, roll on. Dance with the music and slide along the floor. Time and again I had to remind my daughter -- just have fun with it. The more fun you have, the better you do. And that’s life, friends. It’s all just skating anyway. Might as well spend the time rolling. Don’t be hatin’, just keep skatin’.
To my friend who is struggling with the slick floor, skate on. To my wobbly wheeler, steady. I won’t hold your hand because we’ll both fall down, but I’m here in the rink with you. Getting on the floor is the hard part, but stopping is even harder. It’s more fun on the floor. Come on in. I hear it’s almost time for limbo.
Power within her. War without.
Between the lines of flirtation and justice, Saylor must clench the missing pieces of her fate. While harnessing her ability to communicate with deadly weapons of mass destruction, attending the annual gala, and fighting her growing feelings for the hunky Australian soldier, Saylor’s instincts become increasingly distressed. Tempted by greed and independence, she must determine what she stands for and on whose side she belongs.
The second book of the Insurrection trilogy will be available on February 28, 2017! You can reserve your copy NOW on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! Stay tuned for updates. Plus, save the date for Feb 28 and be sure to rsvp on Facebook in the Release Party. There will be freebies, fun, and a celebration of the fabulous. Please join me for an hour of excitement as Saylor's story unfolds.
See more HERE on the Incomplete page on my website. Feel free to share with your friends and anyone who needs a good adventure. And thanks for reading, friends!
Head on over to B.A. Morris' blog Six Pack On A Sunday. He's kicking off a fun blog tour with other authors called 20 Questions, and he perused my site and book and had some questions. We talked music, writing ideas, and superheroes. You'll like his site. He's a new author with Clean Reads and writes sports and fiction, which don't always happen to coincide. Keep an eye out for this upcoming author and enjoy our 20 Questions!
Insurrection has been chosen to participate in Author Shout's Cover Wars this week! And I seriously need YOUR help! It takes less than a minute. Click HERE, scroll down to the bottom and select the dot next to "Insurrection by Kadee Carder" and then you'll see the result. Vote once a day. Then once you've voted, share with a friend! And be sure to tag me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram once you've voted.
IF I WIN
I'll give away a free copy of Insurrection to one voter who posts about it and tags me on one of those social media outlets. Thanks so much for your continued support and excitement. Let's do this, guys! High five! <3
Here's the link again, in case you missed it: http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/
-----Missed Chapter One? Read HERE-----
Shuffling through the paperwork and stacks of unopened mail, Ellie sniffed back the mixture of dust mites meeting loss. She bit back angry words and shameful complaining, noting the two store employees working in silence by the counter of the workshop. Her grandfather’s toy store seemed hardly the place for diatribes or whining, and Ellie knew their spirits already hampered with the funeral earlier that week. She’d assured them their jobs would be safe and asked that they continue their work filling orders and running the store until all the paperwork finalized.
The chair squeaked under her slight weight, the chair itself an antique mess of wood chips and chiseled paint particles. Her grandfather had kept his office in the workshop on the back-end of the store front, “So I can stay closer to my little friends,” he’d say. The toys, of course, were his obsession and great endeavor. He’d crafted wooden sculptures, knickknacks, collectibles, furniture, and toys since he became apprenticed as a twelve-year old, and loved the sport ever since day one. Toy-making served as a delight for him, a channel for the creating of puzzles and magical mystery for children to entangle themselves. He’d loved the whimsy of it all. He’d loved the simplicity of it all. But he was gone on to other adventures, leaving Ellie as sole proprietor of a shop where she’d spent many a summer of her own behind the industrious counters watching and learning.
“September first and those crazies are already playing Christmas songs!” Darcy moaned in the background.
“You’d think they would wait until the other holidays are over. Or at least Halloween,” Declan squinted up at her through his thick, black-rimmed glasses. “Let me wear a scarf or two before we rush into the death grip of winter.”
“Wow. Death grip?”
“Why do you think Christmas happens so early in the winter? If it happened in February when it’s actually cold in Texas, nobody would be around to celebrate. By February, everyone is tired.”
“Valentine’s Day is in February, Declan. The holiday of looove.”
“Because they all want to leave for the equator by that point. The greeting card companies needed a holiday to keep everyone at home.”
“You are so dramatic.”
“Realism, honey. I’m planning a revolution.” Declan shoved his glasses up his nose and focused closer on the wooden block in his palms.
“For what? Scarf-wearers anonymous?”
“For the storm-weary travelers! For the hard-working, bare-knuckled grunts who make this country move!”
“You need to drink less coffee, Dec. Watch where you point that knife.”
Ellie looked up from the stack of bills in her hands. “Guys, what’s this?”
Declan and Darcy glanced over at her from their stools.
“Yes, ma’am?” Darcy asked.
“This notice from the county tax board?”
“Was it in the pile of opened or unopened?”
“Well, let me look, there.” Darcy wiped her palms together, scraping off curlicues and wood crumbs. In rising, she towered above Declan’s wiry frame, whisking new scents of coconut sugar butter in the air with her swishing blue capris.
"This one,” Ellie continued. “About a late tax payment?"
"I'm not sure," Darcy said. "Elwood took care of all the paperwork. I work the front register. I can tell you exactly how many dollars are in the till right now but I have no idea about the office work. Elwood always did all of that."
"Well I guess I just need to sort through everything," Ellie muttered, trying to offer a smile toward the two assistants. She flipped her wrist over to check where the misguided numbers sat accusing her of being late to the office. "This might be a late evening for me."
"Want me to close up shop?" Darcy leaned over the counter hours later, studying the blond head bobbing behind three innocuous, haphazard piles now coating the desk. "Declan clocked out. I've got the door locked. Fridays, Elwood liked to count out, but I can do it."
Ellie blinked up at Darcy, scrunching her eyes in the dim light. She twisted her head and rubbed the back of her neck with one hand.
“That would be great. If you can count down tonight, I’ll work with you next week on getting that figured out. I think I need to get caught up on these piles before anything else.”
“Makes plenty of sense to me, girl. You just let me know if you need help with those stacks.”
“Well. I did have one question. Or a thousand.” Ellie unwrapped her legs from the chair, solidifying her numb feet on the floor before standing up. She flipped through a thinner stack on the edge of the desk for a pink sheet of paper. “There’s this renewal notice for the business license. And enclosed in it was a brochure for the mall development across the street.”
“Psh.” Darcy spat out the distaste before thinking. “He’s been pushing for that development for two years.”
Darcy giggled. “Mr. Something-or-other Jones. He’s a big-city big-shot who wants to buy up all the real estate. He thinks the town has a lot of ‘charm’ but could use some sprucing up.”
Ellie’s lips curled up at Darcy’s description. “He could be right, Darcy.” She stifled her own giggle.
“Oh no.” Darcy shook her head, like a cat shaking away a fly. “He wants every empty building downtown. Plus the full ones. He’s funding the mall expansion and has wanted to buy this lot since he arrived into town. Wants to knock down the shop and put in a parking lot.”
“He even dared to tell Elwood he’d give him a prime location for his shop on the mall’s third story.”
“The mall doesn’t have a third story.”
“Did he think Grandfather would fall for that?”
“He certainly did. Elwood chased him out with that plastic pistol he keeps in that drawer next to ya.”
Ellie’s shoulders shook at the mental picture, and she slapped a gritty hand over her mouth to keep from spitting out the hearty chuckle. “Now that’s Grandfather.”
“Jones came back with a packet of letters saying he’d give a spot on the first floor by the food court. I don’t know if Elwood were considering or not.”
“Never said anything to you?”
“Nope.” Ellie admitted. Without a word, she admitted she hadn’t even spoken to the man since her birthday in February. Her eyes blinked to pull away the guilt and stuff it onto another pile to sort through later on. “I guess that answers that question.”
“I’ll go finish the registers.”
“Thanks, Darcy. I’ll owe you.”
“Just keep paying my check, lady. That’s all I ask!”
Ellie caught the jab and threw it back with a grin. “As long as those registers line up, you’re set. I might even let you take over if you sweet talk me enough.”
Darcy left after a hefty hug and two last offers to buy pizza. Ellie had declined, saying she had a salad in her purse, but the truth was she had half a squashed protein bar and a packet of balsamic vinaigrette in the side pocket, next to a coupon for one dollar off a salad at Hall’s Quick Stop. Her stomach hadn’t rumbled all day, but instead filled with a thick, hollow resolution to sort through the mess and straighten it up. If it took all night, she’d clean up the tedium left by her grandfather and make it her own. It was, after all, her own, whether she wanted it or not.
Around 1:48 am, and Ellie knew the time because she had checked her watch, she heard a rattling click from the front windows. What sounded like metal tapping against glass caught Ellie’s quick attention.
Ellie jumped in her spot, shaken and rattling herself. She ducked down behind the desk. Clattering against the worn tiles in the storefront, glass shards broke open to the elements and to the base of Ellie’s spine. Her mind a blending concoction of exhaustion, expense reports, unpaid bills, and sudden powerlessness, she flew toward the nearest door, stumbling over her purse on the way. The cement floor became an unwelcome guest banging against her knees.
Voices whispered from the storefront. Clenching her quivering jaw, Ellie held in a terrified yell, all while terribly frustrated at the leather straps of her purse. Blasted cross-body purses. A single beam of yellow light flitted through the door to the storeroom and then disappeared back into the storefront. Ellie yanked the strap off her bare foot. That door still sat shut only four feet away, and Ellie hurled herself into it, whirling the handle in her palm and sliding it shut without a sound. The storage room.
Complete darkness surrounded Ellie. She knew boxes in stacks piled high of — everything — filled the room. Years of unsold inventory, extra parts, spare tools, old tools, receipts, taxes, who-knows and whats-its, all crammed into that blank sauna of a storage room.
Feeling through the cobwebs, shuddering and flinging her hands away from her body, Ellie shoved the nearest stack in front of the door. She gripped her bare feet against the cement in order to wrangle the demanding boxes from their spot. Sweat even began to build up as she willed her bodyweight against the — four? five? boxes — away from their comfort zones. Surely they will think the door is busted and move on, if they try to get in here, Ellie thought.
Wiping her palms against each other, Ellie considered the options. She slung the leather purse strap over her head into its familiar slot against her neck, and dug into the contents. Her fingers slid around the smooth purple wallet, the slick, shiny tube of retired lip gloss, and the prickly pink hairbrush. As she rifled and rooted for her phone, that startled brain of hers began to untangle from its coiled state of petrification. It seemed to cough, and then sneeze. Your phone’s on the desk.
My phone’s on the desk.
Ellie closed her eyes against the void, wrinkling her nose like she did when something ridiculous obstructed her path. She wrinkled her nose at flat tires, at delayed mail, and expired coupons. And Ellie wrinkled her nose at the phone on the desk. It couldn’t see her, but it felt her exasperation and shrugged with a sheepish smile.
Fine! Ellie again wiped her palms together, curling her cold toes against the cement. I’ll stay here and wait for the robbers to come kill me. Or I’ll move another stack of boxes in front of the door.
The darkness bit its lip.
Ellie slid one foot toward her left, against the cool concrete and the dust covering it, and then waved her hand to feel for cardboard. Another step, sliding, and a waving of the hands, and smack, she found more boxes. Wiggling through the gritty dust beneath her toes, she glided to the other side, wedged against the other boxes, and coerced the stack into moving. Slithering between the stacks, she inched the bundle, as tall as her frame and three times as wide, behind the first barricade stack.
After quite a bit of huffing and heaving and silent groaning, Ellie’s mind began to quell. Nobody can get through the two stacks. Oxygen bumbled around her throat and cleared out of her chest, leaving room for chaos. Her eyes had still not adjusted to the lack of light, and the enormity of murky space began to whirl before her eyes.
Her brain began to click, filling the silence. This is the only door, right? Ellie scrunched her nose, pursing her lips.
I think – I don’t know. Maybe I can find another way out. Or a place to sit.
Ellie’s eyes began to tingle in the shrill silence, and, blinking, she let her palms lead the way.
Here's a new little writing project I've been working on. Hope you enjoy Ellie's adventures in this new holiday novella, "The Christmas Room.
Perhaps the greatest fault of clutter is its insistence upon collecting dust. Ellie swept the shelf-full of knickknacks, toys, dolls, colorful stacking boxes, and mangy-haired dolls into a dingy cardboard box she’d brought from the office, while holding in a sneeze. These items would be packed up and stored in the garage. These items do not sell a house. Clean-cut lines, shiny place settings, crisp drapes and flooring, and fresh paint would sell a house, and Ellie knew it. Her job at Grand Market Real Estate was to make sure their listings booked it off the market. Toys did not sell homes; toys did not bring in buyers. Ellie brought in buyers.
“Pam, I’m going to need a new chair for this room,” Ellie called to the brunette in the next room, setting down the box in the corner next to the door. She wiped her hands against each other, feeling the nit and grit grinding upon her palms. “And a tube of cleaning wipes.”
“Make that two chairs,” Pam replied, holding up her list, “Because I hear the rules of feng shui have updated to include even numbers.”
“I think you’re wrong about that.” Ellie’s smile lit up a laugh in her jingling voice. “How about you look up ‘revised ancient rules of organization from Japanese culture,’ on the interwebs and see what you find.”
“Tsk!” Pam chided. “I saw it in an article yesterday.”
“On what blog?”
“It was in the Current.”
“You know the Current is not current.”
“Well then you tell me this room doesn’t need a matching chair.”
“Fine,” Ellie gave in. “In the name of matching’s sake.”
“And my obsessive compulsion.”
Pam’s white linen pants swished as she emerged from the second bedroom, her brown leather purse bumping against her leg. “I’m assessing the bathrooms next. You want the Master or the third bedroom?”
“The bedroom.” Ellie leaned over the marble slab counter, gazing at the sketch before her. The white-blonde side French braid swept over her shoulder, its curled edges tickling her cheek. “My kitchen is about ready.”
Ellie’s phone buzzed just as Pam’s curly hair bobbed around her nodding confirmation, and Ellie flipped over the black device as it went to voicemail. Ellie sighed, letting the breath whisk out of her mouth as a round, “O,” as if to complain, “Oh, why is he calling now?”
“Hey, Kiddo, it’s Dad. Wanted to check in with you to see if everything is alright with you. Look, hon, I hate to call early in the morning; I know you’re at work. I’d rather talk to you in person. Your mom’s dad isn’t doing so well. When we went to visit him last night, the—well, hon—the doctor doesn’t think he has much longer. Please call me back when you get a chance. I hope you’re having a good time with those houses. We’re both proud of you. Um. Hope you can call soon, hon. Talk to you then.”
Back at the office, Ellie plucked at the various keys on her laptop keyboard, setting up the inventory request forms like usual. Her desk towered with massive piles of folders, papers, wallpaper sample books, paint chip samples, three to-go cups of coffee, a large open-lidded box of pens, and one solar-paneled bobbling Hawaiian doll dancing an endless hula. Aunt Kay sent one every holiday and Ellie kept the latest on her desk, the others filling the kitchen windowsill. She allowed herself one cluttered space at home, because the dancing figurines reminded her of the sun’s warmth, even when she couldn’t see past the clouds. But just the one. Her office was another story. The room needed all the sunshine it could get, as the dreary October days seemed to settle layer by layer over the small town, one gray sheet of clouds at a time, until the light and warmth squelched out under everyone’s plastic rain boots.
“Ellie, have you seen the order from Sherlin’s Paint?” Greg stuck his head around the corner in the hall.
“Nope. No deliveries from Sherlin’s yet this week.”
“Keep an eye out.”
Because her desk sat in the front room of their converted house/real estate office, Ellie often shared the receptionist’s tasks. Ellie knew she stood a mere step above Marla on the ladder, because she’d started off doing the exact same thing, and had only worked into her new position after bartering personal office space for a pay raise. Greg gave few handouts, unless a prospective client needed a pen, and even then he’d add a supply fee in the final round of paperwork. But Greg knew good when he saw it, and Ellie exuded results. He even provided the desk for her.
“Ellie, you’ve got a call on line two,” Marla stated, pressing a button on the body of the phone and replacing the receiver. “Said it’s Walt.”
“Okay,” Ellie murmured, closing her eyes. Dad never called. And absolutely never twice in one day. Heaving in a breath, she prepared for news. Grabbing her handset, she fixed a smile on her lips. The listener can hear it, after all. “Hey, Dad.”
“Sorry I hadn’t called back yet. It’s been so crazy today.”
“I’m sure. I didn’t want to bug you, either, but I needed to get hold of you.”
“That’s why I’m calling, Ellie. He’s not doing well. He wants to see you, asked specifically for you.”
“I’ll try to get up there after I get off work this afternoon.”
“Dad.” Ellie lowered her voice, glancing over at Marla, and then buried her face against her shoulder. “I am on a tight deadline right now. The office needs me and I cannot spare a moment before we close.”
“Ellie, I’m afraid you’re going to regret waiting. Life doesn’t wait for your work schedule.”
“It has to today. I’m sorry.”
Walt held his breath, absorbing the news, before clearing his throat. “Good, then. I’ll tell your mom you’ll be here as soon as you possibly can. We appreciate it. See you soon, hon.” He tapped the ‘end’ button, finalizing the phone call, just as the heart monitor inside the room behind him flat-lined. A stout, searing wail of an alert rang from the bedside device and several nurses rushed in.
Walt grimaced, his forehead furrowing, and he took the few steps to stand in the doorway. Meryl sat next to her father, holding his hand, her eyes fixed on his blank stare facing the ceiling. Meryl’s head lowered and Walt strode over to her, placing his warm, weathered hands on her shoulders. His hands squeezed, offering whatever hope or peace they could, knowing the lives of his family would change forever. If only he knew how much.
**** Stay tuned for Chapter 2! ****
Feel free to share with a friend who needs a happy holiday story. Have yourself a merry little Christmas, friends.
This time of year we love to watch those Hallmark movies and snuggle up with a good book and a hot cup of cocoa or coffee.
Here are delightful, cozy stories from some of your favorite Clean Reads authors to fill those hours with enjoyable literature.
The Starlight Inn
by Lucie Ulrich
On her way to celebrate her birthday and Christmas with her family, Ella Dixon finds herself trapped in the middle of a blizzard. She seeks refuge at The Starlight Inn. Though the inn is full, an elderly guest offers to share her room. Accepting the kind offer, Ella soon realizes Tillie Spencer isn’t your average “little old lady.” She knows things nobody else does, and appears to come and go on a whim.
Nick Wallace runs the inn along with sister, Fran. The attraction Nick feels for Ella is instantaneous and unexpected, but with the miles that separate them, and both busy with their careers, Nick doubts much will come of their Christmas Eve meeting. Tillie, on the other hand, holds a much different view.
Though Tillie won’t admit to being an angel, Nick and Ella think otherwise. How else can they explain the twists and turns that began at The Starlight Inn.
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A Christmas Coffee
by Laura Marshall
Villa Bellisimo along with Master Chef Antonia Coronada invite you to Sicily where you will be immersed in the art and passion of Italian culinary delights.
Sarah Cooper is still trying to find her place in the world after her husband died two years ago on Christmas Day. When her parents give her an early holiday gift, it may be just the opportunity she needs.
Parker Matrone is the founder and CEO of the billion dollar company, Coffee Grounds. There's something about Sarah he can't resist, but he's been burned before and is now raising his two young sons alone.
Will they decide loving again is worth the risk? And what of the antique Christmas quilt beneath which Sarah dreams of Christmas' past, present, and future? Come explore Italy in this Christian Christmas romance where dreams do come true and life begins anew.
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by Christina Lorenzen
Stranded by a snowstorm, Carrie Sanders is left holding a bag an old woman she’d been talking to left behind in the airport coffee shop. Mystified by the woman’s disappearance, she sits on the bench staring at the snow globe that was in the bag.
Inside the glittery snowy world it’s Christmas during the 1940s. Fighting sleep, the next thing she knows she’s in the arms of the soldier she last saw skating on the pond in the snow globe. He’s no stranger, but the boy next door who never forgot her.
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Love Before Honor
by Nicole Zoltak
To avenge his love's death, Sir Gerald challenges her murderer to a duel. Her twin, however, feels that Alice never loved the knight and gives him a tea that sends him to into the future, to the Regency era.
Lady Vanessa seeks a Christmas treat when she hears something outside the manor. Upon investigation, she sees a man dressed in armor. Unwilling to turn away a confused man with the approaching holiday, she convinces her parents to house Gerald until the new year.
Scandal has forced her parents to accept William as their daughter's best chance at marriage. Although rich, he does not understand her or her love of books, whereas Gerald listens to her, confides in her and she him. With the approaching holiday, nothing is certain - not whether Gerald can discover a way back to his duel, whether he can move on from Alice, and not whether this Christmas will be a happy one for either Gerald or Vanessa.
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From The Ashes
by Janet Butler
Concert artist James Michael Goodwin has been in a race against time and lost: crippled and unable to perform, he decides to end it all. But fate intervenes in the form of Melody Rowland, who reaches him on a level no woman has done before. Can James trust Melody with his music…and his heart?
Melody Rowland is on the verge of launching her performing career when James Michael Goodwin walks into her life again, after nearly destroying her four years before. Soon, she realizes that playing his music is one thing; admitting she’s never stopped loving him is another.
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by Lynn Spangler
She had loved. And she had lost.
Dayna Stone had lost her husband eight years earlier when their daughter, Khloe, was only four months old. She had survived the devastating loss of her husband, only to find out she’d likely lose her daughter as well to cancer.
Eddie Kringle is captivated by his beautiful neighbor and her equally beautiful daughter. Born a Magi, Eddie has issues coming to grips that Magi magic cannot cure the child, though his father, Kris, is more than capable. He and Dayna lean on each oth-er as the days pass.
They grow closer and a bond is formed.
A tragedy befalls them on Thanksgiving. Can their love, and the intense love they feel for Khloe, be the miracle they are looking for?
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Eight Birds For Christmas
by Tara Mayoros
In the Christmas novella Eight Birds for Christmas, a Holiday funeral sends Laidan into a dormancy of sadness. Holed up in her mother's lake house with her best friend and her bodyguard, birds appear one by one as gifts that help her through a time of grieving. Each birds carries with it a word and a hope that things will begin to look up.
Hurt from the realization that the rock star life Laidan led had made her selfish, the birds reveal forgotten memories and glimpses into how she can become a better person. It will take confronting her past to make peace with her future. By taking to heart the gifts the birds bring, Laidan begins to realize the true meaning of Christmas and that there are other ways that she can share her song.
Purchase on Amazon for $.99;
White Christmas Kiss
by Kathy Bosman
Rachelle runs a little wedding chapel on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Two years on the passenger liner haven’t helped her find peace from past mistakes. Ray brings his girlfriend on the Coderica’s grand cruise to Europe. When his plans to marry her in the little chapel go horribly wrong and the relationship fails, Ray and Rachelle are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Romance blossoms in Europe, culminating on Christmas Day. But the cruise ends and Rachelle isn’t sure she’s ready to leave the Coderica with Ray. Will the memory of their white Christmas kiss be strong enough to bring them together forever?
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Let's welcome fellow Clean Reads author Bethany Swafford with us today! (Clap, clap, clap!) She has an inspiring story, both fiction and non, to share with us today!
First of all, I am delighted to be here so thank you Kadee for inviting me!
For as long as I can remember, I have loved books and reading. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of being in a library trying to find the biggest book in the children’s section because the bigger the book, the longer it would take to read.
My love of books inevitably led me to trouble, since I would much rather read than do things like schoolwork or chores. Thus, my parents would resort to the worst punishment imaginable, one they knew would get my attention: they would take my books away.
I wasn’t about to let this inconvenience keep me from words though. I found a loophole: anything I wrote I could read.
That’s how my writing career began. I developed the habit of writing short stories and essays to amuse my family and myself even when I wasn't in trouble. It was my hobby and all it would ever be. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.
The older I got, though, I began to realize that the ‘big books’ (novels of delightful length that would surely take me more than a few hours to read) all too often contained sex scenes that were unappealing and left me red faced.
My family had encouraged me to write my own book with the standards that I searched for in books and so that’s what I decided to do. My first novel, Emily’s Choice, was so much fun to write and I wanted to share it with others more than anything else. Many rejections taught me “sex sells” and publishers for a new author who refused to yield just didn’t seem likely.
Once again, it seemed like it was time for stubbornness and a loophole. I self-published without having the slightest clue what I was doing though. I was determined.
However, stubbornness wasn’t enough when doubts hit. Should I have tried harder to find a publisher? What if the reason I’d been rejected all those times was because I wasn’t good enough? If that was true, what was the point of writing more?
These doubts made sure my second manuscript sat, unfinished, for over two years. I worked up the courage to hand those six chapters to my mom for an honest opinion. She wanted to know where is the rest of it was. My stubborn streak flared up once again and I knew I had to finish it if only so Mom could know how the story ended. Once that first draft was done, it sat in all its imperfect glory.
Throughout this whole time, I kept reading, and it was my mission to let other readers know when sex scenes crept up into a novel. That's how I met Donna Feyen, who had just begun her book site More Than A Review which had the sole purpose of letting readers know what kind of content a book had. Soon, I joined her as a book reviewer and, through her, CleanReads.
Though previous rejections haunted my dreams, I spent several months polishing my manuscript to submit. Before long, I received the email with a contract attached and the rest is history. A Chaotic Courtship was released in August and I couldn’t be more proud of it.
Now friends and family ask if I have another book waiting in the wings. I just smile and say, “Not just a book. I have several.” And then I hide behind whichever CleanReads book I have at the time.
A Chaotic Courtship
Twenty year old Diana Forester, a country bred young woman fears that her inexperience and uncertainties has driven Mr. John Richfield away. On arriving back home from London, she learns that he is already there, ready to continue their acquaintance. If Diana thought that it was difficult in London, courting takes on a whole new aspect when Diana's younger siblings become involved. She finds herself dealing with her own feelings, her sister, her younger brother, jealous members of a house party, a jilted suitor, and a highwayman as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Richfield.
An Excerpt from A Chaotic Courtship:
“I thought you’d never get here!” Sarah said, ignoring my question completely as she spun to face me. I frowned at her as I put my outside garments away. She seemed highly agitated, a state which I had seldom seen her in. “Diana, I must speak with you!”
“About what?” I asked calmly.
Sarah took up pacing, and for a moment I believed she wasn’t going to continue with whatever she wanted to say. “You must listen to me for once in your life!” she finally said, as though I had been disagreeable.
Sinking onto our bed, I tried to hide a smile. “Then come out and tell me what has you in such a state.”
“I think Mr. Richfield is the highwayman!”
My smile faded instantly as I stared at her. How had she come up with this ridiculous idea? “You what?” I asked in astonishment.
“There, I’ve said it!” Sarah collapsed into the chair at the dressing table. “I’ve considered the matter carefully, Diana, and as your sister, I could not let you become attached to such a black-hearted criminal!”
I couldn’t help but laugh in response to that absurd notion. “Blackhearted criminal? You cannot be serious, Sarah. I have never heard anything so outlandish. Have you been reading my novels?”
“Diana, I am being completely serious! Stop laughing!”
“How can I take you seriously when everything you say is utter nonsense? Why would you possibly think Mr. Richfield, a true gentleman if I’ve ever met one, is a common criminal?”
Sarah leaned forward, her eyes wide. “Don’t you remember what Aunt Forester said at dinner yesterday?” she asked, lowering her voice for some reason. She acted like she was about to disclose some deep secret to me, and I found myself leaning closer. “About the highwayman being around the Bath area?”
Thinking back, I did in fact remember the conversation and our aunt’s comment. “Yes, of course I remember. What about it?”
“Mr. Richfield was there!”
I failed to follow her line of reasoning. “I’m sure a great many people were in Bath at the same time, Sarah. Aunt and Uncle Forester, for example, were there for two months, I believe.”
Shaking her head, Sarah groaned. “Don’t be obtuse, Diana! You have to see the connection here. Mr. Richfield was in Bath when a highwayman terrorized innocent people. And now, he’s here, where a highwayman has mysteriously appeared to threaten our peaceful home!”
For as long as she can remember, Bethany Swafford has loved reading books. That love of words extended to writing as she grew older and when it became more difficult to find a ‘clean’ book, she determined to write her own. Among her favorite authors is Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Georgette Heyer. When she doesn’t have pen to paper (or fingertips to laptop keyboard), she can generally be found with a book in hand. In her spare time, Bethany reviews books for a book site called More Than A Review.
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Thank you so much Bethany for your words and stories! I think we all need a little chaos in our lives to make things more interesting. Thanks for joining in everyone!
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